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Originally published in Tikkun Daily

Recently, due to my writing on the issue of boycotts and Israel, I was asked by a prominent Jewish organization to make a public, political statement before being allowed into its building to speak about my book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

This request, as well as its troubling implications, are at the heart of a sudden controversy which has arisen in the American Jewish community over what can, and cannot, be discussed regarding Israel.


My Story

I recently had the honor being invited by the Israel Committee of Santa Barbara to be a keynote speaker at its annual, signature event this spring. The event is physically housed by Santa Barbara Hillel, which describes itself as a home for Jews open to all political and religious stripes, stating, "We are as diverse as the human race."

At first, it was going to be my temporary home – a place in which I was to tell the narrative of my reconciliation with a Palestinian family. However, when members of Hillel found a political post of mine in which I attempted to argue that boycotts and sanctions against Israel are legitimate forms of nonviolent protest – and which understandably was misunderstood as my joining the BDS movement – I was no longer welcome.

Which is when the request, or pre-condition, came from Santa Barbara Hillel after it viewed my post as a violation of Hillel's guidelines:

Make a political statement clarifying your position on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, and you may enter our building. Otherwise, you are not allowed within our walls.
As a former Hillel employee, a current Jewish educator, and an author who has been touring the country and doing events for my book in diverse Jewish communities, the request from Hillel was surprising.

However, when one considers what has concurrently been happening in America these past few weeks, the request isn't surprising at all. Rather, it's part of a larger controversy in which some Jewish institutions, instead of fostering open debates on difficult, critical issues, are censoring dialogue on Israel by deciding who is, and is not, a sanctioned member of the Jewish community.


Swarthmore College's Story

Hillel International is an enormous Jewish institution – the umbrella organization for Hillel centers on college campuses across North America (and beyond). And while it advertises itself as being a pluralistic home for diverse political views on Israel, it has created guidelines which exclude anyone who supports BDS or who might "delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel."

Meaning: anyone who harshly critiques Israel's geo-political policies – or does so without similarly critiquing all other nations worthy of rebuke – can be locked out of the building. Literally.

This means some prominent progressive Zionists – those, like myself, who share Hillel's vision of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders" – have been blacklisted. Peter Beinart comes to mind. So too does Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli army veterans who speak about the military's abuses and their effect on Israeli society.

This blacklisting held true for all Hillel chapters until three weeks ago, when something important happened: Swarthmore Hillel became the first local center to defy Hillel International's guidelines, declaring itself as an "open" Hillel willing to host anyone for debate or dialogue, regardless of their political views.

Its statement made clear that it no longer wanted to censor who could and could not speak within its walls, thus constraining the open dialogue on Israel its students wished to have:  

[Hillel's] policy has resulted in the barring of speakers from organizations such as Breaking the Silence and [members of] the Israeli Knesset.

[...]

All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.

This declaration has made waves in the American Jewish community, sparking a renewed discussion about how the American Jewish community can solve some of its most pressing problems if, out of an existential fear for Israel's survival, we exclude engaged and invested members of the community due to their political beliefs.

On Political Statements and Inclusion [My Requested Statement]

And so, we come to the political statement Santa Barbara Hillel requested – a statement I will now make not because I feel compelled to do so, but because it is a statement I believe, the articulation of which I have been contemplating for some time.

The statement itself will seem anticlimactic, for making reasoned political pronouncements should not be a particularly controversial endeavor. However, as I will explore after its articulation, what is problematic and controversial is a political statement being a prerequisite for anyone to enter a Hillel building, much less a Jewish author and educator such as myself.

Statement

I am a progressive Zionist who believes firmly in the idea that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state, despite the inherent challenges and contradictions such an existence presents. I am also one who fully supports a two-state political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which each side is able to live within defined, secure borders.

I believe that economic sanctions, such as boycotts, are legitimate forms of nonviolent protest, in contrast to, say, violence or vandalism. I do not, however, subscribe to the BDS movement's implicit vision of a single, bi-national state as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I am saddened by the fact that Palestinians do not have full academic freedoms, I do not support the academic boycott of Israeli universities and institutions as a productive tactic. And while I have written extensively on the suffering Israel's continued occupation has brought upon Palestinians living in the West Bank, and while I support pressure being brought to bear upon Israel to reject its settlement enterprise and push toward a final peace agreement, I reject those anti-Semitic streams which unofficially surface within the BDS movement.

In short, when I endorsed the concept of boycotts and sanctions in 2012, my intention was not to join the BDS movement or endorse its outcome (as Haaretz noted). Rather, it was to express the idea that economic sanctions are a legitimate, nonviolent method for countering undesirable policies and change behavior. (It's a position U.S. politicians understand intimately with regard to Iran, and a position I knew would be difficult within the Jewish community.)

Now, the above statement is not one I should have been compelled to make in order to gain entry into a Jewish building – a statement which will now allow me to speak on issues of dire importance within Hillel's walls in Santa Barbara.

It's also a statement and political view which can, and should, be legitimately criticized or debated by people on all sides – Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, progressives and conservatives.

For I don't pretend to possess all the answers, nor all the 'correct' views. More importantly, I believe that the world is complex, and that it can only be viewed fully by recognizing nuances and making distinctions. This is a view the Rabbis of the Talmud shared – Rabbis who refined the art of recognizing nuances and making distinctions as a matter of legal discourse. In truth, this art of arguing – of parsing complex legal issues in order to solve problems – is the intellectual lineage from which we as Jews come.

Unfortunately, when it comes to political discourse on Israel, the American Jewish community has become partially paralyzed by our collective inability to recognize nuances and distinctions – to engage fully in open debates and dialogues.

I have now experienced this personally.

