3.07.2010

a simple lesson: how to tell the difference between hatred of a people and criticism of a nation's policies

All right, boys and girls, put your thinking caps on. There will be a quiz.

Jews are people.

Whether they are adherents to the religion of Judaism, or identify as ethnically Jewish, or both, Jews are people.

Advocating harm, discrimination, or the infringement of rights of Jewish people = anti-Semitism.

Hatred of people because they are Jews = anti-Semitism.

Pre-judging people because they are Jews = anti-Semitism.

Characterizing a person one does not know as having certain traits because he or she is Jewish = anti-Semitism.

Israel is a country, a modern nation-state.

That country is run by a government.

That government has policies.

Criticism of those policies is no different than criticism of the policies of the US, Canada, France, South Africa, the Netherlands, or any other country.

You see? It's actually very simple. Here's the quiz. Let's do it together.

"Death to Jews" ? Anti-Semitism.

"Jews are cheap and will try to swindle you." ? Anti-Semitism.

"Jews control the US government." ? Anti-Semitism.

"But you're OK, you're not one of those real Jew-y Jews." ? Anti-Semitism. (This has been said to me.)

"Palestinians deserve equal rights." ? Not anti-Semitism.

"I oppose Israel's policies towards Palestinians." ? Not anti-Semitism.

"I believe Israel's policies towards the Palestinian people constitute an apartheid regime." ? Not anti-Semitism.

"Boycott, divest, sanction against Israel to help the Palestinian people." ? Not anti-Semitism.

You may disagree with the characterization of Israel as an apartheid regime. But the belief that Israel is an apartheid regime is not anti-Semitism. Because Israel is a country. It is not "the Jews".

Why is that so hard to understand?

It's not.

The political posturing of various Canadian politicos is a self-serving crock of shit. They know perfectly well that opposing Israel's policies regarding the Palestinian people is not anti-Semitism. But they care infinitely more about their political careers than they do about justice. They won't go up against the US, the Israel lobby, and what is maddeningly, condescendingly called "the Jewish vote".

One day, when Israeli apartheid is dismantled the way South African apartheid was, this condemnation of anti- Israeli apartheid activity will be exposed, then forgotten.

Until then, we can only continue to speak out.

I am Jewish.

I condemn anti-Semitism.

I condemn Israel's apartheid policies.

I am not anti-Semitic.

I am pro-justice.

[Two excellent pieces linked above, by the way: Siddiqui and Dr. Dawg.]

82 comments:

John F said...

Besides the fact that I agree with you, I wanted to comment on this:

"But you're OK, you're not one of those real Jew-y Jews." ? Anti-Semitism. (This has been said to me.)

People never cease to amaze me. I mean, holy crap! It reminds me of the time an acquaintance told me that he preferred a particular Chinese restaurant because it was run by white people. I'm rarely at a loss for words, but that overloaded my circuits.

L-girl said...

People never cease to amaze me. I mean, holy crap! It reminds me of the time an acquaintance told me that he preferred a particular Chinese restaurant because it was run by white people.

Yes, it's quite amazing. Because I don't "look Jewish" (whatever that means) I have been privvy to quite a lot of anti-Semitic comments. When I was younger I didn't know what to say. Now I am happy to calmly say, "That's funny, because I'm Jewish and I'm not like that."

Cue sputtering, back-pedaling and comments like the one I quoted in this post.

The craziest part is, you're supposed to take this as a compliment!!

Stephanie said...

We were discussing this very issue last night. One comment offered "I love Palestinians does this make me anti-Semitic?

L-girl said...

Because if you love one, you must hate the other, right?

David Heap said...

About pandering to the "Jewish vote" -- it has never been a significant demographic in Canadian electoral politics and it really only plays a role in a handful of ridings. What I have learned recently from Yves Engler's new book ( Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid) is that Canadian support for the formation of Israel long predates political Zionism (as founded by Herzl at the end of the 1800s). From the early 1800s, Christian Reformationists promoted (and raised funds) for a "Jewish Homeland" in Palestine, for reasons which were partly theological but also partial imperial: they say it as a potentially useful outpost of the British Empire. The infamous "land without people for people without land" idea actually stems from these early Christian Israel-boosters.

In the 20th century Canada switched empires but political support for Zionism grew -- the cause was picked up by a wide range of politicians, including open anti-Semites (like Mackenzie King) who opposed Jewish immigration to Canada but supported creating a state for them in Palestine (so they could continue to be turned away from our shores).

I found Engler's book so enlightening WRT our country's particular burden of responsability in building apartheid that I wrote a review of it, which somewhat to my suprise our local SunMedia paper acutally published ( shameless plug warning in effect). It is no coincidence that a politician like Jason Kenney has described himself as a Catholic Zionist -- his government's unconditional support for Israel has more to do with Christian fundamentalism and support for the (currently Unitedstatesian) Empire than it does with supporting anything Jewish. The "anti-Semite" smear just happens to be a rhetorically handy (and distressingly effective) cheap-shot to try to silence dissent.
But as some of us came away from Cairo earlier this year promising: we will not be silenced.

