Donald C.Cutler (a.k.a. dcc) is a graduate of the University of California, Davis and currently lives in San Francisco, CA. When isn’t writing for Jewschool he works for PG&E in Corporate Relations. Previously he served as is an Associate at Kekst and Company, a Crisis Management, M&A, Strategic Communications and Investor Relations firm. Prior to that he was the Communications Manager for the Union for Reform Judaism.
He has also served in a number of lay leadership positions in the North American the Reform Jewish Community including serving as co-chair of the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and vice chair of the Greene Family Camp reunion committee. Donald is a contributing author to “Living Jewishly: A Snapshot of a Generation” (Academic Studies Press, 2012) and a contributing blogger to a number of community outlets. He is now a member of The Kitchen because what else would you expect?
Just outside the sprawling Sacramento Delta, Davis is situated within the bucolic environs of some of the most fertile farm land in the world. Also the home of the homonymous University of California Campus, this small town and its large university has but a few claims to fame, but its moderate-sized progressive activist community is one of them. In 2011, UC Davis police officer Lt. John Pike pepper sprayed Occupy demonstrators on the quad. The town and university have long had a strong LGBT community including a Gender and Sexuality Commission as part of the student government. There was also a very active Farmers Market and I believe an active Communist Party. I am a proud alumnus of this university and loved living in this town.
Last week, after many rounds of debate, the ASUCD Senate passed a toothless resolution calling for the UC Regents to divest from Israel. The pro-Israel community beat back this resolution last year but was unable to keep it off the agenda or ultimately stop Resolution 9 from passing 8-2-2. The pro-Palestine group did not use a particularly progressive activist approach for this political action. Rather they took a very regressive and troubling approach, celebrating the victory by what I have been correctly told was a sarcastic Facebook post noting that “Hamas and Sharia Law have taken over UC Davis.”
This is a horrible joke and my guess not so welcoming to the Jewish members of the BDS movement. Now, without getting into the merits of toothless student government resolutions — of which I wrote many during my time as an ASUCD Senator — Hamas is an active terrorist group and really not something you want to joke about. Celebrate all you want, be proud of your democratic achievement, as meaningless of a symbolic gesture as it may be. This falls in the same category as a bunch of guys dressing like suicide bombers and posting the pictures online…as a joke. But in this case we are seeing it in the context of campus politics. While I originally believed this to be a serious post, because of who sent me the picture, I feel that this dismissive attitude is almost worse.
To be able to call this divestment campaign purely anti-Zionist, or even just pro-Palestine as many have claimed it to be, and not anti-Semitic, is very hard to do when a large segment of those siding with Resolution 9 sarcastically aligning with a group bent on killing Jews.
It is the environment that allows this kind of joke that leads to more problems.
NPR’s bold headline reads that after 522 years, Spain is inviting me home. It feels good; it feels like something is being done to right a historic wrong.
About 15 years ago, we discovered that my maternal grandfather’s family fled Spain during the Inquisition to Meppen, a small town in northern Germany, a few miles across of the boarder with The Netherlands. He chose to buy a Sephardic burial plot and his family heirlooms include allusions of a Spanish heritage. Beyond this loose collection of genealogical evidence, I have no claim to the Sephardic tradition but in this news I feel the intense pride.
It is a visceral and irrational sense of accomplishment that comes from this announcement. I am positive my grandfather would have had his tight lipped, nearly-smug smile on his face upon reading this news; the same expression I had while reading it. I wonder if black Americans felt a glimmer of this gut-based justification when reading The Case for Reparations. Read more »
The Forward, which has a deep left-leaning Yiddishist history, said the Christopher Columbus should be celebrated as an 15th Century Theodore Herzl. If this is a joke, well done The Forward. If not and they really are looking to compare Zionisms to the “discovery” of the “New World” then well done on making the argument for all anti-Zionists.
If this wasn’t a joke I can’t believe the editors allowed such a sloppy and simple version of history (and historical comparison) to be published on its website. Either way this will be used for proof of something that The Forward didn’t intend. It is pretty surprising.
Happy Indigenous People’s Day.