Why? Perhaps because, in self-identifying as a progressive Zionist while also sharply critiquing Israel's geo-political policies, I am seen as one who "demonizes" Israel. Or perhaps by stating that I want Israel to thrive as a Jewish, democratic state while recognizing boycotts as a legitimate form of nonviolent, political opposition (in contrast to violence), I am viewed as an enemy by zero-sum advocates who choose to ignore nuance.

But we ignore nuance at our own peril. Or rather, Jewish institutions today do so at their own peril. For we, as a people, have always debated those issues of critical importance, be they how to properly scour a pan to make it kosher (700 CE) or where to build the future Jewish state (1897).

We will always debate them. Which is why the historian Gershom Gorenberg recently wrote:

The American fight about what you can't say about Israel, and where you can't say it, will always sound to an Israeli as if Lewis Carroll scripted it.
The only fights we should be having are about the issues at hand, and not about whether or not they can even be discussed. Which is why, to those who might oppose my views, and who would wish to respectfully debate or discuss them, I welcome such dialogue with open arms. Because only by engaging the toughest issues can we solve them.

It's a perspective I hope American Jewish institutions will recognize as the only productive way forward. A path Hillel and Shammai would have chosen.

                                                          --§--

What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.


Originally posted to David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:25 PM PST.

Also republished by Writing by David Harris Gershon and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (142+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, mickT, benamery21, AaronInSanDiego, badscience, ruleoflaw, JeffW, MartyM, Orcas George, MRA NY, pierre9045, MrJayTee, blueoasis, LilithGardener, remembrance, Simplify, Hammerhand, Susipsych, TheMeansAreTheEnd, linkage, palantir, erratic, eeff, happymisanthropy, jrand, Lefty Ladig, Texknight, PhilK, eagleray, citisven, tin woodswoman, Smoh, Railfan, Knucklehead, FogCityJohn, Cassandra Waites, Brecht, ladybug53, ratcityreprobate, Jay C, wader, zerelda, Lost and Found, DB55, Mokurai, US Blues, camlbacker, Byblis, old wobbly, philipmerrill, goodpractice, Polacolor, MoDem, RudiB, JoanMar, TomP, devis1, tofumagoo, dksbook, Aunt Martha, bleeding blue, PinHole, aliasalias, DavidMS, DeadHead, ancblu, tardis10, pixxer, sfbob, wasatch, emorej a Hong Kong, Jollie Ollie Orange, Sandino, edsbrooklyn, myrmecia gulosa, Sharon Wraight, thomask, viral, Chaddiwicker, dRefractor, Johnny Q, catilinus, P Carey, WakeUpNeo, kaliope, golem, Angryallen, worldlotus, artisan, thenekkidtruth, skohayes, angelajean, cama2008, maggid, temptxan, basquebob, Rich in PA, WattleBreakfast, Pat K California, joegoldstein, Upie, bronte17, Geenius at Wrok, petral, Rogneid, Raggedy Ann, Skyye, HedwigKos, greenbastard, JDWolverton, claude, ExpatGirl, businessdem, farmerhunt, jazzizbest, Lefty Coaster, Laurel in CA, Involuntary Exile, midnight lurker, PhilJD, Catte Nappe, RJDixon74135, Fishtroller01, joanbrooker, ER Doc, BradyB, Empower Ink, MT Spaces, kartski, Jazzenterprises, marleycat, Assaf, Matt Z, cpresley, lunacat, triplepoint, jnhobbs, dotsright, PrahaPartizan, MJ via Chicago, snowwoman, too many people

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:25:19 PM PST

  •  Max Blumenthal - book Goliath - Book TV (30+ / 0-)

    I am just watching his Dec 2 on his book.

    Israel policy of racial cleanses is worse than I realized.

    Their policy is the Iron Wall - the only way to handle indigenous people is to eliminate them.

    They are doing this right now with Bedouins, 40 - 70,000 of them whose houses are being bull dozed and the people moved to facilities like American Indian Reservations.

    http://c-spanvideo.org/...

  •  I think it's pretty clear (44+ / 0-)

    if Santa Barbara Hillel claims to be a "home for Jews open to all political and religious stripes"

    and then they request that you articulate your position before they determine if they will allow your presence

    they are not at all living up to their promise.

    "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

    by pierre9045 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 06:02:48 PM PST

  •  Is there a place where you write about (22+ / 0-)

    Your vision of how Israel makes itself both Jewish and democratic?

    Thanks for this diary, and keep up the good work.

  •  This smacks of the loyalty oaths (29+ / 0-)

    some people attending events with President Bush were made to sign in order to get in the door.  (Not speak -- attend.)  

    While I understand that you want to clarify your position, I think it would be more powerful if you had said, "Here's my position, so you know.  But, as a matter of principle, I do not feel that I can speak in a forum that would exclude a worthy Jewish speaker who supported the BDS movement from speaking on that basis alone."

    Frankly, I tend not to even get involved in Israel/Palestine discussions anymore, or to say anything, because I find the reflexive accusations of anti-Semitism to anything not in favor of current Israeli government policy so, so, so, so tiresome.

    And this is how the debate gets narrower and more ossified and less likely to yield either understanding or actual progress.

    It's sad.

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:10:29 PM PST

  •  Mazel Tov David (11+ / 0-)

    Being willing and able to speak from your heart with such clarity in the face of undisguised agendas intended to limit dialogue is a sign of genuine character. Thank you for sharing this story with us, and others.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:56:03 PM PST

  •  Just wondering (maybe I missed it) (7+ / 0-)

    David, was your statement "acceptable" to them?

    •  I won't know for a few days. (4+ / 0-)

      It's not really my concern whether it is or not -- I made the political statement I would have made regardless.

