Friday, January 31, 2014

Omar Barghouti’s Lectures: A Case Study of Dangerous Propaganda. By Roberta Seid and

Omar Barghouti’s Lectures: A case study of dangerous propaganda. By Roberta Seid and Roz Rothstein. StandWithUs.

StandWithUs on JLTV: BDS on Campus. By Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid. Video. StandWithUs, June 24, 2013. YouTube.

Barghouti’s blood libel., January 29, 2014.

Omar Barghouti, Founder of BDS: “No Palestinian Will Ever Accept a Jewish State In Any Part of Palestine.” NJBR, January 12, 2014. Compilation of articles and videos.

Seid and Rothstein:

If you ever wondered how groups like the Nazis, Hutus, or America’s southern racists incited hatred and prejudice, you have a case study every time Omar Barghouti speaks on a college campus. Consider his comments when he toured California campuses in January 2012.
A co-founder of the anti-Israel boycott movement, Barghouti hurled distortions, half-truths, and lies about Israel.  He invoked—and consistently misrepresented—principles of human rights, international law, and justice to try to convince audiences that the Jewish state is so uniquely evil, and the Palestinian situation so uniquely unjust, that Israel should be punished as the pariah of nations. His real agenda, as he has frequently written, is marshaling support for destroying Israel and replacing it with one Palestinian-majority state.
Barghouti distorted history and facts in order to charge that Israel has practiced the worst evils of the 20th century.  He stripped away context to accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” conveniently ignoring the Arab and Palestinian wars against Israel that caused displacement of Palestinian Arabs. He  characterized Palestinian opposition to Israel as “non violent resistance,” despite the campaign of suicide bombing and terrorism that began in 2000, which claimed the lives of over 1,000 Israelis and wounded over 7,000.  And he ignored the fact that in 1948, Israel urged Arabs to stay and accept citizenship, with 160,000 deciding to do so, and that their population has soared to over 1.2 million Israeli Arab citizens. He also neglected to mention that since 1967, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have had among the highest population growth rates in the world. This is the opposite of ethnic cleansing.
Furthermore, Barghouti claimed that Israel constantly violates international law and committed “willful acts of genocide” during its war against Hamas from December 2008 to January 2009, and he cited the UN Goldstone report as proof. He didn’t mention the human rights of the Israelis, who were unrelentingly assaulted by over 7,000 rockets launched by Hamas, which necessitated the war, or that the Goldstone Report itself said it had “proved nothing” and was discredited by the world’s liberal democracies for being hopelessly biased and unreliable. He also neglected to tell audiences that Judge Goldstone himself retracted key accusations in the UN Report.
Barghouti charged that Israel is guilty of “apartheid” and “racism.” But even he knows that while Israel, like other liberal democracies, has challenges fully integrating its minorities, it is one of the world’s most multicultural, ethnically diverse nations, and its progressive legal system enforces the equality of all citizens—women, gays, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, and others. In the face of this reality, he justified smearing Israel as practicing apartheid by absurdly arguing that there are different forms of apartheid—apparently including its mirror opposite.
And he tried to prove the smear of apartheid through deception, such as claiming that Israeli Arabs are restricted from buying land. In fact, 93 percent of the land is state land. No one can buy it, but all Israelis—Jewish and non-Jewish—can lease the land. Barghouti can’t even accept Israel’s status as one of the world’s most progressive nations on LGBT issues. He denigrated praise of Israel’s LGBT record as “pink washing,” allegedly a ploy to distract people from the plight of Palestinians, even though Palestinians regularly seek refuge in Israel to escape virulent anti-gay persecution in the West Bank and Gaza.