The Forward has a short piece online about the changing nature of Social Media news coverage and its impact on the public perception of Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza. This article – like every article bemoaning the rapid fire, limited nature of the platform – notes that the speed at which information is disseminated changed the way we experience conflict. But that isn’t it alone. The fact that both sides have these tools, I have to say I don’t think it is the platforms “fault” for the way we see this conflict.
The New Yorker published the translated Yediot Ahronot piece by Etgar Keret about the degradation of the civil discourse in Israel. In “Israel’s Other War” Keret laments the perversion of the deeply held value of true democratic (and Jewish) societies: that the voice of the minority has value. The phrase “Let the IDF Win” has again become a popular refrain in Israel during this conflict. Keret notes this phrase has nothing to do with the external enemy but rather the subversive voices on the home-front. Lefties and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are lumped together with Hamas terrorists for simply disagreeing with their elected officials or expressing concern for the dead children in Gaza.
I encourage you all to read this piece but the thesis delineates that Israelis “are faced with the false, anti-democratic equation that argues that aggression, racism, and lack of empathy mean love of the homeland, while any other opinion—especially one that does not encourage the use of power and the loss of soldiers’ lives—is nothing less than an attempt to destroy Israel as we know it.”
But as an American living a charmed life in California I still feel this false choice forced upon me by the Jewish world. The anonymity of the key board and safety of our curated social networks insulate us to a degree that we only see and experience this conflict in the way we want to believe that it is happening. Read more »
I know. I know, Gawker was trolling with this post calling for Israel — or a Jewish state — in Germany. I also know that if we check our bias at the door we could see some logic in this suggestion. But you can’t ignore the complexity of history or the complicated nature of the present reality. Beyond the ignorant black-and-white ahistorical narrative of “Holocaust leads to Israel,” there are a couple of statements made as fact that are way beyond the pale.
It starts with the general intellectual argument against Zionism, which is fine if dishonest, but goes much further into the land of fantasy.
No matter where you stand in the “Israelis vs. Palestinians” political arguments—in which both sides are hopelessly entrenched and unmoving—it seems fair to acknowledge that there are some fundamental problems with the location of the nation of Israel. For one thing, it was carved out of land already occupied by someone else. Whether or not you think Israel was justified in carving itself a nation out of Palestine, you must admit that the act of doing so was bound to cause some resentment.
This ignores too much history. Of course there were people in the now state of Israel, most of them were Arabs and some were Jews. And before you jump up-and-down on me as mouth-breathing right-wing fascist, the facts are pretty clear: Zionism started its colonial exercise of Palestine in the late 19th Century in a more-or-less legal manner.
It goes on and really gets away from facts:
Let’s stipulate that [Zionist and Arab] positions, at the time of the founding of modern Israel, were reasonable:
Jewish people: We have been persecuted too long. We want our own state!
Palestinians: Okay, but don’t take my stuff to get it, please!
So the establishment of Israel, regarded by many as a towering achievement of historic justice, will forever be tainted by the fact that it was established by taking land from people who had done nothing wrong. That act laid the groundwork for the nonstop conflict that continues to this day.
If it was only that easy or simple. Or even close to the truth. There was an infrastructure in place well before WWII and in fact a number of wars (or violent uprisings) that had happened before the international establishment of the state of Israel. The Partition Plan, complete with its flaws, was the defining international legal document of the establishment of Israel. The ensuing wars against the Arabs shifted boarders but for the love of all things good, this idea that the organized Palestinians (and the rest of the Arab world at that time) would have said anything like this is ludicrous.
I am all for having a real conversation about the mass populations transfers or ethnic cleansing (depending on your prospective). I will happily discuss Zionism as the answer to historical Antisemitism or Zionism causing its nouveau rise in Europe and elsewhere. I will always go toe-to-toe with absolutists on any side of an argument because I believe that no political situation is completely black or white (and I like to argue). But what we all can’t allow is the pure distortion of the facts and history. It helps no one.
So, good job Gawker, you got me with your trolling. But next time perhaps you can take an aggressive and controversial position, perhaps you can do it based on fact.