Everyone’s Talking, Nobody’s Listening.

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

When something goes wrong in the world, Swarthmore students are often amongst the quickest to respond. It is that implicit call to social action that so many of us feel that initially attracted me to Swat, but now has forced me into an exile that I did not foresee. Tensions have been rising in the Middle East, and consequently so too have tensions on Swarthmore’s campus. It seems like there is so much noise and so much conversation, but no real progress is being made. The Sabra Hummus boycott is an example of this. It’s not about hummus, it is about hummus acting as a mechanism to reduce the incredibly nuanced Israeli-Palestinian peace process down into a binary, which results in people on all fronts feeling like they are shut out of the conversation. Even before Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) launched their Sabra Hummus campaign, I felt invariably shut out of my Jewish identity, but never so much as I do now.

The Sabra Hummus boycott is nothing new to college campuses, or even to Swarthmore. Calls have been made to schools across the country, such as Wesleyan, DePaul, and Princeton, to name a few. SJP is not simply just a club on Swarthmore’s campus; the organization is a part of a broader national movement that regularly employs this boycott tactic to push the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.  In BDS’ own words,

…[We] call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel.

At face value, the sentiments of BDS seem noble, but the reality is that BDS is much more problematic. The national charter citespromoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” UN Resolution 194 does in fact call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The UN, however, defines said refugees as all Palestinians displaced as a result of the 1948 and 1967 Wars, as well as their descendants. According to Al-Awda, the Palestinian right to return coalition, there are approximately 7.2 million Palestinian refugees in the world. The influx of such a number would effectively end the Jewish majority in the Jewish State. The original 1947 partition plan (UN Resolution 181) guarantees the existence of a Jewish State. If the Jewish majority does not exist, how can it be the Jewish State? Thus, BDS is definitionally anti-Zionist, and I therefore also consider it to be anti-Semitic. Because it denies the Jewish State’s right to exist, it forecloses an serious chance of constructive dialogue. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has said, “we ought to oppose categorically a Jewish state.” Norman Finkelstein, one of Israel’s loudest critics, notes that BDS is “not really talking about rights. They’re talking about [how] they want to destroy Israel.” From there, it is hard for me to imagine where a conversation can begin.

I come from the perspective of having grown up with individuals whose grandparents sought post-Holocaust refuge in the Holy Land, and from the perspective of someone whose aunt had to flee Haifa in 2006 when rockets were fired overhead during the outbreak of the second Lebanon War. I come from the perspective of Birthright having been my religious reawakening after having lost a major sense of my Jewish identity during my first two years of college. I come from the perspective of knowing Holocaust survivors who would have perished had it not been for the Jewish State and knowing descendants of those individuals whose families would not exist had it not been for the same.

People often ask what it means if the safety of those individuals means the displacement of someone else. And the reality is, I don’t have the answer. If I did, I’d be in the UN. But what I do know is that my people need a State, because history tells the tale of our repeated exile and slaughter by the millions. I come from the perspective that this has happened to my people repeatedly because we have been without refuge, without a safe place, without a home. Jews have been the scapegoats for milenia. Mark Twain is credited with having uttered the phrase “history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” and the rhyme of anti-Semitism has not gone anywhere. Just recently, a Holocaust survivor was killed in her apartment, stabbed and burned in hateful, putrid act of anti-Semitism. Poland’s senate recently passed a bill outlawing speech and text stating that the country was complicit in the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism is real, it is here, it is strong, and a movement that denies the necessity of Jewish refuge in the Jewish homeland while Jews are still being persecuted is inherently and viciously anti-Semitic.

When it comes to SJP, it feels like they consistently shut down dialogue that may even begin to provide a dissenting viewpoint. They kicked me, an identifiable pro-Israel student, out of their “open” meeting on April 4th. They arranged a panel of Jewish students to deliver a debate “On Anti Semitism” without consulting a single pro-Israel student, which felt like they were completely invalidating any brand of Judaism that harbors the same love that I share for Israel. There are students on this campus much like myself that have experienced different flavors of both Judaism and anti-Semitism who have consequently not only been forced out of the conversation, but have also been isolated from rejoicing in their Jewish identity because of the sentiment of  “in order to be a good Jew you have to denounce Israel” that exists so loudly on this campus. I am one of them, and sadly, I am one of many.

On the flip side, at that same panel an SJP member noted that calling their BDS efforts an anti-Semitic movement, rhetoric which constantly gets employed by my side of the argument and rhetoric that I truly believe in, feels like we are shutting them out of the conversation and extinguishing a chance at dialogue. We all love to hear our own arguments validated, and it is inherently extremely difficult to hear something logical that refutes your claim, but it is the isolative gate-keeping that goes on with both sides that prevents any real progress from being made. There are concessions that both sides must make, both in college conversations and in real-world peace-negotiating tactics, but the idea that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement is not one that I can relinquish.

