The ‘One State Conference’: much ado about nothing
Harvard assembly disappoints on drama
March 6, 2012, 2:16 am
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Margot Einstein stands under a colorful umbrella across from Harvard’s Kennedy School carrying a sign that reads “Shame on Harvard.” She has passed her 80th year, but decided to venture out of her home in Newton on this drizzly morning to protest the “One State Conference” taking place nearby.
“This is the 1930s all over again, only worse,” she says as she hands me a small booklet containing the Hamas charter. “Today it is so blatant. The hatred of Jews is everywhere.”
Einstein is upset that she was not let into the event, but had she been allowed to enter she may have been in for a disappointment. The “One State Conference,” organized by Harvard students, is a drab, highly intellectual event. Foucault is cited more frequently than Abbas; queer theory discussed more intently than the Palestinian National Charter. Some of the panels are utterly inaccessible to a general public.
Behind glass doors guarded by stern uniformed police officers, the conference participants are an eclectic crowd. Pensioners with Jewish nametags, their shoulders adorned with the Arab kaffiyah, mix with Palestinian and Israeli expats and student activists with Mac laptops. The crowd is clearly diverse in its political orientation: some cheerfully await the elimination of Israel while others, like Jeff who flew in from Los Angeles, speak in a melancholy manner of the rapid demise of the two-state solution.
The Palestinian narrative is often drowned out by the cacophony of an internal Jewish debate. Reform rabbi Brant Rosen of Evanston, Illinois, claims that “Zionism is idolatry,” while Jewish Studies professor Marc Ellis of Baylor University speaks about the prophetic ethic of Judaism, only to be reprimanded by a kaffiyeh-wearing Jewish professor in the audience for purporting to speak on behalf of all Jews. Around the corner, students at Harvard Hillel had just finished reading in Parashat Zachor the biblical imperative to eliminate the memory of Amalek, the archenemy of the Israelites exiting Egypt.
One student points to the ironic coincidence of the two events. Israel activists on campus had debated how to react to the conference, eventually opting for the silent treatment. “We thought of dressing up as Gaddafi and distributing flyers saying ‘I highly endorse this event’,” says Yehoshua Bedrick, head of the Israel Caucus at the Kennedy School, referring to a widely cited 2009 New York Times op-ed by the Libyan dictator endorsing the creation of a bi-national state called Isratine.
There are, in fact, many proponents of the one-state solution both on the Israeli right and on the Palestinian right. But none of these views are represented at the Harvard conference. The speakers here are very much from the left, be they Reform rabbis or Palestinian academics. And that makes the debate somewhat flat and detached from reality. It is the same group of twenty regulars preaching to the converted choir. So many platitudes, so few provocative questions. Until you walk outside.
If you ask Gale O’Hare, a member of Christians and Jews United for Israel who is picketing outside with a large Israeli flag, the two-state solution is a pretty bad idea.
“We know from history that when the land was divided to bring about peace, what did [the Palestinians] do? They set up launching pads for rockets to terrorize the communities of the Israelis.”
“I know they’re talking one-state, but I’m on the other side,” she adds. “The land of Israel has a destiny, and it’s for the children of Israel.”
Ilan Pappé, a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict, began his academic career at the University of Haifa but now teaches at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. An outspoken critic of Israel, he is the keynote speaker of the conference’s second day.
His impassioned speech laments the supplanting of the Palestinian village of Sheikh Badr by Jerusalem’s government compound on Givat Ram, followed by a lengthy exposé of Israel’s premeditated plan to expel Palestinians prior to the Six-Day War of 1967.
“Gaza and the West Bank are the biggest open-air prisons in human history,” Pappé declares in an address speckled with references to Nazi-era Germany. He receives two standing ovations. Scathing condemnations of Israel are always more cathartic when delivered in an Israeli accent.
But despite Pappé’s assertion that the conference is a historic occasion and that Israel’s right-wing government is increasingly threatened by BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) initiatives directed at Israel, the audience is well aware of the fact that a few hundred miles south of there, US President Barack Obama is promising an audience of 13,000 his unflinching support for Israel at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, promising to always “have Israel’s back.”
March 7, 2012
BDS: agents of destruction
It's time to take a look at the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) speakers and their credentials.
BDS Campaign National Committee
The Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS
was launched in July, 2005, with a staggering 170+ Palestinian organizations representing themselves as refugees in exile, living under occupation, and subjugated citizens in Israel. The campaign is based on the Palestinian narrative that Israel has gone against international law and the truths of Israel's universal suffrage, social services without discrimination, and free press beyond what other stable democracies tolerate are dismissed. The Muslim and self-hating Jewish students are Sharia-compliant and willing to abandon democracy. The following are some of the regular BDS speakers.
