Letters to the Editor

Letter: Don’t use American money to fund Israeli repression

By
Thursday, April 23, 2009

To the Editor:

The recent letter from Brown Students for Israel and Hillel (“No divestment at Hampshire, no divestment at Brown,” April 15) grossly misrepresents the Hampshire divestment, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and the nature of Zionism.

First, Hampshire President Hexter released the letter cited only after Zionist enforcer Alan Dershowitz threatened to call for a boycott campaign against Hampshire and to withhold a significant personal donation if the university did not renounce the BDS movement. That the administration partly acquiesced to overt intimidation cannot erase the fact that it was Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine who campaigned for two years and presented their case to the Board, securing the decision to divest from the fund in question. Hexter may retrospectively whitewash, but the action and its context speak for themselves.
Second, the canard that Israel is uniquely singled out is absurd. Many regimes perpetrate human rights violations, and are justly censured. How many, however, carry out those violations with weapons and funding provided by the U.S. government? We don’t pay for North Korean torture with our taxes, nor does the Iranian army use American-supplied white phosphorus or cluster bombs to target civilians.  Americans finance Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime with funds that should go to healthcare for our neighbors, schools for our children.

Finally, to characterize Zionism as simply “the belief in the right of national self-determination for the Jewish people” is profoundly ahistorical and disingenuous. From its inception, Zionism has pursued ethnically exclusive Jewish nationalism, openly envisaging the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews. Theodor Herzl described in 1895 plans to “spirit the penniless population across the border … denying it any employment in our own country,” whereupon “We shall then sell only to Jews, and all real estate will be traded only among Jews.” David Ben-Gurion said, “We must expel Arabs and take their place,” implementing policies that saw mass expulsion of conquered Arab populations throughout the region.  Since 1948 Israel has consistently dispossessed the Arab population into ever-shrinking enclaves of land, with ever-dwindling human rights, leading to the shattered open-air prison that is Gaza today and the checkpoint-riddled Bantustan landscape of the West Bank.

The Israeli government just elected not only refuses to support even a notional Palestinian state, but features as Foreign Minister the openly neo-fascist Avigdor Lieberman, who has variously advocated bombing the Aswan Dam, drowning thousands of Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea (even offering to provide buses for the trip — who exactly is driving whom into the sea?) and killing Knesset members who had contact with Hamas after it was elected. He openly advocates transfer of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens.

No person of conscience can support any people’s project of self-determination if that project fundamentally requires the brutal abrogation of that right for another people. As anti-Zionists, we oppose not the Jewish right to self-determination, but the Israeli occupation. As BDS supporters, we call on Americans to resist the use of our name, our clout and our tax, tuition and investment dollars in the service of Israel’s brutal campaign of repression, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.  

Jesse Soodalter ’94, MD’09

William Keach, Professor of English
Francesca Contreras ’11
Elaine Freedgood, Visiting Professor of English
Paige Sarlin GS
Sean Feiner ’11
Lindsay Goss GS

Andrea Dillon ’11
Caitlin Chazen GS
Alex Ortiz ’09
Margaree Little ’09
Will Lambek ‘09.5
Shaun Joseph ’03
Rodrigo Lehtinen ’09
Eric Larson GS
Senia Barragan ’08
Dara Bayer ’08
Matthew Hamilton ’05

April 19, 2009

  • Jon Haber

    Like many others trying to breath life into the “Hampshire is the first college in America to divest from Israel” hoax, these letter writers like to brandish the Dershowitz bogeyman without acknowledging that it was Hampshire’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group that tried (unsuccessfully) to bully the college and defaud the public with regard to the political implications of Hampshire’s investment decisions.

    As has been discussed in other Brown forums, the only thing distinguishing divestment (a political act) from the generic buying and selling of stucks and mutual funds is that the supposedly divesting organization HAS TO SAY IT IS DIVESTING. Divestment is a public, political act and is thus meaningless if Hampshire or anyone else keeps it a secret (never mind denying it).

    Now can any of these letter writers produce a statement by the university (said before, during or after Alan Dershowitz or anyone else responded to the SJP started sending out unauthorized press releases making claims on behalf of Hampshire College) in which school decision makers clearly state that this decision was made because of the Arab-Israeli conflict? I can produce several statements where college leaders say explicitly that their decision had nothing to do with Israe land that SJP should stop trying to stuff words into the school’s mouth.

    Short of such evidence, we are left with the conclusion of a previous letter to this one in the Daily Herald: No Hampshire Divestment (and, one hopes, no Brown divestment).

  • Charles Bozner

    The letter to the editor displays almost all of the problems one associates with radical thought regarding the topic of Israel/Palestine. Its frequent use of mistruths, quotes either out of context or incorrectly translated, and complete misrepresentation of points the authors simply do not agree with is the type of work that would (or should) receive a failing grade at Brown. One easily can pick apart the points made to prove how poor the scholarship is behind the drafting, and how irrational the conclusions that are drawn.

    Here are but a few:

    1) Do the authors have proof that Hampshire acquiesced due to Prof Dershowitz? Or are they simply ignoring that Hampshire published its decision, including an explanation that the divestment was not related to Israel’s activities, before Prof Dershowitz published his letter suggested a potential protest again Hampshire.