When Barghouti could not come up with facts to prove his charge that Israel cruelly mistreats Palestinians, he invented them. He charged that Israel “steals” Palestinian water, when in fact, Israel is giving some of its own water to Palestinians—40 percent more water than it promised to give in the 1993 Oslo Accords—and Israel has helped Palestinians modernize their water system. Barghouti also used singular examples of misdeeds to claim they are general Israeli policy. For example, he declared that Israel performs medical experiments on Palestinians, but the example he cited for proof demonstrates the high standards of Israel’s medical system and the fact that Palestinians receive the same high-quality care as Israeli Jews. Six doctors at a Kfar Saba hospital compared the effectiveness of two drugs commonly used for diabetes but received approval from the ethics committee only after the study was completed. Israeli doctors discovered the infraction, reprimanded the six doctors, and withdrew the study.   The 60 patients were Palestinians and Jews.
Finally, Barghouti accused Israel of trying to “colonize” Palestinian minds. He made the absurd charge that Israel “criminalized” Palestinian education during the First Intifada, converting a temporary measure—closing universities that were identified as breeding grounds for violence during the Intifada—into a general policy motivated by malice. He completely neglected the fact that it was Israel that oversaw the establishment of the seven universities that now exist in the West Bank, it was Israel that greatly expanded elementary and vocational education, and it was Israel that enforced freedom of the press after the years of Jordanian repression.
Nor does Barghouti admit that Israel fosters Palestinian education and accepts Palestinians as students at Israeli universities. Barghouti himself is working on an advanced degree at Tel Aviv University. When he has been asked why he isn’t following his own advice and boycotting the school, he has responded that “oppressed people can’t choose” their schools—even though he could have gone to any of the universities in the West Bank or resumed his studies at Columbia University in New York, where he got his undergraduate degree.
Even more astonishing, Barghouti claimed that in 1948 and after, Israel destroyed tens of thousands of Palestinian books in order to commit a “cultural massacre” and “Judaize Palestine.” In fact, Barghouti’s source reveals that Israel collected books from abandoned Palestinian libraries to save them from destruction in the chaos during and after the 1948 War, and it painstakingly catalogued and stored them. They are available in Israeli libraries for all researchers to use. Barghouti simply turned the facts upside down in order to stigmatize Israel. Israel preserved, not destroyed, Palestinian books and the culture they represented.
After this litany of lies, Barghouti shamelessly posted a slide that claimed the boycott movement supports “Freedom, Justice, and Equality,” and he tried to associate it with the American civil rights movement, asking, “What would Martin Luther King do?” Barghouti may claim that the boycott movement is a “rights” movement, but it is not. It is an effort to vilify and deny the rights of Israeli Jews. Its real agenda is to destroy Israel’s image through misinformation and to enlist support for a Palestinian state without Israel.
As mirrored in the boycott movement he founded, Barghouti is an extremist who opposes peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestinians and who will violate facts and reason to spread hatred for Israel. Our universities should invite Barghouti to speak on their campuses, not because he represents a legitimate and informed point of view, but because his presentation is a case study of dangerous propaganda. Tragically, history is replete with examples of what such lies and demonization can lead to.

