The article Pennsylvania BDS conference draws controversy, attacks calls for attention not because of its whiny title – does its author really expect a BDS gathering not to cause some waves? – but because of its multiple internal controversies. Also because the author, Uri Horesh, as many other BDS supporters, is consistently coy about his own vision of a solution for Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Some fisking and some questioning is in order, so relax and find yourself a comfortable chair. To start with, approximately a third of the article is dedicated to so called “attacks” leveled at the Pennsylvania BDS conference. Let’s leave aside the fact that Mr Horesh profusely quotes various protesters and critics of the worthy venture but doesn’t even try to refute their criticism. I have some down-to-earth technical questions re the conference, such as:
- With all the controversy was the conference forbidden by the UPenn?
- Dis somebody assault the participants? Prevent them from entering the building(s) where the conference took place? Spit on them? Insult them?
- Were there attempts to prevent any of the speakers from giving their presentations?
- Was any such presentation interrupted by provocateurs in the auditorium?
- Was police or security intervention required to rescue the speaker?
After dispensing in that long an torturous way with the “controversy and attacks”, Mr Horesh with obvious satisfaction reports on the diversity of the participants in that event:
I was one of a handful of Israeli participants in the conference, but the diversity amongst the audience and the presenters was so great that it was hard not to feel at home. Among us were Palestinians, Jewish-Americans, Queer activists, rabbis, imams, pastors and atheists, students, professors, laborers, senior citizens and even high school students.
I am all for diversity myself, it will be a suicide to be against the diversity nowadays. If I were a suspicious person, though, I could imagine that the organizers have selected 300 (the number of participants according to the author) men and women of 300 different kinds just to stress the diversity. Although that will be reaching, of course. But then Mr Horesh jumps to a following conclusion:
The demographic makeup of the conference attendees alone was enough to refute accusations that we were nothing but a war-mongering hate group.
Now I feel a question bubbling up from the depths… oh well:
Couldn’t a group of 300 janitors, Hindus, bus drivers, rocket scientists, obstetricians, Indonesian rickshaws, Hungarian politicians, Native Americans, Satan worshipers, boatswains, hydrologists, book thieves, chess players, linguists, teenage lambada dancers and even Nepali Sherpas be united in their hate of, for instance… er… Israel?
Then Mr Horesh makes an absolutely valid observation:
A prevalent theme in the various sessions of the conference was the analogy between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and South African apartheid.
Indeed, this ubiquitous weapon of anti-Israeli discourse is one of several easily consumed and easily digestible buzzwords beloved by the anti-Zionist crowd, where all of the conference participants belong (yes, I guess even high school students). But then, after scoring such a bull’s eye, Mr Horesh has to mar it by expressing his incomplete satisfaction:
This comparison is rightfully gaining ground in the global discourse, yet many in the Israeli left are still quite hesitant to take part.
And I, on the other hand, can’t but ask another question:
Could the reluctance of many on the Israeli left “to take part” stem from the fact that this “Israeli apartheid” thing is a contrived, pernicious and, above all, false invention of anti-Zionist propaganda?
Between many general grievances (dontcha love that word?) Mr Horesh didn’t forget a personal angle:
As a gay man and a queer activist, I have been disturbed by Israel increasingly touting itself as a gay oasis in the midst of an evil, homophobic, Middle East. In Philadelphia, where I currently reside, an annual event entitled “Equality Forum,” which celebrates LGBTQ pride from a global perspective and each year chooses a “Featured Nation” on which to focus, chose Israel in 2012.
Etc… and of course, a few more questions for Mr Horesh popped up:
- Isn’t Middle East, generally speaking, homophobic?
- Where do the outed gay folks flee (aside of Pennsylvania BDS conference) from the Palestinian territories?
- What does it mean “Israel increasingly touting itself”? That above mentioned Equality Forum: is it a branch of Israeli government? Or of the tourism board?
- Could you name 3 Israeli politicians using the relative freedom enjoyed by LGBTQ community in Israel in their speeches?
- Nah, could you name one?
