Addendum to the “Statement on Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip”

Scroll down to read the original 1/25/09 “Statement on Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip”

The Department of Ethnic Studies “Statement on the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip” has elicited a great deal of comment since it was posted in January of 2009. We have followed the responses with great interest and, in response, offer the following addendum to the original Department Statement on Gaza, with the goal of providing a context for our original statement.

As described in its vision statement, the intellectual and political goal of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego is to pursue the “comparative, relational, and interdisciplinary” study of “fundamental theoretical and political questions regarding the critical conceptualization of social categories…in order to interrogate questions of power, violence and inequality.” The department’s “Statement on the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip” exemplifies this larger intellectual project of critical engagement in the interests of social justice. All too often, outside and within the University, commentators express confusion regarding the ‘appropriate’ role of academic scholarship in controversial or political issues. As the University of California’s Policy on Academic Freedom reminds us, sound scholarship needs not be “dispassionate,” “disinterested” or concerned only with “the logic of the facts.” Rather, sound scholarship “can and frequently does communicate salient viewpoints about important and controversial questions” ( It is in this continued spirit of rigorous intellectual critique, and in the interest of maintaining productive dialogue, that we offer the following with the goal of clarifying our statement:

Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to produce and engage scholarship about how power operates in the production and execution of subjection and subjugation, including its most visceral enactments through institutional and individual practices of violence and death. Emerging out of the late 20th century political struggles of people of color in US and colonized peoples globally, ethnic studies scholarship understands the process of racialization and the implementation of racial violence as integral to the execution of power. In this sense, ethnic studies is neither a multicultural project to include ‘different peoples,’ ‘different cultures,’ ‘different races,’ and ‘different nationalities,’ nor does it simply teach about histories of oppression, struggle and resistance. Rather, it is an intellectual project that uses race as a modality through which to understand how power works through the production of difference to construct, reproduce, and transform social formations. Key to this project are the following concepts:

Race is a social construct that makes meaning of relations of power and difference. It is often signified through, but is not necessarily related to phenotype or notions of biological difference, as it was in 19th and early 20th century Europe and the Americas. While race is a social construct, it manifests in material inequalities in the form of racisms.

Racialization represents a social process in which racial meanings are extended to new sites and bodies. By producing seemingly natural categories of inside and outside, superior and inferior, racialization works to demarcate the limits of social existence and political enfranchisement. Racialization operates in historically and geographically specific ways; the process by which modern US ‘races’ (black, white, native American, Asian, Latino, Arab etc.) have been naturalized as social categories is only one version.

Racism deploys codified concepts of group difference in order to assign lesser or greater value to the lives and epistemologies of different populations, thus both producing and rationalizing structures of material inequality.

Racial violence is a state-sanctioned and/or extralegal mode of power exercised in order to control, subjugate or exterminate a people due to the idea that the latter always already pose a threat to the civilization of the former. Racial violence can take many forms, some of which are immediately recognizable (imperialism, enslavement, genocide) and some of which may appear less immediately tangible (economic deprivation, infrastructural abandonment, profiling, incarceration).

Racial logic functions so that an entire people are made to embody the antinorm: deviance, primitiveness, irrationality, violence, etc. Constructed as both outside of and threatening to the presumed ideals of modernity and interests of ‘civilization’ and ‘humanity,’ these populations are thus rendered ‘disposable.’ Racial logic is integral to how acts of racial violence can be represented as ‘normal,’ ‘reasonable,’ or ‘necessary.’

In accordance with our commitment to the study of power, violence, and inequality in the interests of social justice and with respect for the history of ethnic studies as an academic field born from the convergence of activism and intellectual labor, the department has regularly issued collective statements on our website in response to contemporary political, social and cultural events. These include statements on the uneven impact of the 2007 San Diego fires and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina across racial, ethnic and class groups; the importance of protecting academic freedom precisely at times of political conflict; and the issue of immigrant rights. This list in no way represents the limits of our critical scope but stands as an example of the various and diverse sites in which racism results in uneven access to equality, freedom of movement, and survival. While the precipitating events may be diverse, each of these statements share the following characteristics:

• Each has been issued in response to incidents of racial violence, and uses the analytical tools at our disposal as Ethnic Studies scholars to unpack the racial logics underpinning the event in question.

• All emerge out of the ethical and political imperative that drives the praxis of critique as a critical tool for intellectual and political discourse.

• None target individuals or populations, but rather offer a critique of structural formations—nation-states, governmental entities, the media.

The Department of Ethnic Studies’ statement on the recent invasion of Gaza by the state of Israel is, like each previous statement, a critique of racial violence. Rather than suggesting that Israel’s latest act against Gaza is unique, the statement seeks to contextualize this state act of violence within a global history of racial violence that includes not only historical genocides (such as those against indigenous peoples in the Americas; Jews, Roma, and others in mid-twentieth century Europe, and the minority Tutsi in late twentieth-century Rwanda) but African chattel slavery, US military and economic policies in Latin America, and the continuing economic deprivation, infrastructural abandonment, and wholesale incarceration of Black, brown, and poor people in the US. Our critique is of the use of racial power and racial violence (as defined above) by the state of Israel; it is not an attempt to label Israelis or Jewish people as racist. Indeed, as scholars we recognize that social justice often demands critical attention to the dangers of nationalism when used to conflate the state with its individual subjects in order to justify, undergird, or rationalize violence against the few in the name of an imagined many. As a study of our previous statements reveals, we do not consider Israel alone to be a state that executes racial violence; we have provided similar critiques of state and extra-legal institutions within the United States time and again.

In making this statement, the Department of Ethnic Studies joins a national and international groundswell by academics at colleges and universities across the country who have felt impelled to offer an intellectual, political, and ethical critique of the Israeli State’s actions toward Palestine (links to some of these statements are available on the sidebar adjacent to this post). By exercising our academic freedom in this manner, we are continuing a tradition within the academy punctuated by other large public campaigns for social justice, such the anti-apartheid movement on campuses around the country in the 1980s. We engage in this critique within the spirit of critical theory, the philosophy of cultural critique first introduced by the German Jewish intellectuals of the Frankfurt school, which believes that it is our ethical responsibility as intellectuals to critique, rather than merely explain society. Critical theory is an ethical praxis to which we have committed ourselves as intellectuals striving to achieve the highest level of excellence in our scholarship. That excellence is only achievable if we are able to apply our collective knowledge toward social justice.



Filed under Department Statement

133 responses to “Addendum to the “Statement on Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip”

  1. j

    Even goldstone is trying to take back his report. Maybe its time you guys apologize. Looks like your department failed.

  2. Considering the recent lack of decorum at UCI, this discussion forum is an example of how to exchange ideas in a respectful manner. Thanks to the Department for creating such an opportunity.

  3. Eric Lars

    This statement reveals nothing about what is occurring in Gaza, as it is based neither on facts nor logic nor knowledge.

    It does reveal much about what is going on at the University of California. It is clear that there are certain departments where the traditional role of the university to further knowledge and learning has been replaced by ignorance and hatred.

  4. You all seem to feel so sorry for the arabs refugees of the former british mandate of palestine, you keep on about that palestine didn’t belong to the palestinian jews, well it certainly didn’t belong to the palestinian arabs at that time either, infact it never did, Jerusalem was never ever the capital of palestine, it was however the capital of Judea.
    If the arabs of 1947palestine would have agreed to parttion plan at that time , they would have had their own state ie. two states as Jordan has a population of over 70% palestinian arabs. There was almost one million jewish refugees from the arab lands who were forced to leave through persecution, torture, murder etc. I was one of those jewish refugees together with my parents whom just managed to flee for our lives from the pogrom which took place in Aleppo, Syria in 1947.
    We the jews of the middle east and north africa left behind real estate that was almost five times larger than the whole of israerl today, however our rights as a people who’s nationality was stolen, our property stolen, our bank accounts all frozen, was never recognized by the arabs who were responsible for both the forced exodus of the jews from the arab lands and the exodus of the arabs from the former palestine, in order that their arab armies could annihilte the fledgling jewish state, in the shortest possible time, while their so called brothers would be safely out of harms way while their arab legions were battling the jews. The UN also never recognized our plight as jewish refugees from the arab world which also deserved parallel concern.

  5. J.J. Surbeck

    It is interesting to see that this infamous page is still up, when the Ethnic Studies Department (a.k.a. the Ethnic Cleansing Department, as it is more accurately designated on campus) should have realized by now that they have only succeeded in making complete fools of themselves. As I’ve said before, they’re lucky neither shame nor ridicule kills, or else they’d all be dead by now. Even so, they brought shame to UCSD just the same.

  6. Michael Newhouse

    As an assistant professor in the School of Medicine, I am saddened to see ultra partisan political statement disguised as a valid exercise in scholarship at my university. There is certainly culpability and intransigence aplenty in the many nationalistic conflicts history has presented, the current middle eastern conflicts being a sorrowful example . But the attempt to find and condemn one villain by means of over-inclusive, obfuscating and idiosyncratic definitions is not a worthy endeavor for a great institution of learning.

  7. no one

    I think it is humorous that the ethnic studies dept claims this is a “race” issue so that it is within their rights to talk about on a school forum. They so terribly just classify palestinians as “brown” people. First of all a large amount of palestinians are completely white. Also to call this a race issue is ridiculous considering jews and arabs are both semitic people. Using race as an excuse to talk about this issue is incorrect and completely irresponsible. It just clearely shows how the ethnic studies dept was just looking for an excuse to demonize israel, the only country in the region promoting equality and human rights. A country that actually gives rights to these “brown people” (as the ethnic studies dept so carelessly labled them).

  8. I was so gratified to read that the Ethnic Studies Department had the courage to condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks against Arab civillians of the Jewish faith targeted for ethnic cleansing in Sderot. Without protests of concerned people, it is only a matter of time until they are made refugees yet again (after having been asked to leave their native lands in Iraq and elsewhere). I hope that the concern can further manifest itself in tracking down the sources of the money financing these rockets.

    Michelle K. Gross (AKA Alice in Wonderland)

