University of Bergen to hold official debate on boycotting Israel

In Norway last year the University of Trondheim’s board threw out an attempt by its anti-Israel pressure group to force all Trondheim employees to boycott Israel. It was a boycott any academic trade unionist must oppose on principle.

Now Principle Sigmund Grønmo of the University of Bergen, one of Norway’s larger HE institutions, is going to open a debate on boycotting Israel. Boycotting Israeli academics cannot build anything positive for Palestinians, and it will harm our academic integrity. By now you know the score – we see again this willingness on the part of boycotters to surrender the free exchange and pursuit of knowledge to one political position, and the enthusiasm for wasting (other people’s) academic energy on performing or opposing hostility against Israel. It seems that Bergen is not considering targeting any other country’s institutions with boycott – for me the singularity of this organised attack on only Israel has always been the most disturbing and ominous thing about the boycott campaign – and it’s still disturbing and ominous. Let’s hope Bergen kicks it out.

104 Responses to “University of Bergen to hold official debate on boycotting Israel”

  1. Thomas Venner Says:

    I love the wonderfully euphemistic use of the term “opening a debate”. In practice, it will of course mean a campaign of harassment and intimidation against the opponents of the “correct” side of the “debate”.

  2. Jonathan Romer Says:

    My crystal ball is no less cloudy than yours and I don’t work at a university, but I’ll venture a prediction: Bergen will kick it out, if only because they will be keeping one eye out for their legal liability (which I assume is similar to the UK or US) and another for their academic relations with the United States. Perhaps most Norwegian academics are as unsupportive of a boycott as their UCU equivalents are, though I don’t know that.

    A boycott would be a huge fillip for the anti-Israel crowd, but I bet it’s not the presently-expected or attainable victory. They’ve already won that: It’s the fact that Bergen is willing to debate isolating Israelis as if it were a something that any self-respecting university should consider. Every time that happens, the ball rolls in their direction.

  3. Renegade Eye Says:

    The logic of a blanket boycott of Israel, doesn’t differentiate between Israelis, or Palestinians.

    There is a real left in Israel, and a real working class, that would be victims of such a boycott.

    South African apartheid didn’t fall because of the boycott. Don’t believe me, believe Mandela. Cuba helping in Angola, helped much more.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      And does “When and where did you Engage this???” (whoever they may be in reality – can we vote on who we think this is?) honestly believe that no-one who logs onto this site doesn’t read “About Us” up there in the top left-hand corner of _every_ page, including this one? The one which says that Engage, as website and campaign and, as it happens, not only in the person of its founding editor, the moderators but also in the person of most “pro-engage” commenters, is an anti-racist and anti-antisemitic campaign; supports a two-state solution; believes that Israel should not be occupying the West Bank, should pull the settlements and the settlers off the West Bank and the Golan Heights, other things being equal?

      (And I will quite happily debate with “When and where…” in these pages as to what “other things being equal” means any time).

      Of course, “When and where…” will hide behind their nom de posting, not reveal themselves, and quite happily continue to post links like this without ever commenting on what _they_ think the importance and implication of such content is, let alone produce evidence to back up their anti-Israel stance.

      Or, to use the children’s call: “come out, come out, whoever you are!” But they won’t, of course.

      • Martin Knutsen Says:

        As a norwegian former university student, Ill gladly come out and play. Its rare to find some sane pro-Israel blogs, but this seems to be one of them, compliments.

        Let me first say that I myself oppose a full acadmic boycott of Israel, mainly due to the principles of academic freedom. I do however feel that such institutions as Ariel “university” deserve a full boycott due to their being built on occupied land. I also advocate sanctions against Israel until they recognbize the Goldstone report and comply wityh the demands of the UN to investigate Cast Lead properly. I have been reading Jerusalem Post for the last couple of years now, and the sentiments expressed there, both in writing and in the comments, seem to me to indicate that there is no rational way of reaching through the noise-wall of Israels own echochambers with rational arguments, and so force must be applied. The only force available to us ordinary people, since our states seem to give Israel a position of exceptionalism that nobody really understands, is boycott.

        The recent barrage of anti-semitism accusations from Lieberman, the open hatred against Goldstone, the pardoning of violenty settlers combined with the imprisonment of peaceful activists: All this and more indicates to me that the current Israeli political climate has (understandably) become less and less rational and hatefilled. The commentsection in Jpost reads like a Rhodesian newspaper, full of hatred for muslims, arabs and all things Middle Eastern. It is my firm belief that until Israel is somehow made to pay economically for its attitude to the people under their occupation/control, they will continue to grow more and more filled with a sense of superiority, of destiny and of, unfortunately, racism and bigotry. If the alternative to boycott is doing nothing and letting the traumatized children in the ghetto of Gaza continue to live and die in silence, then boycott I will.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Hi Martin

          Welcome to Engage. Just one point. You’re here to play (as you say). The only thing i ask is that in the past when people have come here to play (for an argument) , they’ve been challenged and replied to. Often (though not always) they’ve failed to address any replies or address people’s points. Often they become quite antagonistic, and as a last act of desperation, they have then started crying about adhominem attacks. So i hope you’ll bear this in mind and listen to any arguments put and try and address any points made with regrd to your post. BTW – we’re happy to play ,Its rare to find some sane pro-boycott blogger, but you seem to be one of them, compliments.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Richard Gold: Thank you for politeness, its like water in the desert. Ive spent the last three years arguing with US military veterans, so I hope I have gained the ability to listen to arguments. I hope in return to avoid being labeled anti-semite, as is all to usual among rabid pro-Israeli commenters. Ill be open, and say in advance that I have a great problem with the whole new construction of the term anti-semitism wich has come to include almost all critiscism of Israel.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Hi Martin. If you click on the “about us” page in the left corner you’ll get a better idea of what this bog is about.

          You say : ” I hope in return to avoid being labeled anti-semite, as is all to usual among rabid pro-Israeli commenters.”

          Can i ask you : Who called you an antisemite ? What did you say ? Who did they represent ?

          Can you also bear in mind that there are many people who use traditional antisemitic themes and when people challenge them, they claim that they are only being antisemitic.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          We are propably in agreement on a lot of issues, Richard. I come from a sociualist/syndicalist tradition, and have my degree in military modern history. So its not as if Im a naive hippie. But I must say that, having tried to engage, par example, over at Michael Tottens blog, the level of discussion with pro-Nethanyahu folks is often disconcertingly low. In addition to cries of anti-semitism for finding the Dahiya doctrine illegal under international law, there usually follows spews about Quisling, and how critisicing Israel without also critizising Sri Lanka, Burma, China, the killing of native indians, etc. etc. is anti-semitic in that it singles out Israel for critiscism. Wich is a definition tyhat makes conversations almost impossible.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          I’m sorry Michael but giving the example of somebody calling you an antisemite (i presume an anonymous person ?) on a blog isn’t really helpful.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Martin ” Ill be open, and say in advance that I have a great problem with the whole new construction of the term anti-semitism wich has come to include almost all critiscism of Israel.”

          Sorry Martin i don’t agree with the idea that there’s this new construction of the term anti-semitism. If you look at the EU working definition of antisemitism , it specifically says that criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic. As does the All Party Parliamentary Enquiry into Antisemitism. I think you’re kidding yourself.

          You might want to check this out. https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/the-livingstone-formulation/

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          R. Gold: I think you have pointed perfectly at where our views may fall apart. Of the ones on your list, former Norwegian PM Kaare Willoch is among them, and I followed with great interest the accusations against him during Cast Lead. Willoch, a former conservative PM and a earlier staunch ally of Israel is the closest we have up here to a primary example of a correct politician. To label him an anti-semite, as pro-Israeli commenters did on primetime television fell on its own absurdity. A collective nation shook its head. Wich of course led to folks like Gerstenfeld (and FM Lieberman) to label my whole country as anti-semitic. And so on. They have built a definition wich is so narrow, that it seems designed as a political tool, not a clear marker of racism.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Martin – Can i suggest you read the article again ? We haven’t called Willoch an antisemite. The article lists people who use The Livingstone formulation , which Willoch does when he says “It’s a traditional deflection tactic aimed at diverting attention from the real problem, which is Israel’s well-documented and incontestable abuse of Palestinians,” .