) hosted the first Palestine BDS Conference in Ramallah, November 2007, out of which emerged the BDS National Committee (BNC) to coordinate the international campaign. BDS has an unparalleled organization of boycott worldwide. The website delineates the Palestinian victimhood and formulates strategies and programs of action worldwide aimed at destroying Israel's industry and commerce. .
, frequent, popular speaker at BDS events, is a Palestinian-American journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, part of The Third Jihad
, said to contain a treasure trove of highly antagonistic writings against the Jewish State. A son of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 exodus, he was born in Washington DC, is a graduate of Princeton University and University of Chicago, and contributes articles to many publications. A member of many Arab-American activist associations, he proposes the one-state
, civilizational jihad and seeks to extinguish Israel from the Middle East.
, a Palestinian-American journalist born in Gaza, writes regularly for Al Jazeera English, the LA Times, the Huffington Post, and anti-Zionist website Mondoweiss, etc. A graduate student of Public Policy at Harvard University, Moor questions Israel's right to exist as race-exclusive, thereby denying Israel's multi-racial citizens.. As noted on his blogspot, he sees Israel as a Netanyahu-engineered "economic miracle" as a result of "cash injections," and BDS as a means of terminating Israel's successes. He seeks the right of return of Arabs, and uses disproportionate warfare to corroborate their victimization, accusations against Israel's military defense, deflection from Palestinian leadership to blame non-productive lives on "others," and creates situations for which the adversary is blamed in court (Lawfare
born in England, is a veteran writer, and columnist in several pro-Palestinian newspapers and the BBC. A founder of Just World Books (Mid-east focus), she praised the U of Penn BDS conference and its successes in boycotting Israeli products, Ahava and Sabra. She admires the PLO and Fateh. Daniel Pipes
, upon reviewing her books, stated they are factually wrong, fraught with lies, and contains glaring omissions regarding the UN partition plan in 1948 and Arab attacks on Israel.
Harvard graduate Philip Weiss
shares an anti-Zionist blog, Mondoweiss,
with Adam Horowitz. Dedicated to the BDS movement, and includes praise of international boycott of Israeli products.
host of Jews sans frontiers, an anti-Zionist blogsite, is the national organizer of US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
, which encompasses over 200 member groups through its partnerships with Friends of Sabeel-North America
, one of the driving forces behind a campaign by mainline Protestant churches to divest from Israel; UFPJ, the anti-war coalition with anti-Israel messages; and the Council for the National Interest (CNI)
, an anti-Israel organization behind many inflammatory anti-Israel ads in major national newspapers. She has also participated in occupations in Oakland, Wall Street, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, and beyond.
as covered by The Huffington Post, is Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace
. She has spoken at J Street and other anti-Israel groups to divest from TIAA-CREF, financial advisors and international investors with ties to major companies that conduct business with Israel. JVP and New Israel Fund are George Soros-funded organizations. My research also uncovered a connection between these groups and Rabbi Richard Jacobs
, newly appointed head of the Union for Reform Judaism.
, Philadelphia attorney, has a blogsite, "Occupied Gaza: News, Comment, and Analysis," on which she responds to the global call for BDS until "Israel ends its illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem." As head of American Jews for a Just Peace, their method is to deshelve Israel products; advocate for enforcement of the US Arms Export Control Act and other US international laws; raise awareness of the Jewish National Fund's tree-planting and support the planting of olive and fruit trees in "Occupied Palestinian Territories."
describes himself as a longtime Palestine solidarity and BDS activist based in New York City, on his blog, where he focuses on theory and practice of Palestine solidarity activism, boycotting and proper disposal of the products (General Electric, Motorola, Ahava cosmetics).
Dr. Dalit Baum,
Professor of Gender Studies and World Economy at the University of Haifa and Beit College, holds a Ph.D in mathematics. Northeast Intelligence Network
describes her as a radical member of the Coalition of Women for Peace, primarily lesbians for jihad, and a member of Soros-funded New Israel Fund. She teaches anti-Israel subversion worldwide, including at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley, where, for one course, her reading material required students to plan and carry out an activist attack, preferably on Israel.
Ilan Pappe , a radical left Israeli academic who earns a good living lecturing in Europe about the evil of Israel, his place of birth. A Jewish-Israeli historian and professor history of Exeter (UK) and former senior lecturer in political science at Haifa University, he is the author of Ethnic Cleansing for Palestine.
He is also known for fabricating the story of a "massacre" at Tantura, proven in court to have never occurred.
Dear Readers, I wish this were the absolute end of the list, but it's only the tip of the sand dune. Nevertheless, it's a start and you can always continue the research to give you a fuller picture of the evil that infects our schools and our country.
