Divisive? Hell, Yes!
A brave professor of philosophy from the University of Michigan Dearborn Campus suggested the formation of a committee to determine if corporations in which the UMD invests were supporting Israeli Apartheid. David Skrbina addressed his fellow lecturers, professors, and staff at UMD’s Faculty Congress meeting of April 7. Two members of JWPF attended.
The usual comments from Jewish faculty were predictable, most notably that raising the issue is “divisive.” David sensed this charge was likely to be made, and told the audience beforehand that the issue was already divisive. That, however, didn’t stop the curator of UM-Dearborn’s Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive, Jamie Wraight, from telling the audience that the issue was indeed divisive and that we should “leave it alone”.
[Nice to know our tax dollars continue to support and elevate Jewish suffering above all others]
A few other pro-Israel (Jewish?) voices claimed “hostility felt by Jewish students” should squelch real debate on this issue; “academic freedoms [would be] impinged” if such a committee were to be established. “Appalling” chimed in another voice.
An Arab professor suggested a secret ballot be held, and his suggestion was upheld by a hand vote. Two issues were to be voted on, based on Skrbina’s request: (1) Divestment and (2) Academic Boycott. The results might not have pleased the Jewish constituents at UM-Dearborn, because even though they “won”, they may realize they’re just whistling past the graveyard, and praying the future doesn’t come. The vote went as follows:
Divestment: 17 Yes, 23 No, 2 Abstain
Boycott 7 Yes, 32 No, 1 Abstain
Each member attending the Faculty Congress found a blue folder placed at his/her seat containing articles from the Anti-Defamation League claiming Divestment was “anti-Israel”, one from Breitbart crowing how the TIAA-CREF Board once again refused to place divestment on the ballot, another from the Chronicle of Higher Education telling readers “Land-Grant Universities’ Group Opposes Israel Boycott”. They have nothing in their quiver (neither facts nor moral standing), but Jews nonetheless come prepared to these meetings. Their opponents didn’t have bupkis, and once again get their hat handed to them.
A green folder containing some information about the massacre at Deir Yassin, the attack on the USS Liberty, and the deliberate murder of Rachel Corrie might have been timely and effective. It might also have been helpful to mention some institutions that have divested, in part at least, from Israel, such as government funds in Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and banks such as Deutsche Bank and Danske Bank and religious organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, Friends Fiduciary Corp, Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the World Council of Churches.
Which Side Are You On?
Why do activists allow pro-Israel zealots to determine the game? OF COURSE the issue is divisive, and rightly so. Do you support the violent existence of a Jewish supremacist state on Palestinian land – as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands of us – or will you join JWPF in saying “Hell, No, Your Eminence”. Front and center, every debate needs to address this core issue. Israel supporters recognize this is the crux; why can’t the peace community recognize it as well?
Gilad Atzmon provides a clue from his blog:
“For many years, it was largely Jews and people of the Left who dominated the Anti Zionist discourse. The outcome is very clear. The criticism of Zionism and Israel was partial and Judeo-centric by nature. It evaded broad scrutiny of Jewish power and the tribal operation involved. The majority of anti Zionist texts were designed to vindicate the Jews of crimes committed by the Jewish State and Zionism. Consequently, the anti Zionist discourse achieved very little as far as Palestinians are concerned.”
“Tell them to get the Hell out of Palestine” RIP, Helen Thomas
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends