Jay Michaelson’s Journey – Continued

Looking over some responses to my last posting, I realize that I may have been a bit too harsh with regard to Jay Michaelson’s recent article on what he finds wrong with BDS.

It’s easy to criticize someone who you think took too long to recognize what the rest of us have known for years, especially with regard to the BDSers lack of honesty (particularly when it comes to talking about their ultimate goals).

But we should not ignore that this type of critique packs far more persuasive power when coming from someone like Michaelson who inhabits the same world as do many of the people the boycotters would like to reach.  So while I’ve got some thoughts regarding where the author’s realizations must lead, this is not meant to minimize the contribution he has made to help others better understand what is truly being asked of them when they are invited to join the BDS “movement.”

The first thing that came to mind after re-reading his piece is that notions such as “peace” and “justice,” are not abstract principles when they are applied to a specific political situations.  Rather, they become concrete claims made by real human beings who are engaged in an actual political project.

What this translates to is that if the BDS “movement” is fighting for an ultimately unjust cause (the destruction of the state of Israel) and are doing so dishonestly (by not stating their true goals, or obfuscating regarding the unquestionably negative consequences – for Jews, anyway – of their “one-state solution”), then we are dealing with a political project that uses virtuous words such as “peace” and “justice” to sell something that will ultimately lead to injustice and war.

Remember this is not the first time that people with nefarious goals not only shielded themselves behind such “virtue words,” but also built a campaign around aggressively insisting that anyone claiming to represent those virtues must bow down before them.

In fact, the 20th century’s most successful totalitarian movements spent much of their time demanding that anyone who felt that poverty, inequality and war were unjust must subscribe to the Marxist or fascist faith or be branded a half-hearted, all-talk-no-action “squish” or a closet traitor. (This is something I suspect Michaelson will shortly find familiar as soon-to-be “former friends” start to wonder when he became a right-wing, hasbarah-spouting, Likudnik.)

But keep in mind that despite all of the blandishments and threats propagandists for totalitarianism made over the last century, that there always remained a core of genuine liberals who understood that their concerns for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized did not mean they had to join the party or consider themselves “part of the problem.”

In fact, these brave progressive souls recognized that totalitarianism (left or right) was the problem, or at least one of the major problems preventing the causes of justice that they cared about from being genuinely addressed.  For the totalitarians (as history has proven) only really cared about their own power (with “peace” and “justice” only serving as weapons used against anyone who pointed out how warlike and unjust totalitarian societies were in real life).

The endless attempts made by such totalitarians to subvert and claim the Left of the political spectrum made it that much harder for genuine liberals to fend off challenges to their moral authority from their traditional rivals on the right.  Although, to be fair, the responsible left was able to find common cause with the responsible right (that part of the right that didn’t march to the siren song of Father Coughlin or Joe McCarthy) to forge a consensus that understood totalitarianism – both Left and Right – as the enemy (even if every other political subject was up for debate).

It’s actually much easier for today’s wannabe totalitarians to convince others to do what they want since they are no longer insisting that people living in comfortable societies abandon everything they’ve grown used to in order to engage in a dangerous political experiment.  Rather, they are just asking them to abandon a bunch of Jews in a far off land.

But just as some people showed the courage to stand up for what was right during an era when the aforementioned purveyors of propaganda were armed with nuclear weapons, today we find even more true progressives who understand that the loudmouths and thugs are just singing an old song that they are not required to dance to.

Let’s hope that Jay Michaelson is able to join this band of happy (and, so far, successful) warriors.

51 thoughts on “Jay Michaelson’s Journey – Continued”

  1. If you refuse to identify the group, you'll never know what makes them do what they do and say what they say. Michaelson stopped short of identifying them though he clearly knows who they are.

    Not being an American, I was curious and started googling the names on that JVP Rabbinical council site. Note that all those Rabbis suppressed the name of their denomination on that list. All those I googled are Reconstructionist Rabbis or Reconstructionist Rabbinical students. Those leading the passy are Reconstructionist Rabbis Brant Rosen and Brian Walt, whose utter callousness and REconstructionist zealotry led to the founding of the obscene Taanit Tzedek, or “Jewish” fast for Gaza (while poverty-stricken Sderot is being pounded daily by the Hamas “freedom fighters” on whose behalf they want you to fast).

    Frankly, I don't understand this reluctance at naming the demonizers. It's not JVP it's RVID (Reconstructionist Voice for Israel's Demise). That group are the eqquivalent of the armed wing of the Reconstructionist Movement. And as such they have a very clear agenda and vested interest in the demise of Israel that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Palestinians and certainly nothing to do with Jewish values.

    Now sorry for being an elephant in a China cabinet, but surely somebody here has also noticed.

  2. What I do not understand is why Jon, who I have considerable respect for, refuses to really acknowledge in a sustained and focused manner the fact that BDS comes out of the progressive-left and the grassroots/netroots of the Democratic party.

    This is a progressive sub-movement, is it not?

    Then why do we not discuss it as such?

    1. Because, as you have repeatedly been told, and yet somehow refuse to actually hear, while the whole BDS / anti-Israel movement attempts to wrap themselves in the language and rhetoric of progressives and the Democratic party, they are, in fact, not a part of that movement. As can be seen by anyone willing to spend 5 seconds at Mondoweiss and their other sewers, the anti-Israel / BDS movement's candidate of choice is Ron Paul, and they are not, in any way, affiliated with the Democratic party. Do you know which party Ron Paul, their preferred candidate, belongs to? If not, look it up.

      They do not desire, nor work for, nor encourage, electoral success for Democrats in any way. Do you even pay attention to what the people you spend so much time agonizing over over even say and believe? I do, and that's how I know they aren't Democrats, even if they try to get the pathetic sheep at Daily Kos to think they are.

      There are apparently two groups of people who believe BDS when they lie and say they are a Democratic-affiliated movement. Stupid gullible quasi-liberals, and you.

    2. Again, fizziks, you're completely off the mark. We've already had a similar discussion in a previous thread in which many of your friends on this site personally acknowledged that BDS is fundamentally a movement spearheaded by liberals. Now, you claim to “know” BDSers, but previously you've stated that your exposure to them is limited to what you've read in the “comment sections” of mainstream websites like Yahoo news. Since I've actually spent time with BDSers, many of whom are my close friends, I'll try to fill you in on what I've observed. Firstly, most of us admire that Ron Paul speaks so candidly on US foreign policy and yes, we generally do agree with many of his views on the ME/Israel. Having said that, Ron Paul is NOT our candidate of choice, the reason for that being that he holds very conservative positions on other important issues to us (health care, economy, abortion, etc). Most of us supported Obama in 2008 and will do so again this year, in spite of his reluctance to openly criticize Israel. A few of us will voice support for the truly progressive Green Party candidate Jill Stein (a third party candidate who mirrors our political philosophy much more closely than Ron Paul does), but most of us recognize that voting for her does little more than help Romney win the election.

      So, yes, BDS is a progressive sub-movement. It has always been. It's actually pretty sad that you're unwilling to accept this basic fact. I'd love for Jon to weigh in, as I suspect that even he agrees with not only me, but Mike L. and Dr. Mike (previous thread).

    3. The BDSers are indeed severely disappointed with Obama. They may vote for him only because the extreme left has indeed learned the lesson of 2000, but in their hearts they'd probably rather support the Green Party candidate. And at least in California with Lynn Woolsey retiring and Pete Stark likely losing in November to a proIsrael Democrat, and Marcy Winograd failing again in the primary, the BDS cru hardly has any Democrats who will answer their phone calls.
      But to call the BDS movement, rife as it is with overt antiSemitism and willful blindness to the homophobia, misogyny and bloodlust of Hamas whose agenda it supports, “progressive” is an insult to those who actually oppose those hatreds. It really arises not from the Democratic party but rather from the extreme far left– so extreme that they hate the Democrats as much as the Republicans.
      Are there supporters of BDS on the far left of the Democratic party? You bet. But I would think that the group from which most of their support lies is the same group that abandoned the Democrats in 2000 to vote for Nader, giving us WCheney as president and all that came from that. Even if they have learned their lesson in Presidential voting by now, they are really extreme leftists without party loyalty.

    4. Dr. Mike,

      If we “hate the Democrats as much as the Republicans” why would we vote for Obama as per your suggestion in sentence 2? What an absurd contradiction.

    5. It all depends on who the “we” is here that you speak of, doesn't it?

      Anonymous, somehow you seem to be affiliated with a cohort of anti-Israel people that has absolutely zero web presence. A cohort that is interested in Democratic party electoral success and is vested in the planks of mainstream liberalism.

      I'm not going to disbelieve that this cohort you speak of exists, but I have seen a cohort as well, those that dominate the Mondoweiss website that is certainly part of the mainstream BDS movement, and those that dominate the comment sections of Daily Kos, HuffPo, and any CNN or yahoo article on Israel. And these people are not members of the Democratic party, and have no interest in mainstream Democratic party positions or Democratic electoral success.

      So maybe you and your group of anti-Israel people that somehow has zero web presence may be Democrats and voting for Obama, but I know that Sandra Tamari, David Mizner, BigAlinWashSt, Philip Weiss, Diane Gee, and all of the people who actually have some traceable opinions in publicly accessible forums aren't.

    6. This is nonsense.

      the whole BDS / anti-Israel movement attempts to wrap themselves in the language and rhetoric of progressives and the Democratic party, they are, in fact, not a part of that movement.

      You are deluding yourself, fizziks.

      BDS is most certainly a part of the progressive-left whether you like it or not.

      Just as Matt and Zach of the Huffington Post Monitor if BDS does not hold a place in the progressive movement.

      Of course, it does.

      And if BDS does not have a seat at the progressive table, then why do you care? If it is that irrelevant, why are you even interested?

    7. “BDS is most certainly part of the progressive-left”

      But are they working for it or against it? Are they a smaller group trying to radicalize the movement in order to take it over/dominate it? Is anti-Israel activism a recruiting tool exploiting anti-Zionist sentiment very much in the same way other religions (Christianity, Islam) have used judeophobia?

      Fizziks might be pointing to one aspect of the same phenomenon.

    8. Well first of all, Mike, you initially claimed not only that BDS was part of the progressive movement, but the much stronger statement that it, and here I'm going to quote you, “comes out of the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party.”

      To justify that claim, you would have to show that the major proponents of BDS are in fact Democrats, align with Democrats on issues, are interested in and work for Democratic electoral success, and so on.

      So tell me, since we know of all these same people, can you honestly say that you believe that Sandra Tamari, David Mizner, Nuclear Nate, BigAlinWashSt, Philip Weiss, Diane Gee, and all of those similar people are Democrats? Are they members of the Democratic party? Will they be voting for Obama or working to get Obama reelected, and/or working to elect Democratic politicians for House and Senate against their Republican opponents?

      Of course not. They will be voting for Ron Paul, and working to elect him. They hold Democrats, from Obama on down, in contempt. Openly.

      BDS does not come from the Democratic party. Their connection is that they are trying to co-opt the progressive movement, and the progressive movement and the Democratic party are very intertwined, as you know and always (rightly) point out.

      So if you want to claim that BDS is trying, with some success and some failure, to co-opt the progressive movement, and that the progressive movement is one wing of the Democratic party, then that is a reasonable claim. One that I would certainly agree with.

      But if you want to claim, as you've done here and elsewhere, that BDS “comes out of the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party” then that is simply counterfactual. Not to mention easily disproven, given the words and actions of the BDS movement itself.

    9. Fizziks, I can't comment on most of the people on that list because I'm not sufficiently familiar with their work, but I can somewhat speak to Phil Weiss's (the founder of Mondoweiss) politics. Phil Weiss is very much a liberal and has published his views on a number of other progressive social issues in both op-eds and a youtube series. Also, during the run-up to the 2008 election, Weiss said in a youtube video, “I'm one of those people who's gaga on Obama… I'm a cultist for Obama” and so forth. Sounds like a liberal democrat to me.


    10. fizziks
      I don't understand this obsession with Mondoweiss. Phil Weiss is nothing but an unprincipled opportunist, who makes up his “philosophy” as he goes and provides his crowd of Jew-hating addicts their daily fix – for a price.
      His commenters are Jews with a grudge (against their father, against Israel, against their community), Muslim shiites and Sunni, Iran supporters, Storm-front type neo-nazis, Arab Christians, Palestinians, people who experienced relations with Israelis that have gone sour.

      They supported Obama's candidacy – not because they thought he was good for America – but because word was out in the left that – to use Silverstein's expression – he was going “to hold Israel's feet to the fire” or something like that.
      Since Obama didn't meet their expectations, they thought Ron Paul will deliver. That's all, that simple.

    11. Mike L. wrote:
      “This is a progressive sub-movement…why do we not discuss it as such?”

      To what purpose? Please explain why you're so fixated on this semantic detail instead of on practical questions of identifying and countering BDS efforts.

    12. Sylvia,

      I only mention Mondoweiss and Phil Weiss because if one wants to examine the validity of the charge that BDS “comes out of the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party.” as Mike L. put it, then one must consider the words, actions, positions, and associations of the leading BDS proponents themselves.

      Modoweiss is ground zero for those proponents, followed closely by the Daily Kos Adalah forum. It is in these spaces that we can best, from their own words and actions, understand the relation (or lack thereof) of the BDS movement to the Democratic party and/or the progressive left more broadly.

    13. But I've already proven to you that Phil Weiss is a member of the progressive left. For anyone who has seriously read Mondoweiss, this basic fact is clear as day.

