Hagada Hasmalit

a critical review of israeli culture and society

Posted by רני On September - 3 - 2009 0 Comment

In a recent op-ed peace in the LA Times, Dr. Niv Gordon, a lecturer at Ben Gurion University, argued in a reasoned and coherent matter that only serious international pressure might save Israel from clinging to its chauvinist path towards moral degradation and eventual political isolation. To reach peace, in the form of a two- state solution, Gordon favors building pressure on Israel through boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli policy.
It is difficult to decide which element in the BGU president’s response are more dangerous:  Prof. R. Carmi’s dangerous McCarthyite impulses, or her ignorance of the politics regarding Israel in the international academic community.
Carmi has no legal right or status to respond to Dr. Gordon’s opinions or their form of expression in the manner she did. Her “coy” suggestion that Gordon should leave the country because of his views smacks of sick jingoism, which most university presidents would have the sense to avoid.
However, the fact that Carmi demonstrates a total inability to understand the nature of Gordon’s views and their political meaning is no less disturbing. Gordon represents a more moderate view in academic circles in that he is striving to rescue Israel from its moral degeneration.
Whereas many serious academics who follow the conflict closely contend that the occupation is only a single aspect of Israel’s colonial nature, Gordon tosses a life-line to serious Israelis showing them a path away from the Apartheid destroying Israel’s soul.
Carmi should stop reviewing politics about which she understands absolutely nothing.  In any event it is not the role of the university president to pass judgment on the views of faculty.
Boycott is Legitimate
In judging the work of the movement for Boycott, Divestment, Sanction, inspired by the Ramallah initiative, it is important to stress the principle that all non-violent activity against the occupation and the denial of the rights of the Palestinians is moral and legitimate. The occupation is built of steel, weapons, firepower, prisons, walls, and dungeons. The right of peaceful protest against its daily implementation is natural and elementary. Every positive response to the call for boycott, etc., is welcome.
Even so, on the strategic level, the exact goals of the boycott activity, as defined by the BDS organization in Ramallah are often quite unclear. There seems to be some confusion as to whether the object of the protest is ending the Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories, or whether the protest is directed against the very existence of Israel. Of course, there is a well known thesis that argues that all of Israel is essentially occupied Palestinian land and that all Palestinians suffer from a common set of repressive measures. Whatever the opinion on these distinctions, it should be clear that they have clear strategic implications for the movement against Israeli policy and practice.  It should be clear that there are large constituencies for whom this distinction is critical in that they support a boycott aimed against the occupation but insist that their activity does not undermine the existence of Israel.
Moreover, with all due respect for the Ramallah initiative, it is the local protest movements all over the world that must integrate the different considerations of “context, time and place”. It seems that the BDS people have a tendency to issue superfluous “encyclicals” dealing with fine distinctions of when and how to boycott and divest tactics.   
In any event, Dr. Niv Gordon has seized the moral high ground. Israel is becoming a pariah state. Every activity that points this out by boycott, divestment and sanctions is doing the Israelis a favor, whether they understand this or not.        

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