          Try reading the article again and perhaps have a look at the link on the Livingstone Formulation given :

          http://go2.wordpress.com/?id=725X1342&site=engageonline.wordpress.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.z-word.com%2Fon-zionism%2Fantisemitism-and-anti-zionism%2Fanti-zionism-and-antisemitism%25253A-decoding-the-relationship.html

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Richard: I note that you dont call Willoch a anti-semite, but that the definition seems to imply that he is:

          “Firstly a conflation of something which is arguably, at least, connected to antisemitism into “criticism” and secondly an accusation (usually implied) that the “critic” is being characterized as antisemitic knowingly and in bad faith by the Jews or by the ‘Israel lobby’ (usually implied) in order to try to de-legitimize criticism of Israel.”

          The first paragraph is clever, but surely indicates that he is, arguably, a anti-semite. The second paragraph seems to deny the very concept of Hasbara, Israeli public relations, using the term as a political tool. It indicates that this point is in fact conspiratorial and feeds into anti-semitic thought-patterns. This flies in the face of FM Liebermans continued political defelction of foreign critiscism as “anti-semitism”.

          My reply to the whole problem-set is that it is a rhetorical trap to avoid discussing material facts on the ground and keep the discussion on a emotional level. Ive faced the nazis in the streets all over Scandinavia (and have the scars to prove it) and Im fully aware of the real anti-semitism existing both in nazi and muslim circles. But this new tendency to assign the term to critics of Israel seems to me indeed to be an organized rhetorical model employed by the hard right to delimitize the opposition. Karl Rove is a master of the same technique.

        • Bill Says:

          “…But this new tendency to assign the term to critics of Israel seems to me indeed to be an organized rhetorical model employed by the hard right to delimitize the opposition.”

          If it’s the “Livingston Formulation,” you’re talking about, The Livingston Formulation is akin to saying that objection to a clearly anti-black racist statement is a cynical attempt to silence criticism of Robert Mugabe. That just won’t fly in any remotely honest company It’s hardly a new way to silence critics of Israel. It’s identifying the use of Israel to rationalize objectively antisemetic behavior.

          Ironically, it’s the people who raise the Livingston Formulation in their defense are who are buying into the idea that anti-semitism and anti-zionism are inextricably linked. If you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor: they want their cake of Globalized Anti-Zionism and to eat it, too (without being called out on it as they would had they been talking about any other racial group).

          A nasty snap about a Jewish reporter being a concentration camp guard was really about Israel (by Mayor Livingstone himself – and after whom David Hirsh named the tactic). Jews anywhere, regardless of their ties to Israel, should affirmatively condemn Israel in exchange for professional acceptance? Well they are their brother’s keepers (it’s a Cain and Abel thing and thus cannot be used to link blacks to Mugabe or Muslims to Osama Bin Laden). The attack on the Jewish center in Mumbai was really over Israel (and can you blame them for not attacking “the Jews'” local consulate head on?).

          We’re not saying those things. Members of the Israeli right wing aren’t even saying it. The “critics-of-israel-that-seem-to-have-issues-with-Jews-but-we-can’t-call-them-antisemites” are saying it.

          There’s plenty of criticism of Israel that is not antisemetic. But all criticism of Jews as Jews (in Israel and beyond its borders) is antisemetic.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          “There’s plenty of criticism of Israel that is not antisemetic. But all criticism of Jews as Jews (in Israel and beyond its borders) is antisemetic.”

          Here we are in agreement. However, according to the definition of the “Livingstonbe formula” it seems to apply to anyone who answers claims of anti-semitism with pointing out that the term is being used as a political tool, automatically rendering them suspsicious. To use your example above, it seems like its enough for someone to say that the critic of Mugabe is in reality a racist, and that its the job of the accused to prove his innocence, thus leaving him with the burden of defense.

        • Bill Says:

          “To use your example above, it seems like its enough for someone to say that the critic of Mugabe is in reality a racist, and that its the job of the accused to prove his innocence, thus leaving him with the burden of defense.”

          No, for LF to apply, Israel (or Mugabe, if LF were about anti-black racism) is not even brought up until the racist act/statement is called out — and when it is brought up, it is by the racist. Livingston himself was not even being asked about anything “Israeli” (or Jewish for that matter as I recall) when he made the concentration camp statement, nor did the reporter mention Israel when he responded to him. Only afterwards did he do it as a post-facto rationalization (and diversion) for his rotten conduct. Binding Israel to antisemitic conduct against any Jew anywhere comes explicitly from the actors, not from the “assessors.” The assessor often need not even open his mouth to call the ball. It’s about an oaf chewing vigorously on his own foot having stuck it his own mouth in the first place (the initial antisemetic act, or by proxy, someone else’s act that they support or need to defend or rationalize) and then calling it haute cuisine in the hope of getting a buy-in from like minded fellow travelers. And, sadly, it often works very well. The only time I’ve seen it flop pathetically was with Richard Silverstein and his stupid, dishonest, dishonestly stupid statements regarding the Mumbai attacks.

        • Bill Says:

          Also for LF to be in effect (if I get it correctly, David Hirsh holds the I.P. on the “discovery”), it’s

          1) Antisemetic act (targeting Jews as Jews anywhere leveraging Jewish stereotypes) comes first.

          2) Rationalization by the offender by bringing in Israel comes second.

          3) Buy-in by people who have an incandescently hostile bone to pick with Israel who, thanks to (2), need no longer assess the true facts and motivation of the act, which was independent of Israel, since they can all now jump on Israel and the offended party.

          4) Antisemetic actor off the hook — that is, if no one calls him out on it.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Thanks for polite response. I think I can see your point now, from wich I must conclude that you should strike our former PM Kaare Willoch of your list of Livingstone-users. In that particular instance, he was called a anti-semite both on prime television and by an Israeli NGO, to wich he replied that this was just a technique of obfuscation. In wich he was absolutely correct. (This issue very much stricks in the craw of us norwegians after FM Lieberman declared us the most anti-semitic country in Europe.)

        • Bill Says:

          I wasn’t even talking about Willoch. I’d need to see the context of the original statement. If he was leveraging a Jew-as-Jew meme or holding Israel to one standard because he expects “more” from a “jewish” state while expecting less of her adversaries, then we may have a disagreement.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          I have seen no calls for Israel to behave because it is a “JEWISH” state, but because it is a close ally of NATO and because we sell them weapons and weapons-parts. We dont do that to Sudan. Its as easy as that. By continuing to support Israel we become complicit in their acts, and so I can see very few alternatives to boycotting in order to cause change.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘it is a close ally of NATO and because we sell them weapons and weapons-parts.’

          Et vice versa. Who do you think supplies most of NATO’s UAVs in Afghanistan, inter alia?

          NATO: who is using Apaches with Hellfires against insurgents in warfare very similar to Israel.

        • zkharya Says:

          The US?

          Remember Falujah, and Ramadi? Both of which, according to former Commander British Forces Basra, Tim Collins, were worse than Gaza?

          Going to cancel your Hellfire order, are you?

        • Bill Says:

          Ok I stole away some time and was able to go through the dud link trail above (Richard, “January 31, 2010 at 6:40 pm” is off) and see the full context. I also dug a little deeper went further back through the other material:

          If the comments were directed against a conference on antisemitism and a hostile and exclusionary environment against Jews in Scandinavia, then it certainly qualifies, even if it occurred inside of Israel. While anti-Israeli sentiments were covered, so were other matters discussed that were local to those countries, and discussing them was very legitimate (though some of the more serious charges require some serious proof).

          Similarly a variant of LF is likely applicable to apologists of antisemitism over the bogus charge that Israel “causes” (and even “justifies”) antisemitism against Jews outside of Israel. Think about that. When you can’t find an Israeli, there’s always the Jew down the street (thus, once again, “Globalizing AntiZionism” – not by Zionists, but by antisemites). See an antisemitic act? Ignore the skinhead behind the curtain! It’s just a distraction against Israel — the real culprit in this matter.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Ive faced the nazis in the streets all over Scandinavia (and have the scars to prove it) and Im fully aware of the real anti-semitism existing both in nazi and muslim circles.’

          Brave little you.

          But the most dangerous antisemitism that threatens the most number of Jews is precisely that which threatens the second or largest Jewish community in the word, and certainly the one most obviously Jewish.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Oh, sorry, I didnt see this one, late reply. I get your point, and I see the mechanic, but I do think that its a dangerous principle to apply to all cases. As the Willoch example to me proves. I come from a anti-fascist tradition, and some of the measures being acted out by Israel these days seem more and more based on a fascistic version of zionism, far far removed from the kibbutzim ideal wich I grew up with being romanticized in socialist Norway .

          My counterquestion is: Do you deny that Hasbara in these days more and more seems to include charges of anti-semitism, seen in light of the new diplomatic drive of FM Lieberman?