    14. Who's disputing the fact that Weiss is a (self-declared) member of the 'progressive' left, Anon? What's at issue here is whether or not he's a supporter of the big-D (US) Democratic Party. Which he clearly isn't, at least not w/r/t Democrats who aren't drunk on the BDS Kool Aid.

    15. Anonymous, you haven't proven shit.

      You have stated that Phil Weiss is a member of the progressive left. You haven't proven it. Your sole piece of evidence submitted was that he endorsed Obama… in 2008. Wooptie freakin doo. So did Colin Powell, Michael Shmearconish, and Farrakhan. Are they part of the progressive movement too?

      Here is what would really “prove” that Phil Weiss is a progressive: Does he stay up at night worrying about the Environment? Does he blog about that, attend protests about that? Does he dedicate a lot of mental energy to Gay Rights? Womens' rights? Unions? Workplace safety? Decriminalization of Marijuana?

      No, no, no, no, no, and no.

      Not only did you not prove anything in regard to Phil Weiss, but Phil Weiss is not the totality of BDS, so if he were a progressive (which he is not), who the fuck cares? Furthermore, we aren't even discussing whether these BDS fools are progressives. We are discussing whether they are part of the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party.

      Your comments are contributing exactly zero to this discussion.

  3. They could be democrats since they believe in gay marriage. What else would they be politically.
    They supported Ron Paul because he said he would stop aid to Israel and only for that reason.
    I wouldn't put all of them in the same boat though.
    The signatures on the RabbisLetter to the Presbyterians were overwhelmingly by Reconstructionist Rabbis.

    The depleted Haggadah produced last Passover is a distinctive feature of the Reconstructionist movement since the 1940s.
    And I firmly believe that when Norman Finkelstein called BDS a cult that's what he was referring to.

    1. What makes you think they believe in gay marriage? Have you seen any effort whatsoever dedicated to promoting gay marriage from the BDS leadership? Or for that matter any effort or rhetoric dedicated to environmentalism, unions, workers' rights, deccriminalization of marijuana, or any of the other planks of the progressive movement?

      The answer is no. It is a tough enough case to make that the BDS leadership are on the progressive left, let alone saying they are Democrats, which is easily contradicted by their own statements and actions.

    2. Again, Fizziks, if we are talking at individual, US group level, JVP is overwhelmingly Reconstructionnist, and the Reconstructionnist movement has recognized and celebrated gay marriage for two decades now.

    3. Hmmm..

      It seems you are not as familiar with the online manifestations of the BDS or more generally anti-Israel movement as I am.

      Most of the BDS / anti-Israel proponents are not Jewish. Some are, such as Phil Weiss, but of those, many, such as Weiss himself I believe, are completely secular and unaffiliated with a branch of Judaism the religion, Reconstructionist or otherwise.

      Of those that are Jewish, some are indeed members of JVP, including, prominently, David Harris Gershon. But only a minority of prominent BDS proponents are Jewish, let alone specifically JVP, or Reconstructionist.

      Many BDSers are Arab, such as Sandra Tamari, and many are white non-Jewish Americans from either a misguided quasi-liberal mindset (e.g. Diane Gee), or very often a survivalist, extreme right wing mindset (e.g. BigAl).

    4. Fizziks, I am fully aware of that. In fact, that's PRECISELY what I have said in my previous post to you about Mondoweiss. Which is not the hub of BDS they deal with the demonization of Israel and Judaism and BDS is only one item in that sewer. I am talking about the people who rationalize anti-Zionism, BDS, one-state. That's what Jay Michaelson it seems to me is talking about – those he calls “my community”.
      Just like the politics, gay rights are not the issue here.

      But it doesn't look like we're ever going to get past those mindsets and get on to address the subject at hand.

  4. The truth of the matter, of course, is that efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel in Europe and the west come out of the progressive-left movement.

    Fizziks, it is simply undeniable.

    You saw it on dkos as well as I. And it is not just a matter of a few blogs. If you do not believe me, then just ask Dr. Charles Small.


    And precisely because it is undeniable, it is a fact that needs to be acknowledged and discussed.

    That is all I ask.

    1. As I mentioned in my latest post, I’ll probably have less time to mix it up here on the site over the next several weeks than usual, but let me try to contribute something to the current back and forth.

      First, I have no doubt that there are *some* people who both support BDS and the mainstream Democratic party just as there are *some* BDS supporters who feel that neither major political party represents them and gravitates to third parties (such as the Greens) or marginal players in the majors (such as Paul).

      Similarly, I think it’s safe to say that there are many more members of the Democratic Party who support Israel and reject BDS. In fact, most of the people I have worked with in the fight against BDS are progressives (if only because they are the ones being targeted by BDS messages which, as has been noted, are worded using the language of progressive politics).