      The context, however, was such that the backstory is more important than any political statement I may, or may not, make.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:17:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you're not concerned then you don't really (0+ / 0-)

        consider "the dialogue to be had" to be of " supreme importance" to you.  Seems to be some ambivalence there.  Not that I blame you.  Some flexibility may be the best response to these procedural sorts of issues.

        (Of course once inside the walls a little column shaking may be in order.)

  •  A Difficult Question (13+ / 0-)

    Generally I'm opposed to restrictions on academic freedom, including boycotts.  

    On the other hand, it appeared to me at the time that cultural boycotts of apartheid South Africa really did hasten the demise of the apartheid regime there.  

    And if that tactic worked and was o.k. to use against P.W. Botha and his handmaidens and henchmen, why shouldn't it be applied to Israeli anti-democratic suppression of Palestinian voting rights and equal protection of law?  Israeli development of Palestinian bantustans?  Why should "a double standard" -- different from that applied to South Africa -- be applied to Israel?

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:04:44 PM PST

    •  This is a good question, and a legitimate one. (7+ / 0-)

      As I noted in the piece, there is no "academic freedom" for Palestinians currently, with travel restrictions, revocations of placements ...

      That said, in this particular situation, I find that many academic institutions in Israel -- not to mention individual academics -- are where much of the intellectual pushback against damaging Israeli policies takes place. While an academic boycott is certainly a legitimate tactic, I just don't think it's a productive or effective one in this instance.

      Thoughts?

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:20:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  On Balance I'm Opposed to an Academic Boycott (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        petral, Geenius at Wrok

        An academic boycott hits one of the more progressive segments of Israeli society.  

        Economic boycotts -- as opposed to academic ones --  would be much more effective.  What Israel is doing is easily as odious as anything Cuba or Iran do.  Why should "a double standard" be applied to Israel, especially when so many -- including, apparently, Hillel -- are opposed to applying "a different standard" to Israel?

        This aggression will not stand, man.

        by kaleidescope on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:38:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, a lot of Israeli academics whose own (9+ / 0-)

        academic freedom has been restricted by Israeli government and Uni admins have supported the call for BDS.

        So whose academic freedom do we support?

        Not (as you mentioned) Palestinian scholars and students and not Israeli academics and students who speak up against Occupation. And not, too, American scholars and artists who speak up against Israeli policies. Their academic freedom can go hang itself.

        So whose academic freedom is so essential, given that BDS absolutely does not target individual scholars and academics?

        Apparently, only those institutions that support the occupation in explicit and implicit ways. Oh no! How dare we restrict their freedom of expression as opposed to everybody else mentioned above?

        It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

        by poco on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:39:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your absolutely right in pointing out that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maggid

          Israeli academics and students (as well as institutions) have had academic freedoms restricted based upon public, political views.

          And you're also right to point out that the BDS movement is targeting institutions, and not individual Israeli academics.

          However, one of my problems with the academic boycott is that, by its very nature, it will a) inhibit important, progressive political work being done by Israelis, and b) certainly inhibit that work impacting Israeli society.

          But the anger and frustration is warranted.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:47:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm wary of purity: we must be pragmatic, and push (6+ / 0-)

        in whatever direction leads forward. There are three elements in BDS that give me pause:

        1) Punishing universities, when they are far less implicated in the policies oppressing Palestinians than many other sectors of Israel's economy, courts and government.

        2) Supporting a movement that demands the Right of Return, which is problematic on many levels, and a deal-breaker for so many powers-that-be in Israel (including, I bet, public opinion).

        3) Supporting a movement that leans toward a one-state solution.

        Yet every other avenue towards a peaceful and fair two-state solution has been squelched, and land and water keep getting stolen, and settlements getting built.

        I'd rather see BDS making headway than see desperate Palestinians firing rockets at Israel.

        As an analogy, I'd like to see 10 real Progressive Senators get elected: they would shift the goalposts, and change the whole field of possible conversations in the Senate. Look how much damage 4 Tea-Party Senators have done, pushing in the other direction.

        So I support BDS right now, despite these 3 misgivings. If targeting academia is how we remove this logjam, and get the conversation to open up and move closer to real Justice, so be it. By the time we actually get Israeli and Palestinian leaders sitting at the table, and working on a concrete two-state solution, Israeli universities will be doing just fine, and the Right of Return will become something more symbolic and less threatening to the identity of Israel.

        But it will take some serious pushing to get there. And BDS is by far the best shot we've got, today.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:47:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think the internal conflicts you've raised (8+ / 0-)

          are the conflicts that many young Jews are feeling today. And if they are not given a forum in which to discuss these issues in their own community, then all they will feel is alienated and uninvested.

          And that won't move us forward.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:52:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The best thing you do, David, is open conversation (5+ / 0-)

            so that more ideas and opinions can be discussed (well, this is the strength I see in your contribution here and at Tikkun, anyway).

            Santa Barbara Hillel need you more than you need them, because they need to be part of the whole conversation - not just the parts of it that suit their preconceptions. And kudos to Swarthmore Hillel for recognizing the same thing.

            I disagree with you sometimes, but you have worked wonders in expanding I/P conversation at Daily Kos, getting thousands of kossacks who simply avoided I/P diaries to think again about what's going on in Israel, and what we should be doing about it.

            Even beyond these subjects, you're setting a good example for principled, open-minded, constructive discourse here. So well done, for this brave diary, and your honest, thoughtful stand re. Santa Barbara Hillel.

            "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

            by Brecht on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:14:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the kind words. We've always had (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht, cpresley

              constructive dialogues, even when we've disagreed.

              "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

              by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:03:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  There are a lot of Israeli academics who (10+ / 0-)

        have called for a support of BDS.

