Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Promote Conversation And Preserve Academic Freedom by Boycotting Israeli Academics

A storm in a tea kettle (larger than a cup but not yet a bucket) has erupted after the following calumny at ASA took place:

Members of the American Studies Association have voted in favor of endorsing the academic boycott of Israel by a 2–1 margin, making it the second major U.S. scholarly association, after the Association for Asian American Studies, to do so.
Of the 1,252 votes cast, 66.1 percent of members endorsed the boycott, 30.5 percent rejected it, and 3.4 percent abstained. Slightly less than a third of the association’s 3,853 eligible voting members participated in the 10-day online referendum.
On Engage, David Hirsh tried to appeal to the higher passions of one academic who had decided to succumb to the BDS campaign and vote for the resolution. By "higher passion" I mean what Spinoza called the passion for reason.

Claire Potter responded to his letter. Since I'm not a scholar or an intellectual, I could not really figure out why, when all is said and done, she voted for the resolution. Perhaps someone can explain it to me in plain English. I'd be much obliged.

In the meantime, I commented on these exchanges and here is a trail of my comments. I would like to emphasize that I do not understand why someone who is thoughtful, knowledgeable and virtuous, would vote to boycott Israeli academics. I do have some conjectures, though, assumptions, perhaps not too charitable but still, a plausible explanation that is based on principles may convince me yet that was a reasonable and adequate move:


” I’m going to take a leap of faith and say ok,”

I don’t know. I’m not a scholar myself but I do try to emulate the meticulous ethical thinking of scholarly role models, like Norman Geras. What I learned from him is that in making ethical decisions, there is no room for the self-indulgence implied in the option of “leap of faith”. Ethical thinking has to be based solidly and demonstrably upon first principles of fairness, clarity, justice.

So Claire Potter might as well have admitted that she did not change her mind but did change her decision due to her blind faith in the good faith of her colleagues. Fully aware of the weaknesses of her own decision to make this decision, in fact forcefully thwarting her own intuition and better judgement, she tries to find refuge in “cute” arguments like having succumbed to a “leap of faith”. This is hardly the kind of formulations and thinking one expects from an academic.

The concept of “singularity” exists in Mathematics to designate in general a point at which a given mathematical object fails to be well-behaved in some particular way. Being mathematically “well-behaved” is “not violating any assumptions needed to successfully apply whatever analysis is being discussed”.

Potter’s decision is ethically incomprehensible in the same way that singularity is mathematically not “well-behaved”. It is based on a “leap of faith” that is not really given any ethical structural support, and seems to be excused as a personal whim and self-confessed naivete. In the context of her entire apologia, what she claims is that in her vote “yes” she had to boycott and divest from her own conscience. Why? Because she really did not want to be perceived as one of those “odious persons”.

Jimmy Porter: Nigel and Alison, they’re what they sound like, sycophantic, phlegmatic and pusillanimous.
Cliff Lewis: Big words
Jimmy Porter: Shall I tell you what they mean?
Cliff Lewis: No not interested, don’t want to know.
Jimmy Porter: Soapy, stodgy and dim.”


“Criticism is not the same as boycott and it is not the same as demonization. ”

Criticism of policies does not end in removing human beings from other humanity. Demonization does.
Boycott is the first step taken after demonization has reached a certain saturation. It is the midway GOAL of demonization. It is the rational next phase in making the targeted subject a pariah. I don’t see anyway around this truth. It is also clear to me from Potter’s own response that she has internalized the logic and the sentiments of the BDS pushers. She testifies to being very moved by the narratives presented to her by Palestinian students. She seems to forgive the bad BDSers who bullied her verbally but she extends no such mercy to aggressive Zionist and anti-BDS voices. Your letters are very fine, nuanced, compelling, rational, even-keeled, polite, but they are no match to the passion of compassion that Potter has elected to surrender to, rather than maintain moral and intellectual clarity. It is so much easier, cozier to bath in the warm bath of self-righteousness than face the cold and hostile looks of disappointed friends.
 I’m reminded of this quote from “Scent of a woman”:
Lt. Col. Frank Slade: … Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard…”

She simply doesn’t understand antisemitism and does not want to. She has accepted the perversion given to this millennial phenomenon of hatred by the pushers of BDS. It was easier to do that.


