Late last night, November 13, there was a unanimous vote at a California school for divestment from certain companies that do business with Israel. Unanimous, 16 -0.
There are, however, several points militating against an uptick in alarm.
For one thing, the school at which this took place was the University of California at Irvine. Yes, the school that allowed students to repeatedly disrupt Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in 2010. Eleven of those hooligans were charged and convicted of conspiracy and disrupting a public meeting. Those convictions were obtained despite the efforts of many UCIrvine faculty members, including a large number of Jewish Studies department faculty.
But more importantly, the vote was taken by the UC Irvine Student Government, which, in all likelihood, does not have any investments in the targeted companies, or any other companies, for that matter.
The student government also called on the UC Irvine administration to divest from the named companies, but a student group’s call on its university to take the students’ investment advice is not exactly like money in (or, in this case, out of) the bank.
While the vote was really the equivalent of a small group of children shouting at those acting in loco parentis to take its investment advice, last night’s effort by anti-Israel student leadership at UCI is noteworthy for a small shift in tactic.
Although the Resolution repeatedly compared Israeli activity to Apartheid South Africa, the student government Resolution only sought divestment from those companies it deemed to provide support for the Security Fence, the demolition of “Palestinian” homes, and the building or maintenance of the “illegal Israeli settlements” on “occupied Palestinian territory.” In the past, calls for divestment from Israel typically called for divestment from any company doing business in Israel, which was the South Africa Apartheid divestment model.
The nitty gritty details, that is, that it was a student group that voted to divest its own (non-existent) financial holdings from certain companies – and was not the vote by a university to divest its holdings from companies doing business in Israel – was completely lost on most other media reporting on the vote. Professional Israel haters such as Ali Abunimeh and Noam Chomsky were quick to add their support, as were Muslim Student Associations and other anti-Israel groups across the country. To see the misguided glee, check on twitter #IrvineDivest.
The Resolution, which was introduced by Sabreen Shalabi, and seconded by Shadi Jafari, follows:
Item Number: 16 Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R48-15 Synopsis: Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid Date of Presentation: November 13, 2012 Divestment from Companies that Profit from ApartheidWHEREAS, it is UC Irvine’s duty to maintain the values of “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy” which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction;WHEREAS, it is the mission of the UCI Foundation to “ensure the appropriate use of all funds” in order to uphold the values of respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment appreciation, and empathy;WHEREAS, students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Irvine and across the U.S.;WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience;WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid;WHEREAS, the occupied Palestinian Territory is controlled militarily by the Israeli government;WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in these ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, Addameer, B’tselem, Adalah, Badil, and the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions;WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law”;WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem is also illegal by international law;
Professor Noam Chomsky, a Jewish professor of linguistics known for staunch pro-Palestinian rhetoric, visited Gaza on Thursday.
Chomsky was denied entry to Israel two years ago, and delivered a lecture intended to be given at Birzeit University in Palestinian-controlled area in Samaria from a location in Jordan.
The Gaza visit included attendance at a conference at the Islamic University. AFP reported that Palestinian television broadcast comments he made, including his statement – a quote of a member of Gaza’s legislative council and head of the university administration, that “The Palestinian people have a right to live peacefully and in freedom.”
On April 15, 2012, Pro-Palestinian activists attempted to enter Israel en masse. In doing this, the organizers of the event – which is known by a few names, most notably “Welcome to Palestine” and “Airflotilla 2”– hoped to take fifteen hundred to two thousand activists from Europe and have them collectively fly to Ben Gurion airport to challenge Israel’s ‘isolation” of the Palestinians. Assuming the activists would not be denied entry, the organizers prepared a complete plan of action for the week after their arrival involving numerous tours and activities that promise to provide participants with plenty of opportunity to be educated in the Palestinian narrative.
In spite of the stated mission, the actual desires of the organizers are suspect due to a variety of reasons. For starters, there is the timing of the “Welcome to Palestine” fly-in. April 15th comes right after the Jewish holiday of Passover, and it was guaranteed to be one of the busiest days of the year for Ben Gurion airport.
What prevents activists from coming at other times during the year? The activities specified in the plan do not need to happen specifically from April 15th-21st. Furthermore, the track record of flotilla/flytilla like attempts to breach Israel’s border is less than impressive when it comes to changing the Palestinians’ political circumstances (results range from the killing in self-defense of the activists aboard the Mavi Marmara to the over-hyped Global March to Jerusalem, a rush on Israel’s borders with an anticlimactic ending). Thus, the decision to have thousands of activists arrive within one extremely busy 24-hour period was intended to publicly promote the organizers’ interpretation of the conflict rather than to offer any real help to the Palestinians who are allegedly suffering. The scheduling of a press conference at 5pm in Bethlehem on the day of the fly-in was the icing on the public relations cake served by the participants.
Never mind that press conferences do not build the infrastructure needed to support a healthy society, the activists motivations are better understood by asking just who are the individuals involved in this epic demonstration of support for Palestinian rights?
