Monthly Archives: June 2015

Radical Thoughts on Fighting BDS

I was just on a panel at the IDC Herzliya Conference about BDS and Europe. [My remarks made to the panel treated BDS as a cogwar campaign to destroy Israel, one of the most coveted desires of the apocalyptic millennial set (and many other Arabs and Muslims, alas).]

This is the second such discussion I’ve been in (the previous one, on Wednesday past is here in French), and below are some of the thoughts they both have inspired.

If Others Think It’s Our Fault, It Is.

People who identify themselves as “left” consistently pooh-pooh the problem on the one hand, and then turn around to say, “and if we [Israel] weren’t so bad, if our behavior didn’t seem so close to South African apartheid, then we wouldn’t be having these problems.” So on the one hand, “it’s not a big deal,” and on the other hand, “it’s our fault.”

Of course what they mean by “our fault,” is not their fault, but the “right’s” fault – Bibi, Hotovely, Bennett, the settlements, the occupation, and any other Israeli action that provokes anger among outsiders, whether they be Arab or Western. “As long as the ‘right’ keeps talking and acting the way it does, it’s impossible to win the fight against BDS. If we uprooted the settlements, then the BDS advocates wouldn’t find so sympathetic an audience.” To paraphrase Roland Freudenstein, a foreign panelist, most sympathetic to Israel, “explain and defend everything you do, including the wall, including the occupation. But building settlements?!? Seriously, Settlements?!”

As for disagreements with figures like Obama and Kerry, their perception, even if false, trumps our sense of reality. One Israeli panelist at the IDC actually dismissed the Levy Commission’s ruling on the legality of the settlements, by invoking Ban Ki Moon, “certainly no anti-Semite” (and also, no lawyer). The invocation of Moon was not about legal reasoning, but about international perception. If that’s the way the world thinks, don’t fight it. If the world sees the settlements as an illegal move that prevents peace, then it’s up to Israel to bend. As one of my (former) colleagues once said to me during the early years of the intifada, “I support Israel, but Sharon! ShaRON!.”

The situation, as I see it, is the opposite. It’s not the right that’s responsible for the loss to BDS, but the progressive left, which should have won this particular battle against the demonization of Israel handily. Indeed, the attitude of submission that it argues we Israelis should take – if the “vast majority” (apparently a favorite meme in more than one place) believes we shouldn’t have settlements, then so be it – is the reason why progressives have folded in the face of aggressive Islamist demands. 

Student Email to Pessin Describes SGA Meeting of March 26

In this student email to Pessin, a member of the Student Government Association describes how the body was pressured into throwing out procedure and rushing through a condemnation of Pessin. Later, Aparna Gopalian, editor of opinion page of College Voice and member of the SGA, reflected on how successfully they bent that body to their activist will.

Student Account of GSA, March 26

Richard Landes, “Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel” March 30, 2015

Richard Landes,“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel…” from ISGAP on Vimeo.

Seminar Series:
Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective

“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel as the 21st Century Antichrist”

Richard Landes
Department of History,
Boston University

Monday, March 30, 2015, 5:30PM
ISGAP Center, 3rd Floor

Nuggets from the Pessin Affair: For Inclusiveness against Essentializing

As those following this blog know, I’ve been uploading documents on the Pessin Affair, a remarkable and terrifying moment when Connecticut College became Salem on the Thames.

As I sift through the evidence, the arguments employed by faculty when discussing the issue offer interesting insights into the kind of discourses that allowed the public sphere in the college be seized by cognitive Jihadis, driving an entire university community, with only the dimmest awareness of what they were doing, to conduct a human sacrifice in the name of inclusivity. Post modern shades of Rene Girard’s theory of sacrifice.

One of the memes much in use is that of the “equality of all cultures.” What this allegedly multi-cultural sentiment actually means in practice, however, is a dogmatic projection of a Western culture which has, by and large, renounced violence, encouraged individuality and diversity, and chosen to resolve disputes through public discussion. Combined with “moral equivalence,” this notion of cultural equality permits critics to equate acts that have vastly different moral and cultural settings and meanings.