    2) Israel does not and has not used cluster bombs or white phosphorous to target civilians. I am sure the authors would argue with me, and they would be correct only insofar as the IDF has used these items in warfare, but they would have no proof that they were used to “target” civilians. Practically every accusation made against the IDF regarding civilian targeting has been proven false, with entities including the UN frequently going back on their accusations to correct them.

    3) Using the term “occupation and apartheid regime” is a last breath grasping for rhetoric to replace actual facts, and actually highlights the weakness of their arguments. I recommend the authors re-read the definition of apartheid and explain how it applies in a country where all of its minorities enjoy the right to vote, serve at all levels of government, have access to equal education, medical and other facilities. Also, Gaza is no more an open air prison than any country that has enforced borders; when there was little to no terrorism coming from Gaza, its borders were open for people to cross and work in Israel. Do the authors consider once why those borders were (mostly) closed?

    4) The authors attempts to re-define Zionism are inaccurate and disingenuous. The use of misquotes and comments that have proven to have never been said may be accidental; I hypothesise that they are quoting existing propganda sources rather than taking the effort to access the original statements – I am being generous with this comment. The scholarship of the authors, therefore, truly is questionable. Furthermore, the venom associated with this attempt to paint Israel as a racist entity is in itself guilty of the charge they are levelling against Israel. Practically everything about the paragraph in question is laughable in its gross misrepresentation.

    5) Lieberman is no saint, and is widely hated in Israel. This, however, does not mean that the authors can simply make up points about what they think his position is. Lieberman actually supports a two state solution, which I bet (I do not know, I admit I am guessing) most of the authors do not, as they would likely prefer Israel to disappear off the face of the Earth. Sounds familiar to someone who has been in the news lately.

    What is more concerning is that a Brown professor – of English no less – would sign his name to the letter. I hope he applies a better standard of stewardship in front of his classes than he did in aligning himself with others who would publish such a fact-light, error-filled, completely biased letter.

    With the number of misguided or mistaken alumni signing, and the two professors who seem to promote anti-intellectual commentary without facts or proper scholarship, Brown should be embarrassed. I know I am.

  • Grad Student

    In addition to what has already been said:
    I find it somewhat perplexing that Anti-Israelis seem to equate the Israeli government with Israeli opinion in general. While the newly elected Israeli government is indeed very problematic, it is not representative of the overall opinions of Israelis. It is, in fact, a government elected by a minority of the people, in a situation in which most Israelis felt their candidates were extremely unsatisfactory and felt very despondent.

    The fact is, the majority of Israelis believe in a two-state solution, creating an independent and free Palestinian state. Equating the opinions of Liebrman with those of most Israelis is equivalent to claiming that most Americans shared the views and actions of George W. Bush while he was in office. Remember how you felt after the 2000 elections, with the problematic voting patterns and the fact that a president elected by a minority of the people was doing things in your name? This is what most Israelis feel about the current government.

    I find it strange that claims are being made about the bad choices Israelis made in the recent elections – using them as an excuse to act against Israel as a whole – and yet the same logic does not apply to the Palestinians. I completely agree that it is terrible and condemnable that Lieberman is Israel’s foreign minister. However, why are these writers not also condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the fact that the Palestinians have elected a terrorist organization, Hamas, to power? This organization is in fact using the Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza, by continuing to fire rockets on Israeli civilians and by refusing to do anything constructive to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza in terms of poverty etc. They do this because they are an extremist religious terrorist organization that draws it’s power from the suffering, poverty and misery of the Palestinian people. If Hamas wanted to alleviate this suffering, there are many steps it could take. They do not want to alleviate it because this keeps them in power by creating a cycle of dependency on their charity and extremist organizations.

    The situation in Israel is not a simple one. Any attempts to reduce it into simple arguments of black and white, the evil oppressor and the poor repressed people cannot and should not succeed. Israeli is not an innocent, but neither are the Palestinians. This is a complex situation and it should be talked about as such. Any calls for divestment or other one sided condemnations of Israel simply fail to understand the situation as a whole.

  • Jon Haber

    Like many others trying to breath life into the “Hampshire is the first college in America to divest from Israel” hoax, these letter writers like to brandish the Dershowitz bogeyman without acknowledging that it was Hampshire’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group that tried (unsuccessfully) to bully the college and defaud the public with regard to the political implications of Hampshire’s investment decisions.

    As has been discussed in other Brown forums, the only thing distinguishing divestment (a political act) from the generic buying and selling of stucks and mutual funds is that the supposedly divesting organization HAS TO SAY IT IS DIVESTING. Divestment is a public, political act and is thus meaningless if Hampshire or anyone else keeps it a secret (never mind denying it).

    Now can any of these letter writers produce a statement by the university (said before, during or after Alan Dershowitz or anyone else responded to the SJP started sending out unauthorized press releases making claims on behalf of Hampshire College) in which school decision makers clearly state that this decision was made because of the Arab-Israeli conflict? I can produce several statements where college leaders say explicitly that their decision had nothing to do with Israe land that SJP should stop trying to stuff words into the school’s mouth.

