Racism, Barghouti, and BDS

Omar Barghouti, the godfather of BDS, is a flat-out racist, denying the very existence of a Jewish people.

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller – who has gotten his share of crap in the past from people who think that support for Israel requires hatred for Palestinians – reports on a speech at UCLA by Omar Barghouti, one of the big machers in the anti-Israel Boycott, Diversture, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. (Here’s another account of the same speech.) According to both accounts, Barghouti proclaimed that there is no such thing as a “Jewish people.” (Ironically, or perhaps deliberately, this echoes the line that used to be popular among the Greater Israel crowd – and still may be, for all I know – denying the peoplehood of Palestinian Arabs.)

Of course denying that a people exists is the first step toward causing it not to exist. So it’s fair to say that Barghouti’s comments were implicitly genocidal. Given his central role in the BDS movement, anyone who supports a BDS resolution – for example, the American Studies Association – now has, it seems to me, an obligation to explictly renounce any sympathy with Barghouti’s project: unless, of course, that person is willing to support genocide. If you aren’t willing to be on that side of the question, perhaps you would like to sign this even-handed statement denouncing threats to academic freedom by the BDS crew and the Israeli right wing alike. (Seidler-Feller goes farther, denouncing the settlements as well.)

Of course the “one state” solution Barghouti and many of his allies are pushing – where the “one state,” encompassing both halves of Mandatory Palestine, would have an overwhelming Arab majority – is already a demand for ethnic cleansing, if not for a complete bloodbath. After all, the Jews have now been driven from every other Arab-majority country, including Egypt (where the Jewish quarter of Alexandria goes back to Alexander), Iraq (where the Jewish population of Baghdad traced its roots back to the Babylonian Captivity in the 7th Century B.C.E.), and Syria (where the Jewish community of Antioch went back to Antiochus): thus all three of those countries had substantial Jewish populations long before they had any Arab inhabitants. In terms of numbers displaced and property seized, the expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from Israel in 1948 and from settler territory since – for which I do not think there was, or is, any justification – was certainly no greater than the displacement of Jews from the rest of region.

Barghouti is a flat-out racist. Racism does not justify racism. Those who collaborate with Barghouti in his project of delegitimizing Israel ought to reflect carefully on the company they keep.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

45 thoughts on “Racism, Barghouti, and BDS”

  1. I don’t know, man. The first “report” of that speech is just a screaming tirade of denunciation and doesn’t actually provide any evidence for “Barghouti’s denial of Jewish peoplehood.” (The “another account” is similar, and comes from a propagandist of StandWithUs, making it even less useful as evidence.)

    I’m prepared to believe that some BDS activists have a problem with antisemitism but not on the basis of these articles. Parlaying a couple of “neener neener, Barghouti is a huge racist, signed the head of UCLA Hillel” articles into “everyone must now denounce Barghouti or they’re basically Hitler” is pretty shitty.

      1. It’s a long speech, around 40 minutes. If I ha a sufficient stake in this dispute, I would want to see a transcript before signing anything. The advice goes to both sides: the boycott movement know that what spokesmen say is likely to be misrepresented, so releasing the texts of speeches should be routine for them also.

    1. I know Chaim Seidler-Feller, and he’s a truth-teller. And if Evan Harper has read Seidler-Feller’s essay and calls it a “screaming tirade,” he is not a truth-teller.

      1. i wouldn’t call it a screaming tirade either but it is a highly emotionally charged essay that does not provide a quote of barghouti denying jewish peoplehood. i’ve been through the video twice and if there is direct denunciation of jewish peoplehood i have missed it twice. i’d like to know what part of the speech siedler-feller found so objectionable because to my goyim ears barghouti didn’t say anything that sounded like siedler-feller’s report.

        1. i’ve been through the video twice and if there is direct denunciation of jewish peoplehood i have missed it …

          The video just shows Barghouti’s lecture. From Seidler-Feller’s and Seid’s accounts, it seems likely that the discussion of Jewish peoplehood took place in Q&A.