  9. Student

    As an undergraduate student of the social sciences, arts, and humanities at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) I find the statements issued by the Ethnic Studies Department concerning the most recent episode in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip—“Statement” (on January 25, 2009) and “Addendum” (on February 24, 2009)—to be extremely reductive and incomplete analyses of the facts. By these actions, I feel that the department failed to retain academic objectivity and integrity, alienating certain segments of the student population and discouraging students from future studies and/or open discourse with the Ethnic Studies Department at UCSD.
    The central argument presented by the Ethnic Studies Department on the Israeli air strikes and ground invasions of the Gaza Strip in late December 2008/early January 2009, easily surmisable from the statement’s title, is that the “deployment of the Israeli military arsenal [constituted] nothing more nor less than another episode of racial violence”. I argue that this interpretation of the military engagements between the Israeli government and Hamas cannot be reduced to the single issue of race. This historical and cultural context of the region immediately supplies several issues besides race that have contributed to the conflict. The Ethnic Studies Department considers itself to be an interdisciplinary field, one in which the effects of the social constructions of “race, indigeneity, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and nation” are examined, especially in situations where questions of power and acts of violence between groups occur. Yet, the Department has failed to include an extremely important social construction into their analysis of society: religion. In the study of religion as an academic discipline, it is recognized that there is a relationship between religion, race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. and the field aims to address the intersection of these identities and social categories. Any field or discipline that neglects to address the important interplay between race and religion fails to incorporate all aspects of society and at its best, can only present an incomplete and biased perspective. The situation in the Gaza Strip is no different.
    By failing to acknowledge the complex relationships between the issues of race, religion, and nationalism that are affecting the lives of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip and neighboring regions, the Ethnic Studies Department is serving to essentialize the conflict and attribute it solely to race relations. Aside from the described limitations of this reductive viewpoint, the argument presented by the Department reifies a secular, ethnocentric, Western understanding of the world. In the post-Enlightenment world, the West—and America in particular—is of thought of as a collection of nations and peoples who act rationally, logically, and secularly, having divorced themselves from the irrationality and mystery of religion. By creating a statement that paints Israel as an extension of US interests in the Middle East (the veracity of which is not being contested here) the Ethnic Studies Department is extending the conceptualization of a “superior” Western society to the state of Israel. By attributing to Israel’s actions a solely racial dynamic, the Department is legitimizing the Western standing of secularism and rationality, and reifying the understanding of all non-Western cultures (such as the Palestinian culture addressed in this conflict) as irrational and inferior. By arguing that the violence in the Gaza Strip is strictly racial in nature, the Ethnic Studies Department joins numerous other Western scholars that further the notion that religion is no longer relevant in “modern” societies, implying that there are “non-modern” societies that operate on backwards beliefs that are not scientifically proven.
    And here is where the conceptual framework laid down by the Ethnic Studies Department begins to fall apart. The failure to address the role of religion in the conflict creates logical gaps in the argument produced. Not only is the Department implying that the Palestinian civilians they are trying to protect with this statement (which requests immediate action from the Obama administration in favor of Palestine) are inferior, but they fail to provide a complete understanding of the conflict. Not to mention that focusing on a specific moment in the history of a decades-old conflict also denies a complete understanding to those uninformed observers and creates a bias against the current aggressor in the conflict. But the most conspicuous failure in the Department’s argument is the interchanging of the terms “Palestinian”, “Muslim” and “Arab”, as well as “Israeli” and “Jewish”. The lines between nationality, religion, and race become blurred and the terms become seemingly interchangeable. However, the labels “Muslim” and “Jewish” are typically used to define religious groups (as well as ethnic, which I will address later), not political or national groups. This is an important distinction to make, although the religious connotations of these terms are never explicitly stated or defined in the Department’s statement.
    Thus, it is necessary to define the terms of race and religion if we are to demystify the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Ethnic Department’s complicity in reducing the conflict to terms of race in order that the situation may fit cleanly into their academic schematic. In the addendum posted on the Departmental website one month after the original statement was released, a definition for race and racial violence was finally provided. Here I will use the same definition of race as provided by the Department:
    “Race is a social construct that makes meaning of relations of power and difference. It is often signified through, but is not necessarily related to phenotype or notions of biological difference, as it was in the 19th and 20th century Europe and the Americas. While race is a social construct, it manifests in material inequalities in the form of racisms”
    I do not disagree that in the post-colonial, globalized world order there are extreme power differentials that fall along racial lines. The regions of the world that have been exploited by conquest and colonization are home to the “Brown” people who the Department describes as victims of racial violence, slavery, incarceration, economic deprivation, and such other discriminatory actions and policies implanted in past and present states. Those groups who have oppressed people of color have done so for many reasons, largely economic, and have justified exploitation with several theories, most recently with those of biological inferiority.
    However, religion has played one of the largest roles in justifying and rationalizing oppression, violence, and discrimination against groups of people. The enslavement of indigenous peoples in the Americas, African and Eurasian continents has often occurred when “superior”, Christian proselytizing nations have come into contact with these indigenous groups. These European religious groups have killed, in the name of their religious beliefs, those “others” they view as inimical heathens or, have forcibly tried to convert them and in the process killed or exploited these native groups. Theoretical justification for these violent actions has also come from religion, not just science or sheer prejudice. The Hamitic Myth, found in both the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament of the Christian Bible, has historically provided a legitimate basis for the enslavement and exploitation of Africans and African-Americans in Europe and America. More recently, the Hamitic Myth has resurfaced in episodes of what can be deemed racial violence, such as the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Christian, Belgian colonists introduced the biblically derived myth of Ham into 20th century Rwanda to explain the racial and economic divisions they put in place in order to dominate and exploit the region’s resources. The legacy of the implementation of such a divinely inspired ideology resulted in racial division, oppression, and genocidal violence. Such historical examples show us that to discredit or completely ignore the role of religion in racial violence is irresponsible and disingenuous, particularly in academic studies.
    Religion is addressed in academic study as an anthropological, not a theological category of human action. Hence the categorization of the Study of Religion under the Division of Social Sciences here at UCSD. Again, I will borrow a definition, this time from Craig Prentiss, a Religion scholar who defines his field as concerned with the “study of human expression that is shaped by the particular social and temporal status of those giving life to distinctive religious traditions.” The study of religion is as much concerned with society and social interactions between groups as the field of ethnic studies is.
    Now we are able to address the problematic interchange of labels such as “Jewish” and “Israeli” and “Muslim” and “Palestinian”. While the terms Israeli and Palestinian are quite clearly referring to nationalities, the labels of Muslim and Jew are not exclusive to the states of Palestine and Israel. “Muslim” clearly refers to a believer and adherent of the religion of Islam, however the term “Jewish” is recognized as both a religious and a racial/ethnic category. The Department frames the conflict as purely nationalist and racist, disregarding the religious influence in the historical struggles that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. While the Zionist movement founded by Theodor Hertzl was a secular, political movement for the foundation of a Jewish (Here, the term refers to a racial identity. While the history is quite complex and intricate, the history of Judaism in the Common Era reveals a shift from the term “Jewish” as a purely religious category to one of race/ethnicity, from the 16th century onwards. As a racial category, “Jewish-ness” was carried through blood and matrilineal genealogy. Therefore, it is not just beliefs and religious practices that make one Jewish. A non-practicing Jew can still be considered Jewish through a perceived bloodline relationship that bestows automatic inclusion into both the ethnic and religious categories of “Jewish”. Framing themselves as both a people and a religion is part of what defines Judaism against Islam and Christianity) homeland, there did emerge and do exist religious Zionists in the state of Israel. These Zionists continue to advocate for an Israeli state founded on the principles of Judaism, the religion. Secular Zionists have wanted to frame their struggle as a political, not a religious one but with the category of “Jewish” constituting both an ethnicity/race and religious group, it is quite difficult to un-blur the lines of overlap. The failure to address the complexity of the racial-religious facets of the conflict on the Gaza strip creates a skewed perception of the current events. It also perpetuates an ignorance of racial and religious categories that, although socially constructed, do have real, material effects for the people involved.
    As a last aside to the Ethnic Studies Department, I would like to challenge the Department to focus its efforts in recognizing the positive outcomes of race-based distinctions. In both its vision statement and statements produced regarding the Gaza Strip conflict, it seems that the Department is especially negative when describing race relations, focusing on the study of power and violence and “how power operates in the production and execution of subjection and subjugation, including its most visceral enactments through institutional and individual practices of violence and death.” Group distinctions based on shared race or culture often provides support for individuals and groups, a sense of community for people and path to uplift in a moral, political, economic and individual sense.
    Here I would like to conclude by addressing the issue of academic scholarship. The Department makes quite clear in its addendum that the University of California’s Policy on Academic Freedom that “sound scholarship” does not have to be concerned only with the “logic of the facts”. What the Ethnic Studies Department at UCSD fails to remind us of is the clause in the Policy that states, “academic freedom depends upon the quality of scholarship, which is to be assessed by the content of scholarship” . It is this content, and consequently the quality, that is missing from the Department’s scholarly statements. When the Department fails to incorporate information from other scholastic fields or to fully address the intersection of all other social constructions and identities with that of race, it fails to provide a fully informed view and lacks any quality of scholarship.
    And as for adherence to the UCSD Principles of Community, I feel that the Ethnic Studies Department, with its recent statements has violated the last principle, which states commitment “to promoting and supporting a community where all people can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of abusive or demeaning treatment”. I invite the Department to being repairing relations with the students and student organizations involved in the January resolution, and by restoring its image and integrity to the entire student body as an inviting, available and respectable academic department on this prestigious campus.

  10. Habeeb Syed

    Firstly as for your quotes, the Quran does recognize the history of the Jewish people in the land. However to make the jump from that to saying they have some divine right to the land thousands of years later is preposterous. Secondly I am not going to take seriously your claims of massacres and the such when the only citations you can offer are the likes of haaretz and other Zionist sources. As for Ottoman land laws, first peasants had the right to most of the land in the area as long as they registered it with the state. Unfortunately that was not done. Secondly when I said bought illegally I meant that many absentee landlords who had no actual legal right to the land would sell it to Zionists and the Arab peasants would take the hit. This is a well documented phenomena also statistics are available for the amount of land Zionists accrued in this manner and the resources connected to it. However this has little to do with the situation today. The Oslo Accords in the first stage only offered direct control of about 3% of Palestine to the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore even when the process was complete it allowed Israel an inacceptable amount of Palestinian land and in effect still gave the state de facto rule over Palestine. It did nothing to adress the issue of the settlements and along with that the disproportionate amount of resources Israel controlled through them in Palestine.

  11. Habeeb, I haven’t cited the Bible in justifying the presence of the Jews in the Holy Land. I cited the Koran, as quoted by Shaykh Abdul Hamed Palazzi:

    I still don’t have an answer to the question I asked about the Koranic passages. Are they considered apocryphal or are they considered a genuine part of the Koran?

    The Zionists didn’t purchase land illegally in Palestine. They purchased it quite legally from Arab landowners. But you need to understand the Ottoman land laws also in order to understand that much of the land couldn’t be purchased because it wasn’t privately owned. (Most of the land in Israel is still state owned and not privately owned.) The best reference I know of on Ottoman land law is at:

    It is not a partisan sort of explanation. If you look at it, I think you’ll find it quite factual and detailed.

    Re Deir Yassin, yes that was a massacre committed by a unit of the Lehi. About 100 Arabs died in it. It may also have been revenge for the fact that some of the men from that village had recently participated in fighting Jewish forces in a nearby town. Also adding to the problem was that some Arabs in women’s dress at Deir Yassin apparently pretended to surrender, then opened fire on the Jewish forces. Thus, anyone wearing women’s dress became immediately suspect. The Arabs played up Deir Yassin, though, falsely claiming atrocities like rapes in the hope this would encourage more Arabs to fight. Instead it seems to have encouraged more to flee.

    But since we’re on the subject of massacres, how about considering Arab massacres of Jews in the Holy Land, which started way before any massacres of Jews by Arabs there. Here are some links to information about these: (Massacres of Jews by Muslims throughout history) (Safed Massacre of 1834) (Safed Massacre of 1834) (1929 Safed, Hebron, and Jerusalem massacres) (Arab Revolt of 1936-39) (1947 massacres)

    Last, I am not sure where you got the idea that any peace plan such as the Barak/Clinton plan gave the Palestinian Arabs control of only 3% of the land. Perhaps you got the 3% figure from the fact that the offer included all of Gaza and most of the West Bank except for 3-5%, which would have been compensated for by giving the Arabs an equal amount of land within Israel. Otherwise, I confess I really don’t know to what you’re referring. Perhaps you can enlighten me. Dennis Ross, who was an American envoy to the Clinton/Barak discussions, has written extensively about what that offer entailed and is a good source of information.

  12. Habeeb Syed

    Marjorie, the Balfour Declaration was issued in the hopes that Jewish lobbies would convince America and Russia to continue their support in WWI. It was issued at a time when there were 60 thousand Jews living in the Palestinian territory. What right did these mere 60 thousand people have to the territory of Palestine? Is it merely some decree in the Old Testament Thousands of years ago that justifies this? You complain about how much land Israel has compared to Arab nations but that is not an issue. What difference does the ratio of land make. What matters is what they have compared to Palestinians and what they have taken. You address the issue of Palestinian refugees and compare their plight to that of Jews coming to Israel.Firstly the number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is not greater than the 700,000 Palestinians who fled the region in 1948 alone. Secondly the strategy in use can be seen in Zionist writings of the period and leaves little doubt of the reason Arabs fled Israel. Israel condemns Hamas and its charter even though it is nothing but a front while Israel itself has leaders who openly follow these Zionist thinkers and has had such terrorists in leadership positions. People fled in 1948 because of slaughters such as those in Dar Yasin and elsewhere and the militant actions of Zionists. As for the peace proposals they gave very little to the Palestinians and Israel thought it could get away with such a pitiful deal, only 3% of the territory under PA control, and it did nothing to address any other grievances such as the settlements or the refugees. The Oslo Accords merely created a truncated Palestinian state with much of the territory under de facto Israeli control. Lastly much of the land in Palestine was not directly state land, and even land that was state land was illegally sold to Zionist groups. I do not understand what that has to do with anything I just thought I would address your mistake.

  13. Mark Myers

    “If you read the blog guidelines on the right side of the opening page, we originally intended the discussion section of this platform to be used for exchanging authors’ opinions/ideas. It is not for posting other people’s articles or news stories.”

    If that is the case, why don’t you take down your own one-sided and blatantly biased (dare one say racist?) links at the top of the page under the heading Israel/Palestine. How do you expect to be taken seriously when you make it so clear you are uninterested in opposing view points? I will add that I find the preponderance of links to opinions from Israelis and Jews particularly offensive, especially in the complete absence of any attempt at balance. I may not know much about ethnic studies, but as a scientist I know that what you’re presenting here is at best poor scholarship, and in reality something much much worse.

  14. Perhaps someone following this blog can explain to me whether the following Koranic quotations, from Shaykh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, represents an accepted part of the Koran or something apocryphal:


    “The Koran relates the words by which Moses ordered the Israelites to conquer the Land:” (Shaykh Palazzi)

    “And [remember] when Moses said to his people: ‘O my people, call in remembrance the favour of G-d unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people, enter the Holy Land which G-d has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'” (4) (Koran 5:20-21)

    “Moreover – and those who try to use Islam as a weapon against Israel always conveniently ignore this point – the Holy Koran explicitly refers to the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel before the Last Judgment – where it says:” (Shaykh Palazzi)

    “And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'” (5) (Koran 17:104)

    “Therefore, from an Islamic point of view, there is NO fundamental reason which prohibits Moslems from recognizing Israel as a friendly State.” (Shaykh Palazzi)

    I have noticed that there are a number of Muslims and Arabs who seem to take these parts of the Koran to heart.