      But declaring that since the majority of Democrats support Israel (or that many of the people and organizations that have rejected BDS are progressive in nature) then support for Israel and rejection of BDS is a progressive cause would be a fallacy (along the lines of “Since most computers run the Windows operating system then running Windows is an intrinsic part of being a computer).

      In the same way, the fact that some BDS supporters are mainstream Democrats only proves that some BDS supporters are mainstream Democrats (not that the Democratic Party or liberalism in general is inherently pro-BDS or anti-Israel).

      Similarly, the use by BDS proponents of progressive political language might be cynical or sincere, but either way that does not make it by definition a progressive cause (especially given the number of progressive angles that need to be ignored or denied in order to embrace BDS which I outlined in the article above).

    2. Certainly.

      “the use by BDS proponents of progressive political language might be cynical or sincere, but either way that does not make it by definition a progressive cause”

      My point, of course, is not that BDS is a truly progressive cause (whatever that might mean, exactly), but that it is a cause that is coming out of the progressive movement and the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party.

      BDS isn't coming from nowhere. It's quite clearly coming from the left and therefore those of us who see ourselves as part of the left (or as “liberals” or “progressives” or whatever terminology one might want to use) have an obligation to recognize that it is from within out own political movement that this toxin is coming from.

      It is on the left that BDS is supported.

      Whether or not BDS truly represents “progressive” or “liberal” values is a distinct question, but that today's western anti-Semitic anti-Zionism comes out of the left is quite simply undeniable.

      This may be for many people a politically inconvenient fact, but fact it is and it is a fact that must be faced directly.

    3. If you read my original piece above, I don’t think you and I are pretty much in agreement.

      Many BDSers claim that since their arguments are couched in liberal rhetoric, then BDS is or should be considered a liberal or left wing cause (and thus considered virtuous). But as I pointed out in the article above, there have been many occasions when liberals (and conservatives) have been wrong, and many occasions when ugly (even totalitarian) political programs used a progressive vocabulary to characterize and sell themselves.

      As you state, those who consider themselves to be progressives have a responsibility to ensure another nasty virus does not enter the bloodstream of a political movement they consider to be important. And there is plenty of precedent for true liberals fighting off the totalitarians who want to take over every movement that defines itself as left of center (notably the effort anti-Communist liberals put into keeping the Marxists from taking over the left end of the political spectrum in the 20th century).

      It’s difficult work and a huge time sink for those who wish they could focus on other priorities (such as fighting for genuine human rights causes). But no one said the world was far, or a particularly nice place. And if your political philosophy is worth investing yourself into personally, it’s well worth fighting off those who want to define it for you in their terms.

    4. Whoops! I meant to start by saying that you and I are actually in agreement (not disagreement and NOT “not in agreement).

      Sorry about that.

    1. Sylivia,

      “Progressive,” in the sense that I am using it, refers to a western political movement and ideology that is generally associated with the left.

      In Europe it means the socialist tradition and in the US it refers to the progressive tradition that came out of the fight against slavery and the various reform movements that prefigured the New Deal.

      The progressive movement, at its core, is alleged to stand for universal human rights.

      The problem is that it does not stand for anything that even begins to resemble universal human rights… and BDS is a perfect example of that fact.

  5. Finally. Thank you Mike.

    In this context – Jay Michaelson's article – what he means by “progressive” and “my community” are the “Jewish left”, the denominational/religious progressives (Reform and Reconstructionist) and those Jews who gravitate around those organized groups.

    Read the article again, and note the examples he gives: JVP, JStreet, Sarah “Pinkwashing Shulman, the erasure of non-European (so-called Mizrahi) Jews from the Progressive discourse – and progressive consciousness.

    In other words, we are here in a Jewish register, not in a wide-world political leftist one. That has already been discussed and has been the subject of a great number of books.

  6. Jen,

    “This is a progressive sub-movement…why do we not discuss it as such?”

    To what purpose? Please explain why you're so fixated on this semantic detail instead of on practical questions of identifying and countering BDS efforts.

    This detail is hardly semantic.

    I would think that it would be of considerable interest to progressive-left Jewish supporters of Israel that the primary challenge to the continuation of Israel as a Jewish state among non-Muslim westerners comes out of the very movement that they support.

    It is from the progressive-left that BDS derives, on the campuses and in the press and, I suppose, to some measure in the churches, as well.

    Certainly Jon could speak to that better than I.

    It's also unquestionably the case that virtually everyone who follows this question knows this to be the case. We all recognize that the progressive-left is the home of western delegitimizers of Israel.

    The only people who really fail to recognize this are those who are so blinkered by their political loyalties that to acknowledge the obvious would represent a betrayal of those loyalties.

