Last night SOAS’ Palestine Society unveiled Joseph Dana, an anti-Israel blogger for +972 Magazine, and Gemma Houldey, of Jerusalem based “human rights” organisation Addameer, for an event called Palestine: Resistance and Occupation.
Larry Derfner also writes for +972 Magazine. Derfner justified the recent Eilat terror attacks when he wrote on his blog:
“Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack.”
Joseph Dana made aliyah in 2005, after having completed a degree in America in Jewish history, with a view to exploring his cultural and Jewish secular identity. He describes himself as an American Israeli Jew who was brought up in America in a Zionist indocrination programme but who was able to free himself.
After completing a degree in Israel, also in Jewish history, he found that the “predominant nationalist rhetoric in Israel was at odds with the secular Judaism” he was trying to explore, specifically the idea of “life on the periphery, marginality and dispossesion”.
Instead, he said, he opened up to the Palestinian narrative and started to visit the West Bank and “observed the protests around the wall and settler violence”. To deal with the “emotional discharge” he started his blog.
He now lives and works in Ramallah reporting and tweeting full time on the protests.
Of course there is no “predominant nationalist rhetoric” in Ramallah where they name streets after suicide bombers, where children are taught in school to hate Israel and where two Israeli soldiers were lynched, but Dana obviously feels more comfortable there than in Israel for some mystifying reason.
He showed us a youtube clip of Israeli soldiers violently dispersing a demonstration. Dana said that in his experience he had never seen a rock thrown first by a Palestinian but it was always the IDF who started the violence.
During the Q&A nearly every question was about the possibility of a Third Intifada. Students never tire of seeing violence and destruction. Dana responded that a Third Intifada would be “unproductive” and plumped for boycotts and demonstrations instead.
But Dana seems to have been badly inconvenienced by the new boycott law in Israel where organisations and individuals can now be sued for boycotting settlements, a law which was voted through 47-36 in the Knesset.
It’s a law that Dana seems to have a bit of trouble understanding.
He explained to his starry-eyed audience that if he called for a boycott of settlements then he could be sued. He said that a settler did not have to prove any economic loss, only that Dana intended to damage the settler financially.
What the law actually says is that a settler would have to prove that “economic, cultural or academic damage” could be reasonably expected from such a move.
This is an important distinction as there probably would have had to have been some sort of preparatory action taken by Dana towards a boycott. Dana’s intention alone wouldn’t suffice.
The highly dramatic Dana was concerned that even mentioning boycotting Israel could get him or his +972 Magazine sued. Here’s Dana attempting to explain the law. He excitedly refers to my camera which, he thinks, could get him sued if I put this clip on youtube. The law has yet to be tested but maybe now will be:
Moreover, as I understand it, the law applies to the whole of Israel so, for example, an Israeli calling for a boycott of an Arab business, whether in Israel or the West Bank, can also be sued. And I’m not sure that these laws are so different from those in other countries where you can sued in similar circumstances.
In the Q&A Dana was asked whether Zionism is “the work of the devil”. It’s a racist question seeing as Zionism refers to Jewish self-determination in their ancient homeland. Instead of ignoring such a question, which any self-respecting commentator would have done, Dana responds:
I asked Dana what it is like for women, gays and political dissenters living in Ramallah and what he thought about neither Jews or Palestinian refugees being allowed to live in any future Palestinian state.
Instead of addressing these points he conveniently picked up on my commment about the Hamas Charter calling for the killing of Jews, which I thought might be an example of why Palestinian prisoners are treated differently from Israeli ones. The latter had been the subject of the previous talk by Gemma Houldey.
Dana thought that some of the comments by Hamas were horrific but that they were just as horrific as comments by Israelis. As an example he quoted accusations that Palestinian schoolchildren do not have maps of Israel in their schoolbooks, but said that Israeli children do not have maps of Palestine in their schoolbooks either.
He also quoted an unnamed Israeli MK who wanted to move all Palestinians to an island off the coast of Gaza. Apparently, this story appeared in Maariv.
His summary of the situation was:
“Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel.”
Before such nonsense we heard more nonsense from Gemma Houldey, of Addameer, who described, without giving any evidence, how Israelis deprive Palestinian prisoners of proper medication, sexually harass Palestinian women during interrogation and target Palestinian children for arrest because they are easy targets. Here she is in her own words:
And as you can see from her slide (see top) Addameer classes every Palestinian prisoner as “political”, whatever they did.
Such a “political prisoner” would presumably include Amna Mouna, included in the recent prisoner exchange, who formed an online relationship with 16 year old Ofir Rahum before luring him into a deadly ambush near Ramallah when his body split into two parts having had so many bullets pumped into him.
And now all Addameer is concerned about is that some of these released prisoners will be exiled.
As ever the unquestioning students at SOAS lapped it all up.
Here is Dana introducing himself before showing us the youtube clip I have linked to above: