Sunday, June 06, 2010

"Death to the Arabs" Followup

Apparently this isn't a one-off thing. From Professor Neve Gordon, about the pro-government demonstration at Ben-Gurion University:

A group of opposition students from Ben-Gurion University prepared a big banner on the street near their off-campus apartment: ‘15 Dead. The Israeli government, as usual, has its reasons, and the Zionist majority, as usual, extends its support.’ Their neighbours spat on them and called them ‘cunts’, ‘whores’ and ‘traitors who love Arabs’ until the students fled...
...At one point a Jewish provocateur, who is not a member of any group (and could even be a police agent), raised his hand in the air: ‘Heil Lieberman!’ The response of the pro-government students was immediate: ‘Death to the Arabs!’ Luckily the university security managed to create a wedge between the protesters, and in this way prevented the incident from becoming even more violent.
These people obviously do not speak for all Jews or all Israelis; these "counter-demonstrations", however, were much larger than the demonstrations over the flotilla massacre. Students don't tend to be hard-core right-wingers either.
Either way, the quotations above are incredibly disturbing. "Cunts"? "Whores? "Traitors who love Arabs?" And they spat on them?

This whole "traitor" thing seems to be more and more of an issue, too:

A Palestinian student with a Palestinian flag was shoved and had his flag torn from him by some of the pro-government protesters, who were chanting: ‘No citizenship without loyalty!’ In response, the Jewish and Palestinian oppositionists shouted: ‘No, no, it will not come, fascism will not come!’ and ‘Peace is not achieved on the bodies of those killed!’...
...[p]ro-government students interviewed in the press said they were ’shocked to see faculty members, together with students from the left and Arab students shouting slogans against Israel’. Their classmates posted pictures of the protests on Facebook, asking likeminded students to ‘identify their classroom “friends”’.
Anybody else find this incredibly disturbing? "No citizenship without loyalty"? To what, Israel? Or is it to Likud/Beiteinu?  And Are they seriously assuming a minority's disloyalty? Without any irony?
It's not that surprising, mind you. The same thing happens in America all the time, but isn't Israel supposed to be different, all things considered? Hell, forget America, this sounds like something you'd get in CHINA, with its recent headlong rush towards hardcore nationalism. And just like in China, you're encouraged to turn in "dissidents".

Including the professor who wrote the blog entry:

A Facebook group was created to call for my resignation: by the end of the day more than 1000 people had joined. As well as hoping that I die and demanding that my family be stripped of our citizenship and exiled from Israel, members of this Facebook group offer more pragmatic suggestions, such as the need to concentrate efforts on getting rid of teaching assistants who are critical of the government, since it is more difficult to have me – as a tenured professor – fired.

What is troubling about these pro-government students is not that they are pro-government, but the way they attack anyone who thinks differently from them, along with their total lack of self-criticism or restraint. If this is how students at Israel’s best universities respond, what can we expect from the rest of the population?
Good question. Again, this is somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Pipes' campaign to remove "anti-semitic'  professors from American schools, with the added complication, of course, of Gordon being Jewish and thus reasonably immune to the charge. (Barring that "self-hating" stuff.)  Again, though, you would think that the Israelis would be a bit more accepting of controversy, considering their umpteen-thousand-year traditions of discussion and debate. Times change, I suppose. 

It speaks to why the IDF keeps on pushing these feeble arguments. (Of late they're admitting that they fired "warning shots" before hitting the deck, without realizing that that is an implicit admission that they fired first.) The point of the arguments is not to win the debate. The point of the arguments is to provide cover, so that voices of dissent from both within and without can be browbeaten into silence. Not surprising. But definitely disturbing, and a little sad. Israel was supposed to be better than this.

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