Recently the Students for a Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Hampshire college were instrumental in getting the board of trustees to disinvest in the State Street mutual fund as part of a campaign to divest from companies that benefit from Israel’s 40-plus year occupation of Palestinian Territories. Not surprisingly, right-wing defender of Israel’s occupation, Alan Dershowitz, immediately threatened not only the SJP, but Hampshire college with destruction by starting an international campaign to disinvest from the college.
(You can write a letter of support to HampshireSJP@gmail.com)
Howard Friel has written a an in-depth (and thoroughly footnoted) analysis of Dershowitz’s pattern of scorched earth tactics in his unending efforts to destroy critics of Israeli policies, starting with campaign to bring Hampshire to its knees, to the extent of even trying to extract a promise to punish the students in the SJP for bigotry ( it should be noted, included leader Matan Cohen, a young Isareli who lost partial vision in one eye after an Israeli soldier shot him with a rubber bullet at a nonviolent protest in the Palestinian town of Belin.)
In his “Double Standard Watch” column in the Jerusalem Post on February 15, 2009, Dershowitz referred to the SJP students at Hampshire as “a rabidly anti-Israel group,” “the virulently anti-Israel group called Students for Justice in Palestine,” “the anti-Israel group,” “the anti-Israel students,” and “the anti-Israel student group.” Meanwhile, Dershowitz invoked “bigotry” six times as the underlying motive of “the anti-Israel students,” while demanding that the college punish the SJP students for their “bigotry.” Here is what Dershowitz wrote in this regard: “There must be a price paid for bigotry”; “singling out only Israel for divestiture is bigotry plain and simple”; “this bigoted resolution” (describing the Hampshire students’ divestment initiative); “Students and faculty [at Hampshire] too must understand that bigotry has its cost”; “decency cannot survive with the kind of double standard bigotry directed only against the Jewish state”;
There was a great feature story in Sunday’s New York Times about New York’s Bard College and their groundbreaking partnership with the Palestinian Al Quds University. Ethan Bronner reports:
The plan, relying largely on outside financing, includes a liberal arts honors college and a master’s degree program in teaching, both located at Al Quds and granting joint degrees, as well as a model high school to serve as an educational laboratory.
At stake for both of the program’s biggest supporters, Al Quds president Sari Nusseibeh and Bard president Leon Botstein, is nothing less than the future of a Palestinian state, and a critically skilled student population to support such a state. Such a move to work together undoubtedly will cause great consternation among extremists on either side, but it also reflects an increasingly popular Israeli view that supporting the creation of a Palestinian state is the only way to ensure a Jewish future for Israel. (The interest for Palestinians is self-evident.)
So perhaps the timing is not so ironic, given well known anti-Zionist professor Joel Kovel’s untimely demise at Bard. Today Kovel issued this damning statement, which will no doubt be challenged by Bard, stating he was kicked out because of his political views:
STATEMENT OF JOEL KOVEL REGARDING HIS TERMINATION BY BARD COLLEGE
In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social
Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside
the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last
of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and
full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30,
2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the
College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1
and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote
that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive
Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members
of the Faculty Senate.
This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and
motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by
political values, principally stemming from differences between myself
and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course
much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial
subject, my work on ecosocialism (/The Enemy of Nature/). However, the
evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent
of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have
been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this
instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process
which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.
Though the recent war on Gaza prompted us to go beyond our typical focus on the US to cover extensive efforts to silence anti-war dissent in “the Middle East’s only democracy,” the fact is that the suppression of dissent is a well documented phenomenon throughout the Middle East.There is clearly a great deal of media control, intimidation and violence in the region that may or may not be associated with the US supported Israeli occupation of Palestine, and resistance to that occupation. What is clear is that the recent Israeli attack against Gaza has served to highlight the forces and tensions working within Palestinian, Israeli and US populations to support and justify their respective actions.
On top the frank destruction visited upon Gaza by Israel (with full US support), Gaza residents also have to contend with another terrible burden of occupation – internecine warfare resulting from divide and conquer policies.Hamas both during and after the Israeli attack has been threatening, kidnapping, torturing and killing those it considers collaborators and/or supporters of Fatah as well as those who might, in any way dissent from/protest Hamas actions and policies.This has been documented in numerousplaces and shouldn’t come as a surprise. Individuals have been shot in the legs, multiple members of families have been shot in front of other family members, others have been tortured and then killed.There has been no obvious evidence of trials,reminiscent of Israeli summary executions of Palestinians (both Hamas and non-Hamas) in Gaza (using information supplied by Palestinian collaborators).
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation received an emergency grant from Cultures of Resistanceand produced this commercial on Gaza.After extensive discussion with DirecTV the company declined the ad.This is not an atypical action for corporate US media, but it does demand a response. (The Campaign is now running the ad on various progressive blogs.)
The Campaign wrote:
We thought, “What better way to bring this important information to the attention of people in the United States than to advertise nationally on DIRECTV?” the largest satellite television subscription service in the country.
After detailed discussions with DIRECTV, including agreement on rates, times, and network placements of the ad, when we gave them the final product, they abruptly decided not to do business with us.
This blatant act of censorship is preventing millions of U.S. households from learning the truth about our government’s crucial role in enabling Israel’s war on and siege of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Watch the extended edit of the video above. And let DirecTV know what you think by clicking here.
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This is a Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org) blog. JVP is dedicated to achieving a lasting peace that recognizes the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. Our core principles are justice and equality.