A rough sample of endorsements for Air Flotilla 2 yields:
Noam Chomsky, a linguistics professor notorious for his belief in the 1 state solution (the one where 60+ years of Arab anti-Semitism magically disappears and everyone holds hands under a rainbow);
John Pilger, an Australian journalist who thinks Israel should not exist and denies any Jewish connection to the land;
and Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian politician, organizer of the failed Global March to Jerusalem and a boycott activist.
In addition, people like Mazin Qumsiyeh, a political activist opposed to peace negotiations, have gone out of their way to invite people to come to “Palestine” on April 15th and to encourage participation in the event.
A common theme among all these individuals and many of the other participants and endorsers is a hatred and preoccupation with Israel that borders on obsession. Consequently, it is no surprise that what seemed like a plea to support a downtrodden people was more of an opportunity to display a one sided view of the conflict. Increasing tension in a conflict situation is not known to help alleviate suffering.
On the other side, the Israeli response has been threefold:
Firstly, Israel sent a list to numerous European airlines with the names of over three hundred people that would not be allowed entry. In the days leading up to April 15th, airlines such as Lufthansa, Jet2, and Air France heeded Israel’s request and cancelled the reservations of many of the individuals on the list. Jet2 even refused to give the activists a refund. The activists greeted the actions of these airlines with the usual calls to boycott those who allegedly “sided with apartheid” and a new plan to have participants protest their denial of entry into Israel at local airports in numerous European countries.
The second aspect of the Israeli response has been to beef up security at Ben Gurion airport. An additional six hundred and fifty police officers (with many in plain clothes) were assigned to the airport in order to minimize illegal entry. Terminal 1 in the airport was also made a sterile zone and the activists were diverted there. Lastly, the government of Israel wrote a nice letter to the activists who arrived questioning their focus on Israel while Syria continues to shell dissidents and nations like Iran oppress opposition forces.
In the end,Israel’s preparatory actions paid off. A total of forty three activists await deportation. Despite the protesters attempts to get thousands of fly-in participants to Bethlehem, only three ended up making it. This yields a success rate of 0.2% (1500 estimated activists were supposed to make the trip on the low end) – which was a victory, of course, according to the organizers.It seems the only nation not allowed to ban people with belligerent, racist or hostile political views is Israel. Recently, MIT professor Noam Chomsky was prevented by Israel from entering the country via Jordan. Chomsky was on his way to give an anti-Israel speech at a university in Ramallah in the West Bank. (Instead he gave the speech by videoconferencing from Jordan.)Chomsky had been in Israel for visits before, and the “ban” was evidently nothing more than some bureaucratic glitch in the instructions to Israeli border passport checkers. Chomsky was invited at the Jordan River to enter the country through the Tel Aviv airport. This did not prevent a worldwide campaign of anti-Israel vilification by the usual crowd blasting Israel for “banning” Chomsky, complete with denunciations of “Israeli fascism.”Chomsky himself denounced the Israeli decision to block his entry as “Stalinism.” To tell the truth, when I first heard that Chomsky accused Israel of Stalinism I assumed he meant it as a compliment. Chomsky has gone out of his way to defend Stalin and publishes his articles on all the best Stalinist websites.Ironically, the bureaucratic glitch resulted in Israel’s accidentally doing the right thing.
Just a few individuals have been prevented from entering Israel because of their ties to terrorists or their involvement in anti-Semitic or anti-Israel political activities. One of them was Norman Finkelstein, the hatemonger fired by DePaul University, who was banned from entering Israel a couple of years back due to his public championing of Hizbullah terrorists.Another was Richard Falk, the retired Princeton propagandist who’s made a career out of denouncing Israelis as Nazis. Falk was denied entry into Israel as a UN “investigator,” though earlier he had been allowed to enter as a private citizen.In Chomsky we have someone who has pow-wowed with Hizbullah terrorists and promoted Holocaust deniers. Like Finkelstein and Falk, Chomsky has long led the campaign to boycott and “divest” from Israel.The very same people who whined about Israel’s refusing Chomsky entry into the country to engage in anti-Israel agitation were strangely silent when Britain banned 16 people on grounds they held politically incorrect opinions. These included radio host Michael Savage. Before that the UK banned Rev. Fred Phelps from entering the country because he is anti-gay. Few on the enlightened Left denounced the UK for fascism for those decisions.Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a candidate for prime minister of the Netherlands, was barred from entering the UK because of his opinions. The Brits have banned a host of Israelis from entering their country, including activist Moshe Feiglin. Not a single Israeli leftist tearing out hair at the barring of Chomsky has spoken out against that.The United States has banned all sorts of people, not limited to those suspected of having ties to terror groups. In some cases it was because of their political views. Journalist Robert Fisk was banned for that reason. Professor John Milios from Greece was banned. Tariq Ramadan, the darling of the pro-jihad Left, was barred until recently from both the U.S. and France.Adam Habib, professor of political science and deputy vice chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, was barred from entering the U.S. for three years. Liberian President Charles Taylor and other leading Liberians were banned from entering the U.S. because of their support for rebels in Sierra Leone. Canada has also banned people because of their views or behavior, most famously George Galloway, the British member of Parliament who enjoyed close ties to Saddam Hussein.Germany, Austria and some other European countries routinely ban neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers from entering their territories and sometimes jail them when they enter.
