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News ::
Protesters rally against Summers' speech (english)
23 Sep 2002
Modified: 27 Sep 2002
Roughly fifty people gathered at 5:30 PM in front of Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square in Cambridge to protest a recent speech by Harvard Univesity President Larry Summers in which Summers criticized protestors of Israel as being "anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent."
September 23, Harvard Square-- Roughly fifty people gathered at 5:30
PM in front of Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square in Cambridge to protest a
recent speech by Harvard Univesity President Larry Summers in which
Summers criticized protestors of Israel as being "anti-Semitic in
their effect, if not their intent."

Scott Cooper started the protest off with the forceful declaration
that "I am a Jew and I stand with the Palestinian people!" then
quickly turned the microphone over to George Collins, a 2002 graduate
of Harvard College. Collins read from a prepared statement which
said, in part:

"Harvard President Lawrence Summers' recent remark that organized
criticism of the state of Israel is 'anti-Semitic in effect, if not
intent' is part of a long tradition which claims that moral and
political opponents of Israel are enemies of the Jewish people and
their faith." The statement went on to call for "the state of Israel
[to] be abolished and replaced with a democratic, secular state in
which Jews and Muslims can live equally and in peace."

Another speaker was Terry O'Brien, a local activist who had recently
returned from a trip to the occupied Palestinian territories sponsored
by the International Solidarity Movement, a group that works "to raise
awareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to
Israeli occuation" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to their
website. O'Brien spoke fondly of his time spent in the West Bank,
saying that "the people over there are some of the nicest people I've
ever met" and that while curfew was harsh, it wasn't very dangerous
for him because Israeli soldiers generally did not want to harm
Americans. (The Israeli military imposes rolling curfews over most of
the occupied territories. During this time, people are not allowed
out of their houses during day or night.)

Collins and Cooper led the crowd in a few chants, including "Jewish
people yes! Zionism no! The occupation has to go!", "Zionism is
Racism!", and "Larry Summers is a racist!" before the crowd dissolved
at around 6:30.

Julia Steinberger, a graduate student at MIT, wore a "Free Palestine"
T-shirt and handed out fliers with a September 20 front-page Boston
Globe article about Summers' speech. Another flier she handed out had
a quote from an internal memo Summers wrote during his tenure as chief
economist of the World Bank, in which Summers suggests that the world
economy would be more efficient if more toxic waste were shipped to
low-wage countries. She described Summers as "racist in effect and
intent."

Different members of the crowd were there for different reasons.
Hebah Ismail, an undergraduate student at Harvard and member of the
Harvard Islamic Society, said she and her friend had come because "We
don't agree with Summers' statement. Disagreeing with Ariel Sharon's
policy doesn't make me anti-Semitic. My best friend is Jewish, and I
don't hate her or the Jewish people."

Another undergraduate, Paul Dexter, carried a sign reading "It's not
Anti-Islamic to criticize suicide bombings. It's not Anti-Semitic to
criticize bulldozing villages." As Dexter put it, "I criticize all
violence. It's okay to criticize violence." He declined to give the
names of student groups he was involved with, saying that there had
been some concern amongst friends about the effects of attending a
protest against the president of the university. (None of the
speakers gave an organizational affiliation either.) Dexter disagreed with the message that Zionism is racism, however, saying that "one
definition of Zionism is the belief that Israel has a right to exist"
and he supported that.

Cathy, a member of United for Justice with Peace, said she was glad
that people were calling out Summers for his remarks because his
statements could squash dissent and eliminate dialogue. However, she
was disappointed with the tone and focus of the demonstration, saying
that it discouraged other points of view by name-calling and giving
polarizing slogans.
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Zionism is many different things (english)
24 Sep 2002
I am deeply sympathetic to the cause of Palestians and absolutely opposed to violence in all forms. I am in fact involved in a production of Romeo and Juliet set in the Occupied Territories, to explore the dynamics of oppression and division in the area. I do not believe that criticism of Israel is necessarily antisemitic, but neither do I countenance the assertion that Zionism is racism. The ideas of Zionism are not that simple, and they are not racist, and they have little to do with bulldozing villages or with paraonoid defensive procedures. There are at least some Zionists--and I suspect many--who are perfectly happy to have a secular state with equal rights for all citizens. They only want access to the sites they consider holy and refuge and safety from the antisemitism that is present in so much of Europe, the Middle East, and the rest of the world. They do not believe white people have a greater claim to land or resources than colored people. They never have. I don't think it is useful to call out "Zionism is racism"; it won't convince many people of anything and it does little to educate. I'd be happier having another dialogue on the complex issues--there haven't been enough genuine dialogues, as far as I am concerned--and certainly criticising the kind of squashing of dissent that Larry Summers seems to have perpetrated. (It wouldn't be the first time.) Chanting "'A Matter of Time' is against international law" is useful. But discouraging dissent in the opposite direction is not useful. Respond to censorship with dialogue.
zionism is zionism (english)
24 Sep 2002
i am deeply sympathetic to the cause of the palestinian people, and i believe there are legitimate provocations like ethnic cleansing and the imposition of a tyranny, which warrant self-defense. if there is anything to be said about zionism, as it exists in the world today, not as theorists a hundred years ago proposed, then that is that it's a phenomenon applied in society based on the ethnic differences between especially european jews and palestinians. a logical analogy is to the apartheid system perpetrated by the white afrikaners against the native african population. this ethnically rooted discrimination, by the non-native ashkenazim in political power, and against the population which is disenfranchised and oppressed, is probably the reason why people have come to use the slogan 'zionism is racism.'
the idea of an exclusive safe haven from european and other anti-semitism means that 1. we resign ourselves to european and other anti-semitism, instead of fighting against it, and 2. we believe it's ok to seize someone else's land for a home for us when we are threatened. isn't this just a little bit irrational and hypocritical? shouldn't we also be talking about our historical accountability (or lack of it) and how decisions made by our parents and grandparents affect our neighbors to this day, and keep us in positions of privilege over them? a few zionists favoring a secular state without righting historical wrongs (which are not that far back- many in living memory) is akin to republicans saying that whites in the usa favor equal rights for all, and so we should abolish affirmative action and stop trying to own up to the vast historical grievances against native people, africans, asians, irish, women, and on and on, by the rich anglo male ruling class- even though those wrongs contribute today to massive inequalities between the groups.
practically speaking i'd be in favor of an end to this apartheid and creating a secular government- a separate palestinian state does nothing to resolve the 'racism' inherent in a 'jewish state'. but this must take place alongside a full accounting by both sides of historical atrocities, offenses and culpability, if there is to be any hope of mending the wounds. look at south africa- a secular democratic state has done nothing to alleviate the racism of everyday life, and even the anc appears content to accept this as a fact of life.

i guess the point is that zionism is not acceptable because the way it exists today (in effect, if not in intent) is unacceptable. it's based on jewish supremacy against non-jews and especially palestinians, and aims at grabbing land at any cost to establish an exclusive 'safe haven.' i don't see any secular zionist movement. we have to confront zionism on its own terms, not on some abstract theoretical grounds. the vast majority of its practitioners use the word to promote vile acts, and it's this that people oppose. distracting the struggle with semantics is injurious to the cause. if one does not identify with certain aspects of an ideology, then why chain oneself to it at all? we ought to live by our consciences, calling out injustices anywhere we find them.


I am deeply sympathetic to the cause of Palestians and absolutely opposed to violence in all forms. I am in fact involved in a production of Romeo and Juliet set in the Occupied Territories, to explore the dynamics of oppression and division in the area. I do not believe that criticism of Israel is necessarily antisemitic, but neither do I countenance the assertion that Zionism is racism. The ideas of Zionism are not that simple, and they are not racist, and they have little to do with bulldozing villages or with paraonoid defensive procedures. There are at least some Zionists--and I suspect many--who are perfectly happy to have a secular state with equal rights for all citizens. They only want access to the sites they consider holy and refuge and safety from the antisemitism that is present in so much of Europe, the Middle East, and the rest of the world. They do not believe white people have a greater claim to land or resources than colored people. They never have. I don't think it is useful to call out "Zionism is racism"; it won't convince many people of anything and it does little to educate. I'd be happier having another dialogue on the complex issues--there haven't been enough genuine dialogues, as far as I am concerned--and certainly criticising the kind of squashing of dissent that Larry Summers seems to have perpetrated. (It wouldn't be the first time.) Chanting "'A Matter of Time' is against international law" is useful. But discouraging dissent in the opposite direction is not useful. Respond to censorship with dialogue.




Self-Hating Jew Today Criminal Tomorrow (english)
25 Sep 2002
It was a relief to see that a group of useless students gathered in Cambridge to make declarative statements on the Middle East, Zionism, Israel and the Phallustinians. It was all the more revealing to note that several self-hating Jews were in attendance.

As a student in the Greater Boston area during the first so-called Intifada, there were similar anti-Israel grumbles by those belonging to the 'intelligent" set. When not busy smokin dope, drinking beyond reason, these sorry people were passing out flyers portraying the Jewish state as one of humaninity's worst inventions. Many Jews were involved in this activity.

And today..

You will be surprised to know that many of these early Israel bashers live in Phallustine as Jewish settlers!
Dershowitz gets it just right (english)
26 Sep 2002
Opinion
Published on Monday, September 23, 2002
A Challenge to House Master Hanson

By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ

CRIMSON/ STACEY J. SUBLETT


In my 38 years of teaching at Harvard Law School, I donıt recall ever
writing in praise of any action by a Harvard president, but this time I must
congratulate President Lawrence H. Summers for his willingness to say out
loud what many of us in the Harvard community have long believed: namely,
that singling out Israel, among all the countries in the world, for
divestment, is an action which is anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent.
A
recent open letter by one of the signatories made it clear that he regards
Israel as the ³pariah² state, a word historically used by anti-Semites to
characterize the Jewish people.