    Short of such evidence, we are left with the conclusion of a previous letter to this one in the Daily Herald: No Hampshire Divestment (and, one hopes, no Brown divestment).

  • Joe Rella

    “We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. Let the owners of immovable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back. The voluntary expropriation will be accomplished through our secret agents. The Company would pay excessive prices. We shall then sell only to Jews, and all real estate will be traded only among Jews.”

    (Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, I, 51)

    Never said, huh C Bozner? Gee, with almost no effort at all I can pretty quickly find it… isn’t that odd?

    I could go on, but you won’t listen to the truth anyway, as it doesn’t match what you wish to be true. Zionists may not have had racist intentions (and this is HIGHLY debatable), but racism is exactly what Zionism has wrought. Go to the territories and stand at a checkpoint for a few hours. Any one you want. Then come back and tell us all again how wonderful Israel is to everyone.

    Jerk.

  • Joe Rella

    More to C Bozner:

    Just a few more quick thoughts… you say that Israel has not used cluster bombs and white phosphorous to target civilians. Well, I can name at least 5 human rights organizations who would beg to differ with you on that. I can also show you the burned Palestinian children who got to experience it firsthand. You say that these things have been proven to be false, but you neglect to mention that the only organization who has found this to be false is the organization who is accused of perpetrating these actions. You act as if the IDF investigating itself and finding itself wonderful is the end of the discussion. And you talk about others being disingenuous.

    You claim that calling Israel’s illegal presence in the West Bank (and presumably the Golan as well) ‘occupation’ is somehow incorrect… what do you call it when you illegally take land by force in a war that you started, attempt to expel the majority of natives, and then repress the rights of those you couldn’t expel outright? What do you call it when an invading people settles in their neighbor’s land and then uses terror to attempt to drive away the few remaining natives, while using their powerful military to protect the terrorist settlers? You want to talk about how people in Israel are equal?? You must be high. Let me demonstrate.

    Palestinians in the West Bank who are merely ACCUSED of terror-related activity… not even terror itself, but ‘support’ for it as defined by the local IDF commander (a broad definition would be putting it mildly)… these ACCUSED people are subject to perfectly legal home demolition by the IDF and settlers. In contrast, Jewish settlers in the same area who are actually CONVICTED of bombings and other terrorist actions against the Palestinians never face home demolition AT ALL. In fact, on the rare occasions that Jews are actually convicted of these crimes and ostensibly punished, they are routinely given special privileges, such as leaving prison to attend family functions and holidays… holidays for which the Palestinian population is forced to stay indoors so as not to potentially disrupt the Jewish festivities.

    You denigrated Noam Chomsky’s works over on JPost, talked about how his work was rife with mistruths (your ‘word’, not mine) and things out of context… you seem to make that charge a lot, but you never give us the correct context for ‘real’ truth in any given instance. Interestingly, Alan Dershowitz does this quite a bit as well, which is why he always looks like a dunce when he tries to debate real scholars of the conflict.

    You are quick to denounce the ‘venom’ of attacking Israel as racist, but you never seem to realize that the vast majority of the world doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Israel per se, at least no more than they do any other country; they do however care about when a majority is brutally repressing a helpless minority. When the majority employs an army to enforce the racial divide with the minority, and does it in land illegally taken by force, the world cares. Would it make you happier to call it ethnic chauvinism? Does that not offend as much?

  • Jon Haber

    Dear Joe – Of course you were able to find this quote easily since it was served up to you pre-digested, one of countless out-of-context quotations that have become staples of anti-Israel crusaders over the years. Did you know that when he wrote this particular diary entry, Herzl was assuming a Jewish homeland would be best in created in South America (as made clear in his diary entry the day after this one)? Of course not, since this would require you to have actually read the original document (or at least understood what it was) before throwing up this quote as some sort of proof that the expulsion of Arabs was part of a conspiracy that goes back to Zionism’s founder.

    Your truncated copy-and-paste quotation also leaves out two important sentences, one which precedes your quote which says “When we occupy the land, we shall bring immediate benefits to the state that receives us.” And the sentences that comes next which read: “It goes without saying that we shall respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their property, their honor, and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion. This is another area in which we shall set the entire world a wonderful example …”

    I’d be curious what a Brown professor would have to say if a student presented someone’s quote regarding South America as a statement about the Middle East, and was found to have tampered with the text as much as you have Joe. But then again, it’s not like you did any research for your accusation, choosing instead to just Google “Herzl” and “expulsion,” cutting and pasting, smugly declaring victory and (I assume next) retreating to other accusations without acknowledging that this one has been proven so demonstrably false.

    We now have two examples of the perpetuation of hoaxes by Israel’s accusers: First the “Hampshire divested from Israel” fraud, and now fake, out-of-context quotes. You guys may want to quit while you are way, way behind since your self-image as knights of justice and truth can get a little tarnished when you indulge in such dishonest fakery in full public view.