    It could hardly be more obvious.

    Daily Kos is a progressive-left venue.

    The Huffington Post is a progressive-left venue.

    The UK Guardian is a progressive-left venue.

    The recent BDS conference at the University of Pennsylvania was at a progressive-left venue.

    And on and on and on.

    And I say this as someone who comes out of that movement, myself. I voted for Barack Obama and marched against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I will be damned if I will allow mere political loyalties to obfuscate obvious truths.

    We, as liberals, need to face it because only through facing it can we figure out what the hell to do about it.

    1. Mike, at least be honest.

      You are not a liberal. Do not use phrases like “We, as liberals” (see how I quoted you there) and pretend like you are speaking on behalf of liberals and oh just so concerned about “your” liberal movement.

      You told me yourself, when I gave you a ride home from that debate in Berkeley, that your preferred candidate out of all the options was Herman Cain, or was it Mitt Romney. You declared that you were under no circumstances going to vote for Obama this time, and would vote for whoever the Republican nominee was, unless your wife went absolutely bollistic about that in which case you might not cast a vote for president this time. Remember all that?

      Vociferously preferring a Republican candidate to Obama means you are not a Democrat, much less a liberal. Maintaining a blog where all you do is attack Obama from the right echoing the same rhetoric used in mainstream right forums for sure means that you are not now a liberal or a Democrat, regardless of what you did years ago. News flash for you there champ.

      So look, criticize the liberal movement, or the Democratic party, if you must, for what you perceive as their too cozy relationship with anti-Israel elements. But don't pretend that you are part of that movement, or that party. Don't concern troll. It is really stupid, man, and really, embarrassingly, transparent.

    2. Fizziks doesn't want to admit that the BDS movement is fundamentally liberal because internally he questions why his political philosophy mirrors that of the progressive left on all issues but one: Israel. He wonders why his preferred media outlets like HuffPo, Daily Kos, and most recently, the New York TImes have begun criticizing Israeli policy at an ever-accelerating pace and why his fellow liberals have seemingly turned against him. Fizziks, we call people like you “PEP's” (progressive except for Palestine). Have you ever wondered why you might be a PEP? Perhaps what may have caused a certain tendency to afford moral allowances to Israel that you wouldn't to any other country? Perhaps something with your upbringing? BDS is a movement led by liberals because it is a movement that enforces liberal values of human rights, equality, peace, and justice.

    3. Yeah – Ali Abunimah – a member of Hamas, is a liberal.
      Omar Barghouti is a liberal.
      The Stormfront crowd are liberals.

      Perhaps you should question your own tendency to afford moral allowances to Syria, Sudan, China, Saud Arabia, Kaddafi's Libya, etc. etc. but not to democratic law-abiding Israel? And in all those countries you won't even have to fake pictures and videos to make your case!

      Liberal or not, values based on lies and staged stories are the ultimate in immorality.

    4. sorry Anon, you don't know anything about me. Daily Kos, HuffPo, et al. are not my preferred media outlets. If you knew me you would know what a hilariously ironic statement that was.

      I stopped participating in those forums long ago not just because of their ridiculous tolerance for antisemitism and extremism on the I/P issue, but also for a whole host of other issues where we diverge as well. And not in a 'I have a different opinion but I respect and am interested in their opinion' kind of divergence. Those are in no way my ideological homes.

      Now as for this common phrase of “PEP”, I believe that it applies to those who consider themselves liberal and/or progressive and yet somehow oppose the by far most progressive country in the Middle East, the only one that allows gay rights, gender parity, freedom of religious observance or non-observance, and has a human-capital based economy rather than a resource extraction based one. Instead these supposed liberals / progressives seek to deny self-determination to one ethnicity in particular in the world and ally themselves with the most retrogrades polities and movements in the world. They are the people who are “PEP”, except for the fact that they really aren't progressives / liberals in the first place. As I said previously, in my interactions with them they rarely if ever cared about any other, truly progressive or liberal issue. Not the environment, unions, LGBT rights, etc..

    5. What a load of nonsense. I don't care how much Israel flaunts its gay rights. As long as it continues to bulldoze Palestinian homes, appropriate land and water resources, expand settlements, and violate a host of other human rights, it is not progressive/liberal and it does not deserve the aid and support we Americans give it. Arguing that Israel is progressive because it treats its gays well (and ignoring the much, much larger group it oppresses) is like arguing that Dick Cheney is a progressive because he supports gay marriage.

    6. Thank you for the response. This is instructive.

      I'm still not sure whether your actual desire is to get pro-Israel liberals to turn on the Democratic party, or to get Jon's readers to turn away from constructive discussions of BDS — but at least I know you have no desire to discuss the topic of the post Jon wrote in the first place.