L-girl said...

Thanks, David. Interesting, and very different from the US. There are still some obvious applications for the "Jewish vote" excuse, but I certainly see your point. Ironic, too, since the Christian Fundamentalist Zionists are themselves anti-Semitic.

I assume, too, it has a lot to do with pandering to the US.

Amy said...

I agree with your point here, but I think that the reason things tend to get muddy is that there is a lot of hatred of Jews by Palestinians (and vice versa). Thus, supporting the Palestinians is often perceived as anti-Semitic because so much of Palestinian rhetoric is anti-Semitic (and not just anti-Israeli).

(Of course, many Israelis (and many Jews) oppose much of what the Israeli government has done to the Palestinians, and many Palestinians oppose the violence against Jews perpetrated by some Palestinians. But that often gets lost in the shuffle of rhetoric.)

It is obviously a mistake to ascribe to those who support a movement all the views espoused by some of those in that movement, but it is understandable. At an extreme, for example, if one defends the rights of those who are homophobic or racist to express those views, others might think you also agree with those views. Obviously wrong, but a fine line some find hard to distinguish.

L-girl said...

I agree with your point here, but I think that the reason things tend to get muddy is that there is a lot of hatred of Jews by Palestinians (and vice versa). Thus, supporting the Palestinians is often perceived as anti-Semitic because so much of Palestinian rhetoric is anti-Semitic (and not just anti-Israeli).

...

It is obviously a mistake to ascribe to those who support a movement all the views espoused by some of those in that movement, but it is understandable.


I can't agree with your reasoning here. The anti- Israeli apartheid movement is not a Palestinian movement - it's a global movement. The Canadian politicians who condemn Israeli Apartheid Week have not heard anti-Jewish statements coming from the organizers and attendees of the events. They declare that to be part of this is movement is by definition to be anti-Semetic. They say that I don't have to utter an anti-Semetic word, but simply to join with others who condemn the treatment of Palestinians, I am anti-Semetic.

I know what you're saying, but I don't know it's applicable here.

johngoldfine said...

The Canadian politicians who condemn Israeli Apartheid Week have not heard anti-Jewish statements coming from the organizers and attendees of the events. They declare that to be part of this is movement is by definition to be anti-Semetic. They say that I don't have to utter an anti-Semetic word, but simply to join with others who condemn the treatment of Palestinians, I am anti-Semetic.

That's basically the old Stalinist canard of saying that someone was "objectively" counter-revolutionary or a wrecker or whatever, based on no evidence other than one's parentage or one's accent or religion--nothing objective about it except that one did find oneself objectively in the Lubyanka.

I had a student from one of the least populated regions of Maine's least populated county write once that so and so was "Jewy." My writing class is not the place to indicate that the Jewish instructor might find the term obnoxious, so I simply asked, as any writing teacher would, what Jewy people were like and if she had examples.

She was completely unable to explain. It was as if I'd asked her to define something like water or air or food or animal. How can you define a term everyone already knows and already knows all about? I said, "I honestly don't know what Jewy means to you."

And that's where we left it. She seemed completely innocent of hurtful intent! I probably was her first Jew.

Dharma Seeker said...

Great post!

L-girl said...

My writing class is not the place to indicate that the Jewish instructor might find the term obnoxious, so I simply asked, as any writing teacher would, what Jewy people were like and if she had examples.

Wow, I doubt I could have done that. No, I know I couldn't have done it.

I had a student I was tutoring make a very anti-Jewish remark, and when I said that hurt me because I was Jewish, he was beyond shocked. He came from a very impoverished background (in all senses of the word) and he equated "Jewish" with "rich, white and against me".

He later told me I was the first white person who befriended him. It was very sobering.

L-girl said...

Thanks!

David Heap said...

the reason things tend to get muddy is that there is a lot of hatred of Jews by Palestinians.

Really? I would be interested to know what you base this statement on, @Amy. I spend a lot of time around diaspora Palestinians, and overwhelemingly they are extremely careful to distinguish the Israeli state from Jews in general. On the rare occasions when someone makes a remark about "the Jews", they are quickly corrected by other Palestinians. Those who are Muslim (the majority) have a deep respect for another "People of the Book".

In any case, as Laura says this is mostly irrelevant, since the movement against Israeli apartheid is a world-wide one, not a Palestinian one. It seems rather unlikely that (for instance) the Congress of South African Trade Unions harbours significant amounts of hatred for Jews -- if nothing else because of the prominent roles played by South African Jews (many of them anti-Zionists) in the struggle against apartheid there.

Mylegacy said...

Israel's been inventing a Jewish state, day by day, year by year since 1948. They've met every challenge and excelled. They've met every disaster and triumphed.

