March 26, 2010

Divesting from Israel encourages terrorism. Really.

by Diane V. McLoughlin, Mar. 26, 2010
main website The McLoughlin Post is a large-circulation Los Angeles paper. I just read the article, 'U.C. Berkeley student president vetoes divest-from-Israel resolution'.  (Amanda Pazornik, Jweekly, Mar. 25, 2010.) The article was twittered to me (McLoughlinPost) from a fellow twitterer. 

As a writer and peace activist, I am taken up with the Israel-Palestine conflict. It was disappointing to find that the article seemed to weigh heavy with supporters of Israel right-or-wrong.  Facts seemed to be somewhat distorted with the personal bias of those sources used for insight. 

There are a large number of American Jews who do not agree with Israel's behavior.  Nobody reading the above-noted article would have a clue that that is so. Nor would anyone learn anything about what Israel does that could be objectionable to anyone.  Not really.

Lawyer and influential author Alan Dershowitz is quoted as saying that,  “divesting from Israel is immoral, bigoted and if done by a state university, illegal. It encourages terrorism and discourages peace,” Dershowitz wrote. “We will fight back against this selective bigotry that hurts the good name of the University of California.” (Emphasis added.)

Dershowitz is referring to the fact that a University of California (Berkley) students' association had voted in favor of asking the university to divest itself of $135 million it currently has invested in two companies, General Electric and United Technologies. These companies supply war materials and electronics to Israel.  

The students cite Israel as a perpetrator of war crimes in their resolution.  Reporter Amanda Pazornik further shares that the president of the student association, Will Smelko, vetoed the successful resolution, even though it passed by a wide margin of 16-4. 

In turn, the veto could be overturned at the next association meeting scheduled for March 31st.

But one has to ask, who does Alan Dershowitz think he's kidding? This is still a democracy  (what's left of it.)  You don't want to invest your money somewhere anymore?  You pull it out. 

Peaceful divestment encourages terrorism, Mr. Dershowitz - not occupation or oppression?  Really.

But on second thought, I find Mr. Dershowitz's choice of words to be helpful.  Occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank is immoral, bigoted, and illegal under international law.  The citizens of this world are peacefully coming together, just as they did for the oppressed under the boot of South Africa's Apartheid regime, to fight back against Israel's selective bigotry, by the most peaceful and effective of means: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - BDS. 

And actually, that coming together to bring about the dissolution of South African Apartheid did not include Israel.  Israel continued to do business with Apartheid South Africa even as the world boycott took hold.

History will judge forever all who choose to do business with Israel during this dark time.  Their good names will be tarnished accordingly.

While Stephen Kuperberg (executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition in Washington, D.C.)  reportedly claims that no university has ever actually divested from Israel, the reality of the situation is somewhat different.  A wave of change may be coming:

'In November of last year, student organizers representing over 40 campuses nation-wide came together for a BDS Conference held on Hampshire's campus to continue to carry the momentum of divestment' - Students for Justice in Palestine, a Hampshire student group.

Another person quoted by Pazornik, Naftalin-Kelman, argues that,  "In no way are the interests of Israeli and Palestinian people served by a resolution that single-handedly and inaccurately identifies Israel as a committer of war crimes.”

I challenge that claim. Rather than resolutions in favor of peaceful divestment, is violent resistance the better choice? Or does he propose a Masada solution for the occupied Palestinian people as the only road to their salvation that would be acceptable to him? (A  riveting event in history, Masada was a hilltop where a Jewish community was besieged by the Romans.  Rather than face slavery or execution they chose death. Every last man, woman and child was killed, the killers chosen in lots, down to the last man who in turn committed suicide.)

I am repulsed by the loathsome argument that we are to somehow balance equally our opprobrium between the oppressor and the oppressed.  This is called moral equivalence - it is an abomination.

It is clear from the tone, the substance and the style of the above-noted piece, and the actors who are introduced  within it, that a community has been playing a telephone tag game of nonsense while the Palestinian people are being destroyed. The totality of this nonsense puts Israeli Jews at risk - they know not what they do, and few have the nerve to tell them.

Those brave enough to speak out are labeled anti-Semites; if they are Jewish they are called 'self-hating' Jews -whatever that means.  Frankly, the latter is Orwellian double-speak. Rather, I would argue that Jews that condemn Israel's policies of ethnic cleansing are self-respecting, instead.

In any event, while this self-delusion otherwise goes on, Palestinian children of East Jerusalem take their favorite toys and clothes with them when they go to school each day because they fear their homes will not be there when they return.  Palestinians who plan peaceful protests are rounded up by the IDF to be beaten, arrested, or both.  Children suffer. Children die. Gaza is becoming more and more like the Warsaw Ghetto with each passing day.

If you are going to support any enterprise, it is morally incumbent upon you to investigate to ensure that what you are being asked to endorse, to support, to finance - is RIGHT.

Where to begin? I personally recommend the rockets from Gaza that Israel cites to justify the overwhelming destruction Israel wrought upon them all. 

- Gaza did not break the ceasefire. Israel did. So from there the question one has to ask themselves, is why?  
(Pg. 6: Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center - IICC - Summary of Rocket Fire and Mortar Shelling 2008.)

- Here is a sampling of Israel's war crimes in Gaza, referred to in one article of my own:

- For your interest, Ynet News reports that the Knesset is the most racist since the founding of Israel, having had an increase of 75% in racist laws submitted for deliberation in the last year.

The door may be closing, but Israel clearly still has more open discourse about itself than it does amongst Americans. Some Americans still insist that their government finance by the annual billions Israel's apartheid regime. 

That has to change. It must, for the long-term peace and security of every single human being in the region. How long it takes, how many lives are destroyed in the meantime, really, is in large part up to you.

Jewish Voice for Peace is one group working to bring about change. But they are far from the only ones.  

My own personal view?  Settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories have the vote in Israel.  The Palestinians in the occupied territories, as well as the Palestinians in Gaza, do not.  If the settlers stay then the Palestinians must get the vote, too.  In other words, Israel should then declare itself to be one bi-national state with equal rights for all its citizens.

On the other hand, if Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza don't get the vote, and they don't have it now, then Israel continues to be referred to, rightly, as an Apartheid regime. 

Diane V. McLoughlin -
Publisher, editor, writer, peace activist

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