Monday, September 8, 2014

Those who fight anti-semitism need to fight against the false, expedient and bigoted charge of 'anti-semitism': a sharp issue in the Salaita case

Many people are now having, regretfully, to reject invitations from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana because of the arbitrary and dishonorable firing of Stephen Salaita - see Bonnie Honig's letter here. Below is another fine letter from Katherine M. Franke, a Columbia law professor (h/t Mike Schwartz).


Salaita, as Corey Robin notes on his blog, issued a tweet which attacked the Israeli government's misappropriation/distortion of the term "anti-semitism" to mean: if you disagree with the state of Israel - even its policies of ethnic cleansing which involve mass murder and displacement- you must be an "anti-semite," a would-be Nazi.

The tweet said: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”


Note that the Israeli government's criterion for "anti-semitism" bizarrely makes any Jewish critic of the Occupation like Henry Siegman who escaped the Nazis as a a child or Bonnie Honig or me an "anti-semite"...


More deeply, that criterion makes all Palestinians who are horrified by being driven off their land (starting in 1948) as Benny Morris and Siegman have underlined - see here - "anti-semites."

No, many Palestinians have been treated by Israel as Jews were treated in Europe - and the misuse of the term "anti-semitism" to legitimize the Occupation and other crimes of the Israeli state is bizarre.


Now Palestinians have not yet been deported en masse to concentration camps, which "liberal" supporters of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians repeat to themselves as a talisman against noticing that they are supporting/abetting crimes. Try: "I only joined the Klan for a short time and stood around while 3 people were lynched, I am not as bad as a Grand Lizard or a veteran Klansmen..."


Gaza has also been made "a large open-air concentration camp" as my former Dean Tom Farer, refers to it - no one could escape the recent Israeli slaughter - and the West Bank has many features of this....


Murder and ethnic cleansing are great crimes in themselves even if - mercifully - they are not yet at the highest level on the "European" scale.


In terms of the recent massacre by heavily armed Israeli soldiers in Gaza, would some 526 Palestinian children have been killed - see "Poem: the world according to Netanyahu" here - if everyone had stood up against it (and I mean even those who wish to defend Israel)? Enabling the murder of children and other random civilians - Israel's settled and criminal policy of trying to change international humanitarian law - is a dangerous thing. See here.


More deeply, the true charges against Israel are: the founders and supporters of Israel expelled some 800,000 and murdered many innocent Palestinian civilians in 1948, and are in process of gradually doing a similar thing in the illegally Occupied territories today.


These injustices are the vital grain of truth in Salaita's tweet. That is why the followers of Israel - particularly AIPAC, increasingly in desperate straits because young people including Jews are now aptly seeing Israel as a brutal colonial/settler state - have to misuse the term "anti-semitism" to refer to the opposite of what it means. Anti-semitism means a system of discrimination and mass murder. But the Israeli government misuses the term to refer to doing Occupation, discrimination and increasingly mass murder.

To use the term in this bizarre way mocks the victims of Nazism.


As the survivors or descendants of survivors of the Holocaust recently said protesting the massacres in Gaza, "Never again!" means "Never again for any people." See here.


Now Hamas (which is not a good organization, I underline, though completely justified in resisting the military Occupation and having the right - Israel as the Occupier does not - to self-defense), also invokes the phony Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Jews were kept "beyond the pale" - that is, in ghettoes - in Russia. When the tsars, confronted by farmer and worker discontent, needed a scapegoat, they often organized pogroms against Jews. And they manufactured/propagated the spurious "Protocols" to make their crimes palatable.


When Hamas invokes the "Protocols", it participates in anti-semitism though many of its actions - resisting oppression by the state of Israel - do not.


One of the most commendable aspects of the Bolshevik party under Lenin was that it carried out Russia-wide campaigns against anti-semitism, for instance, to defend Menachem Beilis was bizarrely charged with "ritual child murder" in 1913 by the tsarist government...See here, here, and here.


Nazism and the eugenics movement, including American laws for the sterilization of immigrants (some 100,000 in California alone), anti-miscegenation laws, and a 1924 immigration law that referred to "preserving the pure Nordic Stock" of the United States, were diversely and pseudo-scientifically racist. The craniometry (measuring skull size) and anthropometry movement, which was linked 20,000 Native American skulls being cut off and sent to the Smithsonian, and IQ testing were, both, inclusively racist toward non-Aryans/Nordics/WASPs but carried out differentiated crimes against those groups.


Nonetheless, the animus toward Jews, joined in Germany with Medieval anti-Semitism (of the sort involved in the Beilis case) to create an environment of gut hostility toward Jews and to enable the genocide.


'Gut hostility' - Leo Strauss, a Jewish reactionary, one who sympathized with the National Revolution - Nazism - against Nietzsche's "last men" - nonetheless describes going and studying with Jacob Klein (also a great scholar) at a cafe, and pretending in their conversation to be businessmen. As a joke, Strauss abruptly shouted "Nietzsche!" at Klein (a joke completely dependent on the racism of the environment).


One has to take in the grim chill of ordinary German anti-semitism (just like the racism alive in the murder of Michael Brown and its persistence, i.e the police chief of Ferguson still has a job, the officer who shot Brown six times at a distance with his hands up has still neither been arrested nor required to present a public defense at a judicial proceeding...)


In Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, Martin Luther King refers to this enveloping climate of American racism as "always having to stand on tip-toe..."


Racism, in other words, is part of a system of oppression with spectacular acts of criminality like the massacre in Gaza occasionally bursting out.


Take Kristallnacht in 1938: the Stormtroopers - Sturmabteiling, SA - and other German racists, protected by the police, murdered 91 Jews; they arrested 30,000 people and incarcerated them in concentration camps. Thugs ransacked Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools (note the similarities to Gaza), demolishing buildings with sledgehammers. They burned over 1,000 synagogues (95 in Vienna alone) and destroyed or damaged over 7,000 Jewish businesses.

Martin Gilbert writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and that the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. The Times wrote at the time: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."(Nov. 11, 1938)


Kristallnacht is a paradigm for anti-semitism...


Draw an analogy with Gaza, and you will see that Israel is getting pretty bad on the Kristallnacht scale (a difference: Hamas did fire rockets which killed three civilians and terrorized Israelis, whereas the Jews in Germany did nothing of the kind; the latter were resented for sometimes successful civilian, for instance entrepreneurial activities and an allegation of economic oppressiveness. But 526 children....

(As a footnote, anyone who thinks German or American or Palestinan capitalism is "Jewish" is, as August Bebel, a leader of the German socialists once aptly put it, a fool.)


Sadly, the analogy is clear...


To defend Israel because it is not yet as murderous as the Nazis became or is not yet as sweepingly murderous as the American settler state toward indigenous people was in the 19th century is a "bad comparison set" in which to place oneself.

You cannot defend massive criminal activities by saying they are not yet the worst, i.e. only "Kristallnacht" but not as "bad as"...


At a dinner party some years ago, Avraham Burg, former head of the Knesset, grimly reported news of a grandmother killed in Lebanon with her two grandchildren by the invading IDF (Israel "Defense" Forces). To suppress taking in the crime, one of his liberal Zionist invitees said curtly: "but we're not as bad as the Nazis"...

Burg was shocked. Realizing in a flash of insight what Israel has become, he rethought his position. Burg now opposes the Occupation and sees that the state is doing grave harm to ordinary Palestinians and, though not as terribly, endangering most Israelis.


This phrase "not as bad as..." - is a mirror into which every proponent of what is now a race regime needs to look deeply. See here.


To turn the coin, however, Steven Salaita makes a mistake in the tweet in not opposing every aspect of anti-semitism (hard to fit in 140 characters; he was, as Honig underlines, quite careful, putting scare-quotes around false government accusations of "anti-semitism," for example).

That Palestinians and many others are understandably angry at Israel's crimes, however, does not justify one act of, for example, burning a Jewish-owned store on the edges of Paris or Frankfurt or the Hamas killing by rockets of 3 innocent civilians.


Nor does it justify one anti-semitic slur against Jews - or, one might add, Arabs (anti-Arab racism/"Orientalism," as Edward Said underlines, is historically the same as anti-semitism).