Today Israel is a victim of its considerable success. Today it owns its very own two prisoner of war camps - one they punish when it fires rockets into the desert and the other - day by day, hour by hour, they just steal its land.

Now that they have it - they have to consider was this the "it" they wanted? I thnk not, and unfortunately/fortunately for my many Jewish friends most of them think not too.

If anyone can rise to make peace from this wreck, this abomination of a situation I still believe Israel can do it. Please god let them do it. Heaven knows the alternatives all smell of long dead corpses left in the sun.

Peace and justice... Please.

L-girl said...

Hm, interesting perspective. I don't understand it, but it would be wonderful if it were true.

History shows us that oppressive regimes don't change unless they are forced to.

Frederick Douglass may have said it best.

Brent said...

You know, every time this issue comes up, I can't help but think there would be much less Anti-Semitism if politicians would stop equating Israel with all the Jewish people in the world.

L-girl said...

You know, every time this issue comes up, I can't help but think there would be much less Anti-Semitism if politicians would stop equating Israel with all the Jewish people in the world.

That's a great point that is rarely made. Thank you!

Also, not to play the "whose oppression is worse game" but right now, in the Western world, Islamophobia is a much more prevalent and virulent bigotry than anti-Semitism. There are isolated incidents of anti-Semitism, and of course there are individuals who hate Jews, but Islamophobia is extremely widespread and often institutionalized, as we see in France and the Netherlands.

Amy said...

I think my point was simply that those who support the Palestinian point of view are often depicted as anti-Semitic because the Palestinians are perceived as anti-Semitic. So whether you are talking about a global or a local movement in their support, the same result occurs. And I think Brent is correct that it also is true that being anti-Israel (and anti-Israeli) is also perceived as being anti-Semitic. So if there is Palestinian anger towards Israel, it is perceived by many as also anti-Semitic.

As a Jew who has many issues with many things that the Israeli government does and has done, I know it is a gross distortion. I am certainly not anti-Semitic. I am not even anti-Israel. In fact, I feel a deep attachment to Israel. But in certain circles if I voice a view that criticizes Israel, I would be perceived as a self-loathing anti-Semite. Just as in circle circles I would be perceived as a self-loathing American for being critical of much of what the United States does.

I am not sure why that doesn't apply here, although I was not limiting or directing my comments specifically to what is going in Canada or to the global movement you refer to.

L-girl said...

But

those who support the Palestinian point of view are often depicted as anti-Semitic because the Palestinians are perceived as anti-Semitic

is very different than

the reason things tend to get muddy is that there is a lot of hatred of Jews by Palestinians.

Either way, perception or actual hatred, I think it doesn't apply.

Because, simply, there is no anti-Semitism coming out of this movement. No anti-Semitic statements, slogans, programs, agenda, talk, writing. Nothing. It's not about Jewish people, so it doesn't focus on Jewish people. It's about the policies of Israel.

Well-known people who support justice for Palestinians are now accused of being "closet anti-Semites" - really a label of last resort. "They haven't said or written anything anti-Semitic, but we know it's lurking in there somewhere! It must be!"

Amy said...

Well, I am not suggesting that the larger movement you are referring to is anti-Semitic or that any of its rhetoric or leaders are anti-Semitic. But it is not correct to say that there have not been anti-Semitic rhetoric and stereotypes used by some Palestinian and pro-Palestinian people. Like many others, they confuse Israel with all Jews. There have been many statements, stereotypes, etc., that have been used that depict Israel as synonymous with Jews generally---use of ugly traditional caricatures in cartoons, Holocaust denial statements, age old stereotypes of a Jewish worldwide conspiracy, etc. Thus, my earlier post was simply saying that it is not surprising that those views are not also ascribed to those who support the Palestinian movement even though they do not themselves subscribe to those views.

L-girl said...

Perhaps it is not surprising, I don't know. But elected officials, Members of Parliament, Congresspeople, etc. should be able to easily distinguish between two extremely different phenomena.

Educated, intelligent people can read and see what emanates from the boycott/sanction/divest movement and see quite clearly that it is not anti-Semitic.

They can, but they refuse to.

The fact that they insist on characterizing the movement as anti-Semitic and condemning it - despite all evidence to the contrary - must lead us to ask why they are creating this smokescreen and hiding behind it.

Amy said...

Yes, they should be able to. But I long ago gave up expecting our "leaders" to be anything other than ciphers filling the air with whatever they think will get them re-elected. Maybe it is different in Canada, but I assume that most US politicians are just that---politicians: people who want to be in power and will say or do whatever it takes to get there. I don't know how this applies in this context, but I assume that ultimately it boils down to politics.

L-girl said...

That's my main point. This is political posturing, not reality.

Whether or not we are surprised, for me, is well beside the point. If I only wrote about things that surprised me, this blog would usually be blank.

Amy said...

I think I missed that that was your main point---that politicians were using this argument and failing to distinguish between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. I thought you were addressing a more general failure on the part of people to make that distinction, with the Canadian politicians as just one example. Sorry for the confusion!