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Do you deny that Hasbara in these days more and more seems to include charges of anti-semitism, seen in light of the new diplomatic drive of FM Lieberman?’

          i.e. when did you stop beating your wife?

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Since my last reply got deleted for “being an insult”, let me try again, in a less saracastic mode: Zkha, you seem unwilling to answer my direct question. Do you deny that accusations of anti-semitism has become a part of active Israeli diuplomacy in the last 6 months? That those of us who seek to engage in actual discussion have to wade through a sea of accusations now and then for disagreeing with you? If so, in my humble opinion I thin you are blind to the substance of your own arguments.

          Our disagreement is crystal clear: I think the Dahiya doctrine amounts to a warcrime (as indeed I think the first storming of Fallujah was), and I think the continued siege of Gaza is even worse, a deliberate dehumanization of children.. You think it was legal and perfectly OK, that Gaza is a just conflict for Israel and that there is no problem with it. I rest my case.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Hi Martin. I don’t see why it’s not possible to have your criticisms of Israeli actions and still be concerned about antisemitic discourse in the debate. Yet you dismiss antisemitism (which often looks more like conventioanl far right antisemitism) as on the fringes. It’s possible to be highly critical of Israel without using conspiracy theories ,without using holocaust imagery , without using collective guilt , without using crucifixion theory, and so on. Perhaps you’re not aware of people using these who are not on the fringes ?

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Richard, we are in agreement on the central point. I have many times been in a situation with radicals where I have to teach them the basic uses of the word “Jew” in a non-deragotory way, tying the term to Israel, etc. But at the same time, I see many many instances where the accusation of anti-semitism is used as a tool to silence critics. Again, FM Lieberman and his new “diplomatic effort” seems the clearest example. My point is that I very rarely see pro-Israel folks pointing this out harshly. Wich is bloody annoying for those of us who now and then try to engage those who think differently for us.

          BTW, what do *you* think should be done w. Gaza? Now?

        • Richard Gold Says:

          MArtin. Before i answer i just want you to think about your comment where you say “Hell, if I was living there I would fire rockets too.”

          What do i think should be done about Gaza – I try and look at the bigger picture as well as Gaza. I think Israel should evacuate all the settltments and offer the Palestinians a final settlement based on the borders of The Green Line. I would also offer to end the siege of Gaza. But that doesn’t mean it would necessarily work and i don’t live in Sederot so it’s easy for me to say it. But that’s what i would offer in exchange for recognition of Israel and an end to rocket attacks , suicide bombings etc. And if that happens and Hamas , or any other actor keeps up the attacks then Israel would have the right to defend itself. WRT to Gaza i also think that although i was unhappy with Israel’s response , Israel had to do something with so many rockets being fired indiscriminately.

        • zkharya Says:

          So, Hizbullah didn’t use its own civilians and neighbourhoods as human shields? A host of these videos says different:

          http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hizwartoc.html

          Israel bent over backwards not to inflict civilian casualties, last time, subjecting her own personnel to needless danger.

        • Bill Says:

          There is a small problem — namely a blind spot you have the size of Texas with your take on Dahiya. I’m no fan of that policy to be sure, but the burden of war-crimage with Dahiya is with Hezbollah and anyone who deploys human shields. The law on this is explicit — and wistfully ignored anytime people like you see Israelis having to chose between warcriminals and terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah targeting their own civilians explicitly while daring the Israelis to shoot through the humans shields with whom they’ve girded themselves. The grisly fact is that Israel provides for its people’s civil defense, as so they should. H&H’s perverse take of CD is to put their charges before them, relying on apologists like you to give them… I believe the phrase is Hasbara.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Do you deny that accusations of anti-semitism has become a part of active Israeli diuplomacy in the last 6 months?’

          Do you mean do I deny some or individual Israeli diplomats or politicians have made accusations of antisemitism? No.

          And you have imputed a conspiracy of cynical, deceitful, organised Israeli ‘hasbara’, replete with rhetorical models, to a circle beyond even that of actual Israel diplomats.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘In addition to cries of anti-semitism for finding the Dahiya doctrine illegal under international law, there usually follows spews about Quisling, and how critisicing Israel without also critizising Sri Lanka, Burma, China, the killing of native indians, etc. etc. is anti-semitic in that it singles out Israel for critiscism. Wich is a definition tyhat makes conversations almost impossible.’

          It depends what you mean by ‘Dahiyah doctrine’. It’s not illegal to target the infrastructure of an enemy.

          It’s illegal to wage an eliminationist war against another state, as does Hizbullah, which is in a state of perpetual jihad against any kind of Israel. Against an eliminationist enemy, one may have to be eliminationist.

          The measures one takes against an enemy depend on the threat it constitutes, There is nothing in international law which treats of this subject, an eliminationist war being waged against another state by a non-state (yet, arguably, de facto state) actor, that hides among its civilian population.

          To call Israel ‘racist’ without acknowledging the arguably eliminationist racism of her enemies is to discriminate against her, to discriminate against the one Jewish state in the world and arguably to risk or facilitate her dissolution or destruction.

          If Norway isn’t going to address the problem of Hizbullah, Israel will.

          C’est tout.

          If you couldn’t protect your own Jews in 1940, you sure aren’t going to stop Israeli Jews’ protecting themselves now.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          I rest my case. The above entry exemplifies precisely what I meant. Notice the definitive sentences, the link between Jews and Israel (“the one Jewish state”) and the oh so subtle WW2 reference in the end.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘the link between Jews and Israel ‘

          Israel is the second or largest Jewish community in the world, certainly the one most obviously Jewish, and certainly the one most composed of survivors of the traumas and displacements in Europe and the Arab world, post 1914.

          You casually mention ‘Dohiya doctrine’, without specification, or mentioning the fact that Hizbullah is dedicated to jihad until Israel’s extinction i.e. is quite eliminationist towards Israel.

          No state has a weapon system that can address the mass rocket bombardment from mobile launchers that Israel faced in 2006. Israel did the best it could, making the mistake of placing its troops in harm’s way with piece meal incursions. A mistake she will not make in future.

          You omit that Hizbullah began hostilities in 2006, you omit that it is armed by Iran, and that UN decrees achieved nothing against it, nor could it, anymore than Norway.

          Israel will look to its own defence. You, it seems to me, want to tie at least one hand behind Israel’s back. Well, what can I say? I don’t think Israel will let you.

          The next time Hizbullah kills and kidnaps Israelis on Israeli soil, while rocketing Israeli towns (what began the conflict), I do not think they will get off more lightly, for all your efforts.

          You were a graduate. I am a post-graduate. I think I am a pretty smart, reasonable, rational guy, no less than you.

          There are a lot of people like me, a lot of Jews, who are also sympathetic with Israel’s position. I do not think what I say is insane, and I think it is pretty arrogant of you to say it is, and suggestive of an immaturity, moral and intellectual, and an unwillingness, or inability, to see things from the view of the Other i.e is something akin to the racism of which you accuse Israel.

          And, as I said, it is ridiculous to stress the alleged racism of, say, the ‘Dohiyah doctrine’, without reference to the racism of Hizbullah, which is quite eliminationist towards Israel, and quite antisemitic, by any standard.

          Which should give a Norwegian, with some knowledge of the fate of Jews in the face of such antisemitism, some pause for thought.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘the oh so subtle WW2 reference in the end’

          You introduced it into the conversation, nor so subtly, either.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘I also advocate sanctions against Israel until they recognbize the Goldstone report and comply wityh the demands of the UN to investigate Cast Lead properly.’

          The Goldstone report was instigated by OIC. And no other state has been subject to anything like it, historical or contemporary, despite being worse, far worse offenders.

          The UN hasn’t even censured the goverment of Sudan. OIC would never let it.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘The recent barrage of anti-semitism accusations from Lieberman’

          Understandable, given state praise for lines such as these ‘‘The Israelis knew well what they were doing. The purpose was to collectively punish the entire Palestinian population of Gaza [with] a merciless slaughter of women and children, old and young, men and women.’

          ‘It is my firm belief that until Israel is somehow made to pay economically for its attitude to the people under their occupation/control, they will continue to grow more and more filled with a sense of superiority, of destiny and of, unfortunately, racism and bigotry.’

          Is a dead giveaway. Asides the patent double standard in ignoring the eliminationist racism of Israel’s enemies, ‘more filled with a sense of superiority, of destiny and of, unfortunately, racism and bigotry.” shows Knutson holds Zionism/Israel already ‘filled with a sense of superiority, of destiny and of, unfortunately, racism and bigotry.’

          i.e. it looks like we have someone who already has a problem with Zionism and Jewish nationalism. ‘filled with’ i.e. pretty much, ‘essential as to’ etc.