  • Charles Bozner

    Joe Rella, Thank you for proving my points about misquotes and poor scholarship so well. Jon Haber’s posts do the answering for me. On other points of yours: 1) I never called anyone a racist: not those writing the original letter to the editor, not Chomsky, not others. You would serve your case better if you did not make up quotes and stuck them in my posts. 2) I have been to and waited in West Bank (although not Gaza) check points when travelling around the region. I have done it in Arab cars and Israeli ones. I know that the IDF guards are not particularly nice to the non-Israeli Arabs. I also know that this is because of security reasons rather than racial ones. Remember, all Israeli cars – Jewish and Muslim (and Christian) can use the bypass roads. How is that racist? Unfair maybe, but not racist or even ‘apartheid’ – again, look up the definition. 3) No organisation has proven that Israel “targeted” civilians with cluster bombs and white phosphorous. Yes, these were used and that is not really excusable. But the IDF did not target the civilians in the way that Hamas/Hezbollah/Al Aqsa/PIJ/PRC targets Jewish civilians. I choose my words carefully, you would do yourself credit to read them with the same care. 4) The presence of the Israeli Defense Force in the West Bank is not illegal according to many lawyers, though most agree that the settlements are. Even the term ‘occupation’ is disputable given the circumstance of how the land was obtained; in what is widely considered to be a defensive war which allows the land to go the winners of said conflict. I will not go into the details here given space and time, but I can see the arguments both ways for the ‘occupation’ being ‘illegal’ but be clear — it is one done of out of security not racism. 5) I agree that Jewish terrorists – yes there are some – are not punished appropriately. Your point on this topic is accurate if not well made. However, I would hardly say that the Arab population has been pushed out given that their numbers have grown significantly since 1967. People use the term ‘ethnic cleansing’. The facts and specifically the numbers do not back up this claim at all. In fact, the only areas of the original Palestinian Mandate that have been ethnically cleansed of their pre 1948 populations are Jordan and Gaza… those populations being Jews. 6) Prof Dershowitz is one of the leading legal minds in the USA if not the world. His comments regarding the legal nature of the conflict are rather sound and frustrating to his critics. Chomsky is a linguist with no grounding in politics or international affairs and does minimal proper research which is why his work has been picked apart by people with far greater mental abilities than I have. I do not need to defend Dershowitz nor do I need to critique Chomsky in detail – myriads of others do that for me. 7) Your reverting to calling me names shows where the quality of your thinking and argument is. Very mature of you. You must be obsessed to recall my few postings on the Jerusalem Post. Actually, I did refer to one group on that site as being racist: I accused a section of the Jewish Betar Jerusalem football team fans of being racist in their anti-Arab chantings. So give me a little credit. Thank you.

  • Joe Rella

    Dear Jon – Actually, I found that quote on hundreds of pages, but that is beside the point. And what difference does it make whether or not he was talking about the middle east or south africa? In either case he was talking about developing a racist state, expelling the current residents in favor of others of a different ethnicity. As for the leading and trailing sentences, they may make you feel better about it, but they don’t change what the man said, nor the opinions behind it. So, for all your denouncing of my “fakery” and “tamper[ing] with the text”, what do you really have there Sherlock? I didn’t include what was said immediately prior nor immediately after what I quoted. Great job there oh super-defender of Israel. Really impressive. Of course we weren’t talking about that, we were talking about whether the words the original author quoted were actually correct; they were. No tampering necessary. You lose. Quit crying.

    I also notice that you didn’t have a thing to say about the post I followed that with, the one describing current conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the illegal use of WP by the IDF against civilians. No, you zero in on some editorial disagreement (you think the extra sentences you cite make a difference, I don’t), attempt to portray me as somehow dishonest, and then proceed to mount your high horse of indignity, all the while dispensing condescension… and completely ignoring the larger point which is that Zionism has brought de facto racism to Israel and the OPT. As I said before, you can debate whether or not that was intended, but it is what it is.

    I cannot express how awed I am, sir. I will have to think twice before I prove that an original quote was in fact accurate, lest I run into the likes of brainpower such as yours. Excellent work genius.

  • Jon Haber

    As predicted (predictably), you are raring to move onto the next subject (the Eeevilll of Zionism) while demanding that you be given the role of both prosecutor and judge (and no doubt jury and executioner) with nary a mention about the subject of this entire debate: whether or not Hampshire College divested in Israel. This is no small matter since if they did, then you’d have an example of how Brown should follow suit. And if they did not, then Brown has been provided with an inspiration to NOT divest in Israel, despite the appeals of people like you.

    As has been stated previously, there is only one way to know if a school has divested in Israel (rather than just selling a mutual fund for another reason, economic or political): the divesting institution must publically state that it did so. And so far, when asked to provide any evidence that contradicts Hampshire’s stated policy that it DID NOT divest in Israel, you and your fellow divest-niks have failed to do so. Throwing up the Dershowitz bogeyman may provide you an excuse for refusing to provide any evidence to back up your claim, but it does not answer the question about why such evidence can’t be found during the period between when the school allegedly divested and when that supposed position became controversial. If there was any truth to the “Hampshire has divested” hoax, there would not be such a need to belch so much smog into this debate, now would there? So on the key point of this discussion – and unless you and your allies can produce evidence to the contrary – Hampshire DID NOT divest from Israel (although it did divest from Sudan – a statement it did make publically – so maybe you want to switch the focus of your wrath from now on to “Apartheid Islamism” perhaps?).

    Regarding finding your Herzl quote on more than one Web site, of course you have. There are countless people like you who don’t have the foggiest idea of what Herzl was writing about, or about the history of the movement he founded, or how this movement fit into countless other literatures of national liberation (Greek, African, Arab, etc.) during this period, but who love to find little McNuggets that they can post and repost on countless Web sites and blogs in hope to convince those who do not know any better of some vast, ahistorical “truthiness.” It is clear that you could not care less about the context in which these words were written, and have no interest in learning more. The fact that a sentence in the middle of a paragraph written by someone you barely understand serves your contemporary political purposes is good enough. (Why do I suspect you would be less satisfied with an equally out-of-context quote that “proved” a point you disagree with?)

    Remember that I did not show up at this forum demanding that Brown (or anywhere else) take a stand that would embarrass my political enemies (as have you and your fellow failing divestment advocates). I simply chose to clarify the key argument you have been making that Hampshire should serve as an inspiration to Brown and every other college in the country. Point of fact, Hampshire should inspire colleges like Brown to do the same thing Hampshire has done: show divestment advocates the door before they cause any further embarrassment to the school by misrepresenting both school policy and (in your case) history.

  • Joe Rella

    Wait a minute there chief, I haven’t said a word about Brown nor Hampshire. In fact, the only reason I was even here was because I was reading the letter; I have not given much thought to divestment, as I do not attend either school, and was simply bored and browsing the web. I clicked a Google link and read a published letter to an editor. I then saw that people were posting, NOT about the question of divestment, but rather in a general vein about Zionism and whether the (quite disturbing) quotes were accurate. I therefore posted my first comment; look back, you will see I have not once mentioned divestment. Perhaps I am guilty of posting off-topic, but then so is C Bozner, to whose post I was responding. See, you don’t even take the time to think before you blindly defend Zionism. That is an accurate representation of large parts of the Zionist movement in my experience, so it certainly does not surprise me. And you call ME predictable. That’s almost humorous. But please do read through again, and tell me where I was making an argument about divestment or anyone or thing being a model for anyone else.

    Your attempt to paint me in the role which you apparently reserve for everyone who tells the (embarrassing) truth about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been very weak, and your failure to even address the specific examples I gave is quite telling in regard to your knowledge of the subject. Put them together and you get a picture of your everyday average modern Zionist. But keep practicing. US-based Zionists have made an art form out of vilifying opponents for having views that are different from theirs; keep trying, you can do it! I have faith.

  • Jon Haber

    In this wide, wacky world of the Web, there is nothing preventing you from joining a discussion about divestment, chicken farming or knitting and demanding answers to questions regarding your personal pet peeves.

    I have joined this discussion not to demand that Brown rain down vitriol on Israel’s political rivals, even though accusations of racism, Apartheid and ethnic cleansing (not to mention sexism and homophobia) could be much more accurately applied to Israel’s neighbors than to the Jewish state. Rather, I wanted to simply point out that the main premise of the letter writers (that Hampshire College has divested from the State of Israel and that this serves as a model for Brown and other colleges) is demonstrably false, and thus Hampshire serves as a model to those schools who REJECT, rather than advocate divestment from Israel.

    If this topic is not your bag, no worries! Even if you were interested in it, you would be just as unable as the original letter writers to provide any evidence to support the fraudulent assertion that Hampshire has divested from Israel because – as becomes more clear with each passing day of silence – such evidence does not exist.

    Like the original letter writers, you would prefer that this and any other forum be a place where Israel can be put on trial for any accusation you can come up with, that any evidence you provide (from out-of-context quotations based on documents you know nothing about to information gleaned from self-serving web sites) be taken at face value, and that you get to arbitrate who is debating honestly and who is coming at the subject as a “blind defender of Zionism” or whatever. Again, you are free to be as hyper-partisan and intentionally ignorant of any fact that does not conform with your opinion as you like. That is your right as a citizen of America and cyberspace. But please do not assume that everyone around you is required to answer your questions just because you shout them ever louder, especially in a forum such as this where no one has yet to answer mine.

  • Joe Rella

    Jon – Wrong again genius. Do you even read posts before you open your mouth and let stupid fall out? I find it amazing that you have such animosity towards me for simply pointing out that a quote was accurate and then stating some facts about the OPT. Talking about how I am shouting… you fail to realize that I never once addressed you or the issue of divestment until you attacked me. Yes, you are a blind defender of Israel, and no one needs more than a quick glance at your ridiculous rantings to see that. You are trying so hard to appear scholarly, and the truth is that you obviously don’t know your ass from your elbow when it comes to the history and present status of Israel and the OPT, though your Zionism indoctrination seems to be quite solid. Still, if you want people to respect you for having an intellect, stop trying to impress everyone with your debating/arguing skills (also weak btw) and actually do some reading and/or traveling. Get some idea of what the truth is, rather than just believing what you have been taught by fellow Zionists. Read one of Ben-Gurion’s biographies, or Meir’s to start, they won’t require you to think outside the box much. Then maybe find out about Shamir, Dayan, Rabin, Peres, Begin, Eban, Gazit, Sharon…. or maybe look at it from a different perspective; try some Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, Jimmy Carter perhaps. These are but a few of the topics and authors I have read on the subject. Maybe you want to look at things from a more local perspective; I would suggest doing some research on the Mufti of Jerusalem in 1948, or perhaps on Dov Joseph and the fighting for Jerusalem. When you have put some real time and thought into the matter, get back to me and we can converse. Until then, this will be my last post on this thread, as you have shown that you do not want to have any real conversation, preferring instead to attack me (and not even very well), stopping just short of accusing me of anti-Semitism, but implying it nonetheless. As I said before, par for the course. I still chuckle that you called me predictable… that is so rich. Grow up, do some real research and critical thinking rather than simply falling back on what others have told you. Learn until you can intelligently discuss the subject of Israel/Palestine. Until then, you are just another blind defender.