  15. I see I said in my previous post that the U.S. gave the Palestinians land in 1948. Sorry for the typo. That was the U.N. that gave the Palestinians land. But Habeeb, the Palestinian Arabs didn’t own much land in Palestine before 1948. Neither did the Jews. That’s because the land in Palestine was mostly state owned before World War II. It belonged to the Ottoman Empire (which was largely Turkish, not Arab), and thus there wasn’t a great deal of land privately owned by anyone. (You’ll understand this if you read Yes, there was a small amount of land owned by Arab landowners. These were the title holders from whom the Zionists (and later, the Jewish National Fund) purchased land–and at inflated prices. For Jewish help during World War I (Chaim Weizmann’s development of a method of producing acetone used in weaponry), the British had promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine, issuing the 1917 Balfour Declaration. But in 1922, all of the land in Palestine east of the Jordan River was lopped off and given by Britain to an Arab ruler. This took away about 76% of Palestine. In 1948, the U.N. partitioned the remainder between the Jews and the Arabs. (Palestinian Arabs weren’t called Palestinians then. They were simply Arabs. Often the word Palestinian was used to refer to the Jews who lived in that area.)
    What the Arabs got in the Partition was about 11%. What the Jews got was about 13%. But this included the coastal areas in which most of the population was Jewish because Jews or Jewish organizations had purchased land there. It also included the Negev desert, which was not prime real estate. The Palestinians (Arabs) who left their homes subsequently did so primarily because Arab nations were attacking the nascent State of Israel. These Arabs thought they’d be able to come back in a matter of weeks after the attacking Arab armies drove the Jews into the sea. Yes, in Lyde and Ramle the inhabitants expelled by Israel and taken to an area held by Jordan, but that was because these two Arab villages were on the road to Jerusalem, which was being blockaded so that the majority Jewish population there was under threat of starvation. (Remember, not only were several Arab nations attacking Israel in 1948, but many Palestinian Arabs were also.) After the 1948 war (won by Israel), Israel offered to repatriate 100,000 of the Arabs who had fled. That offer was turned down by the Arab League because to accept it would have implied recognition of Israel. After Israel won the 1948 war, the Arab League instructed all its members to institute harsh measures against the Jewish populations in Arab countries and there was an exodus of Jews, their property confiscated, from Arab lands. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries EXCEEDED the number of Arab refugees from what became Israel. If you Google “Jewish refugees from Arab Lands” you will find information on this. The reason you don’t hear much about these refugees is that most of them were absorbed by Israel, not maintained in misery for years as the Palestinians have been by every Arab country (and the U.N.), Jordan being the only Arab country that has ever allowed Palestinian Arab refugees to become citizens. When you talk about Israeli land grabs, it might be instructive to look at the map of the Middle East at You can see there the tiny strip that is Israel surrounded by a vast sea of green representing Arab/Muslim nations. And for some perspective, read about the huge mobilization of Egyptians on Israel’s border in 1967. Israel was about to be attacked then by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. That’s what caused the war in which Israel acquired Gaza and the West Bank, which had been held previously by Egypt and Jordan and which Israel would like to give back. (Israel did, of course, pull all their “settlers”–some of whom had lived in Gaza for generations–AND their Army out of Gaza in 2005, leaving only $6 million worth of greenhouses–which the Gazans trashed–homes, and synagogues, which could have been turned into hospitals and schools but were burned to ground instead.) As for the January 2001 Barak/Clinton offer to Arafat, the only thing this generous offer didn’t include was an offer to allow over 4 million Palestinian Arab “refugees”–the original refugees AND all their descendants–to come to Israel to live. That would have made Israel an Arab/Muslim state rather than a Jewish state and would have been equivalent to suicide on Israel’s part. And why, anyway, is it considered o.k. for the Arabs/Muslims to have 640 times the amount of land in the Middle East as the Jews but not o.k. for the Jews to have a tiny sliver–1/640th of the land there–especially considering that Jews originally came from that area and there were Jews remaining there even after the Roman conquest and the Crusades and Jews still living there even before the Zionist land purchases?

  16. Habeeb Syed

    I will stand by my statement of the casualties induced by Quassam rockets, I am not sure where this site receives its information. However on the issue of the chances Palestinians had at peace up until ’67 why would they wish to make peace and give up land that they saw as rightfully theirs. Who would wish to bargain away half their land to be allowed to live on the other half. In ’48 600,000 Jews occupied the Palestine mandate, although increased from the 50 or so thousand that lived there at the issuing of the Balfour Declaration they were still a minority. So the British were chased out and Israel began a land grab as well as expulsion of Arab residents, about 700,000 Palestinians fled what was to become Israel.

    As for the ’67 war the same issue existed, Israel offered no solution for the issue of refugees and the Middle Eastern countries still saw Israel as merely an invading entity. The situation has changed now as many Israeli leaders predicted by acceptance of the “facts on the ground” by Arab countries.

    In the modern day the peace process for Israel has changed as it has taken out the leader of the regional coalition against it, Egypt, and therefore its demands are much greater. The Oslo accords were frankly a joke, that offered Palestinians de-facto control of only about 3% of their land, did not sufficiently address the issue of settlements or refugees and was a bone Israel thought it could throw the Palestinians to appease them.

    As for Hamas’s actions, it was elected by the Palestinian people. The so-called violent takeover was the result of a failed U.S.-Israeli attempt to back a Fatah takeover for which there is significant evidence. The kidnapping was done by Hezbollah and had its own little war, you can’t put two wars on the kidnapping of one man even one war is pushing it. Furthermore Israel’s policy of assassinations, kidnappings, and bombings makes such an action completely legitimate in my point of view.

    Although humanitarian supplies have been allowed through there is much more sitting at the border and there is insufficient amounts being allowed in, as I previously stated the tunnels are a necessity to the Palestinian people.

    Hamas takes the actions it does for the sake of its own survival and due to its belief that the best interest of the Palestinian people lies in its continued success, whether or not this is the case its actions can only be seen as logical steps for self-preservation and the maintenance of the power it believes is needed to accomplish its goals.

  17. Habeeb, you sound like a reasonable fellow. But you need to check your facts. You say that not one Israeli was killed in the year before the invasion of Gaza. Here is a site that goes up to only July of 2008, yet documents a number of 2008 killings: (note for how many Hamas proudly took credit). You say that the Palestinians want independence and fight for their state. But the U.S. gave them land in 1948, and they could have declared a state then just as Israel did. They didn’t seem to want a state of their own when Gaza was under Egypt and the West Bank under Jordan. But they could have had one after the War of 1967 when Israel offered to give back the land it had taken in that war in exchange for peace but was met by the Khartoum Resolutions’ 3 NOs: ” no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” The Palestinians could have had a state of their own in 2001, too. In fact, Saudi Prince Bandar called Arafat’s refusal of the generous Clinton/Barak offer a “crime.” As for the blockade of Gaza by Egypt and Israel, it began in June of 2007 after Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza, the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and the launches from Gaza into Israel of rockets and mortars. Despite this blockade, humanitarian supplies have continued to flow into Gaza from Israel, Gazans needing medical treatment have been allowed to enter Israel to go to Israeli hospitals, and Israel has continued to supply Gaza with fuel, electricity, and water. Hamas, on the other hand, has illegally appropriated for itself many supplies meant for Gaza civilians. It has also attacked crossings through which supplies come, and launched missiles at the facility in Israel that supplies Gaza electricity, thus creating as many crises as possible. This is not MY idea of how to build a state.

  18. ethnicstudiesucsd

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  19. Habeeb Syed

    I would first like to say that the loss of civilian life on either side is regrettable. This being said for a year before the Israeli invasion of Gaza not one Israeli civilian was killed, although I will concede that this is not for lack of trying on the part of Hamas. However one must at the same time look at the options available to Palestinians. Not living in the conditions to which the Palestinians are subjected it is impossible for me or anyone else to make an assumption as to their motivations. From the limited knowledge available one can deduce the reason for the lack of faith of the Palestinian people in statesmanship. The Palestinian people are criticized for supporting a terrorist organization while Israels own policies propagate the existence of such a group. Here in America we watch movies where the hero is cheered for refusing to give in to force and fighting for what he deems to be a righteous cause regardless of consequences.The British killed civilians as American soldiers were out fighting , should the revolutionaries have given up? Surely much loss of life could have been prevented. Thus the Palestinians fight for their state, and although women and children are killed, they are still resolved to do so. Did the founders of this country do any different? I do not seek to legitimize the indiscriminate attacks, nor do I exactly condemn them; however it is important to understand that the Palestinian people see no alternative to attempting to gain independence by incurring costs upon Israel for its policies, and the only way in which this can be done with their limited capabilities are the attacks of Hamas upon Israel, futile as they are. This is the result of a failure of an acceptable peace plan being offered.

    Therefore when tactics such as the bombing of Gaza, with its dense civilian population, and the blockade are condemned I do not believe it is valid to call the actions merely self-defense. The actions of Hamas and the Palestinian people are only natural, and the policies of Israel drive the people more towards violence as their only path to attaining their goal. Instead of anger at the Ethnic Studies department for issuing a condemnation of these tactics it should be understood that they are self-defeating. It is plain through mere numbers 13:1300 that the response was disproportionate. It is clear for anyone who has visited the Gaza strip that the blockade has made life unlivable for the Palestinians and that they are forced to rely on tunnels even to get by. It is clear that Israel has oppressed the Palestinian people by controlling their borders, the majority of their land and water, and their daily lives. These things are self evident, and they must be recognized. The actions of Hamas do not warrant such punishment of Palestinian civilians and furthermore such actions as have been undertaken by the state of Israel are counter-intuitive and detrimental to the peace process.

  20. M

    Racial test (a book review of “Gizanut beyisrael” or “Racism in Israel,” edited by Yehouda Shenhav and Yossi Yonah).
    By Orna Coussin
    Haaretz, 12.9.08

    Read the description of the following case – taken from real life – and answer the following questions:

    Two Israeli women want to have a child. They apply to a sperm bank. Due to the shortage of sperm currently available at public stocks, they choose a private bank operating out of Rishon Letzion. For a fee of several hundred shekels, they are allowed to browse a catalog of donors. The first detail they learn about an anonymous donor is his parents’ ethnic origin. Subsequent details in the entry include height, weight, hair color, skin tone and eye color. The catalog the couple received by e-mail lists the details of 22 donors. Among their 44 parents, 38 are of Ashkenazi origin (mainly Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) or are sabra (native-born) Israelis. There is no donor on the list both of whose parents are of Mizrahi origin (Jews of Middle Eastern origins). That is, the donors are all Ashkenazi, sabras or mixed. There also is not a single donor of Ethiopian origin on the list.
    1. Does the fact that the Rishon Letzion sperm bank has no Mizrahi donors disturb you? Is this, in your opinion, a racist catalog that assumes that most women seeking sperm donations would prefer Ashkenazi donors?

    2. What is your opinion of the following argument: The very fact of the designation of the donor’s ethnic origins and the importance that is afforded it constitutes a kind of “racialization” and is inherently racist.

    This can be inferred from the introductory remarks by the editors of “Racism in Israel,” Yehouda Shenhav and Yossi Yonah. Racialization, they write, is a process whereby “the biological (i.e., skin color and the length or width of the nose), the social (i.e., poverty, country of origin and social status) and the cultural (i.e., religious observance, way of life, family size and attitude toward technology) become natural, that is to say, characteristics that testify to the unchanging innate character of the group in question.”

    According to Shenhav and Yonah, there is no race without racism. The invention of race – the perception that different groups share innate characteristics that distinguish them from others, a perception that is zoological, is the root of racism, and it makes no difference whether this entails arrogance or an egalitarian approach. In order to stop racism, one might conclude from their remarks, it is necessary to uproot the idea of race itself. What do you think? Is this possible?

    3. Is it desirable, in the framework of the fight against racism, to prohibit by law the mention of donors’ ethnic origins at a sperm bank? Or is this ridiculous, in your opinion? Is it possible to select a sperm donor without knowing his origins, or is this, rather, an essential parameter that should not be left out? In this context, what is your opinion of the extensive genetic data that is routinely gathered in tests during and before pregnancy? Is genetic selectivity morally preferable to racial selectivity? Is it neutral? Or could it be, in any case, that reproductive policy in Israel is submerged up to its neck in eugenics – the attempt to improve race by means of selective childbirth – and that it is difficult to think in any other terms?

    Free-market racism

    “Racism in Israel” deals in an interesting fashion with the way racist thinking has been reshaped to conform to the prevailing mode of thought – genetic, individual – as contributor Snait Gissis describes in an article on “The Use of ‘Race’ in Genetics, Epidemiology and Medicine.” Indeed, it appears that the culture of genetics that is becoming increasingly widespread here – in which supposedly only the scientific, the particular, the basic nucleus and the objective of things exist – is in fact a hothouse, in which a new kind of racism is being nurtured: the racism of the free market.

    Now read the description of the following case – also a real-life situation, and one that appears in the book – and answer the following questions:

    “Lynne Rodriguez, from the Philippines, wanted to work in Israel. Like other labor migrants who are officially hired by Israeli employers and Israeli labor contractors, she was required to undergo comprehensive medical examinations before she came to Israel. The examinations were aimed, in part, at ensuring she was not a carrier of infectious diseases and was not pregnant. A short time after entering Israel on a work visa, she discovered that she was in her first months of pregnancy. In June 2005, she gave birth to a son. At the Interior Ministry she was informed that according to regulations, she was now only entitled to a tourist visa, which would expire 12 weeks after the birth. At that time, she would have to choose between leaving Israel or sending her baby home to the Philippines. These are the guidelines laid down in ‘Procedure for Pregnant Foreign Workers,’ which was formulated at the [ministry’s] population registry in October 2004.”

    Thus begins Sigal Goldin and Adriana Kemp’s astounding, chilling contribution to the anthology, “Foreignness and Fertility,” about the attitude toward the bodies of female labor migrants in Israel. In understated and objective language, they describe the system by which female migrant workers are imported to Israel, a practice aimed at rectifying the shortage of nursing care workers that accompanied the collapse of the welfare state.

    Some additional questions:

    1. In your opinion, is the story described here reasonable or monstrous?

    2. Should Rodriguez have been allowed to remain in Israel with her baby and work until the expiration of her permit? Or is the Filipina threatening the Jewishness of Israeli society with her body, as the Interior Ministry officials and the legislators in Israel assume, according to the authors of the article, hence making it proper to deport her, or at least to deport her 3-month-old baby?

    3. Read the following description of the attitude of the State of Israel toward a “female foreign worker,” and answer the questions below.

    For $650 a month, write Goldin and Kemp, a Filipino worker will care for an Israeli patient and be on call 24 hours a day, six days a week. The worker’s work and residence permit is deposited with her employers – a system that everyone calls “a binding arrangement”:

    “A foreign worker who leaves his employers is called a ‘fugitive’ by the authorities and the employer, and he is subject to punishment and is a candidate for immediate deportation,” they note. A worker who becomes pregnant after she has received her permit can remain in Israel and work until the permit expires but she is forbidden from raising her baby here. In effect, a migrant worker is not entitled to work in Israel and at the same time have a family life here (it is forbidden to accept workers of either sex who have first-degree relatives here).

    Fee of $4,500

    In Rodriguez’s case, she decided to send the baby to his father, her husband, back in the Philippines and remain in Israel to work, because of her and her husband’s difficult economic situation, and because she had not even managed to cover the expenses entailed in coming to Israel, which included, among other things, a payment of $4,500 to the labor contractor.