L-girl said...

Not at all, it's a very worthwhile discussion. It's also interesting to hear your personal views.

I guess I should have given more explanation re the Canadian and Ontario legislatures!

Amy said...

I admit my woeful ignorance of much of what happens in Canada (though, thanks to you and WMTC, I am far less ignorant than I once was). I am having a hard enough time keeping up with the political fiascos here in the US---the health care "debate," the jobs bill, the environmental indifference, etc., etc. No excuse, but my ignorance did lead me to read your post out of context! Thanks for setting me straight.

L-girl said...

There's no reason for you to keep up with what happens here. When it comes to Canada, wmtc is all you need. ;)

Marky Mark said...

I like your examples, but think you may have skated over the main issue as to whether Zionsim is Racism/Apartheid and whether that characterization can itself be characterized as anti-Semitism. I don't think any serious people equate criticsm of Israeli government policy with anti-Semitism and the debate is whether anti-Zionism crosses the line.

L-girl said...

I like your examples, but think you may have skated over the main issue as to whether Zionsim is Racism/Apartheid and whether that characterization can itself be characterized as anti-Semitism.

But that's not the main issue for me. To me that's slicing it too thin, drawing too fine of a distinction.

I don't think any serious people equate criticsm of Israeli government policy with anti-Semitism

Many people in positions of power and influence do just that. Whether you or I consider them serious people is another question, but equating criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinians with anti-Semitism is very common.

Janice Latisha Betts said...

I have debated this and Isreal with now former Jewish friends, who are now former simply because in their hateful little minds, they cannot separate anti-semitic from valid critisim of Isreali government policies. It came out at the end that they believe they are the superior race, and therefore not supporting them and Isreal in every aspect is wrong. They are incapable of seeing that the oppressed are now the oppressors, and that 2 wrongs don't make a right. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a generation who have been taught from birth that they are superior, that they have been wronged, and therefore they have a right to achieve their goal of a non-Jew free state by any means possible. (And of course pointing out the obvious historical parallel is considered the ultimate in anti-semitism.) There is no room for logic in their twisted, sick minds. I was labelled a radical, told my ideas were scary and wrong, and verbally abused for stating that all human beings are equal. How can you argue with people who think like that?

Your post was wonderfully written (and shared to my fb community) but it unfortunately will never get through to those who most need to understand it. It will, however, help those who are genuinely confused by the new brand of McCarthyism currently the vogue in Canadian government and who are capable of independent thought and not tainted by fundamental religious brainwashing.

L-girl said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Janice, and thanks for sharing this post.

It came out at the end that they believe they are the superior race, and therefore not supporting them and Isreal in every aspect is wrong.

I'm curious if this was actually what they said - re superior race - or your interpretation. I'm NOT attacking or debating you, I don't doubt there are many Jews who believe this. I'm really just asking.

Because I was raised in a pro-Israel household, taught that Israel was a Jewish homeland, connected to the Holocaust, and that all "the Arabs" (as they were called) were against "us" (Israel). No words about who lived there before Israel was magically turned into a Jewish homeland!

But no one in our liberal Jewish culture ever would have said "superior race". Especially not in the 1960s and 70s!

tainted by fundamental religious brainwashing

Are they really fundamentalists - Orthodox Jews? Or are they modern liberal people in other respects?

L-girl said...

I was labelled a radical, told my ideas were scary and wrong,

No shame in that. You're in company with Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Eugene Debs, Susan B Anthony... etc

I've already had to reject several comments with the old "self-hating Jew" canard. The knee-jerk rejoinder for any Jewish person who wants justice for the Palestinian people.

Amy said...

Unfortunately, we are dealing with a generation who have been taught from birth that they are superior, that they have been wronged, and therefore they have a right to achieve their goal of a non-Jew free state by any means possible.

This may be one of the most anti-Semitic things I have read in recent times. If you don't think generalizing and stereotyping a group of people based on the fact that they are Jewish is anti-Semitism, then I don't know how you are defining the term. This post alone undermines much of what has been said here about the feelings of those who support the Palestinian movement.

johngoldfine said...

But, Janice, step back a moment to where l-girl started in this post:

Pre-judging people because they are Jews = anti-Semitism.

Characterizing a person one does not know as having certain traits because he or she is Jewish = anti-Semitism.


So, after equations like that, I can't help being startled when you say, "their hateful little minds" and "incapable of seeing" and "a generation who have been taught from birth that they are superior, that they have been wronged, and therefore they have a right to achieve their goal of a non-Jew free state by any means possible" and "no room for logic in their twisted, sick minds."

And, of course, your inability to spell 'Israel' correctly seems to undercut the seriousness of your comments, much as the similar inability of right-wing USA politicians' to say "Democratic undercuts theirs.

L-girl said...

I didn't read Janice's comments as anti-Semetic, though I can certainly understand reading them that way.

