Omar Barghouti Comes to Brooklyn

You can’t really call the controversy brewing at Brooklyn College this week a BDS fight since no BDS-related institutional discussion (much less a decision) is taking place, meaning no boycott or divestment activity is even being contemplated by the college.

Rather, you’ve got the start of yet another Omar Barghouti book tour (apparently he’s decided to blow off mid-terms at Tel Aviv U once again in order to travel the globe telling others to boycott the comforts he chooses to continue enjoying).  And sharing the stage for this month’s Brooklyn performance is birthday clown turned incomprehensible academic Judith Butler (current holder of the Angst-Ridden-Pampered-Jewish-Academic-Who-Can’t-Abide-the-Embarrassment-Israel-is-Causing-Me-at-Dinner-Parties Chair at Berkeley).

If you look over the list of sponsors for the event, the usual categories emerge including:

  • Organizations that exist solely to sling mud at the Jewish state (Adelah, Students for Justice in Palestine)
  • War groups named in such a way to make you think they’re big, peace-loving and represent anyone but a tiny group of underemployed, Israel-hating fanatics (Brooklyn for Peace, NYU Students for Justice)
  • Has-beens clinging to a brand they still think has caché (Occupy Wall Street Global Justice Working Group) – Hey, who do I need approval from to rename this site “Occupy Wall Street Divest This?”
  • Groups willing to reveal their genuine militancy, so long as it gives them a rhyme to chant at the next riot (Existence is Resistance)
  • The usual Jew-Washers (Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Jewish Voice for Peace)
  • Anomalies such as the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Association of Brooklyn College who SJP can use as a blast shield when asked why the BDS “movement”  is allied with the most homophobic nations and groups on the face of the earth

In fact, there is nothing much unusual about the speakers, what they will say (I could give their speeches verbatim in exchange for a fifth of scotch, saving SJP the thousands they’re playing to bring Barghouti to town), or the sponsors.

With one exception.

For reasons still unknown (since no one is talking), the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College decided to lend their name to the event, despite the fact that departmental sponsorship of controversial events like this one is far from typical at Brooklyn College (which, like most schools, allows students the latitude to do and say any obnoxious nonsense they like, but avoid doing things that could be construed as lending the imprimatur of the institution to divisive events).

This being academia (and New York academia at that), all of the participants in the controversy are falling into their assigned roles, including:

  • The Poli Sci department which, like most academic fiefdoms, cannot bring itself to admit it made a mistake
  • The administration, failing miserably to keep everyone off its back while hunkered in their bunker waiting for the controversy to run its course
  • Jewish organizations and city and state politicians lining up to take potshots at a school that has not only dropped its pants and put a target on its behind, but invited the whole city to give it a collective kick in the backside
  • SJP et al who flew into martyrdom mode and began demanding that others stop suppressing (i.e., criticizing) them, while all the time gaffawing that – once again – it is someone else (Brooklyn College) that has to take the brunt of the backlash the boycotters decisions have caused

As noted above, Barghouti starting his “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” tour in January is about as newsworthy as the silence that befalls the “peace movement” he claims to represent whenever Hamas missiles start flying or the number of Syrians murdered by their government climbs towards six figures.

In fact, the only thing I find interesting about the whole mishagas is the fact that BDS continues to emit such stench that people who agree on almost nothing (i.e., the millions of New York Jews not in the ranks of the Israel haters and Jew washers) have no problem letting the world know that one of the few red lines that still exist is that regardless of who is in the “Big Tent,” BDS is outside it.

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10 Responses to Omar Barghouti Comes to Brooklyn

  1. Stop BDS Park Slope February 3, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    I was planning to attend this event with Adam Holland. But an RSVP is required. Last I checked, the event was “filled to capacity.”

    Maybe I will print up “Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey” and hand them out outside the event.


  2. Mike Lumish February 3, 2013 at 4:52 am #

    The question that occurs to me is the degree that, at the present moment and going forward into the future, BDS is actually outside the Jewish “big tent”?

    It’s interesting that you reference this because it’s on point to the question that DrMike and I discussed at the panel discussion at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco not so long ago.

    What I am seeing is anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, and a growing general dislike for Israel, gaining ground on the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party and within the progressive movement. This could not have been more self-evident than in the voice vote at the Democratic National Convention around the status of Jerusalem in which our side was loudly booed.

    The fact that the political science department at Brooklyn College, no less, would lend their name to the event is good reason for concern and I am pleased that you’ve highlighted this story.

    I haven’t touched it at my joint, not yet, anyways.

  3. Eve February 3, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    This argument put forward by the author of this piece should be handled with care: “Anomalies such as the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Association of Brooklyn College”.

    • DivestThis February 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      Just to be clear, I’m referring to such an organizing supporting BDS (a movement allied with nations, organizations and movements that supress the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered persons against Israel – the most progressive nation in the world with regard to these groups) as anomolous (not the organization itself).

  4. Stop BDS Park Slope February 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    Today’s NY Post column on the subject mentions me!

  5. gary fouse February 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Here is the video of Barghouti speaking last night at UC Irvine. The fun starts in the 3rd clip where I ask him about his origins and his hypocrisy in studying in an Israeli University.

    • Stop BDS Park Slope February 6, 2013 at 2:24 am #

      Kol HaKavod Gary for sitting through that and challenging him. I only started to listen to clip 3. It was like a Divest This! review course. Caterpillar, Morgan Stanley, TIAA-CREF, Olympia, Hampshire College, Pinkwashing. I couldn’t even get to your question, it was so tedious. Good for you for going.


      • gary fouse February 6, 2013 at 3:02 am #

        Park Slope,

        UCI for years has been ground zero for this crap, but we are fighting back. Speakers know when they come to uci, they will be challenged.

  6. JK February 6, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    I also attended Omar Barghouti’s talk at UC Irvine.

    About 25-30 people were there. I’d guess about a third or so of them did not agree with Barghouti’s goals of BDS – a one state solution where all the refugees can enter Israel.

    He is the type of guy who thrives on controversy and those who made a big deal about Brookyln College co-sponsoring the event gave the talk much more attention than it deserves.

    I came out a bit confused with his idea that each refugee has a personal inalienable right to return to Israel that the PA cannot negotiate away. Does he expect Israel to negotiate with each individual refugee?

    He really played up the progressive universal rights angle and the idea that the Palestinian rights movement is like the the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t see the two being parallel but some may. Personally, I didn’t get it. Nor did I get the idea that if all his demands were not met that there would not be equality and there would be a master-slave relationship.

    The area he really looked poorly to me when he questioned if Jews are a people during the q & a segment. He and the SJP who hosted the event would be probably be pretty upset (rightfully) if someone questioned if the Palestinians are a people. The lack of self-awareness on this was striking.

    He also played up the Jews lived in harmony in Muslim lands myth. And denied that Jews were expelled from Arab lands.

  7. gary fouse February 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Here is a follow-up to Barghouti at UCI with some responses to some of his points.

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