        As you mention, there is NO academic freedom for Palestinian scholars and students (not even for a Palestinian professor to demand that an IDF student not come to his class bearing weapons); NO academic freedom for Israeli scholars and students who speak out against the Occupation; NO academic freedom for American academics and artists who dare to speak against Israeli policies.

        So, whose academic freedoms are we really protecting by opposing BDS, given that BDS is explicitly against targeting individual scholars and academics?

        Only those institutions that implicitly or explicitly endorse Israel's racist policies are subject to the sanctions endorsed by BDS!

        And why is that not productive or effective? It was in the South African case!!

        It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

        by poco on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:52:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry for the double post. (3+ / 0-)

          I was under the impression that my first comment didn't post.

          It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

          by poco on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:59:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too, Koopatroopa

          Israeli universities are well known as the last hotbed of the Left there. Who has been fired from a tenured position for their political views?

        •  On Palestine, Boycott, and Academic Freedom (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco

          From  "Palestine, Boycott, and Academic Freedom"  (http://www.aaup.org/...) --

          The dossier begins with PACBI cofounder Omar Barghouti’s rearticulation of conceptual and ethical challenges to the AAUP’s opposition to the boycott and understanding of academic freedom, especially against events in higher education in occupied Palestine since 2005.    Barghouti argues that the AAUP’s refusal to support BDS on grounds of academic freedom contravenes UN resolutions on human rights which assert that “academic freedom includes the liberty of individuals to express freely opinions about the institution or system in which they work, to fulfill their functions without discrimination or fear of repression by the state or any other actor,” conditions he argues are unattainable for Palestinian academics working under occupation. Barghouti also argues that academic freedom cannot be a “privileged” freedom in the context of an occupation that has widely dismantled civil liberties of all sorts. Along similar lines, Lloyd, a founding member of the USACBI campaign, and Schueller, a signatory to it, argue that the occupation itself is the single greatest hindrance to academic freedom for Palestinians, and that academic freedom is a subset of political freedom. They contend that the AAUP, by refusing to support of the boycott, grants Israel a “state of exception” that legitimates its crimes against both Palestinian academics and the larger civilian population.

          Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

          by Phoenix Woman on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:39:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  There's a major difference between (8+ / 0-)

        academic institutions, as institutions, and academic institutions as physical locations in which some people can express alternative viewpoints.

        And that's why the ASA boycott targets Israeli academic institutions and not individual Israeli academics.

        As for your argument that that's not productive or effective, I'd like to hear more about why you say that.  Obviously, there's been a big uproar about the ASA boycott, and let's face it, the ASA itself is a tiny organization, but that doesn't mean that an academic boycott isn't productive or effective.  In fact, I would argue just the opposite.  The fact that there's been such an uproar over such a tiny organization taking this stance to me demonstrates that supporters of the Israeli status quo are terrified.

        •  You make an interesting point: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Martha, maggid, MT Spaces

          The uproar and attention on the ASA's boycott has raised the profile of the underlying geo-political issues behind the boycott itself. From the perspective of educating the public about the political realities on both sides, I think that the attention raised has been a good thing.

          That said, I want to echo what I wrote to poco as to why I don't think its effective:

          One of my problems with the academic boycott is that, by its very nature, it will a) inhibit important, progressive political work being done by Israelis, and b) certainly inhibit that work impacting Israeli society.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:59:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How will it inhibit that work? (4+ / 0-)

            What work being done by Israeli academic institutions, as opposed to by individual Israeli academics, will be inhibited?

            •  An example: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Aunt Martha, maggid

              I know of an economic study being conducted currently which intends to demonstrate the damage (in fiscal numbers) of the occupation and projections on both personal and national wealth that will be lost as a result.

              (Forget for a moment the solipsism of the study.)

              It is being co-authored by Israeli and U.S. academics, and if it is not published by an Israeli institution, the play it will have in Israel will be much less, thus mitigating its effect.

              "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

              by David Harris Gershon on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:06:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  And that's great, (6+ / 0-)

                but I don't see how an academic boycott of Israeli institutions inhibits that work.  It won't be published by an Israeli institution, any more than it would be published by an American institution if it is published by the US co-authors.  Academics, either individually or collaboratively, publish articles and studies. Therefore, this study would be published in a journal by the Israeli academics, and therefore would not be subject to the boycott.

                What I'm about to say is not in any way intended to be a negative comment about you, but I think that the example you just gave illustrates exactly the difference between academic institutions and individual academics.

                •  Trust me, I don't take it as a negative comment at (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Aunt Martha

                  all. We rarely disagree, and I'm just as happy to engage with you when we do as when we don't. :)

                  While you're right that such a study may be published in an academic journal in English, it will also likely be published in Hebrew by an academic journal/publication published by an Israeli institution.

                  If there is an academic boycott, the U.S. authors would not work with the study if the article was to be published in Israel by, say, Bar Ilan University.

                  "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

                  by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:10:07 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But even in that situation, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    poco

                    the Israeli academics could conduct the study and, as individual academics, present the results internationally, be invited to, say, the US, etc.

                    I'm assuming that the US academics you're referring to here are ASA members.  Is that correct?

                    Would the academic life of individual Israeli academics be negatively impacted by the boycott?  Presumably yes, to a certain degree.  But as poco points out, even that degree would be less than the current ways in which official Israeli governmental policies negatively impact Palestinian academics, and Palestinian education more broadly.  Furthermore, as poco also points out, there are many Israeli academics who support BDS and an academic boycott.

                    Now I realize that it's easy for me, as a Jew sitting at my computer in the US, to say this.  But I think there's a larger question here: To what extent are each of us, as individuals, no matter our politics, complicit in the policies of our government, no matter how much we reject them? How much do we benefit from those policies?  What of our privilege are we willing to suspend so that others who are affected more directly and to a greater extent can potentially gain some of what we already have?

