Culture, Global, Identity, Israel, Mishegas, Politics

In which Alan Dershowitz displays less understanding of Israel Apartheid Week than most college students (and specifically Roberta Goldman of Brown University)

Alan Dershowitz, professional Israel apologist and demonizer-of-those-who-disagree-in-the-slightest, has done it again, with a new article over at FrontPage Magazine.  It’s a pretty standard condemnation of Israel Apartheid Week (that is, for all the wrong reasons).  Right off the bat, it starts off with this gem:

Every year at about this time, radical Islamic students—aided by radical anti-Israel professors—hold an event they call “Israel Apartheid Week.”

Does Prof. Dershowitz seriously believe that Israel Apartheid Week is only run by “radical Islamic students”? And what does that even mean?  Does he think that the people staffing the BDS tables are all Al-Qaeda members?  For crying out loud, this isn’t just stupid and biased, it’s stupid, biased, and wrong.

As one who strongly opposes any censorship, my solution is to fight bad speech with good speech, lies with truth and educational malpractice with real education.

Well, you’re off to a smashing start, then.  Keep up the good work.

There is complete freedom of dissent in Israel and it is practiced vigorously by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.  And Israel is a vibrant democracy.

The article does make some good points about the terrible sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance that runs rampant through many other Middle Eastern countries.  On this, my fellow Jewschooler dcc said it best with his post “But it is the only Democracy in the Middle East!”.  I for one am tired of hearing a list of the wrongs (even legitimate ones) of other countries in order to make Israel seem better by comparison and, by extension, underserving of any criticism.

Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza several years ago, only to be attacked by Hamas rockets.

HUBBADABUBBADAWHAT?  Controlling borders, airspace, imports and exports, water, and power isn’t an occupation anymore?
In Dershowitz’s fantasy world, Israel Apartheid Week, the BDS movement, the New Israel Fund, B’Tselem, J Street, APN and Shalom Achshav, and every other organization like them exist for one purpose only: to demonize Israel.  Never mind that some of BDS’ most prominent supporters are Jewish.  Never mind that the head of the New Israel Fund is a former MK.  Never mind, never mind, never mind.  For Dershowitz, these people are all liars who are out to get him and the other valiant Diaspora Jews who stand between Israel and (gasp!) criticism.
Frankly, a friend of mine here at Brown showed a better understanding of the situation in her opinion column in the Brown Daily Herald:

Having a huge sign on the main green that asks, “Do You Want Your School Profiting from Apartheid?” leaves no room for objection. This presentation makes opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict mutually exclusive: If you are pro-Israel, you support apartheid. If you are pro-Palestine, or perhaps anti-Israel, you support human rights and equality.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose Israel Apartheid Week and the BDS movement.  I oppose them because I believe that BDS is a regressive tactic and that the language of Israel Apartheid Week is divisive and inaccurate (the same way I view the language of people like Dershowitz).  I don’t oppose them because they’re founded in anti-Semitism, despite the fact that I’m repeatedly warned that that’s the case.
The real threat to Israel’s existence is people like Prof. Dershowitz, who are determined to make an enemy of every person who disagrees with them.  Professor, if you want to make everyone else your enemy, you’ll succeed.  But why would you want to make more enemies for Israel?  If you want to support Israel, you should be making friends, not enemies.  You should be talking to people, not turning them against you.
If powerful voices in the Jewish community continue to insist that the only way to define these people is as enemies, then that’s how they will come to define themselves.  If people like Prof. Dershowitz give those who they disagree with only the options of agreeing with them completely, or being enemies of the State of Israel, they will choose to be enemies rather than give up their right to hold their own opinions.
How many more enemies are we going to make?  How many more people will we turn against us with our violent rhetoric?
The choice is ours.

21 thoughts on “In which Alan Dershowitz displays less understanding of Israel Apartheid Week than most college students (and specifically Roberta Goldman of Brown University)

  1. Renaissance boy,
    The link you posted, after the Dershowitz quote about freedom of dissent in Israel, about the campaign against the New Israel Fund, does not show that there is no freedom of dissent. NIF was not banned or penalized. So where is the suppresion? Isn’t it one measure of democracy that organizations like NIF are allowed to operate? Or that other organizations are allowed to criticize it?
    Did Dershowitz even talk about NIF, J Street, and Peace Now? I’ve seen Dershowitz discuss/debate the nuances of American foreign policy regarding Israel and the Middle East with the head of J Street (moderate by Spitzer). Did he say J Street was antisemetic? Or Peace Now? Didn’t Dershowitz say that Amos Oz and other leftist Israeli judges should investigate Israeli military conduct? Didn’t J Street agree with Dershowitz that it should be investigate by Israeli judges?
    Seperate from Dershowitz comments, let me openly ask this, does applying a double standard on Israel come from antisemitism? Double standard? Let start with the term ‘Apartheid’: If Israel was apartheid, would Arab MKs be invited to speak at Israel Apartheid Week. Arab MKs, have the same power as Jewish MKs, to propose and vote on legistlation. They receive power from the same process as Jewish MKs, elections where all Israeli citizens participate irrespective of race. Arab MKs get their salary from Israeli taxpayers, and yet they are allowed to “incite” against the country. If Israel is not a great standard of democracy in the world, then what is? Show me the last time an American, elected or otherwise, supporting BDS against America because of its occupation of tens of millions of Arabs, Pashtuns, and Kurds?
    Dershowitz does not make an enemy out of Israel Apartheid Week organizers and participants. IAW organizers make all pro-Israel people as enemies. Case in point is your quote from you friend from Brown. So what to do with dishonest practice of IAW organizers? As Dershowitz says, “fight bad speech with good speech, lies with truth and educational malpractice with real education.” Doesn’t he propose the same thing you do, to engage in the sphere of public opinion?
    Question: why do you think they use such “inaccurate” language and “regressive” tactics?
    Where exactly does Dershowitz name IAW organizers as an enemy? The only time he even mentions antisemitism is when referring to Hamas.

  2. @rb. I love your passion, but are you sure that Dershowitz has written/said that Shalom Achshav exists to demonize Israel? That’s a very strong statement, and you might want to double-check your facts before making such claims. Maybe Dershowitz is not a good guy (that’s also debatable), but I don’t think he’d have the chutzpah to write something like that.
    If Israel is not a great standard of democracy in the world, then what is?
    @MW. The problem is that the situation in the territories (as opposed to inside of the Green Line) does not resemble anything like a democracy. And because Israel is the ruling power in those “undemocratic” areas, it does bring into question the legitimacy of Israel’s democratic nature.

  3. The American occupation in Iraq, horrible as it may be, does not involve apartheid, since there are no colonizing Americans there with their own laws. (Or at least there shouldn’t be, and when they’re found, someone apologizes, denies or retracts).

  4. Israel peace week is misnamed. It’s ‘use language of peace to defend Israel and fight critics of the occupation’ week.
    Which isn’t to say it’s not a fine idea. I’d love to see J Street U or something take the lead on mainstream effort to highlight the Israeli peace camp’s activities.
    Of course, the most active part of the Israeli peace camp would probably want to do stuff with the apartheid folks.

  5. >>“Alan Dershowitz, professional Israel apologist and demonizer-of-those-who-disagree-in-the-slightest, has done it again…. The real threat to Israel’s existence is people like Prof. Dershowitz, who are determined to make an enemy of every person who disagrees with them.”
    Can you provide some examples of Prof. Dershowitz “making an enemy of every person who disagrees with him” or “demonizing those who disagree with him in the slightest”?
    What are the names of these “demonized” victims?

  6. NIF was not banned or penalized. So where is the suppresion? Isn’t it one measure of democracy that organizations like NIF are allowed to operate? Or that other organizations are allowed to criticize it?
    Here is the suppression:
    The attacks on the New Israel Fund culminated with a proposed bill in the Knesset that aimed to bring NIF and associated voices of dissent forward for “spreading damaging information about the Israel Defense Forces in a time of war.” That inquiry was barely nixed in time.
    You might like to know that the Knesset has passed the second reading of a bill that defunds all public advocacy work (defined as any attempt to lobby the public’s opinion) by making those orgs “political parties” and thus no longer tax-exempt.
    It’s absolutely 100% a measure of Israel’s society that the Knesset progresses in the suppression of dissent. America has no such attempts to defund the the ACLU and Amnesty International, no matter what they say about the United States. Israel on the other hand has less and less democratic principles to crow about as Bibi’s coalition steamrolls forward…

  7. Either Kung Fu Jew has little knowledge of U.S. tax law or he’s deliberately suppressing it to make Israel look worse.
    The American Civil Liberties Union has never ever been tax-exempt, nor have any organizations with similar political activities.
    This is why they all have separate foundations for funding/engaging in activities that are allowed to be tax-deductible.
    Same for the Sierra Club, which has Earthjustice as a tax-exempt foundation.

  8. Israel “Peace” Week is affiliated with StandWithUs and CUFI – two hardly pro-peace organizations. At least IAW is clear about its goals.

  9. “Israel “Peace” Week is affiliated with StandWithUs and CUFI – two hardly pro-peace organizations. At least IAW is clear about its goals.”
    Yeah, everybody knows that StandWithUs and CUFI are big pro-war groups…

  10. @Eric.
    It’s true. You didn’t know that they love war? In fact, Bibi Netanyahu, whose brother was killed in the army, and whose son is now in the army too, loves war. That’s the break down: far Left Zionists/non-Zionists detest killing and do everything possible to stop it . . . while the rest of us are not “pro-peace.”