          Knutson has just come here to Zionist Jew i.e. your average Jew bait, or ‘come out and play’, as he puts it. It may be a game to him. It isn’t to Israel, and it isn’t to us.

          If he’s only playing a game, why should we take him seriously?

  4. UCU and institutions that boycott « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] Goldstein (UCL) responds to boycotters’ defence of Norway’s University of Bergen for giving official consideration to an institution-wide boycott of […]

  5. Absolute Observer Says:

    Brian,
    Interesting isn’t it, how one raises issues pertaining to antisemitism (in this case its connection with a boycott of Israeli Jewish academics and only Israel Jewish academics) and immediately a “counter-calim” as James Baxter would phrase it, about israeli abuses presents itself; i.e. a way of silencing the issue of antisemitism.

    Perhaps the poster thinks that the treatment of Palestinians by the Israel justifies or directly causes antisemitism.
    It seems to be the line being pushed at the moment (once it was realised that antisemitism really does exist in relations to Israel).

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      AO, of course, they do it all the time, these members of the alphabet soup that is the boycott camp. They assert, repeat their assertions, add other assertions, as though mere repitition is evidence or will, somehow overwhelm us. As if!

      Sometimes, as in this case, they produce a document, which is clearly other than balanced, and expect us to roll over in surrender. They fail to realise that we, collectively, agree that many of these things are wrong (as similar actions would be in – name your country – a point they fail to make themselves, being one-eyed in this regard). We agree, but that doesn’t change the general point that nevertheless, Israel has a right to exist, etc etc.

      What it is, is that they are politically unsophisticated to the point of naivety. Which, regrettably, doesn’t reduce the danger they represent to the values of freeedom, freedom of speech and academic freedom, among m,any others.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    Brian,
    I agree, Manichianism has often stood in the way of real thinking and judging.

  7. Martin Knutsen Says:

    *delegitimize*

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    As the person who started all this, with the first response to “When and where did you Engage this???” (now revealed as Martin Knutsen), I guess I should also respond. Martin Knutsen says, inter alia, above: “I also advocate sanctions against Israel until they recognbize the Goldstone report and comply wityh the demands of the UN to investigate Cast Lead properly.”

    Martin K. clearly hasn’t bothered to read the extensive and detailed criticism of the Goldstone report, which indicates that Judge Richard Goldstone regrettably appears to be somewhat one-sided in his Report. (Regrettably, because of his sterling work in opposing apartheid and then helping to build the “rainbow nation”)

    This, in turn, leaves aside the nature of the UN Human Rights Committee which commissioned him to do the Report in the first place. Has MK examined the membership of this body lately? If not, why not? And may we have your considered opinion on the human rights records of the constituent states?

    Further, as the holder of a degree in military history, how about a considered opinion on the situation preceding Operation Cast lead? What of the several thousand rockets fired into Israel indiscriminately – not at defined military targets, but at civilian ones? What of the numerous warnings by Israel of what would happen if the de facto (possibly de jure) government of Gaza didn’t cease and desist – or cause those firing the rockets to cease and desist?

    And, while we’re about it, what about an opinion on the status of Israel as a sovreign nation, a member in good standing of the UN, the de facto government of which, however reluctantly, accepted the Partition Plan of 1947, unlike _all_ the others in the region? And have you read Benny Morris “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War”? If not, why not?

    This, I hope you realise, is just for starters. You say lots more that could bear serious examination, but answers as requested above will do to be going on with.

    And have you read, really read, “About Us” up there on the left-hand corner of this and every page? And perhaps you should search the site for the long discussions on the “Livingstone Formulation”: the “Search old and new Engage together” item, top right of every page, should get you there.

    I await your response with bated breath! (Not really, I’ve become real old a cynic in these matters. Shame really; I used to be such an optimist about human nature.)

    • Martin Knutsen Says:

      First of all, Im not the person who posted under “When & where” nick. Assumptions are not the best starting points for discussions.

      So, to the points: Contrary to your beliefs, I have actually read botht he Goldstone report and its critiscism. There does indeed seem to be somwhat of a bias, wich is a shame. It doesnt, however, undermine the claim that Israel used excessive force and struck at the infrastructure of Gaza in a way wich clearly had no military goals. This is clearly in accordance to the Dahiya doctrine, wich is what is really on trial here. If you give legitimacy to such an approach to warfare, then 9/11 becomes a legitimate act of war too, legalizing state-terrorism. I do not see how the human rights records of various other countries reflects on this, unless you want to do a “everybody else is doing it” defense. This is a matter of war, not of politics.

      As for the situation running up to Cast Lead, it can be observed that Hamas didnt break the hudna, Israel did that. Further, the comparative death-tolls show thatpalestinian civilian casulaties run around a 100:1. But even if we let that salient fact lie, the true crime comes from refusing aid to reach the innocent victims of the conflict. Through the continued siege of the traumatized suvivors, half of wich are below 18, in my opinion Israel has made itself guilty of crimes against humanity. Its as easy as that. As for the “Livingstone formulae”, ive answered that further below.

      Since this is ostensibly a socialist anti-nationalist site, I await with bated breath the first glimmer of engagement instead of a rhetorical defensive position. A classical rhetorical model is the one you apply here, asking rhetorical questions without offering any substance.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        As your first comment started in this way (reproduced below), it was a reasonable mistake to make on my part. However, I apologise for the error.

        “As a norwegian former university student, Ill gladly come out and play. Its rare to find some sane pro-Israel blogs, but this seems to be one of them, compliments.”

        However, to more concrete matters: “As for the situation running up to Cast Lead, it can be observed that Hamas didnt break the hudna, Israel did that.” Ah, now we have it: Israel was rocketing _itself_ and used this as a false causus belli! How silly of me not have recognised this.

        Come off it, Martin, you know as well as I do that either the military wing of Hamas was firing rockets into Israel, or the de facto Hamas government of Gaza was failing to stop the other organisations doing so. Hamas had declared a hudna, but still allowed rockets to be fired. And Hamas _didn’t_ break the hudna? Which planet are you living on?

        Let’s get this straight: Israel is a legitimate, sovreign state (the UN resolution of 1947 says so). As such it has a right to protect its territorial integrity and its citizens when attacked. Israel had voluntarily withdrawn from Gaza, having occupied it since 1967. The Palestinian authorities took over, and then Hamas staged a coup in Gaza and took sole power. After this, rockets started being fired into Israel, despite the Hamas self-declared hudna. The Israeli government re[peatedly warned the Gaza authorities what would happen if this rocket barrage did not cease. It didn’t stop. Israel attacked. Since when, very few rockets into Israel.

        What part of that don’t you understand? Then you have the nerve to make the following statement: ”
        Since this is ostensibly a socialist anti-nationalist site, I await with bated breath the first glimmer of engagement instead of a rhetorical defensive position. A classical rhetorical model is the one you apply here, asking rhetorical questions without offering any substance.”

        I asked a set of specific questions (actually, some of them very specific) and you have offered no answers to any of them. I suggested a book that you might read. You’ve ignored that. Neither I nor (many/most/perhaps all) the other respondents have offered a rhetorical response; on the contrary, we have been most specific.

        As for this being an “ostensibly a socialist anti-nationalist site”, well, that might be true for some here, it’s probably truer to say it is a socialist (at least many of us consider ourselves such) anti-nationalis_m_ site. Further, it is your responses which are starting to appear rhetorical: as I’ve already noted, you’ve not answered any of the specific questions I asked.

        As for the idea that the human rights records of other countries might not be relevant, they are exactly relevant when Israel is being attacked and condemned as though it is the worst offender against human rights in the world. Which leads to another question you have chosen to ignore: what of the human rights records of the countries which are members of UN Human Rights Committee which commissioned Judge Richard Goldstone in the first place ?

        We engageniks may or not be guilty of selectivty, but your selectivity is becoming breathtaking.

        Answers, please, answers, not further rhetoric and assertion.

        • Bill Says:

          “Hamas had declared a hudna, but still allowed rockets to be fired. And Hamas _didn’t_ break the hudna? Which planet are you living on?”

          Martin, are you citing the report that, among other things, “defined down” the definition of ceasefire so that Hamas could still launch or countenance the launch of rockets at a reduced rate yet still be “ceasing fire” while counting Israeli responses to the “ceasefire” as “breaking” a ceasefire that never really happened?

          You won’t find mindless apologists for Israel here, but few of us here have much tolerance for such belief stretching reports including Goldstone’s which has gotten plenty of sober and legitimate criticism — when you’ve lost B’tselem, consider credibility to be a dead stick.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Oh Brian, where to begin. “Come off it, Martin, you know as well as I do that either the military wing of Hamas was firing rockets into Israel, or the de facto Hamas government of Gaza was failing to stop the other organisations doing so.”

          This is a blatant rewriting of history. One of the parts of the hudna was the ending of the blockade of Gaza, something Israel never fulfilled. In addition, Israel continued its “targeted strikes” against targets in Gaza. “Rocket fire decreased by 98 percent in the four and a half months between June 18 and November 4 when compared to the four and a half months preceding the ceasefire” according to The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Israeli forces killed 6 Hamas operatives in a smuggling tunell on November 4th, wich was read as a break of the ceasefire by Hamas. So the answer to your question is: Im living in a world where I dont accept the main Israeli war-narrative since Ive bothered to read the actual chronology.

          What is more, Hamas didnt do a coup in Gaza so much as prevent a coup by the Palestinian US trained forces. Hamas won a election everybody deemed fair, and Israel then instituted its boycott and reopened its targeted assasination program in protest of the election and the subsequent Hamas feelers for normalization. Just as it did three days ago in answer to Hamas willingness to erase its chapter. Wich leads mne to the conclusion that the conflict is more complex than the “Hamas is evil, Israel is good” narrative you seem to have swallowed whole. It is a point of fact that the IDF needed that war after the 2006, and a lot of the actions leading up to that eruption can be seen in that light by a neutral mind.

          I still fail to see how the human rights records of other nations can have anything to do with the issue of Israel. As I fail to see how I have avoided answering you. Im still waiting for some sort of subatance, some sign that there is an ounce of critical thinking beyond reflexive Israel defense here. How do you see the future unfolding, sirs?

        • Bill Says:

          Yup. That’s the report, or one of them at least — but I remember bar graphs of the “ceasefire” and accompanying numbers didn’t look anywhere near a net 98% reduction in rocket launches. The term ceasefire was defined highly selectively and rather dishonestly to rationalize a wide range of latitude for Hamas to operate against Israel and zero latitude for Israel to respond to a regime that had no interest in peace but rather just downshifting temporarily.

        • zkharya Says:

          “As for the situation running up to Cast Lead, it can be observed that Hamas didnt break the hudna, Israel did that.”

          Hamas was digging a tunnel under the Gaza-Israel border, to kidnap Israeli soldiers (which Hamas called ‘defensive’), but a breach of any truce for any purpose.

          Hamas had repeatedly declared it would kidnap one or more Israeli soldier at the earliest opportunity. Israel wasn’t obliged to acquiesce in that.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Its rare to find some sane pro-Israel blogs’

          which rather suggests Knutson thinks being ‘pro-Israel’ is insane i.e. mad and mad, a lot like some people said of Jews, Jewishness and Judaism, long before any state of Israel, and for which reason a state of Israel largely had to come to be.

          But, then, Knutson is already saying Israel is ‘filled with a sense of destiny, racism, superiority, bigotry etc’, exactly as some people said of Jews, Jewishness and Judaism, long before any state of Israel, and for which reason a state of Israel largely had to come to be.

      • zkharya Says:

        ‘This is clearly in accordance to the Dahiya doctrine’

        Which is:

        if Hizbullah uses its towns and villages as military bases, to stock and re-supply, and as cover for rocket or any other offensives, they will be targetted, and inevitably undergo extensive damage.

        It is to be hoped that that deters Hizbullah from such offensives in future, but, if it doesn’t, too bad.

        That is the ‘Dahiya doctrine’.

        There is nothing intrinsically illegal in that. In any case, international law is deficient in addressing non-state (though, arguably, de facto state) actors like Hizbullah or Hamas, that have eliminationist aims and goals, inter alia, with regard to other states.

        The UN has proved useless in addressing Hizbullah.

        Israel must look to its own defence.

      • zkharya Says:

        ‘Further, the comparative death-tolls show thatpalestinian civilian casulaties run around a 100:1.’

        (I think 40:1, actually)

        Means nothing. The same was true in the first Gulf War, and many conflicts where victory was decisive.

        In any case, what would be acceptible? 1:1: impossible. 2:1, ditto. 10:1, difficult, managed in few instances, and Israel is not obliged to achieve this at the risk to her own troops and personnel.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Further, the comparative death-tolls show thatpalestinian civilian casulaties run around a 100:1.’

          Also, look at casualty figures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel’s actions are hardly dissimilar.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Afghanistan’

          Where serve Norwegian troops with NATO, which extensively deploys Israeli UAVs.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Where serve Norwegian troops with NATO, which extensively deploys Israeli UAVs.’

          Using Israel tactics, learned in Southern Lebanon and Gaza.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Bill: Im in no way sayinbg that Hamas were innocent as lambs in the runup to Cast Lead. I do however reject the image of Israel as the hapless victim. Rather, it was a back-and-forth of violations in both directions. With regards to the Nov. 4th incident, we have only IDFs word for what happened. It sure came at a favourable time.

          AH, the old five comments-in-a-row trick. Your last point that current NATO doctrine is learned from Israels approach to the Lebanese occupation is plain wrong. That was what the US tried in Iraq 2003-2006, and wich lead to the reassessment of US COIN-strategy encapsulated in FM 3-24. Again, I find youyr comparative arguments totaly out of context. We are not discussing US doctrine nor are we discussing Sudanese RoE. We are discussing a Israeli doctrine wich is clearly based on the concept of collective punishment and targeting of civilians. Quote Gadi Eisenkot: “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan.” Thats directly in opposition to current NATO doctrine.

          You can try to justify it, but please come clean: Its a policy that says that Israel is willing to kill children for attacks performed upon it. And it is in clear breach with international law. Now my guess is that most here do not care for international law, and thats fair enough. But please be honest about it.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan.” ‘

          All that means is that Israel will not respond 1 for 1, whether in terms of casualties or damage. Nobody ever does, that can, because it has no deterrent effect.

          If Hizbullah uses villages as bases, for supply or launching, Israel will treat them as such.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Its a policy that says that Israel is willing to kill children for attacks performed upon it. ‘

          NATO, the UK and US are willing to kill children, in Iraq and Afghanistan, as has prettyt much every state and force in history, past and present, not deliberately, but as an inevitable consequence of how the insurgents fight.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘Your last point that current NATO doctrine is learned from Israels approach to the Lebanese occupation is plain wrong.’

          Not just that. But Israel’s general experience in urban warfare. And NATO does use Israeli tactics, Not only Israeli tactics, but Israeli tactics nonetheless.

          http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16191

          ‘That was what the US tried in Iraq 2003-2006, and wich lead to the reassessment of US COIN-strategy encapsulated in FM 3-24.’

          Which is not a radical rejection of Israeli urban warfare tactics. It’s a fine tuning for the US’ special situation in Iraq.

          ‘The Israeli Defense Forces’ recent experience in Lebanon is another good example. There were many reasons for its failure, but one of them, as validated by scholars and analysts, is that its army had done almost nothing but COIN in the Palestinian territories, and its ability to fight against a strident enemy had atrophied. During the past few months a number of studies have been published on Israel’s 2008 operations in Gaza. What these reports show is that the Israeli military, especially its army, realized what had happened to them in Lebanon and took the intervening two years to get back to the basics of war fighting; critical competencies such as synchronizing fire, maneuver, and intelligence at all levels of command against a hostile force. The American Army would do well to pay attention to what the Israeli army has undergone in the past two years.
          The COIN zeitgeist has convinced many observers that conventionally trained and minded armies cannot do counterinsurgency warfare. This belief is not supported by history. Examples of success are the American Army in the Philippines, the British Army in Malaya, and the US Army in Vietnam and moreover in Iraq starting in 2003, not 2007. It is danger-
          ous, however, to think that this principle can operate in reverse, as the example of the Israelis in Lebanon demonstrates. Imagine how well the drive on Baghdad would have gone in 2003 if the American Army had spent the majority of its training time in the years prior learning to talk to sheiks, rebuild schools, or conduct negotiations.’

          http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:jT9OSRArQe4J:www.cffc.navy.mil/gentile.pdf+FM+3+24+COIN+israeli+tactics&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=firefox-a

          In other words, fine tuning COIN tactics works after the initial engagement, not before. The Israeli mistake in Lebanon was precisely because they engaged with Hizbullah, on its own terms, in piecemeal operations. They only cautiously committed themselves to a mass conventional incursion in the closing days of the war, when they pushed Hizbullah behind the Litani. That was why casualties were so high (which, by your definition, made the outcome more acceptible). They didn’t make that mistake in January 2009.
          And I draw your attention to Tim Collin’s observation to Gaza’s NOT being as bad as Falujah or Ramadi, which has been a running sore for 6 years.

          That’s plain rubbish. The US and Israel exchange urban warfare experience, tips and RandD.
          E.g. Israeli and US walls:
          http://www.mepc.org/journal_vol15/97Niva.pdf

          Israeli tactics have evolved with experience, even as has the US’.

        • zkharya Says:

          ‘AH, the old five comments-in-a-row trick.’

          Yes, because it must be a ‘trick’, mustn’t it? An ‘organised rhetorical model’, no less.

    • Martin Knutsen Says:

      Oh well, Brian, if it makes you happy, yet once more: Yes, Ive read the Goldstone report and Ive read both the official and Dershowitz “rebuttal” of it. And yes Im aware that several of the states in the founding of the comission have dubious human rights records. Ive answered elsewhere the question about the situation preceeding the Cast Lead op, and I disagree with your simplistic painting of the situation. If we leave aside the point of who broke the hudna, there is the fact that Gaza is the worlds largest juvenile prison, with 50% of the population below 18. To think that such a large mass of youths can be kept under control is an illusion. Hell, if I was living there I would fire rockets too. As to the whole 1948 discussion, I find it too irrelevant. Israel is there, and isnt going away.

      The issue at hand is, as I see it: Did Israel commit warcrimes, and should we support a boycot? In my opinion it is very clear that Israel, using weapons made among others in my country, commited and still comitts crimes against the international law. And that the only weapon we have wich hurts the one issue Israel is vulnerable in, pride, is a boycot of both symbolic and economic targets.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Martin, you are beginning to sound depressingly like so many of those who post here from an “Israel is committing crimes against humanity” stance. Let’s get this right: history is important. Without knowing it, we can have no idea how the present gets to be like it is. As a self-confessed historian, you should know that, so that a dismissive statement like “Israel is there, and isnt going away” actually says nothing without context.

        You know as well as I do that how Israel came into existence is vital to understanding why and how the present is as it is. It is also vital to understand the eliminationist ideologies of both Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as of their major sponsor, Iran (you could do worse than read Philip Spencer’s contribution, above, to the UCU seminars on Antisemitism…, especially his quotations from Omer Bartov).

        However, you prefer to dismiss all this and ignore the background to the situation. To do otherwise would fatally undermine your major thesis (which appears to be as noted in my comment in inverted commas in the first paragraph of this comment). Unfortunately, it is not a mere side-issue that many of the states (and those pulling the strings) making up the UN HRC have appalling human rights records, objectively far worse than anything that Israel can be, objectively and with evidence, accused of. Rightly, you note that: “And yes Im aware that several of the states in the founding of the comission have dubious human rights records.” Unfortunately, you appear to think that this is irrelevant to the report by Goldstone or the general attitude and resolutions passed by this body. And, by the way, I’m not thinking of the Dershowitz rebuttal of the Goldstone report. If you are prepared to request it of the moderators here, I’m quite happy to forward to you, via them, a 26 page critique of Goldstone’s report by a fellow South African lawyer.

        I would have thought that the human rights record of Sudan, Lybia, Iran…would give _anyone_ pause when they started damning another state, especially when we also notice that these are also Islamic states and that one of them (at least) sponsors (and shares the ideology of) eliminationists organisations.

        It is no rebuttal to say that: “If we leave aside the point of who broke the hudna, there is the fact that Gaza is the worlds largest juvenile prison, with 50% of the population below 18.” Surprisingly, it is not Israel’s fault that this is the case. If (apart from the actual political leaders of the Palestinians and their direct backers and sponsors) anyone is to blame, it is the 60+ years ideology of UNRRWA (that not only the actual displaced but their descendants, yea even unto the nth generation are refugees) that has created this situation. How very different from the ideology of the UNHCR. You might well say (the Cherie Blair response) “Hell, if I was living there I would fire rockets too”, but that still doesn’t, per se, indict Israel.

        What I don’t notice you saying is that, in firing rockets, quite deliberately, at civilian targets, Hamas (prior to Cast Lead) was committing war crimes/crimes against humanity. I don’t notice you condemning Hamas for using the population of Gaza as human shields. I don’t notice you acknowledging that Hamas fired rockets and other armanents from positions adjacent to UN buildings in gaza, or schools or mosques. Funny that. (Actually, no, it’s not funny, it’s to be expected.) It’s interesting to note that there are as many people arguing that Israel didn’t commit war crimes as did: one such is a Colonel Kemp (UK). If you ask nicely, the editors might post it on the site: like the critique mentioned above, I don’t have a web link, unfortunately, but I have sent it to the editorial team.

        All this, at great length, is to reiterate that you might dismiss as ludicrous the suggestions that you read things, as though this is a red herring, when in fact it is evidence: something your contributions have been peculiarly lacking in. You continually assert and reassert and failto provide anything resembling evidence and dismiss as silly our evidence. Can’t have it both ways, Martin.

        And by the way, you _still_ haven’t offered any answers to the 10 questions I posed way up their on this thread. How about some?

  9. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    All praise to Martin Knutsen because: “Ive faced the nazis in the streets all over Scandinavia (and have the scars to prove it) and Im fully aware of the real anti-semitism existing both in nazi and muslim circles.” However, this doesn’t, therefore, absolve left-wingers from being (as they sometimes are, regrettably, these days) antisemitic. Martin K should read Nick Cohen “What’s Left?”. Do that, and come back with a considered critique as to why Nick Cohen is wrong, as well as the already requested reading of the literature on this site on the Livingstone Formulation, and we might styart taking you even more seriously.

    At the moment, you appear to be just digging a deeper hole.

    • Martin Knutsen Says:

      My goodness, why dont you try to argue instead of assigning me a study-course Brian?

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Why don’t you answer the questions put to you, Martin, instead of posting smart-alec replies that signally _fail_ to answer the point put to you? You assert (no argument, just assertion) that we indulge in rhetoric, then indulge in rhetoric yourself.

        I put 10 direct questions to you in my first response to Martin Knutsen and, so far, you have not answered any of them. Instead, you indulge in evasion and assertion.

        Sounds like so many posters who are opposed to the work Engage is attempting to do.

  10. Bill Says:

    “I rest my case. The above entry exemplifies precisely what I meant. Notice the definitive sentences, the link between Jews and Israel (“the one Jewish state”) and the oh so subtle WW2 reference in the end.”

    Uh Martin… Hamas’s charter does not speak of killing the Zionist behind the tree but the Jew. Hamas’s beef with Israel is not about it being the “one Jewish state” but the one state in a region where Jews don’t have to ask permission to be Jewish — permission from people like Hamas.

  11. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    By the way, has anyone yet drawn attention to this early comment by Martin Knutsen “Its rare to find some sane pro-Israel blogs, but this seems to be one of them, compliments.”? If I’ve missed a response, apologies. Perhaps MK might care to elaborate on his comment? Or, given the reception he has received, perhaps he might now wish to withdraw his praise? Matters not to me: I’d rather have answers to the questions I’ve posed.

    • Martin Knutsen Says:

      Hmm, you seemed sane at the time. Right now it seems that you are the first Likudnik socialist movement I have come across, because I have yet to see one single point that seems like A) a original thought, B) critiscism of Nethanyahus approach to Gaza or C)any suggestion of solution-oriented argument. It reminds me of discussing with old hard core stalinists back in the early 90s.

      • zkharya Says:

        i.e. you think we are just like all the other pro-Israel sites you wanted to play with.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          zak: its very hard for me to answer 50 different postings. This is not a mania for me, as it seems to some of you. Your argumentation-technique seems way agressive to me, I have been honestly trying to engage the people I disagree with in conversation. You remember that concept? Instead, all you give me is readings of my soul, and made up arguments. If it makes you happy, good luck with the manichean look on life and the universe, good vs. evil, orcs vs. elves. I hope you sleep well at night. I dont, because of the kids of Gaza, several of whom I have met personally.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Martin , i’ve deleted your latest comment because it was just an insult with no actual point. I know zkarya has a habit of posting his points one at a time and if you don’t want to answer that’s fine. But please leave out the insults and perhaps spend your time debating what people have wrote instead of giving a continous commentary on debating tactics. And that goes to everyone.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Does anything else keep you from sleeping at night Martin ?