As I pointed out, she internalized the total spectrum of BSD’ propaganda. There are no half-measures with this crowd. She will soon find out that she painted herself into a corner and that any slight dissension or mildest remonstration from her will be dealt with shouts and clamorous pounding to drown her words and get her to stay in line.
I know we are supposed to be grownup about these things and not throw around accusations and mindless analogies but I am beginning to understand how a fascist movement gets momentum and support from really good people.


Dr. Potter:
BDS promotes a violent transition from the UN Partition Plan of 1947, two-states for two peoples, one Jewish one Arab, to one state no longer Jewish. 99% of Israeli Jews oppose this vision and want to continue to live in security in their own and the only one Jewish state. Do you have difficulty living in a world in which there is one tiny Jewish state existing on 0.1% of the territory that is the Middle East? Do you understand what realization of BDS's vision will entail?

Replying to the question:

'Knowing the region and given the history of the conflict, do you think such a Jewish minority
[in an Arab-dominated Palestinian state] would be treated fairly?'

Edward Said said:

"I worry about [possible retaliation against the Jews].
The history of minorities in the Middle East has not been as bad as
Europe, but I wonder what would happen [to them]. It worries me a great
deal. The question of what is going to be the fate of the Jews is very
difficult for me. I really don't know. It worries me"

Do you know how at least one tenured and quite well-established BDS promoter imagines the end of Israel and its Jewish citizens? Here is a taste:

"I was looking forward to the end of the world as it would have permitted me--even for a second--to witness the end of the Zionist entity over Palestine."
" On this day in 1187, Jerusalem was liberated by Arab armies. There was
no Obama or Bush to rescue the crusaders. There will come a day when
there will be no Obama or Bush to rescue the Zionists. Stay tuned. "
" .. you won't know what will hit you in the future in response to all the war crimes that you have committed against our people. "  (If you want to know who it is, google one of the quotes)

Do you understand what you have signed on to? Is this the sort of conversation you want to promote?


On Twitter:


Thursday, December 19, 2013

She was called a monster for advocating a two state solution

Having read this statement on Emily L. Hauser's lachrymose farewell to Peter Beinart's soon to close down Open Zion blog:

"Anyone who’s ever advocated for two states knows what I’m talking about—they’ve been called all these things and worse, as Mira Sucharov attested in these pages just the other day. They’ve been made to feel alone and isolated within their communities and have often been threatened, from within their communities and without."
I decided to follow her on Twitter and challenge this gross perversion of reality and the prevailing position of Israel's society. I could not challenge her in the comments because, as I had reported here, I had been banned there weeks ago. A short exchange ensued and in four tweets I was blocked by the democratic and civil minded lady.

Here is the conversation:

Emily: For 25 yrs, I've been called a monster - tho what kind of monster varies. I like my company, tho: … #Israel #Palestine

Me: " Anyone who’s ever advocated for two states...’ve been called all these things and worse" Really? Anyone? Are you sure?

Me: OSS is codeword for Palestinian revenge (1st) & rejection of negotiations and peaceful solution (2nd)

Emily: maysoonzayid & I disagree on some pretty fundamental stuff, and yet we manage to be friends AND not call each other names. Imagine!

Me: Most civil (and even uncivil) people manage this minimal requirement, Emily, yet you consider it a mighty feat.

Emily: Someone finds it v important to tweet @ me *repeatedly* abt how wrong I am about how uncivil people can be re: Israel/Palestine. That's new.

Me: Interesting. I agree with you about fundamental stuff, and yet you cannot bring yourself to respond with civility. Conclusion?

Top of Form
Emily: My conclusion is two-fold: 1) You need to find the dictionary & look up "to hound a stranger" 2) I'm blocking you.

Me: Such wit. What is it with Open Zionists that they can't abide by their own professed and loudly-declared principles?

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Scot-Free of truth telling

The context is this article:

"Eid’s desire to become an informant in the late 1990s came naturally. Fluent in Arabic and English, he grew up in Hezbollah-dominated south Lebanon, the youngest of nine siblings in a family of Maronite Christians. He was 13 when the Israelis punched through southern Lebanon in their 1982 campaign to root out Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization. When the Israelis later pulled out, parts of the Christian community — which had collaborated with the invaders — came under attack from the Muslim majority. Roland never forgot"
Prof. AbuKhalil's dirty slip is showing ("dirty slip" being a metaphor for a soiled undergarment showing under the ostensibly clean and respectable dress of a sanctimonious woman) when he claims here, with a straight face, that this statement:

 "When the Israelis later pulled out, parts of the Christian community — which had collaborated with the invaders — came under attack from the Muslim majority..." 
is false:
 "Of course, that did not happen and even Israeli collaborators and torturers for Israel were left scot free."
First things first:

What is the meaning of "scot-free"?    "to get away without penalty"

Now that we have ascertained the honest professor's meaning in this declaration on his blog, let's google some information.