    7. OK Mr Anonymous Progressive, let's put your progressive credentials to the test:
      If Israel were to come to an agreement with the PA (mutually agreed land swaps,allocation of resources, etc) then would you agree that such an agreement should be honored even though it will preserve Israel as the state of the Jewish people– ie acknowledge that there will be no “right” of return to Israel for descendants of Palestinian refugees?

    8. That's a hard question to answer given a purely hypothetical situation like the one you've just presented, but my answer would still probably be 'no'.

      My reasons:
      1) The PA is a dictatorship and most Palestinians would say that its governance is largely irrelevant. I highly doubt that the PA and Israel could come to a just two-state solution that would fully respect the rights of all parties involved.

      2) There is nothing 'progressive' about abandoning hundreds of thousands of nation-less refugees and condemning them to lives of isolation and poverty. They absolutely must be included in the final resolution, whatever it may be.

      3) A state defined by ethnic/racial/religious superiority (i.e. white South Africa or Jewish Israel) is hardly progressive. Now, if said state were built on empty land, it wouldn't matter all too much. Unfortunately, the state was built on land inhabited by an indigenous majority-nonJewish population that suffered and continues to suffer immensely as a result. If a two state solution cannot be achieved because the West Bank has already been annexed to Israel, then a one state solution appears to be the only real option.

    9. Dr. Mike… Anon and people like him have no interests in “progressive values”. What exactly is progressive about the Palestinian Polity? A majority voted in 2006 for Hamas, a party is theocratically based and relies on historic revisionism as well as racism to make it's argument wrt Israel.

      Now, according to latest polls Hamas trails the P.A. by merely 5 points (49%-44%). But the P.A. is not much better. In their administration the sale of land to Jews is a capitol offense. Apparently who knew, but that is a “progressive” value. Though, I will say that they are much more interested in reality and in settling the conflict than Hamas.

      In reality outside of a small percentage of hard leftists and a small band of useful idiots there is nothing even remotely leftist about BDS.

      HOWEVER, to claim that Israel as it is acting now is “progressive” would also not be correct. To say the State of Israel is progressive and to say the ideals of Israel (the legitimate right of self determination for the Jewish people after 2,500 years of oppression) are progressive then yes. To claim Ha-Medinat Israel under the Netanyahu Government and the rightist coalition is progressive is a “stretch” to say the least.

    10. Did you even read my comment? I said that the PA is a dictatorship. Hamas is too. I don't support either of them for a number of reasons. But last I checked, poor/ineffective/backwards governance doesn't mean that one should abandon the legitimate aspirations of millions of people. Moreover, Hamas wasn't even in power until 2006. The occupation has lasted since 1967. Your argument is entirely invalid.

    11. Volleyboy, I need no additional evidence that BDSers are just giving lip service to progressive values. I just wanted to watch him/her prove a very simple point: as much as they try to hide the fact, it's not about the occupation– at least not about the occupation of the West Bank. It's about the “occupation” of Tel Aviv and Haifa. And every time I ask, they prove it once again.

    12. Sorry anon… but I did read your post and your claims there and in your next post that it does not matter that the P.A. and Hamas are repressive are garbage.

      Here is the thing. The P.A. and Hamas together represent over 90% of the Palestinian Polity. Further, there is no history of that polity EVER having a majoritarian push towards a political party that espouses anything even remotely envisioning the democracy you think will magically occur. It simply has never happened.

      But let's look at what you said…

      I highly doubt that the PA and Israel could come to a just two-state solution that would fully respect the rights of all parties involved.

      Whether you doubt it or not there is no one else “in the game” right now. Given your advocacy here, one might rightly ask, “What exactly do you consider the rights of Jewish Israelis to be”? In your opinion do they have the legitimate right to self determination as was set-up by the Yishuv and foundation of the State of Israel?

      You then say:

      There is nothing 'progressive' about abandoning hundreds of thousands of nation-less refugees and condemning them to lives of isolation and poverty. They absolutely must be included in the final resolution, whatever it may be.

      Who exactly bears responsibility for all of that? Wouldn't you say the Arab nations (and the Palestinian Polity) that refused the U.N.'s Two State Partition bear responsibility for the most part. I mean, who controlled Gaza, and the West Bank from 1948-1967? It certainly wasn't Israel.

      Now, should there be a resolution to this issue? Of course. So what do you propose? The One-State solution would destroy the nature of Israel as it was envisioned So where are the Israelis in all of this?

      A state defined by ethnic/racial/religious superiority (i.e. white South Africa or Jewish Israel) is hardly progressive.