It’s no secret that I’m pro-Israel. I will unapologetically and proudly say that I love it. But in saying that, I want to make it quite clear that I would not defend Israeli actions regardless of what they entail, or that I would argue Israel does no wrong or that it should not be subject to fair criticism. My love for Israel is equally as strong as my disappointment in some of their actions. SJP and like-minded individuals are absolutely right when they say that no state or government should be immune from criticism, and it is the beauty of the democratic nature of the State that allows them and myself to do so. But I am completely, irrevocably, and shamelessly incapable of de-conflating my Jewish identity with my love for and pride in the Jewish State. Furthermore, I truly feel that SJP’s consistent demonization of Israel goes well beyond criticism, and instead creates an “us-versus-them, good-versus-evil” rhetoric that inherently fails to describe the unbelievably nuanced issue that is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Boycotts, and this one especially, completely undermine the peace processes by boiling the issue down into a binary.

Like Sabra is being used as a synecdoche for Israel and the boycott is a microcosm of the larger BDS movement, the dialogue we have on campus is a microcosm of the discourse of the peace process as a whole: it is divisive, it lacks nuance, and it ultimately tramples discourse and progress. It’s on us to change that. It’s on us to cease the trend of of not recognizing complexity and to truly embrace the idea that Judaism is not a monolith. This is not about hummus. This is about progress, coexistence, and recognition of identity.

Image courtesy of Curiously Carmen


  1. When the UN becomes a fair, unbiased arbiter of global conflicts, as it was intended to be, then and only then will Israel have any reason to comply with its dictates. Until then, all UN resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, including 94, belong in the trashcan of history.

    • Pity, then, that Israel has signed treaties that do technically say it has to do what the UN says. But then, the US never let that stop us, so I suppose that Israel has had the example set that it’s OK to ethnically-cleanse people as long as you have nukes and are white.

      Also, what would you consider a “fair, unbiased arbiter of global conflicts”? Meir Kahane? Vladimir Putin? Putin would definitely claim that the UN is biased and is allowing the terrorist government of Ukraine to savagely attack innocent Russian minorities in Novorossiya, despite the fact that none of that sentence is true except for the words Ukraine, UN, and Russian. Maybe Slobodan Milosevic would have been a fair and unbiased arbiter? Surely since Serbia was the successor of Yugoslavia that got most of the military and other stuff, it had the right to control all of Yugoslavia as Greater Serbia, yes? Just like how Israel won the West Bank and Gaza Strip fair and square in wars and can do what it likes with them, yes?

      Fuck that noise, the UN isn’t perfect but at least it’s more fair than an apartheid regime.

      • Ian,
        The surrounding Muslim countries should put the refugees they created by numerous attempts at genocide of Jews in Israel in the ample lands stolen from Jews ethnically cleansed from Muslim countries after 1948.

        I agree with you — the apartheid regime in “Gaza” and “the West Bank” is unfair not allowing any Jews compared to Israel who is 20% “Palestinians”/Jordanians with equal rights, vote, hold public office and are just as well off as their neighbors and can live wherever they want without any segregation or discrimination.

        Unfortunately “Palestinians” are banned from going to their 2 neighboring countries, Jordan and Egypt and only Israel provides jobs and water. Egypt bulldozes their homes built too near Egypt’s border.
        They need the “Palestinian” fiction to keep a war going – not my words but their own —
        “THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE DOES NOT EXIST. THE CREATION OF THE PALESTINIAN STATE IS ONLY A MEANS FOR CONTINUING OUR STRUGGLE AGAINST THE STATE OF ISRAEL for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. ONLY FOR POLITICAL AND TACTICAL REASONS DO WE SPEAK TODAY ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF A PALESTINIAN PEOPLE, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.
        “For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.” — PLO Executive Committee member Zahir Muhsein, 1977

        The west bank is full of ‘palestinians’, who were Jordanians until the early 70’s, when Jordan ejected more than a million of them into the disputed territories. Clearly, they aren’t entitled to a ‘right of return’, since they weren’t from Israeli territory in the first place. That group makes up the great majority of the PLO.

        You are a false witness — one of the things God hates.

  2. It appears from my perspective that there are a few inaccuracies in this piece, and that these inaccuracies obscure some of the nuanced perspectives held by those in participating SJP, the BDS Movement, and the Sabra Boycott. Full disclosure – I am not a participant in SJP or the organizing groups behind the effort to boycott, so I can’t say that I can reproduce the organizers’ sentiments precisely, nor can I speak as their representative. That said, I’ve been watching this debate fairly closely, I’m a member of the Jewish student population at Swat, and I’ve studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during my time here, so I think my voice has a place in this discussion.

    First (and perhaps easiest to deconstruct) is the labeling of the “On Anti-Semitism” panel. The author of this piece calls it a debate that was inherently one-sided—no pro-Israel students were consulted. The major problem here is that this was not a debate, nor was it advertised as such. The Facebook event page calls it a “student panel,” not a debate. Furthermore, this event was not advertised as a forum for all viewpoints—the Facebook event page mentions that it was hosted by Swarthmore SJP.

    Second, I question the conclusion that wraps up this article. It says that “Sabra is being used as a synecdoche for Israel and the boycott is a microcosm of the larger BDS movement.” Perhaps the author and I have read different pieces of literature about this boycott movement, because my perception of the boycott is totally different. Nearly every piece from the perspective of SJP on the boycott has given specific reasons for the action that go beyond treating Sabra as a representative of Israel. For instance, in Swarthmore Voices, Aru Shiney-Ajay and Killian McGinnis wrote, “Sabra Hummus is a joint venture between PepsiCo and the Strauss Group, a multinational corporation and Israel’s largest food and beverage company. The Strauss Group materially supports and sends care packages to the Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)… the Golani Brigade is particularly brutal: since its inception, the Brigade has carried out countless human rights violations against Palestinians—particularly in Hebron and in the siege on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) from 2008-2009—including arbitrary murders, assaults, detentions, home invasions, and arrests of children.” In other words, the boycott does not treat Sabra as a synecdoche of Israel. In fact, it does the opposite: it treats Sabra as an indirect supporter of a specific organization that commits human rights violations, and this is the reason for the boycott. To say that the boycott treats Sabra as a synecdoche for Israel is to ignore the specific issues that SJP has with Sabra.
    I also take issue with the second part of that concluding sentence – “the boycott is a microcosm of the larger BDS movement.” The language used by members of SJP differs importantly from this sentiment. According to the Voices article mentioned previously, “The campaign to boycott Sabra at Swarthmore is situated within a broader international movement to hold Israel accountable for human rights abuses and abolish its ‘three-tiered system of oppression: colonialism, occupation and apartheid.’ ” There is a substantial difference between a microcosm and being situated within a movement. “Microcosm” implies that the boycott represents all the aspects of the movement in miniature, whereas the words of the Voices article say something completely different: this boycott is one small aspect of the BDS movement, and it would be a gross misrepresentation to say that the boycott intends to replicate all elements of BDS.

    Herein lies the central misrepresentation I fear this piece has committed: in treating this boycott as a whole and complete analog to the BDS Movement, it appears that the author has ignored the fact that this specific action has specific rationales. It does not come from a wholesale hatred of Israel, and though it is affiliated with BDS, the boycott does not pretend to be a one-to-one manifestation of the objectives of BDS. One can certainly criticize BDS—indeed, I’m still undecided on its merits even after having spent nearly two semesters studying the Middle East and Israel/Palestine because it’s a complicated issue—but the boycott of Sabra was not dictated by BDS policy alone. As I had mentioned earlier, members of SJP had specific criticisms that went beyond Sabra’s affiliation with the Jewish state.

    I understand and sympathize with the author’s position on Israel. In fact, I too have relatives living in Haifa. However, I do not think the way to understanding the conflict comes from distilling the message of SJP into a caricature of anti-Israel or anti-Jewish hatred. There is nuance to the positions of the supporters of the boycott that this piece has either missed or ignored. The portrayal by the article is, to quote the author, “divisive, it lacks nuance, and it ultimately tramples discourse and progress.” The author mentions that “It’s on us to cease the trend of of not recognizing complexity and to truly embrace the idea that Judaism is not a monolith.” I couldn’t agree more, but it’s also on us to embrace the idea that the boycott is not a monolith either.

    • A Laser: sjp is a nation wide organization. Sjp chapters across the country follow the same script of actions: sabra boycotts , antisemites and Israel haters redefining antisemitism, trying to silence voices that disagree with them through bullying, threats, and a range of other abhorrent behaviors. Sjp chapters across the country have called for violence against Jews, have called for Jews to be excluded from campuses, have spread a delusional dishonest conspiracy theory about Israel and Jews and shut out actual facts and history. If a campus group seeks nuance it should not name itself sjp which is a nationwide hate group. And it should not follow sjp’s playbook.
      As to sabra boycott, do those seeking this boycott also seek boycott of Chinese , Russian , Turkish , Syrian , Iranian , British , French etc goods? To seek boycott of one country’s product but not of the products of all countries where much worse occurs is quite plainly bigotry.

