Foxman Plays the Holocaust Card

The other day I was invited to participate in an hour-long discussion with Abraham Foxman from the ADL. The setting was pretty intimate – about 20 students attended – and I must say I was not impressed by the guy who leads one of the most important Jewish and “anti-hate” organizations in the world. The following remarks are anecdotal, but I think they speak for themselves and are worth being presented in a public forum such as Jewschool.
Foxman brought up the example of divestment to show that the unique negative attention Israel receives is an indication of anti-Semitism. It wouldn’t be anti-Semitic, he argued, if a group calling for divestment listed Israel among many other countries who perpetuate much worse war crimes. Such a list wouldn’t be accurate according to him (Israel – commiting war crimes?! Has ve’halila!), but since it didn’t single out Israel it wouldn’t be anti-Semitic.
I challenged this view by bringing up the following possibility: What if Students for a Free Tibet came out with a divestment campaign against China? Would singling out China be derived from a hatred for the Chinese people?
At this point Abe Foxman lost it, cut me off and went on and on about two thousand years of persecution and anti-Semitism. How dare I compare a recent historical conflict to such deep-seated hatred that goes back so far?! It seems then, that his original argument collapsed: At first he tried to use the “singling out” argument to prove anti-Semitism. Then, he was forced to assume anti-Semitism in order to argue that one case of “singling out” is different than another.
Foxman’s rhetoric throughout the evening was hysterical and childish. When confronted about the fact that perhaps his reaction to Gibson’s “Passion of The Christ” helped serve as free PR for the film, he once again went wild. What he said went something like this (this is not an exact quote): “It’s easy for you to criticize my choice of responding to the film. We can sit around and think about these matters, but do we really have the time and privilege to do so? What would have happened if the nurse who saved me as a child during the Holocaust did the same?!”
He played the Holocaust card all along the discussion, stretching the limits of political cynicism to the extreme. This is the guy who runs the ADL; scary coincidence? At a certain point I told him I found it offensive that the ADL sets the limits of legitimate debate for the Jewish community in general and for me in particular. Foxman’s response was for once honest: “I don’t represent you nor the Jewish community, I represent the donors.” So lets keep that in mind when thinking about how the discourse around anti-Semitism is being shaped as it slips (or is forced) into context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

42 thoughts on “Foxman Plays the Holocaust Card

  1. While I am certainly no fan of divestment, I agree with you choice of a specific people has more of a right to be critical of their own than others, if that’s what you were suggesting?
    I mean to say, when Israelis like yourself are critical of Israel first and foremost, I can respect that, but I do think it’s weird when non-Jews and non-Mulims choose Israel as their political passion.
    Foxman is further proof that Holocaustism is ZIonism.

  2. Because I don’t believe Israel is doing anything particularly egregious compared to much of the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East and African region, and find the justification on selectively punishing Israel for bad behavior bogus.

  3. I actually agree with Foxman’s point concerning criticism of Israel by the international community, though your general sentiments about his flaws ring true. Alan Dershowitz supposedly outlines the argument in a more nuanced fashion in his book “A Case For Israel.”
    The Free Tibet analogy is flawed in my opinion. If only Palestinian groups were criticizing Israel, it would be one thing. But when international human rights conferences (e.g. Durban) in Africa spend most of their time coming up with anti-Israel resolutions, but ignore Syria (on the UN Security Council), Sudan and China, something is wrong. When countries like Iran are on UN human rights committees, something is wrong.
    You don’t have to call it anti-Semitism, but clearly, the criticism and censure that Israel receives in the international community is far, far disproportionate to their wrongs. It’s great that organizations like Shalom Achshav and others keep Israel accountable, and I agree that the US should as well. But Iran keeping Israel accountable? Please.

  4. Apartheid-era South Africa was also selectively punished while there were more odious and murderous regimes in place at the time. Should South Africa not have been the target of a divestment campaign?

  5. I only mentioned it as an example of divestment campaign. I supported divestment from South Africa at the time, and I recall the same arguments used then by divestment foes — why was I supporting divestment from South Africa but not China, say, or the Soviet Union?