                    As an American, even though I voted against GWB, I understand why countries would turn against us.    

    •  cultural boycott =/= academic boycott (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too

      What is being done to Israel's academic community is in no way comparable to divestment from South Africa in the 1980s.

      No one is questioning the right to boycott Israel economically.  

      But when the ASA rejects dialog or participation with Israel's academic institutions, they are damaging a much larger concept -- the notion of academic freedom of dialogue and interaction.

      It was a disgraceful vote, one with horrible echoes of historical anti-Semitism in which Jews are continually held to a higher standard than any other nation or group in the world, and then found wanting.

  •  It seems that Hillel is driven by the same fear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandino

    that infects our Congress. If you don't dance to the tune of AIPAC and wealthy Jewish supporters, you will not receive their support. For me (someone who is pretty much in tune with your political statement on Israel) it's painful to see the worst kind of Jewish stereotype (financial bullying) come to life in this controversy. I want an American foreign policy that is pro-Israel AND representative of my democratic, pluralistic values, not one that to the right of Likud because, well, AIPAC scares the crap of Congress.

    Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

    by RudiB on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:44:42 PM PST

  •  even some jewish organizations (15+ / 0-)

    sometimes need reminding that judaism and zionism are not the same thing. and zionism and support for any policies by any israeli regime also are not the same thing.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:45:53 PM PST

  •  Just a Request for Public Comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Harris Gershon

    From this diary all it seems Hillel required was a public statement of your position on BDS, since you'd made a public statement about Israel boycotts generally. I don't think that it's unreasonable for an organization to require its speakers go on the record about their political agenda, rather than use the organization as platform for a hidden agenda.

    You are saying that if your position wasn't approved by Hillel they'd have rejected you entirely, but what evidence is there of that? If you'd said BDS is a valid activity though you don't endorse it, or even if you'd endorsed it, what makes you say that Hillel would have rejected you?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 09:16:25 PM PST

    •  Because that's Hillel's position. (7+ / 0-)

      See here, for example.

      Even better:

      Hillel International’s Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities reject partnerships with groups or hosting speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply double standards to Israel; support boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel; or foster an atmosphere of incivility.
      From here.
    •  See Aunt Martha's response. (5+ / 0-)

      If my position would have been counter to their "guidelines," I wouldn't have been asked to make a public statement in the first place.

      I would have simply been locked out.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:12:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Support Boycott (2+ / 0-)

        So they were simply insisting you document your position they expected was contrary to their rules against supporting boycotts against Israel, so they could bar you. Saying they would bar you unless you documented your position. Just a "gotcha" to make their legal bills lower if you insisted on entering the building.

        Not just suppressing views, but sneaky about it. A kabuki for their members who think their "universal inclusiveness" policy is true.

        Maybe you should sue them for failing to welcome all views.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 07:25:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I believe you are correct: it was likely a bluff (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Don midwest, DocGonzo

          on their part. They just didn't understand the cards I actually hold.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:05:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not a Bluff (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Don midwest

            No, I don't think it was a bluff. The bluff is their assertion they're open to adversarial views and diverse opinions. Their request you publicly document your position that their censorship policy prohibits was sincere, to justify their barring you once you made it.

            I know so many Jews here in NY, and in California, and even in Toronto and in the Southeast, whose disaffiliation with any synagogue is accelerated by synagogues worshipping Israel's government more than either god or the tradition of questioning both authority and conventional wisdom. Zionism isn't as unpopular here as among post-Boomer Europe, but it seems more unpopular among Jews than among Christians. I don't see how many more decades that disconnect can keep synagogues open, or reciprocally Israel's militarist, racist government.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:24:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Jewish and Democratic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poco

            I am reading through this thread just now, so forgive me if I am restating something already said. However, it seems very clear to me that the rub here with Hillel is the Jewish-state part, not the Democratic-state part.  I firmly believe that this is the crux of the whole issue. How does one have a Jewish and Democratic state? Personally I do not believe it is possible -- but I believe it is a conversation that needs to be had. I have recently come back from living in the area, and I know for a fact that there is rampant discrimination against Arab Israelis, whether or not it is sanctioned by law.

  •  This reminds me of the article (5+ / 0-)

    in today's NYTimes  about how Dick Metcalf has been banished from the gun world for his October '13 column in Guns & Ammo magazine.

    A life long hunter and history teacher, he dared to opine that all constitutional rights are somewhat regulated.

    Subscribers, gun manufacturers (advertisers), the NRA, came down hard on Guns & Ammo, and within 2 days he was let go, his TV show dropped, endorsement deals canceled.  

    There was no wiggle room from the absolutist, narrow interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to be tolerated.  

    Such rigid, inflexible thinking does not help make progress or invite solutions.

  •  They have made a terrible mistake, David. (2+ / 0-)

    I hope they let you speak.

    I am a progressive Zionist who believes firmly in the idea that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state, despite the inherent challenges and contradictions such an existence presents.
    I cannot see myself ever agreeing with that view. It shocks and saddens me to see it. I'm a dumbass Catholic kid from WNY who never learned a thing about Isreal or Isreali politics while younger, but I have read what I read, grew to admire much about Israel, have spent some months in the country - but that - gah. It just hurts to read the words.  

    David - I'm going to read more, again, to try to understand this better. Peace to you.

