As we learn the details of the horrifying shootings at a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas, several pro-Israel commentators and tweeters have tried to link the shooting to rising support for a boycott of Israel and the BDS movement. Max Blumenthal created a storify which details the ugly stuff here. The offensive remarks by zealous Israel supporters reveal their shameless opportunism and poor taste, considering the gravity of the circumstances. When our community is faced with a genuinely frightening event, the Israel-on-the-brain crowd continues to insist that BDS is the real enemy. Seriously.
So, let me break it down for those who might be confusing things. The shooter is an antisemite. He is a real antisemite, not a human rights group or Nobel prize winner painted to look like an antisemite through use of tortured logic and redefinitions. This is someone who actually despises us and seeks to kill us because we are Jews.
This shooter clearly has no relationship whatsoever to BDS. Perhaps to the chagrin of Israel’s most ardent supporters, racist groups are explicitly unwelcome in that movement and have no place in its ranks. Let’s take a look at some obvious distinctions: The BDS movement invokes the language of human rights and equal protection. It looks to international law and historic anti-colonial, anti-racist struggles to support and inspire its position. It has support and participation from Muslims, Christians, Jews, secular people, labor unions, student groups, artists, academics and others who don’t wish to invest in the violence of occupation. By contrast, Kansas shooter Frazier Glenn Miller is a former KKK member who invokes the language of white nationalism, which is antithetical to human rights and equal protection. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he organized the ‘White Patriot Party’ in the 1980s and eventually ran for Congress twice in 2006 and 2010. He has raged publicly about the threat Jewish/Christian intermarriage posed to the white European demographic; he has denigrated Jewish religion by claiming that Jews killed Christ; he has claimed that Jews control media, government and international institutions; and he has posited that Jews are lying about their suffering during the Holocaust to make white Europeans look bad, and that the Holocaust is a hoax. In other words, far from an advocate for equality and human rights, Miller instead asserts that the United States should belong only to white European people. I don’t hear arguments like his coming from supporters of BDS. Although, I will admit they bear an uncanny resemblance to some arguments we hear in other circles of the debate, albeit in a slightly more polished and palatable form.
The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by 180+ Palestinian civil society organizations. These organizations wrote to the world and called upon it for help as peace negotiations led them nowhere and Israel further entrenched its occupation. They decided to use a peaceful tactic, the boycott, to pressure Israel and to make the occupation harder and more consequential to maintain. This tactic has been used by social movements across the political spectrum historically as a means to effect social change. Boycott has also been affirmed as a protected form of free expression by the United States Supreme Court. Although Israel fanatics make wild accusations of antisemitism, the movement can claim a healthy amount of support from Jews in diaspora as well as Israel, including groups such as: Boycott from Within, The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace, Independent Jewish Voices and a number of Jewish identified groups in Europe.
Meanwhile, Israel fanatics like Pamela Geller raise money for openly racist groups like the English Defense League. Daniel Pipes defends Geert Wilders, who has made common cause with the French far right to form an anti-immigrant ‘trojan horse’ in the European Parliament. David Horowitz publicizes the writing of Jared Taylor, an open white nationalist, who advocates the idea that blacks have a higher propensity to commit violent crime. These groups hold viewpoints that decent people committed to democratic values should find abhorrent, yet Geller, Pipes, and Horowitz do not find themselves subject to accusations of bigotry from Israel’s ardent supporters. In most cases, they are still welcome inside the tent.
During a truly terrifying time for our Jewish community, the Israel zealots give real antisemites a free pass in favor of targeting advocates for Palestinian rights. The only plausible reason for this, in my opinion, is that the BDS movement has made tremendous strides around the world, finding allies in renowned artists, writers, scholars, and human rights leaders. The connections this activism has forged between people of all faiths and backgrounds directly contradicts their extreme, hardline Zionist viewpoint, which relies on a hostile, incurably antisemitic world for its relevancy.