    Further questions:

    1. In your opinion, is the story described here reasonable or monstrous?

    2. Is it possible to accept the state’s logic, by which women are imported to work here in nursing care, to the benefit of the Israeli economy, and at the same time are forbidden from functioning as human beings – to have a relationship, establish a family or enjoy other basic freedoms?

    3. Is the logic of the regulations racist? Is it to the benefit of the nation? Is it for the good of the economy? Is it sensible, in your opinion, or despicable?

    4. Does the designation “foreign worker” reflect the way we reduce the humanity of the poor migrant woman into that of an entity that works and nothing more? Would we apply the phrase “foreign worker” to a top white-collar employee in Israel, say an American high-tech engineer who is working for an Israeli firm? Or is “foreign worker” a label reserved for poor people?

    5. Do the terms “binding arrangement” and “fugitive” remind us of concepts from the era of slavery? Are Israelis, who are educated in the State of Israel sufficiently cognizant of the history of slavery, and do they know how to identify its characteristics and to be disgusted by them? Or has the concept of slavery been pushed aside by our hypersensitivity to racism or anti-Semitism in the framework of education to humanism in Israel, so that it’s not considered here to be a black and repugnant stain?

    6. Is the violent attitude noted above on the part of the state toward labor migrants in the field of nursing care – and also in the fields of construction and agriculture − indicative of racism, or of hatred and abuse of the poor?

    7. In your opinion, is it possible to distinguish between racialization on the basis of poverty and racialization on the basis of ethnic origin? Between racism and abuse of the poor?

    The answers:

    “Racism in Israel” is an extremely important book. It contains fascinating articles, such as one by Dafna Hirsch on Zionist physicians at the start of the 20th century and their attitude toward mixed Jewish and non-Jewish marriages in the context of “the improvement of the Jewish race,” or one by Dimitri Chomsky on the differences between the racist thinking of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in Odessa, on the one hand, and Max Brod, in Prague, on the other, in different historical environments, in which different attitudes toward race and nationalism prevailed.

    The book also offers an interesting treatment of a key phenomenon of racism in Israel – the attitude of Jewish Israelis toward Palestinian citizens of the state, in articles like “Us? Racists?!” about the discourse of racism as it is reflected in print journalism, by Hanna Herzog, Inna Leykin and Smadar Sharon, and “What Color is the Arab?” by Honaida Ghanem.

    And the book also offers a wealth of commentary on the development of a new kind of racism here. Reading it stimulates challenging thought about the connection between Judaism and Zionism, on the one hand, and racism on the other. However, here and there the book suffers from an excess of off-putting academic jargon. Had the editors published a more accessible version, they would have had a better chance of disseminating the essential ideas they are presenting here.

    In this context, reading Shenhav and Yonah’s introduction is liable to give one the (mistaken) impression that everything is racism and that there is no hierarchy among its various manifestations. One might think that the state’s racism toward the poor Filipinos, who are accepted here as workers, is identical to the racism of the Israeli client who requests an Ashkenazi donation from the sperm bank and attributes fundamental importance to the donor’s ethnic origin. Perhaps the time has come to move our focus away from race relations, from national and ethnic responsibility and tribalism, to power relations of wealth and status. It seems to me that “Racism in Israel” does not delve deeply into this issue.

    It would be easier for us to rectify injustices and to stop them if we began to see the way the strong (the wealthy, the member of the national majority) exploit the weak (the poor and the wage-earner, the member of the national minority or the migrant), consume him, use him, restrict him and harm him, only to reaffirm their own superior status. Indeed, on the basis of the example offered here, we would not have been witness at all to institutionalized Israeli racism toward Filipinos had they not been so poor.

    Orna Coussin is the author of “Al nohut” (On Comfort), published earlier this year by Babel press (Hebrew).

  21. j

    If anything, the US needs to stop empowering groups like fattah and hamas by putting weapons and resources in to their hand. So in terms of rethinking US foreign policy in the region, it is probably best that they do not try to help with regime changes in gaza and westbank, because that seems to have only radicalized the area. Giving arms and aid to israel however didn’t seem to bring about any sort of civil war within Israel, so I do not think that is as big of an issue as the US empowering of factions in gaza and west bank

  22. Larry, you seem to be misunderstanding the Law of Proportionality as it relates to war. It is always a tragedy when innocent civilians are killed or injured. But the Law of Proportionality doesn’t demand an equal number of fatalities from each of two warring parties. I recommend the analysis at If you scroll about halfway down (or use the Find feature under Edit in your browser), you will find the Law of Distinction and the Law of Proportionality discussed–and, more important, explained. You could also look at the article at

    As I noted in my original post here, Hamas doesn’t protect Gaza’s civilians, since every civilian death in Gaza serves a PR purpose for Hamas. And Hamas’ intent–quite clearly shown over a number of years–is to kill, maim, or terrorize as many Israeli civilians as possible. Israel’s intent is to minimize civilian casualties–their own and the Palestinians’ as well.

    If you really care about the people of Gaza, you will care about freeing them from the plague of Hamas. I’ll admit that the Gazans didn’t have a very good choice in the elections that gave Hamas majority power in Gaza and led subsequently to the slaughter of Fatah members there. What the Palestinians need more than anything is a statesman. I pray that someday they will have that. Right now the prospects look dim.

  23. Fred Pisacane

    I have a few questions:

    How is it that all the good and caring members of the ES Department have become apologists for Hamas?

    How is it that the courageous members of the ES department canceled their own event? I mean who actually threatened you?

    Speaking of threats how is it good scholarship to gloss over the Hamas Charter? Jose could you not find even a few links demonstrating that they don’t really mean what they say? After all what actions have they ever taken that runs counter to the Charter?

    Jose how do you know all those deaths are civilians? How many of the deaths were men? How many were older than 18? Could it be that the IDF knows what it is doing?

    Does the ES department focus on Israeli and Western oppression have anything to do with the idea that the far greater atrocities carried out in Africa are perpetrated by those minorities so dear to your heart?

    Jose, where are those moderate Palestinian dissenters who oppose Hamas’ Charter and tactics?

    Lastly would any of you who find Hamas so despicable have the nerve to say so in Gaza?

  24. Ori

    I see how you like to redefine words so that they can serve your agenda, but I took the time to look up some definitions, I hope that is a good enough source:

    ex⋅ter⋅mi⋅nate   /ɪkˈstɜrməˌneɪt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ik-stur-muh-neyt] Show IPA
    –verb (used with object), -nat⋅ed, -nat⋅ing. to get rid of by destroying; destroy totally; extirpate: to exterminate an enemy; to exterminate insects.

    So here is the definition for destroy:

    de⋅stroy   /dɪˈstrɔɪ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [di-stroi] Show IPA
    –verb (used with object) 1. to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.
    2. to put an end to; extinguish.
    3. to kill; slay.
    4. to render ineffective or useless; nullify; neutralize; invalidate.
    5. to defeat completely.

    And finally:

    gen⋅o⋅cide   /ˈdʒɛnəˌsaɪd/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [jen-uh-sahyd] Show IPA
    –noun the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

    So I hope my giant leap from ‘systematic extermination’ to GENOCIDE is now a little more clear. Can we at least agree that genocide means killing people? I stand by what I said earlier. And I’ll repeat, that I truly believe that ANY loss of civilian life, man, woman, child, Israeli, Palestinian, Jew, Arab, Muslim is to be considered with some sensitivity, but you should also consider the situation of Israel. Israelis withdrew from Gaza and even left greenhouses for the Gazans to start up their economy. I can understand destruction of the synagogues, but the greenhouses were a gift. Why were they destroyed? Why is it alright for civilians Israel to be exposed to rockets? Why are the Palestinians in the hands of a terrorist government?

    All of these things are very sad, and Hamas is to blame. With a better leader, Gaza could flourish, and I have no doubt that Israel would economically support a land that DOES NOT TRY TO KILL ITS CIVILIANS.

    What else do you suggest? Israel has been naive in the past, but she is not naive enough to open borders to allow terrorists in. In America people don’t understand this concept…terrorism that exists so locally. You don’t have your bags checked before you walk into a coffee shop, you don’t have to open your trunk before parking to go the mall. These safety measures are a constant reminder of the threat the Israeli civilians face. And, truly, the Gazans have it much worse off becuase they must go through checkpoints to go in and out of Israel. These checkpoints make life, daily life, very difficult, and I do not try to speak from experience on that, but from what I’ve heard. And it would be wonderful if these could be removed, but do you know what the check points do? They save innocent lives. That is a fact.

    Wow, i’m sorry for going on and on….

    This only shows that the statement above:

    1) Redefines words incorrectly
    2) Doesn’t even attempt to provide any sort of context

  25. Larry


    With all due respect, I find two very troubling things with your statement and your logic here: 1) even if we believe the IDF figures, there are at least 400 confirmed civilians here. In your last statement you claim:

    “It’s not just the number of Palestinian casualties that matters, though that number is very small because the IDF took particular care to cause as few casualties as possible.”

    400 dead civilians is not very small, esp. considering that a big chunk of these are children.

    You don’t seem too concerned about that. You also ignore the fact that only 3 Israeli civilians died in the same period. You also seem to ignore the figures I mentioned to you. “6,348 Palestinians that Israelis have killed since 2000 (1,072 Israelis were killed by Palestinians in that period).” These are not numbers made up by Hamas. They are real. “123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,487 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.” They are also real. We need to mourn all these deaths.

    So the conservative estimate is 400 dead civilians. The estimate which you claim is exaggerated is close to 900.

    Let’s say that 500 or 600 civilians died. That’s 100 civilians for every week of Op. Cast Lead (and we’re not even talking about the amount of homes and infrastructure that was destroyed in Gaza). That’s about 150-175 civilians for every Israeli civilian during the same conflict. Let me repeat that: that’s about 150-175 dead civilians for every Israeli civilian that died during Operation Cast Lead (total Israeli civilian casualities: 3).

    In Israel, people have no problem accepting these realities. Why do you insist in denying that the Israeli government did these things in Gaza? War is a bloody thing. Innocent people get killed. It’s the reality. There’s no sense in whitewashing it.

    2) First of all, the Black September figures that you think are real are wrong. You think that the Jordanians killed many thousands of Palestinians. Do you know why? Because you are believing the lies that originated from none other than Yassir Arafat. In 1970, Arafat claimed the Jordanians had killed 20,000 Palestinians. The real historically accepted figure is 3,400. So basically, you blame Palestinian militants for exaggerating their casualties except when it’s convenient for you to make a point. If the exaggerated numbers point to Arabs killing Arabs, they’re acceptable, right? How ironic.

    Secondly, what is the connection between the amount of Palestinians that Jordanians have killed and the amount of people that Syrians have killed internally, or Iraquis during Saddam Hussein, and how do these isolated tragic incidents relate to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Hundreds of thousands of Iraquis and Iranians died in the Iran/Iraq war. That has nothing to do with Palestinians. “Arabs have killed more Arabs than Israelis have.” Yes, that’s because there’s 325 million Arabs in the world. Compare that to 7.1 million in Israel. We can also say that non-Israelis have killed each other much more than Israelis have killed them. What is the meaning of saying that? Absolutely nothing.

    That still doesn’t change the fact that many more Palestinians have died than Israelis in the Israel/Palestine conflict, which you seem to be conveniently avoiding because you know it’s true. What I find disturbing though is that I sense the implication here (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that you are suggesting that this says something about Arabs in general (as in “THE Arabs” love to kill each other. They are bloodthirsty like that). How would you feel if someone made a statement about “Jews” this way based on what the Israeli army does in their wars: “the Jews have killed so many Arabs.” What the Israeli military does has nothing to do with what Jewish people do here in the U.S., or in France, or in Australia, or anything else. Someone who would dare to make such a bold sweeping generalization of Jewish folks would indeed be a veritable anti-Semite.

    What Iraquis do to each other has nothing to do with Palestinians. They are a completely different people in a different place with a different situation. This is not about grouping ethnic groups and holding them collectively responsible for something. This is about bringing to light and condemning the violations of human rights and actors of specific state actors and belligerent parties within a specific armed conflict.

    BTW, al-Husayni was a despotic, despicable man, a quasi-dictator (he wasn’t a full one because he had no sovereign country to be a dictator of). Yes, he killed many Palestinian dissidents, but not because they disagreed with his desire to deny Jews “a tiny piece of land.” Again, you’re showing us here that you don’t know too much about the history of this region. Tiny piece of land? The Zionist settlers of the Yishuvs did not want a tiny piece of land. They wanted as much land as they could get, and they made it very obvious to Palestinians. There is no historical debate about that. It’s absolutely true. This is the root of Palestinian resistance against the zionist settlers. Palestinians were angry that the zionist settlers (a small demographic minority) were clearly wanting to take as much land from them as possible (and after 1917 with the consent and sometimes aid of the British colonizers). This is what really infuriated them and led to the “Arab revolt” of the 1930s (which led to casualties on both sides so already these two sides were fighting it out back then).

    What is “Eretz Israel”? How would an Israeli define that word? What was the homeland that the jewish settlers of Palestine were staking a claim to? Was it just Tel Aviv? Did they just want a little chunk between say Tel Aviv and Haifa with a little of Jerusalem? No. To them, the land that was “rightfully theirs” was the whole enchilada. Even though they were a demographic minority, they wanted as much of Palestine as they could get. This conflict is about people fighting over the supremacy of a land and not much else.

    Yes, al-Husaini was a Nazi sympathizing despot but that doesn’t excuse how the Zionist settlers of Palestine removed and/or scared into exile hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages (most of whom did not think or act like Husaini and instead, were just average people trying to survive) and never allowed them to come back. Neither does the fact that Arabs kill Arabs excuse such disproportionate amount of civilian deaths in Gaza. Israelis shoudl measure their actions not by what their neighbors do but what is right and what is wrong. In the US, we don’t say: “oh it’s ok that our government is torturing people, spying on Americans, and making corrupt deals in Washington… countries in Latin America do worse things.” If you are a true patriot, if you really love your country, that’s no excuse. We should condemn countries when they do bad things under the highest of all standards between right and wrong.

