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Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine Lecture: Nonviolent Resistance Against Occupation

Posted by alilyamongthorns on March 7, 2007

Students for Justice in Palestine Berkeley Campenile

Last Wednesday, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine held an event titled “Grassroots, Nonviolent Resistance to Israeli Apartheid in Palestine.”

It was my first SJP event and I was expecting 2 hours of Israel-bashing and “by any means necessary rhetoric.” I was pleasantly surprised …

While there was definitely anti-Israel sentiment, the speakers, true to the event’s name, really were talking about nonviolence. For years, it has been my biggest complaint: why always violence? Why not utilize the nonviolent methods of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr? It was very heartening to see that there are people in the Palestinian territories that are using that approach.

One of the speakers, Mohammed Khatib, discussed the nonviolent protests he and others have organized in the West Bank. He showed a couple of video clips from the documentary Fence, Wall, Border and I believe also Bil’in Habibti (in fact, I believe that he’s in the photo featured on the web site) of peaceful protests. In one video clip, the protesters attempt to march to the security fence. They encounter Israeli soldiers who tell them they cannot advance any further because they’re entering a closed military zone. As some of the protesters attempt to pass the soldiers anyway, the protest leaders attempt to keep everyone calm and instruct them repeatedly not to throw rocks at the soldiers.

Mohammed also told a story about how Israeli soldiers only left a small area for the Palestinians to pass through, telling them they had to bend down to 1 meter as they pass. They put up a rope at a 1 meter height and told them that if they do not bend down, they will be shot. Mohammed said the soldiers did this to humiliate them. His friend did not bend down as he passed and was shot in the leg. They called an ambulance but the soldiers refused to give the man medical aid and he eventually died at the scene. Later, there was a violent incursion against the checkpoint and 6 Israeli soldiers were killed (a non-student member of the audience clapped at this) and when he first heard about this, Mohammed felt that this was justice. But later, he found out these were not the same soldiers. He said, yes, they are the same in that they are also Israeli soldiers but in reality, they are not the same people.

I was very moved by these words. Whether there is another side to this story or not, it’s amazing that a person has the wisdom and compassion, no matter what culture he’s from, to realize the difference between the two.

On a side note, I had been warned that oftentimes the audience at these events is more radical than the speakers themselves. And that definitely proved to be true for some people in attendance (during Q & A, someone asked, “Is there a cure for Zionism?”). I hope that Mohammed’s words served as a lesson for the man who clapped at the death of others.

The other speaker, a retired school headmistress from Hebron, spoke about Jewish settler attacks on her students and the general Palestinian population of Hebron. She showed a couple of videos of settlers, especially children, taunting, kicking, and throwing rocks at her students as they walked from school. The students and teachers did not respond with violence and simply attempted to pass. Some of these videos were shot in 2000 and some in 2005. In a number of these videos Israeli soldiers were present but usually didn’t do anything to stop the settlers. When they did, it was only to separate the two groups, never to stop the settlers or arrest them.

I believe that in some cases, actions have been taken to stop such attacks but a number of them go unchecked. It was very upsetting to watch these videos and I think that Israel’s government must take action to treat these people like the criminals that they are and prosecute them. And beyond the law, such behavior is simply shameful! It must take such courage to throw a stone at someone who cannot retaliate. I understand that a lot of the settler families have lost loved ones to rocket attacks or plain cold-blooded murder but that’s no excuse. They’re not retaliating against their attackers, they’re practicing hate and bigotry.

The headmistress, Feryal Abu Haikal, spoke a lot about how Hebron is an Arab city and made it seem like Jewish settlers all of a sudden decided to settle in the middle of their city after the 1967 War. This is one of the things that is upsetting to me about events such as these; they’re very one-sided. Will a person who attends this event go to a Hillel event and learn that Hebron was the oldest Jewish community in the world until an Arab pogrom in 1929? Also, after watching those videos it would seem that those settlers represent the majority of Israelis and that is simply not true. Most Israelis would never even think of doing something so hateful. I know for me, as I was watching the videos, I thought of myself as a child approximately that age in Israel and I know I would have never done anything like that.

A few years ago, when my sister attended UC Berkeley, I came to visit her and we spoke about the tension on campus between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups. She told me it was impossible to work together because the pro-Palestinian side was full of hateful people who were not interested in working together for peace. I remember feeling then that one day, I would come here and I’d try no matter what. It’s heartening to get here and see that so much progress has already been made. SJP and the Israel Action Committee have held events together and although there are still radicals (on both sides) the people in the middle are the dominant voices in the debate. I’ve been thinking about it for the past couple of days and really, the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups are not on opposite ends, they are on the same side. We all want rights and freedom for the Palestinian people alongside a safe and secure Israel.

A video of the event may be available online soon at http://webcast.berkeley.edu/events.php

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33 Responses to “Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine Lecture: Nonviolent Resistance Against Occupation”

  1. Oyster said

    Hey ALilyAmongThorns,

    I linked & included a picture of what me and your sis, us old fogies, remember of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) back in the worst of it; in 2002. Click on the link, and you’ll get a sense of the intensity from back then. The guy who took those pictures is a bit looney himself; he immediately associates a Berkeley cop with killing people extra-judicially! But I transgress digress…

    The take-home message: the nature & character of student groups change very rapidly. Leadership rotates within 4 years. And its a function of the times. If things get ugly in the Levant, and there’s nothing else to distract the world, then SJP could mushroom into a hate-machine overnight.

    Don’t be caught off-guard like I was in the Fall of 2000. Always on guard, always…

  2. Benny Blanco said

    “Will a person who attends this event go to a Hillel event and learn that Hebron was the oldest Jewish community in the world until an Arab pogrom in 1929?”

    Short answer: no. While some attendees might, most will not. The vast majority of the audience will (a) assume everything they are being fed at these events is 100% true and (b) will not seek out an alternative perspective.

    As such, it’s the duty of Israel supporters to attend these events and ask the tough questions.

    My experience with the SJP (and it’s a long one) is basically the following: While there are no doubt genuine peace seekers in the group, they as an organization make little effort to eradicate the more extreme members/viewpoints from their ranks. Israel-supportive student groups generally try to come to a consensus, and have no compunction whatsoever disavowing positions that they view as too hard-line or right-wing. With the SJP on the other hand, it seems like anything goes: from the confused Israeli leftists all the way up to the unabashed Hamas supporters.

  3. Yaman said

    Hi Benny,

    While I can’t speak for other SJP’s or SJP in the past, I thought I should mention that there are a number of viewpoints which SJP will not tolerate and, indeed, explicitly denounces at its meetings and engagements with people if they are suggested.

    One is a categorical rejection of violence against civilians. Violence against military personnel, on the other hand, is a contentious issue and there are those who advocate a 100% non-violent approach out of principle, others out of pragmatism while still acknowledging a “right” to resist military installments/personnel in the territories, etc.

