Who Really Supports Hate Speech at Brooklyn College?

8 Feb

In all the back and forth on academic freedom, on the procedural ins and outs of sponsorship and co-sponsorship, endorsement and balance, one issue never really got taken up on this blog or in the public conversation: the question of hate speech.

The critics of my department never ceased to call BDS proponents (and by implication, and sometimes not even implication, my department) anti-Semitic and the BDS position “hate speech.” I think the claim is risible, and I won’t even bother refuting it here: I’d merely ask anyone who’s read Judith Butler’s remarks or listened to Omar Barghouti’s talk (I haven’t yet seen a transcript or a video of his talk, but here’s a video of virtually an identical talk he gave at Yale the day before he spoke at Brooklyn College) to show me one sentence, one phrase, one word, that could be characterized as hate speech or anti-Semitism.

Then, I ask you to consider this. In March 2011, David Horowitz spoke at Brooklyn College. Someone yesterday brought to my attention this report from the event. A few highlights:

Given this context, it was all the more disturbing last night when I looked across the crowd and saw tears run down the face of a member of the Palestine Club as Horowitz said to the group of mostly nodding heads, “All through history people have been oppressed but no people has done what the Palestinians have done—no people has shown itself so morally sick as the Palestinians have.”

Horowitz, who admitted he had actually never even been to Israel, proceeded to give everyone a lesson in Middle East politics: according to him, Muslims in the Middle East are “Islamic Nazi’s” who “want to kill Jews, that’s their agenda.” He added later, “all Muslim associations are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The most revealing moment came when a young Arab-American woman directed a question to Horowitz and the audience: “You talk about Muslims as if you know them—We have a Muslim American Society, we have a Palestine Club [on campus]. I want to raise the question to any of the Jews in this room, and students, have you guys ever been threatened by a Muslim on campus or an Arab?” To this, the crowd almost unanimously spun around in their seats to face the young woman and replied “yes.” Someone shouted, “and we’re scared when we see Muslims on buses and airplanes too.”

Horowitz encouraged anti-Muslim hate by telling the crowd, “no other people have sunk so low as the Palestinians have and yet everybody is afraid to say this,” claiming that Muslims are a “protected species in this country” and that he’s “wait[ing] for the day when the good Muslims step forward.”

(NB: I have not checked the account of Horowitz’s remarks above against the video of the event itself, which can be found here. If anyone brings to my attention any errors in that account of what Horowitz said, I will immediately correct them here.)

Horowitz delivered those remarks in the Woody Tanger Auditorium, which is in the Brooklyn College Library, the crown jewel of our campus. The event was introduced by a Brooklyn College librarian, a professor who delivered her remarks from the podium, which was emblazoned with “The Woody Tanger Auditorium.” This is what she said:

I want to welcome everyone to the Brooklyn College library. First I would like to thank Mr. Horowitz for joining us. I’m sure it will be an interesting, thought-provoking and spirited discussion. It is appropriate that tonight’s event is taking place in the library. Libraries play an important role in our society. They offer free access to ideas, a place where people may consider different points of view. Brooklyn College and the Brooklyn College library have a strong commitment to the open exchange of ideas. It is in this spirit that we welcome you tonight. We ask that each of you be respectful to our guest, and respectful of everyone’s right to express their opinions, and that you not speak out of order.

Again, I’d like to move beyond the procedural questions that have dominated the discussion for the last week or so to the more substantive question of hate speech: Who engages in it and who does not?

And to ask two follow-up questions:

First, how is it that the comments of Horowitz can be so easily admitted into the mansion of “the open exchange of ideas” while the comments of Butler and Barghouti seem to threaten the very foundation of that edifice?

And, second, what is it about this culture that people would get so exercised by the humanistic sentiments voiced by Butler and Barghouti, even with the co-sponsorship of the political science department, while giving the vile and vicious comments of Horowitz—and the blessings of its host, the Brooklyn College Library (“interesting, thought-provoking and spirited”)—a pass?

77 Responses to “Who Really Supports Hate Speech at Brooklyn College?”

  1. Jim Parry February 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    In that a minimal goal of BDS is to ostracize Israel from the so-called “international community” it is anti-Semitic. In that a minimal goal of BDS is the end of Israel as a state with a majority Jewish population, and therefore the end of a state that can guarantee the safety of Jews in Israel, it is anti-Semitic.

    I would also note that while BDS is vocal as to the plight of Palestinians displaced from or driven out of their lands during the 1948 war, BDS is silent as to what happened to nearly one million Jews in Moslem lands since World War II: driven out by those governments. While BDS has no obligation to speak to this, its silence on this undermines its claim to speak for broad humanistic values.

    BDS has every right to speak on college campuses and everywhere else. The political science department of Brooklyn College has every right to invite BDS to speak. But I have read that the political science department of Brooklyn College is hardly neutral, that it is anti-Israel, and that some pro-Israel Jewish students feel unwelcome in the department and treated unfairly by it. I do not know if this is true. While the department certainly has no obligation to be neutral in its collective beliefs, if it is not neutral its claims to have invited BDS simply as part of vigorous free speech and inquiry may be questioned.

    I would raise the same question in regards to any organization, at elite schools or elsewhere, that invite BDS. As someone fervently on the left, I have no problem with most U.S. colleges and most of their political science departments being on the left. I am appalled that increasingly in this country the academic left is becoming anti-Israel…which can easily shade into anti-Semitic.

    • Hampus February 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      The goal of BDS is to get Israel to comply with international law, I don’t know where you get the rest of your conjecture from. If most of the academic left is anti-Israel, I think this is to be entirely expected given Israel’s behavior, which is disgusting. Just as most of the academic left was, and has been for a long time (at least since the Viet Nam war)n against the US’s foreign policy, this doesn’t mean that they “hate America” or its people, this is complete non-sensical reasoning.

      • Jim Parry February 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

        Under “What is BDS?” on the BDS website, it says that BDS will run a campaign “against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” As I understand BDS’s definition of Palestinian rights, this would mean the end of Israel as a majority Jewish state, which would mean the end of the safety of the Jews of Israel, which would seem the fulfillment of an anti-Semite’s dream. As for most of the academic left “hating America”…I never said that. Do you routinely attribute to your opponents things they never said?

    • Hampus February 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      To Jim Parry: No, BDS has never taken a stance on either a two or one-state solution, your interpretation of palestinian rights is preposterous. My comment on the left “hating America” was an analogy to the ludicrious claim that to criticize the Israeli occupation is anti-Semitic. And also, far from being an “anti-Semite dream”, a one-state democratic solution for both Arabs and Jews was part of the left-Zionist idea all along.

      • Jim Parry February 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

        According to the July 2005 call, the BDS campaign urges various form of “non-violent punitive measures” against Israel until it “complies with the precepts of international law” by: ”
        1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
        2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
        3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

        As you know, if Israel were to do (1) now, unilaterally, without an enforceable security agreement with the Palestinian Authority, it would face what it presently faces from Gaza: the constant threat of rocket attacks, but now on much more of its territory.

        As you know, if Israel were to do (3) now, and if every Palestinian refugee took Israel up on this, Israel as a Jewish state would cease to exist.

        So, no, BDS doesn’t have to explicitly call for the end of Israel — it simply advocates policies that would have that effect.

        I never said and do not believe that to criticize the Israeli occupation is anti-Semitic. To advocate policies that would mean the end of Israel…is.