    No one deserves to die in war. There is no excuse for killing a single civilian.

  26. Larry, you are misrepresenting what I said. From the article to which I provided a link: “The CLA [branch of the IDF] contacted the PA Health Ministry and asked for the names of the dead. We were told that Hamas was hiding the number of dead.” Although the previous quote refers to the dead supposedly killed when the IDF was falsely accused of shelling a U.N. school, it’s probable that the names of Palestinian dead in the whole Operation Cast Lead came from the PA Health Ministry. Also from that same article: “Much controversy and confusion has surrounded the number of Palestinian noncombatants killed during Israel’s three-week campaign against Hamas, with the IDF and the Shin Bet refusing to release official numbers to refute Hamas allegations. Israeli estimates were intermittently leaked to the press but not published in official press statements.” Thus, the figure of 1338 killed was not an official Israeli figure but an official Palestinian one. Israel has taken the names provided, though, and identified 1200 of them. I don’t think we know if all those people are really dead or, if so, whether all of them were killed by Israeli fire. For example, although the IDF was accused of killing 42 at the U.N. school, the U.N. itself has now exonerated Israel of the charge that it shelled the school and it appears that the death toll from Israeli shells that fell not on the school or schoolyard but in a nearby street may have been much smaller. However, of the names Israel was given, Israel has “conclusively incriminated” 580 as terrorists. Among another 300 categorized by the Palestinians as noncombatants, Israel has identified women terrorists as well as the wives and children of a Hamas commander who wouldn’t let his family leave their house in spite of an IDF warning that it was going to be targeted. The report also states that 320 of the names have yet to be identified but that most are men and the IDF expects that two-thirds of them will probably turn out to have been terrorists. As for whether the figure of 1338 is even correct, I don’t suppose we’ll know that for awhile. But it does seem the Palestinian claim that more than 2/3 of the Palestinians killed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead were non-combatant civilians is not going to bear up under scrutiny. Others have mentioned the Mohammed al-Dura hoax and the so-called Jenin massacre that turned out not to have been a massacre. We’ve also seen a “corpse” that fell off a stretcher get back on it with the aid of the corpse’s own two legs and a “corpse” knocked down by an ambulance backing up to receive it get up and walk. Is it any wonder people are a bit suspicious of what comes out of Pallywood?

    As for my statement that Arabs have killed more Arabs than Israelis have, I stand by it. If you don’t want to consider the Black September figures, stop and think about other Arab conflicts: al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, killed Arabs who didn’t agree with him about denying the Jews a tiny piece of the Holy Land, Sadaam Hussein killed Shiites in Iraq and Shiites and Sunnis have gone on killing each other in Iraq, Muslim Arabs have killed Christian Arabs in Lebanon and vice versa, white Arabs have killed black Arabs in Darfur, Hamas has killed all sorts of Fatah members, and so forth and so on. I wish this bloodshed among brothers were not true, but it is true.

  27. Larry

    One more thing:

    Here’s what legendary Jewish American journalist I.F. Stone once wisely stated:

    “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials (and I would add people people) smoke the same hashish they give out.”

  28. Larry


    First you quote an article that says that only 600 Palestnians have died (because some doctor that a reported interviewed says so), and now you change it to 1200. Now you claim that “Arabs have killed many more Arabs than Israel ever has in its wars.”

    For your information, the official estimate says that about 3,400 Palestinians were killed in Black September (Sept. 1970) by the Jordanian army. That’s a lot for one month (a complete massacre, no doubt).

    Compare that though to the 6,348 Palestinians that Israelis have killed since 2000 (1,072 Israelis were killed by Palestinians in that period).

    “Arabs have killed many more Arabs than Israel ever has in its wars”?

    What you say here is patently false. Clearly you have absolutely no idea about what you’re talking about.

    Look it up: in every single conflict and in every single year in which Israel has used its military might, Israel has killed more Palestinians than vice versa.

    There’s no doubt that people fudge the numbers on both sides (as you are doing right now), but even taking this into account, the amount of Palestinian deaths (and injuries, destruction of property, etc.) are always disproportionate.

    Here’s another good one for you: 123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,487 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

    Click here:

    and see for yourself.

  29. This is for Jose, who says the IDF has officially stated that 1,338 Palestinians were killed in Operation Cast Lead. This is the Palestinian figure, and the IDF has based a 200-page report on this Palestinian figure. But please see: The IDF has now identified more than 1200 of these Palestinians. It has their names and, in many cases, their terrorist affiliations. And the IDF CIVILIAN casualty tally simply doesn’t match the Palestinian “civilian” claim. It’s not just the number of Palestinian casualties that matters, though that number is very small because the IDF took particular care to cause as few casualties as possible. The relevant question is, How many of the casualties were terrorists? Of course, if terrorists are equivalent to ordinary civilians in anybody’s estimate and thus should be spared, then the fact that a large number of the casualties were terrorists will still be fodder for condemning Israel. I would ask, however, how many Israelis you estimate have been killed in Arab-initiated wars waged against Israel or Arab terrorist attacks? Or while we’re looking at numbers, here’s an easy one to look up: How many Palestinians did King Hussein kill in Jordan during the Black September Revolt? Arabs have killed many more Arabs than Israel ever has in its wars, all of which have been defensive.

  30. Benjamin is misquoting Abba Ebban based on a Noam Chomsky distortion. At, in the article “Lost of Translation,”
    one can read: “Another example of Chomsky’s method can be found on the very same page. Here we are given a selective quotation of Labor Party diplomat Abba Eban, who wrote that as a result of Israel’s reprisal policy, ‘there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.’ Chomsky reproduces the statement under the headline: ‘The Rational Basis for Attacking the Civilian Population’.54” Sorry, but it is Chomsky’s headline that makes things sound bad here, not Eban’s words, in which there is nothing about attacking civilian populations. Civilians obviously do suffer during wartime, even if there is no intention to attack civilians and only enemy fighters are specifically targeted. In Gaza, where Hamas fires rockets from civilian locations and also stores ammunition in such locations, civilians are bound to be injured or killed. In Israel this is cause for mourning, not rejoicing. But Hamas has directed its rockets at Sderot, an Israeli village, during hours when children are going to school. What does this say about their intentions?

  31. Bard Cosman

    As a UCSD faculty member, I was horrified when I saw the Ethnic Studies Guernica poster. I’d like to echo Michael Buczaczer’s comments of 2/18, and to commend your choice to cancel that ‘community forum,’ which would almost assuredly have been unproductive. Thanks for helping to preserve civility on our campus by nixing that ill-advised event. –Bard Cosman

  32. Denise

    Dear Jose, Rashne, Kit, Michelle, Lisa, Jodi, Dennis and others that I may have missed

    Thanks so much for your generous attempts to move this conversation from a toxic and wasteful blame terrain—where nothing goes anywhere because the ‘critics’ assume that anyone who they think disagrees with them is wrong, uninformed, and ill-intentioned—into the kind of intellectual space the Ethnic Studies Dept’s statement had hoped to open. 
I am sorry to see that so many of those who have chosen to contribute to this blog have missed a unique opportunity; that they have chosen to stay in the blame terrain; that they have opted to stay in that space where intellectual exchanges cannot be, the one that the strategies of liberal education have hoped to displace.

    What disappoints me the most, however, is the realization that some hold a very troubling view (if they see it at all) of the Ethnic Studies intellectual project. It is obvious, from the negative comments posted thus far, that none of the writers have even taken the time to read, to try to understand, to learn more about the work produced by the members of the Ethnic Studies department. They dismiss the statement as racist and reduce the concept of racial violence to name calling without doing their homework. No one has entertained the possibility that this concept might have basis other than the kind of nationalist thought and racist thought that have been deployed to justify the Holocaust and other modalities of racial violence. No one finds it necessary to read other statements released by the department, statements that clearly address other modalities of racial violence: from the most blatant ones (which result in the death of a large number of defenseless individuals with few strikes), through the daily ones that limit access to basic services and freedom of movement, to the symbolic ones that undermines our sense of self. 

    I find no commitment to knowledge in these dismissals, no desire to acknowledge and consider alternative theoretical perspectives, even after the department included an addendum that elaborates on the conceptual framework informing its analysis of the situation in Gaza. 

    If racism, being racist, refers to immediate disavowal of anything done by an other because of the assumption that that other is not worthy of serious consideration, because one already knows the limits of what that other has to offer, because it is believed that that other can be dismissed from the outset because they have nothing to add to our knowledge reservoir; well, if racism and being racist refers to that kind of attitude (and anyone familiar with the sociological framework knows that this disavowal is precisely a major trait social scientists have attributed to racist thought), then I have to say that these responses, from persons who do not even take the time to learn more about the kind of work the Ethnic Studies department does, these responses — to be sure, they are not properly responses, but reactions — well, they deserve that name.

    I understand the kind of nationalist thought that animates these reactions. As a social scientist, I have been trained to understand the causes and consequences of national, ethnic, and racial identification. I do not disavow them. I know, as a sociologist and as a human being, how and why one resorts to them. I may not agree with them. I certainly do not think — and here I am not alone — that they are the best basis for collective (political) life. But I do understand them. But they have a place. There are moments (places/times) which call for them. There are situations in which a collective cannot but respond with/through these kinds of identifications. 

    The Ethnic Studies dept’s statement on Gaza does not belong in that space; it is not based on the 19th century racial knowledge and its racial categories. It belongs in a different conceptual moment. It draws from contemporary theories of sovereignty and the state (by Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Achille Mbembe, David Theo Golberg, Hannah Arendt, among others) to reformulate the concept of the racial as a political concept, in the sense that it refers to a particular mode of power, the juridico-politico mode of power linked to the figure of the state. This particular formulation of the concept of the racial, and the formulation of the notion of racial violence it enables, inherits but modifies (and rejects many of the assumptions of) earlier anthropological and sociological formulations of the concept of race. It does not – actually, it refuses to — presuppose distinct groups identified by phenotype or cultural practices, it does refer or presuppose the notion of identity. It addresses state violent actions against collectives – actions the state justifies by referring to these collectives’ moral particularities, their intrinsic criminality — as separate from national claims. Further, unlike most twentieth-century writings, it analytically separates the moment of the state and the moment of the nation – if you don’t understand this distinction, please go back and check the literature on nation and nationalism – even if it realizes that in reality the two of them work in tandem. The privileged object of analysis here is the state: when it deploys racial/moral difference (as moral difference) to justify uses of its instruments of total violence; how it deploys moral different to identify its enemies, and how it uses racial/cultural (moral) difference to justify (with the objective of rendering it legal) actions that are otherwise morally and legally untenable from the point of view of liberal values. This is the terrain the statement inhabits. 

    I appreciate the fact that this is a difficult, complex perspective; I understand that it is easier to reduce it to something already-known, something that can be (apparently) easily dismissed. I understand that. But as an educator, I see it as a waste. A wasted opportunity to engage in productive conversations, an opportunity to build alliances, to find that intellectual space from where we can consider how all collectives affected by racial violence (regardless of the version of the concept of the racial informing the violent acts) can meet and together formulate projects that may enable peaceful collective existence across the globe. 

    I am not interested in placing blame; I have no time for “a battle of facts.” We all know facts can always go either way: the giants of post-Newtonian physics, Einstein and the quantum mechanics crowd (the likes of Heisenberg) have taught us that much. There are more pressing issues affecting the people of Israel, the people of Gaza and the West Bank, the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa; the people of color and Indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Australia, Jamaica, Cuba, Porto Rico, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador … So many, all over the world, dying so many times over … don’t have time for blame games. They need the rockets to stop, the tanks to move away, the check- points gone, the machine guns silent, the machetes down, the oil companies, mining companies, and loggers to go away.

We have so much, so many intellectual and material resources; resources that allow us, give us the privilege, the choice to come together and together devise strategies that geared toward peace and global justice. 
This, I think, animates the Ethnic Studies’ statement. It is a letter to the Obama administration and its and also an attempt to call our attention to the various modalities racial violence takes. It is a call for coalition. A naming of violence out of a concern with social/global justice and peace; a naming of violence which encourages all of us to remember that we are on the same boat; as the philosopher Immanuel Kant has said, and I paraphrase: we live on the same planet and we’d better take care of ourselves and stop fighting. We need to use all the material and intellectual resources necessary to take care of the home we share, the only one we know, the one we should care about: this planet earth, the globe.

  33. Change needed

    The ethnic studies statement brings up an important discussion of the situation in the Israeli/Palestinian area. We (U.S. policy namely) cannot afford to continue our blind and habitual support of Israel. The history is complex, yes, but one thing is clear, the nation of Israel is not much more than another European colonial project. The country founded in 1948 was an extension of Zionist philosophy (deemed by many to be racist) and completely disenfranchised a group of people within living memory (i.e. there are those who remember being forced from their homes). Israel also continues to appropriate land and water rights that serve only to suffocate Palestinians. One only need to look at the material project of the wall…a wall that defies the agreed upon 1969 boarders and solidifies political intentions to increase the piece of the Israeli pie. It is expansionism and invasion through a socio-historical and political project. Does this make life any easier for Israelis who live in a daily state of fear of across the border attacks? Of course not. On the other hand, Palestinian farmers are waking up to their lands being cut in half and appropriated, daily border crossings rife with humiliation and a never ending status of ambiguity (a country or not a country? Recognized or not recognized?). You only have to read Chris Hedges’s account of border guards shooting boys, and in some cases killing them, for throwing rocks! Palestine uses “terror” and Israel always has and continues to use military might. Palestine does not have a military, so like many peoples around the world (including American Patriots pre the Revolutionary war) use tactics of “terror” and surprise. Israel has the power, not Palestine. Incidentally, it is important to recognize that Hamas has not always been in power. This is a more recent phenomenon. When there was a historical moment for dialogue, Israeli’s leaders refused to engage in anything meaningful. Read Carter’s book “Peace, not Apartheid”. Does this mean that “soft targets” are acceptable? Certainly not! But whether the weapon is across the border missiles, or a systemic mode of oppression, civilians are de-humanized and victimized. The Western international community continues to hardline the Palestinian position by not recognizing the very real racial, ethnic and religious terror that the State of Israel has perpetuated in the region since 1948. All in the effort to create a homeland that previous to 1948 was only 3% Jewish!! If we are going to continue to support Nation-State identities based in outmoded categories of identity and policies that privilege European projects of colonialization we will never be rid of the specter or “ethnic” violence. If you don’t realize that what is happening in Gaza is racist, read your Zionist literature. One final note, many Nazis, in the early days of the Hitler regime, were Zionists. They passionately believed in the exportation of Jews to their own homeland, and this is what they helped to facilitate. We cannot undo this history, but perhaps, recognizing it helps put the Palestinian position in perspective. And the project of victimization continues…

  34. Paskrix

    Thank goodness I graduated from UCSD before these types of activities started to take place. Never in my five years on that campus did I feel as alienated, offended, and insulted as I did the day I read the Ethnic Studies department’s “Statement on Racial Violence in Gaza”.