    A second is in terms of a solution to the problem. A number of people support two states, and a number of people support one state for all citizens. To accommodate this wide spectrum, SJP does not officially take any position except that it will accept anything that leads to justice and equality for the citizens of Israel and Palestine. One position we do not tolerate is the idea that Jewish citizens of Israel should be forced to leave their homes and “return to Europe,” as some extremists suggest (though I have yet to encounter this on campus). Expulsion of the Jews is not accepted, and we have explicitly stated this to people when they ask “what does SJP believe/suggest?”

    We are also vigilantly against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. For more information, feel free to check out the website: http://www.calsjp.org/.

    It’s possible that there are members who secretly harbor such views, but it’s impossible for us to know about them, and would be rather fascistic of us to interrogate everybody to find out. But what we can do is make sure that there is no space for such views to be discussed at our meetings and events; that is, we do not welcome hateful views by anybody in our discourse. To the best of our ability, we try to enforce these rules. For the most part, when extremists do pop up, they have not been students or members of SJP, but rather off-campus folk who freely decide to (and have the right to–we’ve looked into this, we can’t really stop them from coming) attend our events and/or rallies. In any case, we do what we can to make it clear that they and their views are not welcome.

  4. Benny Blanco said

    Yaman,

    While I was at Cal, Amir Abdel Malik Ali was a fixutre at SJP events.

    He was exceedingly clear in his support of suicide bombings against civilians.

    Benny

  5. Benny Blanco said

    Just to be clear, he was the featured SPEAKER at many SJP events, i.e. the public face of SJP to non-affiliated students.

    For those that have seen Malik speak or are otherwise familiar with his past pronouncements, I think the SJP’s repeated selection of him as a keynote speaker at their events says a lot.

    You make a point that is very important to keep in mind when comparing SJP and the Israel Action Committee: You stated that some members of SJP support a two-state solution, while others support the dissolution of Israel (the so-called one state “solution”).

    In contrast, I can say with confidence that in all my years working with IAC, we/they never promoted anything but a two-state solution.

    I think that’s an extremely significant difference between the two groups.

    Benny

  6. Yaman said

    From what I know about SJP’s history, I think it’s very unlikely Amir Abdel Malik was selected by SJP. SJP has never (as far as I know) since 2001 been under the auspices of Muslim students and as such it’d be unlikely for them to bring an Oakland Imam. However, it’s possible that the MSA brought Amir Abdel Malik to campus–they have in the past, and they continue to do so. I strongly dislike Amir Abdel Malik (I think he’s a hotheaded demagogue), and as long as the current leadership of SJP is in place, he will not be featured as a speaker at our events.

    It’s strange to claim that IAC promotes nothing but a two-state solution. Perhaps people in the group favor two-states, but it’s hard to decide what they actually do to precipitate this result. IAC, as far as I know, does not take any formal position on the occupation, and I’ve met members of the group who are both strongly against it, others who think it’s “unfortunate” but are unwilling to do anything about it, and still others who support it full heartedly. In this sense, I think it’s a moot thing for IAC to “promote” two-states if it can’t even participate in activism geared at ending the occupation.

    And, yes, this is indeed a crucial difference between SJP and IAC. IAC is concerned with the preservation of a state called Israel by any means necessary, regardless of what this means for the Palestinians. SJP, on the other hand, is concerned with the preservation of human rights for Israelis and Palestinians, regardless of what this means for either the Israeli or Palestinian state. To us, care for a state is misplaced, and the important thing is care for people.

  7. Yaman said

    (By the way, I will not dispute the claim that Amir Abdelmalik may have been featured at SJP events in the past. I wouldn’t know, though my inclination would be to place him with the MSA rather than SJP. But he definitely has not been here for SJP in the past year.)

  8. Oyster said

    Yaman:

    The IAC in my time always supported a two-state solution, because we supported the policy of the State of Israel, which is one that was bound to the Roadmap under the auspicies of the Quartet. If they were right-wingers who wanted a one-state solution, they left the IAC and joined Dafka (hi Lee!). If they were left-wingers who wanted a one-state solution, they joined the SJP. :-p

    As for what the IAC does to support a two-state solution: very simple. They invest in Israel. Despite popular belief, crushing an economy that the Palestinian people are dependent on will not improve their lives, will not make Israelis more eager to create peace, and will just generally make everything worse. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Similarly, aside from rhetoric, flag-waving, and teach-ins, what has SJP done to invest in the Palestinian people? And no, Israeli divestment does not equal Palestinian investment.

  9. Lee Kaplan said

    Please don’t sully your blog with Yaman Salahi’s nonsense from the SJP.

    Salahi claims he is against anti-Semitism yet promotes with fervor the divestment and
    boycott of Jews in Israel. The Arab boycott in fact makes 30% of Israel’s children and elderly go to bed hungry at night and eat at soup kitchens, something Jews and Israel are too embarassed to tell the public about. The fact that Yaman and his SJP crew can field some “Jewish” quislings who are in fact communists and anarchists who prefer their platform of destroying the capitalist western state of Israel to preseving its Jewishness also does not diminish Salahi’s anti-Semitism veiled as secular humanism.

    As for the two state solution that some in the SJP prefer:
    It’s all talk. Salahi would certainly not denounce the right of return were two states created that stipulates
    any Arab whose dead ancestor resided inside Israel’s 1948 borders has the inalienable right to go back and live on the very spot his dead ancestors lvied. The goal? To flood Israel with 5 million Arabs to outnumber and dominate the Jews as elsewhere in the Middle East.
    Arafat called this the phased appraoch to dismantling the state and Abbas follows the plan.

    Salahi uses doublespeak all the time. People in here should also know he is an Internet terrorist on behalf of the Palestinian irredentist cause against the Jews. Smears on the Web he deems his sacred duty for the Arab cause against Israel. His moderation and discussions are only a ruse among the sophists and intellegentsia who do not know the real motives behind attacking Jews in the Middle East. Salahi calls Al Qaeda a “religious movement” and calls to kill Bin Laden uncalled for. To him a “fair settlement” is the dismantling of Israel for a binational state where Jews will be the dhimmis. Letting him use your forum in here is like letting Goebbels speak at a bar mitzvah about Nazi love for Jewish traditions.

  10. Lee Kaplan said

    What they didn’t tell you at the SJP presentation at UC Berkeley and why it was not really promoting nonviolence
    (Benny, you didn’t see the Arabs throwing rocks at the Border Police in those films?)

    Here’s what really happened:

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/authors.asp?ID=2106

    Note something also about Mr. Salahi: He thinks it’s ok to murder Israeli soldiers under the euphemism of “resistance.”
    Israel has sacrificed its existence to make peace and has endured over 25,000 terrorist attacks since then as well as attacks from Hizballah. Israeli soldiers are human being and Jews too. This doubletalk is a staple of the SJP on campuses. And before anyone tries to claim Israel is murdering Palestinian Arabs, understand it isn’t so. Just watch Arab media to see the massive armaments and calls for murdering Jews and praise for terrorists. Salahi, who is of Syrian descent and not even a Palestinian, functions from a racist pan-Arab view of the Middle East that Jews cannot have their own homeland and live in peace.

