Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BDS and Israel, Part IV

(Part III)

You have to ask yourself: if BDS is so clearly a contemporary expression of precisely the same exaggerated and neurotic tropes of modern anti-Semitism, how is it that a tiny number of American and Israeli Jews are actively promoting this tactic? The answer is embedded in my question. In most encounters with anti-Semites, I have been left with the impression that they obsessively and neurotically exaggerate Jewish power and influence, as well as Jewish sins and depravity. I hope that all Jews would sympathize with the complicated condition of Palestine in the midst of Israel, and work to constructively influence for the sane and humane resolution of the century-long conflict. Some Jews, however, are wired to sympathize to their own detriment with the victims of Israeli muscle. Self-hating Jews? Hardly. Rather they are Jews so troubled by the assertion of Jewish national rights (and the particularly ugly way it plays out in the hands of Likud politicians) in Palestine/Israel that they blindly march off down the path of cultural delegitimation and legalized disengagement - the first necessary step in the oft-repeated script for any anti-Semitic society.

This is my first direct engagement on this blog of the BDS movement and it will hardly be my last. I am convinced that on American college campuses, the BDS movement will be the principal vehicle for the faux legitimation of anti-Semitism for the next few years. And now we know it is a legitimate stance in left-Jewish circles, when once "beyond the pale" (if you were to believe some of the right-wing Jewish nattering nabobs) Jewish leftists like Michael Lerner and Jeremy Ben-Ami find themselves now beyond the pale for the likes of  Jewish Voices for Peace (the BDS group that petitioned TIAA-CREF to abandon investments in Israel).

I'm of two minds here. This Israeli government is a disaster; Israeli and Palestinian and Arab societies are chauvinist mutations of ideal societies; the Israeli settlement project of the last 40 years is illegal, a travesty, and constitutes oppression. I do not know if a 2-state solution will work, and I believe that all sides in the conflict have waged stupid wars, fought those wars without principle or humanity, and, once diplomacy became the order of the day, negotiated in bad faith. All this is true. But I do not hate any of the players, and do not think that either side has gone so far off the deep end that BDS is the correct tactic to effect a solution. A despondent (Israeli academic) Neve Gordon to the contrary, there are a million constructive things that every one of us can do to help make Israel/Palestine peaceful short of effectively crippling and deligitimating the study of Jewish culture and history. And I will never deny the possibility to my students of learning about the heritage of any of the parties in the best way possible, according to my best academic judgment. Period. Anyone who advocates otherwise is my anti-Semitic adversary, and I will not back down.

No comments:

Post a Comment