© Tabitha Korol
One-state conference at Harvard signifies possible new front in campus Israel wars
- Opening panel of the one-state conference at Harvard Universityâ��s Kennedy School of Government, March 3, 2012. (SJP Tufts via Twitter)
BOSTON (JTA) -- To critics, the one-state conference held at Harvard University was a thinly veiled assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
To organizers, the condemnations and calls on Harvard to cancel the conference amounted to thinly veiled attempts to silence any criticism of Israel.
In the end, “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution” -- arranged by a group of graduate students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and held at the university -- held few surprises.
Activists and academics came together over the weekend to talk about how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a colonizer-settler relationship. A handful of pro-Israel activists stood outside the Kennedy School bearing signs that read “Shame on Harvard, Haven for Jewish Hatred.” Organizers declared the conference a success, while critics denounced it as a sham.
“The reality is, no matter what the conversation, if it's critical of Israel, the response is the same,” Israel-born Elisha Baskin, one of the conference organizers, said of criticism of the event. Baskin is a research fellow at the Kennedy School and a graduate student at Brandeis University.
The fact that the conference took place at all -- and at Harvard, of all places -- may have signified a possible new front developing in the campus wars over Israel.
Until now, most of the campus agitation over Israel has centered on the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel known as BDS. But the Harvard conference, and the intensity with which opponents fought to derail it, suggests a great anxiety among pro-Israel groups about the one-state solution turning into a new anti-Israel rallying cry on U.S. campuses.
“To the extent that the idea of a one-state solution is gaining currency, it is important to fight this line of thinking,” said Rob Leikind, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Boston office.
In the weeks leading up the event, pro-Israel groups sought to discredit the conference as an exercise in delegitimizing Israel, and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called on Harvard to cancel the forum.
For its part, Harvard issued several statements clarifying that it was organized by students and received only a small amount of financial support from the university, as do other student conferences.
Kennedy School dean David Ellwood said, “We would never take a position on specific policy solutions to achieving peace in this region, and certainly would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.”
Ellwood also expressed disappointment that the lineup of conference speakers was one-sided.
Not all Harvard faculty members opposed the conference.
“As a Harvard faculty member, I am extremely proud that this conference in happening here,” Harvard law professor Duncan Kennedy said in his opening remarks as its first speaker.
Kennedy, who said he felt jealous when similar conferences were held at other colleges, was among some two dozen speakers -- academics and political activists -- who addressed the audience of 300 or so at the conference Saturday and Sunday. Organizers said the goal was to open up serious dialogue about alternatives to the two-state solution, but the lineup included a who’s who of academics, activists and officials who have made careers out of attacking the notion of a Jewish state.
Speaking at the conference, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada and author of the 2006 book “One Country, a Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse,” denounced the two-state solution as an attempt to preserve Israeli Jewish power.
“Any discussion of a political solution must at its core be a discussion about ending the system of colonial and racial power and privilege and replacing it with a system based on full human rights for all who live under it,” Abunimah said.
Boston University law professor Susan Akram talked about how “Israel’s claim of a state, on the basis of exclusive and discriminatory rights to Jews, has never been juridicially recognized. In other words, the concept of the Jewish people as a national entity with extraterritorial claims has never been recognized under international law.”
Other speakers included Rabbi Brant Rosen, a congregational rabbi from Evanston, Ill., who is co-chair of the rabbinical council of Jewish Voice for Peace, which favors BDS; Dalit Baum, co-founder of Who Profits from the Occupation; and Ilan Pappe, a history professor at the University of Exeter who argues that Israel engaged in concerted ethnic cleansing during the establishment of the state in 1948.
One of the few defenders of the two-state solution was Stephen Walt, a Kennedy School professor whose 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” was denounced by many Israel supporters as borderline anti-Semitic. Walt said at the conference that he has not given up on the idea of two states for two peoples.
Students at Harvard were of mixed minds about the conference. Some circulated a petition to have Harvard withhold funding from the conference. But Joshua Lipson, co-president of Harvard Students for Israel, said he fully supports students' rights to expression and disagreed with those who called for Harvard to withdraw financial support from the conference.
A few Israeli students who attended the conference said that while they disagree with the one-state solution, it’s a legitimate topic for academic discussion.
That, said Ahmed Moor, one of the main student organizers of the conference, was the whole point of the exercise.
“Many people on both sides recognize that the two-state outcome may not be as viable as it once was,” said Moor, who was born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, where his family continues to live. “We have to begin to think of creative ways to live together.
Students for Justice in Palestine hosts Israeli Apartheid Week
Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
The Tufts chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) last week hosted its first annual Israeli Apartheid Week, an international initiative aimed presenting Palestinian narratives, examining Israeli policies toward Palestinians and fostering discussion among the Tufts community.
The event was co−sponsored by the International Relations Program.
Tufts SJP is a coalition of Tufts students whose goal is "to place the Palestinian narrative squarely on the agenda at Tufts and to alter the power dynamics and end our institutional complicity in the Israeli occupation," SJP member Lucas Koerner, a sophomore, said.