  11. Oyster said

    Lee:

    You may call me “Sully-man the Magnificient” if you wish, but I will allow civil discourse on Oy Bay, no matter how revolting the notions expressed. Unlike many of their sites, I don’t employ fascist tactics of deleting comments.

    Your link posts to a collection of your writings. Was there a particular article or incident that you were referring to?

    In general I agree with you. It’s very easy to paint any picture you want when you just portray one half of the story. Selectively telling the truth is just about equivalent to lying. For example, the description in the movie about soldiers making people pass below a bar to get through a gate is easy to manipulate out of context. First off, it is very likely that there were fatal attacks at the checkpoint before the one the movie describes; they just choose not to talk about that. There are hundreds of injuries, light or maiming, in addition to fatal incidents at all checkpoints leading from the Palestinian Territories to Israel. The likelihood that this one was the one without blemish until the Palestinian film crew came on the scene, is highly dubious. That being said, the Israeli army is always trying to come up with methods to allow fast passage of people through the checkpoint, while trying to minimize the risk to the soldiers. Many times, when soldiers go up to a suicide bomber to interrogate them in line, the bomber detonates himself, realizing that he’ll get at least one Israeli. So the soldiers make the people in line bend down, because someone with enough explosives strapped to his waist to rip a store to shreds will have a hard time doing that gracefully. This allows them to find a suspect from a safe distance, while letting 99% of the others in line through without too much delay.

    Of course, none of this back-story is explained in the film.

  12. Lee Kaplan said

    I cannot fathom how you missed several key things and fell for the false taquiyya
    of the SJP and thier Palestinian “guests” being “nonviolent.” You missed
    the mention of the Israeli border policeman who lost an eye, and Khatib’s refusal to condemn the butchering of Erev Levanon by Islamic Jihad.
    It is foolish Jewish college students who do not understand the ISM says it’s nonviolent but uses that description to provide logistical aid to the killers in the Palestinian terrorist movement. I know this because I’ve attended their training sessions undercover. If you had more knowledge of how they operate, you’d ask the tough questions too instead of feeling all warm and fuzzy thnking they are “nonviolent.”
    They are anything but that in reality. The attacks by “settlers” in Hebron were provocations met by children, by the way. The soldiers do not intervene because theya re not police, a fact the ISM uses to interfere with the soldiers knowing they won’t be arrested also if the police are not around. American Jewish students and adults need to understand when they are being scammed with presentation tht leave out the details.

    Allowing discourse and different ideas are fine, however, understand who are speaking and what they really say under the surface. Advocating the starving of Jews in Israel through boycotts says volumes when the same people claim they have nothing against Jews.
    If someone advocated boycotting black people for living in New York and called killing them “legitimate resistance,” then claimed they had no hate for black people because they could live in San Francisco or Atlanta, but never New York, that person would be declared a racist, and rightfully so, no? Yet at Cal, SJP calls for doing the same to Jews in Israel then try to claim they are not anti-Semitic because they aren’t attacking Jews on campus–yet. That is my beef with American Jews overintellectualizing the Arab irredentist movement to destroy Israel to the detriment of the Jewish people.

  13. Yaman said

    Lee Kaplan puts “Jewish” in quotes. From now on, every Jewish person that disagrees with Lee is “Jewish”–a fake Jew, so it’s okay to attack them. If you can’t challenge their views, challenge their Jewishness.

    “As for the two state solution that some in the SJP prefer:
    It’s all talk. Salahi would certainly not denounce the right of return were two states created that stipulates
    any Arab whose dead ancestor resided inside Israel’s 1948 borders has the inalienable right to go back and live on the very spot his dead ancestors lvied. The goal? To flood Israel with 5 million Arabs to outnumber and dominate the Jews as elsewhere in the Middle East.
    Arafat called this the phased appraoch to dismantling the state and Abbas follows the plan.”

    This is a very revealing quotation. For Lee Kaplan, recognizing and dealing with the refugee problem is in and of itself terrorism. In what world does “allowing the refugees to return or be compensated” equal terrorism and anti-Semitism? What is it that Lee Kaplan proposes Israel do to the refugees it kicked out?

    “If someone advocated boycotting black people for living in New York and called killing them “legitimate resistance,” then claimed they had no hate for black people because they could live in San Francisco or Atlanta, but never New York, that person would be declared a racist, and rightfully so, no?”

    Kind of like people who call killing Palestinians “self-defense” and saying they’re not racist because it’s okay if they live in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, or Lebanon, but never in Israel, where their homes were. That person would be declared a racist, and rightfully so, no?

    “I cannot fathom how you missed several key things and fell for the false taquiyya
    of the SJP and thier Palestinian ‘guests’ being ‘nonviolent.'”

    Wow, Lee Kaplan knows an Arabic word! Yay Lee! To accuse SJP of taqiyya is very funny. This is something Islamophobes love to do, because it means they can accuse anybody who does not fit their profile of an extremist jihadist, but is still critical of Israel, as being a liar, who really is an extremist jihadist at heart. Of course, it’s impossible to ever rebut these claims because no matter what you say or do, the other side can claim you’re lying! It’s a dogmatic little black hole that Lee likes to throw people in. The real effect, though, is that nobody can any longer talk about anything, since it’s already decided from the beginning what the other side believes, no matter what it actually says. A great contribution to discourse, reconciliation, and conflict resolution, Lee! Will the audience cheer for this one, too?

  14. Lee,
    I, in fact, invited Yaman to respond to the blog because I felt that he can elaborate on the position of the current leadership of SJP and perhaps help clear up some misconceptions that some of our readers, including myself, may have. I know that I, before coming to Cal, had heard about some of the terrible things Benny and Oyster talk about and had an image of SJP as being largely responsible for a lot of these things. However, I’ve since had the chance to speak with Yaman and it seems to me that at least the current leadership condemns terrorism and racism (including anti-Semitism), like Yaman said. Yes, there are radicals out there (on both sides) but I feel that currently SJP has taken steps to steer away from those positions and I commend them on it. We’re not going to agree on everything but at least we can agree that terrorism and racism (including anti-Semitism) are wrong. Those are positions we can move forward from.
    For example, Yaman was telling me about an event SJP held in conjunction with the Israel Action Committee. An audience member started saying that he believed Hezbollah’s violence against Israel in the Summer of 2006 was justified and SJP and IAC stepped in and did not allow that sort of rhetoric.
    As for Yaman personally, from my conversations with him and from reading various things he has written, there has never been a single incidence where I have seen him condone terrorism or make anti-Semitic remarks. In fact, I met Yaman through a fellow IAC member he is friends with. So I find it rather offensive that you throw around terms like “anti-Semite,” “terrorist” and “Nazi.” Not only are they false in this case but they also take value away from situations where people really are those things.