  6. david, for the record: I do NOT support divestment. Also i dont agree that people have the right to be more critical on themselves more than others are, when concerned with moral issues. If country X is commiting war crimes, then stating that this is wrong is an important statement that should be made by anyone regardless of their belonging to country X. anything otherwise would be rather, eh… relativistic.

  7. on strategic grounds – i dont think divestment is effective.
    on moral grounds – such actions can economically hurt and alienate people in Israel and Palestine more than help. moreover, Israel cannot sustain the occupation without the United States’ help. Therefore in this particular context it IS hypocritical to call for divestment from Israel without calling for divestment from the United States. This obviously is ridiculous for technical reasons, so the whole divestment thing becomes absurd and pointless.
    The closest thing to divestment that i do support is calling to stop all military aid to israel and divestment from companies such as cater pillar.

  8. i guess im referring to the kind of divestment supported in my school and other schools across the united states http://www.nyudivest.o rg/). I do NOT support the following:
    “Thus, as members of the NYU community, we call on the University to divest from all companies that conduct business in Israel or the Occupied Territories—including, but not limited to, firms that sell arms to Israel and firms with operations in illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza—until the state of Israel complies with ….”

  9. I don’t understand. Are you calling for divestment from all companies which are active in the military trade and a stop to all foreign military aid, or is this still an Israel-targetted thing?

  10. xisnotx,
    You are correct, I would not have been acitively a part of the divest from South Africa movement for that same reason.
    But I understand the whole “not in my name” thing, which was, of course, a big part of it for many whites outside of South Africa in that movement, instead of say, Pol Pot’s wholesale slaughter of civilians or Saddam’s gassing of Kurdish civilians at the same time, and with the support, of George H.W. Bush.
    While we agree on the misuse and manipulation by Jewish groups in the name of anti-semitism, I still think it exists as a motivating factor for singling out Israel.

  11. I can understand why Arabs and Palestinians focus on it. It affects them. The tyrants of the middle east aren’t using racial preferences to make people homeless.
    The other thing is that America’s image in the middle east is really being ruined by support for the settlements, and that sparks Al Qaeda sentiments. Since nobody can figure out how to get the congress to stop giving Israel military aid, because it is indebted to fundies and other conservatives, there is a focus on private divestment.
    I don’t think it is antisemitic. I really believe that the image of the US is at stake in Israel, because we are like fucking siamese twins. Look millions of people were dying in China during the civil rights movement does that mean we had no right to object to what was happening in the South? I believe my government has personally contributed to the disaster on the West Bank, and we are more responsible for what goes on there than elsewhere. The world has already started its boycott on America, what do you think the pissing contest with Hugo Chevez is about?
    Asaf I am glad you got Foxman to fess up, now I would love to know who those donors are? How many evangelicals do you think he takes money from?

  12. Asaf:
    seriously though– you had an opportunity to contribute to, as you stated, one of the most important Jewish organizations, and instead you chose to antagonize its leader. I don’t know that this was a productive method. In fact, whether or not I agree with Foxman’s approach or arguments, I do feel that you basically wasted 19 other students’ time. And I’m sad for that.
    You positioned yourself as a nudnik. And he probably left the meeting more irritated and more committed to his own opinions than when he came in to it. So what did you accomplish?
    You wanted to be impressed, but you didn’t want to engage in a constructive dialogue. I’m not saying you should’ve agreed with him on all points, I’m just saying you need to learn how to deal with ALL kinds of people in a productive way if you want to change the nature of the discourse.

  13. um… ronen, asaf asked foxman a question in order to give the guy another perspective from which to look at the scenario and he want berserk.
    challenging people — especially people in positions of power — is not a waste of time or unconstructive, unless that person is totally unreasonable. it’s an opportunity for them to engage and respond. if foxman was reasonable, he would have replied to asaf or the other person who brought up the passion, reasonably. being how he shown he’s unreasonable, it doesn’t matter how “constructive” you are — the man can’t be reasoned with. thus, who’d be wasting who’s time?