Oh, what's that?

 "A Beirut military court Wednesday sentenced another 73 Lebanese to prison terms ranging from three weeks to 15 years for collaborating with Israel during its occupation of southern Lebanon.
The majority of the sentences were for one to two years, and were handed down against people who had served in the Israeli-backed militia, the South Lebanon Army.
The heaviest sentences, of three to 15 years, were reserved for people who had worked directly for Israel or for the SLA's intelligence arm.

Those included in the latter group were also forbidden from entering the former occupied zone for periods equal to the length of their prison terms.

One of those charged, a doctor, had been tried for "treating enemy agents." While found innocent of that, he was nonetheless sentenced to one month in prison and a fine of 700 dollars for having gone to Israel.

The latest verdicts bring to 869 the number of Lebanese sentenced since June 5th, when the court began holding marathon sessions to wade through the 2,200 people charged with collaborating during Israel's 22-year occupation, which ended May 24th - BEIRUT (AFP) "
 And here:

"By the next month (June 2000), 3,000 former SLA members were in the custody of the Lebanese government; by the end of the year, about 90 percent had been tried in military courts. It has been estimated that a third of the SLA members were sentenced to less than a month and another third received one-year sentences. Two members of the SLA accused of torture at Al-Khiam prison received life sentences. The death sentence was recommended for 21 SLA members, but in each case the military reduced the sentence. Certain other individuals were barred from returning to Southern Lebanon for a number of years.[9]"

So, is Prof. AbuKhalil using the term "scot-free" in a way that does not immediately and readily come to mind when regular, English speakers do?

If he changed the meaning of 
that is designated in the dictionary to mean 
without any penalty
sentences for one to two years, of three to 15 year, life sentences 
and death sentences (though later commuted), 

should he not have informed his readers* about his creative perversions of universally established lexical meanings?


* To AbuKhalil's credit, he does inform his readers when an error is made, either deliberately or unwittingly. But it is a selective kind of self-incrimination. And he blames this on "a certain rashness in my personality." 

So here is the thing: Our perpetually pissed prof is not unaware of his propensity to misreport, or disreport, but he is indifferent to any misreports and misinformation he furnishes about Israel. That means he is fully conscious and conscientious about the necessity for ethical and truthful reporting, except in special cases. Is this not a de-facto admission that when it comes to Israel, AbuKhalil is an unreliable narrator who is not to be trusted on any account? That when it comes to Israel, any lie, distortion, myth and false facts are admissible? And why does Israel get this special treatment of "anything goes" from the Prof? Could it be that feasting on his hatred for the Jewish state is more important than truth? Whatever is the reason, it is not an impulse we would expect from a professor in an academic institute in a democratic country.

Addendum, December 14 2013:  When someone feeds on an exclusive and steady diet of this sort of poisonous food, no wonder they get to a point where they openly hallucinate about murdering Jews (or, as the ever politically-correct prof, would say, Zionists, or Israelis), as in this case:

"It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier "

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Peter's Parapraxis

From Peter Beinart's bag of tweets, today:



Who is "we"? 
Why bad? 
What's the "Jews" got to do with it?

Why "parapaxis" aka the Freudian slip?

"Two factors seem to play a part in bringing to consciousness the substitutive names: first, the effort of attention, and second, and inner determinant which adheres to the psychic material," Freud suggested in his book. "Besides the simple forgetting of proper names there is another forgetting which is motivated by repression," Freud explained (1901). According to Freud, unacceptable thoughts or beliefs are withheld from conscious awareness, and these slip help reveal what is hidden in the unconscious.
The term is popularly used today in a humorous way when a person makes a mistake in speech. In these situations, observers often suggest (in a comic way) that the mistake reveals some type of hidden emotion on the part of the speaker."

I have a theory based on Beinart's  more recent re-birth as the quintessential anti-Zionist Zionist (see his blog: Open Zion, for example), that he is afraid of Jews being too much in the public eye while involved in kerfuffles that may have something to do with too many complaints and rewards. You know, the type of discomfort that many Jews feel as a result of antisemitic jokes such as: What's faster than light speed?  A Jew with a coupon, har, har.

Of course Peter's shtick is that his opinions are formed by rational arguments and genuine care for Israel's Jewish character.  Which is why he is providing ample platform for any anti-Israel bashers and demonizers on his blog. Yet, for all his claimed principled position about American Jews, etc, he gets all flustered by a chubby Rabbi being embroiled in a case where free gifts abound. This, Peter muses, tweeterially, cannot be good for the Jews. How so? He doesn't explain. He cannot explain. He can only imply, and if pressed, I cannot for the life of me imagine what he could say in his defence for this pusillanimous tweet except invoke the Sixth fallacy of rhetoric: Irony. And I wouldn't have enough respect for Peter's intellectual prowess to accept that.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

He still doesn't get that the joke is on him 

Who says that Ms. Barnard in not learning on the job?

"Al Manar, a Hezbollah television channel".  This is a great sign of progress in Ms. Barnard's knowledge of the Middle East.  Only a few weeks ago she thought that Al-Manar was a male broadcaster who had ties with Hizbullah. Kid you not.

Anger makes you stupid ... and illiterate ...

"An own goal occurs in goal-scoring games when a player scores a goal that is registered against his or her own team...It is considered
one of the most embarrassing and humorous   blunders in sports" (wiki)

Prof. AbuKhalil sneers:

Does Anne Barnard think that Al-Manar TV is a person?

I am not kidding but does Anne Barnard think that Al-Manar TV, the official news station of Hizbullah, is a person?  "Al Manar, a broadcaster aligned with Hezbollah". (Red emphasis added by CC)

According to wiki:

  • A broadcasting organization, one responsible for the production of radio and television programs and/or their transmission."
From another source:


1.a person or thing that broadcasts
2.a person or organization, as a network or station, that broadcasts radio or television programs.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Angry Schmuck
Prof. AbuKhalil's tender heart is touched again:  

"We wake up to terrifying sonic booms and try to sleep while Israelis are shelling"

 Search for a mention of Sderot in his blog, and what you will find is a series of posts, mocking the city, mocking its residents,  mocking the suffering of the children of Sderot from years of relentless barraging of Qassams, day and night, and the psychological damage they have to endure.

Such is the universalist compassion of the oh-so-humane humanistic Marxist-Anarchist Goebbels' disciple.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

"Tikkun Olam": the gift that gives on giving ...

Mr. Tikkun Olam has a new article out, based on his "translation" and "analysis" of a rather thoroughly researched article appearing in Hebrew, here.

I am not going to even bother responding to the gist of Tikkun Olam's blogpost themes (the usual mixture of facts, factoids, insinuations of bad faith and erroneous information/translation).

All I intend is to show how ill-equipped is this "author"/"translator" to convey any text accurately or correctly, even in relatively small and insignificant details. I have done it before, here  and here
and here.*

I left the following comment on his blog (chances are it will not make Mr. Tikkun Olam's byzantine moderation rules, for the reason that the comment points out his structural errors; he can't stand being corrected**):

" Like the one to “transfer” the Palestinian Christians in the Galilee to Argentina and Brazil in a plan code-named ‘Operation Jonathan.’  It was named for the Biblical hero and confidant of King David, Jonathan, who was a native of Gush Dan, a Palestinian village in the region. "

Here is the quote from the Hebrew original:

התוכנית הגדולה והמקיפה ביותר להעברת אלפי ערבים נוצרים מהגליל לארגנטינה ולברזיל כונתה בשם הקוד הסודי: “מבצע יוחנן”, על שם יוחנן, איש גוש חלב.

The name was "Operation Yohanan" (In English: John) after this man's name:

Yohanan was a native of Gush Halav, a village in Upper Galilee. Gush Dan is a region at the center of Israel's coastal plain. (BTW, Jonathan was King Saul's son and David's good friend, some say they were lovers.)

Anyone who trusts this author to translate and "analyze" any given text does this at his or her own peril

* Here is a copy of part of a rather long and tedious conversation with Tikkun Olam on Twitter. The emphasis in red is an addition of mine to highlight the misleading statement he made, that started the exchange:
  1. Abe Foxman is public figure & there is no law saying u can't criticize Jewish public figures.
  2. Yes, you can criticize him. What you can't do is slander him or the organization he heads. Jewish has nothing to do with it.
  3. That Foxman has rejected a bill affirming Armenian Holocaust in halls of Congress is fact not slander.
  4. That still does not make him a Holocaust Denier. And you made a big booboo writing what you did.
  5. Frankly Armenian-Americans find him insincere & fraudulent on Armenian Holocuast issue, as do I.