  15. Oyster said

    For Lee Kaplan, recognizing and dealing with the refugee problem is in and of itself terrorism. In what world does “allowing the refugees to return or be compensated” equal terrorism and anti-Semitism? What is it that Lee Kaplan proposes Israel do to the refugees it kicked out?

    Uhhh… just because we’re calling Lee on bullshit, doesn’t mean you’re going to get a pass.

    Israel has, several times, offered to allow the return of any one who was of the original ~650,000 Palestinian refugees (UN figures) who left their homes during the 1948 War of Independence.

    If you want to allow every Palestinian descendent of those original 650,000 into Israel proper, all 3-5 million of them, and not into the future Palestinian state, then that’s merely plotting the destruction of Israel and not doing anything towards a two-state solution and peace.

    Funny how there’s two definitions for refugees in the world (read: the UN). One definition for enemies of the Jews Palestinians, and one definition for everyone else. What’s the Arabic word for double-standard, Yaman? And yes, a double-standard at Israel or the Jewish people’s expense is Antisemitic. Sorry for that inconvenient truth.

    And WTF are you guys blabbering about regarding this Arabic taqueria? Sorry, but it better serve felafel. No Islamic tacos, please. Have you eaten at Eat-a-Pita before? It’s on Durant, I recall…

  16. Yaman said

    I didn’t ask for a pass, and I didn’t say almost everything you’ve ascribed to me. Without a doubt, there are hundreds of thousands of Jewish emigrants from Arab countries following the 1948 war. Those who are refugees that were forced out of their homes, with their property dispossessed, without compensation, should be treated on an equal footing as the Palestinians who found themselves in the same position. The existence of two refugee problems does not mean they cancel out. Arab and Jewish populations were not transferred, and the Palestinians were not responsible for the expulsion of Jews from countries like Iraq. The difference is that by and large those refugees who moved to Israel have found successful livelihoods, and that is why there is no problem–they have no desire to return, even though they have the right to return or be compensated for their losses. To bring it up now as if it is some sort of anti-Semitic double standard is disingenuous and only shows your unwillingness to deal with Palestinian refugees.

    If losing a Jewish majority in Israel is your definition of “destroying Israel,” then I wonder what your suggestions would be if (and probably when) the Palestinian population living in Israel proper outnumbers that of the Jewish population because of greater fertility rates. I have a hard time thinking of one that is not inherently racist. To give up democracy for the purpose of demographic control is racism.

  17. Lee Kaplan said

    Sigh….
    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27407

    Yaman should go read his own mission statement on the SJP website. It states 1. SJP is against the colonization of all Palestinian lands and 2.
    They want Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza.

    He is on the Board of Directors so responsible for what is written. The first premise says Israel is a colony to be removed. It is doublespeak for advocacy to destroy all of Israel.Israel is not a colony of anyone, but a sovereign nation.

    The current peace process calls for two democratic states side by side living inpeace because, frankly, the Arabs have demonstrated they are unwilling to let the Jews live in peace. Case in point, the expulsion from Gaza that resulted in 1,000 missiles fired at Sderot.

    So Yaman is not anti-Semitic?
    Why? Because he says so? He is an ardent supporter of divestment and boycotting the Israeli people. This results in 30% of the population, mostly Jews going to bed hungry at night and eating in soup kitchens. He can say anything he likes, but when he advocates for starving the Jews, the same divestment scheme of the Nazis in the 30’s he is being anti-Semitic.
    Yaman Salahi will embrace any stupid Jew who willingly will help him destroy Israel and make his movement appear not anti-Semitic.

    Yaman talks about a majority of Arabs inside Israel as a fair settlement. If so, where was his objection to the deportations from Gaza ebing met with rockets? He doesn’t see that as proof that his utopian new Arab dominated state would gladly live in equality with Jews? Please, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn…

    Finally, Yaman says he rejects Hamas and their terrorism. Will he write a public announcement and hand it out on Sproul Plaza saying the UC Berkeley SJP rejects the Hamas movement for real and calls for its removal from a peaceful PA? In fact, what the Arab world says in English is far different than what it says in Arabic. Will he write a public letter to Al Awda and ask them to block the link to their site from the American Nazi Party?

    I’m sure Yaman is very nice face to face on campus with little American Jewish boys who think they are grand intellectuals in discussing geopolitics. However, the reality is Jews are being murdered for being Jews and trying to have their own little patch of ground free from Islamic and panArab hegemony. It ain’t the UC Berkeley campus in the Middle
    East. By the way, referring to what I write as “bullshit” is a copout of the highest order, then inviting Yaman Salahi to claify his bullshit and create refuations is ridciulous. If this is a Jewish website that alleges to support Israel it is highly suspect or at best extremely naive. There are 22 Arab states to absorb the third generation “refugees” who call themselves Palestinians, unending oil revenues and land. The fact is the refugee issue is a red herring to find an excuse to never allow Israel to exist as a Jewish state even if Arabs have equal rights. Wise up, kiddies…Jews are being murdered by panArab and Muslim
    hegemonists, and it’s not all sophistry like on campus. This is obviously a waste of time with people who have no preception of reality and live in a cyber world.

    Will the SJP unequivocally state the Israel has the right ot exist as an independent Jewish state without the Catch 22 of insisting on a right of return of an Arab army of phony refugees creater than the current Jewish population?
    Yaman’s on their board, ask him.

  18. Oyster said

    Lee:

    I didn’t say that everything you say/write is bullshit. Some of it is correct. Some of it is hyperbole. What I was particularly referring to is how ALilyAmongstThorns correctly called you on your assumptions: such that she was male, and that she was a non-immigrant American Jew. Your assumptions mixed with rhetoric is what I call bullshit. If you just stuck to the facts and logical argumentation, without getting personal or invoking inflammatory invective, then I’d never call it bullshit. In fact, I’d welcome such rational and civil discourse on Oy Bay.

  19. Oyster said

    Yaman:

    The difference is that by and large those refugees who moved to Israel have found successful livelihoods, and that is why there is no problem–they have no desire to return, even though they have the right to return or be compensated for their losses.

    Ah, an excellent point! So why wasn’t the same done for the Palestinians in Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan? Were there moves to absorb and support the Palestinian refugees back when Egypt controlled Gaza, or when Jordan controlled the West Bank, before 1967?

    If it is unreasonable for the Mizrahi Jews of Israel (Jews from Arab lands) to be re-settled and compensated in their countries of origin, why is it reasonable for the Palestinians? Is that not a double-standard?

    Arab and Jewish populations were not transferred, and the Palestinians were not responsible for the expulsion of Jews from countries like Iraq.