        As for a one-state democratic solution for both Arabs and Israel…a fine idea…perhaps possible if and when millions of Arabs stop hating Jews, stop wishing them either dead or driven into the sea.

    • Hampus February 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      I actually didn’t know that BDS demands a full right of return to the lands of 48′ Palestine, which is something a possible peace settlement would probably have to give up, seeing how most BDS:ers always focus on the 67 borders. So on that I think they’re being unreasonable.

      So you’re essentially arguing that the occupation is justifiable from a safety perspective? To me this is ludicrous; it’s obvious to anybody paying attention that the aim of the occupation is to drive the Palestinians away and increase settlements, which is why they keep building them. The reason for Hamas’ and the people of Gaza’s belligerence is Israel’s occupation, not the other way around.

      I don’t think criticizing the Israeli state, which by it’s very nature treats non-Jews as second class citizens is anti-Semitic, nor is the wish for a one-state settlement, EVEN if that means the end of Israel as it now operates.

      Your final statement is racist at best, disgusting at worst. To suggest that Arabs have, by their very nature, a hatred for Jews is quite odious, and that their disgust with Zionism is unrelated to the brutal 40-year occupation that keeps destroying their land is as stupid and offensive as claiming that Native Americans hate the “White Man”. Their belligerence is due to fear of dispossession, which is understandable.

      • Jim Parry February 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

        I didn’t say Arabs have, by nature, a hatred for Jews. Hundreds of millions of Arabs have been taught a hatred for Jews. This hatred predates Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and long pre-dates the establishment of the state of Israel. While the Israeli occupation has fanned this hatred, it has been deliberately fanned by Arab and other Middle-Eastern Moslem governments who, since 1948, have demonized Israel and Jews to divert anger from their own failures, their mistreatment of their own people. These governments don’t like the Palestinians but find them oh so very useful. Additionally, Arab hatred of Jews has increased because, while Arabs and other Middle-Eastern Moslems could “tolerate” Jews in their midst pre-1948 because these Jews were politically weak, it infuriates them that Jews have made a successful state in the neighborhood while Arab states have been, to put it kindly, a mess.

        And, to reiterate: a one-state solution that makes Jews a minority in Israel is, given how those Jews would be treated, anti-Semitic.

        As for the occupation not being justifiable from a safety perspective: If Israel were to withdraw, right now, unilaterally, to its 1967 borders, do you really think that Hamas would be content? Hamas’s stated goal is the destruction of Israel. What Israel faces today on its border with Gaza…it would face on its much longer border with Palestine, a border closer to many more Israelis.

        It is easy in the safety of the U.S.A. to advocate that. Try LIVING in the Israel that you want to see.

    • Donald February 10, 2013 at 12:54 am #

      It isn’t anti-semitic for Palestinians and their supporters to want Israel to become a secular democracy with equal rights for all regardless of ethnicity or religion. It’s entirely natural for Palestinians to want this and it could only be called anti-semitic if one simply blots Palestinian claims to live in their own homeland out of one’s head.

      I’m not saying a 1SS solution is practical, but then a big chunk of the reason it isn’t practical isn’t just that all those evil Arabs hate Jews–it’s also because modern day Zionists take for granted that Palestinians don’t have the same rights to live in Israel (even though they came from there one generation back) as, say, someone from Brooklyn.

      There’s some weird disconnect in the conversation in America, where we applaud Arab liberals everywhere except in Palestine, where they are lumped together with the most extreme Islamists as Jew-haters.

      I don’t really expect Israel to become a secular democracy with equal rights for all, any more than I am optimistic about Egypt in the short run.
      But in neither case is the fault that of Arab liberals.

  2. Frank February 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    It’s hard to have a reasonable conversation when you refuse to admit your opponents position have any merit, dismissing claims that there might actually be something antisemitic to Butler’s or Barghouti’s views, while using an obviously racist speaker as somehow emblematic of your opponents. Is this seriously how you want to characterize this debate? We’re not racists, you guys are? Doesn’t say much for elevating this debate.

    • hophmi February 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      I think you’re largely raising a straw man, Professor. Most people have not objected to the BDS event on grounds that it is hate speech. The objection has been over the feeling that PoliSci supports the event.

      And with all due respect, while Barghouti and Butler certainly do not use the language Horowitz does, many in the BDS movement use similar language all the time. You can read it at Mondoweiss, a major English-language hub of pro-Palestinian activism, where the Jewish community is regularly accused of being responsible for the Iraq War and accused of pushing war with Iran in the actual blogposts, and accused, repeatedly, of controlling the media and the financial system (and worse) in the MODERATED comments section, usually with none of the condemnation Judith Butler called for last night. Let’s be honest about it. There is exceeding little condemnation of antisemitism in the BDS movement.

      There is, moreover, a structural critique that the focus on Israel from a human rights standpoint is obsessive and selective. Indeed, there are literally dozens of Islamic states, many with much more serious human rights problems. You can start with Syria. But there seems to be relatively little focus on them in the academy or in the hard left organizations that drive the BDS movement, certainly nothing compared to the amount of time and effort spent on Israel.

      • Linda J February 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        Hophmi sea “And with all due respect, while Barghouti and Butler certainly do not use the language Horowitz does, many in the BDS movement use similar language all the time.”

        As a long–standing member of the BDS movement, I challenge you to present evidence of that remark.

        You stand refuted, as I know you cannot back that statement with facts.

      • Jacob February 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

        You’ve got the shills just tripping over each other to rebuke you, Corey. Good job.

      • Deborah February 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

        Sponsorship of an event on a university campus is not endorsement of the viewpoints presented. It is to allow their presentation. What is legitimated is the presentation of viewpoints, not necessarily agreement with those viewpoints.

        On another note, I would argue that there is a difference between Israel and Syria that matters; Israel claims to be a democracy. Unfortunately, Syria does not. Democracies are supposed to be held to a higher standard–at least that’s what they claim about themselves–than dictatorships. Israeli occupation is supported by US tax dollars. The Syrian occupation of Lebanon was actively opposed by the US government.

        Nonetheless, there are plenty, I mean plenty, of critics of Israel who also have been stalwart critics of the Syrian regime as well as the authoritarian practices of a number of Arab governments, especially Saudi Arabia.

      • hophmi February 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

        Linda J.:

        You’ve refuted nothing. You obviously do not read Mondoweiss or its comments, or the rhetoric of many associated with the BDS movement. Today, there is a whole group of people complaining there (yet again) about how Gilad Atzmon, an apostate Jew who has regularly suggested that the Jews killed Jesus, is not more visible in the movement.

        Citing David Horowitz is a complete straw man; I’d still like to hear who exactly sponsored his speech. Very few people suggested Butler and Barghouti should not be permitted to speak altogether.

        And by the way, let’s get something clear. It is true that Israel and Judaism are not the same thing. But the overwhelming majority of Jews on this earth support the concept of a Jewish state and view the idea of its dissolution, an idea widely promoted by BDS advocates, even if the BDS movement refuses to own up to it, as outrageous 65 years after the Jews were annihilated in the Holocaust. The entire narrative of casting a state made up in large part of refugees from Europe and the Middle East as a state of European interlopers in inaccurate and disgusting.

        So Butler is really missing the point when she makes this distinction, which no one really questioned in the first place.

        You stand refuted.

      • annie February 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

        hops, do not make up stories about what’s going on in the comments of mondoweiss. there is no ‘whole group of people’ there are 3. and the only reason atzmon’s name came up was someone wrote “It’s also ironic that Barghouti criticizes ‘McCarthyism’, when he opposes free speech re. Atzmon.” and the debate is around whether that amounts to a ‘free speech’ issue. no one is debating atzmon. you should use links if you’re going to try buttressing your arguments with lies about other sites.

      • Barbara Mazor February 10, 2013 at 1:59 am #

        @Linda J at 4:15pm February 8.

        Do you consider Greta Berlin and the Free Gaza Movement as part of the BDS universe?

        If yes, how do you categorize her October promotion of a video of Eustace Mullins claiming “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.”

        Perhaps as bad as anything said by Hororwitz?

    • Hampus February 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      I think it’s inconclusively fair to dismiss the claim that to be critical of a state’s occupation is somehow anti-semitic, it’s complete non-sense, in the absolute meaning of those words: it doesn’t make sense, and it is therefore to be dismissed.

      • hophmi February 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

        No one suggested that criticizing the occupation is antisemitic.

  3. ckg February 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups like KKK and Westboro Baptist, published a report in 2011 titled “The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle”. The report includes a profile of David Horowitz.

  4. Sancho February 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    I don’t have any particular love for Palestine, but I will not tolerate the Israel lobby pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining, nor the American right using the language of human rights and state security to push a strictly religious agenda that prophesises Jewish domination of the Middle East as a precondition of the second coming.

    • jonnybutter February 8, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

      Thank you Sancho. And furthermore: shame on some of you for effectively identifying Jewishness itself with the grubby dysfunctional politics of Israel and that region; with sentiments like those of racist thugs like Avigdor Lieberman and shameless scoundrels like Netanyahu. No. It’s insulting to Judaism and by the way destructive of Israel in the long run. Not to mention the whole cynical alliance with Christianist reactionaries in the US which Sancho alludes to. The whole thing is just rotten and nauseating.

      • Diana February 10, 2013 at 12:56 am #

        The more I read about Isreal, the more I think they zionists should be handed over to their “Christian” allies lock, stock, and barrel… and the more I read about any of these monotheistic religions, they all seem to boil down to one principle: control teh womminz.

        Taliban: more afraid of girls going to school than of drones; Islamicists preach women should wear burkas.

        Christian: it’s against their “religious freedom” for women to get birth control, let alone abortions, or otherwise provide for their health.

        Jewish: Even in NYC, all of whose residents should know better, there are Orthodox “modesty squads” that complain about shop windows: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/nyregion/shadowy-squads-enforce-modesty-in-hasidic-brooklyn.html

        And don’t get me started on teh gay. Oh man does that one get them all upset.

        Seriously, who with a modern education could belong to any of these religions? Ban all states which require any kind of religion, is my view. No exception for Jewish.

  5. BillR February 9, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    btw, folks debating hardcore Zionists is about as wishful as engaging in a thoughtful exchange of ideas with creationists from East Texas. Here’s a summary of their modus operandi or hasbara:

    http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-to-make-case-for-israel-and-win.html

    • Jim Parry February 9, 2013 at 6:16 am #

      I’ve never thought of myself as a “hardcore Zionist.” Before yesterday, I never engaged in a debate on the web. I thought we were having a serious debate here, with ideas and facts. I thought this might be like a college seminar so many years ago. Naive, right? Because what did I find here? One person attributed to me positions I do not hold (that the academic left “hates America”) and then called me names (“racist”). And now what do you contribute? Sarcasm, nastiness. I would tell you to go back to the fourth-grade playground except that would be dropping down to your level. The only thing that is “hardcore” about me is a devotion to freedom and fairness. In this case, free expression and a fair exchange of views. Could you aspire to that?

      • annie February 9, 2013 at 11:06 am #

        jim, if you’re interested in a ‘serious debate’ why are you prefacing your arguments (February 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm )with statements like ‘As you know’, implying your views (about israel ‘ceasing to exist’) are agreed established fact? these sorts of talking points, whether you realize it or not, are hardcore.

        here’s what we do know, ending apartheid in SA did not lead to SA ceasing to exist. stating as fact, that the result of some future event israel ‘would face what it presently faces’ implies israel’s present actions have no bearing on resistance to those actions. common sense would dictate otherwise. as long as one (like yourself) doesn’t consider resistance as part of a reaction to oppression, then what’s the point engaging in a debate?

        it’s irrelevant whether you ever engaged in a debate on the web before, your arguments are stale and have been rehashed a million times over. resorting to ad hominems ‘go back to the fourth-grade playground ‘ while not applying the rudiments of respectful debate yourself is exactly the kind of tactics regularly used by hardcore zionists. so if you want respect, be respectful.

      • annie February 9, 2013 at 11:17 am #

        also jim, re your whining about your mistreatment; you might consider everyone here isn’t necessarily addressing you. just because you’re all over the comment section responding to every entry doesn’t mean this is your private forum. try listening and seeing what kind of conversation develops sans your infinite wisdom. or not.

  6. Erstwhile Anthropologist February 9, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    “And, second, what is it about this culture that people would get so exercised by the humanistic sentiments voiced by Butler and Barghouti, even with the co-sponsorship of the political science department, while giving the vile and vicious comments of Horowitz—and the blessings of its host, the Brooklyn College Library (“interesting, thought-provoking and spirited”)—a pass?”

    The one-word answer: power. Power always determines who can speak, how, when, and whether or not content will be judged as ‘reasonable’/’meaningless’ or not.

    Yes, it always amazes me how some, like David Horowitz, are constantly rewarded for their hateful speech, while those who speak in opposition to such hate speech are the ones branded as supporting hate speech. But this sort of hypocrisy happens all the time, sadly.

    • Erstwhile Anthropologist February 9, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      I also think the role of the US as itself a settler society founded through racialized dispossession is also part of the answer to your question, Corey. Along with the racialization of Jews as white and Israel as (a) ‘Western’ (democracy), while Arabs and Muslims are racialized as non-white Others (with all the forms of dehumanization this then makes possible).

    • Jim Parry February 9, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      Humanistic sentiments? The goal of BDS is the end of Israel as a Jewish state — hence, given the hatred of Jews in the immediate neighborhood, the end of Israel as a place where Jews can be somewhat secure. While BDS never explicitly states this as a goal, that would be the result of the policies it advocates. But Omar Barghouti does explicitly state this as his goal. Barghouti and many others are simply offended that there IS a Jewish state. Barghouti says, “Israel is the only country on earth that does not define itself as a state of its citizens. It’s a state of the ‘Jewish people.'” Barghouti’s intellectual dishonesty here is breathtaking. A casual Google search will reveal the “Islamic Republics” of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. And try practicing a religion other than Islam within the borders of, say, Saudi Arabia. No, Barghouti seems careful to never indulge in hate speech. But he hates that Jews dare maintain a country they can call their own.

      • mrichard February 9, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        Jim Parry: “As for the occupation not being justifiable from a safety perspective: If Israel were to withdraw, right now, unilaterally, to its 1967 borders, do you really think that Hamas would be content?”

        Since nobody here wants to appease Hamas, it’s difficult to see the relevance of that question.

        Jim Parry: “One person attributed to me positions I do not hold (that the academic left ‘hates America’)”

        That is incorrect. No one attributed that view to you.

        “…and then called me names (‘racist’).”

        Also incorrect. A statement of yours was characterized as “racist”; you were not.

        “The goal of BDS is the end of Israel as a Jewish state”

        This too is untrue.

        “Omar Barghouti does explicitly state this as his goal. Barghouti and many others are simply offended that there IS a Jewish state.”