“Pro-Palestinians” Versus Real Palestinians. By Evelyn Gordon.

“Pro-Palestinians” Versus Real Palestinians. By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, January 31, 2014.

The Orwellian World of Israel’s Opponents. By Seth Mandel. Commentary, January 31, 2014.

Sodastream is a factory, not a settlement. By Yaacov Lozowick. Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations, January 31, 2014.

Demonizing Israel; Demonizing ScarJo. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, January 28, 2014. With related articles and video.


If you want to understand the difference between people who are actually pro-Palestinian and those who routinely but falsely claim that label, it’s worth reading the Forward’s interview with SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum. The headline, of course, was Birnbaum’s admission that having a plant in a West Bank settlement is “a pain in the ass,” and he would “never” locate there today. But the most striking comment was his answer to the question of why, in that case, he doesn’t shut the West Bank plant and transfer its operations to SodaStream’s new facility in the Negev, which has ample capacity:
The reason for staying is loyalty to approximately 500 Palestinians who are among the plant’s 1,300 employees, Birnbaum claimed. While other employees could relocate on the other side of the Green Line if the plant moved, the West Bank Palestinian workers could not, and would suffer financially, he argued.
“We will not throw our employees under the bus to promote anyone’s political agenda,” he said, adding that he “just can’t see how it would help the cause of the Palestinians if we fired them.”
In other words, Birnbaum is concerned about real live Palestinians whose families need to eat. That’s a concern noticeably absent among the usual “pro-Palestinian” types, who couldn’t care less about ordinary Palestinians’ welfare unless it happens to serve their primary goal of attacking Israel: See, for instance, the shocking indifference by “pro-Palestinian” groups to the literal starvation of Palestinians in Syria (since Israel can’t be blamed for it), or the Dutch and German governments’ efforts to halt sewage treatment and landfill projects that would primarily benefit Palestinians because Jewish settlers would also benefit. But it’s a concern ardently shared by ordinary Palestinians themselves, as a 2010 poll showed: By an overwhelming majority of 60 percent to 38 percent, Palestinians opposed the idea that they themselves should refuse to work in the settlements. Real Palestinians care about feeding their families, and they don’t want to be barred from jobs that enable them to do so.
Yet that’s exactly what boycotting companies like SodaStream would primarily accomplish. Though SodaStream says it won’t leave, other Israeli companies have decided they don’t need the hassle and relocated inside the Green Line, throwing their erstwhile Palestinian employees out of work. Countless others choose not to locate in the West Bank to begin with, as Birnbaum admits he would do today.
Currently, 20,000 Palestinians work in the settlements. Eliminating their jobs would cause the number of unemployed people in the West Bank to jump 14 percent–hardly a helpful proposition for an economy already suffering 19 percent unemployment.
This same disregard for actual Palestinians also characterizes other forms of anti-Israel boycotts. Take, for instance, the effort to impose an academic boycott on Israel. As one Palestinian pharmacy professor, who understandably feared to give his name, told the New York Times this month, “more than 50 Palestinian professors were engaged in joint research projects with Israeli universities, funded by international agencies,” and “without those grants, Palestinian academic research would collapse because ‘not a single dollar’ was available from other places.”
Boycott proponents claim that by reducing Israelis’ academic freedom, they seek to “enlarge” Palestinians’ academic freedom. Yet in fact, as this Palestinian professor admitted, Israeli academia is the lifeline keeping its Palestinian counterpart alive. So how would killing off academic research in Palestinian universities “enlarge” Palestinians’ academic freedom? It wouldn’t, of course–but the “pro-Palestinian” crowd doesn’t care about that.
In fact, the only thing these self-proclaimed “pro-Palestinians” do care about is undermining Israel–which is why it’s high time to stop dignifying them with the name “pro-Palestinian.” They are anti-Israel, pure and simple. And that’s what they should be called.

Obama Is Not a Post-Racial President. By Jonathan Holloway.

Obama Is Not a Post-Racial President. By Jonathan Holloway. Foreign Affairs, January 26, 2014. Also here, here.

The Enduring Political Legacy of Amiri Baraka.

The Decline and Fall of “Hope and Change.” By Conor Friedersdorf. The Atlantic, January 30, 2013.

President Obama’s achievements are many. But he has utterly failed to keep a promise core to the rationale for his candidacy.

The Return of the Tiger Mother. By Richard Kim.

The Return of the Tiger Mother. By Richard Kim. The Nation, January 29, 2014. From the February 17 issue.

A new book raises the question: Are Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld racists—or just equal opportunity trolls?

Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars. By Michelle Goldberg.

Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars. By Michelle Goldberg. The Nation, January 29, 2014. From the February 17, 2014 issue.

Empowered by social media, feminists are calling one another out for ideological offenses. Is it good for the movement? And whose movement is it?

The Death of the Humanities. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The Death of the Humanities. By Victor Davis Hanson. Defining Ideas, January 28, 2014.

The Last Generation of the West and the Thin Strand of Civilization. By Victor Davis Hanson. PJ Media, January 19, 2014.

Victor Davis Hanson interviewed by Mark Levin, January 30, 2014. Audio. Douglas Woods, January 30, 2014. YouTube. Runs from 51:15 to 1:08:51.

Victor Davis Hanson interviewed by John Batchelor and Mary Kissel. Audio Podcast. The John Batchelor Show, January 30, 2014, Hour 1. Runs from 31:47 to 39:45.

