View from the back last night.
The once hero of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Norman Finkelstein recently declared the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel “a cult” and its activists dishonest about their real motive which is the destruction of Israel, not solidarity with the Palestinians.
Last night PSC cultists came to the University of London Union with the platform being given to Rafeef “the poet” Ziadah, Ben “I can understand why some people are anti-Semitic” White, Mike “I’m only Jewish because my mother is” Cushman and, finally, Ronnie “I’m a privileged Jew” Barkan.
Their aim was to brainwash, I mean persuade students to boycott Israel.
In the Chair for the evening was Salim Alam. The last time Alam chaired a PSC event I was accosted afterwards by an audience member who claimed, inter alia, that Jews only died in the Holocaust because “they had their foreskins chopped off.”
Ziadah started by claiming that “Israel has oppressed the Palestinians for decades” and has “denied them their fundamental rights of freedom, equality and self-determination” and that eventhough there were “drawers of UN resolutions saying Israel is wrong”, still nothing has happened.
She took offence that the Dome of the Rock, a Palestinian icon, appeared in Israeli travel brochures and that hummus and falafel had been appropriated by Israelis for their national dish.
She presented the case for a cultural boycott of Israel and started by saying that “Israel sees culture as political and as Hasbara”, and that “all Israeli cultural institutions are complicit unless proved otherwise. All Israeli institutions must be boycotted.”
Mind you, this type of rhetoric is actually an improvement for Ziadah. When she spoke earlier this year at UCL she praised Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan. In 2007 Adnan made his thoughts known as to what he thought should happen to innocent Israeli men, women and children. Addressing his followers he asked:
“Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”
Last night Ziadah painstakingly detailed the PACBI guidelines for boycotting Israel, including any event that promotes “balance” between Israelis and Palestinians, even if it should “encourage dialogue”. Although, seeing as Ziadah said that all Israeli institutions are complicit , unless proved otherwise, the guidelines do seem rather surplus to requirements.
But here was her deal for Israeli artists: Should they announce that they agree to the BDS requirements of ending the occupation, ending discrimination of Arabs in Israel and allowing the return of some five million so-called Palestinian refugees to Israel then such Israeli artists won’t be boycotted.
Basically, she approves of any Israeli that wants to destroy their own country:
Meanwhile, Mike Cushman, of Bricup, gave exactly the same talk that he gave at the corresponding ULU event last year. He demanded an academic boycott of Israel and once again told the audience that he’s Jewish because his mother is and that “If you thought Jewish Zionists were scary, these Christian Zionists are far, far worse.” The only blessing is that this time he didn’t grab the microphone like last year to repeatedly scream into it “Free, Free Palestine”:
During the Q&A a student asked how to defend the accusation that the call for BDS was comparable to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. Cushman said their was a huge difference between peaceful protest and Stormtroopers standing outside a shop.
Next up was the Israeli Ronnie Barkan who heads up Boycott From Within. Yes, that’s right, such an, apparently, “oppressive state” as Israel actually allows such an organisation to operate in Israel.
Barkan described himself as a “privileged Jew” and viewed Israel as an “ethnic supremacist state”, which had ethnically cleansed and ethnically segregated the Palestinians. In fact segregation, according to Barkan, was so complete that Arabs are unlikely to be spotted in Tel Aviv. He said you wouldn’t find an Arab living there as they are confined to Jaffa. I’m sure my Israeli friends will tell me this is far from the truth.
Ben White also demanded an academic boycott of Israel. He said that “Israeli institutions are in bed with state organisations of oppression”. He condemned Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University and even Haifa University for its National Security Studies Centre which has “trained hundreds of senior offices in the IDF that then go onto commit war crimes”.
There were some good pro-Israel questions asked during the Q&A, but it would have been good to have seen audience members leafleted with balancing literature on their way out of the venue (ZF, BICOM, CFI etc. where are you at times likes this?).
Apart from the woman next to me accusing me of being a “Zionist spy” and claiming that I “want to exterminate all Palestinians”, it really wasn’t as bad as some of the PSC events I have been to. Although, that’s not really saying much.