    The accusation that Israel’s attack was one of “racial violence” blows my mind. After visiting the country several times over the past five years and volunteering with more ethnic groups than I have ever encountered at home, it is difficult for me to read this claim and take it at all seriously.

    Has anyone from the Ethnic Studies Department ever even heard of Operation Moses? How about Operation Soloman? How about the peaceful existence of Ethiopians and Arabs in Israel at all? Last time I checked, they’re “people of color” and they have as loud of a voice and as many rights as anyone else in the country. They LOVE Israel, they SUPPORT Israel, and given the opportunity, they would never go back to the oppression they faced at home. (their words, not mine).

    Why then, I ask, is it so difficult to understand that Israel has the right to, and will defend itself forever? Please acknowledge, Ethnic Studies Department and your minions, that “defending” oneself implies an initial attack which must then be thwarted. In no way shape or form do I condone the loss of civilian life, but the fact that HAMAS calls for just that is an even bigger problem. For 8 years rockets fell (and continue today mind you) with no aim whatsoever but to kill as many Israeli’s as possible. Israel retaliated by organizing the destruction of a terrorist organization. Where does race play a card here at all?

    Members and Faculty of the Ethnic Studies Department: I appreciate your concern for the Palestinian people in Gaza and your desire to help. Please, if you truly care about the well being of the Palestinian people and would like to see peace in the region, try a few of these ideas…

    1. Write a letter condemning HAMAS for being a self-proclaimed terrorist organization aimed at destroying both Israel and the United States.

    2. Help the Palestinian people establish a progressive government (not a terrorist organization) that will not selfishly absorb the majority of the aid to the region.

    3. Demand that the hate-filled indoctrination of hundreds, if not thousands, of people worldwide be stopped TODAY.

    To Peace,

  35. Roberto Hernández

    A Neighbor, in respecting the wishes of the ES blog editor, I will not respond to your ad hominem attack on me. Rather I will simply say that your previous posts collectively suggest a narrow perspective that I chose to point out and indicate that such perspective, if maintained, “may” lead you to say certain uninformed things such as the all too common (and problematic) assumption that students in Ethnic Studies must have necessarily been admitted to the UC through affirmative action in the first place. If this is not your position, great!, yet you need not respond so defensively… As to which fellowships I have EARNED and are paying for my education (along with my own tax/work dollars), I will leave that to the fellowship application readers. Unfortunately, tax dollars (both your and my own) have been cut from education, $8billion in the last budget alone, so the proportion of both of our tax money going to education is increasingly minimal. Most importantly though, let’s not lose sight of the issue that this blog’s discussion is about: so the only pertinent issue left is that taxes (your and my own) are being spent to fund the IDF killings of Palestinian civilians in the overt use of collective punishment in densely populated zones of Gaza. This has already being drawn out in the other 70+ posts, so I will not go down this path and simply say have a good night!

  36. observer

    At first I thought the ethnic studies department was just a little bit irresponsible with the post, leaving out some sides of the issues that i felt they could have spent more time addressing to give a larger context of the situation. Now however, I am starting to get a kind of scared of the department. The words and intensity used by Jose and Roberto is really starting to scare me, and Im starting to feel like the dept has some sort of vendetta against Israel. Does anyone else find the behavior of the dept of late rather frightening? Why is it that grad students whose fields of study have little to nothing to do with the middle east deem it necessary to be the spokespeople for the entire dept? Why haven’t the full time faculty members made any comments or backed up their statements on here?

    I please just ask for everyone to take a cool head on these matters. These are very difficult issues, but to claim threats and intimidation tactics are being used against you only when the student body is concerned for its own safety is a little cowardly in my opinion.

    I respect everyone’s views and their rights to express them, but when people go out of their way to insist upon their views and try to pass them as an official policy of a dept on campus can be pretty intimidating to a large portion of the student and local population.

    I am not against an open forum where real dialogue can be carried out, but to blast an entire state and sum up 60 years of complex history on a school website with little opportunity for counter argument or rebuttle is also rather cowardice in my opinion.

    My final point is for those who are really trying to set a good example for the department (Jose and Roberto) it is probably best not to completely discredit and label someone as ignorant and racist just because they have a different opinion. It seems to me that one of the things that should really show why this dept really can be a great thing is its ability to listen to ALL views, and not look down on different opinions with the very prejudices you speak against. I do recognize the same thing is probably being carried out against you guys, but you are supposed to be the scholars in this forum and therefor have a greater responsibility to live up to that title, and represent the department you are defending.

    Thank you for your time.


  37. Larry


    Where did you read the word genocide in the original statement? I couldn’t find it.

    Are u talking about the “systematic extermination” thing? I looked extermination up in the dictionary and it says it means “destruction.” It also means banishment, or elimination. This is not necessarily by death. It could be exterminating a people (as in a culture, a civilization) by making it difficult for those people to live in a land with the hope that they reproduce less, die from starvation or disease, or just move away somewhere else. The question is whether this accurately describes the misdeeds that Israel has done to the Palestinian people in the past (and yes, there have been misdeeds. You can argue they have been defensive, but there’s no denying they happened).

    Let’s not forget that in the history of Israel there has always been one camp that has tried to claim as much land as possible for as many Jews as possible with the least amount of non-Jews possible. This goes all the way back to Theodore Herzl in the 19th C. and Ben Gurion & Co. in the early 20th C. “A land without a people for a people without a land”, right? Or as Golda Meir once famously said, “there is no such thing as a Palestinian.”

    In Israel, many know that to be a fact. Could this be a historical form of systematic extermination of Palestinians?

    There’s also todays proponents of consolidating a Jewish majority in “Greater Israel.” That is what all the settlers openly say the want to do. The land grab of taking the Sinai, Gaza, and the West Bank in 1967 was also a move to grab as much of “greater Israel” as possible and hope that Palestinians would disappear (hence the governmental sanction to the establishment of settlements. If it would have been purely a military/defensive move, Israel wouldn’t have allowed those people to move in) . Also, the collective punishment of Gazans through a siege that most independent observers claimed was cruel collective punishment to say the least can be interpreted to be a form of systematic extermination. We can disagree about Israel’s conduct in the war. The human rights orgs say one thing, the Israeli state says another. Bottom line is that there could be cases in which exesses were committed. The question then remains why did they happen? Were there the misdeeds of rotten apples (every army has them; our military which is as well trained as Israel’s has tons as we’ve seen in every US war)? If so, why so many civilian causalties every time Israel takes military actions in Gaza? Why is it every year in every confrontation between palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza many many more Palestinian civilians die than Israelis die? Does that mean that there are many mistakes, many rotten apples, or is there something in Israel’s (secret) rules of engagement that accounts for these losses? I agree maybe the wording here is not as accurate as it could be (extermination could be confused with genocide). But wouldn’t you agree that these are legitimate questions nonetheless? Wouldn’t you also agree that even if you add every single incident of acts of violence and terrorism, destruction of property, grabbing of land, etc perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis, they pale in comparison to the amount of death, destruction, and grabbing of land that Israel has done against the Palestinians?

    Israel would never committ genocide against Palestinians. I don’t believe it’s in people’s morals and even if it was, the world wouldn’t allow it. Does Israel want to get rid of as many Palestinians as possible in order to preserve a Jewish majority (this is also talked about openly and quite often in Israel, the demographic doomsday scenario)? That’s a different question. What do you think?

    Oh and also, about the Hamas charter, it’s an ugly ugly document. However, there’s lots of Jewish right wing extremists in Israel that hold exactly the same sort of views towards Palestinians (and interpret Jewish religious texts in a way that legitimize these views). Unfortunately, in all civilizations, every so often, some people try to use religion to legitimize hate and violence (think of all the people that Christians have killed under the pretext of evangelization).

    Also, the fact that Hamas is a bad organization doesn’t necessarily automatically make the state of Israel a saint. After all, Israel has killed many more Palestinian civilians than Hamas or any other Palestinian militant group ever has. That, in my opinion, is the ugly nature of this and all other civil conflicts in the world. Both sides are corrupt and the good peace-loving people are stuck in the middle (and sometimes compelled or forced to take sides).

  38. ethnicstudiesucsd

    I would like to remind you all of the blog commenting rules which asks that your responses be “truthful, respectful and professional. This space is for constructive, scholarly dialogue. It is not an all-purpose public forum for venting unsubstantiated opinions and/or personal attacks.” Please refrain from making strongly worded ad hominem attacks against other contributors. That is not the point of this forum. Although I’d hate to censor anyone’s contributions to this conversation, if you persist in attacking people personally, I will remove all of your comments and permanently block you from entering future responses.


    the ES blog editor

  39. Ori

    I am really looking for a response from someone in the department to my previous post that quotes the hamas charter….

    And I’m sorry, but I still have to comment on this ‘racial’ issue as one of genocide. I can see from the addendum that there is a jargon in the Ethnic Studies field that I do not understand, but let’s at least agree on what is meant by genocide, or ’systematic extermination’. Considering the strength of the Israeli Military, they are really doing a terrible job with their goal to systematically exterminate the Palestinians. Do we at least agree that the IDF is a very strong and intelligent army? They must be screwing this up so bad…let’s throw some numbers out there:

    there are 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza alone.
    Let’s assume, even though the numbers are constatly changing, that 1000 Palestinian civilians were killed. That means that less than .07% of the population was killed.

    Please don’t mistake this calculation for any disregard for the value of human life. I truly mourn the loss of innocent life, but:

    Your comparison of this to GENOCIDE is not only incorrent in its context, but does injustice and disrespects true instances of genocide.

    How many people died in Darfur? Georgia? Iraq?

  40. A Neighbor

    Mr. Hernandez states:

    “This is indicative, not of “affirmative action” as your myopic perspective may lead you to want to blurt out…”

    My reply:

    Do not put words in my mouth young man. My tax dollars pay for your education so show some respect!

    I am not certain what sort of group you feel you belong to that requires affirmative action, but I am 100% certain that Ethnic Studies majors are NOT a protected minority.

    You are acting like an arrogant fool and owe me an apology. Now do your homework and go to sleep!

  41. A Neighbor

    Mr. Hernandez states:

    “This is indicative, not of “affirmative action” as your myopic perspective may lead you to want to blurt out…”

    My reply:

    Do not put words in my mouth young man. My tax dollars pay for your education so show some respect!

    I am not certain what sort of group you feel you belong to that requires affirmative action, but I am 100% certain that Ethnic Studies majors are NOT a protected minority.

    You are acting like an arrogant fool and owe me an apology. Now do your homework and go to sleep!

  42. Roberto Hernández

    Bruce, which part of “some of which have been specifically threatening to faculty and students who do Ethnic Studies research and teaching at UCSD” do you not understand? ES has been forthcoming with the specifics to the extent that they see it necessary and respective of individuals’ privacy. To what extent did you insist that the Bush administration “owe it to the community to surface with specifics” on the nature of “threats” that were used to legitimate the BS color-coded culture of hysteria and fear that resulted in the loss of your and my own civil liberties? The forum is canceled until everyone learns how to have a mature conversation that doesn’t involve accusations or “radical nonsense” but rather is grounded in sound and reasoned arguments aware of how their own premises are inflected in the conversation and also subject to debate, so as to establish some mutual ground on which to speak from… you clearly must think about your own presuppositions further…

  43. Bruce Kesler

    Your cancellation notice says, “However, the character of the responses that we have received–some of which have been specifically threatening to faculty and students who do Ethnic Studies research and teaching at UCSD”. If that’s so, you owe it to the community to surface with specifics to deal with it. I suspect, however, that the widespread opposition and dissection of your radical nonsense is itself the “character” you speak of but really you’re actually afraid of having an open forum in which your radical nonsense is widely challenged.

  44. Yoel Saidian

    Dear Benjamin Balthaser,

    thank you for taking time out of your day to give us your 2 cents.

    I can sit down with you and professor Jose and discuss this manner for hours.

    However, one of the many things that you stated that lack substance and need further explanation is your statement…

    “I would argue that in the United States especially, we are often told only one side of the story: that Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense as an unprovoked response to Hamas’ rockets; Hamas is a terrorist organization; Hamas does not desire peace or negotiation. Like any statement by a good lawyer, there is a grain of truth, but it discounts all facts in basic opposition to its assertion of Israel’s legitimacy.”

    Often told one side? In the United States?

    Go read the Nation, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Washing Post, Economist and various other institutions that explain the “other side” of the story. JUST GOOGLE the words “Hamas” “Israel” or “Israel Hamas conflict” and read the articles that appear on your search list from a variety of sources! If you are not satisfied, go to college campuses around the world, including your very own UC San Diego, and participate in group activities and events that are dedicated in explaining, once again, the “other side” of the story that we do not “often” hear about.

    Thank you

  45. Roberto Hernandez

    And, A Neighbor, an ES major has by most accounts some of the highest post-graduation job attainment ratios, compared to other departments on campus… This is indicative, not of “affirmative action” as your myopic perspective may lead you to want to blurt out, but rather of the flexibility and expansive training in various areas of social life that constitutes an Ethnic Studies undergraduate training, as opposed to the indeed limited types of training one gets in traditional departments that tend to compartmentalize society, as they do knowledge, into rigid little boxes that bear no semblance to the complicated lives we lead

  46. Roberto Hernandez

    A Neighbor, it appears you have yet to read the Addendum… That you think the event would “turn into yet another anti-Jewish riot” is a misinformed and racist to say the least. Please keep in mind that Ethnic Studies departments are, for some people, the ONLY safe places on campus to take courses. That you conjure up the image of fear in relation to Ethnic Studies is particularly insidious, given the history of racial violence and culture of fear that has made people of color an object to be feared. I need only point you to Frantz Fanon’s superb psychiatric study of French colonialism in Black Skin, White Masks.
    If you live near campus, then I recognize that you would want to know what is going on there, but please do not repeat the fear-mongering that has in fact been part of the reason for the need of the intellectual probing that shapes Ethnic Studies.

  47. Roberto Hernandez

    JJ your comment was posted after I submitted my own, but it should go without saying that your comment is equally uncritical and unproductive. Just one example: “Spewing venom on one tiny country that merely defended itself is called constructive engagement? Whoever wrote this needs to have his head examined.” That you refer to a well-articulated and documented “critique of a structural formation” that is the State of Israel, particularly in light of its recent attack of Gaza, as “spewing venom” is indicative of the ground on which the ES dept’s attempt at a dialogue would have been held. That is, a hostile environment in which individuals, like yourself, would not be willing to withhold judgement and instead attack verbally the personal being of those with whom you disagree by saying they “need to have their head examined.” No need to pathologize any one please… Instead, I would ask that you (in a non-pathologizing-way if you prefer) think about your own presuppositions as you approach this debate. The point of the cancellation, in my estimation, is not that there is a lack of “bravery” (check yourself on what you mean by that, btw), but rather that the intellectually rigorous and responsibly minded folks in the ES Dept. recognize that people would be simply speaking past each other rather than at/with one another. In other words, there is no dialogue to be had when there is no mutually shared ground for it. In the current context this means that most would simply by arguing at the level of content and accusations, without once stepping back to think about the premises and presuppositions informing ones’ “content”. That everyone is accusing each other of being biased or using biased information, without considering what are the relations of power informing the production and legitimacy of any given source is to me indicative of this talking past each other. That any country is a “tiny country” or larger country does not divorce them from the structural and geopolitical location they hold with global relations of power. The interplay of power and racial logics is key here, as in the original ES statement and its Addendum… Please take some time to reflect on this, and your premises at their intersections with power and racial logics, before posting here again, thank you!

  48. A Neighbor

    No, I am not a student at UCSD so why would I have taken any ES courses?

    I was just afraid that your meeting would turn into yet another anti-Jewish riot like has happened at UC Irvine and other campuses.

    After you graduate and try to find jobs (with an ES major, good luck!) I still have to live here. Please take your radical activities elsewhere.

  49. Ben Bluen

    Just a quick response to your addendum:

    Just the first sentence of your statement of racial violence is:

    “Racial violence is a state-sanctioned and/or extralegal mode of power exercised in order to control, subjugate or exterminate a people due to the idea that the latter always already pose a threat to the civilization of the former.”

    The IDEA that the latter always pose a threat to your civilization–this is not an idea that the other side is a threat, this is HAMAS! They don’t want to threaten Israel, they want it destroyed! (see their charter)

    Ethnic Studies department, I really think that you are commenting on Israel’s recent Gaza campaign just because you have nothing better to do other than to bash Israel. Not a single link on your webpage supports Israel- all have a negative viewpoint. (Darfur, Burma, and other places suffer from state-sponsored violence, why don’t you comment on those–or do you just hate Israel?)

    Either way, there is a clear distinction between Israel’s military action in Gaza and other acts of violence. For instance, white vs. black racial violence was evident in the US for years. Why were blacks victims of racial violence? Because they were black. Why were Jews, gypsies, and other groups massacred in the Holocaust? Because they simply were Jews and gypsies.

    I hope people such as Roberto Hernandez can see that Israel does not kill Palestinians (although it is very unfortunate that this does happen) just because they are Palestinians. Israel went after HAMAS, a terrorist group that fires rockets into Israel that are meant to murder as many people as possible. Unfortunately, innocent Palestinians are killed in the crossfire of a brutal war. However, my point remains to the ethnic studies department that Israel does not simply go around killing as many Palestinians as possible, although you may think so. Israel fights to defend its people from ruthless attacks from Hamas, a group that also previously sent suicide bombers to blow up Israeli buses, shops, and hotels. Israel tries to root out these terrorists, not destroy the Palestinian population. So please, in the future, please think before you place Israel’s recent Gaza campaign in the same realm as the Holocaust or another genocide.

  50. Ori

    Ok…let’s talk about ‘racialization’

    Does this look familiar?

    The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

    Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war. “We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loves not corrupters.” Sura V (Al-Ma’idah—the Table spread), verse 64.

  51. Professor José Fusté:

    In the Ethnic Studies Department website you recently wrote (02/12/09):
    “Unlike … ADL, this is not an advocacy group that paints itself as a media watchdog.”
    For the record, the Anti-Defamation League is a civil rights organization and not a media watchdog. Our mission clearly states that The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

    You also wrote (02/22/09):
    “Incidentally, where’s the love of the Anti-Defamation league for these people? If the ADL is actually committed to fighting “extremism and bigotry” and “protecting the fair treatment of all people” alike, you’d think they’d devote at least three times as much money to fighting antimuslim sentiment in the US. You’d also think that they’d devote much more money to fighting anti-black, anti-Latino, anti-Native American, anti-Asian or Asian-American, anti-LGBT, and anti-disabled discrimination and hate crimes which in sum are waaaaaay more in terms of quantity and severity than anti-Jewish discrimination and hate crimes.”

    From your comment it is clear to us that you feel compelled to criticize our work without knowing what we actually do. The Anti-Defamation League is a leading provider of anti-bias education and diversity training programs that help create and sustain inclusive home, school, community and work environments. We fight against bigotry and discrimination through our prestigious educational programs like the Miller Early Childhood Initiative, the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute and No Place for Hate®. We conduct hate crimes training for police officers on and investigate extremism in all its forms.

    We work with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the National Urban League, the NAACP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Chicano Federation among others.

    We would be happy to explain to our work with the Muslim, African American, Asian, Latino, Native American and LGBT communities to you.

    Please contact our office for more information (619) 293-3770

  52. Roberto Hernández

    Most statements here confirm precisely the reasons why the department felt they needed an ADDENDUM TO ITS STATEMENT ON RACIAL VIOLENCE IN GAZA. That is, to clarify what is meant by Race, Racial Violence, Racial Logics, critique of structural formations, etc. It is clear to me that Neighbor, Michael, Roberto, Phillip, Nili, and Tibi have likely not taken any ES courses, nor taken the time to want to engage in any serious dialogue. READ THE ADDENDUM before you comment, please!

  53. J.J. Surbeck

    So the Gaza Ethnic Studies Community Forum has been cancelled… How interesting. I don’t know too many people who will shed crocodile tears. As the post-mortem explains: “we had hoped that the forum would provide us with a critical space to elaborate on the intellectual basis of the Department of Ethnic Studies’ Gaza statement”. Right… In plain English, what this means is “we had hoped that the forum would provide us with a chance to celebrate (amongst ourselves, that is) a bona fide hatefest against Israel for having had the audacity to defend itself against relentless terror”, all of course within the safe boundaries of “a critical space” to elaborate on the “Gaza statement” (read racist screed). And all of course for the specific purpose of combating racism. So what happened to this admirable dedication to fight the evil scourge of racism? Where are the brave members of the ESD?

    The best part was the vague allusion that “the character of the responses that we have received … have been specifically threatening to faculty and students who do Ethnic Studies research and teaching at UCSD”. What type of threat, we are not informed. Just a vague threat. So the courageous knights who days before were excoriating in vile terms Israel’s defense of its population all of a sudden cowered because some voices objected to their intellectual dishonesty. I’m sure the student body will be duly impressed by the courage of their mentors.

    And the best came last: “this kind of intellectual, constructive engagement would not be possible at this time”. “Constructive engagement”? Spewing venom on one tiny country that merely defended itself is called constructive engagement? Whoever wrote this needs to have his head examined. The parents of students attending classes taught by such warped minds have every right to demand that they be removed.

    If the Ethnic Studies department really wanted a constructive dialogue, they would have held the forum as planned and engaged the voices who disagreed with them, but that was too risky, wasn’t it? It’s so much easier to abuse or intimidate students who either don’t know any better or who fear for their grades, but when rumor has it that there will be voices in the room challenging the speakers every step of the way, the buffoons simply deflated and called off the event for fear of being exposed. We are not impressed.

  54. mary

    I really hope that one day we will be able to talk about this subject and other issues that involve racial violence in the near future. This forum was a space created so that we could share our opinions, stories, and knowledge not a forum to wage threats, or exchange names. I hope that those that conduct themselves in this way will one day realize that their actions are not productive at all.

  55. Michelle

    Hi all, I wanted to share a strongly worded press release from Congressman Brian Baird on a recent trip he and Congressman Keith Ellison made to Gaza. His observations reflect the pressing concerns of many- not just those within UCSD’s Ethnic Studies department.
    February 19th 2009

    Brian Views Destruction in Gaza – Calls for Immediate Relief and Change in Policy

    Washington, D.C. – Two members of Congress, Brian Baird (D-WA-03), and Keith Ellison, (D-MN-05), visited Gaza on Thursday to view firsthand the destruction from recent Israeli air and ground attacks and to meet with international and local relief agencies. This visit, which did not have the official sanction of the Obama Administration, is the first time anyone from the U.S. government has entered Gaza in more than three years.

    Prior to Gaza, both Congressmen met with the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Saeb Erekat, as well as with Dr. Riad Malki Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority. On Friday, Baird and Ellison will tour the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have been the target of numerous rockets before and throughout the recent attacks launched from within the Gaza strip.

    “Staff from the U.S. State Department advised us of security concerns for our own safety, and we are well aware of the sensitive political issues involved in this visit,” said both Congressmen in an official release.

    “We believe it is important to be here to see what happened for ourselves, to meet with people who have been affected, and to express our concern and support,” said Congressman Baird.

    “We also want to better understand what can and must be done to recover from the destruction, address the underlying issues, and work toward a lasting, just and peaceful resolution,” added Congressman Ellison.

    After spending the day visiting various locations within Gaza and meeting with civilians and relief workers, Baird and Ellison were deeply affected by what they had seen and heard.

    “The stories about the children affected me the most,” said Ellison. “No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.”

    “The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering” said Baird, “Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental water, sewer, and electricity facilities hit and relief agencies heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching – what went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.”

    Inquiring about the status of relief efforts, the Congressmen learned that some aid material has been allowed in since the intensity of the attacks lessened a month ago, but much is still being blocked by the Israeli defense forces. Examples of aid that has been banned by the Israeli Government include: lentils, macaroni, tomato paste, lentils and other food. Basic building materials, generator fuel and parts to repair damaged water treatment equipment have also been kept out.

    “If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance. We are glad that the Obama administration acted quickly to send much needed funding for this effort but the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food and repair essentials is unacceptable and indefensible. People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in” said Baird and Ellison.

    The Congressmen’s concerns about treatment of Palestinians were not limited to Gaza. They also visited Palestinian hospitals that treat patients from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There they met with doctors, nurses and hospital directors who described how official Israeli policies and restricted border checkpoints make it exceedingly difficult and expensive for patients, nurses, medical technicians, and other essential personnel to reach the hospital to receive or provide care.

    “It’s hard for anyone in our country to imagine how it must feel to have a sick child who needs urgent care or is receiving chemotherapy or dialysis, then be forced to take a needlessly lengthy route, walk rather than drive, and wait in lines as long as two hours simply to get to the hospital. As a health care professional myself, I found this profoundly troubling, no, actually it’s beyond that, it is outrageous,” said Baird.

    Responding to this and other issues the Congressman emphasized that fundamental changes and solutions are needed beyond the immediate challenges in Gaza.

    “The first and most urgent priority must be helping the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing. The entire region and the international community must recommit itself to making the difficult but necessary changes to bring about lasting and just peace and security for the region. President Obama has made important and encouraging initiatives, now it is up to leaders and citizens here to move forward toward that shared goal”

  56. Tibi

    First, I wonder what the Ethnic Studies have to do with the subject of Gaza, since both the Palestinians and the Israelis are each made up of different ethnic groups due to historical circumstances.

    Second, I wonder about all this commotion regarding that tiny region only. For years there have been huge ethnic cleansing genocidal actions going on in Africa and Asia, involving millions of casualties. Some of the ones that are still going on include a clear case of defenseless nonthreatening civilians, completely unarmed, which are being targeted purposely by armed countries or militias, with clear and expressed extermination intent.

    One of the regions most notorious for such actions have been South East Asia, where the honorable nguyễn võ thu hương or her parents is probably from. Judging by her comment, I am afraid she is doing a huge miss justice to her heritage, by helping this discussion to shift from the clear cases of vast genocide in her region of origin, to the tiny disputable struggle of the Jewish people for a piece of land to call their own.

    I would like to see all the UCSD individuals who condemned Israel on Gaza, after a few month of being unable to complete one day of studies because of rockets, launched on the campus from Tijuana. I would like to hear all you bleeding hearts when your exams are suspended, and your fancy graduation ceremonies are interrupted and canceled because of security concerns from Tijuana.