Hanson [Humanities]:

The humanities are in their latest periodic crisis. Though the causes of the ongoing decline may be debated, everyone accepts the dismal news about eroding university enrollments, ever fewer new faculty positions, the decline in majors, and the lack of jobs for humanities graduates. Less than 8% of current BA degrees are awarded to humanities majors. The New York Times recently reported that while 45% of the undergraduate faculty at Stanford teach in the humanities, only 15% of the students major in them.
Of course, the numbers of humanities majors have been in decline since the 1970s. But what seems different today is that the humanities are less sacrosanct in the university. Literature, philosophy, and art are no longer immune from budget cuts by virtue of their traditional intrinsic value to the university. Either humanities professors can no longer make the case for the traditional role of their subjects or no one cares to listen to what they have to say.
About 15 years ago, John Heath and I coauthored Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom, a pessimistic warning about where current trends would take classics in particular and the humanities in general. It was easy enough then to identify the causes of the implosion. At the very time the protocols of the universities were proving unsustainable—more expensive administrators and non-teaching personnel, soaring tuition hikes, vast non-instructional expenditures in student services and social recreation, more release time for full professors, greater exploitation of part-time teachers, and more emphasis on practical education—the humanities had turned against themselves in the fashion of an autoimmune disease.
For example, esoteric university press publications, not undergraduate teaching and advocacy, came to define the successful humanities professor. Literature, history, art, music, and philosophy classes—even if these courses retained their traditional course titles—became shells of their former selves, now focusing on race, class, and gender indictments of the ancient and modern Western worlds.
These trendy classes did the nearly impossible task of turning the plays of Euripides, the poetry of Dante, and the history of the Civil War into monotonous subjects. The result was predictable: cash-strapped students increasingly avoided these classes. Moreover, if humanists did not display enthusiasm for Western literature, ideas, and history, or, as advocates, seek to help students appreciate the exceptional wisdom and beauty of Sophocles or Virgil, why, then, would the Chairman of the Chicano Studies Department, the Assistant Dean of Social Science, the Associate Provost for Diversity, or the Professor of Accounting who Chaired the General Education Committee worry about the declining enrollments in humanities?
Even more paradoxical, humanities professors began to adopt the very values of the caricatured corporate world to define the successful humanist. The campus exemplar became the grandee who won the most time off from teaching, garnered the most grants, taught the fewest undergraduates, and wrote the most university press books that in turn were largely critical of the subject matter that ensured his university position in the first place. Now, in the latest round of declining interest in the liberal arts, the problem is not just one of declining enrollments and interest, but also that there is no longer any institutional safety net to subsidize an eroding but still vital mode of education.
A trillion-dollar student loan bubble is proving unsustainable for all students, business and humanities majors alike. This time around, arguments rage not over the value of a humanities major, but whether college itself is worth attending. Will earning a bachelor’s degree still ensure greater lifetime earnings than bypassing college altogether?
Meanwhile, the new technology of online courses and for-profit tech schools offer a far cheaper antidote to the high cost and often partisan corruption of the traditional university experience. For-profit ventures are not worried about skipping the humanities and losing a broader college learning experience. And they certainly have a point, given that humanities professors themselves have not effectively argued that well conceived and taught liberal arts programs can restore the reputations of colleges that graduate ever more indebted students who often read, write, and think no more effectively than their non-college competitors.
If the humanities could have adopted a worse strategy to combat these larger economic and cultural trends over the last decade, it would be hard to see how. In short, the humanities have been exhausted by a half-century of therapeutic “studies” courses: Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Environmental Studies, Chicano Studies, Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Asian Studies, Cultural Studies, and Gay Studies. Any contemporary topic that could not otherwise justify itself as literary, historical, philosophical, or cultural simply tacked on the suffix “studies” and thereby found its way into the curriculum.
These “studies” courses shared an emphasis on race, class, and gender oppression that in turn had three negative consequences. First, they turned the study of literature and history from tragedy to melodrama, from beauty and paradox into banal predictability, and thus lost an entire generation of students. Second, they created a climate of advocacy that permeated the entire university, as the great works and events of the past were distorted and enlisted in advancing contemporary political agendas. Finally, the university lost not just the students, but the public as well, which turned to other sources—filmmakers, civic organizations, non-academic authors, and popular culture—for humanistic study.
The way this indoctrination played itself out in the typical humanities class was often comical. Homer’s Odyssey was not about an early epic Greek hero, who, with his wits, muscle, and courage overcomes natural and human challenges to return home to restore his family and to reestablish the foundations of his community on Ithaca—a primer on how the institutions of the early polis gradually superseded tribal and savage precursors. Instead, the Odyssey could be used to lecture students about the foundations of white male oppression. At the dawn of Western civilization, powerful women, such as Calypso and Circe, were marginalized and depicted as anti-social misfits, sorceresses on enchanted islands who paid a high social price for taking control of their own sexuality and establishing careers on their own terms. Penelope was either a suburban Edith Bunker, clueless about the ramifications of her own monotonous domesticity, or, contrarily, an emancipated proto-Betty Friedman, who came of age only in the 20-year absence of her oppressive husband and finally forged outlets for her previously repressed and unappreciated talents. The problem is not necessarily that such interpretations were completely untrue, but that they remain subsidiary themes in a far larger epic about the universal human experience.
Students were to discover how oppressive and unfair contemporary life was through the literature, history, and culture of our past—a discovery that had no time for ambiguity such as the irony of Sophocles’s Ajax, or the tragedy of Robert E. Lee. Instead, those of the past were reduced to cut-out, cardboard figurines, who drew our interest largely to the extent that they might become indicted as insensitive to women, gays, minorities, and the poor of their age—judged wanting by comfortable contemporary academic prosecutors who were deemed enlightened for their criticism. To the extent that these dreary reeducation seminars were not required as part of the General Education curriculum, students voted with their feet to pass them up; when enrollment was mandatory, students resigned themselves never to suffer through similar elective classes in the future.
A final irony was that classical liberal education—despite the fashionable critique that it had never been disinterested—for a century was largely apolitical. Odysseus was critiqued as everyman, not an American CEO, a proto-Christian saint, or the caricature of white patriarchal privilege. Instead Homer made students of all races and classes and both genders think twice about the contradictions of the human experience: which is the greatest danger to civilization, the Lala land of the comfortable Lotus Eaters, or the brutal pre-polis savagery of the tribal Cyclopes? Telemachus was incidentally white, rich, and male, but essentially a youthful everyman coming of age, with all the angst and insecurities that will either overwhelm the inexperienced and lead to perpetual adolescence, or must be conquered on the path to adulthood. Odysseus towers among his lesser conniving and squabbling crewmen—but why then does his curiosity and audacity ensure that all his crewmen who hitch their star to the great man end up dead?
In the zero-sum game of the college curricula, what was crowded out over the last half-century was often the very sort of instruction that had once made employers take a risk in hiring a liberal arts major. Humanities students were more likely to craft good prose. They were trained to be inductive rather than deductive in their reasoning, possessed an appreciation of language and art, and knew the referents of the past well enough to put contemporary events into some sort of larger abstract context. In short, they were often considered ideal prospects as future captains of business, law, medicine, or engineering.
Not now. The world beyond the campus has learned that college students know how and why to take a political position but not how to defend it through logic and example. If employers are turned off by a lack of real knowledge, they are even more so when it is accompanied by zealousness. Ignorance and arrogance are a fatal combination.
When the humanities failed to make the case that its students were trained to be exceptionally good writers, logical debaters, and well informed about the events, people, literature and issues of the past, then the liberal arts no longer were granted immunity from the general reckoning that the university now faces. Colleges charge too much and provide too little quality education; they exploit students and part-time faculty to serve a much smaller tenured and administrative elite; and they no longer believe in enriching society as much as radically changing it according to their own partisan visions.
Given that university humanities programs have enabled these trends, it is no wonder that they too are being held accountable.