But racism is, once again, not just a matter of ideas in which, say, in the 1930s, Germans are bigoted against Jews, Jews (if they were...) against Germans. On the contrary, racism is a system of social relations, often enforced by governments, which involves acts of cultural, including spiritual, demeaning, economic and status discrimination and oppression, political "outsiderness" and often murder. A system of racist relationships gives rise both to ordinary prejudices - what are often identified with and set apart by commentators as "racism" - as well as pseudoscientific ideas. Unchecked, racism often verges on, turns into displacement, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and, under the UN definition (Article 2 "imposing conditions designed to destroy a people in whole or in part"), genocide.


What the settler state of Israel is doing involves ethnic cleansing (is "expulsionist" as my correspondent Samuel Kaplan helpfully puts it) and genocide. These crimes hurt everyone: the wanton slaughters in Gaza are linked to thugs - teenagers possessed by racism against "Arabs (substitute: Jews and you will understand fully) and leftists" - beating protestors in Tel Aviv while the Army murders nonviolent protestors in the West Bank.

What Salaita says about anti-semitism rightly opposes racism toward Jews, but does not take in the scale of anti-semitism of which many ordinary Jews are still frightened (and there is transgenerational trauma among Jews stemming from this, which is a psychological ground on which fear and today's racism in Israel are being stirred; just as there is trangenerational trauma among Palestinians from the ethnic cleansing and increasing Israeli brutality, multiplied by recent "mowing[s of] the lawn" - h/t Ramona Beltran).


Salaita was reacting, as any non-bigoted person would, to the mass murder of children. Those who defend such things by speaking of "anti-semitism" betray the victims of the Holocaust and he speaks with an anger which many of us - an anti-Nazi like me or a former Zionist like Bonnie Honig - can empathize.


Salaita makes a venial mistake. Academic freedom means that people do research as best they can, speak about their findings or subjects that concern them freely in the classroom and are permitted to speak their minds freely in other contexts (that is, they are not to be fired for saying things of which the powerful, including University trustees, disapprove). Academic freedom means academics can make mistakes (and often even the most prominent do, about grave matters like American aggression in Vietnam) and are criticized by others but not fired for it.

Freedom of speech means - you can say what you think (so long as you are not crying "fire" in a crowded theatre, "lynch her" to a mob about to do so...) and you can't be locked up or tortured for it.

Free discussion is the fulcrum or proof of a free or democratic regime (and every parliamentary democracy or capitalist oligarchy with parliamentary forms is still a long way from having it)...


As Martin Luther King says in his Letter from the Birmingham City Jail, the Athenian murder of Socrates has, in the long run, contributed to the creation\protection of academic freedom.

"Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

This principle is pretty important...


To disagree with Salaita, if one does from the mistaken side of thinking the state of Israel is run by currently decent human beings who wouldn't possibly slaughter children in a premeditated way ("mowing the lawn," once again, in the ministerial phrase) - the way to prove any moral and intellectual seriousness in that disagreement would be to defend Salaita against the shameful firing by Chancellor Wise and offer reasons on behalf of your disagreement with his conclusions.


That such reasons are, however, not persuasive is shown by the fact that an increasing number of Jews and other anti-racists are speaking out and acting against the Occupation as well against this firing.


One last point: the extenuation (if such a thing can be) of the crimes involved in founding Israel is that Jews needed some place to go after the Holocaust and that was where Europe, the Soviet Union and America would allow them to emigrate (now, Hannah Arendt, I.F. Stone, Judah Magnes and others had a different picture of that settlement, one which passed through peaceful arrangements with the Palestinian villages...)

Every single current Israeli has human rights as does every Palestinian - and the Palestinians are most in need of having their rights upheld. The best way to make a peaceful settlement would be to do something which preserves the rights of each person. There is no right, however, in the Occupation and the settlements; to enlarge the original crime does not protect most Jews but puts them in danger....