As an advocate and practitioner of human rights throughout the world, I can
confidently assert that Israelıs record on human rights is among the best,
especially among nations that have confronted comparable threats. Though far
from perfect, Israel has shown extraordinary concern for avoiding civilian
casualties in its half-century effort to protect its civilians from
terrorism. Jordan killed more Palestinians in a single month than Israel has
between 1948 and the present.

Israel has the only independent judiciary in the entire Middle East. Its
Supreme Court, one of the most highly regarded in the world, is the only
court in the Middle East from which an Arab or a Muslim can expect justice,
as many have found in winning dozens of victories against the Israeli
government, the Israeli military and individual Israeli citizens. There is
no
more important component in the protection of human rights and civil
liberties than an independent judiciary willing to stand up to its own
government. I challenge the proponents of divestment to name a court in any
Arab or Muslim country that is comparable to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Israel is the only country in the region that has virtually unlimited
freedom
of speech. Any person in Israel whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian can
criticize the Israeli government and its leaders. No citizen of any other
Middle Eastern or Muslim state can do that without fear of imprisonment or
death.

Israel is the only country that has openly confronted the difficult issue of
protecting the civil liberties of the ticking bomb terrorist. The Israeli
Supreme Court recently ruled that despite the potential benefits of
employing
non-lethal torture to extract information, the tactic is illegal. Brutal
torture, including lethal torture, is commonplace in nearly every other
Middle Eastern and Muslim country. Indeed, American authorities sometimes
send suspects to Egypt, Jordan and the Philippines precisely because they
know that they will be tortured in those countries.

Nor is Israel the only country that is occupying lands claimed by others.
China, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Spain, France and numerous other countries
control not only land, but people who seek independence. Indeed, among these
countries Israel is the only one that has offered statehood, first in 1948
when the Palestinians rejected the UN partition which would have given them
a
large, independent state and chose instead to invade Israel. Again in the
year 2000 Palestinians were offered a state, rejected it and employed
terrorism.

There are, of course, difficult issues to be resolved in the Middle East.
These include the future of the settlements, the establishment of
Palestinian
self-governance and the prevention of terrorism. These issues will require
compromise on all sides. Members of the Harvard community must be free to
criticize Israel when they disagree with its policies or actions, as they
criticize any other country in the world whose record is not perfect. But to
single out the Jewish state of Israel, as if it were the worst human rights
offender, is bigotry pure and simple. It would be comparable to singling out
a black nation for de-legitimation without mentioning worse abuses by white
nations. Those who sign the divestment petition should be ashamed of
themselves. If they are not, it is up to others to shame them.

Among those who signed this immoral petition was Winthrop House Master Paul
Hanson.

I wrote to Prof. Hanson challenging him to debate me in the Common Room of
Winthrop House about his decision to sign the petition. He refused, citing
³other priorities.² I can imagine few priorities more pressing than to
justify to his students why he is willing to single out Israel for special
criticism. Accordingly, I hereby request an invitation from the students of
Winthrop House to conduct such a debate, either with Hanson present or with
an empty chair on which the petition which he signed would be featured.

Universities should encourage widespread debate and discussion about
divisive
and controversial issues. A House master who peremptorily signs a petition
and then hides behind ³other priorities² does not serve the interests of
dialogue and education. I hope that Hanson will accept my challenge, and
that
if he does not, that I will be invited by his students to help fill the
educational gap left by the cowardice of those who have signed this petition
and refuse to defend their actions in public debate.

Let me propose an alternative to singling out Israel for divestment: let
Harvard choose nations for investment in the order of the human rights
records. If that were done, investment in Israel would increase
dramatically,
while investments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Philippines, Indonesia,
the
Palestinian Authority and most other countries of the world would decrease
markedly.


Alan M. Dershowitz is Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School.
3 words for dershowitz: (english)
27 Sep 2002
colonialism, apartheid and


WHUPASS!
divestment=anti-semitism? (english)
27 Sep 2002
Modified: 01 Oct 2002
So I suppose that according to the line of thinking that targeting Israel for divestment is anti-Semitic, that the anti-apartheid campaign was guilty of a prejudice against Afrikaaners? Or would it just be all white people?

Also Israel is not the only target for divestment today--Burma is also a target, because of the repressive nature of the Burmese junta.

Israel is not being targeted because of some hatred for Jews, but because under certain circumstances divestment and sanctions can be an effective strategy for helping oppressed people struggling for freedom. The main condition seems to be that the general population has to support the sanctions--as blacks did in South Africa and most Burmese do (and unlike the situation in Iraq or Cuba). Now, someone is going to say most Israelis don't support a divestment campaign--but most Palestinians do, and Israel is the effective government of the Occupied Territories.

As for Israel being a democracy, we'll leave aside the various ways that Jews are privileged as an ethno-religious group, in violation of all democratic principles of pluralism. Israel is a completely militarized society--almost all Jews (with the exception of some religious students and the extremely orthodox) must serve in the military. A basic part of military training is to follow orders without question. This does not exactly encourage the critical thinking necessary for a democracy--and is especially ironic given that this is one of the things that lead to the Holocaust.