SJP chapters in the Boston area have supported the Tufts chapter in coordinating Israeli Apartheid Week. The Brandeis University chapter of SJP, which also presented its first annual Israeli Apartheid Week, has shared ideas and materials with the group.
"The most important part of Israeli Apartheid Week is to highlight all the aspects of social, economic, political reality in the occupied territories that constitute apartheid," SJP member Cory Faragon, a senior, said.
"I would like to put the issue of apartheid into the campus discourse," Koerner said. "I would like to see Palestine removed from its marginalized place, and I would like it to be restored to the center of social justice campaigns on campus."
The weeklong series of events, which ended on Friday, featured a lecture last Monday by Diana Buttu, a Palestinian−Canadian lawyer and former spokeswoman for the Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Support Unit.
The members of SJP went on a hunger strike Thursday as an endorsement of non−violent protest and to recognize Khader Adnan, a Palestinian activist. Adnan went on a 66−day hunger strike in protest of his detainment without charge. The SJP hunger strike ended with a 6 p.m. meal in Dewick−MacPhie Dining Hall.
Max Blumenthal, a Jewish−American journalist and author, delivered a lecture Friday on the "Brand Israel" Campaign and Taglit−Birthright Israel, a program funded by Jewish communities from around the world that provides a free 10−day trip to Israel for Jewish students between the ages of 18−26.
"I think that Blumenthal is going to be very controversial and exciting in the sense that Birthright is something that is very relevant on this campus," a member of SJP, who wished to remain anonymous, said prior to the lecture.
"We are not trying to conflict with the message of peace in the country … Peace isn't possible until all of the nitty−gritty problems are recognized," Grace Michaels, a freshman and a member of Tufts SJP, said. "You can't overlook segregation, apartheid or occupation.
The Link - Concordia
Israel Apartheid Week, Inside Israel Speaker Series Kicks Off
“The Israeli government, as a project, has been systematically oppressing the Palestinian people in several different ways,” said Doug Smith, a member of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and the spokesperson for IAW, which ends on March 13.Concordia will be hosting two very different views on the Middle East in coming weeks, as eighth annual Israel Apartheid Week kicks off on March 5, followed by the inaugural Inside Israel Speaker Series.
“The occupation is one of the clearest examples of that. We hope people walk away with a clearer understanding of Israel as an apartheid state, and also without a feeling of helplessness.”
The IAW will feature speaking events, workshops, a concert and exhibitions. Among those activities is a workshop on March 8 titled Pinkwashing Israeli Apartheid 101.
It explores an alleged propaganda campaign that targets queer youth and paints Israel as a gay-tolerant oasis in the Middle East.
As well, a concert, entitled Artists Against Apartheid XVIII, is scheduled for March 11 and features hip-hop by Rebel Diaz from New York City, the Haitian group Vox Sambou and Chilean musicians l’Ensemble Acalanto.
All these events are designed to foster discussion about Palestine and encourage analysis of the Israeli policies. This contributes to the oppression Palestinians have been living under, and which they are struggling against, according to Smith.
“Often what you see in the dominant news media, in many ways—even in well-intentioned commentary—tends to frame this as an overly complicated, never-ending conflict [and] that’s not true,” said Smith. “However, there are major disparities of power.”
A newly founded student group, the Concordia Students for Israel, is hosting the IISS, which begins with a wine and cheese on March 14 with the Israeli and Egyptian Consul Generals, the day after IAW ends, and will feature further events to be announced in the next week.
CSFI co-president Dana Remer told The Link that they specifically scheduled their events the week after IAW, with the intention of providing a different perspective on the situation without creating a combative environment.
“Me and my co-president Ehle Schacter thought it was time to create some kind of platform on campus for students to have constructive discussion about the Middle East, about Israel and about all these kind of things that they generally shy away from or that get turned into a one-sided kind of thing,” said Remer.
Remer mentioned IAW as an example of this saying, “All you hear is, ‘Israel is bad, Israel is an oppressor…’ and you don’t hear about any other thing on campus.”
Remer noted the scheduling of IISS was handled with care, and, though it’s meant to be a counterbalance toIAW, they wanted to respect the views of those who participate in the week’s events.
“The first reason is that if we hold events at the same time, we’re going to draw attention to what they’re doing and we don’t think that what they’re doing is a positive, constructive description of what is going on in reality,” said Remer.
“We want to do this event, but we don’t want to do it at a time when it can be perceived as an attack on their events or their position. We’re letting them have their time, their space and whatever they need to do, and then we’re going to do our thing.”
Smith said that he didn’t see a problem with the scheduling.
“I don’t think it means too much. At the end of the day, pro-Israeli views are very available and very present in general,” said Smith. “There’s already a pretty strong solidarity in social justice circles for the Palestinian cause and what people do for IAW.”