    •  Thanks, Little. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Little

      I respect your view, and admit to having complex views myself that, at times, are full of contradictions.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:41:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very well-stated, indeed. Thanks for posting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Harris Gershon

    Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. —Nelson Mandela

    by kaliope on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 01:46:22 AM PST

  •  Just tell them that if they don't let you speak... (0+ / 0-)

    ...I'll invite myself in your place and it will be much, much worse for them.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:06:49 AM PST

  •  There's as much academic freedom in Israel... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    charliehall2, WinSmith, Hey338Too, livosh1

    ...as there is in Turkey.  When there's a movement to boycott (etc.) Turkish universities, call me!  I'm somewhat conflicted about the immediate issue, since private organizations have the right to impose whatever conditions they like.  If they want to shut out divergent views, that's totally OK with me.  If they do it too much, people will leave and create alternative private organizations as we're already seeing at Swarthmore.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:10:54 AM PST

  •  Beinart and Gorenberg both spoke at my synagogue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    which is known as being one of the most stridently pro-Israel places in the diaspora. I'm considered a leftist peacenik there.

    •  Yeah, I guess it varies locally. The bigger orgs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest

      the national ones, tend to be more McCarthyists, in my experience.

      I'm sure you can find local Orthodox synagogues who would invite just about anyone, even relishing the duel of brainpower.

      But - to be honest - they are getting fewer and farther between. I assume your presence does contribute to the relative openness of your synagogue, so thank you for that.

  •  Hmmmm (3+ / 0-)

    If you truly believe what you wrote in your statement, but at the same time strongly believe that you should not have been made to make the statement, then perhaps the answer would have been to make the statement, followed by another statement that you will not accept any invitation to speak at Hillel, on principle.

    That way, you've affirmed you stance regarding BDS, while at the same time taking a principled stand against what you clearly regard are heavy handed tactics by Hillel.  

    Or is it crucially necessary that your unique voice be heard within Hillel's walls?  

    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

    by Pi Li on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:47:16 AM PST

    •  I want to repost an answer I gave Cai on this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WattleBreakfast, poco, Assaf

      issue, since it's relevant:

      To a certain extent, I agree with you that a principled stand not to speak in such places (as SB Hillel) would have merit. On the other hand, the dialogue to be had is of supreme importance to me, and I'm capable to engaging a dialogue on difficult issues in ways other speakers might not.

      In my past appearances, the discussions have been both charged and very important. If I didn't feel so strongly about the potential of such dialogue, I wouldn't have bothered with this piece.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:52:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  WTF, David? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, emelyn

    You use he word "Censor" twice to describe Hillel not accepting all points of view into events that it hosts.

    That is simply an abuse of the word.

    No one is "censored" by not being invited to speak to Hillel.  That's like saying the Duck Dynasty idiot was censored if A&E decided to suspend him.

    Stop using Palin logic.

    Hillel is under no obligation to accept any and all points of view.  Should neo-Nazis be welcomed in to give a talk?  What about people who believe Kubrick faked the moon landing?  

    Is it "censorship" if Hillel decides to cancel a speaking invitation extended to

    What about when Ani DiFranco was going to host an artist retreat on a Plantation?  Was she "censored" when people spoke out?

    I can't speak for Hillel, but, like many Jewish organizations, they probably feel that there are enough rabid anti-Israel points of view expressed in this world and prefer to host dialogues with those who accept Israel's right to exist first and foremost, but then want to subsequently debate policy.  

    Setting these parameters for a debate in an organization is not "censorship."

    I also appreciated your clarification of your own views (ones I mostly agree with) but disagree with your belief that that clarification was not necessary.

    That's simply not true.

    Numerous people ask public speakers or invited guests to clarify their stance on something before speaking.  It is a normal part of the process for any sort of event such as this.

    •  This is fairly cut-and-dry (10+ / 0-)

      An organization which self-identifies as an open home for dialogue on Jewish issues of importance and on Israel, and which then limits that dialogue by forbidding certain topics to be discussed, is engaging in self-censorship (if you like), or in communal censorship.

      It's pretty simple.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:57:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They're not forbidding the topic (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too, Radiowalla, emelyn

        They're refusing to admit someone who subscribes to a point of view they find abhorrent and beyond the pale of rational discussion.

        How you can't see this distinction is beyond me.

        If I don't want to invite David Duke to speak, that doesn't mean the topic of neo-Nazis is being banned.  It means a speaker who doesn't deserve a microphone is being rightly shunned.

        Again, the topic is not banned.  The speaker is.  

        Organizations have every right to cancel associations with speakers with abhorrent views and do so all the time.  This is simply not "censorship" of ideas. Your conflation of this is simply an error of basic logic.

  •  Hillel (0+ / 0-)

    another once great institution weakened by teh crazy.  

  •  David, I'm curious... (3+ / 0-)

    ... your statement to Hillel was obviously sent to them via email (as it contains hyperlinks to other sources to support your premise).  Has Hillel been apprised that your statement would be reproduced on both Tikkun and DKos along with your rationale behind and defense of the statement?  

    I understand that you felt you had to make that statement for whatever purpose.  But, in all fairness, it seems that letting Hillel see how you feel about this issue in total, and how you defend your statements on both sites, would greatly benefit both them and you as a solution to this issue is being worked out.

    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    by Hey338Too on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 08:21:49 AM PST

    •  Actually, the demand from SB Hillel was that (6+ / 0-)

      I publish my statement publicly, in Tikkun and Daily Kos, as I do with all my other thoughts.

      They are seeing this in the same way you are.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:06:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I find your statement, and your agreement to make (5+ / 0-)

        it, troubling.

        It rings of years past, when Americans suspected of communism, and Eastern Europeans suspected of pro-Westernism, were forced to make such statements.

        Do you really need to enter Santa Barbara Hillel that badly?

        •  I completely understand and, to some extent, agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Assaf

          with your view.

