Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anti-Israel speaker is hypocritical

The lead speaker in an anti-Israel program (“Revisiting the Pedagogy of the Oppressed”) scheduled for UC Davis on Thursday is Omar Barghouti. He is widely known as an organizer of the international movement to boycott and sanction Israel and is currently on a national tour touting his cause.

It’s quite interesting that Barghouti, a native of Qatar, has a master’s degree in ethics from Tel Aviv University, where he received financial and academic support from the Israeli government. If the sanctions he promoted were to take effect, thousands of Israeli and other Arabs — as well as Jews — would be negatively impacted.

How hypocritical can you get?

Sandy Sokolow


Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 8 comments

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  • Robert GonzalezJanuary 14, 2014 - 12:49 am

    Just so I am not considered anti-Semitic, i want to say I grew up in Philly and experienced a multiplicity of cultures and diversity. One of my most positive experiences in Philly was my first true love who just happened to be a secular Jewish pretty girl from Hungarian heritage. We always remember our first loves and the fondness. I have said enough so as to avoid disharmony on the home front. But what I find very disheartening about Sandy's letter is the blind spot on what has happened to Israel as I grew up and learned about the world. The world is in a dysfunctional state regarding this state's behavior. So to say that someone is hypocritical is really no argument against any person's argument, especially when the argument is in support of human rights and basic human dignity. Any activism that wants to improve human condition deserves a fair hearing. I think we in Davis are mature enough and decent and fair minded enough to give a fair hearing to a deliberate criticism against any state that oppresses its own people and indeed has been accused by one of presidents of practicing apartheid. Yeah, I think that seems reasonable to me to listen to an activist without ascribing ill-will and I do not expect that I will be attacked in the streets or shunned in Davis for supporting an "anti-Israel" speaker. But if so, oh well, for me life will go on but for the oppressed people of Palestine my heart goes out to those people in Israel who are the victims of a government that disrespects human rights and even the rights of its own citizens. I am finally relieved that we get to hear the other side of the story when we in Davis really only get to hear the pro-Israeli side. This is not an offense to my Jewish friends; I appreciate your story and rationalizations for Israel's somewhat pathological response for its so called existential condition but there is more to the story; finally already.

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 14, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    GONZALEZ: "for the oppressed people of Palestine my heart goes out to those people in Israel who are the victims of a government that disrespects human rights and even the rights of its own citizens." .................. If you have an open mind and you looked into the oppression of the Palestinians, nearly 100% of it is being done by the Hamas government which runs Gaza or the PA which runs the West Bank. I am not saying Israel is not at fault for harming the interests of some Palestinians. It is. But your statement makes it clear that you have no interest in the Palestinians as victims. You only seem to care if they are harmed by Jews. That says very little good about your disposition. .................... "I am finally relieved that we get to hear the other side of the story when we in Davis really only get to hear the pro-Israeli side." ..................... I am not sure if you intended that comment to be anti-Semitic, but it is clearly rife with anti-Semitism of the worst, most virulent source. It strongly implies that Jews are devilishly preventing "the other side" from being heard, because you seem to be saying "the Jews control the media." ................... Now, Mr. Gonzalez, if you are not an anti-Semite, you at least should know that you clearly and loudly come across as one, no matter your friendship with Jews earlier in your life.

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  • nickJanuary 17, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    My mind was interestingly opened to the realities of Palestinian occupation by a Jewish peace group that I met in Jerusalem. What I saw and heard from them and their Israeli Arab friends and their Palestinian friends in the West Bank and Gaza shocked me as I met families whose children had been tortured and killed, villages who had been bulldozed, farmers who lost their lands. Of course, no-one has a monopoly on injustice or cruelty but when the US government gives $30 billion in military aid to Israel, I think we have a right to ask questions about Israeli government policy. It is sad to me that at times there is even less debate about this in the US than in Israel itself. People who react to any criticism of Israel with cries of anti-semitism and personalised attacks, should ask themselves why they are so defensive. Is it not possible that the countless testimonies of peace and justice groups, including Jewish ones like Jewish Voice for Peace and may be worth at least listening to? Injustice is often overcome when people realised they were without necessarily knowing it part of a system of oppression that could only be overcome by opening their eyes and being willing to listen.

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  • DougJanuary 14, 2014 - 8:17 am

    Mr. Gonzalez, I agree with you, there really is more to this story. But rolling out the apartheid canard and labeling Israel's response to a very real threat to its existence as pathological won't get you very far in terms of a "fair hearing". Taking the time to understand the full history of both the Jews and the Palestinians during the past 100 years or so, is a lot of work. But, it leads most rational people to conclude that both sides have been wronged and that there really is no sole victim or aggressor. Both sides have valid claims and grievances and both sides have done plenty of wrong. Only calm, rational dialogue and trust-building will resolve this situation. Your approach to a "fair hearing", which includes ridiculous labeling and one-sided blame for Israel, really isn't so fair minded.

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  • Jim LeonardJanuary 14, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Israel needs to realize a new era has dawned. The world has lost a lot of sympathy with Israel because, in part, of the way it "negotiates" with Palestinians. As Israel sits down to negotiate the establishment of territorial lines, it builds more Israeli settlements, bulldozes Palestinian homes etc. These types of actions undermine trust and faith in the negotiating process. No rational or effective negotiations can take place as long as Israel continues to behave in this manner. It is time for the world to turn its back on the Israeli project until open and honest negotiations take place. If S.S. wants to support Israel, she should back reasonable Israeli voices, help build trust, and support recognition of Palestinians as human beings on an equal par with Israelis. I would welcome such actions. Until that time, S.S. is stuck in a dysfunctional past and no doubt will be amazed when the world moves on to a new era where Israeli voices are no longer taken seriously.

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  • Jack RudderJanuary 14, 2014 - 7:43 pm

    Singling out Israel for criticism while giving a free pass to countries that have an incomparably worse human rights record is suspect. So no, Robert Gonzales, you don't get a free pass to peddle hatred of the Jews in Israel just because you had a "secular Jewish pretty girl " girlfriend once.

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  • s.trotterJanuary 14, 2014 - 8:25 pm

    I believe the rather obsessive and agressive response to R.Gonzalez from Mr. Rifkin and Mr. Rudder clearly demonstrates how one sided some can be regarding the disfunctional state of Israel. Just because one can seriously see the wrongs of Israel does not make them 'anti-semitic.' I always kinda wondered if that referred to religion or ethnicity, or maybe both.

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  • Robert GonzalezJanuary 14, 2014 - 9:55 pm

    I acknowledge all the complexity involved in the foreign policy of the Israeli government and the complex history for this state and the western powers machinations from at least the 19th century. Putting all that aside, I tried to address out front that criticism of Israel does not an anti-Semite make. But I am not surprised by those who so readily have this perception when confronted with any "one-sided" criticism of Israel. The real point of this story surrounding these letters is that a boycott in any fashion has proven to be instrumental in have an impact on changing behavior both domestically and internationally. Conservatives have made it a results oriented tool and a boycott worked in South Africa. With continued pressure the israeli boycott can especially work in there because the country is after all a democracy. Jewish Voice for Peace folks are much more articulate in explaining the immorality of current Israeli policy. Would any rational person label this group as anti-Semitic?

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