  • Charles Bozner

    Joe Rella,Thank you for actually proving my points about misquoting sources and applying substandard scholarship so well, which was the majority of my critique regarding the original letter to the editor. I have no issue with people criticizing Israel as I have done so on posts myself. My issue was that an Ivy League university should feature better performance from its faculty and alumni than that performed by the letter’s authors; hating Israel is fine, but misrepresenting the Hampshire divestment and the nature of Zionism makes one look foolish at best, undisciplined definitely and rather dubious at worse.On other points of yours:1) My original post was on topic the entire time. It is a comment-by-comment critique specific to the original letter, and therefore was completely focused on the topics raised. The original letter deliberately misrepresents the concept of Zionism, which is one reason why I replied with a specific challenge on that point among others, all of which are related to the original letter. Your replies to me and Jon Haber, however, ventured way off topic. This is an Ivy League newspaper’s website, so I would hope you would apply the same discipline in your posts that you accuse others of failing to do. Your thinking my post was “off topic” suggests you may not actually understand how to argue on a point-by-point basis, which is what I did. 2) I never called anyone a racist or likewise in my post: not those writing the original letter to the editor, not Chomsky, not others. I do not believe any of these people are likely to be racist or anti-semitic. You would serve your case better if you did not make up quotes and attributed them to my posts.3) I have been to and waited in West Bank (although not Gaza) check points when travelling around the region. I have done so with Arabs – Muslim and Christian – and Jews. I know that the IDF guards are not particularly nice to the non-Israeli Arabs. I also know that this is because of security reasons rather than racial ones. Remember, all Israeli cars – Jewish and Muslim (and Christian) can use the bypass roads. Also, believe it or not, Israeli Arabs and often Jerusalem-resident Arabs are allowed to live in “Jewish” neighbourhoods in many settlements. How is that racist? The nature of the occupation may be unfair to non-Israeli Arabs maybe, but it is not racist or even ‘apartheid’ – again, look up the definition.4) No organisation has proven that Israel purposely “targeted” civilians with cluster bombs and white phosphorous. Yes, these were used in the recent war and that is not really excusable given the urban setting. But the IDF did not purposely target civilians in the way that Hamas/Hezbollah/Al Aqsa/PIJ/PRC target Jewish civilians. I choose my words carefully, you would do yourself credit to read them with the same care.5) The presence of the Israeli Defence Force in the West Bank is not illegal according to many lawyers, though most agree that the civilian settlements are. Even the term ‘occupation’ is disputable given the circumstance of how the land was obtained; in a defensive war, land can go the winners of said conflict. This is applicable in the case of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as Jordan attacked Israel first, albeit after the pre-emptive Israeli strike on Syria. Plus, Resolution 242 as you know does not require Israel to return all of the land captured, while it does indicate that the land should return what it does only when the conditions of peace can be met by all sides. Please note I am not applying the same principle to the Golan (which I believe is an illegal occupation, hence Israel’s annexation) and will not go into the details here given space and time, but I can see the arguments both ways regarding whether the ‘occupation’ is ‘illegal’ but be clear — it is one done of out of security not racism.6) I agree that Jewish terrorists – yes there are some – are not punished appropriately. I agree with your point on this topic, though your comment is not particularly well phrased or argued. However, I would hardly say that the Arab population has been pushed out given that their numbers have grown significantly since 1967. People use the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ rather sloppily and, unfortunately for them, the facts and specifically the population figures do not back up this claim at all. In fact, the only large contiguous areas of the original Palestinian Mandate that have been ethnically cleansed of their pre 1948 populations are Jordan and Gaza… those populations removed being Jews.7) Prof Dershowitz is one of the leading legal minds in the USA if not the world. His comments regarding the legal nature of the conflict are rather sound and therefore frustrating to his critics. Neither you or I are near his league. Chomsky, however, is a linguist by profession with no advanced grounding in politics or international affairs. He does minimal proper scholarly research which is why his work…

  • Jon Haber

    Dear Joe – Please forgive me if my responses implied any animosity towards you. To the extent that I’ve given you any thought at all, my feelings are entirely sympathetic. No doubt you find it frustrating that you cannot show up in a debate about a subject about which you admit you know nothing (divestment), begin making loud and uninformed accusations about Zionism and Israel and not be immediately given the moral and intellectual high ground you so clearly feel you deserve.