  14. David, there was a huge surge of support for South African divestment across college campuses with little significant opposition — the ADL was a notable exception, which spied on anti-Apartheid activists in the US for the South African government, and labeled the ANC anti-Semitic. As for the Cambodian genocide, that was over long before the South African sanctions movement. I doubt sanctions on Pol Pot would have curtailed it. Military invervention (by Vietnam) is what stopped it.
    My own position is to favor boycotts and divestment that focus directly on the occupation, and not on Israel’s ability to do business. The message should be the occupation is a liability, but that Israel proper is welcome in the family of nations.
    The reason to focus on US aid is every penny we give Israel goes directly into their treasury, with zero oversight, unique for foreign aid we give anyone. Because money is fungible, we thus indirectly fund every settlement. And there currently exists absolutely zero pressure to stop this. According to the UK Guardian, while 8,500 settlers left Gaza this year, 14,000 moved to the West Bank. “In July alone, it seized more land in the West Bank than it surrendered in Gaza.” And the Wall’s construction has accelerated.
    Asaf, my support for divestment is based upon the calls for it by myriad Palestinian civil society organizations. It strikes me as patronizing for us to worry about whether or not such actions will hurt Palestinians. Who are we to decide whether or not they are not capable of weighing the risks to themselves?

  15. Asaf —
    Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (coordinating body for the major political parties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory); Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen’s Rights (PICCR); Union of Arab Community Based Associations (ITTIJAH), Haifa; Forum of Palestinian NGOs in Lebanon; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU); General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW); General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT); Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees; Consortium of Professional Associations; Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC); Health Work Committees – West Bank; Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC); Union of Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC); Union of Health Work Committees – Gaza (UHWC); Union of Palestinian Farmers; Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI); General Union of Disabled Palestinians; Palestinian Federation of Women’s Action Committees (PFWAC); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign; Union of Teachers of Private Schools; Union of Women’s Work Committees, Tulkarem (UWWC); Dentists’ Association – Jerusalem Center; Palestinian Engineers Association; Lawyers’ Association; Network for the Eradication of Illiteracy and Adult Education, Ramallah; Coordinating Committee of Rehabilitation Centers – West Bank; Coalition of Lebanese Civil Society Organizations (150 organizations); Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), Network of Student-based Canadian University Associations; Al-Ard Committees for the Defense of the Right of Return, Syria; Al-Awda Charitable Society, Beit Jala; Al Awda – Palestine Right-to-Return Coalition, U.S.A; Al-Awda Toronto; Aidun Group – Lebanon; Aidun Group – Syria; Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Center, Aida refugee camp; Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced (ADRID), Nazareth; BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bethlehem; Committee for Definite Return, Syria; Committee for the Defense of Palestinian Refugee Rights, Nablus; Consortium of the Displaced Inhabitants of Destroyed Palestinian Villages and Towns; Filastinuna – Commission for the Defense of the Right of Return, Syria; Handala Center, ‘Azza (Beit Jibreen) refugee camp, Bethlehem; High Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return, Jordan (including personal endorsement of 71 members of parliament, political parties and unions in Jordan); High National Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return , Ramallah; International Right of Return Congress (RORC); Jermana Youth Forum for the Defense of the Right of Return, Syria; Laji Center, Aida camp, Bethlehem; Local Committee for Rehabilitation, Qalandia refugee camp, Jerusalem; Local Committee for Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Deheishe refugee camp, Bethlehem; Palestinian National Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return, Syria; Palestinian Return Association, Syria; Palestinian Return Forum, Syria; Palestine Right-of-Return Coalition (Palestine, Arab host countries, Europe, North America); Palestine Right-of-Return Confederation-Europe (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden); Palestinian Youth Forum for the Right of Return, Syria; PLO Popular Committees – West Bank refugee camps; PLO Popular Committees – Gaza Strip refugee camps; Popular Committee – al-‘Azza (Beit Jibreen) refugee camp, Bethlehem; Popular Committee – Deheishe refugee camp, Bethlehem; Shaml – Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, Ramallah; Union of Women’s Activity Centers – West Bank Refugee Camps; Union of Youth Activity Centers – Palestine Refugee Camps, West Bank and Gaza; Women’s Activity Center – Deheishe refugee camp, Bethlehem; Yafa Cultural Center, Balata refugee camp, Nablus; Abna’ al-Balad Society, Nablus; Addameer Center for Human Rights, Gaza; Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah; Alanqa’ Cultural Association, Hebron; Al-Awda Palestinian Folklore Society, Hebron; Al-Doha Children’s Cultural Center, Bethlehem; Al-Huda Islamic Center, Bethlehem; Al-Jeel al-Jadid Society, Haifa; Al-Karameh Cultural Society, Um al-Fahm; Al-Maghazi Cultural Center, Gaza; Al-Marsad Al-Arabi, occupied Syrian Golan Heights; Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Gaza; Al-Nahda Cultural Forum, Hebron; Al-Taghrid Society for Culture and Arts, Gaza; Alternative Tourism Group, Beit Sahour (ATG); Al-Wafa’ Charitable Society, Gaza; Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ); Arab Association for Human Rights, Nazareth (HRA); Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD); Arab Center for Agricultural Development-Gaza; Arab Education Institute (AEI) – Pax Christie Bethlehem; Arab Orthodox Charitable Society – Beit Sahour; Arab Orthodox Charity – Beit Jala; Arab Orthodox Club – Beit Jala; Arab Orthodox Club – Beit Sahour; Arab Students’ Collective, University of Toronto; Arab Thought Forum, Jerusalem (AFT); Association for Cultural Exchange Hebron – France; Association Najdeh, Lebanon; Authority for Environmental Quality, Jenin; Bader Society for Development and Reconstruction, Gaza; Canadian Palestine Foundation of Quebec, Montreal; Center for the Defense of Freedoms, Ramallah; Center for Science and Culture, Gaza; Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ramallah- Al-Bireh District; Child Development and Entertainment Center, Tulkarem; Committee for Popular Participation, Tulkarem; Defense for Children International-Palestine Section, Ramallah (DCI/PS); El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe; Ensan Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Bethlehem; Environmental Education Center, Bethlehem; FARAH – Palestinian Center for Children, Syria; Ghassan Kanafani Society for Development, Gaza; Ghassan Kanafani Forum, Syria; Gaza Community Mental Health Program, Gaza (GCMHP); Golan for Development, occupied Syrian Golan Heights; Halhoul Cultural Forum, Hebron; Himayeh Society for Human Rights, Um al-Fahm; Holy Land Trust – Bethlehem; Home of Saint Nicholas for Old Ages – Beit Jala; Human Rights Protection Center, Lebanon; In’ash al-Usrah Society, Ramallah; International Center of Bethlehem (Dar An-Nadweh); Islah Charitable Society-Bethlehem; Jafra Youth Center, Syria; Jander Center, al-Azza (Beit Jibreen) refugee camp, Bethlehem; Jerusalem Center for Women, Jerusalem (JCW); Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC ); Khalil Al Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah; Land Research Center, Jerusalem (LRC); Liberated Prisoners’ Society, Palestine; Local Committee for Social Development, Nablus; Local Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Nablus; MA’AN TV Network, Bethlehem; Medical Aid for Palestine, Canada; MIFTAH-Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, Ramallah; Muwatin-The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy; National Forum of Martyr’s Families, Palestine; Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work – Gaza Area; Network of Christian Organizations – Bethlehem (NCOB); Palestinian Council for Justice and Peace, Jerusalem; Palestinian Counseling Center, Jerusalem (PCC); Palestinian Democratic Youth Union, Lebanon; Palestinian Farmers’ Society, Gaza; Palestinian Hydrology Group for Water and Environment Resources Development-Gaza; Palestinian Prisoners’ Society-West Bank; Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection, Gaza; Palestinian University Students’ Forum for Peace and Democracy, Hebron; Palestinian Women’s Struggle Committees; Palestinian Working Women Society for Development (PWWSD); Popular Art Centre, Al-Bireh; Prisoner’s Friends Association – Ansar Al-Sajeen, Majd al-Krum; Public Aid Association, Gaza; Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies; Saint Afram Association – Bethlehem; Saint Vincent De Paule – Beit Jala; Senior Citizen Society – Beit Jala; Social Development Center, Nablus; Society for Self-Development, Hebron; Society for Social Work, Tulkarem; Society for Voluntary Work and Culture, Um al-Fahm; Society of Friends of Prisoners and Detainees, Um al-Fahm; Sumoud-Political Priso
    ners Solidarity Group, Toronto; Tamer Institute for Community Education, Ramallah; TCC – Teacher’s Creativity Center, Ramallah; Wi’am Center, Bethlehem; Women’s Affairs Technical Committee, Ramallah and Gaza (WATC); Women’s Studies Center, Jerusalem (WSC); Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, Jerusalem (WCLAC); Yafa for Education and Culture, Nablus; Yazour Charitable Society, Nablus; The East Jerusalem YMCA; Youth Cooperation Forum, Hebron; YWCA of Palestine; Zakat Committee-al-Khader, Bethlehen; Zakat Committee-Deheishe camp, Bethlehem.