This projection, which had something of a dogmatic sanctity to it, operated on two critical planes during the Pessin episode, granting to the “hurt students” all respect and concern for their feelings, despite the fact that they tendentiously interpreted Pessin’s remarks, and were “coming from a place” of war and not peace.

On a second plane, it operated to equate Israeli/Jewish culture and Palestinian/Muslim. Following up on comments outlining the wide range of beliefs and attitudes within the variegated Jewish community (i.e., opening up a place for Jewish colleagues to dissent from Pessin’s tone and opinions), a colleague insisted that everyone also should acknowledge the same for

… the much larger populations of Arab and non-Arab Muslims and Arab Christians worldwide who are nearly as diverse in their political and religious affiliations as culture itself. We must take care not to conflate these groups or essentialize them in our social / political / religious discourse.

Would this were true. On the contrary, the near-total homogeneity of the 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet when it comes to the political issue of Israel is nothing short of astonishing. There is vastly more variety of political opinion about the Arab-Israeli conflict, openly expressed, in .2% of the global population (12 million Jews), than there is in almost 20% of the global population (1.6 billion Muslims) about Israel. If this astonishing uniformity of opinion is a form of “essentializing,” then Muslims essentialize themselves by peer pressure and policing the narrow borders of dissent with violence, both state- and sect- driven.

Ironically, this professor’s advice not to conflate or essentialize contradicts his empirical assertions: he conflates Muslim and Jewish culture as “equally diverse in political matters,” and thus fails to understand the very dynamics that make this  conflict so adamantine.

Remarks at Herzliya Conference 2015: BDS, Europe, and Jihadi Cogwar

BDS as a Cognitive War Campaign of Global Jihad

I wish to focus today on BDS as a Cognitive War campaign of Global Jihad, more specifically, since it’s the topic of our panel, a campaign for the conquest of Europe for Islam. My remarks, therefore, do not refer to all Muslims or to Islam as a whole, but on a particular salvific (i.e. millennial) movement within Islam for world conquest, one best called Global Jihad. In the Jihadi strategy for Islamizing the world, Israel plays a key role, both strategically and practically. To grasp its significance, however, one must view this from the perspective of their cognitive war against infidels. The goal of cogwar is for a weaker combatant to defeat a much stronger enemy by getting him not to use his superior strength. Historically, from the Maccabees to the Vietcong, most cogwar has been defensive, striving to kick out invaders. Today, Global Jihad conducts an imperialist cogwar designed to get the West not to resist an invasion of its own culture. The following is a brief analysis of Global Jihad’s cogwar strategy with particular attention to the role of BDS in its European theater of war.

Strategically speaking, the elimination of Israel constitutes the primary initial military goal for global jihad. Israel represents the most painful slap in the face of Arab and Muslim honor, a global humiliation, a Naqba, the symbol of Arab and Muslim impotence in the modern age. Destroying Israel would whiten the Arab world’s blackened face and restore its honor, its manhood. And with Jerusalem finally, again, in Muslim hands, the apocalyptic process of world redemption will advance. No single event would more powerfully drive Muslim faithful to join the apocalyptic Jihad for world conquest, than the fall of Israel. By the same logic, nothing would be more counter-indicated for the West than to support the Jihadi campaign to destroy Israel.

And yet that is precisely what has happened over the first 15 years of the 21st century in two major theatres of war: Israel, and Western democracies (primarily Europe). On the Israeli front, Palestinian Jihadis deliberately provoke IDF reactions that inevitably hurt Palestinian civilians, and then count on the MSNM to blame Israel for the Palestinian suffering whose images they run 24/7. Fired by the lethal narratives fed them as news by journalists and NGOs, including self-accusing Jewish and Israeli ones, world outrage forces Israel to withdraw, sparing the Jihadis who then rearm.

Some Recent Videos of Richard Landes

 

 

At an Anti-BDS Conference at University of Baltimore Law School organized by SPME, April 27, 2015:

 

At BU Conference on Apocalyptic Jihad, May 4, 2015:

 

 

Sur I24 News (français): Débat sur le BDS avec Marius Schattner, Dror Even Sapir, et moi. Hôte: Jean-Charles Banoun.