I believe that Jews have the capacity to discern those who endanger us from those who do not. I only pray that we can cut through the fog and mirrors of an opportunistic political agenda that cedes vital ground to the white nationalists who truly imperil us and our natural allies.
30 thoughts on “White Nationalists Threaten Jews, BDS Does Not”
What a disgustingly ignorant article. One lie after another.
Daniel this is my first visit to this site and I found the article to be far from disgusting or ignorant. I found it to be balanced and well informed. If it is full of lies as you assert it would be a great help if you would point them out with reference to your sources.
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That sure bolsters your case to link to the insanely idiotic Alice Walker. She’s a big follower of David Icke. She believes the world is run by alien lizards. Bravo on such a pathetically horrible article.
Thanks for leaving a comment, Daniel. This is a good opportunity for me to explain that while I moderate the comments on this site, opposing viewpoints are absolutely welcome. I believe we must have these discussions, even though they are difficult for all of us at times. One caveat, however, is that I’m not going to post threats, biased name calling, accusations of self-hatred, or other comments intended only as invective. If you have substantively critical things to say about Alice Walker or anyone, that’s fine, but watch the insults. It’s not necessary. Otherwise, baruchim habayim lekulam!
Antisemitism developed out of Europe due to Jewish dogma such as God’s chosen people, exclusiveness and voluntary segregation coupled with the Protestant Reformation movement which insists all twelve tribes of Israel are responsible for the death of Jesus of Nazareth which contributed to the dichotomy between Christians and Jews. With respect to the Holocaust, in vies of the evidence collected from allied forces after WW II, the event did happen, but it happened to a number of people from different ethnic and religious origins, mainly lesbians, gays, the disabled, Christians, Jews, gypsies, and everyone who was not a member of the Aryan race and disagreed with the Nazi doctrine.The destruction of Germany’s infrastructure resulted in mass starvation due to inadequate transportation systems and disruption of food production which resulted in shortages of food that were to be distributed to concentration camps and German villages. In terms of white nationalism, this idea was born out of the days of colonialism and imperialism and the wars between fascist countries for spheres of influence, raw materials and the exploitation of the non-white populations. It was the needed ideology to justify their foreign market adventures and subjugate people of color. From a religious view point, Rabbi Isroel Dovid Weiss, a Haisidic Jew has declared that ideology of Zionism which originated in Europe at the turn of the century is responsible for causing “rivers of blood” in the Middle East. The founding of Israel is premature, since the Messiah has not yet come to earth. Will I be censored even though I had not called anyone any names?
TBH, this isn’t terribly coherent, so I’m not sure what you are saying. However, this is a good opportunity to remind commenters that in addition to biased name calling, no one who denies the Holocaust (ie, thinks there were no gas chambers, thinks Hitler had good intentions, thinks Jews are lying about their suffering) is welcome here. If this is what you are saying, then please clarify so I can delete your post. Keep in mind that this is my personal website and that I am a private entity. This means that I can approve or delete any comment I choose. Please don’t send me a lengthy lecture about the First Amendment, because I am not the U.S. government and the Constitution can’t be applied to me. Please be respectful of everyone who visits here. I will address anti-Jewish conspiracy theory and my disgust with it in a later post.
Absolutely! It is disrespectful to refer to Alice Walker as “insane.” However, I did provide indisputable evidence when I mentioned her well known advocacy for David Icke’s theories regarding alien lizards who allegedly rule this planet. If you consider such an outspoken anti-Israel critic to be a model for the BDS movement I fear you’re doomed to fail. I mean, I hope you fail.
On the other hand, I notice that you have no hesitation in engaging in baseless name-calling when you label those who consider the BDS movement to be anti-Semitic “Israel fanatics .” At least, you could be honest by acknowledging the explicit goal of the movement is not to end the occupation of the west bank but the ultimate destruction of Israel. Anyone whose paid attention to the vile BDS movement knows this. Furthermore, anyone who thinks Jewish self-determination in Israel should be destroyed is nothing but a racist. Of course, if human rights and concern for human suffering were even remotely a concern of BDS advocates they would be out boycotting and divesting and sanctioning several dozen countries whose human rights record record is infinitely worse than Israel’s. For example, Syria, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, numerous countries in Africa, Cuba, etc. In other words, these phony human rights advocates such as Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, Alice Walker and their ilk could not care one iota about any Palestinians whatsoever. They do care about hating one of the world’s smallest minorities that has been relentlessly persecuted for the last 2,000 years.
There is a crucial distinction between Frazier Glenn Miller and BDS advocates. The former is at least honest about his hatred, however, the latter are equally hateful toward the same minority but also lie about it. Otherwise, they are identically vile.
One quick clarification: I’m barring biased name calling, not any and all characterizations of people that might offend them. So, you can call my ideas crazy or even say that I’m a lousy writer or a thickheaded person. The second you call me a self-hating Jew or a Jewish princess or any other biased name, you get the boot.
The term self-hating is indeed abhorrent. There’s no evidence that people like Max Blumenthal hate themselves. If anything the opposite is the case. It is extremely arguable that Blumenthal is a Jew-hater, arrogant, completely in love with his vile self etc. but such a shameless individual is very unlikely to be a self-hater.
You are neither a self-hating Jew or a Jewish princess as far as I can tell. However, your extremely biased, inaccurate and and misinformed take on these issues is obvious. At least, acknowledge the true nature of BDS advocacy and its ultimate goal; i.e., the destruction of the Jewish population of Israel. To suggest otherwise is dishonest. The evil monster Frazier Glenn Miller is at least honest about his hatred.
“Antisemitism developed out of Europe due to Jewish dogma such as God’s chosen people,”
“Chosenness” is not a Jewish dogma it is not even a principle of faith in Judaism. Please google the “13 principles of faith” – clarified since the twelfth century – and you will see for yourself that “chosenness” is not included in what traditionalist Jews are to believe.
The writer of the article follows false narratives, removes context and otherwise presents an absolutely mendacious argument. BDS seeks the elimination of the State of Israel because it is Jewish. This is anti Jewish or anti semitism. The use of Nazi imagery by Blumenthal and others in BDS to describe Israel, BDS’ invocation of National Socialist tactics to intimidate Jews and others concerned with human rights all serve to hate Jews. BDS ignores terror committed by Islamists and gives implicit support to such global left and violent terrorist orgs like hamas and hezbollah. BDS is against human rights and is a fascist org intent on violently discriminating against Jews, LGBT persons, women and other human beings. BDS uses the Palestinians to vilify Jews.
As tragically witnessed by this Nazi’s actions, the hateful first destroy themselves, then they destroy community, often their own “perceived” community. Shame on those who exploit this tragedy to merely promote cynicism.
This is a fair point. I personally oppose the BDS movement, but there’s a huge difference between a legitimate movement that asks people to consider the ethics of their economic activity and a gun-toting former KKK Grand Dragon trying to literally take shots at Jewish people (and, in a bitter point of irony, failing on all counts).
There’s a danger in painting all our opponents with the same brush.
Excellent article! Sorry to see you’re subject to the usual OTT abuse from the ultra-Zionists. I admire your self-restraint ;o)
But here are Muslims in support of Israel… http://islamfails.wordpress.com
BDS is a form of punishment. As such, what it says is that the party boycotted was found quilty and convicted in a legitimate court of law, whether it is true or not. The nature of the alleged crime is irrelevant as well. And that’s all extremists and Jew haters need to pass to the act. In other words, BDS has the ability to empower would be assassins and provide them with the justifications for their actions.
Having said that, from a strictly economic point of view, my feeling is that boycott could have its advantages as it could act as a stimulus for the boycotted party toward more creativity and inventiveness.