    According to the UN, ~650,000 Palestinians fled lands given to the Jews as per the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Between 1948 and 1967, ~850,000 Jews were expelled from their homes across the Arab world. Sounds like a population transfer to me. And you’re playing the “name game” with the responsibility. I could easily say that the Mizrahi Jews in Israel (who out-number the European Ashkenazi Jews) that were expelled from Arab countries are not responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.

    Lastly, the use of the term ‘racism’ is mere rhetoric. The Arab-Palestinian sub-conflict of the Arab-Israeli conflict is mainly one of competing nationalities, not of race. As I mentioned above, the European Jews in Israel are the minority of Jews. There are a greater number of Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews from the Middle East, Asia, and India. Not to mention the Ethiopian (yes, black) Jews who proudly serve in the IDF. Last time I checked, there were no African Palestinians (unless you count the ones who were originally from Egypt and not from the Levant).

  20. Yaman said

    “Ah, an excellent point! So why wasn’t the same done for the Palestinians in Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan? Were there moves to absorb and support the Palestinian refugees back when Egypt controlled Gaza, or when Jordan controlled the West Bank, before 1967?”

    For the same reasons it is absurd to suggest that Jews in Israel “go back to Europe.” They do not identify as European, they identify as Israeli. Palestinians identify as Palestinians, not Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, etc.

    “If it is unreasonable for the Mizrahi Jews of Israel (Jews from Arab lands) to be re-settled and compensated in their countries of origin, why is it reasonable for the Palestinians? Is that not a double-standard?”

    Actually, I never suggested that it was unreasonable for Mizrahim Jews to return to their original homes. In fact, quite the opposite, I said that all refugees have a right to return to their homes and original properties. In noting their economic disposition I was simply offering one explanation for why there is a Palestinian right of return movement, and not one organized by Jewish refugees: because the ones in the latter group, by and large, are satisfied.

    “According to the UN, ~650,000 Palestinians fled lands given to the Jews as per the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Between 1948 and 1967, ~850,000 Jews were expelled from their homes across the Arab world. Sounds like a population transfer to me. And you’re playing the “name game” with the responsibility. I could easily say that the Mizrahi Jews in Israel (who out-number the European Ashkenazi Jews) that were expelled from Arab countries are not responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.”

    Accuracy of these figures aside (I am not equipped to argue with them), it would be absurd to suggest that this was a population transfer. Two governments did not collaborate and agree that this transfer would occur. These incidents were by and large isolated from each other. It is not a population transfer in the same way that occurred between Turkey and Greece, for example, after WWI. Regardless, whether or not this was carried out on the state level (which it was in Turkey and Greece, but not in Israel or Palestine), it is still a violation of the individual rights all of these people had to 1) keep their properties or receive just compensation and 2) decide where they want to live. Furthermore you do injustice to the issue by referring to the “Arabs” as one monolithic whole. The “Arabs” do not exist as a single political unit and they never have, and never will, just as the “West” does not exist as one unit.

    “Lastly, the use of the term ‘racism’ is mere rhetoric. The Arab-Palestinian sub-conflict of the Arab-Israeli conflict is mainly one of competing nationalities, not of race.”

    Without a doubt the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is based on competing nationalities. But this does not mean that Israel cannot have racist policies. Nor does it mean that we should ignore policies of demographic control for what they are: racism. I don’t see any other way you can reconcile this.

  21. Lee Kaplan said

    Israel does not have racist policies. In fact, it is the only state in the region that is pluralistic. But that won’t stop the SJP or Yaman from lying and saying it’s an apartheid state. How nice that Yaman says he would welcome Mizrahi Jews to go back to their homes in Arab lands. But then again, what can one expect from a kid at UC Berkeley who lives on the Internet and doesn’t understand the Arabs would murder them. Those Jews would be murdered.

    I do not engage in hyperbole. What do you do to help Israel? Write on a blog? Do you do anything to curb groups on campuses that in fact are not just forums for discussion but lend logsitical aid to terrorists who MURDER JEWS? You attend an SJP event and remark you think the speakers who are Fatah-ISM liaisons are seriosuly into nonviolence when they stage violent riots at the Security Fence and checkpoints that endanger not only Jewish lives but arab ones as well? Khatib refused to condemn the butchring Erev Levanon and one of your forum writers complains my questiuon is provocative? You invite Yaman Salahi to write in here how the SJP is really just harmless and that Yaman has nothing against Jews (as long as they provide a another forum for him to denigrate Israel on the Internet.)

    The SJP doesnt wield guns on campus and may even discuss Israel’s right to exist with you voer a cup of coffee. But their purpose is to propagandize for Arab irredentists who have one goal: the end of Israel and the panArab and Muslim domination of her Jews. Thats the reality not found in a blog.

    Recognize this. Learn from this. The SJP wants to murder Jewish children in Israel, they just do it in a way thats saleable in America. They did violently attack Jews on campus once, and had to mute their actions because the Berkeley admin shut them down for almost a year when they should ahve been kicked off campus for good. They operate as part of a network, bussing back and forth acolytes from SFSU and Santa Cruz to Cal’s campus for displays and demos against Israel.

    Why should you help them? Because it makes you feel like an intellectual?
    The fact is naive American Jewish people will cause the end of Israel as much as the enemies Israel faces in the Middle East.

  22. Oyster said

    I do not engage in hyperbole. What do you do to help Israel? Write on a blog? Do you do anything to curb groups on campuses that in fact are not just forums for discussion but lend logsitical aid to terrorists who MURDER JEWS?

    I’m assuming that this is directed at me. Just FYI, I never said that I attended this SJP event. That was ALilyAmongThorns.

    I don’t have to answer to you, Lee Kaplan. I was a pro-Israel Zionist student activist at UC Berkeley for 2 years. I helped other campuses that were less prepared, driving from UC Davis to UCSB to help train other student activists. Where the hell were you, in the worst of the so-called “Intifada II”, in the fall of 2000, when I was getting spit on for saying that I love my homeland? Where the hell were you when four Jews were beaten up around campus in the Spring 2002? I don’t recall seeing your face or your name at Hillel, at IAC meetings, SJP protests, or any print media. You’re a johnny-come-lately to this game. The earliest mention of your name in connection to anything pro-Israel that I can find is from 2003. Where were you for three years? And you attacking activists like me isn’t going to make up for your marked absence & lost time. And I’m currently consulting with a Bay Area campus Hillel that is having issues with anti-Israel propaganda on their campus. Are you in touch with their executive director? Aside from calling them names, are you assisting any Jewish campus groups to combat anti-Israel agitation?

    And if I may ask you, Lee, what Jewish groups do you volunteer for? Aside from writing for FrontPageMag, are you involved Jewishly? You seem to give the impression that you’re very involved, but I’m not sure what activism you do aside from writing articles for online websites (which is, you know, *SO* different than being a blogger).

  23. Oyster, I think people like you are what has made it better. I don’t feel threatened on campus and I wear my Star of David with pride and I know that’s thanks to the efforts you, and others like you, have put in before my time.