        These are blatant falsehoods. I have to agree with a previous poster: nonsense is an apt word here. And since you so enjoy your fantasies about being called names, Mr Perry, I’ll now call you a name in reality: You are a boob.

      • Jim Parry February 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

        Won’t bother responding to all.

        Just this:

        Sancho says, “The ideal outcome of the BDS movement is that Israel stops behaving like a superpower at the expense of western democracies and adopts the humility its size and provenance warrants. That’s all.”

        Ah, “humility.” Does this mean, Sancho, that Jews should “know their place”?

        Ah, “size.” Does this mean, Sancho, that only large nations have the right to defend themselves?

        Ah, “provenance.” Does this mean, Sancho, that Israel’s origins are not quite legitimate?

        Hey, Sancho, if you don’t want anyone to think you’re an anti-Semite, don’t talk like one.

      • Sancho February 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

        Just a couple of posts back you were offended that people attributed to you views that you don’t hold, based on weak association, and now look at you making malicious accusations which you even state are based on assumptions.

        The ideal outcome of the BDS movement is that Israel stops behaving like a superpower at the expense of western democracies and adopts the humility its size and provenance warrants. That’s all.

        BDS is undoubtedly a magnet for genuine anti-Semites, but if Israel can’t survive without bullying critics into conceding that Israeli terrorism is peace-keeping and Israeli aggression is self-defence, then it’s a monstrous state that doesn’t deserve support from reasonable citizens.

        If Arab states or groups commit acts of terrorism or outright warfare against non-aggressors, then by all means treat it with due gravity. But don’t tell me I support the destruction of Israel simply because I object to being called an anti-Semite for pointing out that maybe bulldozing established Arab homes to make room for Jewish immigrants isn’t the act of a respectable nation – let alone a weak one at risk of perishing if not constantly showered with weapons and money.

        Good that you mentioned Saudi Arabia, too. That business of the US making a sixty billion dollar arms sale to the kingdom just three years ago demonstrates the realpolitik behind the confected claims of Israel being the west’s only middle eastern ally.

      • nillionaire February 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

        Do you see any tension in the fact that you defend Israel primarily on the grounds that it is “a place where Jews can be somewhat secure,” but simultaneously insist that the bounds of justice must be stretched because, otherwise, Israel can’t be secure?

        Let’s take Zionist fears seriously for a moment. For the sake of argument, let’s agree that the Arab people have been instilled with anti-Semetic hatred and will accept nothing less than the end of Israel. Let’s agree that Israelis live in daily fear of terrorism, and that giving even an inch will only make that terrorism worse.

        Under that framework, how can anyone defend Israel as a Jewish sanctuary? If we take the Zionists seriously with regard to the threat Arabs pose to them, wouldn’t the Jewish people be more secure in _Berlin_, let alone Manhattan?

        The fact is, the Jewish people already have a nation that will accept them, a country with almost no history of anti-Semetic violence, a land of opportunity where religious freedom is upheld to the highest possible standard. The nation is called “America,” and as a native born resident, I invite any and all Israelis to join us.

      • Jim Parry February 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

        So you want an end to Israel. Well, at least, unlike some other defenders of BDS, you are honest in stating your goal. Congrats. And let’s say, someday, America’s rightwing crazies gain so much power, with their assault rifles and their friends in Congress, that we American liberals feel threatened? Feel we would be more secure in, say, Sweden? Would you then say, sure, let’s give up our country, run away?

      • annie February 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        nillionaire, i suppose that would be a ‘no’. jim doesn’t see any tension in the fact that he defends Israel primarily on the grounds that it is “a place where Jews can be somewhat secure,” but simultaneously insists that the bounds of justice must be stretched because, otherwise, Israel can’t be secure.

        furthermore jim seems unaware most people are already familiar with strawman arguments and can see right thru his worthless accusatory point scoring tactics. i don’t think he’s interested in any sort of respectful interchange he’s just here to spam the thread.

      • nillionaire February 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

        Maybe I would flee to Sweden, Jim, and maybe I wouldn’t (realistically, I definitely wouldn’t, because Canada is closer, with a lot more space and English speakers). But if I chose to stay I would be forthright about my reasons–I’d say it was about pride, about my ties to my hometown and my parents’ farm, maybe even about some lingering faith I have in American ideals.

        I wouldn’t insist America was the only place where leftists could be safe, conjuring up implications of the long history of anti-leftist violence and accusing opponent of enabling the Pinochets and Francos of the world.

        And I definitely wouldn’t pack rightists into open-air prisons, And if that apartheid was the only method of maintaining my (relative) safety, then, yes, I would move. I’m a actually big fan of maple syrup.

      • freespeechlover February 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

        I think part of what at issue here is the phrase “Jewish state.” Does a Jewish state by definition have to promulgate differential rights between those who claim Jewish descent and those who do not? What of the Palestinian Arab non-Jewish citizens of Israel, who are now approx. 20% of the population who hold Israeli citizenship? How would you position them within a “Jewish state”? Can Israel be a Jewish state on a non-exclusionary basis–that is can Israel be a state in which membership in such a state is based on residency rather than ethnic exclusivity?

      • Eli B February 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

        ‘Barghouti’s intellectual dishonesty here is breathtaking. A casual Google search will reveal the “Islamic Republics” of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.’
        In other words, they define themselves in religious terms. Not in terms of being a state of a certain people. You are being imprecise.
        (I am no fan of Barghouti or BDS, but your comments here suggest that you’re a bit out of your depth…)

      • donald February 10, 2013 at 1:06 am #

        Jim, I’m looking at all your comments and as best I can tell, it never occurs to you to look at the issue from the Palestinian point of view. From their POV, which happens to be accurate, they were living in their own villages until 1948, when many fled or were forced out, including many who were on good terms with their Jewish neighbors. So why wouldn’t they want to return? To say that this desire is anti-semitic as you keep doing means you place zero value on what appears to be a basic human right.

        A 1SS may be impractical, but if so, it’s because of hatred and intolerance and bigotry on BOTH sides, not just the Arabs as you seem to think.

        As for Jews who were expelled from Arab lands (some came voluntarily, but yes, many were expelled), how does that make it any better? If you’re saying that Israel can’t be expected to be any better than its neighbors, then fine. As an American it’s not my business to force other countries to live up to decent human rights standards. But we are continually being told that Israel shares our values. Perhaps so, given our own crimes, but it’s a pretty depressing thought.

    • Eli B February 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      nillionaire said:

      “Under that framework, how can anyone defend Israel as a Jewish sanctuary? If we take the Zionists seriously with regard to the threat Arabs pose to them, wouldn’t the Jewish people be more secure in _Berlin_, let alone Manhattan?

      The fact is, the Jewish people already have a nation that will accept them, a country with almost no history of anti-Semetic violence, a land of opportunity where religious freedom is upheld to the highest possible standard. The nation is called “America,” and as a native born resident, I invite any and all Israelis to join us.”

      Perhaps this statement was being made purely in response to Jim Parry’s assertions about safety, but the end of the post seems to put lie to that idea. We Jews are still a people, and whatever the security situation in Israel-Palestine is, their legitimate *national* aspirations to self-govern in their ancient homeland still stand, and are not to be so casually thrown aside. Shouldn’t any people, then, be free to pursue what means are necessary to protect and defend that state? Themselves? Why should they have to run to some other safe haven?**

      Moreover, America has not always left its borders open wide enough to function as an asylum state – remember the St Louis? – not simply for Jews, but persecuted minorities the world over. A contemporary example: the policy of the United States government at this moment is that Cuban refugees are political, while Haitian refugees are economic. If you ask the refugees themselves what their running from, you’ll soon find that these characterizations are exactly backwards; with little more effort, the political motivation behind them becomes clear. So even if the people of the state itself do not discriminate (consciously) against a population – and though the United States has been better for Jewry by historic standards, it’s not as if there is no history of discrimination against them whatsoever – well, part of being a sanctuary (your word) is, um, being able to enter it. On that score, there is no guarantee for any minority (even if, in today’s political climate, Jews would probably fair better than they have in the past).

      **None of this is to defend the policies or actions of the current Israeli government, or the military occupation of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank. Self-determination is one thing; if it has to be enforced by subjugation of another population by force, that’s quite another. That said, I don’t support a complete, unilateral pullout – political demands cannot be ignored – but not because I think settlement (which should cease expanding and start receding) or the military presence there is somehow legitimate.

  7. BarryB February 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Let’s see. Where were we, before this train was deliberated derailed? Oh, right:

    “First, how is it that the comments of Horowitz can be so easily admitted into the mansion of “the open exchange of ideas” while the comments of Butler and Barghouti seem to threaten the very foundation of that edifice?”

    • freespeechlover February 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      LOL.

      • hophmi February 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

        Again, it’s a complete straw man. Virtually no one has suggested that Butler and Barghouti should have been prohibited from speaking. The only protest was over what was perceived, not without justification, as the political science department’s endorsement of their views. That is it.

      • donald February 10, 2013 at 1:08 am #

        Hophmi, nobody has threatened to cut funding to a school because people like Horowitz spoke there, or at least not that I’ve heard.

      • GiT February 11, 2013 at 5:00 am #

        Except there is no justification for viewing what occurred as an endorsement, other than ignorance or perversity.

        Academic departments hold all manner of events. Anyone at all familiar with one would know that an event occurring under the aegis of a department doesn’t communicate anything about what ‘the department’ supports or endorses. In fact, academic departments rarely endorse anything, other than tenure track faculty and dissertations.

    • Eli B February 9, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

      ‘The only protest was over what was perceived, not without justification, as the political science department’s endorsement of their views.’

      On what basis does that perception rest? The main objection was based on the PolySci department’s co-sponsorship. That argument is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. If it is because of the standard trope among hasbarists that universities hate Israel, well, then the same argument could be made about any department at any university, and the effect would be to muzzle speech in any and all cases.

      • hophmi February 11, 2013 at 10:31 am #

        ” That argument is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. ”

        I’ve been one to criticize those who tried to argue that endorsement and sponsorship were the same thing. But clearly, something is wrong with the system when those who receive sponsorship interpret it as endorsement, and when every other sponsor of the event is an SJP that is clearly endorsing it.

        If you want to show that sponsorship is not the same thing as endorsement, writing paeans to the lectures delivered at the event the day after it happens is not a great way to do that.

      • Corey Robin February 11, 2013 at 11:14 am #

        It was a department that co-sponsored this BDS event; it was an individual who wrote the posts on this blog. There is a difference.

      • hophmi February 11, 2013 at 11:35 am #

        Yes, Corey, but you’ve been probably the most visible member of the department to speak to the press. You have to look at this from the POV of the average person, not as a member of the PoliSci department. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and why I’ve argued with you about your handling of the matter and why I’ve had as big an argument with Lew Fidler about it, because I’ve been on record as saying that the heavy-handedness of the approach did little except give the BDS movement a lot of publicity and make those who criticized the event look like censors.

        If you were trying to interpret whether an organization endorsed an event, and you saw that the organization was listed as a sponsor along with a collection of other organizations that are clearly supportive, and then you saw that visible members of the organization expressed support for those who spoke at the event afterward and criticized those of opposing viewpoints who had spoken in the same place previously, what would you conclude?

        Most people outside of the academic community care little for parsing out the bureaucratic distinction between two terms that are supposed to be fairly synonymous. Maybe it’s because they have a hard time understanding why one would sponsor something they do not endorse or why, if such sponsorship is routine, they would not provide some proof that they had a history of non-partisan sponsorship of events like these.

        If the PoliSci department sponsored, say, a pro-Israel speech by Alan Dershowitz and Malcolm Hoenlein, and the other sponsors were the ADL, AIPAC, four or five Hillels from the area, and the flyer listed all the sponsors as endorsers, and then, after insisting that sponsorship and endorsement were different, the only members of the department to speak publicly after the event linked to Dershowitz’s speech and spoke about how great it was, what would you conclude, and would you buy the disavowals of the department after the fact?

    • Malcolm Schosha February 11, 2013 at 8:14 am #

      It appears that Horowitz’s appearance was a minor part of the 2011 Israel Apartheid Week. As far as I know the Political Science Dept was not concerned enough about diversity in that event to endorse he appearance, or suggest an alternative critic of BDS.

      There is a fiction that BDS is just a normal democratice expression of Palestinian push back against their issues with Israel. In fact BDS has been denounced by such veteran Israel bashers as Noam Chomsky (who said BDS “hypocrisy rises to heaven”) and Norman Finkelstein (who described BDS as a “hypocritical, dishonest cult”).

      But apparently Corey has not manege to find a single thing in this BDS event deserving of criticism, nor a single thing said by the critics of this event that deserves praise.

      • Brahmski February 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

        Outstanding point, Malcolm!!! And with that, surely, the time has come for CoreyRobin.com to close down this discussion forum (see CR’s threat/plan to do so above). Free speech — aint it grand? I mean until someone disagrees with you…

      • jonnybutter February 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

        BDS has been denounced by such veteran Israel bashers as Noam Chomsky (who said BDS “hypocrisy rises to heaven”) and Norman Finkelstein (who described BDS as a “hypocritical, dishonest cult”).

        This gets to the heart of the problem, right here. There is a difference between an honest critic and a ‘basher’. ‘Bashing’ sounds reflexive – mindless, in a sense. A critic is anything but mindless or careless; a critic cares very much. The issue in this whole brouha is about the hysteria to forbid any honest criticism of the political state of Israel, particularly from Americans. Hello: criticism is not the same as bashing. When you lose the ability to be critical, you can end up destroying what you are trying to preserve. I mean, it’s very human to do that, but it’s better to not do it!

  8. brahmsky February 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Who really supports hate? Who supports fascist racists like Hamas and Hezbollah? Try this, from Alan Johnson’s recent review of Butler:

    “Notoriously, Judith Butler said the following about those violent Jew-haters of Hamas and Hezbollah.

    I think: Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements. (…) So again, a critical, important engagement. I mean, I certainly think it should be entered into the conversation on the Left. I similarly think boycotts and divestment procedures are, again, an essential component of any resistance movement.

    Surprised by the outraged reaction to her comments, Butler ‘redescribed’ what she had said in a public statement.

    My remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah have been taken out of context… I was asked by a member of an academic audience… whether I thought Hamas and Hezbollah belonged to ‘the global left’ and I replied with two points. My first point was merely descriptive: those political organisations define themselves as anti-imperialist, and anti-imperialism is one characteristic of the global left, so on that basis one could describe them as part of the global left. My second point was then critical: as with any group on the left, one has to decide whether one is for that group or against that group, and one needs to critically evaluate their stand. I do not accept or endorse all groups on the global left.

    But this just won’t do. As Jay Adler has pointed out, ‘Little of what Butler now claims is true. Her remarks were not “merely descriptive.” The two organisations she described not just as left, but as, actually, “progressive,” and Butler called it “important” to so understand them.’ Adler rightly adds: ‘She did not offer the choice of support for the groups – and why endorse even the choice? – but called understanding Hamas and Hezbollah as progressive, left social movements to be a “critical, important engagement.”’

    It is not a matter of playing ‘gotcha’ with Judith Butler, but of reading her so as to understand something profoundly important: the AZI is a danger not just to the homeland of the Jewish people but also – and what an irony this is, given the thrust of Butler’s book – to Jews in the diaspora.”

    That’s from the current issue of FATHOM.

    • Eli B February 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

      While I don’t think the event should have been cancelled, I cannot agree with Butler’s ideas with respect to what Judaism is, if they are as characterized below in the Fathom article.

      http://www.fathomjournal.org/reviews-culture/parting-ways/

      It is pretty well-written; I’m not done reading it just yet. Everybody here, pro- or anti-, should take a look at it.
      The full text of Butler’s controversial 2006 comments can be found here:

      http://radicalarchives.org/2010/03/28/jbutler-on-hamas-hezbollah-israel-lobby/

      I’m not sure the above characterization of them makes sense, but conceiving of Hamas/Hezbollah as being part of the global left sounds like a partial endorsement.

      • GiT February 11, 2013 at 5:06 am #

        If I were to say that Communist China or the former USSR or Pol Pot were or are part of the “Global Left” would you think I was endorsing them?

        Or would you think that I was describing how participants in those political projects viewed themselves as following upon and engaging in the discourse and ideology of political thinkers and parties that have been ‘of the left’?

        Either every bad government is outside of political ideology, or one engages in some tortuous argument such that all bad political movements ever are on “the right” (or the left, see Jonah Goldberg for this), or, if one doesn’t want to be completely ridiculous, one accepts that, say, Lenin engaged rhetorically and intellectually with *left* politics, and that this says nothing about the left in general.

  9. Eli B February 9, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    nillionaire said:

    “Under that framework, how can anyone defend Israel as a Jewish sanctuary? If we take the Zionists seriously with regard to the threat Arabs pose to them, wouldn’t the Jewish people be more secure in _Berlin_, let alone Manhattan?

    The fact is, the Jewish people already have a nation that will accept them, a country with almost no history of anti-Semetic violence, a land of opportunity where religious freedom is upheld to the highest possible standard. The nation is called “America,” and as a native born resident, I invite any and all Israelis to join us.”

    Perhaps this statement was being made purely in response to Jim Parry’s assertions about safety, but the end of the post seems to put lie to that idea. We Jews are still a people, and whatever the security situation in Israel-Palestine is, their legitimate *national* aspirations to self-govern in their ancient homeland still stand, and are not to be so casually thrown aside. Shouldn’t any people, then, be free to pursue what means are necessary to protect and defend that state? Themselves? Why should they have to run to some other safe haven?**

    Moreover, America has not always left its borders open wide enough to function as an asylum state – remember the St Louis? – not simply for Jews, but persecuted minorities the world over. A contemporary example: the policy of the United States government at this moment is that Cuban refugees are political, while Haitian refugees are economic. If you ask the refugees themselves what their running from, you’ll soon find that these characterizations are exactly backwards; with little more effort, the political motivation behind them becomes clear. So even if the people of the state itself do not discriminate (consciously) against a population – and though the United States has been better for Jewry by historic standards, it’s not as if there is no history of discrimination against them whatsoever – well, part of being a sanctuary (your word) is, um, being able to enter it. On that score, there is no guarantee for any minority (even if, in today’s political climate, Jews would probably fair better than they have in the past).

    **None of this is to defend the policies or actions of the current Israeli government, or the military occupation of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank. Self-determination is one thing; if it has to be enforced by subjugation of another population by force, that’s quite another. That said, I don’t support a complete, unilateral pullout – political demands cannot be ignored – but not because I think settlement (which should cease expanding and start receding) or the military presence there is somehow legitimate.

  10. Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom February 10, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    a well written, well-argued piece, Corey. May it engender better listening on all sides, and open minds and hearts.

  11. jonnybutter February 10, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Horowitz: “(,,,) no people has shown itself so morally sick as the Palestinians have.”…. Muslims are a “protected species in this country” [my emphasis]

    Butler: “Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements.”

    Sound morally equivalent?

    Jim claims upthread that BDS is anti-semitic to the extent that it wants to ostracize Israel from the ‘international community’. The truth is that Israel has ostracized itself from much of that community without any help from BDS (as if), and – more substantially – has done so despite the sins of Hamas and Hezbollah. That takes some serious doing.

    • hophmi February 10, 2013 at 10:30 am #

      Horowitz: “(,,,) no people has shown itself so morally sick as the Palestinians have.”…. Muslims are a “protected species in this country” [my emphasis]

      Butler: “Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements.”

      Sound morally equivalent?

      Oh no, it’s not morally equivalent. Butler is far, far worse.

      What you’re forgetting, jonnybutter, is that Horowitz is a partisan guy, hard-right, unashamedly so. He does not run away from that fact. Most people, outside of the right, have no interest in what he is or what he says. The entirety of his work is as a talking head. He’s easily dismissible.

      Butler is considered one of the more important philosophers in the United States, and it’s not hard to see that some of these younger professors at BC are big fans of her. And thus, when she says something as utterly ridiculous as this, when she promotes the idea that movements that are in reality ultra, ultra right-wing conservative movements, violent, ethnically exclusive, exclusively male, anti-democracy, anti-UN, hurtful in their own societies, hurtful to every possible aspect of progress, when she says they are “progressive”, “Left”, part of the “global Left”, she signs the death warrant for the Left, because she places it in an alliance of convenience with the world’s most retrograde forces. This is through-the-looking-glass thinking. It is arrogant; like so many, she has to refract these groups through a Western prism. When respected progressives make statements like this, they discredit themselves.

      And yes, it is extraordinarily offensive to most Jews. Progressive groups? These are groups that have no compunction about blowing up small children in cafes. They celebrate these acts of murder. And whatever her “criticism,” it is without question not the norm amongst BDS proponents to criticize; in fact, they always claim that it not their place to do so.

      • Donald February 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

        Isn’t it normal for even liberal Israel supporters to downplay Israeli crimes, hophmi? In fact, the Obama Administration has even denied that Israel committed war crimes in the 2009 Gaza War. That’s a fairly typical stance taken by many (not all) liberal Zionists–someone might criticize the settlement policy in general terms and say it is wrong, but to stop there and never to criticize Israel’s killing of civilians in the same terms they’d use when discussing Hamas.

        There are some liberal Zionists on the other hand who are honest about Israel’s crimes, including the Nakba, and yet say that the Zionist project of a Jewish state is something that progressives should defend. That would be the moral equivalent of what Butler said. I can respect people like that–they are trying to argue that in theory it might have been possible to create a Jewish state without ethnic cleansing. Hard to imagine, given the actual history, but they aren’t defending the actual atrocities.

        Whether Butler is or isn’t an “intellectual” is hardly relevant. Obviously she thinks that Hamas and Hezbollah are “progressive” to the extent that they fight against oppression of their own people. I don’t like the terminology, personally, but it’s entirely normal for people on both the left and the right to romanticize “freedom fighters”, which generally turn out to be groups that have committed terrorist acts. Some liberal Zionists still wish to pretend that Haganah was a morally pure organization and that it was only the far right groups like Irgun that committed atrocities in the 48 war. So here’s another analogy–Butler is better than any Zionist who has said that the founding of Israel was a progressive project and hasn’t admitted the morally dubious means that were needed to establish it.