          However, it's precisely this fact that prompted me to make the statement, rather than simply say, "Oh well, I'll just speak in a different building."

          For this statement and the discussion being had over this issue, trains focus on just how much it does ring of years past, as you say – and how damaging such a meta-dynamic is to dialogue in general.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 12:01:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here's one troubling downside: you help them (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poco, David Harris Gershon

            construct a fence of "what's allowed".

            If they allow you, then later they can use your statement as "the most extreme yet acceptable position", and censor out anyone who participates in BDS activities (such as myself).

            Either way, it helps to further demonize BDS, and use it as another pretext to exclude progressive Jewish voices (Jewish Voice for Peace participates in BDS).

            And if they disallow you... then again, you helped them draw a line in the sand.

            Of course, no one on the Right is asked by Hillel to say that they won't deny the Occupation, let alone say the Nakba (or worse, celebrate them).

            Again, IMHO this is a classic case for rejecting the very premise. But again, it's not my personal skin that's in this game (although it was in previous similar games).

            •  You make good points, Assaf. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brecht, poco, Assaf

              I would counter that my stance may either force Hillel to expand its fence, or risk being seen as wholly jumping the shark by the wider, pro-censorship crowd.

              Here's what I mean: this, per Hillel's guidelines, is who may not enter the building to speak:

              [Those who] support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel
              Its guidelines also state:
              Hillel welcomes, partners with, and aids the efforts of organizations, groups, and speakers from diverse perspectives in support of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
              Now, the problem Hillel faces is this: I meet their latter 'loyalty test,' while straddling the former as someone who does not technically "support BDS" but who views such nonviolent oppositional techniques as wholly legitimate.

              In essence, I am prompting Hillel to show its hand further, seeing how far it will go. In the process, the entire notion of a Hillel not being "open" is being further exposed for the ridiculous and damaging stance that it is.

              Interesting note: I have had two Hillel directors at other universities contact me today and invite me to speak, as a result of this post.

              Does that change things for JVFP in the short term? No. Might it in the long term?

              That's one of my gambits.

              "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

              by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:34:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Your statement speaks only of the academic... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        livosh1, Koopatroopa

        ... boycott.  BDS' boycott extends beyond academics to include boycotts of Israeli sports and culture.  Do you consider the boycott of a nation's culture to be a legitimate economic sanction, will you be issuing separate statements which address these other boycotts?

        Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

        by Hey338Too on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:25:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not going to make any more "statements" (0+ / 0-)

          I think one is enough from a nobody like myself. As to your question, I want to reiterate that I do find the idea of economic sanctions and boycotts to be legitimate forms of protest and opposition. It's a form the international community, including the U.S., uses regularly against numerous countries, and is a form that has been used countless times in the past. While I'm not a 'member' of the BDS movement, and while my endgame goals are different from the official movement's, I do consider -- as you wrote -- boycotts of economic entities in culture to be legitimate.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 12:16:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What I asked was... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Koopatroopa, leftynyc, JNEREBEL
            Do you consider the boycott of a nation's culture to be a legitimate economic sanction...?
            To be clear, I strongly believe in a two state solution, and "that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state".  But, I am not sure what "economic entities in culture" are.  Can you clarify that for me please?

            Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

            by Hey338Too on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 01:54:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You gave the examples of "sports" and "culture" (0+ / 0-)

              In general, I say yes, so long as such measures are careful not impinge upon efforts by those who are actively seeking the same changes the measures seek to effect.

              "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

              by David Harris Gershon on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:46:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Those are not examples... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                livosh1, Koopatroopa, leftynyc, JNEREBEL

                ... they are boycotts which BDS currently supports.  Since you apparently support economic boycotts, there is no sense in discussing the BDS' Boycott of "Israeli products and companies (Israeli and international)".  However, the cultural boycott and the sports boycott are not hypothetical nor are they economic, BDS justifies their use to prevent Israel from  "... boost[ing] its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations".  Based on the language used, the academic and cultural boycotts seem to be equally important to the BDS movement.  You have distanced yourself from the BDS academic boycott, will you not distance yourself from the BDS boycott of Israel's culture, which logically holds the tenets and history of Judaism somewhere near it's core?

                Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

                by Hey338Too on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:06:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  In short ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  poco

                  ... I'm not interested in being boxed into defined categories, as you'd like. Which is why I decide whether or not I agree, or disagree, with something on a case-by-case basis.

                  This last passage of yours sure was rich:

                  You have distanced yourself from the BDS academic boycott, will you not distance yourself from the BDS boycott of Israel's culture, which logically holds the tenets and history of Judaism somewhere near it's core?
                  Nevermind the absurdity of you 'logic.' Your true purpose is to try and paint me as an enemy of Judaism.

                  My Jewish Studies students, I have no doubt, would love the chance to yell with me, "Fail."

                  "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

                  by David Harris Gershon on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:56:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, my TRUE purpose was to get you to... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Koopatroopa, JNEREBEL, livosh1

                    ... agree that boycotts against a nation's culture (since we both agree that Israel should exist as a democratic Jewish state) are as insidious as boycotts of a nation's educational institutions.  Indeed, cultural boycotts can be considered a natural extension of educational boycotts (and our shared religion).  As defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, culture is:

                    5
                    a :  the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
                    b :  the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also :  the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time ...
                    c :  the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization...
                    d :  the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic...
                    So, in theory, if your Jewish Studies students supported a cultural boycott of Israel (the academic boycott notwithstanding), they would not sign up for your class.

                    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

                    by Hey338Too on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:11:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  As for why I engaged in this diary... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Koopatroopa, JNEREBEL

                    ... in the first place.  I am not a regular commenter in your diaries.  I guess I considered the time to be "ripe" when I saw that you agreed to engage in a debate with a blogger from The Times of Israel.  I thought that maybe there was an opportunity for wider dialog.  I saw that the blogger initiated the debate on TOI, but have not seen any feedback from you.  Is there a response forthcoming?

                    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

                    by Hey338Too on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:12:56 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My response is there. You must have missed it. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      poco

                      That's point A.

                      Point B is that I place an emphasis on nuance and distinction when speaking about anything, including "culture."

                      For a society's culture can be expressed via anything from high art to low-brow entertainment, intellectual productions to superflouous manifestations, religious expressions as well as secular expressions, and so on and so forth.

                      Which is why, once again, I reject your "Oh, he supports a boycott of culture" (cue dark music), as though you're capable of putting me in some nepharious box.

                      My ideas are too nuanced for such folly. Though it makes things inconvenient for you, to be sure.

                      Sorry for that. Though feel free to continue making me your enemy -- everyone must reflect themselves against the shadow of someone else to make themselves feel righteous and good.

                      Here's to being your shadow. Raises a beer

                      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

                      by David Harris Gershon on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:55:51 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  For someone who claims to use nuance (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Koopatroopa, leftynyc

                        in his speaking you certainly seem to have no issue projecting baseless claims in how others think.

                        Since your attack is totally unnecessary and completely off-base may I borrow your tactic and suggest a nerve was hit here and you have reacted accordingly?

                        Oh? Not so great to have someone inappropriately psychoanalyze you? "Sorry for that."

                        "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

                        by JNEREBEL on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:46:02 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  You claim nuance to your ideas... (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Koopatroopa, livosh1, leftynyc

                        Yet you have made a seemingly direct (nuance-less) statement against the academic boycott of Israel.  What distinctions do you make when you support a cultural or sport related boycott of Israel as opposed to the academic boycott?

                        By culture and sports I am referring to institutions that are not directly associated with academia (though in the case of Museums, the Arts and so forth, they very well may be).  For instance if the Israeli National Basketball team were to play in a European tournament would you see that as a legitimate target for a boycott?  What about a museum tour of Israeli artifacts like fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is that a legitimate target as well?

                        I am not trying to "box you in".  To borrow your words, I'd like to know what nuance and distinction is emphasized when you choose to support a boycott against Israel.

                        Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

                        by Hey338Too on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:19:46 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Nuance? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Koopatroopa

                        I'm thinking you don't really know what that word means as your position is very easy to understand.  I think it's bullshit but it is easily understandable.

  •  just who is a Jew in Israel? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MT Spaces
    For Netanyahu’s demand to make any sense, he first has to define “Jewish.” “Jewish” has a number of possible meanings. It can mean “those recognized by Talmudic law as members of the Jewish ‘race’ via maternal descent.” The latter is the legal definition of Jewishness in Israeli law itself, and for this reason we must presume that it is what Netanyahu has in mind. It can also mean “adherents of the Judaic religion,” and we can explore those implications, as well.

    Of the some 6 million self-identified Jews in Israel, about 300,000 are not recognized as “Jewish” by the Chief Rabbi and there is no prospect of them being recognized as Jewish any time soon. They were allowed to immigrate to Israel because they had at least one Jewish grandparent, but if their mother was not Jewish neither are they.

    So if Israel is a “Jewish” state, is it a state for these (largely Russian and Ukrainian) “non-Jewish” Jews? Many of them are Jewish by religion, but not all are. None of them are Jewish by the Talmud.

    It is worse. Genetic testing of European Jews (Ashkenazim) shows that most women in that community are descended from European Christians who converted to Judaism when they married into the Jewish merchant community, which was likely established at Rome and then points east from about 800 CE (A.D.) ....

    http://www.juancole.com/...
  •  I'll say it (2+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, Assaf
    Hidden by:
    JNEREBEL, livosh1

    The Jewish lobby is disgusting, and has been a direct affront on our democracy. No other nation on this planet leads the US around by its nose, completely unchallenged. Like many, many, many other lobbies, the interests of the US can go to hell as far as Israel is concerned.

    The Republicans are crazy, but why we follow them down the rabbit hole is beyond me.

    by Jazzenterprises on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 09:11:07 AM PST

  •  Were you really surprised at Hillel's ultimatum? (5+ / 0-)

    Censorship of Israel discourse has been the hallmark of the larger and more powerful American Jewish organizations for decades now.

    When I taught Hebrew at University of Washington in 2002-2004 as a stand-alone TA (i.e., instructor in all but name), I verbally agreed to a gag order imposed by my professor, "not to speak about politics" in class. This was emotionally stressful and physically impossible, having just arrived from Israel partially for reasons that can be termed "political exile", with a faction of gung-ho Zionists and another one of radical-lefties sitting in class, with tons of blood being spilled in Israel-Palestine on a weekly even daily basis - and with a general election in Israel happening during the Winter Quarter.

    TAs of other foreign languages were shocked to hear of the gag, they said it violates UW policy of academic freedom. They themselves were fielding political debates all the time. The German class, for example, routinely starts with several sessions when the TA has to explain that not all Germans are closet Nazis.

    When I finally broke my gag with a 10-minute prepared speech at the end of my last session with that class, the response was swift and brutal. Parents of the Zionist kids called. I was summoned to a shaming session with my professors and the dept. chair. The local chapter of the ADL (yup, that's the organization pretending to lead the fight against racism and bigotry) formally requested that I be fired from my post. Of course, a flat-out illegal step if the UW had taken it.

    I wasn't fired and continued teaching for an additional year, but my relationship with the professor and with many students was never the same again.

  •  Your posts always give this cynic hope for (0+ / 0-)

    humanity. May you continue to stand for open honest dialogue.

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