  16. abe foxman being a dipstick isn’t an exclusive: everyone’s known it for ages. i’ve been referring to him as the jewish al sharpton for nearly 5 years already.

  17. the title was sarcastic… and now it sounds stupid. ha, whatever.
    xisnotx – unfortunately also israeli working class would be affected by divestment. so the point i made still stands – the divestment will do more damage than good, and is completely hypocritical if does not call for divestment from united states companies which is, well, not very likely to happen 🙂

  18. Asaf and xisnotx,
    Free trade helps raise the economic well being of bothe Israelis and Palestinians. A climate of mutual economic benefit from free trade is the best protector of peace. That is why divestment – almost anywhere – is a bad idea. Divestment claps down trade and makes war less costly. Support free trade in Israel and the territories, and peace will follow.

  19. Yisrael, I’m skeptical. Palestinians greatly benefitted economically from “the most enlightened occupation in history,” and yet, the 1st intifada broke out. They had work, they were making money, but their land was being seized and still is. If this is not addressed, peace will remain elusive.

  20. moreover, Israel cannot sustain the occupation without the United States’ help.
    Asaf: This assertion is easily disproved. When did Israel occupy the territories of Gaza, Judea, and Samaria? In 1967. When did Israel first start getting *regular* foreign aid from the US? Following the Camp David Accords with Egypt in 1978. Seems like Israel was able to hold on to the territories without any financial crisis for 11 years.
    Israel cannot perpetually hold on to the territories, but it is a matter of demographics, not one of financial resources as enabled by US aid.

  21. taltman, in 1987 people used to brag how the whole gaza strip is controlled by one gdud/ugda (i admit i have no idea what unit size, but you get the point – the “benevolent occupation” took place with relatively not much use of direct supression). If this continued to be say, you may have been right. This all changed in 1987 with the first intifada.
    Israel today CANNOT sustain the occupation without american money. The army would be sucking the country dry from its resources in order to maintain control of the west bank (well, it does so now, but American money helps).

  22. The one great irony of the Gaza disengagment is that the very company that many have called to divest from — Caterpillar – supplied the bulldozers that made the disengagment operation successful. On a number of occasions I saw the same model D9 that tragically killed Rachel Corrie responsible for clearing the path in Gush Katif for Palestinian control. And ending occupation in Gaza also took a great deal of money – American money – to move the settlers out of occupied lands without inciting an internal civil war. Incentives are the way that peace will come — incentives from the Arab world, from the EU nations, from the US, and elsewhere. While xisnotx publishes a long list of boycott supporters (Dentists’ Association?) thankfully the Abbas and the PA is not a boycott supporter. They prefer to trade with Israel and to have economic access to Israel – as do a great majority of Palestinians (read Shibley Telhami’s The Stakes). I fear that divestment and boycott would only bring pain on those at the bottom of the economic strata, force more dovish Israelis to flee for the US and EU (a million are already there) and elicit more violence from extremist elements. The world needs to be reminded that the majority of Israelis still want peace, and would like to end the occupation along the lines of Oslo. In this situation I believe that boycott and divestment are misguided.