    I’m sure you’ve entered other forums hurling accusations and insults and declaring victory, and may have even found people in those places who, for whatever reason, have chosen to take you seriously. For my part, I have a very specific reason to be here: to expose the hoax around Hampshire’s alleged divestment so that other schools (like Brown) don’t fall into the same trap. While I sympathize with your desire to talk about an entirely different subject (something you have in common with the original letter writers who seem to want to talk about anything but their now-exposed Hampshire fraud), I’m glad to know you have chosen to move on to a place where you may find people who are actually having the debate you seem to crave.

    As a final note, I firmly believe you when you say you are well read in the works of Mssrs. Chomsky, Finkelstein and Carter, and I am equally sure that these authors (along with countless partisan Web sites) are you sole sources for information on the other people you mention (Herzl, Ben Gurion, Rabin, Meir, etc.). In fact, I admire people like you who have managed to filter out all information that does not conform to an existing worldview.
    Having an informal history background (and being married to a professional historian), I tend to see the world as complex enough that no single quote or action can be used to sum up a historic figure or movement. For example, the fact that the Mufti of Jerusalem (who you mentioned) spent World War II at Hitler’s side begging him to bring the Final Solution to the Middle East is a pretty telling detail, but even then I’m ready to accept the fact that the Mufti’s entire story tells us more than just this one incident would imply.

    Perhaps someday I’ll reach a state where I’m ready to accept tasty little quote McNuggets provided by others as all I need to understand the world. But thankfully that day has not yet arrived.

    Goodbye and good luck,

    Jon

  • Joe Rella

    C Bozner – Ok, you have goaded me into replying, but it will be a quick one, as I have already spent far too much time here. I just reread your posts, and I admit that your first post was not off-topic. However, when you said”misquotes and comments that have proven to have never been said “in reference to the original letter, I assumed you were talking about the quote I mentioned in my reply. The quote was accurate, and was absolutely relevant to the question at hand, regardless of whether Herzl was talking about the middle east specifically. So, while you never actually said that this was the quote to which you were referring, I don’t think it was too presumptuous of me to assume it was. Following that assumption, you were wrong, and I replied as much. If you were not talking about this quote, you have my sincerest apology for misunderstanding you. Perhaps next time you could be more clear about what quote or comment you believe had never been said.Was this an open forum for Israel-related topics? Probably not, and I certainly didn’t mean to threadjack. As I mentioned before, I acknowledge that I was posting off-topic. As for whether or not the occupation is born out of racism, I never claimed that it was. What I said was that you can debate whether or not racism was an intent of Zionism, but you cannot deny the racism that currently exists in the OPT as you continue to try to do. The IDF admitted recently to recruits wearing tshirts that had a pregnant Arab woman in the cross-hairs and a slogan that said “One shot, two kills”… why is it so hard for you to believe that someone who could wear this shirt could be racist? Res Ipsa Locquitor, the thing speaks for itself!I never said that you called Chomsky a racist, I said that you denigrated him, which you did, over on The Jerusalem Post initially, and then again just now. As for Dersh, he was a leading civil rights activist, whose absolute bias toward Israel has tainted his legacy in that regard. How can one espouse the violence and repression he supports on behalf of the IDF and claim to care about civil rights? How can one advocate destroying entire Arab villages and towns in retaliation for incidents of terror and claim to be an adherent to the rule of law? Dersh has lost his moral bearing, as have so many Zionists (though not all). Also, while Chomsky is a linguist (a brilliant one at that), he is also a noted scholar of the Israel-Palestine conflict and a famous political analyst, one who has been branded a self-hating Jew (along with Finkelstein) by Alan Dershowitz. So you can try to say that Chomsky doesn’t have the right credentials to be taken seriously (that IS what you are implying, no?), but your hero Dersh apparently saw him as someone he needed to address and label in reference to the subject of the middle east. Dersh also tried to stop Berkeley Press from publishing a book of Finkelstein’s, again trying to silence opinion critical of Israel (and Dersh personally, though he brought that on himself for plagiarizing Joan Peters’ work and trying to pass it off as his own).How can you claim that the IDF didn’t target civilians? You say as much in your post when you admit that using this type of ordinance in an urban setting was a bad idea? Why was it a bad idea? You know why… because it was impossible NOT to target civilians by using WP there. Therefore, the IDF should not have used it at all. The fact is, the IDF did what most armies do these days; they tried to phone it in via airstrike, rather thna get dirty on the ground. And that decision cost many Palestinian (and perhaps down the road some Jewish) civilians to die and endure horrible injury, all so that the IDF wouldn’t lose too many men. They decided that it was more acceptable to kill Palestinian civilians than it was to put their soldiers into harm’s way. How is that not racism? Also, the IDF is arguably the second most technologically advanced army in the world. I find it impossible to believe that they accidentally targeted so many places that are just not even close to acceptable; like hospitals, schools, the UNRWA warehouse, etc. And before you reply back that Hamas was firing on the IDF from these places, let me ask you… if you were in the hospital, lying in an ICU, and a man came in and started shooting out of your hospital window, do you in the ICU deserve to be shelled? He couldn’t stop the gunman if he wanted to. What do you think would have happened if a group of Palestinians kidnapped and held several dozen Israeli schoolchildren inside a school? Do you think the IDF would drop bombs on the school, or hit it with artillery? Of course not. So why was it acceptable to do it to the Palestinians? It wasn’t, unless one takes a racist view. As I said, racism may not have been an intent of Zionism, but it is certainly a byproduct.Res 242 absolutely requires Israel to give back all land taken in the 1967 war, with the exception of mutually agreed and compensated border changes….