  3. “BDS is definitionally anti-Zionist, and I therefore also consider it to be anti-Semitic.” Well you’d be mistaken to do so. Zionism is an ideology that developed in the context of centuries of horrific European anti-Semitism. It also developed in the context of colonial racism that regarded the native Arab population in Palestine as little more than beasts with few rights. Many native Jewish people in Palestine were opposed to this ideology, including the Jewish mayor of Jerusalem in Mandate Palestine, because of the ethnic tensions they envisaged it would bring to their culturally harmonious communities. Resistance to Zionism among Jewish people continues to this day, with many Jews arguing Zionism runs counter to some core values of love and respect for fellow humans they find intrinsic to Judaism. Labelling those Jews that disagree with Zionism as anti-Semitic or self-hating Jews is a cynical tactic to silence Jews who disagree with Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, by increasing settlements, the military occupation, abuse of Palestinian children, and regular extra-killings. BDS is a non-violent strategy not to destroy Israel but to stop these crimes against humanity.

    • I’m sorry, but Russel is either dissembling or simply doesn’t know the subject matter very well. Anti-Zionism is absolutely antisemitic because it seeks to deny the right of Jews to live as a sovereign presence in the land of their origin. Really I have never yet encountered an “antizionist” who once exposed, wasn’t intending to disenfranchise and then harm Jews, not just in Israel but wherever they are to be found. It’s not a new or terribly nuanced tactic either.

      • It’s also the land of origin for a metric buttload of Palestinians who were evicted from their homes and had their lands stolen because a bunch of foreign fighters had a bit of British paper saying they could do it.

        Don’t THOSE people have a right to their ancestral land, too?

        • Ian garrison has managed to vomit diareah. Quite a feat. Ian you spew jargon. But you obviously know nothing about the Middle East. The local Arabs owned hardly any land. So their land wasn’t stolen. They didn’t own it. They were renters, tenant farmers and migrant workers. Land was purchased for the Jewish state from the legal owners, wealthy Arab and Ottoman absentee landlords and local elites who sold large tracts. Often these absentee landlords and local elites evictees their tenants, the local Arabs and migrant workers in order to sell. Often too the local Arabs chose to leave when their Arab and ottoman landlords sold as they did not want a Jewish landlord.
          The local Arabs perpetrated massacres against the Jewish population in the 20s and 30 s. Have you heard of the massacres of Hebron and safed? The local Arabs wiped out entire Jewish communities who had lived there for thousands of years. And these are but two of many. Later there was a long civil war. Separation was necessary for peace and survival. But Palestinian leadership has refused all offers. The League of Nations eventually decided the local Arabs had ample opportunity for self determination in other states made from the former greater Syria: Jordan , Syria and now Lebanon. Same language , religion , culture , tribes , families. Just a town over within the same former region subdivided to make separate self determining states. Lebanon, btw was formed as a Maronite Christian State , since taken over by Muslims. Jordan was no Jews allowed by law from its inception , and is 78 percent of the British mandate land. All Jews were kicked out of Syria , Jews who had lived there for thousands of years. The goal of the League of Nations was to establish separate states for self determination of different peoples. The Maronites have been chased out by Muslim Arabs. So there goes their self determination in their historic homeland. Out of the hypernationalism that followed state formation throughout the Middle East , the Arab states refused to take the southern Syrians as they called themselves , and have sought to exploit them to delegitimize any Jewish state. Even the Arabs from the other states subdivided from their own former greater Syria region. There were a total of one million Jewish refugees from Arab lands and North Africa , 800,000 of them fitting the period of state formation throughout the Middle East. The Arab countries kicked out their Jews.
          I’d say purchase of land from legal owners and gradual immigration over 150 years and building of agriculture and bussiness is a good basis for forming a state. As are the various treaties and agreements.
          Your notion that the Jews are “ foreign fighters” who gained the state with a “ bit of British paper” is woefully ignorant. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what happened.