Now, after dealing with all kinds of minor matters, let’s try and guess/question the beliefs of the author himself. Since, as I said, he is not exactly forthcoming (in his other articles too) with his views on the best and just settlement of the I/P crisis, I offer to use as litmus paper the BDS conference keynote speaker that is obviously held in considerable respect by Uri Horesh: one Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada and, some claim, a friend (in the past, at least) of the current POTUS. Due to abundance of material on Mr Abunimah, I have put some of it aside in the appendix to that post. If you are not familiar with life and deeds of Ali Abunimah, don’t miss this appendix. Now to more questions for Mr Horesh.
- If you are a supporter of one state solution, what do you think about that “disastrous situation” for the Jews that (according to Mr Abunimah) may arise after the said OSS is implemented?
- Do you personally think that the “disastrous situation” may arise or will arise?
- Do you mind a bit of genocide as part of that OSS?
- If you are not a supporter of one state solution, what do you make of the fact that Mr Abunimah is one of your leaders?
- Or of the fact that many other speakers would like to see Israel eliminated?
Well, enough with questions. Let’s hope for some answers. Meanwhile, I have to share with you the sentiment about this BDS conference best expressed by Rabbi Andrew Jacobs in this post:
The video featuring J.J, Goldberg, Hannah Mermelstein, Kathleen Peratis and Yonatan Shapira (http://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/jewish-perspectives-boycott-divestment-sanctions-bds-campaign) disturbed me greatly not just because of the anti-Zionist sentiments that were expressed in the video but also because of the hatred of Israel that was expressed in the video and the tremendous distortion of the facts by speakers.
What the heck, I have to ask Mr Horesh another question:
Mr Horesh: why do you and your friends hate Israel?
And, since the promise to stop the questions was already broken, here is another point: one of the commentators to Mr Horeshs’ article was quite open about the BDS goals:
February 9, 2012
I support BDS because it is a peaceful way of replacing israel with a free Palestine from the River to teh Sea. The Middle East will not support a colonial entity, and at least with BDS, no one will call us terrorists. While Tel Aviv may be more comfortable with gays, once LGBTQ is recognized as a key ally against Israel, I expect that gays will gain credibility even in Islamist states for their part in the struggle and will gain tolerance too.
So, another question to Mr Horesh and his friends:
Why, for crying out loud, can’t you all be as straightforward and truthful as zayzafouna?
Appendix: Ali Abunimah.
A polished graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, Ali Abunimah is mostly careful in his speeches, espousing, as in that BDS conference, his staunch stand “against all forms of bigotry: against racism, against Islamophobia, against anti-Semitism; … against sexism, against homophobia, against discrimination due to physical ability…” However, his hate of Israel makes for frequent slips of the tongue, revealing his real face from time to time.
And excellent selection of such tongue slips is presented by NGO Monitor in their article on Electronic Intifada, where Mr Abunimah is a chief player. Scroll to the part titled “Ali Abunimah, co-founder and executive director of EI”. Here are some excerpts:
- Abunimah is a leading advocate of the one-state solution. To actualize this, he says “coercion is necessary,” and dismisses Jewish concerns of living under an Arab majority as “irrational, racist fears.”
- He acknowledges that in a one-state solution “we couldn’t rule out some disastrous situation” (4:43) for Jews.
- Labels PA President Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as “collaborators”, and PA participation in peace talks as “collaboration.” Collaboration is punishable by death in the PA and Gaza.
- In a conference in Madrid on the one-state solution, Abunimah refers to Peace Now as a “right-wing Zionist racist group” (Arab World Geographer, Vol 10, No 1, 2007).
Are you shocked by the above? Don’t be, there is more, much more.
Like Tweeting the century-old Al-Aqsa libel – obviously to promote the peace in the region.
Like using the Israel-Nazi comparison as if there is no tomorrow.
And still more…
But yes, in the battle against anti-Semitism Ali Abunimah will be in the first row of foot soldiers. Especially – after he eradicates Israel, of course. No doubt about it.
Cross-posted on SimplyJews