  24. Lee Kaplan said

    To ALily and Oy:

    1) “And if I may ask you, Lee, what Jewish groups do you volunteer for? Aside from writing for FrontPageMag, are you involved Jewishly? You seem to give the impression that you’re very involved, but I’m not sure what activism you do aside from writing articles for online websites (which is, you know, *SO* different than being a blogger).”

    For your information, I began DAFKA out of my own pocket and forced Hillel to stop holding divestment- supporting events and groups and hosting phony refusniks panels. I run Stop the ISM and I got over 200 ISM activists deported from Israel with my articles while you were making a spiel on the Internet. I’ve sacrificed far more for Israel than you can imagine. As for Lily, Yaman will be civil to your face then say or do the opposite in relation to harming Jews overseas. If you’re a Jew who can be persuaded to support or give credence to his Arab irredentist notions, then he will be nice to you. Ask Yaman in person why
    the SJP mission statement says all of Israel is a colony to be taken back by Palestinians, not just the West Bank and Gaza? Ask him why he wants Jews in Israel divested from and boycotted? Ask him why Israel cannot remian a Jewish state side by side with an Arab one? Ask him to condemn Osama Bin Laden and call for his death, and if Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization or a “religious movement”,ask him to condemn Hamas, and to declare that Jews in Israel have a right to their own secure nation safe from persecution by Arabs. Ask him to renounce the right oif return, not make silly comments about he is for the return of Mizrahi Jews who we all know would be murdered. He is a Syrian, by the way, not a Palestinian, so ask him why his passion for making Israel an Arab dominated state? Ask him why he doesnt complain that Syria hosts Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other Jew killers?

    What a joke! Jews attacking my work for the benefit of someone who will tell them one thing, then do another in practice. When Yaman renounces the Arab boycott of Israel, when he calls for the imprisonment of Arab terrorists, when he says Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state within secure boundaries and renounce the right of return, then give me your social platitudes. You’re both progressive Jews in Berkeley while other Jews’ asses are on the line in Israel. And, Oy, I have sacrificed far more than you in helping Israel at colleges all across the US, not just Berkeley.I revealed the amount of Saudi funding flooding our campuses. You were convinced the presentation by “nonviolent activists” at Cal was for real and I had to show you it wasn’t nonviolent at all, they refused to condemn Erev Levanon’s murder (that apparently escpaed you). They could not cite dates, names or places for alleged atrocities by Israeli soldiers because they didn’t happen. As I said earlier, for you guys it’s all academic discussions. I strive to save the lives of fellow Jews and I can tell you discussing things “civilly” on campus with people who support violence against fellow Jews overseas (yeah, they call them Zionists as a euphemism), just doesnt cut it. Bear in mind that some of those nice SJP members on campus were you Jews living in Israel would cheer your demise in a terrorist attack while being your fellow discussant in Berkeley.

  25. Lee Kaplan said

    I can’t see writing in here any more. You asked for contributors, but you are incapable of seeing the real threat Israel faces and let your forum be used for propaganda as to the well meaning of the other side like SJP that will tell you what you want to hear then go out and support killing fellow Jews in Israel (Oh,yeah, only “Zionists”). Would you people be lunching with Nazis during WW2 while Jews were being exterminated in camps and consider yourselves equally well enlightened? Would you insist then too that those Nazis could not possibly be anti-Semitic because you had no personal experience with it from them on campus? Meanwhile if they handed out literature promoting divestment from Jews (the Nazis started that same plan in 1933, you know?), would you stilldefend them and castigate me? I can’t waste time writing for people who refuse to learn anything…and it’s obvious you people prefer the sophistry of the argument to the practicality of saving Jewish lives.
    Ill galdly match my record of helping Isrel against anyones any day. And let me tell you, it requires much more professionalism and verification of facts to write professionally then to just spout off on a blog and hurl accusations. I wrote in here to help your blog but clearly it’s wasted.

  26. I was asked for my opinion on this discussion. My gut reaction is this: a blanket condemnation of terrorism is not meaningless, but neither it is very meaningful. I will not take you (whomever you are) seriously unless you criticize the specific terrorist groups, their ideologies, and their supporters. So before commenting further, here are a couple of questions.

    Yaman — you oppose terrorism. Do you also oppose Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and their supporters?

    Lee — do you oppose the Kahanist groups, and ideological supporters?

    If your answers are more complicated than “yes/no”, please explain. And please tell me about your views and not someone else’s.

  27. Yaman said

    Alan,

    The four groups you listed are all very different in very many ways, and, unlike the approach some people take, I try to treat complex things in a nuanced way that gives due attention to those complexities. Since this discussion is only concerned with the way these groups utilize violence, then that is all that I will touch on, even though there are other obvious criticisms I have of them (three of these groups are religiously inspired and I am an atheist, for example).

    When it comes to violence against civilians, I absolutely do not support those groups and definitely voice my anger and frustration at them when they descend to that level. But coming from somebody like me who is neither Palestinian nor Lebanese and who has no influence whatsoever on those groups or their supporters, that doesn’t mean much, so I don’t think this litmus test is very meaningful or even called for. But I would assure you that there are loud voices that do precisely this, but they are ignored because people like our friend above try to redefine “renouncing violence against civilians” into “accepting Israel’s ‘RIGHT’ to exist, renouncing the right of refugee’s to return to their homes or be compensated, cheerleading the occupation of Iraq, etc, etc ,etc.”

    When it comes to violence against military personnel, we exit the area of “terrorism” and enter “war.” When it comes down to it, I see no solution for the conflicts in the Middle East in violence, and were I in a position to orchestrate a way out of this mess, I would not decide on violence as being the best way out, for any party. That said, I don’t think there is anything especially egregious about violence by these groups against military personnel that differentiates their actions from military operations done by other organizations (like the IDF, for example). I won’t be pushed to pretend that the life of an Israeli soldier is any more valuable than the life of any other soldier in the world, and that an act of violence against an Israeli soldier is worse than an act of violence by an Israeli soldier against a militant of a different race or nationality.

    In some cases, I do believe violence in war is terrorism–for example, the Katyusha rockets flying indiscriminately into Israel last summer were without a doubt terrorism. And at the same time I firmly believe that the IAF’s indiscriminate air strikes in Lebanon were also terrorism. I don’t think either of these actions were justified, and I think they are equivalent in all senses except magnitude in which case Israel exceeded by far.

    As for what this means. A lot of people think that whenever they slap the word “terrorism” on something, it gives them a legitimate justification to totally annihilate the other along with anybody else who may be associated with or vaguely sympathetic to them. This tactic might make sense–and I’m speaking from a strategical standpoint–with organizations who have no social or political existence whatsoever besides their military side (like al-Qaeda or Islamic Jihad). But when you are talking about groups like Hamas and Hizballah, who have wide social presence and political power, they cannot be reduced to “terrorist organizations,” especially when this definition nowadays necessarily carries with it a prescribed punishment that cannot be argued with. If the label “terrorist” were for descriptive purposes only (ie, this group acts violently against civilians), that would be fine. But it’s not, it’s also treated as a conclusion in and of itself (ie, this group must be annihilated along with its supporters).

    No doubt, though, these groups have committed acts of terror–that is not up for debate at all. But whether or not it’s useful or smart to reduce them to “terrorist organizations,” which implies that the eternal purpose of their existence is to be terrorists, is indeed debatable. This label does not do justice to the complex make-up of those groups, and it reduces a complex situation to a black and white one. I don’t think such a label helps anybody to navigate the situation in an intelligent manner. I suppose one way to put it would be, even if somebody believes that the Israeli military has committed acts of terror against civilians (as I believe it has), would it still be useful to say that Israel is a terrorist state? Doesn’t that label carry certain ramifications with it, that don’t necessarily follow logically from the premise that Israel has committed acts of terror?

    What I am suggesting is that Hizballah and Hamas, as long as they represent large sectors of society, should be treated like political organizations, in the same way a state would be, even if they commit acts of violence because any other treatment can only be complete with the complete annihilation of the groups and their supporters. I am not saying they should be appeased and that their transgressions should be overlooked or ignored. To the contrary, those actions are very significant concerns when it comes to the diplomatic process. I am calling for a smart, pragmatic solution that brings an end to violence and instates peaceful coexistence, while also addressing the legitimate concerns of all parties involved. Eliminating one party or the other, which is what the extremists call for and actually believe in (and I think the transfer “solution” that Yisrael Beiteinu advocates falls into this category), will not be the way out this mess in Israel and Palestine, or anywhere else in the world.

    So, to put it in a few words, yes, I oppose the terrorist acts committed by those groups, but I also distinguish between those acts and the sponsoring organization. I think this is a more useful approach that treats the situation properly, with all of its complex dimensions.

  28. Lee Kaplan said

    I said I wouldn’t write in here, but since you progressive Jews see fit to make it a forum for the SJP, I thought I would address Yaman’s usual
    sugarcoating of what goes on in the Middle East and what is in the SJP mission statement and what he really says:
    He says:
    “The four groups you listed are all very different in very many ways, and, unlike the approach some people take, I try to treat complex things in a nuanced way that gives due attention to those complexities. Since this discussion is only concerned with the way these groups utilize violence, then that is all that I will touch on, even though there are other obvious criticisms I have of them (three of these groups are religiously inspired and I am an atheist, for example).”

    That’s right..everything…especially the murder of Jews in the Middle East for panArabist or Islamic or even communist– goals is “nuanced.” Hence you can call for boycotting the Jews of Israel and starving their children but it’s a “nuance.” Jews aren’t Jews in Israel (except for communists who want the state destroyed) they are “Zionists.” The reality is killing or advocating for the murder of Jews anywhere in the world is anti-Semitism. It’s not nuanced. Israeli soldiers are Jews who protect the Jewish people, women and children. Approving of their murder is no less anti-Semitism, no matter how you cleverly word it. Equivalency is a tool to deny responsibility for anti-Semitism and murder, nothing more. Jews do not target Arabs unless in self-defense. THAT IS A FACT. You dont have twenty political Jewish groups all calling for the annihilation of Jews but you have the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, PP, PFLP, PFLP-GC, etc etc all calling for the murder of Jews.

    He says:
    “When it comes to violence against civilians, I absolutely do not support those groups and definitely voice my anger and frustration at them when they descend to that level. But coming from somebody like me who is neither Palestinian nor Lebanese and who has no influence whatsoever on those groups or their supporters, that doesn’t mean much, so I don’t think this litmus test is very meaningful or even called for. But I would assure you that there are loud voices that do precisely this, but they are ignored because people like our friend above try to redefine “renouncing violence against civilians” into “accepting Israel’s ‘RIGHT’ to exist, renouncing the right of refugee’s to return to their homes or be compensated, cheerleading the occupation of Iraq, etc, etc ,etc.””

    Again, “nuancing” and not answering the questions. Now, he can’t speak out too loudly against killing Jews because he isn’t a Lebanese or Palestinian Arab (but he sure doesn’t mind feel he also has no right to oppose Palestinians and Lebanese who call for the murder or boycotting of Jews using the same logic. In other words, he cant condemn terrorism because hes a just a Syrian, but he cant be equally neutral on the boycott of Jews to starve them put or adding his voice to the chorus to murder Israeli soldiers.
    And of course theres the question of his interpetation of a “civilian.” The PA counts suicide bombers and armed terrorists killed by the IDF as “civilians”. Does Yaman do the same?
    He says:
    “When it comes to violence against military personnel, we exit the area of “terrorism” and enter “war.” When it comes down to it, I see no solution for the conflicts in the Middle East in violence, and were I in a position to orchestrate a way out of this mess, I would not decide on violence as being the best way out, for any party. That said, I don’t think there is anything especially egregious about violence by these groups against military personnel that differentiates their actions from military operations done by other organizations (like the IDF, for example). I won’t be pushed to pretend that the life of an Israeli soldier is any more valuable than the life of any other soldier in the world, and that an act of violence against an Israeli soldier is worse than an act of violence by an Israeli soldier against a militant of a different race or nationality.”

    ‘Nuff said. Despite all the fancy dancing with words, he supports the killing of Israeli soldiers. Its like the euphemism “legitimate resistance” an old Commie staple. He also
    says that al Qaeda that killed 3,000 people on 9/11 is a religious movement
    and not a terrorist organization. Hizballah murdered 241 US marines in 1983. Will Yaman declare them a terrorist organization and not a “political movement”? Hamas has murdered many Jews. Why does a Jewish web blog give so much space and time to this doublespeak? Why not change the name of this blog to the SJP hour?
    Yaman will take you to lunch and be nice to you after all, and let you think he really has nothing against Jews living free in their own land.

    “So, to put it in a few words, yes, I oppose the terrorist acts committed by those groups, but I also distinguish between those acts and the sponsoring organization. I think this is a more useful approach that treats the situation properly, with all of its complex dimensions.”

    The above is playing with words. It’s “complex dimensions”, never an outright “I do not support terrorism is any way or kind and only peaceful negotiation. Terrorists should be jailed.” Its equivalency to deny true meaning.

    And, of course, the same tired spiel about “the refugees.” There were 420,000 according to the UN in 1949. From 1949-51 the Arab League let any Arab who claimed he was from Palestine before 1948 to register as a refugee. He may have had a job, a house, money, whatever, he could register and simply come into UNWRA camps for free clothes and food. They finally cut off this welfare fraud at about 752,000 Arabs. The festering would to justify taking back the little bit of land the Jews earned.
    No refugees in history have had their refugee status passed through generations–except the Palestinian Arabs–the biggest welfare fraud in history that became the Arab mantra for eternity so there can be no peace–Israel must be no more. Any discussion about “the refugees” ultimately leads to the same dead end:
    Israel must cease to be a Jewish nation and become an Arab dominated state. That is the real racism. The argument is silly at this point: The Palestinians could have had a propserous state in the West Bank and Gaza since 1998 but instead even today they insist the ALL of Israel is “occupied” with the right of return. Read the mission statement of the SJP: All of Israel, even land purchased legally prior to 1948 is
    “colonized.” Even the Jews who lived there for 2,000 years and never left are colonialists!!!

