Pages: 1 2
Lucas and his supporters are outraged. “If the LGBT Center wants to host a fundraising and awareness party for anti-Semites,” Lucas said in a statement, “they might as well go all the way and host a tea dance for Fred Phelps (the gay-hating head of the Westboro Baptist Church).” Steven Goldstein, a rabbinical student and chair of Garden State Equality, pointed out: “I find it impossible to separate Zionism and Judaism. Those who try to separate them don’t have a clue as to what Judaism is all about…To call it an apartheid state, that is meshugge. It is a word designed to hurt and designed to de-legitimize the state of Israel.”
But the Israel = Apartheid charge is not only anti-Semitic and therefore racist; it is ridiculous on its face. How can Israel be an apartheid state when there is no legal separation between Arabs and Jews in Israel? Unlike black South Africans under apartheid, Arabs (“the Palestinians”) are citizens. Fourteen of the 120 members of the current Knesset are Arabs. Arabs can work in the same offices, learn in the same schools, receive medical treatment in the same hospitals, and relax on the same beaches. Yes, there is some discrimination against Muslim and Christian Arabs, (as well as discrimination against Jews from Arab countries), and some de facto racial segregation in Israel—just as there is in America, Canada and Europe, and in every other country where Israeli Apartheid Week events will be taking place.
Please realize: The Arab, mainly Muslim Middle East, is almost entirely “judenrein;” Jews have been ethnically cleansed from these lands. For that matter, Christians, cannot worship openly and are savagely persecuted. Muslims who convert to Christianity are honor murdered. Finally, both Jews and Palestinians are denied citizenship, residency, and certain jobs in the Arab Muslim countries of the Middle East.
These week-long/nearly month long Israeli Apartheid Week pageants provide no such balance, no context, no historical or moral perspective. They fail to note that Muslim-majority countries are religious supremacists; that Muslims feel “persecuted” when infidels have rights of any kind, and have persecuted, exiled, force-converted or slaughtered Hindus, Sikhs, Ba’hai, Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews—who are also peoples of color.
What makes the LGBT center’s initial decision to sponsor the anti-Israel Apartheid party so outrageous is that Israel is the safest haven in the Arab and Muslim world—get ready for it, here it comes—for Arab Palestinians who do not have the same civil rights in Gaza, on the West Bank, or anywhere else in the anti-Palestinian Muslim Middle East. Michael Lucas is also right: Israel is also the only safe haven for gay people, especially for “out” gays in the Middle East. Palestinian homosexuals are tortured and murdered by the gangsters, Islamists, and terrorists who are now running Gaza. Israel grants Palestinian gays asylum.
Lesbian feminist Sherry Wolf, associate editor of the International Socialist Review, and her comrades, accuse Michael Lucas of using his money and influence to censor them, to squelch their First Amendment rights. But this is absurd; there is a difference between being censored and being unsponsored by one organization. Those who condemn Israel as an Apartheid state, are allowed to trumpet their Big Lies everywhere, which they are doing to great effect on campuses, (which should teach the truth but do not do so), at rallies, at human rights organizations, at the United Nations, and in the world-wide media. The fact that Wolf claims to be speaking for and defending the rights of Palestinian “queers” is a nonstarter.
Wolf is not alone. She, and so many other gay people, including leftists and feminists, are so afraid of being called “racists,” that their fear trumps any interest they may have in women’s rights, human rights, or even gay rights.
In reality, this “politically correct “ position is meant to help all those whose self-perceived psychological safety lies in merging with the trendiest-victim-of-them-all. This choice is all about maintaining one’s own social, career and funding status.
This pro-Palestinian position is not an anti-racist position; it is an opportunistic and cowardly position. What’s more: It is actually a racist position. If one is genuinely an anti-racist, one does not condemn Arab and Muslim women, gays, and dissidents, including Palestinians, to a lower sub-human standard of human rights and reserve for oneself a higher and different standard.
How and why has Israeli Apartheid Week come into being and remained in existence for six years? The monied Saudi Lobby, the former Soviet Lobby, the Arab League Lobby; the influence of Edward Said’s work on the post-colonial anti-racist western academy; the world-wide rise and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Liberation Movement, Hamas, Hezbollah and Khomeinism; the anti-American and pro-“Palestinian” Western Left (with its penchant for theatrical politics)–have all played a part in this grotesque tragedy.