I read her characterization of "sick, twisted..." (etc) as about people who subscribe to certain beliefs about Israel and Palestine. Not all Jewish people, but Jewish people who justify the apartheid state on the basis of Jewish specialness.

It may not be a nice way of characterizing people who oppose our views - but I make no apology for, eg, sayhing the same thing about anti-choice fanatics, or acolytes of Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter.

But clearly, I know where Amy and John are coming from, and I anticipated that reaction.

L-girl said...

And please, no spelling/grammar corrections here, it's against wmtc comment policy. I spell anti-Semitic three different ways when I'm typing. Thanks.

Amy said...

I think when you characterize an entire generation as being taught from birth to think a certain way, you are NOT talking about people with specific views. You are talking about all Jews born after the Holocaust.

I am absolutely infuriated and hurt by this post. The fact that John and I reacted the way we did will probably only fuel this woman's fire and have her lump us with all the other Jews she feels are twisted and out to make Israel free of all non-Jews. How you can not see this as anti-Semitic is beyond me.

L-girl said...

I understand why you and John see it this way, but I don't share your views. If I saw the post as anti-Semitic, I wouldn't have put it through.

I am part of the generation who was raised that way. My parents called everyone in the Middle East who was not Israel "lousy Arabs". That was their name: "lousy Arabs". I was taught Israel was my birthright. Why, as an American who had never set foot in Israel, was that land my birthright, but not the birthright of people who were born there? Because Jews are special people. Etc. etc.

I can well understand Janice's frustration with people who still subscribe to these views, and justify atrocities (because the people oppressed by the same views dare to fight back).

As far as my not seeing this as anti-Semitism, well, we don't have to see things the same way.

johngoldfine said...

Aw, l-girl, that was no spelling correction! That was a rhetorical stick too easy not to pick up--you know that! Maybe just a cheap shot in the heat of debate--but maybe making a point.

L-girl said...

Yes John, I did know that, and I prefer people not use those sticks here. It's ok for wingnuts, but I don't think Janice is one of those. Thanks.

johngoldfine said...

House rules, ok--I'll watch it in the future.

Amy said...

I am part of the generation who was raised that way.

I am part of your generation, but I was definitely NOT raised that way. My parents NEVER said such things and never would to this day. The same is true for most of my Jewish friends. Those who may have heard such views long ago corrected their own parents about how wrong such views are, or at least tried to. To assign such views to our whole generation is hateful, offensive, and anti-Semitic.

I have nothing more to say about this. My feelings are deeply hurt by the comments, and I will just leave before I get even more hurt and angry.

L-girl said...

I am part of the generation who was raised that way.

I am part of your generation, but I was definitely NOT raised that way.


That's part of my point about Janice's comment. I think she is referring to people who were raised this way and still subscribe to the mindset, not to all Jews of a certain age. It's quite common among US Jews.

Amy, I'm sorry that you feel deeply hurt by something that was posted at wmtc and I hope to see you in other threads in the future. Take care.

Marky Mark said...

It seems to me that BDS and IAW are a coalition that includes those that are against the idea of an Israel, irrespective of its borders, and those who merely oppose certain policies. The key question is here is whether anti-Zionism can be atttacked as applying a standard of judging one form of nationalism differently that other forms of nationalism, whether that amounts to anti-Semitism or not. Many want to ignore that issue and focus instead on instances where critics of a particular policy are smeared as anti-Semites.

But as this discussion illustrates quite nicely, many who oppose certain policies are, at best, ambivalent about Zionism altogether.

L-girl said...

Marky Mark, although I understand what you're saying, I'm not sure what you're getting at.

I oppose all nationalism, including Zionism. I have no ambivalence about that.

I am, however, against the idea of there being an Israel. If we wiped out every country whose roots are in stolen land and colonialism, well... that doesn't bode well for the US and Canada, does it?

If you feel BDS and IAW "includes" people who oppose the idea of Israel, well then, I guess you have to take it up with them. I haven't seen that.

L-girl said...

Perhaps more to the point, the US civil rights movement included people who hated white people. But everyone African American involved in that cause did not.

The movement also included communists, but it was a communist-driven movement.

If the BDS movement includes people who believe Israel should not exist, as well it might, we should not condemn the movement or the justice for which it fights.

Marky Mark said...

Interesting discussion L-girl but I don't quite understand your response. Yes, Canada and the US (in fact most of the Americas, as well as Australia and others) are settler states. And Europe is full of states created as ethnicity based nation states. Zionism is the response to nationaliam which, among other things, branded Jews as not true citizens of their "host" nations.

If Zionism itself equals apartheid, then how are all the others ethnicity based nation states any different? This is where some say, including various international bodies who have studied the issue, that anti-Zionism becomes anti-Semitism. I don't necessarily agree, but that is worthy of debate.

If BDS and IAW are in essence against the idea of an Israel, critics of those movements are appropriately raising an issue with the essence of their criticism.

Amy said...

I think she is referring to people who were raised this way and still subscribe to the mindset

You are far too generous. If that's what she meant, let her clarify. As written, her statement paints with a much broader stroke.

I am, however, against the idea of there being an Israel. If we wiped out every country whose roots are in stolen land and colonialism, well... that doesn't bode well for the US and Canada, does it?

Was there supposed to be a "not" in the first sentence? I assume so, given the sentence that follows.

At any rate, I appreciate that you understand that my feelings have been hurt. Thank you for that. And I will be back, but not to discuss this issue. (And this time I mean it! :))

L-girl said...

I am, however, against the idea of there being an Israel. If we wiped out every country whose roots are in stolen land and colonialism, well... that doesn't bode well for the US and Canada, does it?

Was there supposed to be a "not" in the first sentence? I assume so, given the sentence that follows.


Oh yes, definitely. I do not deny Israel's right to exist, only its right to exist under its present conditions of oppression.

I posted something that states this quite clearly, an essay someone else wrote. I will look for it and link to it here.

Of course I understand your feelings are hurt! I don't share these particular feelings but I'm not an insensitive clod. :) See you soon, I hope.

L-girl said...

If BDS and IAW are in essence against the idea of an Israel

That's a big "if". Where do you get this characterization from?

Marky Mark said...

ah-the word "not" was missing-and I agree with your civil rights comparison too-but while the civil rights movement clearly had a certain core message that was understandable, I'm less confident I know what really drives BDS and IAW-is it opposition to Policies X, Y and Z (and I tend to agree with the substance of that opposition) or is it opposition to the permanence of Israel altogether?

L-girl said...

Rosa Brooks, The Gaza Blame Game, sums up my feelings very well, re Marky Mark's comments.

L-girl said...

I'm less confident I know what really drives BDS and IAW-is it opposition to Policies X, Y and Z (and I tend to agree with the substance of that opposition) or is it opposition to the permanence of Israel altogether?

Sounds like you need to educate yourself on BDS/IAW goals and principles and see what you come up with.

Marky Mark said...

I dunno--when you look at the BDS page you linked to there are references to "Occupied Palestine" and the actual mission statement speaks both of Palestinian "self determination" while seeming to describe Israel as a country that should be more mutli-culti like Canada. I think it's really vague and that it is that way on purpose.

I'm not sure why you think it is clear that BDS and IAW are only about Policies X, Y and Z. It is for some, for sure, but the "official" site and materials linked there aren't at all clear.

L-girl said...

You misunderstood my comment. You said you're not clear on what the movement stands for. So, I meant, if you have those questions, you need to educate yourself and answer those questions for yourself.

I wasn't saying it BDS stands for one thing or the other.

redsock said...

I figured Janice was simply guilty of careless, inexact writing -- and was referring to her friends. (But I would not be as sensitive as Amy would in this discussion, so who knows?)

Janice is obviously talking about her former friends at the beginning, but with the word "unfortunately", she suddenly jumps to describing the attitudes of "a generation" of people. Then it's back to her friends -- when she mentions their "twisted, sick minds", she follows that with being called a radical and being verbally abused, so it seems this is personal experience.

Perhaps she was saying those negative feelings are mostly likely to be seen in Jewish people of a certain age -- simply because of when they grew up and became adults and began forming their own opinions about the world. And because of many factors, those attitudes would be less common in people born much later.

Or maybe I'm being too generous.

johngoldfine said...

I figured Janice was simply guilty of careless, inexact writing

I did too, rs, but decided the possible ambiguity was buried under and made nugatory by the avalanche of unpleasant adjectives. Putting it another way: deploying those adjectives and phrases seemed to be more important than clarifying who exactly they were directed at.

David Heap said...

The explicit goals of the BDS campaign are in fact rather clear:

1. Ending Israel's occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

(and for IAW, rather similar).
Note that this is necessarily silent on the exact shape of the end-game. This is the case not only because it is (necessarily) a coalition of people who have rather different visions about the ultimate goals, but also because what eventually happens depends at least in part on the Israeli reaction.
Will the State of Israel survive post-apartheid, as South Africa did? Hard to say, until we find out whether a consensus emerges in Israel that is willing to embrace a state of all its citizens, without ethnic/religious privileges for some. Ali Abuminah's book ( One Country: a Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse ) is one such vision, but there plenty of room for debate, on all sides.

In the short term, it is unfair and perhaps disingenuous to fault the IAW and BDS campaigns for not having a completely worked-out vision of the ultimate goals, since it does not depend exculsively on us. Historically, Mandela, Slovo and the rest did not know what the new South Africa would really look like until they began negotiating the transition. They knew it did not include apartheid, and that was a sufficient basis for unity for most of the decades of struggle.

Marky Mark said...

