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Originally published in Tikkun Daily

Last week, I wrote about how, due to my writing on the issue of boycotts and Israel, I was asked by a prominent Jewish organization (Hillel) to publish a favorable political statement before being allowed into its building to speak about my book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

Despite my discomfort with such a problematic request, I published it. For I thought, If there are places where talking about reconciliation and understanding might be meaningful and important, this is one of them.

The statement I made affirmed my desire, as a progressive Zionist, for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while acknowledging the legitimacy of economic sanctions against Israel as a nonviolent form of opposition. I made this statement, even though its focus has little to do with my book.

Despite this, and our prior agreement regarding the statement, I've come to learn that I have been barred from speaking. And so, this is now my story – a story tragically being replicated far too often today in America as Jewish institutions decide not just what may, and may not, be discussed with regard to Israel, but who may discuss such issues as well.

You May Not Speak Here

I recently had the honor being invited by the Israel Committee of Santa Barbara to be a keynote speaker at its annual, signature event this spring. The event is housed by Santa Barbara Hillel, a cultural home for a diverse range of UCSB students.  

It was here that I was going to tell the narrative of my reconciliation with a Palestinian family. However, when the Hillel executive director, Rabbi Evan Goodman, found a political post of mine in which I attempted to argue that boycotts and sanctions against Israel are legitimate forms of nonviolent protest – and which understandably was misunderstood as my joining the BDS movement – I was no longer welcome.

I wished to speak with Rabbi Goodman, to reach out and discuss personally this issue of a Jewish educator and progressive Zionist, such as myself, being barred from speaking at Hillel. Unfortunately, the two of us were never able to have a direct conversation. Thought it was relayed to me that Rabbi Goodman had a request:

Publish a favorable political statement clarifying your position on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, and we will allow you to speak at UCSB Hillel.
As a Jewish educator who teaches elementary- and middle-school students biblical and Rabbinic texts, as well as an author who has been speaking about my book at Jewish community centers and synagogues across the country, I found UCSB's pre-condition perplexing.

More than that, though, I was deeply troubled by the request's implications, and how it related to a controversy brewing within the American Jewish community currently over Jews being barred by Hillel for their political beliefs. (More on that below.)

Despite this, I decided to make the statement, encouraged by Rabbi Goodman's openness, and understanding his need to follow Hillel International's guidelines, which direct Hillel centers across North America (and beyond) to forbid Jews from speaking who "support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel."

And so I made my statement, part of which appears below:


I am a progressive Zionist who believes firmly in the idea that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state, despite the inherent challenges and contradictions such an existence presents. I am also one who fully supports a two-state political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which each side is able to live within defined, secure borders.

I believe that economic sanctions, such as boycotts, are legitimate forms of nonviolent protest, in contrast to, say, violence or vandalism. I do not, however, subscribe to the BDS movement's implicit vision of a single, bi-national state as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It was my assumption that, upon making this requested statement, I would be allowed into Hillel to speak. And I was uplifted by the prospect of being able to engage personally with members of the Santa Barbara community, despite our political differences. To have honest, respectful dialogue about issues of importance.

Unfortunately, it was just decided by the UCSB Hillel leadership that I should be barred from speaking. Why? I cannot say for sure, since I have not had the opportunity to speak directly with Rabbi Goodman, or anyone else, at UCSB Hillel. Perhaps it's because UCSB Hillel's leadership felt constrained by Hillel International's guidelines. Perhaps it's because the post I published at Rabbi Goodman's request was found to be offensive by members of the community. (I wrote a direct letter to Rabbi Goodman and members of the community, apologizing profusely for any pain my post might have caused, which was not my intent. I never heard back from anyone.)

The good news is that, while I won't be joining the Santa Barbara community for a meaningful discussion, I have been contacted by other Hillel centers which would like to host me.

The bad news is that UCSB Hillel's decision is not an isolated incident. Rather, it's part of a larger controversy in which some Jewish institutions, instead of fostering open debates on difficult, critical issues, are censoring dialogue on Israel by essentially deciding who is, and is not, a sanctioned member of the Jewish community.

The Struggle to Foster 'Open' Dialogue at Hillel

Hillel International is an enormous Jewish institution – the umbrella organization for Hillel centers on college campuses across North America (and beyond). And while it advertises itself as being a pluralistic home for diverse political views on Israel, it has created guidelines which exclude anyone who supports BDS or who might "delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel."

Meaning: anyone who harshly critiques Israel's geo-political policies – or does so without similarly critiquing all other nations worthy of rebuke – can be forbidden from speaking.

This means some prominent progressive Zionists – those, like myself, who share Hillel's vision of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders" – have been blacklisted. Peter Beinart comes to mind. So too does Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli army veterans who speak about the military's abuses and their effect on Israeli society.

This blacklisting held true for all Hillel chapters until a month ago, when something important happened: Swarthmore Hillel became the first local center to defy Hillel International's guidelines, declaring itself as an "open" Hillel willing to host anyone for debate or dialogue, regardless of their political views.

Its statement made clear that it no longer wanted to censor who could and could not speak within its walls, thus constraining the open dialogue on Israel its students wished to have.  

This declaration has made waves in the American Jewish community, sparking a renewed discussion about how the American Jewish community can solve some of its most pressing problems if, out of an existential fear for Israel's survival, we exclude engaged and invested members of the community due to their political beliefs.

I Wish This Were Satire

The historian Gershom Gorenberg said it best when, with regard to this current dynamic within the American Jewish community, he quipped:

The American fight about what you can't say about Israel, and where you can't say it, will always sound to an Israeli as if Lewis Carroll scripted it.
He is right: there are moments in which this debate about, well, what can be debated within the U.S. Jewish community seems like farce. And it might be funny if the stakes weren't so high.

There have been times, when the stakes were no less high, in which Jews throughout history have been willing to fully debate issues of immense importance. So much so that the art of debating, of making distinctions and recognizing nuance, have became a foundational part of our collective intellectual, cultural and religious identities. It is a part of who we are, as a people.

In addressing this, I wrote:

I don't pretend to possess all the answers, nor all the 'correct' views. More importantly, I believe that the world is complex, and that it can only be viewed fully by recognizing nuances and making distinctions. This is a view the Rabbis of the Talmud shared – Rabbis who refined the art of recognizing nuances and making distinctions as a matter of legal discourse. In truth, this art of arguing – of parsing complex legal issues in order to solve problems – is the intellectual lineage from which we as Jews come.

Unfortunately, when it comes to political discourse on Israel, the American Jewish community has become partially paralyzed by our collective inability to recognize nuances and distinctions – to engage fully in open debates and dialogues.

But we ignore nuance at our own peril. Or rather, Jewish institutions today do so at their own peril. For we, as a people, have always debated those issues of critical importance, be they how to properly scour a pan to make it kosher (700 CE) or where to build the future Jewish state (1897).

If we are going to solve some of our most pressing and difficult issues as a people, we must continue to debate them, openly, honestly and respectfully.

The risks associated with doing otherwise are too great to consider.

(Note: parts of this post appeared in an earlier piece.)


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.

Originally posted to David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:12 AM PST.

Also republished by Writing by David Harris Gershon and Street Prophets .

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  •  Tip Jar (184+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, BDA in VA, Powered Grace, Assaf, implicate order, a2nite, tardis10, tb92, librarisingnsf, RainyDay, Mokurai, Flyswatterbanjo, MoDem, Jazzenterprises, George3, Tamar, lunachickie, science nerd, Homer177, Shockwave, Matt Z, doingbusinessas, poco, Brecht, commonmass, edsbrooklyn, bronte17, Rogneid, Empty Vessel, Dale, ExpatGirl, Johnny Nucleo, TheMomCat, eeff, delver, LakeSuperior, harlinchi, Avilyn, Mr Robert, AoT, linkage, christine20, Pat K California, Ipracticedissent, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, karmsy, FogCityJohn, ER Doc, viral, onionjim, Rhysling, jck, ranger995, YucatanMan, lotlizard, Miss Bianca, Naniboujou, happymisanthropy, K S LaVida, churchylafemme, i saw an old tree today, zerelda, here4tehbeer, BradyB, New Minas, Fishtroller01, corvo, RichterScale, cv lurking gf, anastasia p, praying manatheist, FrY10cK, AaronInSanDiego, carpunder, afisher, LeftOfYou, Laurel in CA, The Marti, maggiejean, kyril, Eowyn9, old possum, PeterHug, crose, Lily O Lady, TarheelDem, TheMeansAreTheEnd, Superskepticalman, anafreeka, Johnny Q, Lost and Found, Bonsai66, Sandino, WattleBreakfast, sc kitty, cville townie, bleeding blue, protectspice, quill, I give in to sin, zenox, Celtic Merlin, basquebob, philipmerrill, Andrew Lazarus, whaddaya, glitterscale, MrJayTee, Aunt Martha, badscience, native, pixxer, ladybug53, Smoh, rexxnyc, skohayes, run around, OHdog, slowbutsure, sidnora, blueoasis, benamery21, Chaddiwicker, bsmechanic, ask, gharlane, The Hindsight Times, kaliope, FG, joegoldstein, lcrp, la urracca, david78209, HiKa, on the cusp, sydneyluv, pvasileff, IndieGuy, FlyingToaster, ChemBob, Simple, Simplify, awhitestl, ratcityreprobate, Keone Michaels, stevie avebury, La Gitane, JoanMar, wasatch, 207wickedgood, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, ORswede, koNko, GoldnI, bnasley, JVolvo, Munchkn, divineorder, EquityRoy, 3goldens, tofumagoo, peachcreek, tikkun, YellerDog, Lujane, wader, LeftHandedMan, DJ Rix, remembrance, Eileen B, HarpboyAK, camlbacker, Rosaura, newinfluence, marina, NancyWH, MartyM, petral, pierre9045, leftykook, claude, Oh Mary Oh, icemilkcoffee, paz3

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:12:16 AM PST

  •  You have my deepest respect, Mr Gershon. (61+ / 0-)

    For continuing to lift your voice on this most difficult topic.

    And for showing respect to others even when they show little or no respect to you.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:18:10 AM PST

  •  Just for the fun of it: "I told you so". T'd & R'd (35+ / 0-)

    The fossilized organized-Jewry establishment is apparently trying to demonstrate by example that people can't change.

    Ok, as I concluded many years ago, we'll have to proceed by treating them as the self-righteous, hypocritical, closet-racist nuisance and obstacle they have always been on Israel-Palestine.

  •  Try some not "Jewish buildings"? (21+ / 0-)

    I don't know why people think the only thing that will make Israel change for the better is a change in the outlook of major American Jewish organizations. (I assume you want Israel to change enough to accept a fair 2-state solution).

    As we have seen recently with the pushback against a war in Syria, regular old Americans can have a positive political effect when engaged.

    If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

    by Flyswatterbanjo on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:44:23 AM PST

  •  IMO, the two state solution is... (9+ / 0-)

    ...what they don't want to hear about.

    Even Ariel Sharon (RIP) favored it.

    Looks like you touched this "third rail" in their eyes.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:04:30 PM PST

  •  I've been following the Hillel (27+ / 0-)

    debate and a couple of weeks ago sent off an article about Swarthmore to the several Swarthmore grads in my family. Their pride in the Swarthmore Hillel gives me real hope.
    I've also been battling a former boyfriend (on Facebook) who lives in Israel who keeps bringing up the straw man that Hillel has a right to decide who can or can not speak at the centers it funds.
    Of course, this is not about Hillel's "rights." They're a private organization and if they want to narrow down the discussion in the places they run to their limited view, they certainly can.
    But the the real issue, in my opinion, is how choosing to censor what opinions are allowed fits with Jewish values.
    As a 65-year-old woman, raised as a Conservative Jew, at the synagogue 4 times per week while growing up (Hebrew school twice/week, Sunday school, services on Shabbat mornings), Bat Mitzvahed (though not allowed to read from the Torah), raised by parents who themselves were raised in Orthodox homes and who centered our family on Jewish rituals, I think I have some sense of what Jewish values are. A key saying in my childhood home was "Two Jews, three opinions." The Hillel organization's decision to keep the arguments all on one side of the issue do not represent the Jewish values with which I grew up nor the ones I have given to my children.
    I'm proud to know you David -- and hope the independent campus Hillels invite you to speak. The more voices like yours are heard, the better it is for Israel's survival as a democracy.

    While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

    by Tamar on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:06:36 PM PST

    •  First, I too am proud of Swarthmore. (17+ / 0-)

      Second, I agree with you fully: this isn't about rights, it's about inclusiveness and dialogue.

      And thanks for your kind words, as always. I feel similarly.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:12:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you, David, for insisting on (12+ / 0-)

        maintaining the openness of dialogue here. One of the most toxic things that can happen to this debate is for robust dialogue to get polarized to such a degree that each "side" is limited to its own silo, its own echo chamber.

        For that reason, engaging Hillel communities is every bit as important as taking the debate to other kinds of venues.

        Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

        by Dale on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:37:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree. Unfortunately, when it comes to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, David Harris Gershon

          American politics, that's just the way things are (e.g., Congress).
          But I find it particularly sad when a group of liberal people divide this way. I'm not saying all Jews are liberal. But sadly I know Jews with whom I agree on virtually everything when it comes to domestic policies, people who hate racism and care about income inequality, people who usually have compassionate hearts, but somehow turn off that understanding and concern when it comes to Israel.
          Actually, one of those people is the friend I mentioned who lives in Israel. He hates the occupation, but any discussion of it or criticism of Israel leads him to start yelling & screaming (well, in a virtual sense) about how we're picking on Israel. Yet he correctly criticizes all kinds of things about the U.S.
          It's a strange kind of blinkered vision.

          While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

          by Tamar on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 09:47:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, Tamar. This is precisely what I (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Harris Gershon

            find difficult to understand. I've had a similar experience to you: Jewish friends who are progressive on just about any other social justice issue that you could point to, but who somehow suspend that critical nuance when it comes to the more problematic aspects of Israeli policy.

            I'm mindful of being a non-Jew commenting on these things from "the outside," as it were. And over the years, I've come to have a slightly more nuanced understanding than I once did about the reasons that the state of Israel would come to seem non-negotiable to many people, a profoundly important embodiment of a certain history of redemption and return, in light of the harrowing atrocities that have characterized the history of the Jewish diaspora.

            The only problem for me is that I simply cannot get past the asymmetrical distribution of power that presently exists in Israel and the West Bank. I don't think anything can change until that wrong is made right.

            Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

            by Dale on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 11:25:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I wanted to put this here because I find it (22+ / 0-)

    incredibly interesting. It's Cory Robin's post titled "A Challenge to Critics of BDS"

    For the last month I’ve been responding to critiques and challenges of BDS. Now I have a question for its opponents and critics. What do you propose as an alternative strategy? The Palestinians have tried four decades of armed revolt, three decades of peace negotiations, two intifadas, and seven decades of waiting. They have taken up BDS as a non-violent tactic, precisely the sort of thing that liberal-minded critics have been calling upon them to do for years (where is the Palestinian Gandhi and all that). So now you say BDS is bad too. Fine. What would you have the Palestinians—and their international supporters—do instead?

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:10:25 PM PST

    •  Siliarly, here's a post from Jerry Haber, (12+ / 0-)

      Liberal Zionists Should Support BDS:

      Liberal Zionists have three options, as I see it:

      1. They can continue to oppose BDS and support liberal organizations as effective as J Street, shaking their heads at reports in the New York Times about the latest Israeli settlement expansions, and placing their faith in a U.S. administration that has done nothing to stem Israel’s inexorable march toward a state that is Jewish and democratic and apartheid: Jewish for the Palestinian Israelis, democratic for the Jewish Israelis, and apartheid for the Palestinians living under the control of the military and the settlers. They can continue to defer for generations the moral scandal of the Palestinian refugees, a problem created when Israel unilaterally barred their return to their homes, populated its state with Jewish immigrants, and made use of their Palestinian property in defiance of international law and U.N. resolutions (not to mention the Balfour Declaration).

      2. Or, publicly eschewing the Palestinian BDS movement,
      they can practice their own “targeted BDS” or “Zionist BDS,” focusing their efforts on boycotting products produced in the Occupied Territories, like SodaStream and Ahava beauty products, or supporting divestment from companies like Caterpillar that benefit from the Occupation. (Some of them may extend this to Israeli agricultural companies.)

      3. Or they can express solidarity with the global BDS movement as a non-violent protest movement emerging from Palestinian civil society, while at the same time making known their reservations about endorsing the right of return. In other words, they can join hands with the global BDS movement in its efforts to end the occupation and institutional discrimination against Palestinians, while agreeing to disagree about the right of return. Two out of three aims is basis enough for joint action.

      If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

      by Flyswatterbanjo on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:53:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Link (6+ / 0-)

        If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

        by Flyswatterbanjo on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:54:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sort of between #2 & #3. I really hesitate (3+ / 0-)

        to buy anything Israeli these days. But I'm not absolutely boycotting unless it's a settlement product. (I've been known to put little signs up in stores with SodaStream products that says "Don't Buy. This was made on an illegal settlement.").

        I'm going to buy a wedding present from an Israeli artist couple who have a small company that produces some beautiful things for the home. But first I sent them an email asking where they produce their work because I won't buy from a settlement, and got a nice one back telling me where they're located (not on a settlement).

        And my husband has ordered a case, and will be ordering another case, of Palestinian olive oil from a Palestinian fair trade organization. This supports Palestinian olive production in the face of the settlers cutting down hundred-year old trees. We give the bottles of olive oil (which is excellent oil) as gifts. So it's buy very little from Israel and nothing from the settlements, and buy, if possible, from places and people who are helping create an economically viable Palestine.

        Not a perfect plan, but then there is no perfect plan.

        p.s. it was very hard, but possible, to find Chanukah candles not made in Israel.

        While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

        by Tamar on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 10:49:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You need to watch what you say here too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you don't toe the party line here you get hide rated I know I was

    Clinton/Warren 2016

    by artr2 on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:11:32 PM PST

    •  I have found DK to be, in its current state, a (9+ / 0-)

      very open place for debate. The flame wars which once existed have largely been cooled.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:15:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  HRed for your history of disingenuous bullshit: (3+ / 0-)

      If anyone thinks this comment deserves an uprate, I ask them to check my links, so they fully understand why I'm HRing artr2's apparently innocuous comment. Given all the context, artr2 is clearly being a dick.

      artr2, you're holding a silly grudge, and spreading inflammatory bullshit on purpose, instead of ever taking responsibility for your own mistakes.

      1) On Sep. 20th, you wrote:

      Israeli military learned their lessons well from the gestapo.
      (I'm sorry for dragging this turd out of the hiddens. It's crucial to my argument; I hope artr2's comment will get hidden too, so this disappears from view in its wake)

      Flyswatterbanjo HRed you first, citing the I/P rule that "No comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany." Meteor Blades has the 4th comment in that linked thread, backing Flyswatterbanjo up on that.


      2) The next day you commented, in another diary, that:

      Better watch posting pro-palestinian articles on the Daily Kos - will get you HR'ed in no time.

      But you never posted any such article. You broke a rule, then several kossacks and an admin spelled it out to you. Your childish rationalization led to a 161 comment threadjack of that diary. The first reply was from this diarist:

      A) This isn't "pro-Palestinian," it's pro-human (124+ / 0-)
      rights and a progressive 'pro-Israel" stance.

      B) I don't agree with your Daily Kos take.

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 09:09:18 AM PDT


      3) By Nov. 2nd, your fairytale excuse had grown:

      Posters! Please don't say anything too critical about Israel around here. I did and got hide rated for a day.
      So everything I have to say has been censored in advance by the pro-israel lobby here
      That time, when you were HRed, I uprated you. I made several comments defending you, and trying to put myself in your shoes. During that argument, you never showed up to weigh in on what you actually thought or meant.
      Livosh1: . . Bold face lies and unfounded accusations of people being part of the pro-Israel lobby deserve to be HR'd. You are absolutely wrong on this one, Brecht. You should rethink your uprate -- it doesn't reflect the integrity I thought you had.

      Brecht: . .  you might be right. I'm inferring context, and giving the benefit of the doubt. If I see artr2 making similar claims in future, I will know damn well he's a troublemaker, and will HR him myself.

      Now it's obvious you're just spreading inflammatory bullshit, because you're still upset about your HRs from 5 months ago. Please stop dragging your grudges and lies in here, artr2. We have more interesting and important things to discuss than your hurt feelings, projections and threadjacks.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:58:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  On second thoughts, I'll remove my HR this time, (5+ / 0-)

      as this lie is milder and less inflammatory than your previous ones.

      But you got HRed for breaking the rules, and you had this explained, by dozens of kossacks. On multiple occasions. Just stop coming in here, whining, and completely misrepresenting why you were HRed.

      If I ever see you selling this particular bullshit again, I will HR you.

      I'm sorry for the mess in your otherwise valuable diary, David Harris Gershon. I get so tired of disingenuous shit-stirrers - especially when they've already fooled me once.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 03:23:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If I am understanding this correctly (17+ / 0-)

    then I don't get what the leadership at Hillel hopes to gain by dictating what can and cannot--or what should or should not--be said by someone who has a specific story to tell about a specific subject.

    I understand they're an organization with a specific mission, and as such, they're free to dictate the terms of that organization and its invited speakers. But that's not the point. The point is, how does any org  hope to foster a coalition of like-minded people,  in order to solve X problem, when they do stuff like that? It just seems counter-productive. And dumb. Such behavior completely flies in the face at the idea of open dialog.

    And whether anyone agrees that it is or it isn't, it looks like blatant censorship and that perception is not going to help them broaden their membership or their donor base among those with less than a directly-vested interest.

    Again, they're free to do all that if they want. But it lays waste to any future claims they may make to the concept of open-mindedness.

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:13:28 PM PST

  •  A Hasid asked his Rebbe (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, kyril, awhitestl, marina, Tamar
    Why has the Messiah not yet come?
    The Rebbe replied,
    Because we are the same today as we were yesterday.
    While this is an excellent koan for the individual, it is historically not true. If this Rebbe is right at all, it can only be because the Messiah comes among us every day, and we fail to recognize him, or her, and refuse our own duty to redeem and heal Israel and the world entire.

    One of the most important lessons that should be drawn from Tanakh and Talmud is how much Jewish thought and practice have changed over several thousand years while admittedly not changing our essential human nature. I see signs of further change every day on a wide range of issues, notably including the Palestinian Question.

    But it would help if those putting financial and political pressure on Israel and Palestine not to agree would change, too, and back off. Failing that, applying a little pressure toward agreement is not a bad thing. The powers that be always said to Gandhi and King and Mandela and us here today that this is the wrong time, and the wrong way, and whoever says them nay is a Communist or an Anti-…somebody who is too important or has too many enemies or has suffered too much to be called into question.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:20:00 PM PST

  •  I follow your diaries with such interest! (12+ / 0-)

    Both for your own open-minded views and for the angry voices that chime in to tell you what a terrible self-hating Jew you are.

    I've said before that prior to moving to South Africa, I had literally never heard a pro-Palestine argument. In South Africa, I never (or virtually never) heard anything positive about Israel.

    The polarization is so extreme and I'm far from impressed that you have been barred from speaking. You do not strike me as a particularly radical voice.

    How will resolution ever come if differing opinions are silenced?

  •  Bearers of truth and reconciliation must (7+ / 0-)

    also at times bear trials & tribulations, both large and small.

    •  This is no doubt an incredibly small matter for (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, kyril, Celtic Merlin, HiKa, JVolvo

      me personally. And in truth, it is becoming an opportunity for more engagement than simply speaking in Santa Barbara would have been.

      However, for the community at large, and for discourse in America, it's part of a very large matter, IMO.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:58:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps there is some student organization at UCSB (8+ / 0-)

    -- not UCSB Hillel, but UCSB proper -- who would like to hear your talk? The best response to censorship is to publicize it.

    •  If there is an opportunity for me to go to SB, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      atana, kyril, Aunt Martha, JVolvo

      I will be there. Whether or not there is such a group, or whether there will be such an opportunity, remains to be seen.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:59:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've noticed something odd. (17+ / 0-)

    In the Israeli media, discussions of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians are quite wide-ranging. The Israelis themselves permit expression of a broad spectrum of opinions and views, at least from what I can see on line.

    In contrast, the boundaries of permissible discussion are much narrower here in the U.S. I find this strange, because if the people most directly affected by these issues can deal with all sorts of differing opinions and can allow vigorous debate, I see no reason we can't do the same.

    But I confess I'm anything but an expert in this area, so perhaps I'm missing something.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:46:54 PM PST

    •  I check in with the English-language (9+ / 0-)

      press in Israel from time to time and have noticed the same thing.

      I have to say, however, that none of us are just outliers in this story. Unlike Northern Ireland, what is happening with Israel very much impacts every American. We are in the thick of it and Palestine is very much a rallying cry around the world.

    •  You've noticed correctly. (9+ / 0-)

      And it is truly perplexing.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:00:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've observed that people living outside of the (9+ / 0-)

      country which they identify as their ancestral homeland are often more dogmatic about that country than the people still living there.

      •  Like the Iranian Expats? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the monarchists?  

      •  quite true.e.g.,Americans "know"what's best (0+ / 0-)

        for Israel & everyone involved, and that apparent but illusory knowledgeability includes American Jews of liberal and progressive orientation.  We imagine ourselves more authoritative on what "Israel" should do about any of its problems we care to discuss, and qualified to decide which problems those are, than we seem to consider Israelis of all religions and origins to be.

        Do we give Israelis and Palestinians the same credence for authoritativeness on America's problems?

        We American liberals and progressives who have yet to get our own country to do what it should about American problems (not least American federal money and pressure on other nations, such as that one we're talking about that's barely the size of Rhode Island) still consider ourselves somehow highly qualified to tell Israelis and Israel how to solve theirs.

        Weapons manufacture and trade (from small arms up thru WMD) in and among the US and other countries, and the manufacture of anti-democratic puppet rulers in countries around the world who astonish us by persistently flouting our control and igniting added internal and adjacent armed conflict, are central causes of anguish and destruction worldwide - we all recognize this. Yet we dogmatically and arrogantly tell Israel and its neighbors what they "should" do to resolve "their" issues even though we can't resolve our own.

        I've lived there and I've lived here.  There, I was among Jewish, Moslem, Christian, Bahaii etc Israelis working together doggedly and resolutely for genuine social, legal, and economic justice even while American money and american olim and American temporary residents and tourists and "fact-finders" exerted growing undue negative influence to shred the process.

        Why is it we favor the financial warfare of "economic sanctions, such as boycotts [as] legitimate forms of nonviolent protest" (quoting the diarist), but we don't seem to think about importing/buying Palestinian products or being customers of Jewish businesses in Israel that put their money AND THEIR LIVES behind striving for justice?

        The dogma of the 'progressive liberal Jewish left" has a tragic tendency to be as force-inclined, as dictatorial and as limited in vision and nitty-gritty daily life understanding about the 8mil in Israel and the 80-or-so million of the rest of the Near&Middle East as every other element of American culture that considers itself smart enough to tell other nations how to run their lives and their businesses and their countries.  From our unmerited privileged position as consumers of 25% of the world's productivity, we have a nearly unbroken record of screwing up and screwing over the people and governments of other countries where we exert political and economic influence, and we can't seem to solve our own national problems, yet we still think we're qualified to tell everyone else what they ought to do to "succeed".

        Some of us have made a cottage industry out of issuing opinions.

        Obviously this comment is lengthy and repetitive.  Hopefully, it makes the point thoroughly enough to finally spark a little new thought in genuinely open minds.

        •  This is the same argument I get from the guy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue

          I know in Israel. Yet he freely criticizes the U.S. for all kinds of things, and I have no problem with that. I have pointed out to him that my criticism of policies is far from focused on Israel. Most of my political posts are about the U.S. I also have posted about the rabid anti-gay policies and actions of the Russian government.
          I was very supportive of the green revolution in Iran and believe it was partly responsible for the more moderate government there.
          I despised Margaret Thatcher and if there had been online forums around then, I would have been posting about her attempt to destroy the National Health Service.
          And, of course, I was virulently against apartheid in South Africa and highly critical of the white government there. (as I was of the the president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who denied the scientific evidence for HIV and thus condemned hundreds of thousands of his citizens to death).
          I have posted about Uganda's horrible anti-gay laws.
          Since when do we have to live in a country or be a citizen of a country to criticize its policies?

          While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

          by Tamar on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 11:10:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Question is, what constructive resources do we (0+ / 0-)

            share in helping construct positive solutions?

            Holding opinions is easy. Posting is easy. Even posting and being argued at or attacked is easy.

            Elbowgrease is rather harder.  Devise your own calculation of how much time liberal/progressive Americans put in at the keyboard expressing their criticism and opposition to things, and then consider the difference that can be made by putting that time into volunteerism in our local communities to be classroom aides and tutors where the schools and students are struggling (which can be an effort somewhat more hazardous to one's health and safety than is posting opinions).  

            Or to help illiterate adults learn to read.  

            Or to join with disemployed and never-employed folks to get them driver licences and share our vehicles for collecting unused food at grocery stores and restaurants to bring to housebound elders and ill folk who've lost Meals on Wheels and food stamps benefits and to homeless shelters and other hunger efforts.  

            Or to participate in the necessary jurisdictional and legal processes as well as the physical and financial of turning empty wrecked lots into community gardens where people can grow food without health-destructive chemicals (would you drive a hundred miles round trip to find and bring mild horse manure to a city food garden despite the smell attaching itself to your car's trunk?)

            Or going out into rural areas to provide free transporation to patients who can't travel to medical care on their own?

            Or a collect-restaurant-veg-oil-and-convert-it-into-diesel-fuel organization to power electricity generators for heat & cooking where people are suffering for lack of heat & cooking power?  or simply to provide fuel for the diesel vehicles of community uplift agencies?

            Or pick up trash and discarded recyclables in blighted neighborhoods or along roadways and make sure those materials go where they'll do the most good and work without pay at those recyling facilities?

            Or learn the facts in order to speak and support speakers locally at city council and county board meetings for developing more flood canals in flood=prone areas and more water conservation in drought prone areas, and then walk door to door asking people to give 25cents toward the construction costs?

            Or, most onerous of all, spend the hours and days and years volunteering to get educated in and doing the administrative and organizational paperwork that it necessary for all the above efforts and so many more I'm confident most DK members can think up on their own.

            I'm handicapped and housebound, largely as the result of several decades of work and volunteerism in human service, or I wouldn't put even this much time or effort into the realm of talk.  So, to paraphrase your closing question to a response that doesn't really 'respond' or 'reply' to my comment:

            Since when do we live in a world where talk is more valuable a use of our energies than going out and doing the right thing?

    •  I've heard this from a lot of people. (0+ / 0-)

      Open discussion of these issues is much more problematic in the U.S. than in Israel.
      Even my Facebook Israeli/American friend says that (as he rails at me for my criticism of Israel). One of the main reasons he gives for American Jews not criticizing Israel is that Israeli debate on these issues is strong and open.
      And I admire that Israel does have this discussion: though it should be noted that the Knesset passed a law that was clearly censorship of pro-boycott speech:

      While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

      by Tamar on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 11:01:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Off Topic - interesting point - Egypt and Muslims (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, kyril, Johnny Q, awhitestl, JVolvo, petral

    Israel's next door neighbor

    The Muslim Brotherhood won the election but they over reached when they were in power

    The army engineered a coup and are now going after MB as terrorists and other stuff

    Interesting article in, a Turkish newspaper

    that the military coup is a real problem

    now that the MB has retreated, they are claiming "Islam is the answer"

    rather than working out how a Muslim country can govern itself and learning from the ups and downs, they are now hiding out and hiding behind their slogan that they know the answer rather than be in dialogue

    in short, the coup cut short the learning curve of the MB to governance.

    It is difficult to get a democratic government started and it can be knocked off course that can go on for decades.

    In 1954 we pulled off a coup in Iran. They have had a stable government since. They had a democratic government whose leader was Time man of the year. Also, in 1954 we pulled off a coup in Guatemala. This one was for United Fruit for land for crops. A civil war started in 1960 which went on for 36 years with 200,000 people killed.

    Both of these were the work of the Dulles brothers. They didn't know the effects of blowback. They are also responsible for getting us into Vietnam.

    Wonderful book on them and a CSPAN discussion

    "The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War"

    Stephen Kinzer

    About the Program on CSPAN


    ormer New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer presents a dual-biography of brothers John Foster Dulles, former secretary of state, and Allen Dulles, former director of the CIA.  The author examines the brothers' backgrounds and political ideologies, which shaped American foreign policy initiatives during the Cold War.  Stephen Kizner speaks at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    link on the right side of the page

    •  IMO the greatest weakness in US foreign policy (7+ / 0-)

      is the assumption that a country which hasn't been a democracy for a long time can easily become one.

      It takes a long time to develop political leaders, a political party, and most importantly, government and non-government infrastructure and organizations staffed by people who have some experience running a democratic government.

      In Egypt's case, I'd add that their economic problems are difficult to impossible to solve in a few years regardless of what type of government is in power.  

      •  Indeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, HiKa, mettle fatigue, Don midwest

        Someone, in some article about the situation in Egypt a few months ago, made a point which I thought was quite interesting: The fundamental difference between democratic and non-democratic countries is the rule of law. Not voting - you can vote in a dictator in a free and fair election just as easily as you can acquire one by military coup. What matters is whether you have a functioning system of law that can effectively restrain the government's legislative and executive power.

        And that tends to be the weakness of every system built from the rubble of a dictatorship. It's easy to change the selection mechanism for leaders, but it's a lot harder to change the culture of government.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:05:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Just heard some of this point of view from (0+ / 0-)

      some Jordanian friends (whose views we highly respect).
      I had thought that the overthrow of Morsi was a good thing. Apparently I was terribly wrong. They're saying that it's basically a return to Mubarak. I hadn't kept up on my reading about Egypt and this really saddens me.

      While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

      by Tamar on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 11:13:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Regarding feminists and feminism-- (3+ / 0-)

    to use and unrelated example--feminists might denounce as "faux" defenses of traditional gender roles by sophisticated people with high-falutin' academic credentials. Such people may be dis-invited as speakers at feminist functions, and generally cold-shouldered, because of the notion that "we've been there already; we've been over it; this person is not offering anything new."

    There seems to be something different at work here. To my knowledge, as somebody not personally interested in the I/P question, the state-of-the-art in the human-rights discourse does admit free discussion of Israeli policy towards Palestinians. It is no way off-limits, and, by itself, does not constitute "hatred of Israel."

    Too, I understood that free discussion is no less than a bedrock of Judaism. The Talmud, part of the Jewish canon, is devoted to learned discussion of scripture and teaching by mortals.

    Why wouldn't that ethic prevail here?

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:51:31 PM PST

    •  I believe the ethic is not prevailing in this (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, FlamingoGrrl, kyril, sydneyluv, JVolvo

      instance because -- and this is my humble view -- Jews as a people are still collectively suffering from post-Holocaust PTSD. (And really, who could blame us?)

      There is an existential fear for Israel's destruction, and that fear creates a situation in which people view the conflict as a zero-sum game. You're either with us, or against us.

      Those who feel this way view anyone who might legitimize boycotts as a nonviolent form of protest as against us.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:04:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Respectfully, sir, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the first letter of PTSD stands for "post".  American Jews, and others around the world younger than the Holocaust generation are extensively fixated that way but Israel isn't oversimplistically "post" anything, your experiences there and consequent opinions not withstanding.  

        Fear about Israel's possible destruction (or being bombed back into the stone age), is only high-falutin "existential" to Jews who don't live there fulltime and permanently.

        Maybe some or even many there or here see it as "you're either with us or against us," but considering how many religions and ethnicities find home or refuge in Israel, that "you" and that "us" is far from monolithic enough to assign a monolithic belief to.

        Financial/commerce boycotts against any entity other than a financial/commerce one (e.g., a corporation that abuses its employees, customers, environment, etc) is use of coercion to brute-force a change and punish an entire local of people collectively for the harm done by some.  True justice of method would be to vigorously employ finance and commerce to SUPPORT the elements of the society that are working for constructive, just, positive change.

        •  My gut sense (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue

          is that the I/P conflict, indeed, is serving the interests of people not directly involved who have a stake its perpetuation.

          Just basing this on the general efficacy in demagoguery of "divide-and-conquer."

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 08:37:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  What is the issue here? (0+ / 0-)

    Hillel is a private organization. Of course they choose who can and cant' speak in their building. Diarist is acting like his free speech rights have been violated. In reality, this is the same thing that happens at every private organization anywhere and everywhere in America. They welcome into their building who they want to welcome. It's called property rights dude.

  •  Thank You .... (8+ / 0-)

    Scheduled to be published on Street Prophets.

    If we are going to solve some of our most pressing and difficult issues as a people, we must continue to debate them, openly, honestly and respectfully. -  David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour)
    Thank You,


    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:09:08 PM PST

  •  For some reason, while I was reading this, (8+ / 0-)

    I kept thinking about the Pilgrims who came to America to be free of restrictions in England on their religious  ideas, speech, and way of life, and then promptly turned around and treated the natives and everyone else who crossed their path just as badly or worse. They hung Quakers too.  The Pilgrims became what they hated.

    Many persecuted groups in history have followed this pattern. They become the "monster" that they once endured or fled from.

  •  I guess you're just the "wrong kind" of Jew. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, Sandino

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:18:03 PM PST

  •  Maybe if you balanced the grinding (4+ / 0-)

    negativity towards Israel in your diaries and posted something positive occasionally, people who are deeply vested in the continuation of the State of Israel and the Jewish community would feel more trust towards you. Normally, I have stopped reading your diaries because of the kind of inflammatory, seriously anti-Israel comments that they generate. I feel that any diary that whips up emotions towards Israel like the ones that you post are not appropriate from my perspective.  If your talks to Hillel are anything like some of your diaries here, I can understand why they do not want to hear from you.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:20:06 PM PST

    •  i can now understand how they might have come (7+ / 0-)

      across his posts.

      If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

      by Flyswatterbanjo on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:26:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  do they have a loyalty oath? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q, kyril

      or do they just infer dogmatic purity with Google?

    •  Do you have a macro for this type of comment? (7+ / 0-)
      •  He drew the short straw. (8+ / 0-)

        It fell to him to be the dick in this diary.  Last time, It was Charliehall2.  Or, perhaps the folks who hate on this man's work are simply taking turns at running the macro.

        You've noticed, too?

        C M

        Struggle with dignity against injustice. IS there anything more honorable that a person can do?

        by Celtic Merlin on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 03:37:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What kind of comment is that? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kane in CA, Koopatroopa

        Mr Gershon publishes relentlessly negative diaries regarding Israel. He already has a forum and an eager and receptive audience for it at DailyKos, and I am sure in other venues. Why do Jewish organizations also need to give him a platform, any more than DailyKos needs to give Bill O'Reilly a platform?

        "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

        by shmuelman on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 03:48:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, DHG publishes diaries critiquing (10+ / 0-)

          Israeli actions and policies toward the Palestinians.  You're the one who is engaging in the right-wing smear that that's somehow negative about Israel. By that same line of thinking that you're exhibiting here, someone who publishes diaries critiquing US actions and policies in terms of drone warfare "publishes relentlessly negative diaries regarding" the US.

          That you would attempt to draw a parallel between DHG and Bill O'Reilly is just further smearing.

          So I'll ask again: Do you have a macro for this type of comment? You've got a number of key words down pat, so you might as well.  It'll save you time and effort.

          •  False parallels. Phoney equivalences. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kane in CA, livosh1, Koopatroopa

            Have you even read his I/P diaries? Did you even read my comment? I obviously was not making a parallel between Mr Gershon and Mr O'Reilly. Let me restate it. "Why do Jewish organizations also need to give him a platform, any more than The National Review needs to give Markos Moulitsas a platform?" Is that acceptable?
            There is a difference between writing about drone warfare or some particular policy and the relentlessly, gruelingly negative diaries by Mr Gershon regarding Israel. I use the word "relentlessly" because I mean he is "relentless" in his negativity and the passions he incites. I mean, two people here have resorted to personal invective towards me because I am critical of Mr Gershon.  Not "I don't agree" but rather "you're a dick." Some organizations may not find him a productive part of the debate. Now, that may seem like a "right-wing smear," but Mr Gershon is not so stupid as to not understand why they don't feel he adds to a productive debate FOR THEIR ORGANIZATION. He did not address their reasoning, just that he was wronged, he demands and audience at Hillel, and  that he has come whining to DailyKos where he gets sympathy.

            "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

            by shmuelman on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 05:10:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Here endith the troll feeding. (5+ / 0-)

              Let it starve, folks.

              Let it starve.

              Struggle with dignity against injustice. IS there anything more honorable that a person can do?

              by Celtic Merlin on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 05:43:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  And I'm going to disagree here. (9+ / 0-)

                I do not think that shmuelman is a troll.  Unfortunately, I think shmuelman is giving voice to a right-wing opinion that's fairly prevalent among a good number of Jews, one that I grew up hearing quite regularly and am therefore quite familiar with:

                To wit, any criticism of Israeli policies and/or actions is Israel hating, anti-Israel, negative about Israel, etc.  In other words, it collapses the distinction between a country and the policies and actions of that country's government.

                And I think it's important to call out the right-wing premises upon which that opinion is based.

                I also think it's important to note the lies in shmuelman's last comment.  No one called him or her a dick.  You said s/he was being a dick, but there's a significant difference between how one is acting and who one is.  So, once again, shmuelman is lying by collapsing differences.

                shmuelman is also lying about DHG's diary.  Nowhere did DHG say that Hillel did not have the right to ban him from speaking.  What DHG was discussing is the lack of debate among a good number of American Jewish institutions and organizations about Israeli policies and actions toward the Palestinians.  DHG was saying that he thinks that that lack of debate is a bad thing.

                To me, the type of comment that shmuelman has been making stems from exactly the same attitude that Hillel has espoused.  Its aim is to shut down debate by attacking any one, especially another Jew, who espouses an opinion that is outside the party line. It is anti-progressive and fear-based.  I agree with you completely that a point comes when one must ignore it, as shmuelman, like SB Hillel, has demonstrated zero willingness to engage with DHG about his views.  But I think the name calling is counterproductive, and downplays some very real historical fears that Jews have, even though in this case I think that those fears are being misused.

                •  Words cannot express how much I appreciate (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Aunt Martha, kyril, Sandino, Don midwest

                  this comment.

                  In short: I am not anti-American because I sharply critique the NSA, drone strikes, income inequality ... No, I do so because I love this country and its promise.

                  So too with Israel.

                  "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

                  by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:10:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Honestly, I don't love any country (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kyril, Sandino, David Harris Gershon, poco

                    or hate any country or have any feelings one way or the other for a country as a country.  I think Samuel Johnson was on to something.  It's people and the policies they create and implement and the actions that they take that I react to, positively and/or negatively, although I don't think I would go so far, for myself, as to say that I love or hate any of them.

                    And there are other things that you and I disagree on, although obviously there is much about which we agree.  But I really appreciate your willingness to be out there, and I can't stand the type of personal attacks that you've been subjected to.  If people want to disagree, fine, engage in conversation.  Don't throw out these lying right-wing smear jobs.

    •  So should Americans (8+ / 0-)

      ignore the realities of Israel today, and just say nice things?
      Pretend there are no problems, that everyone agrees with everyone else and politely move on to the next subject?

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 04:07:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  perhaps not, but the Amerikan glass house might (0+ / 0-)

        consider throwing fewer stones at others, and take a more construction [yes, double meaning] approach to its own failings, and give more support to the elements in other nations that struggle for social and economic and legal justice for themselves.

        •  Psst...Palestinian civil society has asked the (9+ / 0-)

          International community for help. Some of us are answering the call.

          If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

          by Flyswatterbanjo on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 06:29:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  glad to hear it. my point exactly. thnx. n/t (0+ / 0-)
            •  Specifically, they have asked us to engage in (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              poco, mettle fatigue

              in boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel. That will obviously involve some harsh criticism of Israel (I.e., throwing a stone, even from a glass house).


              BTW, I am speaking only for myself here.

              If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

              by Flyswatterbanjo on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 07:18:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  interesting link. (0+ / 0-)

                the content there, and citing of its constitency, are reminiscent of the republican party (mitch mcconnell, i believe, but perhaps not) announcing its total focus as opposition of the new administration on everything.

                if we americans 6 to 10 thousand miles away with little to zero firsthand fully-dug-in-&-no-alternative experience of the daily situation are confident we have ascertained facts demonstrating that the entities asking our help with financial FORCE (boycotts etc) do factually have

                --the broad and extensive public support they assert,
                --and have found acceptable the extent of damage that would also impact those of their society who receive any form of help from Israeli agencies or have jobs working in Israeli society alongside Israelis of every religion and guestworkers from poor countries globally and refugees from africa etc who are all served by Israel's human-services structures (which are far more inclusive than America's, but of course you know that),
                --and reached the conclusion that the suffering caused by that coercion if successful would in fact achieve the aims of (presumably) providing jobs to the jobless, homes for the homeless, healthcare for the ill and injured, food for the hungry, education and path upward for all...

                then of course it's understandable that we may choose to participate in coercion rather than focus on (as i've suggested elsewhere)
                -- importing/buying Palestinian products
                -- and being customers of Jewish (and Christian and Bahaii and Jane etc) businesses in Israel that put their OWN money AND THEIR LIVES and their business practices into striving for legal, social and economic justice for all.

                As other commenters have mentioned discovering, Israel is far from monolithic in public position and effort, and the battle against American money inserted into its political process with steady pressure to the right has been an added struggle ever since the '67 war, when the American imagination was suddenly seized by the manipulations of the oil industry portraying a David vs Goliath image to assist in the divide and conquer corporate policies that have proven so profitable in economic empire for a millenia or so.

                also, criticism harsh or gentle, and adding our voices to the call for financial coercions, doesn't cost us Americans much in time or effort or $.  We can do it right from our keyboards in total safety.  Or if we are physically able (I'm handicapped and housebound, so I can't), join in a public street demonstration, and then grab some restaurant food on the drive home, comfortable in the belief that we have "helped".

                The moment we feel certain about that, we're likely mistaken.

                •  I know what I AM certain of-- (4+ / 0-)

                  the good people of Israel have failed with respect to the occupation, as the last 50 years shows, and most Israelis are now quite comfortable with the status quo regarding the occupation. Relying on them to restore civil and human rights to the Palestinians is plain silly.never if they have the will, they don't have the power.

                  Also, if you think being able to buy Palestinian hummus is going to help the Palestinians in any measurable way, I would say you're being a bit quixotic. What are they going to do? Buy their freedom from Israel? In any case, the biggest obstacle to a functioning Palestinian economy is the illegal Israeli occupation, which controls what they can produce and export.

                  Further, I seriously doubt you would make the same argument regarding advocacy from a distance, and calling for boycott, about apartheid South Africa or Darfur.

                  If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

                  by Flyswatterbanjo on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 08:30:23 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  could i ask your 1sthand experience in israel & (0+ / 0-)

                    whether you have friends or relatives on the israeli left of any religion or ethnicity who are a useful source of daily-life practical info for you?  i'd be very interested in what you can share with me from them and of your own experience that contributes to the formation of your views.

                    meanwhile, it's startling that you seem to suggest that making humous is all that palestinians do and all they can do as economic endeavor locally, regionally, or worldwide.  this would be not only [a] stereotypical prejudice blind to the professions, technologies, arts, trades, and scholarship of the palestinian people but also [b] a covert implication that palestinians don't possess the skills and practical capacities for non-dependent commerce and self-governance.  so even if you actually intended it as a reductio ad absurdum argument, perhaps it's kind of patronizing and insulting toward a people you seem to claim to advocate for?

                    as regards south africa, i had personal connections there as well (who were forcibly exiled following imprisonment for anti-apartheidt activities and for associating with 'kafirs'), so it's probably not a productive conversation to open at this point.  i'm on the brink of the 7th decade of life, descendent of a family and their friends activist for human rights every place they were forced to live and "allowed" to live and finally could choose to live, always paying a price (my father literally gave his life and his death for human rights, 'tho that is of course his virtue, not mine, as is true of other relatives and friends who have been my teachers, mentors, and ideals - which may go a little way to illuminate upon what basis my own views were formed and continue to evolve).

                    i have no firsthand nor secondhand connections to information about Darfur, though, merely the same sources as any other disabled handicapped lower-class american struggling to manage a life alone after paying some prices myself, so if you'd like to offer your thoughts about Darfur, i will gladly read them as my circumstances allow.

                    thanks for your interesting and impassioned reply.

        •  One can be critical (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, mettle fatigue

          of Israeli and American policies at the same time, can't they?
          And be supportive of struggling and oppressed populations all over the world, including the Palestinians.
          This meme that we shouldn't talk about the problems in Israel because other places are worse is the exact same argument used by right wingers when the left starts criticizing the US for some of it's foreign policy decisions.

          Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

          by skohayes on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 04:07:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  One can be/voice criticism of the whole world (0+ / 0-)

            without necessarily rebuilding it better.  Kind of depends upon what being "supportive" means in concrete terms.


            Discussion of problems somewhere else in the world (whether it's a "meme" or not, I wouldn't know as I'm not involved in such things) is usually productive when rock-bottom facts are continually flowing into the conversation.  If nothing else, the resultant education tends to add new perspectives on concrete solving of our problems and expanded understanding of daily life issues everywhere.

            If there's a "meme" that disagreement with the majority here in DK or in DHG's comment columns is the equivalent of being right wing, that's a convention of thinking that would benefit from re-examination.

        •  I'm sorry...what?!? (0+ / 0-)

          Here, on DKos, you are using the argument that Amerika gets a free pass? Lolz.

          •  If you're replying to me, Expatgirl, my answer (0+ / 0-)

            would be a request for clarification in what way my comment equates with "the argument that Amerika gets a free pass".  Also what's meant by free pass in the context of this discussion.  You seem to have specific interpretations, assumptions, and responses in mind, but --lacking clear statement, and the fact that I've only seen a few of your comments here'n'there--  I wouldn't want to speculate about your meaning on so slim an acquaintance.

            I would suggest, meanwhile (adapting the words of another American who said it in considerably more hazardous circumstances) that for any person to cut their conscience to suit what might seem this site's fashion ("Here, on DKos") would be ridiculously cowardly, considering how extremely little is at stake. My livelihood, personal safety, etc, are not endangered, and if I'm participating in DK, I kind of owe it to the venue to speak truth as I understand it.  What else is worth our saying here, after all, if we hope to create productive results out there in the real world from what we learn from each other here.

            So I have every confidence that thoughtful kogs don't allow their thinking to be unduly influenced by what's popular or unpopular to say or think.  Kos somewhat reflected on this in a diary Friday in the first 4 paragraphs, interestingly.

            Of course if your reply was to someone else's comment (the indenting is not fully clear on old computer equipment I use), none of the above may be applicable.  Or it might.

  •  Hillel risk making themselves much (11+ / 0-)

    less relevant. Don't get me wrong,  it's not going to happen overnight. But they are clearly playing with fire.

    Although generalizations are dangerous in so many ways, polls in recent years have shown that American Jews' feelings towards Israel are nuanced. And that Jews tend to recognize the need for discussion rather than subscribing to the Alan Dershowitz school of seeing an anti-semite around every corner, which is only one step beyond the Hillel position philosophically.