Israel Boycott will Fail for Same Reason Seal Boycott Succeeded. By Lawrence Solomon.

Israel boycott will fail for same reason seal boycott succeeded. By Lawrence Solomon. Financial Post, January 30, 2014.

Demonizing Israel; Demonizing ScarJo. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, January 28, 2014. With related articles and video.


Paul McCartney, a determined opponent of the seal hunt, was just as determined in opposing the Israeli boycott.

The Super Bowl will host more than the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks Sunday. It will also highlight the most divisive and bitterly contested trade boycott campaign since the 1980s and 1990s, when environmental and animal rights activists successfully demonized the Newfoundland seal fishery.
Today’s high-profile boycott is the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign – designed to force Israel both to leave the West Bank and to remove its security fence. But the boycott against Israeli goods and services will fail for much the same reason the seal boycott succeeded – boycotts require wholly unsympathetic targets. Israel is trendsetting, hip and inspirational, a magnet for winners from all walks of life. The same movers and shakers who recoiled at the sight of bludgeoned baby seals are drawn to Israel’s verve. They refuse to demonize Israel in a conflict too complex to reduce to crude anti-Israel slogans.
The off-field Sunday clash involves a Super Bowl ad for Israel-based SodaStream and its brand ambassador, Scarlett Johansson, the “sexiest woman alive” according to Esquire. BDS supporters, livid that Johansson would back SodaStream, which manufactures home seltzer makers in a West Bank Israeli settlement, has graphically vilified her support of “blood bubbles,” giving her an “A for Apartheid,” comparing her to white slave owners, and noting she’s a Jew. Oxfam, for whom she travelled the world to raise funds, publicly chastised her.
Johansson, long identified with liberal causes, ended her ties with Oxfam and stood her ground. “I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” she stated. “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other.”
In fact, the 900 Palestinian employees at the SodaStream plant belie the claim that Israel is an apartheid state that exploits cheap labour. Arabs not only work on the same assembly line with Jews, they eat together in the same cafeteria, receive the same health benefits and earn the same amount – often four to five times as much as Palestinian employers pay. To the chagrin of the BDS movement, in an article entitled “Boycott of Israel’s SodaStream may affect Palestinian workers,” Dubai-based Al Arabiya expressed concern that Palestinians may be among BDS’s victims.
The BDS movement occasionally succeeds in bullying celebrities into boycotting Israel – Elvis Costello is one performer who cancelled an appearance in Israel under pressure. But most stars stand up to the bullying to play in Israel, which has become one of the world’s premier venues – they include Barbra Streisand, Alicia Keyes, Elton John, Rihanna, Bob Dylan, Madonna, and Costello’s wife, Diana Krall. Later this year Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and the Rolling Stones are expected to come.
They come from the business world, too – Apple, Microsoft, Intel and dozens of other industry icons. After completing a purchase of Israel’s Iscar last year, Warren Buffett said it “will stay in Israel as long as I’m alive. We’re the world’s fifth-biggest investment firm, but for me, the number-one country is Israel, which is far ahead of larger and richer countries…. Israel reminds me of the United States after its birth. The determination, motivation, intelligence and initiative of its people are remarkable and extraordinary.”
Fears that a boycott of Israel could succeed are not entirely unfounded. Anti-semitism, the chief fuel for the boycott of the sole Middle East country that is democratic, empowers gays, and respects religious diversity, is enduring and today resurgent in much of Europe. Just this week, Israel’s finance minister warned that Israel’s largest trading partner, the EU, could turn against it, leading to a 1.1% reduction in GDP. Under “a European boycott, even a very partial one, the Israeli economy will retreat, the cost of living will rise, budgets for education, health, welfare and security will be cut [and] many international markets will be closed to us,” he said.
But even a partial boycott could not stick, not when Israeli products and services in medicine, defense, computers and electronics have become central to advanced economies, not when A-list celebrities are willing to challenge death threats to share in the allure of Israel.
Paul McCartney, a determined opponent of the seal hunt, was just as determined in opposing the Israeli boycott. “I got explicit death threats, but I have no intention of surrendering. I refuse to cancel my performances in Israel,” he said prior to playing to 40,000 fans in a mutual love-in. “I do what I think and I have many friends who support Israel.”

The Folly of “Symmetrical Negotiation.” By Seth Mandel.

The Folly of “Symmetrical Negotiation.” By Seth Mandel. Commentary, January 29, 2014.

Why Kerry Is Scary. By Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times, January 28, 2014.