        To say that Butler is worse than Horowitz just means you’re using a double standard. Show me where Horowitz has admitted to Israeli atrocities and condemned them.

      • hophmi February 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

        “Isn’t it normal for even liberal Israel supporters to downplay Israeli crimes, hophmi?”

        You’re welcome to the opinion that Israel’s sins of defense are the same as Hamas’s sins of terrorism. The POV of the BDS movement is generally that everything Israel does is a crime, indeed, its very existence is a crime, which is why it calls for full right of return of refugees and BDS of the entire country, not just its post-1967 occupation.

        “There are some liberal Zionists on the other hand who are honest about Israel’s crimes, including the Nakba, and yet say that the Zionist project of a Jewish state is something that progressives should defend. That would be the moral equivalent of what Butler said.”

        Again, there’s a context. The Nakba was a fairly routine event that happens during internecine wars. There is far from universal agreement about what exactly it was. And In terms of what progressives should defend, it seems much more appropriate for them to defend the progressive liberal democratic, ethnically and racially diverse society much of Israel is rather than the religiously fundamentalist, conservative society that prevails in much of Palestine, but particularly in Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas areas like Gaza.

        The embrace of Hezbollah is simply baffling. This is an organization that is responsible for international terrorism (Bulgaria, Argentina, etc.), murdering their political opponents in Lebanon (Hariri), dismissing the UN investigation of the incident, and so on. Not to mention support of the Syrian butcher, Assad.

        “Whether Butler is or isn’t an “intellectual” is hardly relevant. ”

        It’s quite relevant. People with high intellectual prestige should always be held to a higher standard, because they have greater influence.

        “Some liberal Zionists still wish to pretend that Haganah was a morally pure organization and that it was only the far right groups like Irgun that committed atrocities in the 48 war.”

        No one believes the Haganah was perfect. But in term of atrocities, it is true that most atrocities of the 1948 War were committed by Irgun and Lehi members.

        “Butler is better than any Zionist who has said that the founding of Israel was a progressive project and hasn’t admitted the morally dubious means that were needed to establish it.”

        No, she really isn’t., Because the case for Israel has much, much more in common with progressivism than any case for Hamas and Hezbollah. The State of Israel, whatever its sins, was established as a modern liberal democratic state, largely to serve as a home for Holocaust refugees (which was why it was ultimately approved at the UN), and later, for Arab refugees. There’s no such movement in Palestine, which remains a culturally conservative place with little vestige of democracy or liberalism, and little tolerance for minority populations.

        “To say that Butler is worse than Horowitz just means you’re using a double standard. Show me where Horowitz has admitted to Israeli atrocities and condemned them.”

        You’re comparing apples and oranges. Horowitz is not a major figure among Zionists. Butler is a major figure in the BDS movement.

      • Brahmski February 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

        Outstanding, hophmi! Well said. My god, how did you ever find this website? Your comments are so apt, precisely correct, rational and truly progressive rather than the pseudo-left racist demagogy that there is so much of these days on this subject in particular. I can’t believe my eyes.

      • donald February 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

        Sins of defense? That’s the euphemism for using white phosphorus in populated areas? All of the major human rights groups have harshly criticized Israel’s war crimes and as for “defense”, the best I’ll grant you is that it is rather difficult to tell who shot first in any Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The way Israel defenders tend to see it is this–the daily brutality (sometimes lethal) that Israel inflicts on Palestinians is just part of the background noise, while rockets fired into Israel are terrorism. So by definition Israel’s larger scale acts of violence are “defense”.

        And of course the Nakba was a crime, just as the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries was a crime. Step outside the partisanship that people often fall into on this issue and there shouldn’t be any difficulty in spotting indefensible acts committed by practically every faction in the Mideast. It’s only a particular form of bias that would deny this about Israel.

        Was the Nakba a fairly routine event in internecine wars? Well, yes, of course it was, if one wants to stand back and observe it without making moral judgments. So is terrorism. In fact, the Nakba was terrorism and ethnic cleansing and you’re right–it’s a perfectly normal sort of behavior for people trying to take land that belongs to others and in ethnic conflicts in general. But when you talk about Arab terrorism, you suddenly drop the objective stance and speak more emotionally about right and wrong. You’re not consistent.

        That also goes for Hezbollah. I don’t like Hezbollah or any other group that murders civilians (like the IDF), but if you want to talk about alliances with mass murderers, Israel has a rather sordid history itself, as they were allied with apartheid South Africa and some nasty folk in Latin America, like Rios Montt in Guatemala. Do you think that Israel wouldn’t do the same thing now if their interests required it? Certainly the US doesn’t hesitate.

        It’d be appropriate for progressives to ally themselves with a democratic Israel if Israel would democratically choose to stop practicing a form of apartheid on the West Bank. But they haven’t.
        Israel is a democracy like 1950’s France was a democracy while they still had Algeria as part of their territory. Stop the occupation and Israel would be a flawed democracy with a sordid past involving ethnic cleansing and land theft, rather like the US in fact. Right now they’re a sordid democracy with a current practice of land theft.

        I don’t like the idea of progressives “supporting” any country or movement with rotten human rights records because those movements allegedly also have some goals we might favor. The left is always getting into trouble abandoning a principled human rights stance and embracing some dubious group, whether it is the left embracing Zionism back in the day (because they saw the kibbutz as a socialist ideal) or the USSR (no, I’m not saying Israel is that bad) or the National Liberation Front in Vietnam or Hamas. So to the extent that Butler supports Hamas while also condemning their anti-semitism, I think she’s wrong. But she has that in common with most liberal Zionists.

        And you compared her to Horowitz, who has never condemned Israeli crimes at all to my knowledge. Again, Butler is more like the most liberal of the liberal Zionists, people who are honest about the crimes of the side they support for some reason. But it’d be better not to sully one’s human rights principles by “supporting” any faction with innocent blood on its hands.

  12. jonnybutter February 10, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    What you’re forgetting, jonnybutter, is that Horowitz is a partisan guy, hard-right, unashamedly so.

    Pardon me, but I am not forgetting that. The question at hand is ‘Who sponsors hate speech at BC?’ YOU may find Horowitz ‘easily dismissible’ but I doubt that the young Muslim woman at that talk did. Butler is ‘far far worse’? Really?! Listen to yourself.

    • hophmi February 10, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      “‘Who sponsors hate speech at BC?’ ”

      And despite multiple queries by me, no one seems to be able to tell me who exactly sponsored Horowitz’s talk. It’s a weaselly way to suggest that those who protested the PoliSci deparment’s sponsorship of the BDS event are Horowitz supporters. That’s not fair or true.

      “YOU may find Horowitz ‘easily dismissible’ but I doubt that the young Muslim woman at that talk did. ”

      I doubt it too, just like I would doubt many young Jews would find it dismissible when Judith Butler describes antisemitic terrorist organizations who murder other Jews as an ideology “progressive.”

      Since both statements are ridiculous, morally wrong, and obtuse, I’ll say Butler’s is much worse, again, because she masquerades as an intellectual. Horowitz does not. You seem little troubled by the characterization of Hamas and Hezbollah as progressive Left. I would be very troubled by that if I were you.