Respectfully, that sounds to me like "Israel is an Apartheid Stae"/Zionism is Racism, which is the very reason that Canadian politicians have weighed in. They haven't weighed in to support clear violations of international law by Israel but rather to combat what they perceive to be a campaign to make Israel a pariah state. The Partition Plan envisaged Israel as being a Jewish state. Resolutions 242 and 338 set out the land for peace formula. None of these things requires the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state and to the extent that BDS and IAW have that agenda they shouldn't obfuscate. Yes, some support BDS and IAW due to Policies X, Y and Z, but anti-Zionism is a huge part of the BS and IAW coalitions.

L-girl said...

David makes an excellent point.

That South Africa did survive apartheid, took myriad talents of many people. It was not clear for a very long time what would happen to the country, and frankly, if it could only survive with apartheid, then it didn't deserve to survive.

Similarly, it was not clear that the US would survive the civil war.

L-girl said...

Marky Mark, your conception of why Canadian politicians have "weighed in" is very different than mine. I find the concept of a "Jewish state" as it is currently conceived and run as objectionable as a "white state" has been elsewhere.

No matter what any official document says, if a state can only exist through oppression, it lacks legitimacy.

johngoldfine said...

if a state can only exist through oppression, it lacks legitimacy.

So, you're saying oppression is more or less to be expected from any state, but there is a distinction between states which sometimes oppress (offhand, I can't think of any who don't) and states whose existence is based on a regular, determined, planned, state-controlled oppression of some group? And that second kind of state brings into question its very right-to-exist if that existence can only be sustained through oppression?

Essentially you're saying that Israel calls into question its right to exist by its behavior and if it ceases to exist because of its oppression of Palestinians, that is a legitimate outcome.

Have I got that right? I'm asking sincerely, not disingenuously, and promise not to pick up what you say and snap off some argumentative or gotcha riposte. (I doubt I could come up with one even if I wanted to.)

Just trying to see better where you are.

Marky Mark said...

L-girl,

I find it a fascinating question to debate. On the one hand, every country should be like Canada. On the other hand, if there is a "Jewish People" and if the UN has recognized the right to self-determination for all peoples, what is the inherent avil associated with Zionism? In that regard, Zionism doesn't have to be for "Jews only," akin to apartheid, but rather be about Israel serving as the homeland of the Jewish People without discrininating against non-Jews. There are some inherent tensions there, to be sure, but not really different in kind from all other nationalisms.

FYI this IAW site does seem to be more against the idea of Zionism altogether that a protest against specific state policies:

http://www.israeliapartheidweek.com/media/user/images/Basis_of_Unity_for_Israeli_Apartheid_Week_international.pdf

Marky Mark said...

P.S. You may be right and they may have weighed it for the "wrong" reasons--in fact, I will concede that, as there is a fair bit of nuance to these issues--we shouldn't assume that those who use the A word are anti-Zionist, let alone anti-Semitic. I'd like to see the ME debate proceed without accusations of anti-Semitsm.

L-girl said...

I find it a fascinating question to debate.

Marky Mark, just FYI, there are no subjects I find fascinating to debate. I hate debate.

L-girl said...

So, you're saying oppression is more or less to be expected from any state, but there is a distinction between states which sometimes oppress (offhand, I can't think of any who don't) and states whose existence is based on a regular, determined, planned, state-controlled oppression of some group?

I do think there's a substantial difference between these, yes.

And that second kind of state brings into question its very right-to-exist if that existence can only be sustained through oppression?

I will assent to this with important qualifications. The state as it is presently conceived may be unable to exist.

South Africa the country continued to exist, but the apartheid state could not be justified and could not continue. The East German spy/police state, the North Korean prison state, the Jim Crow south - each of these could/can only continue through constant, systematic, institutionalized oppression.

States like this lack moral legitimacy of governance. Through a combination of internal and external forces, they either explode or implode.

But the people in those states will still need to live and adapt, with some new conception of a new state.

South Africa the country figured out a way to continue to exist. The Southern US states remained part of the US and did not become a separate apartheid state.

I want to see Israel figure out a way to exist as a place not predicated on the oppression of others, not dependent on oppression for its existence.

Whether or not it can, I certainly don't know.

I don't and would never deny Israel's right to exist per se. But on the other hand, I don't think the world needs a Jewish state and I don't think Jews need a special homeland.

I hope that clarifies. It's not my best subject.

L-girl said...

It's not "the A-word". It's apartheid.

I would no sooner self-censor that word than I would use the vile construction "ethnic cleansing".

You may not believe Israel is an apartheid state, but please let's not be afraid to use a word.

johngoldfine said...

Okay, fair enough, that's clear, thanks for the insight.

L-girl said...

Thanks, John. I'm similarly interested in your views, without debate, if you feel like posting them. If not, that's totally ok, too.

johngoldfine said...

My views about Israel are too conflicted for anyone else to bother about--I know what I think, but it's such an awkward inwardly-spiralling conversation with myself that an explanation would have to dig more into me than even I care to at this point in my life. I'd never inflict it on anyone else.