      That is right, a State like that IS “hardly progressive” only one problem. Israel is not that kind of State. It simply was not founded as an expression of “Jewish Superiority”. Oh well.. there goes that meme.

      If a two state solution cannot be achieved because the West Bank has already been annexed to Israel, then a one state solution appears to be the only real option.

      Well we agree on this. Which is why I strongly oppose the YESHA and settlement movement moving one inch beyond where they are now (and I believe they should pull back to the Olmert plan).

      I find it ironic that it is the Israeli Right which is now a threat to Israel's long term stability if not existence. Interestingly enough the Israeli Right and Ali Abuniemah have joint cause.

      Two States are the only way to go in this case but if the Palestinians continue to assume a maximalist negotiating position (particularly from a position of weakness) there is not much they will get except some for some small rump state that will never amount to very much.

      That btw, is NOT my advocacy. Those are simply the facts.

    13. Volleyboy, the PA doesn't rule the West Bank. Israel rules the West Bank. Israel decides who or what enters the West Bank, who can live in the West Bank, where Palestinians can live within the West Bank, where to construct checkpoints and settlements, what resources to appropriate for Israeli settlers. Heck, Israel even collects Palestinian taxes. At most, the PA has some municipal rule, but hardly anyone doubts who the real ruler is. Every Palestinian knows that the PA's only real purpose is to serve as a negotiating partner for Israel. However, if the PA lacks legitimacy due to the aforementioned reasons coupled with the fact that it's a couple years overdue for new elections, one really must wonder where the peace process is heading.

      Hamas plays a different role but remains perpetually weak, as it should. Although Israel withdrew its settlements from Gaza, Israel maintains de facto rule over Gaza by enforcing stringent naval, air, and land blockades, virtually destroying the fishing industry by preventing fishing boats from leaving the coast, and of course, routinely showering Palestinians with air strikes.

      It's striking how one could even imply that the Palestinians should be to blame for never establishing a legitimate democratic government when they've been ruled over and oppressed for the past 45 years.

      On the issue of refugees, the refugee crisis was created as a direct result of the partition plan, not the war that followed. The Palestinians were either expelled by Israelis or fled out of fear for their lives. Furthermore, it's illegal under international law to deny refugees the expedient return to their homes, regardless of your alleged reasons for their departure.

      On the issue of Jewish superiority: Really? Tell me why a Jew who grew up in Brooklyn and whose ancestors hadn't lived in Israel for centuries should be granted the 'right of return', but a Palestinian who was expelled from his home in 1948 should be forced to live out the rest of his life in a refugee camp. Tell me why Palestinians should be forced to live in impoverished bantustans in the West Bank while luxurious Jewish settlements outfitted with swimming pools and paved roads sit a mile down the road. Tell me why Palestinian villages in Israel routinely receive far less government funding than their Israeli counterparts.

      And most of all, tell me why you won't accept a one state solution. What is so bad about the Palestinians that makes every Zionist vomit when faced with the idea of, god forbid, SHARING a land which both the Palestinians and Israelis see as home? As an American, the disconnect is astounding. My neighborhood is comprised of Jews, Arabs, African-Americans, Asians, and everything else under the sun. Imagine if one day I were to say that I want to move to a white-only neighborhood because I can't stand to live next to anyone who doesn't look like me or believe what I believe. I would be called a racist! And they would be right!

      Again, I wouldn't be giving Israel such a hard time about its codification of Jewish superior rights if it weren't for the simple fact that the Palestinians suffer tremendous consequences for the sustenance of a 'Jewish' state. If the land were empty, I wouldn't care. Unfortunately, you and I both know that that wasn't the case.

  7. Mike, this might be true at individual level in the US, but BDS is an international multi-million dollar movement. Who they vote for is irrelevant. They even have bearded Hamasnicks pulling strings.
    I think a good start is to learn what it is. Below is a drawing by NGO Monitor labeled “The BDS Sewer”. Look at it, understand it and then we can talk about the US activists.


  8. So many comments and so little time.

    If BDSers were progressives they would be demonstrating on behalf of the human rights of the stateless Arabs in their host countries.

    As they call themselves “internationalists” and reject “nationalisms,” they should be demanding the protection of citizenship for these residents based on 2 very liberal ideas.

    1) The Arab countries started a war, therefore it is their responsibility to care for the refugees created by it. Could you imagine if the US refused to give citizenship to Vietnamese refugees?

    2) The refugees and their descendants share a common culture, language, religion and history with their host countries. Should Germany have refused the Silesian and Sudetan Germans? Should India and Pakistan have refused the respective Hindu and Moslem refugees?


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