      2. … if Evan Harper has read Seidler-Feller’s essay and calls it a “screaming tirade,” he is not a truth-teller.

        Having read Seidler-Feller’s article, and seen there “poison … tirade of anti-Israel fulminations … classic anti-Semite … only a negative desire … wiley ideologue … wants to poison the hearts of others”, and have listened to Barghouti’s lecture and heard there no such language, I’d say that Harper’s description is less exaggerated than Seidler-Feller’s.

    2. Barghuti, is no different from Hitler.
      That man is the worst type of racisit liar and should be boycotted everywhere he goes.

      As a Christian,

      I think that the Muslim religion is a false religion.
      It is not a religion, but a wicked violent cult that has forced people to “join” their cult.
      Time for the world to wake up and stop the spread of Islam.
      Judaism is the only real true religion.
      Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism.
      Unfortunately, the world has become racisit and supports Christian and Islamic racism. against the only real, true religion.
      Their support of Jew hatred, is genocidal

  2. “Of course denying that a people exists is the first step toward causing it not to exist. So it’s fair to say that Barghouti’s comments were implicitly genocidal. Given his central role in the BDS movement, anyone who supports a BDS resolution – for example, the American Studies Association – now has, it seems to me, an obligation to explictly renounce any sympathy with Barghouti’s project: unless, of course, that person is willing to support genocide.”

    These three sentences constitute an utterly bizarre and illogical triple jump. The fact that a prominent member of a large and heterogenous movement may have made a crass and inaccurate statement about Jewish ethnicity (and these second-hand summaries don’t exactly seem neutral) does not at all lead to your conclusion.

    1. Yeah, anything is the first step to genocide. Even breathing is. After all, you can’t commit genocide without breathing.

      Having said that, I have no use for people who deny Jewish nationhood. That sort of thing is bad, even if it isn’t genocidal.

      1. The modern sense of “nationhood” is one of the silliest concepts to emerge from 19th-century Europe. And anyone who gets breathless over it, in this instance or that, is also pretty silly.

        It’s not a real thing. It doesn’t exist. Everyone who isn’t some kind of political ideologue or another knows this.

        Deal with it.

        1. Are you available to take a trip? Seems to me the various people who have been dying for almost 70 years need you to explain to them why they’ve all been wasting their time

          1. To Palestine, you mean? One, I’m actually here already (which is immaterial). Two, that’s about the worst possible example, since Palestine’s tragedy resulted from an inelegant attempt to impose a 19th-century European-style nation-state in someone else’s land. I believe it was Hajo Meyer who called Zionism something like a cobbling-together of the worst 19th-century ideas: not only nationalism, but colonialism, racism, etc.

        2. i’m not sure that’s what dr. kleiman is getting at. i could be wrong, and he can step in at any time and say so if i am, but it seems to me less like he’s defending a jewish state and more like he’s defending the concept of a jewish people from marginalization and delegitamization, in effect from the dehumanization barghouti asserts, with some evidence. has been practiced against the palestinians.

          1. sorry, should have been a comma after the word “evidence” and this was in response to captain obvious and not timb.

            could the folks who did the site redesign not have included a preview or edit feature to the commenting system?

    2. Is there some weird dog whistle here that I am not getting?
      If I claimed that “there is no such thing as the Catholic people” would I be stating a program to eliminate one billion human beings? Or would I be pointing out the obvious facts that
      – people can be united by many different things,
      – one of these can be a shared belief system,
      – that a shared belief system is not equivalent to shared genetic heritage (which is the usual meaning of “a people”)

      Building on this, I further fail to see the outrage given my personal beliefs that
      – your shared belief system, no matter what it may be, no matter how strongly you may hold it, doesn’t act like some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card that allows you to trump any and all opposition to your behavior
      – your shared genetic heritage LIKEWISE does not act as a trump card.

      Finally allow me to end with a loud WTF??
      The arc of Euro-Jewish history is no secret. Until the glory days of phrenology and physiognomy, Jews were defined by religion. They could assimilate by giving up their religion and plenty did. Even among those who did not convert, there was always the possibility that they might; an essential humanity was recognized.
      It was only with the coming of race theory, with the Jew as a race, a (degenerate) species of humanity that we got on track to Nazism and the ideal of eliminating the lot of them.
      Against this background, we have Barghouti denying the validity of this race claim — and being loudly called genocidal for doing so. Truly, WTF??? This is Seinfeld-style “everyone’s an anti-semite” gone so bezerk it’s beyond parody and into terrifying.

      1. Maynard: “Until the glory days of phrenology and physiognomy, Jews were defined by religion. They could assimilate by giving up their religion and plenty did.” This was generally true, and Russian antisemitism maintained this character until the last century; according to Norman Cohn, Jews attacked in pogroms could save themselves by converting to (orthodox) Christianity, at which point they weren’t Jews any more.

        The striking exception is provided by late mediaeval Spain, as documented in Netanyahu’s magisterial The Origins of the Inquisition. In a massive wave of pogroms before 1400, the majority of the flourishing community of Spanish Jews were forced to convert at knife-point. The conversos (or New Christians or, insultingly, marranos) kept on the economic roles that had made them unpopular in the first place, especially that of tax farmer. Spanish Christian anti-semites then developed a brand new theory that Jewishness was a blood taint – a completely heterodox line in terms of Catholic teaching since Augustine. The Spanish Inquisition was a machine for persecuting not Jews but New Christians based on this theory. However, the theory was only held by anti-semites. The New Christians said they were Christians not Jews, and the surviving Jews until they were expelled, and rabbis in North Africa following events, agreed the victims weren’t Jews in any sense.

        I don’t know if anybody has traced a connection between Spanish racial antisemitism, rooted (if heretically) in deeply conservative and nationalist Catholicism, and the much later emergence in 19th-century France and Germany of a secular racial antisemitism, justified by appeals to bad science not revelation. It does not seem likely on the face of it.

  3. It always amazes me to see otherwise liberal folk turn into the worst sort of people when it comes to the subject of Israel. What is this Jennifer Rubin-esque “If you are not with the people of Israel, you are with the genociders” nonsense?

    In terms of numbers displaced and property seized, the expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from Israel in 1948 and from settler territory since – for which I do not think there was, or is, any justification – was certainly no greater than the displacement of Jews from the rest of region.

    So two wrongs make a right? It wasn’t the Palestinian Arabs who drove the Sephardic Jews out of the Middle East countries. You can claim there’s no justification, but that’s the rationale you’re making in response to the One-State folks.

    Personally, I think a single state is inevitable. There’s not surprisingly little trust in the willingness of the Palestinians to actually stick to a two-state plan in Israel, so that leaves the gradual crowding of the Palestinians into ghettoes and eventually protests and rallies demanding equal rights, among other things.

  4. “After all, the Jews have now been driven from every other Arab-majority country”

    And they’re in the process of driving out the Christians, it should be noted. So it’s not really about the Jews, it’s about intolerance of any religion but Islam.

      1. What’s your point, that we’re supposed to ignore an ongoing genocide, just because it reflects badly on Islam? My neighbors down the street, back in Michigan, were Christian refugees from Jordan, and it’s only gotten worse in the 20 years or so since they fled. A lot worse.

        1. Brett, this is only marginally relevant, but considering the issue may, if you have a good soul, help you better understand yourself and why people react the way they do towards you.

          As we speak, we have what appears to be the start of an ethnic cleansing/genocide under way in northern Myanmar as the local Burmese attempt to get rid of the Moslem Rohingya. Are you as outraged by this as you are by Moslem countries trying to get of their Christians? And if so, are you as vocal about it? Because I’ve certainly never seen you raise the issue.