Rachel, I have never read your blog until today but I’m so glad that I’ve learned of it. You are making important distinctions about the use of BDS as a form of nonviolent protest. Thank you for your courage and for taking a stand for justice. Keep speaking truth to power.
Well said, Rachel. The voices of fear speak the loudest. I really don’t think people who claim “BDS targets Israel because it’s Jewish” know much at all about Israel and its history. It shows a serious indifference to the suffering of those who have been killed, expelled, imprisoned and oppressed to keep Israel “safe.” At best a serious lack of imagination as to how people can live together in peace. Putting economic pressure on companies that enable segregation/ subjugation of millions of people is the least we can do!
Honestly I really have trouble understanding where the strong negative reactions come from. Honestly, you can disagree with BDS, but I have a lot of trouble understanding how anyone wouldn’t see the distinction between a former KKK member / white supremacist out to destroy Jews and someone who advocates BDS as a tactic to address injustices in Israel/Palestine. One is clearly nuts, while the other you can disagree with, but it’s essentially a debate between two reasonable opinions. Honestly, I don’t get all why people who critique BDS say it’s anti-semetic– isn’t it totally clear that people want BDS cause they are upset about what’s happening in Israel/Palestine. You can disagree with them about whether they’re right to be upset, or whether BDS is the right tactic to address what they’re upset about… but I don’t see anything anti-semetic at all. That just seems ridiculous to me. I think people who are against BDS would convince more people if they argued it on the merits, rather than lobbing the ridiculous claim that it’s anti-semetic.
This is a very cogent post, Rachel. I wish it were attracting more attention from intelligent people than it has thus far. Conflating advocacy for Palestinian human rights with anti-Semitism is not only intellectually muddled and dishonest but also weakens the struggle against real Anti-Semitism, as you so rightly point out Were the opponents of Jim Crow in the US or apartheid in South Africa “anti-white”? Of course not. Keep up the good work and as General Joe Stillwell used to say: Illegitimi non carborundum!
Thanks for the support! Be sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter! Today is so far my best day on notesfromexile.com for follows 🙂
My first time reading your blog. Moadim le-simhah, and may you go from hayl to hayl. And good post.
As for the claim that “BDS seeks the elimination of the State of Israel because it is Jewish” this is false. In fact, the three goals of the BDS movement are totally incoherent unless there is a State of Israel to answer to them. Those goals are for the State of Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories over the green line, for the State of Israel to grant equality to its non-Jewish citizens, and for the State of Israel to allow those Palestinian refugess who desire to return to their native lands to do so. None of these goals, by themselves, or taken jointly, would eliminate the State of Israel as a Jewish state. Of course, there are Palestinians who would like to see the elimination of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, just as there are Jews who would like to deprive Palestinian Israelis of equal citizenship rights (a majority, of Israeli Jews according to polls). But that is not the BDS movement. And anybody who says otherwise is deliberately lying in order to demonize them. They are wrong, demonstrably wrong, and they cannot point to an official BDS statement of Palestinian Civil Society that supports their views.
Zisn Pesah, Chip!
What utter and complete nonsense, Jeremiah Haber. The third of the three goals to which you refer is “Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” In other words, millions of the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees could return not just to the West Bank or Gaza but to Israel itself, which would destroy the country. Israeli towns and villages would be “property” returned to the Palestinians. Hence, no more Israel. The number of Palestinian refugees that resulted from the wars the Arabs started pale in population size to compared to numerous other refugee situations over the last century. India, Pakistan, Europe etc. had far more refugees resulting from conflicts. Yet, only the far smaller number of Palestinian refugees and their descendants have never been resettled or absorbed in their host countries. The reason is their lives are used as a cynical club with which to threaten Israel for the last many decades. Until this demand is removed from the BDS movement those who deny their goal is the destruction of Israel are liars.
Daniel, according to every poll taken, and according to every estimate I know of, the maximum returning residents would not top one million — and probably a lot less.
So let’s settle on a million — I assure you that BDS will stop after that.