    • Zionism is not an ideology. Zionism was the aspiration of the Jewish people in exile in Eastern Europe and Europe for self determination in a state of their own in their historic homeland. Zionism ceases to exist with the establishment of the real state. Actual states must survive and cope with the conditions they face and all do so in sometimes less than ideal ways.
      The reemergence of Israel was organic over 150 years, and not dependent on Zionism. Herschel was long dead by 1948. Early on over half Israel’s jews were from families that never left the Middle East , mizrachi and Sephardi. Now almost all Israel’s jews are from families that never left the Middle East through marriage. Middle eastern Jews were not exposed to Herschel or his writings. They knew nothing of Zionism. They gradually and in waves returned to thevland now Israel from 1800 fleeing riots and pilgrims in North Africa and Arab lands. In the period of state formation throughout the Middle East 800,000 jews were expelled from
      Arab countries, all property confiscated. Arab countries stole 5 c the land of pre 67 Israel from their Jews. Not counting personal property bussinesses and bank accounts. Gradually over 150 years jews bought land, formed bussinesses in the region now Israel.
      In 1850 and for centuries prior the land now Israel had been sparsely populated , total population at most 400,000 people. The majority in Jerusalem had long been Jewish. The land was decimated and poor for agriculture. Jewish returnees purchased land from the legal owners, wealthy ottoman and Arab absentee landlords and local elites. The Arabs living there owned hardly any land or houses. 3.5-5 percent. There had been periods of high inflation , high taxation and high debt during the 400 years of ottoman rule. Ownership was very hard. Also many refused to register deeds to avoid taxes and military draft. So they lost title under the ottomans long before state formation. Most of the land was public land privately owned by no one. It passed from ottoman control , to the allies in the League of Nations who apportioned it to mandates to create self determining states in the Sykes pivot treaty that ended wwi. It passed from the British mandate to Israel in the San remo accords and agreed to by Arab leaders in the Faisal weitzman agreement under which many Arab states also formed.
      78 percent of the British mandate was apportioned to Jordan , no Jews allowed from its inception by law. The remaining 22 percentbof the mandate was apportioned to the Jewish state under San remo and Faisal weitzman. The Jewish states 22 percent included wb and Gaza.
      Israel is the self determination and liberation of an oppressed indigenous middle eastern minority. Minoroties have not fared well in the Middle East. Progressive and Jewish values should support self determination and liberation for more middle eastern minoroties : Kurds , Druze, Yazidi , Baha’i , Assyrians , Copts , Maronites , Amizahgs. And Swarthmore students and everyone else should study treaties agreements land records laws and learn to debunk the jargon circulating online and the lies of the bds conspiracy theory cult.

  4. Oh, cute. You consider “anti-Zionism” to be anti-Semitic…despite the fact that many Jews and Jewish communities are themselves anti-Zionist.

    Tell me, how much do you love your fatherland? Are you willing to pick up a gun and shoot Palestinians for your fatherland? If you consider your religious and cultural identity so closely tied to the national identity and ethnic makeup of your fatherland–and I use that term on purpose, because you are absolutely espousing ethno-nationalist views here, and “fatherland” is a favorite way for ethnonationalists to refer to their preferred nation–why, then, do you attend a school whose student body largely opposes the actions of your fatherland’s government, specifically its ethnic cleansing of conquered territories? Why do you consider the people of your fatherland superior to the Palestinians–the native inhabitants, might I note, of the land your fatherland occupies. Since you seem to believe in the inherent righteousness and superiority of your fatherland, I must ask–what actions to ensure its security would Israel be justified in taking? Perhaps forcing the Palestinians to live in certain, less desirable areas–oh wait they already do that. Maybe arresting or stopping and questioning people who use Arabic in public? Oh wait, they already do that. Hey! Maybe making Palestinians wear a nice big yellow “P” on all their garments! And ban them from most jobs–oh, wait, Palestinians already have to literally wait in cages to see if the “border guards” will allow them to go to work in shitty menial jobs in Israeli de jure territory, never mind. How about making all the Palestinians move to guarded facilities for the protection of the Israeli people? After all, you never know when one of /that sort/ might be a terrorist! And really, the Palestinians are just ungrateful savages anyway who will never agree to the obviously superior Israeli fatherland and Israeli folk teaching them how to be a modern civilization, it’s better for everybody if we just eliminate anyone who’s a terrorist, or a potential terrorist, or related to a potential or suspected terrorist, so how about we take the guarded facilities and install some discrete showers that can be locked and filled up with carbon monoxide, so that we can execute the potential terrorists en masse humanely and quietly. That’s much better than treating them like humans, isn’t it? Oh, wait, that was what Hitler did, I’m sure that the Israel that makes Palestinians live in de facto ghettos, has openly stated its desire to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem, is infamous for its disproportionately brutal responses to any attack or protest, and that consistently treats Palestinians as subhuman and openly asks why the Palestinians won’t accept blatantly biased “peace deals”, would NEVER do something that evil! Yet.

    Fuck ethnonationalism. Fuck ethnonationalists. And fuck Israel for encouraging ethnonationalism.

    To say that Israel has a “right” to Palestinian land is like saying the USA of 1776 had a right to everything east of the Mississippi. All of that land was either stolen, or slated to be stolen–as is the former Palestinian Mandate by Israel. Was there a right on the part of the USA to its territory as of 1776? Sure. There had been white people living there for generations, growing up and knowing no other home. But the rest of the current eastern US, west to the Mississippi? Nope. Everything past the original 13 colonies has been land theft and ethnic cleansing by the USA, and those 13 colonies were the same by the British.

    The only difference between Israel and the USA of 1776 is that these days, we as a world community largely consider ethnic cleansing to be wrong, and so don’t (again, for the most part–Myanmar definitely is OK with ethnic cleansing and I’m certain the Serbs and Croats want another go at the Bosnians and vice versa) support regimes that engage in it. Which, by the way, is what Israel is doing with its settlements and its blatantly biased marriage laws and its other attempts to ensure suitably Jewish populations of places like Jerusalem.

    The unavoidable fact is that the Israeli government is a body that espouses explicitly racist views in propaganda and official legislation, that has set up an apartheid regime in its territory, that engages in active ethnic cleansing and land theft under the guise of “settlements” in its “occupied territories” (note that that’s literally what Hitler planned for Russia in Generalplan Ost–colonization of Russian land and gradual replacement of Russians with German settlers), that routinely murders, tortures, abuses, and revokes the rights of teenagers and children for acts of nonviolent political speech, whose enforcers threaten sexual and physical abuse of minors without remorse, that is actively engaged in stealing land under the guise of “military occupation” that’s been going on for over half a century, and that espouses the very ethnonationalist viewpoint that saw Jews treated like shit for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a hypocritical, criminal, and despicable organization, and the IDF–and in particular the glorified gang of thugs that the Sabra corporation explicitly supports spiritually and materially–is nothing more than its enforcers.

    The boycott’s pretty small-scale and petty in the grand scheme of things, yes! But then again–boycotting South Africa started the same way.

    I’d also like to note that Israel is the group with the power here, as are its spokespeople. Both major US political parties explicitly support Israel and an Israeli state with a capital in Jerusalem (despite the fact that’s kind of a flagrant violation of international treaties, it is a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that Israel’s military conquest and ethnic cleansing of its current de jure territories and its immediate periphery have been largely successful), Israeli lobbying organizations spend millions of dollars taking kids on propaganda tours of Israel and promoting Israeli interests in America, we give Israel massive amounts of money and the latest military hardware despite the fact that Israel’s native industry could barely support a first-gen jet fighter program, much less 5th gen supertech like we’re sending them, we gave Israel nukes and everybody knows it, and what does Palestine have? Ooh, recognition by most of the UN, so scary! A bunch of angry kids with pipe bombs, what a threat! A powerless “government” and a people being ethnically cleansed by a militarily superior power sucking constantly off the American teat. So terrifying, what a horrible threat to all of Judaism. (And as I’m sure you can tell, that was sarcasm)

    So yes. When you try to call any opposition to Israel’s ethnic cleansing operation anti-Semitic, which is adorable given that Israel and its leader actively support the casually anti-Semitic and racist orange idiot currently sitting in the Oval Office (who conveniently forgets that Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust and who says that literal neo-Nazis are “very fine people”), you’re trying to shut down the debate, and you’re full of shit when you do so. You fucking imperialist actively supporting the last actual colonial state in the world, espousing ethnonationalism and pretending that a Jewish-majority country is somehow essential to Judaism’s survival when anti-Semitism is the only form of bigotry that is widely and explicitly opposed in the western world (no cop would get away with shooting an unarmed Jewish man, for example, and nobody would even THINK of arresting a Jewish kid for bringing a clock to school, or would even consider barring Jewish refugees from the United States because they might be poisoned Skittles). You are like a Serbian nationalist, standing in the middle of a bunch of Bosnian bodies claiming self-defense because you need to keep a Serbian majority across the area you drew on a map and called “Greater Serbia”. You’re like an Armenian nationalist claiming that the Turkish ethnic cleansing and genocide of Armenians justifies Armenia’s ethnic cleansing of Azeris.

    Jesus Christ. At least /my/ country has the common decency to /apologize/ for ethnically cleansing people and give them all sorts of privileges as reparations, even if it was a century after the fact and accidentally borked up criminal justice due to sloppy wording. My country doesn’t pretend that some Anglo-Saxon getting murdered in China is an offense against all Americans that justifies the organized slaughter of, for example, the entire Lakota nation. My country spread smallpox blankets, mass-murdered children, and lionized that brutal savage Custer for attacking what he thought was a group of women and children but turned out to be a bunch of really angry Cheyenne and Sioux warriors who cut him down like the rabid dog he was. My country had the decency to apologize for that and is /still/ apologizing for it.

    Your fatherland, on the other hand, not only refuses to apologize but pretends that it’s doing the right thing. Fuck Israel and especially fuck Netanyahu.