          1. I’m about as concerned about it as I am with any genocide, but Burma is not in the Middle East, so I’m not sure why you expected me to bring it up. I was simply pointing out that the Jews are not the only target group there, that we’re not looking at bias against Jews, so much, as bias against everybody but Muslims.

            The point here is, I guess, that any group are capable of genocide, of repression. That doesn’t mean all groups have an equal proclivity towards it. I don’t particularly care to pretend that they do.

          2. I was simply pointing out that the Jews are not the only target group there, that we’re not looking at bias against Jews, so much, as bias against everybody but Muslims.

            I hear being a Muslim woman isn’t all cakes and ales either.

            How to beat your wife:
            http://youtu.be/Y-Tw7WhH_aQ


          3. The point here is, I guess, that any group are capable of genocide, of repression. That doesn’t mean all groups have an equal proclivity towards it. I don’t particularly care to pretend that they do.

            Oh, Brett, you’re just not content to let other people think well of you, are you? You just have to clarify that you’re not as reasonable as a charitable observer might attempt to view you.

            Would you like to explain to us how “proclivity towards genocide” is measured, and how Islamic countries win this category?
            In your explanation please feel free to explain why European countries (either historically [Americas, Australia] or recently [Russia, Germany]) don’t win, likewise not South Asia [Indian partition], or Japan [WW2 especially but not only in China], likewise not Africa [Rwanda of course, but also a nice effort in Biafra]).

            Also be sure to explain why it is *Moslem* countries that suffer from this pathology. why this is the appropriate lens of understanding, as opposed to, e.g., Arabic countries or tribal central-asian countries.

          4. Maynard, I’m not going to attempt to purchase your thinking well of me, at the cost of pretending to be a moral imbecile.

            First, I was speaking in the present tense, so forget the “historically”, I’m well aware that a lot of societies that are fairly nice today did some horrific things a while back. But, aren’t doing them today, and shouldn’t we concern ourselves with the victims who aren’t yet dead?

            Second, I suggest you do some research of your own, and come back with a list of majority Muslim countries which are liberal democracies.

            Here’s mine: “”

            The basic issue here is that Islam rejects the idea of separation of church and state. (For itself, and only itself.) It rejects, and currently, not as old, ignored scripture, a great deal of what we take for granted as aspects of a free society.

            I’m well aware that individual Muslims are capable of being decent people. I was employed by one for a while, quite nice guy. There are a lot of ugly ideologies out there of which that’s true, where individuals holding the ideology can be nice folks, but if there are enough of them around to exercise power, things get nasty, fast.

            The day may yet come when Islam has it’s Reformation, when it stops being the religion of totalitarian states and terrorists. That day has not yet come, and it won’t come without a lot of blood shed, given Islam’s approach to “apostates”.

            And I see no point in pretending otherwise. If I were living in an Islamic country, of course, there WOULD be a point: I’d be murdered if I were honest. I’d have to spout lies about “religion of peace” and all that, while I planned my escape.

            But, I live in a free country, and don’t have to play the good dhimmi. And I pity those who voluntarily assume such a status, even though they don’t have to.

          5. Brett: list of genocides by Muslim states? Armenians, by Ottoman Turks, 1916: a long time ago. Black tribes in Darfur by Arab Sudanese dictator, recently: sure, but smallish and ineffective. Indian partition, 1947: non-state two-way communal violence. Massacres of Chinese in Indonesia under Suharto: motive not religious. Saddam Hussein’s gas warfare on Kurdish separatists: ditto. Hamas and Hezbollah today against Israeli Jews: so ineffective that genocidal intent, as opposed to rhetoric, or a political goal of breaking the Israel state, is uncertain. I think you would be hard put to show any strong Muslim proclivity to genocide, compared to nominal or fanatical Christianity.

            Violent jihadism is another matter, and there are few recent parallels in other religions (not counting tiny sects like the Branch Dravidians) since the demise of the Sikh terrorist Bindranwale in 1984 and the revenge killing of Indira Gandhi. The Tamil Tigers were nominally Hindus fighting a Buddhist Sinhalese government, but they were essentially secular Marxists. However, the aim of jihadism is to install reactionary Muslim theocracy, including in Palestine, not genocide. Reactionary Islam wants to bring back the traditional system in which religious diversity is tolerated but non-Muslims are discriminated against. Oppression isn’t genocide.

    1. I think that Mark’s statement is factually not quite accurate. AFAIK, Moroccan Jews have not been “driven” out of Morocco, although most have emigrated. The Moroccan government is pretty friendly toward Israel.

      Of course, his major point is quite right. Anti-semitism and eliminationism are not unknown among advocates for Palestine. But then again, neither are philo-Semitism or even outright Semitism. It is important to draw the distinction.

      1. Mark’s statement referred to majority-Arab countries, which I think you’ll find that Morocco isn’t.

    2. Nonsense. The Islamic Middle East, unlike Christian Europe, allowed the perpetuation of a plethora of minority religions including the Druze, Yazidi, Mandeans, Shabak, Samaritans, as well as Christian churches – Coptic, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Rite Catholicism, etc.

      By contrast, what was religious diversity in Europe until the Reformation? Catholicism and small communities of Jews. When a minor heresy raised its head in the south of France in the 12th century it was viciously stamped out in the Albigensian Crusade in what can fairly be described as a genocide.

      Finally, it’s worth remembering the one country in the Middle East, a First World nation which enjoys the highest level of U.S. foreign aid in the world, which to this day scrutinizes and micro-manages its demographics in order to maintain its status as an ethno-nationalist land of blood and soil.

      1. Historically what you say is correct, but it’s also patently irrelevant, like the Republicans claiming they can’t be racist because they were the party of Lincoln.
        What matters is not what Europe vs The Islamic World did seven hundred years ago but what they did seven years ago.

  5. Of course, asserting that a person’s comments are “genocidal” is the first step towards putting a literal target on his back. So it’s fair to say Kleiman’s remarks implicitly justify Barghouti’s assassination.

    (Would anybody like to try providing anything like a reasoned basis for considering the above “logic” one iota more absurd and offensive than Kleiman’s original?)

  6. If it is “crap” to think that support for Israel requires hatred for Palestinians, what is it to think that support for a boycott of Israel requires hatred for Jews?

  7. Hitler routinely spoke of Jews as a people (Volk). I think we all know how that turned out. Conversely, Golda Meir’s denial of Palestinians’ peoplehood, did not presage a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs by the state of Israel (Expulsion, oppression, dispossession, yes. Genocide, no.)

    Frankly, the idea that a Russian, a Persian, and an Ethiopian can belong to the same ethnonational group if they all happen to be Jewish strikes me as a bit far-fetched. The idea that this makes me an implicit supporter of genocide is ludicrous.

  8. “Peoplehood” is a tricky concept.

    For example, there’s a significant chunk of the white-separatist movement that insists that Southern whites are a “people”–and thus, that the efforts to limit their power, and group them with other “peoples”, are eliminationist.

    Similarly with Palestinian vs Arab: are the Arabs in Cisjoprdan a different people than the Arabs in Transjordan? The idea that they are–and so “Jews get Cisjordan, Arabs get Transjordan” is dispossessive of a people rather than of specific persons in a way that “Poles get Pomerania, Germans get Brandenburg” is not–is not self-evident.

  9. I think, like the two-state solution, the devil is in the details. An explicitly secular one-state solution that includes some sort of immigration controls for demographic parity, for instance, would not be ideal, but it would be far less objectionable than the status quo.

    I don’t think the current movement towards the one-state solution is borne of anti-semitism as much as it is a recognition of Israeli political reality; namely that the settlers are too numerous, too well-armed, and too politically entrenched to be removed the way they were in Gaza (and there is no Sharon to do it while maintaining domestic legitimacy) and you cannot carve an acceptable or viable Palestinian state out of the remaining land.

    Like Evan said, I have no doubt there exist people in BDS who would like a one-state solution for the purposes Kleiman avers, but I’d need to see more evidence of their preponderance than a single person making a controversial statement about Jewish identity.

  10. “Of course denying that a people exists is the first step toward causing it not to exist.”

    That makes no sense. It’s the existence of an undesired people that provokes genocide. If there’s no such thing as a Jew or a Tutsi, how can they be exterminated?

    This blog used to be worth reading. Not so much now. And the horrid result of trying to comment here via iPhone doesn’t help.

    1. It’s hard to make brief remarks that completely express an idea or anticipate every possible objection.

      I have to give the benefit of the doubt on this remark, even though it can be seen as a thinly veiled accusation of genocidal intent.

      But the statement does make sense. If one wants to attack, oppress, or outright destroy a people, denying their legitimate rights is a first step. In this case saying that a people does not exist is not to be taken literally, because of course the people are real. The propaganda strategy of genocide commonly involves denying the legitimate existence of common cultural bonds. By attacking the legitimacy of cultural bonds and cultural inheritance, public sympathy for real human beings can be eroded. This is how the remark makes sense.

      1. Can you give us an example of an actual genocide which was preceded by a propaganda campaign denying the legitimacy of cultural bonds between members of the victimized group?

        I’m not rejecting your assertion but none of the genocides I can think of offhand (Jews, Armenians, Rwandan Tutsis) seem to involve this particular factor.

  11. Mark: “Of course denying that a people exists is the first step toward causing it not to exist. So it’s fair to say that Barghouti’s comments were implicitly genocidal.”

    Based on what sort of logic? I am relying on your account of the speech here, but saying there is no Jewish People does not mean there are no Jewish people, or no Israelis, or American, French, or Mexican Jews. If I say there is no Arab People, just Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians, etc., does that mean I advocate genocide?

    I am pretty sure I would find many things to disagree with in the speech. The single-state solution is a nutty idea, just for starters. But you have to make a better case against Barghouti.

  12. I don’t support the BDS movement. I don’t support the occupation. I don’t support Netanyahu and his coalition with one staters like Bennett and his group. I do support not buying products made by Israeli companies inside the West Bank. There, my biases.

    I think Mark is more impressed with the Rabbi’s article and Roberta Seid’s screed than he should be. But Barghouti is talking about no Jewish State, and no Jewish right to a homeland in that area or anywhere. And this is not news. Barghouti has said he has been for a unitary state for 25 years. Thus his denial of the Zionist position is entrenched and long standing. Now, he has written a book that has catapulted him into a prominent voice of the BDS movement but he was not there at the beginning nor in its formative years. I don’t think people in BDS movement who may support a two state solution need to be scolded by denouncing Barghouti–unless Mark wants to distance himself from Seid and re-read his rabbi friend’s emotionally laden piece and be a bit more hesitant to endorse it. Meaning, let’s cast the first stone before telling others to throw stones at Barghouti.

    My concern about the growing BDS movement is that it mirrors the growth of the one staters in the Israeli political leadership and in the hears of at least 30-40% of the Israeli Jewish population. They think they are winning with their expanded settlement development and their refusal to enter into serious peace talks (their mantra is Israel has no partner…when the PA is standing there with their hands out, Palestinian negotiators in 2006 and 2007 already showed they were giving up right of return, and Hamas leaders have made noises since 2008 about negotiations starting with the 1967 borders, thereby implicitly recognizing Israel). They think, Another decade and the Israelis will have many more settlements throughout the West Bank to be able to say, Israel is one State from the sea to the borders of Jordan. And then they will tell the Palestinians, like it or lump it–or leave. That unfortunately is a prescription for an entrenched apartheid situation.