Now, say that Israel repatriates 1,000,000 native Palestinians to their geographic regions, expanding existing towns and creating new ones, as they did for other waves of aliyah. At present Arabs constitute 20.6% of the State. Add another million, and make them citizens, and they become 29.3% of the State.
Because of Israel’s coalition political system, they currently have no political power. At 29.3% they would also have no political power. So why do you say that would destroy the Jewish state?
Ben-Gurion accepted a Jewish state with a 40% Arab population. So, according to you, he wanted to destroy the Jewish state!
But let’s be honest Would you accept 500,000? No, you wouldn’t — not because it would destroy the character of the Jewish state — it wouldn’t — but because that sounds so much better than the real reason, which is that you don’t want “too many” Arabs in your state, even if “too many” is less than 30%.
And tell me what reason besides bigotry and racism explains that?
There is a direct relationship between inciter and incited. Surely you should know that as a lawyer?
Each and every one of us is responsible for the hate they help foment and must know their words have consequences.
It is a fact that it has become acceptable to kill, maim and attack Jews and Jewish property whether in Brooklyn, Boston, Seattle, Toulouse or Paris. Not to mention that Judaism itself is under attack as anyone who has read “Zionism Unsettled” can see for themselves.
And no, I am not defending settlements, not am I too concerned by BDS.
Oh, and with regard to the “cynical club” argument. Don’t you think the Palestinians are human beings with agency? They are not pawns; they are people. As a matter of fact, the last twenty years of international law and convention has reaffirmed time and again that refugees should be given the choice to return to their homes — it’s up to them. That goes for Jewish refugees. If they want to go back, fine; if not, also fine. It’s their choice.
And of course the Palestinians who can’t go back to their actual homes, which have been destroyed, etc., can be repatriated near them, with compensation. I don’t support the right of Jews, Germans, Serbs, to ethnically cleanse areas they consider to be their national homelands. (Meir Kahane thought that the Nazis had the right to expel Jews from Germany, since Jews didn’t belong in Germany. I don’t agree, but I am familiar with the position.)
I agree with you that the Arab countries had the obligation to offer them citizenship, without injuring their rights as refugees. If you pass a stabbing victim on the street, you have an obligation to save him. But the guy who stabbed him has the primary responsibility, no? And it’s Israel who shot and killed Palestinian farmers who tried to return to their homes after hostilities had ceased.
Stop drinking the hasbara cool-aid (or Pesah wine) and start using your G-d-given intellect. I got the same brainwash you did, but I grew up.
You’re simply incorrect. The BDS movement uses the language of human rights cynically to advance a nationalist cause. That’s not to say that the cause has no merit, but BDS is not criticizing Palestinian human rights violations. They’re criticizing Israelis only, and they’re doing so in language that is offensive, including the use of inappropriate comparisons to Nazi Germany. They do absolutely nothing to stem the presence of antisemitism in their movement, and they erase the history of the Holocaust from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to recast it, inappropriately, as a conflict of rich white Jews versus Palestinians.
Mondoweiss is proof of how the BDS movement encourages antisemitism. The site regularly posts broadsides against the American Jewish community and Jews in general, including posts advocating the banning of circumcision and kosher slaughter. Mondoweiss blames Jews for the Iraq War. It asserts Jews have too much power in American society. It promotes fringe writers who are notable for the polemical way they write about Judaism, such as Israel Shahak. Its commentators have posted links to Holocaust-denial and neo-Nazi websites in the moderated comment section.
I have personally seen how BDS has promoted antisemitic activity on campus at my alma mater, Vassar, where the campus SJP tweeted out neo-Nazi literature, and promoted the accusation on campus that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a case of rich white Jews versus people of color.
The presence of Jews in the BDS movement no more insulates it from antisemitism than the presence of Jewish apostates in the Catholic Church did that institution in the Middle Ages.
“The BDS movement uses the language of human rights cynically to advance a nationalist cause.”