It does seem that the self-identified Jews on this thread are all, one way or another, having to go back in time, history, and personal history to find their truest thoughts, and that's something we all share, however those thoughts differ.

Speaking of euphemisms, a librarian told me today that the term 'library' is going the way of 'motor-car' or 'Pullman porter.' "Boston Public Information Commons" is never going to work for me!

L-girl said...

It does seem that the self-identified Jews on this thread are all, one way or another, having to go back in time, history, and personal history to find their truest thoughts, and that's something we all share, however those thoughts differ.

Ah, very true.

I was raised in a very pro-Israel household and given a completely one-sided picture of Middle East history and events. It took a lot of self-searching and re-thinking to reject - especially because in all other respects, I share my parents' political values.

Speaking of euphemisms, a librarian told me today that the term 'library' is going the way of 'motor-car' or 'Pullman porter.'

Yes, supposedly we will put "library" in the "icebox" while we listen to our "Victrolas".

In school, surveys are taken on what we wish to be called - librarians, information professionals, knowledge workers, and some other even more obscure choices. Almost everyone wants to be a librarian. :)

"Information professionals" seems to be the larger category that includes librarians, archivists, database experts, and others. But librarians still want to be librarians and want to work in libraries, it seems.

Amy said...

I swore off this thread, but have come back now that things are calmer (or I am calmer anyway). I have a few comments to make:

1. Notice how Janice never returned to clarify her comments? I will leave it at that.

2. My feelings about Israel are conflicted as well. I do not feel comfortable discussing those feelings here, however, for fear of being misconstrued.

3. Did you see that there is some new book out about librarians? I read the review in the NYTimes Book Review on Sunday, but damned if I can remember the title or author. If it is not something you read about, let me know and I will search for a link.

L-girl said...

This book? :)

Notice how Janice never returned to clarify her comments? I will leave it at that.

There's no such thing as coming back to a topic that upset you, asking a provocative comment, and saying "I'll leave it at that."

I didn't make you come back to the thread, but since you did, what's your point - what does your question actually mean?

Amy said...

My point was simply that one would have expected her to come back and clarify if she actually meant her comments to be limited to the friends she was referring to and not to apply to all Jews. Of course, she may never have bothered to see what reactions her comments provoked, but that seems unlikely, given the angry tone of her comment.

That was all I meant.

Amy said...

Oh, and yes, that's the book! I had forgotten about your post when I read the review and obviously did not recognize the title/author!

L-girl said...

I think it's unwise draw conclusions based on someone not returning to reply to comments. Hit-and-run commenters are fairly frequent. The fact that a person doesn't engage in discussion doesn't prove any particular interpretation of their post.

redsock said...

I agree with Amy.

I thought Janice had left at least two comments, but I see it was only one. It didn't feel like a hit and run post, but maybe it was. Had she commented before?

Amy said...

I guess we can just agree to disagree about what her intentions and her views were. I find it hard to believe that someone would leave such an angry, hate-filled post and not be curious to see what reaction she sparked.

Perhaps you are just much less cynical than I am, but that seems unlikely. :)

L-girl said...

Well, I didn't see her comment as hate-filled. She is angry, but I share her anger, so I make no special inferences about that.

You may not realize that this blog (like all blogs) gets hit-and-run comments all the time. If I can tell in advance that they're hit/run, I don't let them through. In this caes, I didn't anticipate it, because I know Janice on FB.

I don't see any reason for cynicism here.

What I really don't understand is why you came back to this thread. You're welcome to, of course - I just don't know what you're looking for. "I have an opinion but I won't state it here because I think it will be misconstrued" seems like an attempt to bait or provoke.

Amy said...

I came back to see if she had ever returned. I also saw John's comment about librarians, and it reminded me of the book review.

As for my other comment, I would prefer to have that discussion in a different format---in person, by email, whatever---where I feel safer. Obviously this is a sensitive subject for me, and I am not looking to get angry/hateful comments from people I do not know. I trust you and feel free to express my feelings with you, but I do not feel that way about strangers.

Hope that makes sense.

L-girl said...

Yes, it does make sense. Thank you for clarifying.

I don't allow hateful comments directed at other commenters, and I can't imagine that any regular wmtc person would do that - but your threshold for conflict is very different than mine, and what I perceive as mere disagreement may feel like attack to you.

Certainly many activist friends of mine feel very strongly about this issue - they spend a lot of their time on it, and have traveled to Gaza as part of the solidarity movement. Their opinions of your opinions could certainly offend you.

Perhaps you can see how your comment appeared to be a passive-aggressive provocation. "I have something to say but I won't say it."

L-girl said...

I thought Janice had left at least two comments, but I see it was only one. It didn't feel like a hit and run post, but maybe it was. Had she commented before?

She did leave another comment, but on a different thread.

She had never commented before. She saw this post on FB, thanked me for it, circulated it further, then came over to post about it.