In addition, Charles Jacobs, President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has suggested that the extraordinarily ugly, and really out-of-control anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred on American campuses is due, in part, to the failure of American Jewish organizations to both acknowledge and combat it. And to a long-term, patient, and little-noticed Arab-American strategy. Jacobs writes:
In 1990, (more than 20 years ago), James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, explained on Jordanian TV how the Arab Lobby can and will match Jewish political and organizational success in America. Zogby and his allies recognized that the campus and the media, unlike Capitol Hill, are two battle grounds that Arabists could win by allying themselves with the American left. In both venues they already had beachheads and feet on the ground. The campus was in transition politically, influenced by ’60s tenured radicals who had adopted the dogma of post-colonialism, and its Palestinian version, Professor Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism.’
Moreover, America was experiencing a significant increase in foreign born Muslim students as well as increased Muslim immigration (many from countries with a culture of vicious anti-Semitism). Zogby focused on forming alliances with Marxist professors, die-hard socialist activists, African- American student groups, gay-lesbian groups and, most importantly, Jewish progressives.
Zogby’s strategy, together with massive Arab funding, has quite clearly worked. The world now believes that the most important and most persecuted group alive are the Palestinians and that the Israelis oppress and torment them, are the sole cause of their enormous suffering, and that Israel is, indeed, an Apartheid nation state.
However, the real victim is not the barefoot Palestinian peasant but the Jewish state. Israel is engaged in an asymmetrical battle for its very existence According to Elliott Chodoff, a major in the Israeli Defense Force and a political and military analyst whom I met and worked with at the Advocates for Civil Liberties conference last month in Toronto, (“When Middle East Politics Invade the Campus”) there has only been one, long, still ongoing war against Israel since the state first came into being. “Israel’s many enemies want to destroy the Jewish state; Israel does not want to be destroyed. Our enemies want to make it impossible for us to defend ourselves. If Jews defend their lives it is seen as criminal.”
And if Jew haters viciously attack Israel it is seen as…self-defense or as freedom-fighting or as “anti-racist” work.
The propaganda war against Israel, especially as personified by Israeli Apartheid Week has grown grotesquely out of hand. It will not be simple or easy to reverse.
Canadian corporate consultant Joel Shapiro suggests that pro-Israel groups “go to universities which allow/enable/facilitate/sponsor” an anti-Israel Apartheid week and “insist that they also allow an anti-Pakistan, anti-Saudi, or anti-Iran week.” Once the University admits the impossibility of allowing a major event that is critical of an Islamic country, they will almost always be forced to likewise cancel the anti-Israel week. If they won’t do one, they shouldn’t do the other. And if they continue with the one but not the other, then we should follow up with a STRONG media campaign on how they are targeting Israel but refusing to even contemplate legitimate critique against other nations, and hence are complicit in promoting racism.”
Professor Catherine Chatterly calls for “intelligent discussion and debate that employs meaningful, ethical, and accurate language to describe what are truly difficult, complex, and contested histories. People need to take responsibility for their own personal feelings of rage and frustration and they must be encouraged to exercise self-control in multicultural public spaces.” She wants to teach students to “unpack” the gross propaganda against Israel, she wants better academic programming, fact-driven objective truth to be taught on campus. She wants disagreements among informed truth-tellers to be civil and respectful.
As a scholar and former professor, I have always prized hunting the truth down and then teaching it—along with the views of others–to my students. I do not think that I am obliged to teach Big Lies or to welcome such Lies on campus merely because they may be protected by the First Amendment.
I do not trust the “truths” of those who heckle, jeer, mock, interrupt, physically menace, and in so doing, silence and censor any speech with which they disagree. This decidedly uncivil and menacing behavior most resembles the Arab, Soviet, and Maoist Streets at their worst, the 1960s old New Left in America, including the Black Panthers–and, for that matter, their late 20th century and early 21st century admirers and descendents such as Act Up, Code Pink, Acorn’s bullies at the American voting booth, and Alinsky-style labor union thugs in Madison, Wisconsin.
Pages: 1 2