    The question again is, why should a Jewish forum allow the long deceptive comments on killing Jews as you do in here? Don’t they do enough propaganda on campus?

    Obviously the ones who write in here the most are the SJP. Why not change this to “The Forum for insipid left wing Jews who can’t figure out when they are given deceptive language from those who mean the Jewish people in the Middle East harm”?

  29. Yaman, thanks for answering the question. (Although I will admit that the answer itself does not completely satisfy me. It is an improvement over what I heard when I was visiting Berkeley in 2002. I asked an SJP member what their view was on suicide bombings. The SJP member replied by asking what I thought of the Israeli massacre of 700 civilians at Jenin — a massacre which never occured.)

    I’m going to set forth a rough definition of terrorism — violence targeted at civilians, and perhaps that definition will help clarify things. Terrorism is never legitimate.

    Violence targeting combatants is not terrorism. That is not to say that it is legitimate. Recourse to war for the solution of international disputes was banned by the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1929. But unlawful acts of war are distinct from terrorism.

    Both the Katushya rockets fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah and the Qassam rockets fired from Gaza by various Palestinian groups were clearly aimed at civilian targets, and by this definition qualify as acts of terrorism.

    The attacks on Israeli soldiers at Kerem Shalom by Hamas and on the Israel-Lebanon border by Hezbollah were not acts of terrorism. (However, the latter was accompanied by an attack on a civilian town which would count as terrorism.) This is not to say the attacks were legitimate. Hezbollah’s attack on Israel was completely unprovoked and clearly violated international law.

    In both cases, Israel’s response was to target combatants. This is not to say that no civilians were hurt (obviously many were, although we have no precise numbers), and I lack hard evidence proving that Israel used a sufficiently high level of care in choosing targets. Those who claim otherwise, though, also lack hard evidence. But even if the Israelis were negligent, this would not qualify as terrorism.

    I agree with you that the issue is complex. I can understand that you are in a bit of a dilemma: you support the Palestinians, you oppose terrorism, and the major Palestinian political organizations are terrorist groups. I don’t have a clear answer for what I think you should do. (Well I could tell you that the best hope for the Palestinians is to put down their weapons, honor their past agreements, stop teaching hate in their schools, and negotiate with Israel, and that you should advocate for this, but I have a feeling that you aren’t very likely to listen.) But the solution isn’t to complicate the discussion by adding more nuance than required.

    Two more comments for you: one — consider devoting at least some of your resources for advocacy towards solving internal Palestinian problems, and away from attacking Israel. The people who would be drawn toward the Palestinian extremist groups will be more likely to listen to you than to me. (You’ll note that I have spent some time monitoring and criticizing Jewish extremists. The people who might be drawn toward these groups will be more likely to listen to me than you. And I’m not the only one — just read some of the Zionist writers in Haaretz, like Bradley Burston.)

    Lastly, you should be aware that the name of your group, “Students for Justice in Palestine”, is rather meaningless. Everyone wants justice. Even Lee (although he may not be a student). But we all have different conceptions of what justice requires in this case. So I’ll make a plea — let’s talk less about how to get to justice, and more about how to get to peace. That is, at least, a more objective standard.

    Lee — you haven’t answered my question at all. Do you oppose the Kahanist groups, and ideological supporters?

  30. Yaman said

    Alan, I did not answer your question to satisfy you. I don’t think there is anything worrying about my response or my approach, whether or not you agree with it. I don’t think I have crossed any moral lines or said anything particularly disturbing, despite Lee Kaplan’s bewildering (and probably deliberate) misreading.

    My dilemma is that I cannot talk about Palestine without being suspected of being a terrorist. You asked me this detailed question about terrorism as if I were Lee Kaplan’s polar opposite. I am very different from Lee Kaplan, but I am operating from a different position altogether–one that cannot be described as the binary opposite of Lee’s position. Yes, the Palestinian political groups often use terrorism as a tactic, and I agree that terrorism is never “legitimate” (actually, I don’t think any act of violence is ever “legitimate”–suppose we’re talking from a moral point of view–except in the specific one-on-one encounter of self-defense). But I don’t think terrorism de-legitimizes legitimate grievances that the Palestinians have. I think Israel should take a more pragmatic approach to the situation and that it should negotiate with any legitimately representative Palestinian government. This is not an outrageous position and it is aired often in Israeli newspapers.

    I will save my criticisms of Palestinian governance for Palestinians. I do not see the purpose in saving them for an American or Israeli audience only–the people that groups like StandWithUs and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies take on lecture circuts often do not say the same thing to Arab audiences. When people “demand” that I say or do something, it is usually not a legitimate inquiry, it is a litmus test. People like Edward Said were highly critical of Palestinian mis-governance and suicide bombings against civilians, and yet they were still treated as if they were terrorists or anti-Semites, when everybody knew they were not. I think this shows that the issue is not people denouncing corruption or terrorism (which the overwhelming majority of Palestine supporters do), but support for the Palestinians in and of itself.

    As for the name of our group, we have a much more detailed platform than just “for Justice.” In any case, I don’t see how “peace” is any less vague.

  31. I found this quote from Lee Kaplan on Alan Miller’s site:

    ” … I find your attempt to limit someone else’s right to an opinion different from yours, particularly a group of Jews supporting Israel’s safety from terror and absolute right to exist, particularly fascist.”

    http://www.zionist.org/archives/000003.shtml

    To quote Kaplan once again, “Nuff said.”

  32. Oyster said

    Lee writes: Why does a Jewish web blog give so much space and time to this doublespeak? Why not change the name of this blog to the SJP hour? … Why not change this to “The Forum for insipid left wing Jews who can’t figure out when they are given deceptive language from those who mean the Jewish people in the Middle East harm”?

    I dunno, why does this Jewish blog give so much space to a fellow Jew who resorts to ad hominem attacks? When are you going to learn, Lee? I don’t delete comments, whether from the right or from the left. From Israelis or from Palestinians. I’m not afraid of what y’all have to say. Hey Lee, here’s the gauntlet I’m laying at your feet. Go email all of your DAFKA buddies, and have them leave their opinions on this blog. I’m not afraid of what they have to say. And despite you labelling me a ‘progressive’ (yuck!), I actually agree with some of what you say.

    Are you going to respond to Alan’s question?

    And you still haven’t answered my simple question about what you were doing from Fall ’00 to 2003.

  33. Oyster said

    Good call, ALAT. Alan has THE coolest domain name. EVAR. Now if we could only coax him to write more often… 🙂

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