The three calls of the BDS movement say nothing about Palestinian nationalism. They are compatible with the Palestinians not having any nation state. And you have as much support for that statement as I have for this one. “The Zionist movement uses the language of nationalism to cynically advance the ethnic cleansing of Palestine”.
Everything else you say is irrelevant to the BDS calls as promoted by the official BDS solidarity movement. Are there pro-Palestinians who are anti-Semites. Sure. Are there pro-Israelis who are racist bigots with neo-Nazi tendencies. I personally know quite a few. But none of this has anything to do with the official solidarity BDS movement, or, for that matter, most pro-Israelis.
As for SJP at your alma mater, whatever you think of it, you should at least acknowledge these statements. I don’t see where they are remotely anti-Semitic
“We want to make it excruciatingly clear that we are sorry to anyone we offended because we did not vet the original posters of some of the content we reblogged close enough this past week, and only focused on the content.”
“We understand that the sources, no matter the content, can be triggering to many in our audience. We will definitely do better, as that is what y’all deserve. We have removed the posts, and will do our best not to make a similar mistake!”
An Apology from the SJP Vassar General Body
Up until this point, the social media platforms (tumblr and twitter) associated with SJP Vassar’s name have been managed by one person and the SJP general body was not involved in decisions made about what was being posted. We condemn any and all hate speech including any form of anti-Semitism and we are deeply sorry several offensive posts were made in SJP Vassar’s name.
We are now reevaluating how social media associated with SJP Vassar will be managed as we sincerely want these outlets to reflect our mission of social justice, opposition to all forms of racism, and solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
As for the second charge:
We, the Students for Justice in Palestine, who strategized, organized, and mobilized in order to further the cause of the BDS movement at Vassar College, have decided to send a very clear and straightforward message to respond to the lies, propaganda, and misrepresentation leveled against our movement. Baseless ad hominem attacks have been launched against us in an attempt to mystify both our politics and those of our attackers. In the face of this confusion and fear-mongering, we maintain that our political mission is clear: we are an anti-racist, anti-colonial group that strikes at the core of the racist power structures within the Israeli apartheid regime. We know that the manufactured misrepresentation of our mission does not occur in a vacuum. We are aware of the watchdog organizations who pay alums and students to generate slanderous claims against pro-palestinian activists to detract attention from the gaping holes in the logic behind a settler colonial regime continuously cleansing its indigenous population. We work on a campus where students have been paid to promote and re-brand birthright trips as well as now attracting the attention of organizations such as CAMERA, whose goal is to police and muzzle pro-Palestinian voices.
We find it an appalling irony to be accused of supporting white supremacy by those who support the racist Israeli regime and its white nationalist agenda. This agenda is comprised of policies that work towards exterminating Palestinians and African migrants, only to replace them with predominantly white Euro-American settlers. Ethnic cleansing and “purification” is the operational logic of the Zionist state project, which is untenably white supremacist at its core. In order to compensate for the insubstantial case for Israel, we see the white Zionist alumni of Vassar College look toward the students of color in our organization and proclaim to the administration that we support white supremacy. We see these bizarre claims for what they are: attempts to mystify the discourse, and have those who suffer from systemic racism and white supremacy be pegged as the perpetrators of their own oppression.
This should go without saying, and yet here we are saying it: providing an article link from a white nationalist publication does not mean we support white nationalist ideology; rather, we found this particular article’s description of those behind zionist propaganda campaigns and how they operate to be a helpful articulation of problems many organizations like us face. A profound irony is that we have come under assault from the very same trolls the article describes. As students who must navigate the world under the thumb of white supremacy, we understand what it is like to have to take ideas from organizations that have supported white supremacist structures, whether they be from Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Legal Insurrection, or the Occidental Quarterly, and put them in a productive conversation. The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people will continue despite petty slander, and we at SJP Vassar strongly encourage anyone who may read this to question the dominant narrative.