    Worse, when one compares the one state solution of Bennett and Netanyahu with the one state solution of Barghouti, a lot of people who are not emotionally tied to this 100 years war will start to find the BDS position more “democratic” and even “fair.” The unitary state of Barghouti’s imagination is secular and built on majority rule. We know, as does Mark, however, that with so much hatred, it is likely to degenerate into ethnic cleansing. And it should be noted Noam Chomsky sees this point and maintains the efficacy of a two state solution.

    My concern is for Israel’s long term security and its very existence. That is why I view the failure of the Netanyahu regime to hear Obama (first with Rahm Emannuel and now with John Kerry) as catastrophic for Israel. In ten years, this moment will be seen as a major lost opportunity. To make an analogy, Obama is the best friend trying to tell you that you are drunk and not to drive your car home, and you say, “Leave me alone! I know what I’m doing! Everyone’s against me–even you!”

    Barghouti is the noise in that conversation. He is not the conversation.

  13. I googled a little bit trying to find the text of Barghouti’s speech, but could not find it easily. I noticed a link to a video was posted above, which I may find time to watch. I would prefer to read the text.

    I did find several articles denouncing Barghouti and his speech, all of which failed to quote any substantial portion of Barghouti’s actual words, and all of which had the sound of extravagant propaganda in their own rights. If some of the things I saw written about Barghouti’s speech are even half true, the man is a monster. I suspect the truth is a bit less horrible.

    While taking Chaim Seidler-Feller’s word on this does require implicit trust, since I haven’t seen much in direct quotation of Barghouti’s speech, I must say that the last two paragraphs in Chaim Seidler-Feller’s article hit the mark. There are many people for whom the apparent goals of BDS resonate because there is not a strong enough alternative of Jewish or Israeli denunciation of the oppressive policies of the occupation. BDS is one of the few prominent public movements for those whose moral instincts recoil at the slow steady annexation of the West Bank under the grip of oppressive military occupation, and the obvious long and patient march by the Likud government that seems hell-bent on the eventual establishment of Greater Israel. The serious question of what happens to some 3 to 4 million Arabs in the establishment of a Greater Israel is one that seems to be chillingly swept under the carpet by those who begin with the premise that establishing Greater Israel is God’s will. It seems that too many are content to use the real tragedy and horrors of Palestinian terror to justify a generalized objectification of all Palestinian Arabs as terrorists who have sacrificed all rights and are deserving of nothing.

    I have frequently seen allegations that BDS is a front for explicitly anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic groups. It isn’t hard to be suspicious of such claims because it is too common to see forceful denunciation as anti-Semitic of even the mildest criticism of Israeli West Bank policy. While I don’t believe anti-Occupation movements are necessarily anti-Semitic as many have claimed, if these allegations about BDS are true, it makes even more urgent the need for Chaim Seidler-Feller’s appeal for more forceful Jewish denunciation of the injustices of occupation.

    The claim that the Palestinians are not a people, that it was a culture invented recently for political convenience, is still pretty popular as far as I can tell. It appears pretty frequently in popular opinion aired in on-line discussions. I don’t really care how coherent a cultural story is woven by the historical threads of Palestinian Arabs. What is real and present is that these are millions of human beings with real claims to land, to basic human rights, and to political and economic self-determination. The denial of human rights because the human beings in question are “not a real people” is as ugly when used by Palestinians against Jews as when used by Jews against Palestinians.

    1. I did find several articles denouncing Barghouti and his speech, all of which failed to quote any substantial portion of Barghouti’s actual words, and all of which had the sound of extravagant propaganda in their own rights.

      Seid’s article gives an idea of where Barghouti may be coming from:

      He denied that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination. They are not a people, he declaimed, and the United Nations’ principle of the right to self-determination applies only to colonized people who want to acquire their rights.

      If Barghouti wants to affirm the United Nations principle of self-determination of peoples, and deny any Jewish right to Palestine, he might be led to deny that the Jews are a people, at least for self-determination purposes. Or Seid’s account might be seriously garbled. But anyhow, the principle of self-determination of peoples is a plausible context for Barghouti’s discussing Jewish peoplehood.

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