    • “We gave Israel nukes and everyone knows it.” Many of the things that you have written are things that “everyone knows” but of course you can’t back up. No surprise. Propaganda appears to be your middle name. Yesterday many Muslim Israelis demonstrated against the “nakba”. None were shot or arrested. Apartheid? Sounds like democracy to me. Hmmm. If they were arrested they would be tried and even have a judge even as high as the Supreme Court who happens to be a Muslim. :o)

      • Bro, you know as well as I do that Israel has nukes and America gave ’em said nukes. It’s an international open secret, to the point that even goddamn Wikipedia admits it.

        If you’re that desperate to make shit up, why don’t you literally post Meir Kahane rants and Jewish Defense League slogans?

    • Ian,
      Throw a pipe bomb at my kids and I’d not think twice about blowing you and your house off the map. Come at me with a knife and I’d shoot you before you got close enough to stab me.

      The first US settlers were completely wiped out by hostile Native Americans at Plymouth Rock.
      Many Native Americans were selling scalps to the French. The peaceful Mayans were killing each other in thousand year wars over corn fields and sacrificing humans to their gods.

      Israel is not apologizing because it followed the Balfour declaration. Surrounding genocidal Muslims created the refugees with numerous attempts at genocide Israel was defending themselves from, not the aggressors.

      • I’m sure that you won’t mind if Native Americans repossess your house and kill your children for being genocidal whites, then, won’t you? After all, we stole their lands, murdered their children, and ethnically cleansed most of the country, they’re only defending themselves.

        You’re not very good at logic and reason, are you?

  5. History is neither linear nor immutable. It moves by fits and starts, may best be understood as a succession of unintended consequences and is subject to incessant revision. Much as a liberal, post-modern world view would wish to believe otherwise it is driven by cycles of warfare. The Arabs have repeatedly chosen aggressive war over peace and have been repeatedly defeated. The vanquished seldom get to dictate the terms of surrender or write the history of the conflict.

    There is no such thing as geopolitical tabula rasa. Unless there is some undiscovered nation of Neanderthals, we all came from somewhere else and either joined or displaced someone who arrived earlier. Nonetheless, three thousand years of documented persistence within described borders, interrupted only by two episodes of conquest and ethnic cleansing, supports modern Israel’s claim to national identity and possession.

    The author of “Everyone’s Talking, Nobody’s Listening” makes no claim to an exclusive narrative only a request for respect her First Amendment rights and the establishment of a fair and open dialogue.

    Sadly, fair and open dialogue is not in the BDS/SJP playbook (and seems absent as well from the minds of some students.) Whether by malign intent or ignorance, their words and actions impede the goal of peace in the Middle East and are an embarrassment to Swarthmore.

    • After reading your comment, I had a couple questions which I think deserve clarification. First and foremost, you write that “the Arabs have repeatedly chosen aggressive war over peace…” According to the CIA Factbook, there are 450 million Arabs in the world. Did you mean all of them? The majority of them? Leaders? Have Quaker Arabs chosen aggressive war? It seems more than a little dangerous to pigeonhole nearly half a billion people like this. Second, I would agree with you that the vanquished don’t often dictate terms of surrender. That said, I don’t think that the frequency of a practice dictates the goodness of a practice. Many, for instance, cite the harsh Entente-dictated terms of the Treaty of Versailles as a reason for the rise of Fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. With that in mind, I’d argue that this system of victory spoils is actually a contributor to instability and ongoing discontent between geopolitical entities. Third, I do wonder if the logic you use to justify Israel’s claim to possession is being applied selectively. Yes, there has been a Jewish presence in modern-day Israel for millennia, but the exact same thing could be said about Arab Palestinians. To be clear, I am referring specifically to the area considered to be the state of Israel—Palestinians had a presence there for centuries if not millennia. Contrary to the opinions of some early Zionists, Palestine was far from being “a land without a people.” Why privilege one group’s presence over another? Note that I am not attempting to delegitimize the existence of Israel. Rather, I’m saying that the justification you gave does not seem to be as judicious as it should be from my perspective. Lastly, I’d love for you to elaborate on why you do not think that dialogue isn’t in the SJP playbook. In my experience, few if any Swatties have ever wanted to quell dialogue. Rather, they want to ensure that their respective voices are heard, and they further want to ensure that their identities and ideologies are not misrepresented. I would greatly appreciate if you could explain how your perspective differs from mine.