As a race state, a pseudo-democracy for non-"leftist" Jews, Israel, for all its democratic pretensions among an increasingly restricted population, increasingly approaches Saudi Arabia or Iran in what it imposes on others and its unhappiness/escapism ("fiddling while Rome burns"). Now many Israelis want some decent agreement with the Palestinians and oppose state policies. Further, the American contribution, particularly the Senate (I speak of the 100 to 0 vote for more weapons for Israel to crush further the Palestinians), is now being looked at critically by many Americans, particularly young people. America must stop using Israel as a fulcrum for its foolish policies of domination in the Middle East (divide and rule, coupled recently with murderous as well as futile, ultimately self-destructive American invasions).


If a two state solution is no longer possible in Israel/Palestine - and it still seems like it could be if ordinary Americans and, hence, the American government pushed for it by cutting off military aid to Israel until that solution was achieved or if Palestinians begin to fight for a universal human rights-based, one state solution and the Israeli government then coughs up a second state - then Israel will fail to be a democratic or socialist regime mainly for Jews (the original ideal, false because even the Histradut - unions - and the kibbutzes - agricultural cooperatives - barred Arab-Israelis; a national or exclusive socialism, even among the formerly oppressed, inevitably becomes more national than socialist...) and, fortunately, fail as a Jewish state as well. Then the anti-apartheid, one state with equal rights movement will have to win over time.

For the aim of Likud and the Home party - governing parties - to make Israel a race state "from the River to the Sea" is disgusting, and should be stopped.


"What Exactly Did Steven Salaita Mean By That Tweet?
Corey Robin (blog)

Though I don’t think this changes whether or not Steven Salaita should have been dehired, here is my interpretation of that tweet of his that has people, understandably, most upset: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

One of the great achievements of the human rights movement of the 20th century is that it made anti-Semitism into a term of universal opprobrium. Anti-Semitism was associated with a terrible animus toward Jews, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Kind of like racism after the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Nobody wants to be called a racist, nobody wants to be called an anti-Semite.

But today we see three developments: first, Israel and many of its defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, sometimes, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; second, Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and, third, movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like anti-Semitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century.

Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.

I should say, as I already have, that I disagree with this understanding of anti-Semitism today. But I think it’s the only interpretation of that tweet that makes sense of Salaita’s overall commitments, which include an opposition to Zionism, an opposition to anti-Semitism, and a belief that the word anti-Semitism is often used to delegitimate criticism of Israel and opposition to Zionism.

Admittedly, a mouthful, and considerably longer than a 140-character tweet. But that’s the difference between Twitter and a blog post."


"Columbia University in the City of New York │ New York, N.Y. 10027 SCHOOL OF LAW
Katherine M. Franke
Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law

Dr. Phyllis M. Wise, Chancellor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Swanlund Administration Building
601 John Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Dear Dr. Wise:
Voice: (212) 854-0061
Fax: (212) 854-7946
September 2, 2014

Last June several University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty invited me to your campus as part of The Cultures of Law in Global Contexts Initiative and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department’s Queer Studies Reading Group. I agreed to come in late September and give several public lectures and hold intensive sessions with graduate students in the humanities, law, and women’s/gender/queer studies. For this I was generously offered a modest honorarium plus the costs of travel and accommodation. I enthusiastically looked forward to working closely with the UIUC’s outstanding interdisciplinary group of faculty and students who are thinking in new and challenging ways about notions of globalization, nationalism, personhood and justice across a range of disciplinary locations. These interdisciplinary initiatives promise to destabilize comfortable notions of belonging, reparation, identity, and dispossession. I was excited to learn more about their work and participate, if only for a few days, in a community of scholars who were committed to thinking hard, if not uncomfortably, about the ways in which law is, or is not, up to the task of addressing the most critical forms of injustice, and how law itself can become an instrument of injustice in critical global contexts.

Regretfully, I write to inform you that on account of the decision to rescind an accepted offer of employment to Professor Steven Salaita, I must now cancel my visit to the UIUC campus in late September.