In the late 1970s, a professor of literature at the University of Lyon named Robert Faurisson wrote two letters to Le Monde claiming the existence of gas chambers in concentration camps used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews was a hoax. Faurisson was convicted of Holocaust denial and hate speech in two trials in France, in 1983 and 1990.Faurisson has also suggested that the diary of Anne Frank is a Zionist forgery and has spent much of his career smearing Nobel Prize-winning Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.Noam Chomsky has long been Faurisson’s most prominent defender. In the 1980s he signed a petition denying Faurisson was an anti-Semite and saluting Faurisson as a “respected professor.”In defending Faurisson, Chomsky wrote: “I see no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers or even denial of the Holocaust. Nor would there be anti-Semitic implications, per se, in the claim that the Holocaust (whether one believes it took place or not) is being exploited, viciously so, by apologists for Israeli repression and violence. I see no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson’s work.”
Personally, I would have let Chomsky enter Israel and then immediately arrested him for Holocaust denial (if not the Holocaust of the Jews then surely the genocide against Cambodians). Holocaust denial is illegal in Israel, though the law is never enforced against anyone, even Arab politicians. Indicting Chomsky would have made such a wonderful legal precedent.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I suppose everyone has seen lists of the ?World's Shortest Books.? Since I think we Jews
could use our own special list, I have, as a public service and in the spirit of Purim, prepared the
first annual Official Jewish List of the World's Shortest Books.
1. “The Laws of the Torah We Follow and Practice,” by the leaders of the Reform
Movement?s Religious Action Center.
2. “Reform Rabbis I Have Admired,” by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
3. “Illegal Narcotics Progressive Jews Should Avoid,” by the editors of Tikkun
4. “Koshers Foods I Enjoy,” by Shulamit Aloni.
5. “My Beauty Secrets,” by Yael Dayan.
6. “Books I Have Read,” by David Levy.
7. “My System for Losing Weight” by Tommy Lapid.
8. ?How Likud Differs from Labor,” by Benjamin Netanyahu.
9. “Ideas for Conflict Resolution Through Meditation,” by Osama bin Laden.
10. “Arab Terrorists I Have Condemned,” by Israeli Marxist lawyers Avigdor Feldman and
Shamai Leibovitz and the Betselem Human Rights Group.
11. “Why Ehud Barak Can be Taken at His Word,” by the Southern Lebanese Army.
12. “My Understanding of Free Speech and Democracy,” by Israeli Attorney General
13. “Romantic Moments From My Marriage,” by Senator Hillary Clinton.
14. “Violations by the Arabs on the Temple Mount that Would Get Us Upset,” by the
15. ?Non-Leftists Who Work for Us,” by the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
16. “Things I Did to Deserve a Nobel Prize,” by Jimmy Carter.
17. ?Things I Did to Make America More Secure,” by Jimmy Carter
18. “Thoughts I Have Had,” by the Reverend Al Sharpton.
19. “The Essence of Patriotism,” by Yossi Sarid.
20. “Israeli Vital Interests That Need to be Guarded,” by Sandy Berger and Madeline
21. “My Cozy Home Life With the Chairman,” by Suha Arafat
22. “Liberal Causes I Have Opposed,” by Leonard Fein
23.”Jews I Admire,” by Patrick Buchanan
24. ?Pro-Israel Columns We?ve Run Over the Years,” by the editors of the Los Angeles
25. ?Pro-Israel Columns We?ve Run Over the Years,” by the editors of Haaretz.
26. “Lessons in Palestinian Democracy,” by Yasir Arafat.
27. “Documented Facts in My Autobiography,” by Edward Said.
28. “Noam Chomsky, Jewish Hero” by Edward Said
29. “Communist Atrocities I Have Condemned,” by Noam Chomsky.
30. “Things I Like About the United States,” by Noam Chomsky.
31. “Tips From My Dental Hygienist,” by Yasir Arafat.
32. “Things I Remember About My Lobotomy,” by Shimon Peres.
33. ?Israeli Universities Not Dominated by Leftists,” by Steven Plaut.
34. “My Plans for Commemorating Israel's Next Jubilee Year,” by Hosni Mubarak.
35. “My Memories of Rabbinic Seminary,” by Tikkun editor Michael Lerner.
36. “Favorite Stir-Fried Recipes for Preparing Tasty Animals,” by Arthur Waskow and the
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book ?The Scout? (Gefen
Publishing) is available through Amazon.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-jewish-list-of-the-worlds-shortest-books/2003/04/11/
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