From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Zionespresso? Mmmmm, spacibo! Or: Anti-Zionists drinking Zionist coffee? Oh, my!

Folks watching the pseudo-conference might appreciate this anecdote, a recent entry into the glorious annals of The Ohio State University Committee for Justice in Palestine. That would be the local anti-Israel coterie that’s hosting the farce over at the Ohio Union.

Aside: OSU CJP, as they like to be known, are better known as the small group of students who can occasionally be seen at High Street and 15th Avenue, usually on Fridays, holding various anti-themed signs while being staunchly ignored by everybody who passes by. One of their favorite signs, and probably their biggest, is a banner that has to be held by at least two people, which reads in huge letters, “OSU CJP — HOW LONG ‘TILL WE CARE?” Now, unless this is some sort of attempt at subversive, nonstandard spelling, they’ve got themselves a glaring typo about a foot high. Perhaps they meant “’til” or even “until” but who knows. A few weeks ago, being the nice guy that I am, I told them that their sign had a typo on it, thinking that I’d spare them the ignominy of this unintentional humor. But every time I’ve seen them holding this self-promoting monstrosity since then, it’s still had the typo, and now it’s become a bit of a running joke among a lot of folks. Needless to say, it’s embarrassing for the university to have students holding up protest banners with typos. But of course they just had to bring their banner to the Alan Dershowitz talk two weeks ago, where it would have been seen in all its misspelled glory by hundreds of people, and it was probably displayed this weekend. So: How long ‘til OSU CJP stops embarrassing the university with their misspelled sign? Probably until somebody fixes it for them.

Anyway, the anecdote: I was at a coffee shop the Sunday evening before last, and at one point a vaguely familiar looking woman came in. I couldn't remember where I'd previously seen her, but then I realized that she was one of the student protesters I'd watched after the Alan Dershowitz talk at OSU. At one point, she’d been telling one of the half-dozen or so people who’d paid her and colleagues a few seconds of attention that, under international law, all refugees have the right to return to their homes after a conflict and yadda yadda yadda. Ah. I don't think she recognized me, because she sat down right next to me. Of everybody she could have sat by, she had to choose the undercover Mossad agent-in-training.

After a few minutes, I went outside to stretch my legs and walk around for a bit. About a minute after I walked out, she came outside with some guy, whom I recognized as being from the OSU Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP). They chitchatted for about ten minutes. I made no effort to eavesdrop, but since they were talking rather loudly I couldn’t help but overhear a few things in passing.

Apparently the young woman--I don’t know if she's an undergraduate or a graduate student--or another one of their gang is in a political geography class of some sort. CJP was going to make a presentation to the class, but I guess another student or students complained or something or wanted someone else to present an alternate view to their propaganda, and the instructor ending up scrapping the whole idea. (Bloody Zionists, always ruining perfectly good opportunities for counter-factual indoctrination.)

They said something about the big Solidarity conference set for the next weekend, which has just passed, but I didn’t catch it. Then they mentioned something about an ad they were going to have in the student paper during the next week. Their inane Israel/South Africa/Apartheid advertisement ran on Wednesday. It was so lame I was almost embarrassed for them, and (predictably?) it included at least one grammatical error. Ah, verb tense agreement, what a bitch. But at least they managed to spell everything correctly.

The guy mentioned that he was going to see the film "Bonhoeffer." She hadn't heard about it, and he briefly told her about it. I had just seen it the day before, as a matter of fact, and I highly recommend it. It's about a German theologian and pacifist who was one of the few members of the Church in Germany to oppose Hitler. He was hanged after being caught with a few other people in a plot to assassinate Hitler. The guy didn't seem to have a very good idea of what the film was about, as he thought parts of it were done as a re-enactment. Whatever. Perhaps he'll learn something.

From that topic, the woman mentioned that she'd recently seen "The Pianist," and that she really hadn't liked it. Apparently it was all about the main character being a victim of anti-Semitism, and it didn't go into any of the political or historical context of the period. It was just all about him being victimized and how terrible it all was. Hmmm. Sounds awful. Now I really want to see it. (And for someone who was lecturing other people about how Palestinian refugees have a “right of return” to be complaining about insufficient historical and political context is really rich!)

The guy agreed with her assessment of the film, and chirped that "this is exactly what Finkelstein is talking about." Oho, academic name dropping! She agreed with him on that, and at that point they appeared to have a sort of Hegelian recognition based upon their mutual display of academic profundity. Then they mentioned how the actor had won an Oscar. The guy then made some smart-assed comment about the film getting "Best Actor" but not also "Best Picture": "Anti-Semitism!" he smirked.

Now, granted, I haven't seen "The Pianist,” so perhaps these comments aren't as vapid and repugnant as I found them, but really, w.t.f.? We all know that just because folks like this are avowed anti-Zionists that this doesn't make them the slightest bit anti-Semitic, god forbid, but those comments, as tendentious and vacuous as they were, struck me as a bit troubling. Needless to say, I didn't really like the direction the conversation was taking; but for better or worse at that point they stood up and left.

After they'd left and I'd contemplated this unexpected encounter for a few minutes, I couldn't help but laugh. I mean, of all the people she could have sat down next to, she managed to choose the one guy who just happened to have seen her in full throttle propaganda mode just a few days before.

And not only that, but Cup O' Joe's, the coffee shop we were at, is part of a chain owned by a guy named Todd Applebaum, a local mega-Zionist (he's always sending out bulletins and updates for a local aipac-esque email list he coordinates) and a big-time Republican in Columbus. And the Hebrew articles from Israeli newspapers displayed at Cup O' Joe aren't exactly there by accident. A Jewish friend and I affectionately call the place "Cup O' Jews," yet here were two members of CJP enjoying their coffee and chitchat in a Zionist-owned establishment, of all places, all the while prattling on about anti-Israel politics and the like. Priceless. Granted, Cup O' Joes isn't as high profile a joint as Starbucks (owned by another big supporter of Israel) but if these people want folks to boycott or divest or whatever from companies that are friendly with Israel, they really shouldn't be touching Cup O' Joe's products with a ten-foot pole, much less helping occupy the premises. Buying Todd's merchandise could really hurt one's anti-Zionist street cred, to say the least. Oh well.

Just another bit of evidence that so many of these folks don't have much of a clue about anything other than regurgitating anti-Zionist claptrap.

Zionespresso, mmmmm.

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