Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The anti-Israel movement has always thrived on lies: Israel as an outpost of European colonialism, Israel as an apartheid state, Jews having no historical connection to the land of Israel or the city of Jerusalem. This mendacity extends to strategic considerations--for example, the International Solidarity Movement claims that it is nonviolent, yet not only do its founders endorse Palestinian terrorism but it also has strong links to Palestinian terror groups. The movement to get American colleges and universities to divest from Israel (as part of the so-called "BDS movement"--boycott, divestment and sanctions) is entirely based on deception as well as double standards.
It should come as no surprise that the tactics used by those opposed to the existence of a Jewish state often stoop to the level of the false pretenses by which they advertise themselves. A few illustrative examples have arisen just recently:
Example 1: In the northern California university town of Davis, just outside Sacramento, the City Council recently adopted an innocuous sounding resolution declaring November 7 as "Davis Peace Day" and endorsed a group that calls itself "Davis Peace Connections" as the sponsoring organization. Now I don't blame the good citizens on the City Council for not doing their research beforehand; this is one of those instances where you don't expect to find the bomb belts hidden inside the ambulance. But as a perusal of the "Davis Peace Connections" website shows, they have "friendly links" to numerous anti-Israel sites, from the extreme right to the extreme left. On the far right they link to If Americans Knew (a project of Alison Weir, who is disturbingly comfortable with neo-Nazis) and also to the website of the viciously anti-Semitic Swedish fascist who writes under the pen name of Israel Shamir. The far left is well represented by Electronic Intifada, Anna Baltzer and the International Action Center (the parent group of International ANSWER, whose anti-Semitism is on display at their public marches ). They even link to Hezbollah's own al-Manar news site (click on the last link under "sinister videos").
Fortunately, one concerned citizen of Davis was able to alert the City Council to this situation. Mayor Ruth Asmundson then took the responsible step of quickly publishing a letter in the local newspaper which stated, in part:
"However, contained within the proclamation is a reference to a Web site that contains Internet links to several sites that contain biased views of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. I regret that my call for world peace can be interpreted as an endorsement by the City Council or me as an individual member of the viewpoints of any particular group or Web site, and I want to be absolutely clear that that was not my intention. I apologize for any hurt my proclamation may have caused anyone."
I suspect that the next time the Davis Peace Coalition tries to slide an endorsement past the City Council it will be scrutinized just a bit more closely.
Example 2: Elsewhere in Northern California, "My Name is Rachel Corrie" (the theatrical tribute to the ISM volunteer who was sent to Gaza to block IDF anti-terror operations) was staged at Stanford University last week. In a story first broken by Solomonia, the American Red Cross had been listed as a sponsor of this event. Not quite the usual earthquake/hurricane/flood relief type of activity that we donate to ARC to support. As the person who brought it to the attention of the Silicon Valley Red Cross office, I can confirm that their media relations director Cynthia Shaw (and presumably the rest of the local ARC leadership) was, to put it mildly, not pleased to have their name associated with this event. The "miscommunication" that led to ARC's name being lent in support was, basically, fraudulent--leaders of the student chapter of the Red Cross on campus were asked if they would have its name listed as an organization that promoted human rights. Fortunately, the Red Cross has acted responsibly and insisted that its name be withdrawn from any online and print promotional materials. So now there's a few more students at Stanford (not to mention some Red Cross leaders) who have learned firsthand about the lies that anti-Israel activists will use to promote their agenda.
Example 3: Earlier this month in upstate New York, former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (who has made a second career out of anti-Israel activism including outright support of Hamas and Hezbollah ) gave a talk at Binghamton University. Student members of Hillel, in the time honored tradition of peaceful protest and free speech, passed out informational flyers outside the auditorium prior to the event. However, before McKinney spoke, the event organizers asked that all of the flyers be handed in to them. Not surprisingly, those who dared to ask critical questions of McKinney were cut off or derided. There's really only one possible conclusion-- they were so afraid of free speech and of having to defend their positions against challenging questions that they prevented either one of those from occurring. Yet the anti-Israel groups are always the ones calling for "open discussion" about Israel-- at least as long as they are the only ones doing the discussing.
It's not surprising that students would act this way; after all, they learn from their elders. The BDS movement continues to perpetuate such lies as the "divestment" at Hampshire College or the investment fund family TIAA-CREF--in both cases, routine portfolio transactions that resulted in a sale of stock of companies doing business in Israel were trumpeted by anti-Israel activists as a victory for divestment. Both organizations were quick to clarify that this was not the case. On Muzzlewatch, the blog of Jewish Voice for Peace, (where comments have been closed for several years), the JVPers continue to rail against anyone who dares to criticize them by accusing them of "muzzling" their position. (You can also read Solomonia's excellent commentary about JVP). A recent post from JVP's Alice-in-Wonderland world discussed efforts by local Israel supporters to stop the local Jewish Community Federations from funding of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (after the SFJFF's debacle this summer in showing the film "Rachel" and giving Cindy Corrie a speaking platform). Cecilie Surasky of JVP blamed the rise of the BDS movement not on anti-Israel activists, but rather on Jewish community leaders who insist that our institutions support the existence of the world's one-and-only Jewish state: "You, Jewish leaders, have left us no choice. You started the BDS movement. Only you can stop it." Yes, we must be at fault for being so unreasonable in not turning our community institutions over to those who would subvert one of their core principles: support of a Jewish state of Israel. Just as Israel must be at fault for unreasonably not giving in to those who only insist on the end of Jewish statehood by the influx of millions of great-grandchildren of the 1947-8 war started by the Palestinians to prevent a Jewish state. Just as the Jews of Europe were at fault for unreasonably not giving in to those who only insisted that they convert to Christianity, or the Jews of Arab countries who were similarly at fault for not accepting Islam. Or just as the Jews of Jerusalem, in the time of the Second Temple that stood on the Temple Mount 700 years before the Dome of the Rock was built, unreasonably refused to submit to Roman idolatry. I can just hear Titus now "You, Jewish leaders, have left us no choice. You started our attack against your independence. Only you can stop it."