I have long held the view that the use of boycotts as a tactic to protest an unjust practice by a state, business or academic institution may be appropriate in the right context, such as the current crisis at the UIUC, but that those who pledge to honor a boycott cannot rest their political commitments exclusively on a promise not to do something. Rather they should also pledge to affirmatively engage the injustice that generated the call for the boycott. For this reason, rather than merely boycotting your institution, I plan to travel to Urbana-Champaign in mid September at my own expense to participate in a forum (located off campus) with members of the UIUC community in which we will explore the manner in which the termination of Professor Salaita’s employment at UIUC threatened a robust principal [sic - principle] of academic freedom.1

Of equal, if not greater, importance, at this forum I plan to explore with UIUC faculty the complex questions of belonging, dispossession, and possibilities for legitimate uses of state and non-state violence that may underlie Professor Salaita’s tweets on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

We would be well served to relate them to a rich academic literature that has aimed to give meaning to this particular struggle. UIUC’s world-class faculty in history, comparative literature, post-colonial studies, Jewish and Arab studies, ethnography, and human rights, are more than equipped to unpack Professor Salaita’s brief comments on social media (most would admit that 140 characters do not allow for nuance, rigor or careful analysis), taking them as a starting point instead of an end of a discussion about complex questions of belonging, dispossession and identity. Rather than appealing to norms of civility and safety that risk inoculating the UIUC community from challenging and uncomfortable inquiry, an approach that appreciates the norms and values of an academic institution would substitute rigorous interdisciplinary and scholarly analysis of the possible meanings of a provocative comment such as “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”2 Should we take from such a statement a cynical, if not offensive, apology for anti- semitism or does it suggest a deeper critique of the unintended and tragic consequences of certain extreme forms of political Zionism? Perhaps both? This conversation may include thoughtful consideration of the perils and merits of academics’ use of social media. Instead of being afraid of ideas that may be disturbing or provocative, or prejudging their meaning and declaring them off-limits, scholars aim to unpack them and interrogate their possible implications. I suspect that this conversation could generate disagreement, but I am certain it would galvanize a rich scholarly inquiry that has been lost by banishing Professor Salaita and his ideas from the UIUC campus.

As for my decision to decline the departmental invitation to speak at the UIUC, allow me to explain why I have chosen to take this course. The statement you and your Board of Trustees issued on August 22nd, affirming the decision to terminate Professor Salaita’s employment, as well as emails related to this matter that were released to the public last week, make clear that this catastrophe is not really about Professor Salaita and the UIUC’s interest in preserving a civility norm on campus. Rather, it is better and more accurately understood as the most recent iteration of a well-funded, well-organized and aggressive strategy to censor academic scholarship, research or discussion that is critical of Israel or Israeli state policy. So too it aims to censor scholarship, research or discussion that expresses sympathy for the rights of Palestinians. With the assistance of consultants and other branding experts, the strategy has been to frame comments critical of Israel as an affront to civility in the university context. To those of us who have defended academic freedom on this issue in recent years, your statement on the Salaita case echoed, in profoundly disappointing ways, the framing that has been advanced by political operatives who seek to capture the parameters of discussion of Israel/Palestine in an academic context.3 We at Columbia University are no strangers to this pressure, as we have experienced, and weathered, enormous outside pressure placed on our administration to deny tenure to scholars whose academic work criticizes Israel or political Zionism. I have had my own lectures taped and then critiqued by members of the David Project, have been instructed by my dean’s office that I cannot give a talk in which the word “Palestine” appears in the title because “there is no such place as ‘Palestine,’” and my former dean refused to accept a grant I received to fund scholarly work designed to create space in academic contexts for critical discussions of Israel/Palestine.

The strategy behind the campaign opposing Professor Salaita’s appointment at the UIUC seeks to reframe any discomfort that might arise around the competing claims to belonging, dispossession and identity in Israel/Palestine as a fundamental problem of intolerance, disrespect or abuse. This tactic insinuates as a baseline a particular stance or orthodoxy with respect to the highly contested claims to truth or right on this issue that can then be intolerated, disrespected, or abused. The emails disclosed from your office from university donors, alumni/ae, and others clearly document that the UIUC has been targeted by a particular kind of pro-Israel pressure group hoping to purge the professorate and the campus of parties who they deem to have taken positions (whether in their academic or personal capacities) hostile to an uncritically felicitous conception of Israel. That the UIUC administration would surrender to that pressure, and then defend the decision to do so, in the name of a civility norm on campus, is both disingenuous and disheartening.