  23. Xisnotx, I had to check ‘fungible’ in the dictionary – I thought it had to do with fungus 😉
    Economical sanctions did not stop Saddam Hussein, only starved numerous Iraqi children. And huge and remarkable difference notwithstanding, 40 years on, Fidel Castro still raises the finger to the biggest economic power on the planet.
    Bottom line – it is all politics of money – China is the biggest bully in the Asian yard and especially cruel towards its own people, yet they merit Favourable Nation Status in trade because no one can afford to ignore them. That is why unfortunately, and though the Dalai Lama is the dearest living ‘Rebbe’ on the planet, Tibetans are a non issue on the world stage. Israel is a (relatively) secure foothold for the Americans in the land of oily drums, shifting sands and unpredictable Kafiyes, so that is the way the cake is cut. Concurrently, Egypt is on Uncle’s Sam’s soup-kitchen queue for roughly two billion dollars a year (Israel nets around 10). It is not the most stable country, but it has a stable enough proxi-dictatorship. Since the US government cannot afford to keep its Israeli profile public high, it plays both cards – the largest US embassy in the world sits in Cairo…
    So ‘cash withdrawals’ are useless – it’s the music of dysfunction in stereo: the givers/non givers suffer political apoplexy; the receivers/non receivers just suffer. Period.
    What might work is targeting pride: the Gevalt cries following the badly planned and miserably executed boycott on Israeli universities earlier this year is an indication that indignant and blackened faces do look in the mirror. Badly planned, because it would have hurt the wrong people yet again (and incidentally, quite few Arab students too); wrongly executed, because there was more then just a whiff of plain and indiscriminate anti-Israel stance to it (as oppose to pro-peace pressure). But it did hurt the soft underbelly of indifference. Suddenly, a lot of people who might seep their morning lattés or evening beers had a bitter taste of ‘who, me?’ in their mouths.
    Personally, I do not think economical or academical boycotts are wise choices (seems less education is the wrong way to go about creating informed and well-balanced opinions). But considering that what will bring about a real change are enough people saying ‘enough is enough’ , and in lieu of the fact many people in Israel are simply numbed into grim acceptance that there is no possible way to solve this mess in a peaceful way, the kind of wake up call a ban on playing in the next European Basketball Championship; a snub on hosting the next international piano competition; or indeed banning any exports which directly support the occupation are a good start.
    The whole point of applying a non-political pressure is not about comparing whether we are uglier than the next door strongman or the Chinese giant. As it is, right now, we look bad. This morning papers “IDF stops military escort of Palestinian children in Hebron Hills” stinks. It smells because we stop, it smells because we started. As long as we are residents of the West Bank we are playing a field that does not belong in the Western World of the 21st century. So maybe we don’t belong in the playing fields or auditoriums of that world. That is why Divestment might have a place – not indiscriminate, hateful, angry and pompous decrees of ‘holier than thee’, but the cold snubbing of ‘grow up before you can play’.

  24. And incidentally, Pol Pot snubbed the world to start with and sent everyone to work in the rice fields. No sanctions of any kind would have worked there. It took almost four year and two million dead before someone moved in, and the only reason the Vietnamese invaded is because the Khmer Rouge was trying to reclaim some land historically of Cambodian origins. The US government, world defender of human rights and purveyor of democracy did nothing to support Lon Nol’s pro-American regime and was interested neither in the Cambodian genocide nor in the carnage that ensued. (In fact, it had a nasty roll in strengthening the KR by bombing the HoChiMin Trail). Maybe it was licking it wounds post Vietnam War, or maybe the fact Chinese communists were fighting Russian communists was seen as a blessing.

  25. Komai,
    It is said that in particular the ban on international play for the Springboks, the South African rugby team, really brought home the meaning of the international isolation of apartheid South Africa on ordinary Afrikaaners.
    Daniel —
    “The world needs to be reminded that the majority of Israelis still want peace, and would like to end the occupation along the lines of Oslo.”
    The world sees an annexation wall working its way through the West Bank, E. Jerusalem being cut off from the rest of the West Bank, and settlements being built feverishly, non-violent protestors shot and killed, and an Israeli court that concludes that international law exists to be ignored. How is it to conclude Israelis want “peace?” How does it look like Israel wants to end the occupation, when between ’93 and now the number of settlers has more than doubled?
    When Israelis say they just want peace, I can’t help but think they mean capitulation.
    Check out Jeff Halper, Setting Up Abbas:
    As Ilan Pappe says, negotiations have failed, force has failed, boycotts and sanctions have never been tried. I don’t know if they’re the answer.
    I’ll check out Telhami, thanks.

  26. Dan, I agree this could be done with incentives from the EU and the US, but it won’t be. The US is controlled by fundamentalists christians and they like the settlements. The EU just goes along with the US on everything. This has to be done privately and that means boycotts and disinvestment of some variety. It is just reality.

  27. “The world sees an annexation wall working its way through the West Bank, E. Jerusalem being cut off from the rest of the West Bank, and settlements being built feverishly, non-violent protestors shot and killed, and an Israeli court that concludes that international law exists to be ignored. How is it to conclude Israelis want “peace?” How does it look like Israel wants to end the occupation, when between ’93 and now the number of settlers has more than doubled?”
    Re: the international law thing: Yes, this is the case. But at least the High Court in Israel actually requires some accountability when it comes to the barrier. It hasn’t declared the barrier illegal, but it has required changes in the course it follows. Obviously, the barrier still grabs some West Bank land. But the honesty the Court shows is at least a start when compared with the pushovers the US Supreme Court has been (and looks like it will continue to be) in allowing the Executive to do whatever the hell it wants, including torture.

  28. How is it to conclude Israelis want “peace?”
    I stand corrected — Ha’aretz’s latest poll states:
    49 percent are in favor of Israel leaving the settlements, apart from large blocs, under a permanent status agreement, compared to 55 percent last year. So maybe the majority do not favor Oslo — but it is close.
    How does it look like Israel wants to end the occupation, when between ’93 and now the number of settlers has more than doubled?
    When the economy is in a downturn, it is cheaper for people to move to settlements – and people have children. This is in large part what happened in Gaza – and as you probably know most settlers left Gaza peacefully when given economic incentives.
    Dameocrat – please do not give in to despair — US policy has shifted a great deal in the past decade and it can shift again. The EU does not go along with everything – and there are millions given to Arafat that are being held in Swiss banks to prove it. I still do not understand how boycotts or divestment will help the situation in the Holy Land.
    Those who call on the boycott of Israeli sports teams, musicians, and academics — should we hold you accountable for the policy of the government that you happen to live under? It seems that there is a great injustice in collective punishment. And by the way, unike apartheid South Africa Israel’s sports teams, universities and musical halls are integrated. Why should a Palestinian soccer star be forced to stare into his cappucino?
    Israel has been isolated and partially boycotted from its early years — the only time when things looked like they were headed for serious change was when Rabin and Peres pushed forward a vision of economic cooperation which involved land for peace. That is still the way forward.

  29. “apart from large blocs”
    Aye, Daniel, there’s the rub. From the Halper article I posted before:
    Sharon, in short, is priming Abbas for a set up, another “generous offer.” It worked well for Barak, why not try it again, this time for the whole pot? What would Abbas say if Sharon offered Gaza, 70-80% of the West Bank and a symbolic presence in East Jerusalem? True, it is not a just or viable solution. The Palestinians would be confined to five or six cantons on 15% of the entire country or less, with no control of their borders, their water, even their airspace. Jerusalem, now encased in a massive Israeli “Greater Jerusalem,” would be denied them, thereby removing the political, cultural, religious and economic heart of any Palestinian state. Israel would retain its settlement blocs and 80% of its settlers. But Sharon’s “generous offer” would look good on the map and, he believes, viability is simply too complicated a concept for most people, including decision-makers, to grasp. But for Abbas it sets up a no-win situation. Say “yes” and you will be the quisling leader Israel has been looking for all these years, the one who agreed to a non-viable mini-state, to apartheid. Say “no” and Sharon will pounce: “See?! The Palestinians have refused yet another Generous Offer! They obviously do not want peace!” And Israel, off the hook, will be free to expand its control of the Occupied Territories for years to come, protected from criticism by American-backed annexation of the settlement blocs.
    Israeli unilateralism means only one thing: it has nothing to offer the Palestinians, nothing worth negotiating over. The Road Map asserts that only a true end of the Occupation and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state will finally see the end of this conflict with its global implications. A genuine two-state solution may already be dead, the victim of Israeli expansionism. A two-state “solution” based on apartheid cannot be an alternative accepted by any of us. Yet apartheid is upon us once again. Sharon must act fast to complete his life’s work before his term of office expires within the next year. This is the crunch. We cannot afford to have our attention deflected by any other issue, important as it may be. It is either a just and viable solution now or apartheid now. We may well be facing the prospect of another full-fledged anti-apartheid struggle just a decade and a half after the fall of apartheid in South Africa. In my view, the next three to six months will tell.

