Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BDS comes of age in America

An American organization of professors on Monday announced a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, signaling that a movement to isolate and pressure Israel that is gaining ground in Europe has begun to make strides in the United States.

Members of the American Studies Association voted by a ratio of more than two to one to endorse the boycott in online balloting that concluded Sunday night, the group said. ...

“O.K., so a couple of Israeli researchers will not be invited by a couple of American researchers,” said Avraham Burg, a leftist former Labor Party lawmaker who was one of the founders of Molad, a research group that recently published a report on Israeli isolation. “That for me is awful, because the academic community is the last one with the freedom of thought and freedom of expression.”

But Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and a founder of the B.D.S. movement, said the boycott vote shed light on the close collaboration between Israel’s universities and its government and military, and it put those universities on notice that they will become unwelcome in international academic circles.

“It is perhaps the strongest indicator yet that the B.D.S. movement is reaching a tipping point, even in the U.S., the last bastion of support for Israel’s unjust system,” he said.

Full article at: 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Woodstock Vigil for Palestinian Solidarity

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Standing room only

Paul, the flyering went well. We gave out all of our flyers (Fred had made 120). We could have used more, but had no idea that some 300? people would show up for the talk. It was a standing room only crowd - mostly folks from the Poughkeepsie Jewish community, but there were some students too. People were a little confused about the flyers - some thought they were programs for the talk. It looked as if everyone read them and they were discussing the questions that were on the flyer. Often we are clearly the opposition when we give out materials, but in this case it was not so obvious and in some strange way the flyers may have gotten more attention and more consideration.

Fred, thank you for your comprehensive and thoughtful summary. I agree with you that Mr. Halevi gave a "masterful performance." He seemed like such a reasonable, compassionate, and genuinely likable guy - very articulate and wonderfully expressive about his pain, the aspirations and anxieties of "the Jewish people," and some thoughtful sentiments about the Palestinians. I actually found myself lulled into some sense of acceptance of his "narrative." Unfortunately, there are some serious distortions and misrepresentations in his story.

I think the primary omission to his version was alluded to by Jane's question which was moving in the direction of - "What about the daily, relentless, brutal oppression, and humiliation of Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territorites? What about the huge disparity of power?" Mr. Halevi alludes to the need for both sides to sit down and work this out (without outside pressures) as if these two parties were somehow equals. It's hard for the Palestinians to talk when the boot of Israel is firmly planted on their throats! Mr. Halevi conveys the heartfelt desire of Jews who never lived in Hebron to return to Hebron, but seems to have little understanding of the Palestinians desire to return to land, farms, homes, and villages from which they were forcibly removed in recent memory.

It was also interesting to note that Mr. H would toss out the concept of "justice" in order to settle the problem. If fact, he stated that "justice" was getting in the way of a settlement. I would have been very interested to hear Mr. Halevi describe what he thinks would be a "fair" two state solution, since he indicated that Jews could return to that Jewish state and Palestinians could return to their "new " state.

All in all, a good evening. But the best part was seeing, being and acting with all my MECR friends.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yossie Klein Halevi's recent talk at Marist College

We decided to hand out flyer at the last minute so that we could’t be thrown out. So about 10 minutes before the event, we passed the flyers down each row like an official program. Looking back, there were over 100 people reading them, with some positive feedback overheard by several of us. Some negative too.

But we were about 100 flyers short! Who knew we needed that many?


Yossie Klein Halevi's recent talk at Marist College was a masterful performance. He began by being disarmingly blunt about the suffering of the Palestinian people. He had seen it himself during his service in the Israel Defense Force and the experience convinced him that the "left argument" was essentially correct. Palestinians deserve their own state, just like the Jews.

He warned against outside pressure to settle the conflict. In his words, the more pressure from the rest of the world, the less progress has been achieved. No, Halevi understands that the solution must involve a respectful and honest "dialogue" between two very distinct "narratives" about who deserves the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Palestinians got a late start in developing their narrative, of course. In 1948, according to Halevi, the Palestinians had no national aspirations at all. Contrast this to the 2,000 years that the Jews have considered this land to be their religious and spiritual essence. Yes, these are the "intangible issues" that a lasting peace must be built upon, starting with the realization that there is "no Jewish religion without Israel." Mr. Halevi makes no mention of the many Jewish intellectuals from Martin Buber to Judith Butler who have pointed out that this unification of religion and state is as recent as the last century, and represents an aberration in traditional Jewish teaching.

So why are Palestinians suffering? According to Halevi, it's because Yasser Arafat blew his chance at Camp David when Israel offered almost everything the Palestinians wanted. This version of history has been so discredited that Halevi wisely moves right on. The Palestinians are suffering in Gaza "because of Hamas," and because of the "disproportionate response" that the Palestinian people have always had to Jewish attempts to build their own state.

Halevi declares that the international community hasn't been much better, at times acting like "an intellectual Lynch mob." He refers to the many UN resolutions against the state of Israel. Doesn't this prove his point that the rest of the world has in fact "ghettoized Israel" in its relentless one sidedness? There is no mention of the numerous Israeli violations of the UN charter in the settlement of occupied lands.

Halevi ended his talk with a poignant recounting of his own suffering. He will be giving up "who I am" to grant the Palestinians even a part of the land he has in his "historical memory." His memory goes back at least 2,000 years, so that is saying quite a lot.

Fred Nagel

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Getting the BDS Message Out

I never got around to getting a picture of our flyering. We handed out about 200, and Jack was counting cars by the minute. Don't remember the number in the hour we were there, but it was in the thousands. With the big banner in front, that is getting our message out to a lot of people.

One car stopped in traffic after reading the banner. "Can I have a flyer?" the woman asked. Several cars took flyers when we had a chance to be there at the right time.

Jack also liked the banner and suggested a second one. They are cheap enough, so let's think about that. I paid a about $32 for 400 flyers and there has to be a cheaper way to get them printed.

All in all, a good session. We had about seven people in all. Thanks, Eli, for setting this up. He says he is ready to do it again next month.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

BDS in New Paltz

Seven of us passed out several hundred flyers in New Paltz on a very hot afternoon.

The crowds were not as big as during the spring when SUNY New Paltz was in session, so there was plenty of time to talk to people as they went by.

No one seemed insulted by our message. Several thanked us for being there. A man wearing a yamaka spent 20 minutes talking amiably with one of our members and left with a good deal of information.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eli and I (later joined by Joe) handed out all our flyers and cards at the Dennis Ross talk that was given at SUNY New Paltz.

Everyone was very friendly because they didn't really know if we were representing a group. Handing out flyers without signs works better, at least for events like this.

My high point: a woman came back and showed me the card with the four maps of Palestine. "Did you hand this out? she asked. When I said I had, she told me she had read it, and couldn't go in to listen to Dennis Ross. I thanked her, she thanked me, and she walked away.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't Buy Israeli Apartheid

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Against state crimes

I WAS surprised to read a letter to the editor of The Australian claiming that I regard the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement’s tactics targeting Israel as “pure anti-Semitism, aimed at the destruction of Israel” and that I said BDS efforts are “inimical to the interests of and lacking any genuine support from the Palestinian people” (Letters, 14/12).
These tactics have enormous support among Palestinians, and the charge of anti-Semitism should be dismissed with disdain.
When Human Rights Watch “calls on the US and European Union member states and on businesses with operations in settlement areas to avoid supporting Israeli settlement policies that are inherently discriminatory and that violate international law”, it is advocating BDS tactics, rightly, and there is no hint of anti-Semitism.
I have personally been involved in such forms of opposition to the Israeli occupation for years, long before there was a BDS movement.
Any tactics, however legitimate, can of course be misused. But they can also be used quite properly and effectively against state crimes, and in this case regularly have been.
Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA


blogger templates 3 columns |