  • Joe Rella

    Jon – I have no more time for people like you. As I mentioned to C Bozner (in a post that will hopefully show up soon; it took quite a while to type), I acknowledge that I was not in the correct forum to have a general discussion about Zionism and it’s many evil (if arguably unintended) byproducts and results. Beyond that, your posts and attempts at pseudo-intellectualism are laughable.

    As for what I have read, I have given you a representative sampling of it; the fact that you try to change that to fit your view of me is not surprising, Regardless, my education and experience on the subject is obviously far more complete and nuanced than your own. Don’t think I don’t know how much it pisses you off that I have read extensively from the Israeli viewpoint as well; you make that clear in your attempt to modify what I said to fit your view of me. It kills you that I have heard the Zionist arguments from actual Zionists and that I subsequently rejected them. Now, if you would put a similar amount of time and effort into reading and learning from the non-Zionist viewpoint, we might actually be able to have an intelligent conversation. But you won’t, because as you attempted to project onto me, your study has obviously been, and will remain, one-sided. You have no interest in the truth on the subject of Zionism.

    For the last time, I HAVE NOT THOUGHT AT ALL ABOUT DIVESTMENT! IN the time it took me to write that sentence, it occurs to me that since universities do not INvest in Israel, it is pretty silly to demand that they DIvest of Israel. But that is just the first thought that occurs to me on the subject, and probably the last, since I do not think programs like this are effective. I would rather focus on changing the US government’s ridiculous policies of subsidizing the Israeli settlement expansion program and providing more arms and supplies to a country that uses these weapons offensively, as they did in Gaza.

    Enough now. I will probably look in later, as I am curious to see just how stupid and juvenile your response would be, but it really doesn’t matter what you say, as I will not post here again.

  • Joe Rella

    Now see, that’s just irritating. I take an hour out of my day to respond to CBozner, and the site doesn’t bother to print it. Every other post gets printed, except the one that talks about Ben-Gurion and the other original Zionists and their well-known expansionist agenda, which was implemented most notably in 1967. What a perfect way to end this comedy of a forum. I did not save the post, and I am not going to sit here trying to recreate it. The fact that it didn’t appear when all others did says a great deal.

  • Jon Haber

    Joe – If it makes you feel any better, I’ve lost a number of submissions to this site since I started commenting here. If you click on the Recently Commented link over on the right, you’ll see 24+ comments listed for this article (even though only 19 show up) and 13 for the Simon Liebling piece that started this discussion (even though only six comments appear with that letter). While a conspiracy to silence you and I is possible, I strongly suspect a fakakta commenting subsystem is the most likely culprit.

    Still, I can understand your frustration. No doubt the comment you tried to leave was the comment to end all comments! The greatest set of sentences that has ever or will ever grace the Internet. Something so convincing, so compelling that we who have criticized you would be reduced to gibbering zombies, walking around stunned by the light of your breath-taking arguments.

    Perhaps your piece would contain more damning quotes from Israel and Zionism’s founders, such as the one frequently attributed to Ben Gurion (“We will expel the Arabs, the Arabs would have to go… If we have to use force, we will use force. The appropriate moment would come if not now, later.”) which, upon closer inspection of the original source turned out to actually have said “”And then we will have to use force… without hesitation though only when we have no choice. We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place…” Oh the wondrous cherry picking of facts and quotes we will never be exposed to (unless, of course, we visit any of the hundreds of Web sites that traffic in such fabrications daily).

    Having done Internet debate way back in the day (UseNet anyone?), I know these discussions can get stuck in a cul-de-sac with everyone afraid to stop posting and risk being accused of losing the debate by not being the last one to speak. So maybe it’s time to give us both a chance to call this argument a day. I have joined these discussions only to help spread the word about the Hampshire divestment hoax, and at least on the point of divestment we don’t have much argument. What little you think about it, you don’t think it’s a good idea. And I think it’s a bad idea as well (albeit for a whole bunch of other reasons). With this point of agreement in place, perhaps you and I can agree that we disagree on almost all other matters relating to Israel and the Middle East freeing you to find places where your contributions are more suitable (something you seem to want to do), and leaving me to stay focused on divestment, a subject that remains of interest to me.

    Agreed?

  • Neal Poole

    Jon and Joe: I’m Neal, the Brown Daily Herald’s Web Editor. I just wanted to confirm for you both that there is no conspiracy going on to censor either of you: as Jon guessed, the problem is our platform’s commenting system. I’m going through the list of recent comments right now to make sure all comments are displayed. We’re also reported the issue to our host and we hope they’ll be able to fix the problem quickly.

    In the meantime, if you (or anyone else for that matter) posts a comment that doesn’t show up on the site, please feel free to drop me a line at web@browndailyherald.com and let me know what article the comment was on.