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Martin Knutsen, you clearly have not read this site with any great degree of attention, otherwise you would know that many who comment here are opposed to the policies of the Netanyahu government, opposed to successive Israeli governments failures to stop (let alone remove) the settlements on the West Bank, and are _very_ firm believers in the two-state solution as the only viable long-term solution.

        So: (a) stop insulting us by pretending that you see us as other than we really are: no-one reacts positively to being told that what their words or actions _really_ mean is other than what it obviously is; (b) read up on the Livingstone Formulation – I’ve already given you directions as to how to do that, and Bill has explained in words of not too may syllables what it is; (c) read “About Us” up there on the top left-hand side of each page, so that you can stop the false naivety of pretending we are other than what we are; (d) answer the questions and points put to you, and stop pretending that you aren’t being directly addressed: as you can already see, no-one is taking you seriously with your continued assertions and rhetorical (as opposed to substantive) points; (e) use your self-proclaimed degree in military history and apply it to the Middle East; and, finally, (f) either do the reading recommended to you, or shut up about people giving you reading lists. In case you are intent in pretending otherwise, this is actually evidence being offered, unlike your continued assertion.

        • Martin Knutsen Says:

          Damn, Brian, I didnt know I was applying for membership of anything. Im quietly concluding that this site has nothing to offer exzcept arrogance and folks writing in declarative sentences. You folks are fine with the Dahiya doctrine of killing civilians in revenge for attacks, otherwise known as pogrom thinking (wich can be seen among the settlers already). You folks are fine with bombing Beirut in answer to “provocations”. Im not. Wich means we are on the opposite side. Discussion closed.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          At last, the real Martin Knutsen stands up: he is not interested in argument, evidence, let alone debate, but only in damning Israel. Given his ahistorical approach (surprising in a historian, but then we _are_ talking about the Middle East and Jews here), it should surprise no-one that he ignores the inconvenient truth that the “pogroms” (what a revealing word!) were started by the Arab inhabitants of Palestine against the Jews and that most (but not all) the violence the Israelis (Jews) use is responsive. Which is _not_ to excuse the various policies of successive Israeli governments towards the West Bank and Gaza.

          A thorough reading of the sources we have offered to him would have shown him that.

          Why am I not surprised that he rejects all this.

          By the way, Martin, the only membership you were being offered (and the invitation was withdrawn long ago) was to a debating club, or a discussion circle aimed at fighting antisemitism and other forms of racism. It wasn’t to join a love-in of Israel. If you thought otherwise, you _really_ haven’t been reading these pages with any care (let alone ignoring invitations to click on “About Us” or find out about the Livingstone Formulation). And, again, if you thought otherwise, by no means all the anti-boycotters, anti-antisemites, anti-anti-zionists on these pages are Jewish. Numerous of them are not (I am, but that’s my problem), but they are fascinated by fair-mindedness, evidence and its proper use, and the equal treatment of all groups prepared to offer the same deal to all other groups.

          If you can’t understand that, perhaps you should find a discussion site where you will be most welcome by others who prefer only to pat each other on the back. Or, as Harry Truman put, while US President, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.

  12. Martin Knutsen Says:

    PS: Somewhere in zkharyas screed of posts, he writes the following: “I do not think what I say is insane, and I think it is pretty arrogant of you to say it is”. After just having complimented the site on its apparent sanity, thats a pretty long leap to make. I normaly hate psychologizing debates, but hey, zac, youre projecting. Youre assigning me arguments.

    Further, I haver never said the Dahiya doctrine is racistic, but that it breaks international law for acceptable conduct in warfare. If Israel wants to go the road of collective punishment of civilians as part of its new doctrine, then I feel a boycott is in good order, especially of military materiel. (Hellfires are partly made in Norway.)

    Im willing to state that parts of the Israeli state is built on bigotry, religious discrimination, but thats another debate.

    • zkharya Says:

      You said all pro-Israel sites, and, presumably, their posters, were insane, bar this. And you put me in the category of ‘exactly what I was talking about’ i.e. the former.

      It is not illegal to target enemy infrastructure.

      And you did put ‘Dahiya’ in the category of ‘racist etc’.

      And you implied the Israel was already ‘filled with a sense of destiny, bigotry, racism, superiority etc’.

      As for Hellfire,

      are you sure Norway doesn’t just manufacture part of its own variant?

      http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/1998/news_release_980929n.htm

  13. zkharya Says:

    ‘Do you deny that Hasbara in these days more and more seems to include charges of anti-semitism, seen in light of the new diplomatic drive of FM Lieberman?’

    As though there is an international Jewish conspiracy to cynically justify Israel’s alleged crimes.

    ‘But this new tendency to assign the term to critics of Israel seems to me indeed to be an organized rhetorical model employed by the hard right to delimitize the opposition. Karl Rove is a master of the same technique.’

    ‘organized rhetorical model’

    Anti-racist, anti-fascist indeed.

  14. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Rather than go over the same ground with someone who manages to evade replying to direct questions, even though they say they are replying (but if they are, it’s highly selective), I think I’ll wait until MK responds to my comment posted on 2 February at 12.33 am. It’s the one that starts
    “Martin Knutsen, you clearly have not read this site with any great degree of attention…”

    And I’d still like answers to the 10 questions I posed to MK way back up there. They haven’t been answered, whatever MK may think (or perhaps he thinks everyone will have forgotten by now – fat chance).

  15. Jonathan Romer Says:

    I’m too late to this argument to be able to join in usefully, else I would remark on Martin Knutsen’s partisan selectivity and distortion, but I will say this:

    Martin, you described yourself, I think, as anti-racist. In that case it’s time you took something properly on board. When a Jew tells you you have said something antisemitic, when a black person tells you you have embraced a prejudiced position, or when a woman tells you you are being sexist, 99 times out of 100 they mean it. Not one time in 100 is the claim being used cynically, to shut you up — particularly not by Jews, because it patently doesn’t work for them, does it? They might be wrong — or you might be. As an anti-racist you have a responsibility to consider that, however unintentionally, the fault may be yours. You might conclude that you’re not guilty, and perhaps that will be true; then again perhaps not, but you might be one of those rare individuals that accepts criticism. You’ll never know unless you consider it as a possibility. You raise the issue of things that stick in the craw of Norweigians: One that sticks in Jewish craws is this blanket refusal, almost invariably from the supposed Left, to accept that Jews who say ‘antisemitism’ say so in good faith. It renders your claim of anti-racism not just suspect, but void.

  16. Bill Says:

    “..the kibbutzim ideal wich I grew up with being romanticized.”

    (well everyone has their grow-up moment. Exodus wasn’t exactly a Rogers and Hammerstein musical.)

    As for is Israel playing the AS card? Well here’s the deal. First your question is dishonestly posed. Bad Premise 1) the charges of Antisemitism are bogus (I’m assuming). Bad Premise 2) the (assumed) bogus charges of antisemitism went on the rise as soon as Bibi & Leibi took over.

    Backing into the garage with Premise 2 first. Now that the Jews everyone loves to hate have taken over (and you’re not going to find a lot of fans of them here but we will defend them when they are treated unfairly), criticism of Israel is on the rise. File that one under “Duh.” More still with N&L fronting as the punching bag for Israel, it’s just a little easier (a little? pshaw!) to let loose on Israel — real loose! Right after the election there was a goodly amount of drama and outrage as to how dare the people we’ve been demonizing for years this time actually DID decided put their mean machines up front. Even if you presume that the ratio of non-AS to AS comments stayed the same (I’ve hard arguments that they haven’t and even one that they’ve gone down slightly). An increase in the total number likely means a number of valid charges. More still, the binding of any Jews anywhere to Israel by Zionists, but even more by “Globalized Anti-Zionists” (since that’s where L.F. comes in) counts in the antisemitism tally.

    Which brings us to Premise 1. And thus…. When someone calls Lucy Van Pelt a tapestry of profanities that can only be taylor made for Lucy (and ignoring that Charlie is a blockhead who can’t kick a ball or manage a baseball team, I mean Puleese!) and some of those will inevitably include the B- and C- words, the caller cannot insist that he’s just criticizing Lucy’s whipping away the football from Charlie Brown, nor can they hide from the assertion that they may have some … “internalized” (see I’m giving them the benefit if some doubt… misogyny.

    The Livingston Formulation has given those who fall off the rhetorical wagon regarding israel plenty of cover by first providing the arguments that arguments against Israel cannot be antisemetic — no matter how one sided, no matter how orgasmic. And that any call to discuss antisemitism outside of Israel, is just an excuse to stop bashing Israel.

    So do cut the Bravo Sierra, please. It’s not incredible to say that AS incidents have gone up — and with it the likelihood of crazy gluing of Jews to Israel by G-A”Z”s. And Israel (and for that matter, the US, UK, Norway, China and any other country) has every right to discuss it and show concern. If Frank hits Susan and blames it on Mary, Mary has every right to call Frank a misogynist. Same goes here.

    • Bill Says:

      Poopie! I need to start diagramming my sentences, or let the coffee kick in.

      “Right after the election, there was a goodly amount of drama and outrage over how after all those years of demonizing ‘Those People’ finally DID put their mean machines up front.” (that’s better).

      And it brings up another Premise. #3: With the change in administration to one headed by B&L, the antisemitism levied against Israel and the world of Globalized Zionist, now and in the past, has been validated. That’s not a valid premise either.

  17. Martin Knutsen Says:

    Bill: While I dont have the URL at hand, a US official militaryreport on the 2006 war concluded with the fact that Hezbollah did NOT use human shields, firing over 90 % of their rockets from unpopulated area, and fighting toe to toe with the Israeli army with great sucess. This is the whole basis for the Dahiya doctrine, the realization that IDF couldnt fight the Hezb in infantry combat due to their level of competence. SO that, like the rocket rain preceding the break of the hudna, seems to me to be another histircal revision. Sorry.

    • zkharya Says:

      ‘This is the whole basis for the Dahiya doctrine, the realization that IDF couldnt fight the Hezb in infantry combat due to their level of competence.’

      So what really upsets you is that Israel has realised that fighting Hizbullah on its own terms is not in her interests, as Eisenkot admitted. There is no remote system that can address hundreds of individual katyusha launches a day, and Israel is not obliged to sacrifice her personnel in a futile attempt to do so.

      And Israel is not obliged to let Hizbullah use her villages and neighbourhoods as part of her campaign and think to benefit thereby. Israel is not obliged to endure such a barrage merely because Hizbullah thinks using her civilian centres to stock, re-supply, launch and coordinate her campaign grants it and them impunity.

      Especially given the UN’s complete failure to reinfore 1701.

      • zkharya Says:

        Knutson thinks Hizbullah is entitled to rocket Israel with impunity, even as he thinks he, as a Gazan, would be entitled to bombard Sderot.

      • Bill Says:

        (The UN’s own peacekeepers in the field discount this. They reported quite clearly that that Hezbollah were explicitly operating close to UN facilities so that fire would be directed to the peacekeepers. Credibility meter now at 11)

    • Bill Says:

      Additionally, as with like the “98%” reduction in rocket attacks (still the dodgiest of ceasefires), you can’t be 10% (or 2%) pregnant when it comes to human shields. Especially when any collateral damage rate will be demonized when it comes from Israel, yet the willful and malicious targeting of civilians as strategy, first-middle-and-last, will be romanticized as “resistance.”

  18. zkharya Says:

    ‘using weapons made among others in my country’

    I take it you mean the sea launched Hellfire system. I thought that was Swedish? When did Israel last use those, as a matter of interest?

  19. Richard Gold Says:

    Martin “But at the same time, I see many many instances where the accusation of anti-semitism is used as a tool to silence critics. Again, FM Lieberman and his new “diplomatic effort” seems the clearest example. My point is that I very rarely see pro-Israel folks pointing this out harshly. Wich is bloody annoying for those of us who now and then try to engage those who think differently for us.”

    I don’t think it happens as often as you claim. Infact your examples seem to be anonymous bloggers on blogs. For sure Lieberman being a far right reactionary uses it. But he would wouldn’t he. Can you show me mainstream organisations in Britain or Europe who use this tactic. It certainly doesn’t happen very often and for every time it happens there are numerous examples of real antisemitism under the guise of anti-zionism or under the guise of claiming only to be critical of Israel.

    It’s funny you said that if you lived in Gaza you would be firing rockets. This reminded me of Lib Dem Jenny Tonge who had said that she would consider being a suicide bomber. She then went on to say “THE PRO-ISRAELI LOBBY HAS GOT ITS GRIPS ON THE WESTERN WORLD” , “I THINK THEY’VE PROBABLY GOT A CERTAIN GRIP ON OUR PARTY”.

    Jenny Tonge claims that all she is doing is criticising Israel. You want more examples ?

    BTW , It’s a few years old now but try reading this
    http://www.yale.edu/yiisa/workingpaper/hirsh/David%20Hirsh%20YIISA%20Working%20Paper1.pdf

  20. Richard Gold Says:

    Martin – i left a long comment re antisemitism but i lost it in the ether. So very quickly. For every person who is accused of being an antisemite (either by Lieberman or some anonymous commenter on a blog) there are several examples of politicians , so-called supporters of Palestine solidarity , “anti-imperialists” etc who use conventional antisemitic themes. But all we hear is people crying that all they are doing is criticising Israel and being silenced for doing so – when it#s obvious what they have said is antisemitic. In the UK we have examples in the UCU , Stop The War Coalition , The Green Party , Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign , The House Of Lords , etc, etc. This is the main issue Martin (or it should be for anti-racists anyway when it concerns Jews).

  21. Martin Knutsen Says:

    Richard: Again, thank you for politeness. I understand that my comment about “If I lived there…” may seem offensive. It was not intended to. What I meant to send across is that I have experienced enough police-repression in different countries (including jail a couple of times) to understand the rage of a 16 year old traumatized person. If I was 18 and in Gaza, I *would* propably be contributing to “the resistance”. Not from a islamist ideological point, but from a soldiers pov. I know Norwegian Lebanon veterans who fought with Hezballah in 2006 because they had married down there. We simply have two different narratives about the conflict. My point is that yours is the naive one. With all due respect.

    I do not excuse the ideological anti-semitism in Hezbollah and Hamas or even Fatahs charters. But I do understand why they fight.

  22. Martin Knutsen Says:

    First of all: I find the topography of this site utterly confusing. So I answer from my mail, and sum it up, no rhetorical trick intended. (The text in the 7th answers cramp my window.)

    Richard: We are mostly in agreement, and would propably be able to have a beer in discussion without any shouting. We disagree on the boycot issue, I suppose, I find the Dahiya doctrine utterly reprehensible. And I think that justifies a call for boycot, since its a dramatic divergence from most western military thinkers views on how to handle the GWoT. Read the Attackerman (Spencer Ackerman) blog, a jewish punkrocker who writes about military issues?

    zkha: hasbara exists. ANd like any governmental IO campaign, it is cynical decietful etc. Thats the reason Im a bit shocked to find the IDF narrative being used as a basic understanding of the Cast Lead scenario. The himan shields in 2006 and 2008, the denial of use of w.P., there is just so many indicators. I try to think like a policeperson when judging evidence. And on evidence, Dahiya is a crime. It is costing Israel Turkey as an ally. I dont see much good coming out of it.

    • zkharya Says:

      ‘Dahiya is a crime. It is costing Israel Turkey as an ally’

      Hypocrite: you wanted Israel to lose more soldiers in a fight with Hizbullah on its terms. Forget it.

      Islamist Turkey was never a good prospect. Erdogan is looking to Iran and Syria.

    • zkharya Says:

      ‘zkha: hasbara exists.’

      You mean explanation exists, of course.

      ‘ANd like any governmental IO campaign, it is cynical decietful etc.’

      But nothing gets your juices going like explanation from Israeli Jews, does it? Nothing on earth.

      You also imputed an internation conspiracy to a wider circle than the Israeli goverment.

      Brave little you. Fighting neo-Nazis and antisemites who constitute virtually no threat to you at all.

      And you were really sore Israeli generals decided they were not going to send their men into Hizbullah’s and Hamas’ killing fields in future, weren’t you?

      Well, even if Israel’s Super Dvora Hellfires do come from Norway, I am happy to say that it is unlikely to make an iota of difference to Israel’s largely land locked future battles with Hizbullah and Hamas.

      And they certainly aren’t going to slaughter themselves for you.

  23. Richard Gold Says:

    BTW – A couple of people have pointed out how comments are not being shown in their correct order. Mira is the techie and i’ve asked her to take a look. Apologies for this.

  24. zkharya Says:

    Now that most of Europe’s Jews are gone, Knutsen thinks he is so brave and noble in fighting an antisemitism that is largely irrelevant to the millions of dead and departed.

    He just wants to punish the largest and most Jewish community in the world, and teach it how to fight its enemies (by getting its soldiers killed on the killing grounds of Hizbullah and Hamas).


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