  11. @j1: Does national service in the military and the sacrifices that go along with it necessarily imply a love of war? Or merely the recognition of the sad imperative to have a force? Back before you were born, more than likely, there was a concept of nationalism/patriotism, which I guess is far too quaint for Gen X/post-gen X youth.
    I agree, however, that Dershowitz’s response is perhaps right for all the wrong reasons, but I think it’s nearsighted to dislike IAW solely as a “regressive” tactic. Does any other group, besides Jews, end up as compromised amongst ourselves? My problem is that the IAW movement, in spite of the presence of conflicted Jewkins, ends up soiled by its magnetism to a very anti-Semitic Left.
    No one asks my opinion or the opinion of American Jews serving in the “occupation” of Iraq/Afghanistan, but if you did, you’d find a significant departure from the naivete driving some opinions about Israel’s impact on the region. Many of us aren’t hawks by vocation, either, and most of us would validate your opinion that merely pointing out how bad Israel’s neighbors is doesn’t necessarily elevate Israel or advance the cause. And yet, it really does leave a bad taste in one’s mouth when you see it firsthand and realize, wow, Israel really is the only true democracy over there, even if it’s not the greatest one.
    None of it helps. We’re never going to change regional Arab opinion on Israel. That’s for economics to correct, I imagine. The uncompromising Left in ascendancy may not like the “well Saudi Arabia’s worse” argument, but neither are people attracted to “look at how great Israel is” any more than anyone is attracted to “Israel has its flaws, if there’s a different government that wants peace more, the lion will lay down with the lamb.” Oslo didn’t fall apart for lack of a government willing to compromise. There were two sides, one or both of which is at any given point talking out of two sides of their mouth. Failure to achieve peace is not a singularly Israeli fault, nor is it a Palestinian one. Both are subject to the ebb and sway of internal shifts, but at least Dershowitz is emphatically and publicly rejecting this fallacious notion that Israel is where peace begins and ends.
    With no one really moving the needle at all, the only thing for most of us to do from our ergonomic office chairs is adopt an apathy about the issue as the fringes drive them off, or join with the fringe. For my part, I would reject Hillel and any other organization recognizing the usefulness of the “flawed Israel” camp (the J Streets, NIF, etc.), and start advocating an idea of collective responsibility for the failure/success of the peace process. What Dershowitz is right, perhaps without saying so, about is that instead of fomenting peace, IAW and the like both embolden/validate the extremists by either directly or indirectly de-legitimizing Israel by focusing criticism there, and reinforcing the “fortress Israel” mentality in folks like me.

  12. @BK. I was trying to be sarcastic, dude.
    And, considering that I (along with many others here) served in Tzahal, I do know about patriotism–not that military service is always proof of patriotism.

  13. Michael W — The bill is scheduled to be voted upon within the month. It’s sponsors are Avraham Michaeli (Shas), David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), Othniel Schneller (Kadima), Yariv Levin and Tzipi Hotoveli (Likud) and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union).
    This legislation was the whole point of the attacks on the NGO sector.

  14. I don’t think the legislation was part of the same campaign of Im Tirzu against NIF, as if this bill’s cosponsers initiated the Im Tirzu campaign. I think the bill is just the political Right response to the publicized campaign.
    The bill should be defeated. But the fact that it is being considered is not a suppression of dissent. If we were to not allow the Israeli Right to even propose this bill, it may as well be suppression of dissent caused by the Israeli Left. If it does pass, I wonder if the High Court can do anything about it.

  15. The bill *is* part of the campaign, and here’s how:
    After the Gaza war, NGO Monitor, a right-wing organization that makes its living calling human rights organizations anti-Israel, drafted a bill along with right-wing allies in the Knesset that would prohibit international funding for Israeli NGOs. Since that was really impossible without prohibiting funding to basically all nonprofit institutions in Israel (including hospitals, museums, etc.) they compromised on this bill, which, as KFJ rightly notes, would basically classify any organization that does any kind of work directed at influencing Israeli public opinion as a political party, and not eligible for nonprofit status. This could potentially include all kinds of organizations, including environmental groups, disability rights advocates, feminist and women’s rights groups, along with, of course, we demon human rights organizations.
    NGO Monitor made a big hullabaloo about it, had a big briefing which all of us refused to attend, and the bill never left its committee.
    Fast forward three or four months: after the smear attack on NIF and 16 Israeli human rights organizations (disclosure: I work for one of them) that supplied information to the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, there was a proposal to create a parliamentary investigatory committee into the actions of NIF and its grantees. Because of significant external pressure, the parliamentary investigation was called off. But as a compromise to the right wing, the old bill, which was instigated by NGO monitor, was taken up again by the Parliamentary Minesterial Committee, the Knesset committee made up of all Government ministers, which decides if a bill has the support of the Government in its process to become a law.
    The law, in one way or another, is expected to pass in committee and proceed on to the Knesset. We are all working very very hard against that happening.

  16. littlerose,
    I have no problem with you fighting against the bill. But it is incorrect to say, at this moment or in the past, that dissent is being suppressed in Israel.

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