    I live in a progressive community and the temple I attend is about as liberal as one can get. So I don't have much personal experience with the kind of attitude Hillel has on this. But it sure seems like they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. It's the road to a smaller, more insular, and ultimately less influential organization, which is close to the opposite of their mission. I hope they come to their senses.

    Thanks for the diary.

    Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to and check out New World Orders

    by eparrot on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:21:18 PM PST

  •  Well done, David. Especially this: (6+ / 0-)
    If we are going to solve some of our most pressing and difficult issues as a people, we must continue to debate them, openly, honestly and respectfully.
    The risks associated with doing otherwise are too great to consider.
    (Emphasis, mine.)

    That applies to all of us, in all situations, doesn't it?

    Look forward to reading more.

    All the best,

    We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we refuse to protect the weakest among us.

    by The Marti on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:36:40 PM PST

  •  It's not Hillel Int'l. It's the donors. (11+ / 0-)

    As someone who is also a progressive Zionist and have been an officer of my local Hillel's board, I've seen the problem David's seen up close.  But I don't think he has the cause quite right.

    I'm not a fan of the International office in DC.  But I don't see them as a big influencer here.  They train, vet and aid with HR issues for executive directors and other professionals that work at local Hillels.  But for good or ill (often the latter) a local Hillel is a free-standing self-funded organization that depends heavily on donors (usually local or alumni) and foundation grants.  And here-in lies the problem.

    Charitable Jewish money disproportionately comes from people who are far more right-wing on Israeli politics than the Jewish community as a whole.  (Many are Republican as well, although Jewish community politics and US politics do not need to go together.)  This is true not only of individual donors, but of foundations that fund grants to Hillels.  While Jewish federations are a lot more balanced, there is a lot less federation money to be had since the 2008 crash and depression that followed it.  So a lot of the funding of a typical Hillel comes with conditions attached.  

    I would guess that this is what happened at UCSB -- a local Likudnik probably hear about the program, and got the Hillel's donors in a tizzy about it.  Which caused the local Hillel board to give its ED his marching orders.

    I personally think that the fix for this is more recruitment and organization of progressive Jewish donors.  Political freedom in campus Hillels require backing from progressive Jewish donors, and from progressives who will act as leaders on Hillel boards.  Realistically -- mostly the former.

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:01:03 PM PST

    •  I appreciate your perspective. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, poco, sydneyluv, JVolvo, Don midwest

      Hillel International's guidelines have likely been influenced by some of the forces about which you speak.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:08:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "constrained by Hillel International's guidelines" (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think this has much to do with anything.  It's like the "Pirate Parley Rules" from those movies.  They're more guidelines that real rules :-)

        Hillel International is extremely timid on ideological issues.  Mostly, I think, due to the funding issue.  I cannot recall anybody quoting them, for any reason, ever on any issue other than maybe the availability of alcohol to minors, another perennial issue Hillel boards have to argue about from time to time.

        But Hillel Int'l really is not a significant funder of local Hillels.  Whatever trouble you had was almost certainly locally generated, partly by people who genuinely dislike your point of view, joined by people worried about pissing off funders.

        That said -- you must certainly know the role of boycotts in the history of the conflict.  BDS is major problem for the Jewish community right now, and while some folks that oppose violence do  support it, some of the folks who support it really do favor violent and eliminationist positions.  The fights at UC Berkeley are very top-of-mind for any Hillel in the University of California system like UCSB.

        Support for true non-violence has been hard for activists on both the Jewish/Zionist and the Palestinian side (harder for the Palestinians, I think, than for Jews, who are risking much less).  You've seen the Jewish side of it; non-violent and pacifist Palesitinian activists get trouble not only from other Arabs and from some Muslim organizations; they get it from parts of the American socialist/"non-violent" left, who consider these activists to be accommodationist or even traitorist.  

        It's possible, although challenging, for Hillels to do programming that gives voice to Palesitinian voices who are committed to non-violence and committed to talking to the Jewish community and Jewish college students.  I've seen it done, and done very well, and not very long ago either: a friend of mine (a Hillel director) and an Northern Calif. imam hailing from Ramallah had a series of public talks that drew from a wide swath of the local university community, including Jewish, Arab, and Muslim groups.  Everybody came away with something to think about.  And to feel some hope about the situation, perhaps.  

        But by the same token, it's easy to do events where one side or the other (the Israeli right and worse on one hand, and groups like the MSA that favor "armed struggle" against Jewish civilians) use the event to their own partisan ends.  As a board member at a Hillel, we had talks with "nonviolence activists" (the scare quotes really do apply) that insisted on doing their events with people who did favor military action against civilians.  The speakers  were pretty open about what they favored.  Neither here nor there, free speech and all, but not somebody you can share a platform with.  But the organizers of these events were not terribly honest about it.   They were looking for more established Jewish contacts to give the appearance, but not the reality, of balance.   Dealing with folks and organizations like these is hard, and can discredit a board with its local Jewish community if incompetently handled.

        And while boycotts do have a long history in non-violent protest, as you pointed out in some of your writings, they also have a very specific history in the I/P conflict, of which I am certain you are aware.  You were misunderstood.  But unfortunately the distinction is rather fine, especially when there are people on the RW of the Jewish community that are more than happy to blur the distinction for you.

        Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

        by mbayrob on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 04:00:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hillel (0+ / 0-)

      has a long proud tradition of excellence, truly a great institution.  They are better than this.

  •  May your message be heard.... (9+ / 0-)

    through the closed doors.

    May the truth overcome the denial.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:01:53 PM PST

  •  Stay strong, friend... (3+ / 0-)

    ...this too shall pass. You are sincere and genuine, and you have taught me things. Time is on your side. There will be many who will begin to understand you, but it will take time.


    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:40:52 PM PST

  •  Hillel is fighting a losing battle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest

    You almost think they have guessed there is something shameful in the AIPAC position on peace in the Middle East.

  •  You're a thoughtful man. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Harris Gershon

    Rabbi Goodman, maybe not so much good. I'm sad he or his associates have to protect people from words they dislike.

    But the deal about the "favorable statement" was intellectual blackmail, pure and simple, and should not be tolerated in any venue.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 03:33:40 PM PST

  •  I used to be in awe (6+ / 0-)

    15 years ago, I hosted Yahoo's biggest religion  chat room, back when those kinds of things existed.  One of my greatest thrills was when the American Jewish Orthodoxy would visit.

    Their purpose was never so much to interact with other chatroom denizens - it was to hold open debates among themselves.  Polite but focused, these theoretical debates could last all night - I'd sometimes wake up in the morning to find that the group was still at it.

    I'll never forget that aspect about that old chat.  Maybe some of the best times I ever had hosting that forum.

    If you stop traffic before you conduct your traffic study, you have nothing to study. Maybe THAT'S why traffic studies are not conducted that way.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 03:54:13 PM PST

  •  sorry they are so closed minded. (0+ / 0-)

    it's one thing if you were advocating violence, but you seem
    to be advocating legitimate change through non-violent means.

    Will they bar anyone who suggests a general strike too?

  •  look here, you Palestinians:Go Home.Thanks/-Israel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    honor the treaties. honor the honorable.

    by renzo capetti on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 07:29:53 PM PST

  •  My synagogue had Gorenberg and Beinart (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but we will never have you as long as you support BDS.

    You should read Beinart as to why this is such a big deal:

    (It also matters that Gorenberg and Beinart are observant Jews and you aren't.)

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