  30. “and an Israeli court that concludes that international law exists to be ignored”
    This is, simply, wrong. The High Court didn’t rule that international law didn’t apply; it ruled that the ICJ verdict failed to adhere to international law (when discussing the details and the reasons for that, Barak was considerably kinder than I would have been). And did you expect the Court to agree with a finding – on rather specious grounds – that Israel has no right of self-defense against terrorism?
    As far as divestment is concerned – given the hostory of the conflict, especially attacks against Israel (both by Palestinians and Arabs in general) – which, AFAIK, had no real equivalent in SA (certainly nothing close in extent, and AFAIK nothing external) – the main thing a “successful” divestment will do is to cast the “world is aganst us” meme in cement in the minds of the Israeli public – unless you’re prepared to concurrently dives from Palestinian intitutions until terrorism ceases. You think that’ll do anything for peace? Quite the opposite.

  31. Eyal – your point about the cultural divestment of Palestinians is valid but its execution might just prove the inequality of the setup. Daniel’s assertion that boycotted Palestinian Soccer players will be left staring at their cappuccinos is an example of how most people fail to see the most intense driver of this conflict is economics. There are very few Palestinians who have either the resources or the access to leisure culture that provide the backdrop for a teeming international profile in culture or sports. The amazing media hullabaloo around the Arabic Soccer group Ha-Poel Sachnin is a point in case as to how unusual such occurrences are and that was an Israeli Arab group.
    And Daniel – people indeed SHOULD be accountable for who they vote in and so far the Jewish Israeli public has failed to vote in someone with enough balls to actually dare a solution, (or rather, the one with balls does not have the heart to change) and the Arabic Israeli public has failed to cash on its voting power – probably for lacking the balls to take on what it actually means to be an Israeli and an Arab, or at least failing to integrate the complexity that their status demands.
    The saddest result of the combination of fear-driven patriotism and the Thatcherite economics the likes of Netanyahu affect is the fact the Left in Israel has actually failed to materialise its power base which naturally should rest with the Jewish working class and the Israeli Arabs. That is why cultural Divestment is possibly a saving grace for sanity: Israel is a country where the poor and downtrodden either vote for the elite or fail to vote all together, because national themes obscure the commonality of their destitution. These people do not stare into their coffee mugs whether they live in Gaza or Sderot. The people who might just start to tear apart the illusion we are stuck in an eternal and insolvable mess are those that have a relationship with the international community. From the people who fervently watch Macabee in the European league to those that attend visiting orchestras, or indeed travel to far away destinations, the notion that what the Israeli government is doing is deemed repulsive enough to merit being shunned from the community of nations might finally prompt a demand for the dismantling of the settlements and the withdrawal from what is now, whether we like it or not, is internationally accepted as Palestinian land.

  32. Dan, I don’t mind if someone boycotts the US over its actions in IRaq for instance. It is already happening anyway. And guess what, such an event scares Bush so much that he will probably change very quickly as a result. The fact is if people start hurting they will throw the bumbs out. That scares the leaders and the leaders will change.

  33. Komai,
    Abbas Suan was who I was thinking of — one of the Palestinian stars on the Israel National team that almost qualified for the FIFA cup. And yes, he can afford cappucino – check out the Sports Illustrated spread on him two months back. Palestinians are huge consumers of soccer — and sattlelite TV costs money – so I have no idea what you mean about the access to leisure culture.
    I do agree with you on people being held accountable for who they vote for…but I ceratinly would not want to be held accountable for my elected leader here in the US (who I did not vote for). And no, Damecrat, Chavez’s empty rants (his crude is still flowing our way) do not amount to economic or cultural boycott.
    As far as your poposal, let me pose a question – Do you believe that Gal Freidman should be allowed to participate in international windsurfing competitions?

  34. I don’t know Foxman nor do I know much about him personally. There is much about his views and pronoucements that I disagree with. But despite this, he does come out with good statements on a limited set of issues once in a while.
    Now, if you want to talk about a real Jewish trogdolyte, try Malcolm Hoenlein on for size (click on link attached to this comment for my post on him). That’s one important, but scary dude who doesn’t represent me as a Jew in any way, shape or form.

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