Finally, you and your Board offer the defense that the UIUC was justified in terminating Professor Salaita’s employment on the ground that “our campuses must be a safe harbor” where students will not be confronted by ideas that upset them or make them uncomfortable, and that the UIUC “will not tolerate ... personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” Presumably this new standard of “academic integrity” would apply not only to Professor Salaita but to other faculty and visiting lecturers such as myself. If so, then the positions I have advanced in my scholarship and in my work outside the academy would disqualify me from giving a lecture to your students as an invited visitor, not to mention an appointment at the University of Illinois College of Law. My recent article Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights includes a sustained critique of the state of Israel’s effort to rebrand itself as a gay-haven in order to distract attention from its abuse of the human rights of Palestinians,4 and my public withdrawal5 from a gay rights conference in Philadelphia partially funded by the state of Israel would most certainly create discomfort for some members of the UIUC community who are inclined to applaud Israel for its “pro-gay” laws and policies. To be frank, most of my work was written with the aim of upsetting settled notions of identity, justice and rights – something for which I have received both praise and criticism from others in writing and in person at public lectures. I regard this give and take, often impassioned if not ferocious, as a central part of the academic project where we test new, uncomfortable ideas for the novel forms of knowledge they may illuminate.

In addition to myself, Professor Salaita, and many other scholars holding appointments at peer academic institutions whose scholarship and other advocacy contain remarks that would run afoul of the UIUC’s new civility policy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would surely be unwelcome at the University of Illinois as an invited lecturer on the basis of his recent uncivil comments on social media, swearing vengeance against the “human animals” who captured and killed three Yeshiva students in the West Bank last June.6

My most sincere regrets that on account of the unfolding catastrophe surrounding the termination of Professor Salaita’s employment I will be unable to accept your faculty’s invitation to visit the Champaign-Urbana campus to give a lecture on The Cultures of Law in Global Contexts. However, I do hope that we can meet in mid September, either in a public or private context, when I come to central Illinois to participate in an off-campus session with a community of scholars who do not fear, nor are intolerant of, provocative, challenging, and even uncomfortable ideas.

Katherine M. Franke

1 A good summary of my legal analysis of this catastrophe can be found in the letter that I authored on behalf of professors of constitutional law, available here:
2 A number of scholars have already taken this tweet as a provocation to explore its possible meanings. See e.g. Corey Robin, What Exactly Did Steven Salaita Mean By That Tweet? (“Israel and many of its

defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, sometimes, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like anti- Semitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century. Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.”)
3 See for example, The David Project, A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges (2012), available at: ABurningCampus-RethinkingIsraelAdvocacyAmericasUniversitiesColleges.pdf; and Gary Tobin, Aryeh Weinberg, and Jenna Ferer, The Uncivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education (2005).
4 “Dating the State: The Moral Hazards of Winning Gay Rights,” 44 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 1 (2012), sexuality/Dating%20the%20State.pdf.
5 Katherine Franke Explains Why She is Boycotting the Equality Forum,
6 Alexander Marquardt, “Israeli PM Calls Killers of Three Israeli Teens 'Human Animals,’” ABC News, available at: animals/story?id=24367041.


Yale Protestant chaplain says Americans must curb Israel so as to curb anti-Semitism
US Politics Philip Weiss on August 28, 2014
Bruce Shipman, Chaplain - Episcopal Church at Yale Bruce Shipman, Chaplain - Episcopal Church at Yale

Everyone is talking about this. Last week the New York Times ran an op-ed by Deborah Lipstadt saying that anti-Semitism is returning to Europe in ways reminiscent of the Nazi era, in which Lipstadt blurred the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, citing protests of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. Well, the Times has now run a simple and eloquent letter from the Episcopalian chaplain at Yale that many people have passed along.

To the Editor:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014

The writer is the Episcopal chaplain at Yale.

So Shipman is saying that American Jews have a responsibility to curb Israel’s war crimes because this is feeding anti-Semitism. The pushback against Shipman has already begun. David Bernstein (who ran me and Max Blumenthal down as no-accounts who would have no reputation were it not for the great career opportunity of Jewish anti-Zionism) smears Shipman, in the pages of the Washington Post. Yale has distanced itself from Shipman and Shipman has himself clarified his original statement, without neutering it. Writes a friend:

I read this in the NYT and immediately knew someone was going to call this poor man an anti-semite. But he doesn’t say that all Jews are responsible for Netanyahu and he doesn’t say anti-semitism is justified. What he says is that Israel’s behavior contributes to anti-semitism and the best way to fight this would be for Israel’s patrons to pressure Netanyahu.

Now in many cases the antisemitism is deeper than just what Israel does, but it’d be odd if Israel’s arrogance and brutality didn’t contribute to some of it. Obviously it contributes. And when people in the Jewish community make unquestioned support for Israel an integral part of being Jewish, that isn’t going to help. And anyway, even if the pastor is simply wrong it doesn’t mean he’s an anti-Semite.

Also, of course, nobody in his right mind denies that Muslim terrorism increases bigotry against Muslims. It doesn’t justify it, but in what universe would anyone deny that there is some connection? I’m a Christian and I despise the Christian Right for its support for various cruel policies.. I despise the knee-jerk pro-Israel Jewish religious community for the same reason. I wonder if it’s okay to say that in public? Probably not.

I know the way liberal Protestants think–I am one. It’s obvious that Shipman wasn’t justifying anti-semitic violence. In the Yale Daily News (linked at Bernstein’s site) he called acts of anti-semitic violence “deplorable” and he hoped that the two communities (Israeli Jews and Palestinians) would both flourish and said they both had claims to the land. Sounds like a real Nazi, doesn’t he?

What really burns me is this–Bernstein quotes a Rabbi Rosenstein attacking Shipman, and it’s obvious that Rosenstein is someone who justifies Israeli war crimes. That’s within the range of respectable thought, while Shipman’s comment is supposed to be on the edge of Nazism.

This ties into my claim the other day that American Christians are going to overcome their fear of the anti-Semitism charge and start to criticize Israel– that Javier Bardem won’t suffer career damage for saying Israel committed genocide. Shipman’s challenge underlines my point. He has an elite appointment, and he looks into the barrel of the anti-Semitism paintgun and doesn’t blink. More and more Jews and non-Jews are going to express themselves over the Gaza horror show of 2014, that was a sequel to the Gaza horror show of 2009 and a sequel of 25 years of peace processing and colonizing more Palestinian land– a pattern demonstrating that Israel has not a clue about how to deal with its Jim Crow constitution except to marginalize, sequester, and kill brown people.

But the Lipstadt piece followed by the reaction against Shipman demonstrates that there is a bifurcated discourse in the U.S. on Israel that recalls the bifurcated consciousness of the O.J. trial. Those friendly to Israel look at the whole situation one way, and those on my side look at it another way. We are simply in different realities, and who is right? Well my side is right; I’ve been to the occupation. But what will it take to break down the epistemological walls of the other reality? Sadly, I think violence in Israel and Palestine and then the U.S. is what will do it. Though the media and BDS and the great young Jewish awakening can help to force a reckoning. The New Yorker has at last acted to marginalize AIPAC. Eight years after Walt and Mearsheimer did so in the LRB, twelve years after Michael Massing did so in the American Prospect, The New Yorker declared AIPAC a corrupting organization. And good for The New Yorker, I hope it keeps moving. And this same week Philip Giraldi writes in the Unz Review that a group of Jewish billionaires wants to take the U.S. to war in Iran. This is a far more sweeping view of the lobby’s role, and a correct one I believe. One of those billionaires is Thomas Kaplan of United Against Nuclear Iran, who is married to an Israeli and who helped appoint the neocon at the head of Harvard’s Belfer Center and is chairman of the 92d Street Y (which discriminates against Palestinian authors). Incredible, huh? The New Yorker’s piece and Giraldi’s are actually compatible, they speak to the same underlying reality, and in a few years these accounts will be reconciled. Yes I understand, it’s a delicate issue, but people have a right to talk about it."

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