      As far as I can tell, you seem to dislike Horowitz’s statement more because it sounds as little cruder.

      • Brahmski February 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

        hophmi is correct, of course.

      • jonnybutter February 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

        We are talking past each other. You are telling me what I should be thinking or feeling. That’s not an argument. I don’t care who sponsored Horowitz’ talk. There were no threats from the city council etc. when he was booked or when he spoke. No one batted an eye. Did you? No, I’m sure you ‘dismissed’ him. Too bad his sentiments are commonplace in official Israel (word and deed).

        Many Americans are unaware that debate about Israeli politics and policy is much more open in the Israeli press than it is in the US press. The reason? In the US we have a large and tireless army of people waiting for any mention of Israel, no matter how remote or tangential. It springs into action and starts barking – telling everyone here what they are and are not allowed to think about the matter at hand, else the implicit threat of being called ‘anti-semite’.

        Why the stridency? It’s because you know you are beginning to lose liberal American Jews, particularly younger ones, and neither Barghoutti nor Butler have anything to do with it.

      • hophmi February 11, 2013 at 8:21 am #

        “There were no threats from the city council etc. when he was booked or when he spoke. No one batted an eye. Did you? No, I’m sure you ‘dismissed’ him. Too bad his sentiments are commonplace in official Israel (word and deed).”

        No, why would I? Did the PoliSci department sponsor him? Did students on campus feel that the college did?

        “The reason? In the US we have a large and tireless army of people waiting for any mention of Israel, no matter how remote or tangential. It springs into action and starts barking – telling everyone here what they are and are not allowed to think about the matter at hand, else the implicit threat of being called ‘anti-semite’.”

        I’m aware of the fact that are many here, on both sides of the debate, who would rather see the marketplace of ideas restricted. But this, frankly, is nonsense. We do not live in a country where pro-Palestinian speakers have trouble getting work on college campuses or in college PoliSci departments. It looks ridiculous to complain about a “large and tireless army” when, in fact, pro-Palestinian professors constitute a large percentage of the Middle East studies faculties at most American universities. It’s as if you believe that they are beyond criticism.

      • mrichard February 11, 2013 at 10:25 am #

        “Did the PoliSci department sponsor him?”

        The Brooklyn College Library — in Corey Robin’s words (he’s a professor there, remember) “the crown jewel of our campus” — hosted Horowitz, introducing him with a ringing & explicitly welcoming verbal endorsement. Did you even read the above post?

      • Brahmski February 11, 2013 at 11:13 am #

        So why didn’t Poli Sci chip in their support as well? They could have sponsored a lunch or something, a more informal gathering, a panel discussion…

      • hophmi February 11, 2013 at 10:51 am #

        “The Brooklyn College Library — in Corey Robin’s words (he’s a professor there, remember) “the crown jewel of our campus” — hosted Horowitz, introducing him with a ringing & explicitly welcoming verbal endorsement. Did you even read the above post?”

        I don’t what you read. But introducing a person by saying that he will doubtless cause controversy and that they hope there is a spirited debate is clearly not an endorsement. On the other hand, linking the entirety of the text of a speech given along with praise about how moving the words of the lecturer were, is, in most circumstances, an endorsement.

        The list of sponsors is here (scroll down):

        http://www.brooklynsjp.com/

        When you look at this list, can you really blame people for reading sponsorship as endorsement?

        I see nothing notable about the fact that Horowitz spoke at the library. The fact that a speaker commands a large audience is hardly the same thing as an endorsement of that speaker. The library is the crown jewel of the BC campus. It does not mean that by virtue of speaking there, Horowitz had the college’s endorsement.

        I’m still waiting for a list of who exactly sponsored his speech. You know the reason we’re not getting one? Because no department or student group sponsored him. I’ve been searching to find some reference to sponsorship. I found this:

        http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Os3M10n9DIIJ:groups.yahoo.com/group/PhiladelphiaShuls/message/786+&cd=10&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

        http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2692051/posts

        So let’s be honest. Horowitz had no campus support, and Jewish groups tried to DISTANCE themselves from him.

        I hope Corey Robin makes that clear, rather than suggesting that Horowitz had anything to do with on-campus organizations or that his speaking in library had anything to do with support for his speech on campus.

      • mrichard February 11, 2013 at 11:53 am #

        “So why didn’t Poli Sci chip in their support as well?”

        Sponsorship does not imply “support.” That’s one of the key points that was made early on in this dispute.

        Add this to the list of relevant and well-established points that you keep somehow missing. Disregarding what has already been said is a mark of arguing in bad faith. It’s becoming clear that people as inattentive as you and Hophmi have been are probably not sincere.

      • hophmi February 11, 2013 at 11:56 am #

        “Sponsorship does not imply “support.” That’s one of the key points that was made early on in this dispute.”

        I get that mrichard. You’re going to have to actually read what I write.

        “Add this to the list of relevant and well-established points that you keep somehow missing.”

        You have to actually read what I wrote. I’m not saying that sponsorship equals support. I have made the point that in the real world, most people think that when you sponsor something, you support it, and that when you are asking people to distinguish between your sponsorship and your endorsement, it’s not a good idea to endorse what you sponsored the day after it happens.

        “Disregarding what has already been said is a mark of arguing in bad faith. It’s becoming clear that people as inattentive as you and Hophmi have been are probably not sincere.”

        Mrichard, do not make the grave mistake of casting doubt on my sincerity. My conscience is clear and my integrity is rock solid.

  13. Corey Robin February 11, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    The discussion here is rapidly reaching a point of diminishing return, with just a few individuals participating in it and at increasing levels of vitriol rather than engagement. I’ve stayed out of it, mostly in the interests of allowing people a forum to air their various opinions and grievances. But this blog is more than an echo-chamber for protagonists in the Israel-Palestine conflict, so I’ll be closing down the discussion sometime today. Have your last rounds, and then we’re done.

    • Brahmski February 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      Censor away,then, Corey! But I think — to the contrary of what you say here — that hophmi’s points have been extremely lucid, substantive, clarifying and edifying! The best part of this blog on this issue has come up in these remarks, which you choose to ignore (a.) and, when that doesn’t work, close down (b.). But to heck with free speech, eh?

    • Malcolm Schosha February 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Corey,

      You wrote about Horowitz’s talk: “Horowitz delivered those remarks in the Woody Tanger Auditorium, which is in the Brooklyn College Library, the crown jewel of our campus”

      According to the information I found, that auditorium seats only 138 people, rather less than attended the recent BDS event. The talk by Horowitz, was a very minor event in the week long Israel Apartheid Week held in 2011.

      You wrote: “…what is it about this culture that people would get so exercised by the humanistic sentiments voiced by Butler and Barghouti, even with the co-sponsorship of the political science department, while giving the vile and vicious comments of Horowitz..”

      In fact Butlers comments were filled with statements that are not true, such as (to give just one example) “Palestinians are barred from military service, and yet access to housing and education still largely depends on military status.” That is false. There are Arabs in the Israeli military, and they are certainly not “barred from military service.” Rabin had had the housing benefit for military service abolished in the early 1990s.

      It would be easy for me to characterize Butler’s false statements as “vile and vicious,” as you characterize Horowitz; but perhaps she is underinformed.

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  1. Where is the outcry? | the first casualty - February 8, 2013

    [...] (B.D.S.) policies relating to Israel. Following the event, Brooklyn College professor Corey Robin blogged about a previous speaker at the [...]

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