      • A. Laser, While well written by way of spelling and grammar, your commentary invokes unsubstantiated information as fact. You claim: “Yes, there has been a Jewish presence in modern-day Israel for millennia, but the exact same thing could be said about Arab Palestinians”. It is impossible to “say the same thing about arab palestinians”, as prior to 1964, not a single arab would ever call themselves a “palestinian”. Learn the well documented history of the Roman conquest and renaming of the land of Israel, in order to break the spirit of the Jewish nation. Palestine was always considered Jewish and only Jews were called palestinian. Care to argue the point? Show documented history, coins, flags, governments, archeological evidence etc. of anything having to do with an “arab palestinian existence” prior to 1964. Even the flag of 1920s Palestine was one with a Magen David (Star of David, Jewish Star) in the center. The Palestine Post was a Jewish paper. The list goes on for Jewish presence, while even the quran makes no mention of “palestine” or Jerusalem. To argue centuries of palestinian arab existence is either dishonest or a product of willful ignorance. So, which are you, willfully ignorant or blatantly dis-honest?

        • It’s unfortunate that you seemed to mistake style for substance when interpreting my comment. When I spoke of Arab Palestinians, I was simply referring to Arabs living in what was known as Palestine prior to 1948—i.e. the British Mandate. Nowhere in my response did I mention Palestinian national identity. It’s regrettable that instead of actually engaging with me over the substantive ideas I presented, you chose to go after syntax. This, coupled with the confrontational nature of your final sentence, does not help resolve anything, and makes me suspicious of your motives.

          However, if we want to go through this exercise of archaeological evidence, there’s certainly a lot to be said on this subject. In her book “Finding Jerusalem: Archaeology between Science and Ideology,” Israeli archaeologist Katharina Galor writes, “Instead of making claims of direct lineage, more interest should be placed on cultural and religious similarities and continuities, which are often more significant across different religious groups within the same geographical and chronological context, and less so within the realm of a single faith or religious tradition over centuries or millennia… Excavation, survey, and research in the city between the mid-nineteenth century and the early twentieth century were shaped by Western imperial interests in the region, which combined scientific curiosity with the desire to establish the physical reality of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament narratives… Palestinians have desisted from excavating in the city, thus indicating their objection to occupation and imposed Israeli sovereignty, archaeological administration, and control.” (page 2-3) The implication of this passage is that historical narratives have a fraught relationship with archaeology—one cannot simply take artifacts at face value, because context is necessary and there is always more to explore.

          You chose your words carefully, and I commend you for that. You repeatedly told me to learn about the “documented history.” History, as I’m sure you know, goes beyond what is documented, and what gets documented often has a political bent. Need I remind you of the time PM Netanyahu posted on Facebook about an ancient coin from Jerusalem, which turned out to be a 15-year old souvenir for children? (I wonder if that was a case of willful ignorance or blatant dishonesty.)

          I’d love to actually discuss the substantive issues I raised in my comment, but instead it seems I’m condemned to wheedling arguments over terminology. There’s more to this discussion than the names people gave themselves. I hope you can recognize this, and together we can try to understand the perspectives that shape the conflict.

          • If you’ve to a link to the 15-year old souvenir story I’d be interested to see it. It’s of no importance to the substantive issues, of course, but I’m curious.

            Regarding your claims about Arab presence in the area of modern Israel, I believe — based on my own reading on the matter and a modicum of reverse-engineering the present — that they’re incorrect, but I doubt either of us is in a position to argue authoritatively about it.

            The complaint about accusing 450 million Arabs is, at best, disingenuous though. When the previous commenter wrote that “The Arabs have repeatedly chosen aggressive war over peace” he didn’t need to be understood as speaking of every last Arab. And the fact is, even if he had he’d be pretty near the truth, so it’s a reasonable stipulation in whatever argument you’re having.

            Likewise your comment about the vanquished not dictating terms being descriptive rather than prescriptive is true, but international and historical norms do inform the discussion about Israel and the Arabs, so here too it was a valid element for the author to work with.

  6. Everyone in the Israel-Palestine debate pretty much talks past each other. That’s because you have two peoples who both want and feel entitled to the same territory, and neither one is interested in compromise, one because compromise means they have to admit they don’t have all rights to all the land from the river to the sea, and the other because they believe that compromise means they will all be killed. Each side tends to minimize the horrible things it has done to the other, or finds those things to be justified. Both sides have a long memory.

    We are not simply waiting for some really smart guy to come up with the argument that convinces the other side. There is no convincing.

  7. The SJP is a Muslim Brotherhood group. They are not in a discourse. Their sole purpose is to destroy Israel. That is all you need to know. It is a terrorist group that needs to be declared as such by the US government.

    This student is brave, courageous and to be admired. My heart aches for Jewish students on US college campuses today.

  8. BDS is the new Hitler Youth propaganda, thank you for standing up to it. Every last boycotter I’ve had the misfortune of discoursing with can’t answer even the simplest of logical questions on why they support and instead turn to fallacies and outright lies. Keep your head up and be proud to be Zionist!

  9. It would be great to see students making their own hummus.

    Real listening is tough. I struggle with that even with people I agree with. Maybe try sharing some good olive oil.

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