    I can only imagine the “eloquent” way in which you would address the inability to function and complete even one day of activities, at your Ethnic Department, for 8 whole years, because of a “Mexican Ethnic Group” claiming “their” California back. I suspect you will not be willing to wait 8 years for retaliation. Imagine what would happen to your research and to the private funding of such projects under those circumstances. These type of events, if happened here in San Diego, would at least cause you to stop talking about Israel for a change.

    And finally, don’t be mislead by some Israeli faculty members that seem to be against Israel the way you are. These individuals are not in exile escaping a totalitarian regime. They are free people who only prove how democratic, pluralistic, and liberal the tiny state of Israel is. They are all free to express their opinions in Israel, and will not be harmed, the way Palestinians lynch their opposition. Many of these faculty intellectuals has served and are serving in the IDF. In fact most of the elite fighting IDF units, as well as the best Air Force fighter pilots, have been manned by individuals who hold very liberal views.

    I suggest you set your priorities strait for a change…



  57. Hamza (Univ of Md)

    I find it disappointing this forum was canceled. As a Pro-Israel Muslim, and president of a Jewish Fraternity, I look forward to intellectual and academic discourse, even if the subject matter might not be my point of view. Very few Americans actually believe Israel is guilty of ethical misconduct in its recent military action against Hamas. Even fewer consider Hamas a viable partner in any peace process. However, our ability to question ourselves (the “our” being sensible, anti-Arab Terror human beings) is what makes us the better camp to be in.

  58. Roberto Hernández

    Hello Marina,

    The Addendum is pretty clear that the issue is one of “critique of structural formations—nation-states, governmental entities, the media”, and so your point of not being able to make an intellectual statement on an “ongoing incident” points to a flaw in your understanding of what is meant by “critique of structural formations”. Any “ongoing incident” occurs not in isolation, but within a longer history and structural formation that shapes its contours. This is an epistemological and methodological issue that you should take up with whoever you are taking courses. Please keep in mind that Ethnic Studies departments are, for some people, the ONLY safe places on campus to take courses. That you conjure up the image of fear in relation to Ethnic Studies is particularly insidious, given the history of racial violence and culture of fear that has made people of color an object to be feared. I need only point you to Frantz Fanon’s superb psychiatric study of French colonialism in Black Skin, White Masks. There is nothing to fear, but one’s own hesitance in the face of pointed intellectual inquiry. That, to me, is a red flag for you to think of your own presuppositions before making further uncritical and problematic remarks.

  59. Marina

    While this situation provides you with a wonderful case study as an example of oppression, it is much more to human subjects who are part of it. I see this as a flaw in your logical framework, as well as in a misunderstanding that leads to practical pain.
    You cannot use an ongoing conflict as a case study because on both sides, there are people who continue to hurt, and using this join pain can easily discriminate many on our university campus, the very same one that is intended to teach us.
    Many of my colleagues voiced their fear of ever taking another Ethnic Studies class. This, I see as a problem. And it is the only practical problem I present to you, because this conflict is not an academic incident, it is much more than that to all of its targets. So please consider this statement when making future remarks on ongoing hardships and having students discouraged from attending the department’s classes.

  60. Roberto Hernández

    Thank you for this well-written statement of clarification… Great job! And keep up the intellectual and political rigor that your department brings to the larger field of Ethnic Studies!

  61. J.J. Surbeck


    All the sources that you rely on are indeed very biased and therefore unreliable by themselves, allocating as they do the majority of their time and resources to the Israel-Arab conflict, to the detriment of all the others. Additionally, their reliability regarding the facts has been proven time and again to be driven by their political agenda rather their declared mission (be it the protection and defense of Human Rights or Humanitarian Law). It is symptomatic that there are legions of organizations who all have “human rights”, “peace” and “justice” in their name, when in fact they make a mockery of these lofty concepts by harping almost exclusively on Israel while ignoring the considerably worse offenses committed by every Arab country (to name only small portion of offenders worldwide). They follow the same logic you do: Israel must, by your definition, be a model student that is expected to respect all the rules, while all the others are allowed to literally get away with murder. Your double standard is sickening, and so is the way these unreliable organizations behave. But being the astute – if hopelessly biased – academic researcher that you are, you will of course ask for proof of what I’m saying, and that’s easy: read their reports and draw a chart of their resource allocation to the Israeli-Arab conflict as opposed to the rest, and then add another chart on top of all the conflicts going on in the world at any given time, and you’ll see the grotesque disproportion of resources obsessively allocated to the Middle East, while many areas in dire need of assistance remain wide empty spaces. It is beyond shameful, but your myopic obsession with Israel prevents you from seeing that dreadful big picture.

    Yes, the United Nations and the European Union are equally partial and unreliable sources because they have abandoned a long time ago the neutrality and objectivity that the citizens of the world are entitled to expect from them. These organizations were not created for the sole benefit of the Palestinian people and for the exclusive bashing of Israel. By the content of their lopsided number of anti-Israel resolutions and the huge amount of subsidies given away without supervision to the Palestinian thugocracy, they have and are still indeed proving that they have long ago decided to side with the aggressor and blame the victim, instead of the other way around.

    Don’t distort what I wrote: I said that the Israeli Government (incl. the IDF), the Jerusalem Post, and Daniel Pipes are indeed more trustworthy sources than B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, Haaretz, the Guardian, and all the other notoriously biased sources you listed as the ones you rely on, but I don’t claim that they should be the only ones. Contrary to you who demonize the ones I mention above, I think that an objective researcher and analyst, which clearly you are not, would use all sources available, use his head and proceed with analytical precision to find the truth, not just rely on the worn-out propaganda clichés of the pro-Palestinian mythical and unsubstantiated “history”. As for Palestinian sources themselves, they are notoriously unreliable, having shown time and again that facts are of no relevance when opposed to a good sloganeering opportunity (as illustrated in the famous Jenin hoax, followed later by the Mohammed Al Dura one). If you rely on these sources exclusively, you open yourself to blatant manipulation and lies. If you chose to be a willing dupe (i.e. you think you’re smart, but you clearly are not), that is your privilege, but don’t you dare demand of us that we do the same.

    Now look who’s using logical leaps and somersaults to make me say what I never said. I am not in the least interested in assessing whether every other department at UCSD is guilty of racism because that is not the issue. Nice try at obfuscating my point, José, but no cigar. What is troubling here is your pathological obsession with Palestinian “victims” and your blatant ignorance of far worse, and lethal, treatment of far larger segments of population, if only in Africa alone. You and your department claim to address the scourge of racism in the world, but in fact all you do is relentlessly bash Israel. You ignore real racism everywhere else under the excuse that you need to focus on an inexistent Israeli racism. You are the racist, on two counts: you couldn’t care less about the fate of black Africans, and you loathe anything Israeli in a way that any bona fide racist would envy. You are misappropriating time and resources to satisfy your personal agenda/vendetta/pathology. I believe the department of Ethnic Studies would be well inspired to remove you from your bully pulpit and take measures against such blatant abuse.

    Then you say that “all these conflicts in Africa deserve as much media attention and action as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict”. No, they don’t. You completely missed my point: they don’t deserve as much media attention, they deserve FAR MORE media attention. The Israeli-Arab conflict is, in terms of casualties, a tiny coda on the landscape of world human suffering, but your myopia makes it the most important one. You should be at the forefront of that fight, but instead you are betraying it. As for it being “unfortunate that Obama didn’t appoint several African envoys as well”, what would that achieve? So you can easily get off the hook because it’s not your problem any more, and you can go back to your favorite occupation of ranting and foaming at the mouth against Israel? That’s a copout if I’ve ever seen once.

    As for Mr. Pal Ahluwalia, the Department’s “specialist on African studies who has written extensively about all the conflicts you mention”, how nice to hear that he exists. How utterly strange then that the Department’s blog is filled with your ranting and we haven’t heard anything about Arab racism in Darfur or African racism in the Congo. You say that “other faculty members do research on matters of race and state violence in other parts of the world”, but (sadly) “of which nothing has been written in terms of departmental statements”. What a fascinating admission. So by default, even though you claim that research is being made in other areas, our luck (or rather misfortune) is that you’re the only one we are condemned to hear from? There may be some very respectable research made within the E.S. department, but since the only public one we hear about is the incredibly flawed and biased one you are producing, one is entitled to wonder if the rest of the department produces equally shoddy work. The department’s blog should indeed be the window to the world of ALL research accomplished there. There is no valid reason why it should be confiscated by one graduate student who uses it as his personal tribune. I hope someone in the E.S. Department is paying attention.

    Then you go on with a long string of absurd statements that prove how limited, and therefore partial, your understanding of the whole conflict is:
    “1) Palestinians are the longest suffering and largest refugee population in the world today (4.25 million people registered with the UN and an estimated million more unregistered).”
    Oh please. Ever heard of the Tibetans? Ever heard of the hundreds of millions of refugees who at the end of WWII were displaced and relocated? Ever heard of the 750,000 Jews from Arab countries who had to flee from places they had lived in for generations? The difference is that all of them were relocated and started new lives, as opposed to the Palestinians who were herded in 59 refugee camps where they still are today because that’s where their Arab “brethren” want them to stay, refusing to integrate them. Why don’t you use your considerable analytical skills (even if flawed) analyzing the brutal pattern of racism Arab countries practice towards the Palestinians? In Lebanon and Syria in particular, the Palestinian “refugees” are confined in mini-Bantustans (the UNWRA-run camps) from which they are barred to live. That is real Apartheid for you. Compare that to the 1.5 million Arab Israelis who are full citizens of Israel.

    “These, of course, are the descendants of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians that were expelled from what became Israel in 1948 and the ones that fled in 1967. None were ever allowed by Israel to return)”.
    The accepted figure is 650,000, not 750,000, and the overwhelming majority fled rather than being expelled. As to their not being allowed to return, why should Israel let them back in? The Arabs attacked with every intention to destroy Israel, the Arabs lost, end of story. If you don’t like the outcome of your actions, you should have thought about it before. It’s called taking responsibility for the consequences of your choices.

    “2) what makes this conflict unique is not so much its negative outcomes (in terms of numbers of casualties and victims there are much worse conflicts) but the amount of disinformation and spin that has historically surrounded it. Fortunately, the age of the internet and new historical research based on declassified Israeli documents and memoirs is changing that.”
    Not quite. What the age of the internet has brought to light is the uniquely peculiar ability of the Palestinians and their friends to rewrite history because they didn’t like the outcome of what actually happened (since they lost every time they attacked, they have reasons not to like it, I understand that, but everyone has to face unpleasant consequences for the choices they make, that’s no reason to rewrite history to pretend that the bad choices we made were never made). Hence the so-called oxymoronic “Palestinian narrative”. Oxymoronic because the very fact that it needs to be qualified as the “Palestinian” narrative indicates that truth has become irrelevant, replaced by a rosy version that blames the victim (it was Israel that was attacked by the Arabs, not the Arabs who were attacked by Israel), and glorifies the aggressor. It is indeed history upside down. Disinformation and spin are perfect synonyms for “Palestinian narrative”. The bottom line is that it is so thoroughly discredited that it is not worth paying any attention to any more.

    “3) the US has been at best extremely impartial and at worst extremely complicit in the conflict”
    And why, pray tell, should it always be the US job to solve that problem when its source remains the refusal of the Arabs to accept the existence of a Lilliputian state in their midst? Arab rejectionism is the one fundamental obstacle to peace, and if they are too immature to grow up and accept that reality, let them keep paying the price of instability. It is not the US’ responsibility to force Israel to make concessions with neighbors who never make any (with the wobbly exceptions of Egypt and Jordan). In strategic terms on the other hand, it is indeed the US responsibility to make sure that destabilizing states (Iran, Syria) or failed ones (Somalia, Lebanon) do not jeopardize the delicate equilibrium of the region. If anything, Israel is the only one that the US can solidly rely on in the entire Middle East.

    “and 4) most middle east experts agree that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is an enormous obstacle to creating peace and stability in the region (Israel gives many of the dictators and war lords in the Middle East plenty of excuses to exist by virtue of them (falsely) claiming to be the defenders of Arabs and/or Muslims against “the Americans” and “the Jews”).
    Do you realize the absolute absurdity of what you wrote here? Israel is the excuse for the many dictators and war lords’ existence in the region? Are you demented? Dictators and war lords since the beginning of times have never needed any excuse to be dictators and war lords and to do what dictators and war lords do, which is plunder and abuse their own people. One has to be severely dim-witted to attempt to establish a correlation between their abuse and the existence of a tiny State where these primitive practices do not hold sway. This comment actually betrays a really racist, demeaning and contemptuous attitude towards the Arabs: what you are saying is that they are too primitive to shed their barbaric ways, but since the problem can’t be stated in those terms, the next best thing is to find a convenient scapegoat, which by the very nature of its society is the exact opposite of these primitive countries. What better choice than Israel, who had the audacity to create a post-tribal country with values that benefit all its people rather than just the neighbor’s warlords and their kin? Beyond that, think about it: do you really think that you are helping the Palestinians by lining up one excuse after another for their inexcusable behavior (let me count the ways: complete rejectionism of Israel’s right to exist, systematic deceptions and lies, terrorism, culture of hate, victimology and dependency on international charity)? These are all the signs of an unruly, immature, stubborn and extremely disruptive adolescent. Normally it’s just a phase. But just as when idiotic and doting parents excuse all misbehavior on the part of their kids, which inevitably results in more and more offenses against society on the part of those kids, the Palestinians have been kept in this state of delayed adolescence by well-meaning but very misguided people of your sort, resulting in removing any incentive for them to ever change their behavior. The questions I have for you is: how much longer are you going to condone this adolescent destructive streak (and keeping blaming the neighbor)?

    “What I’m saying is that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is no small matter yet I do agree with you that there are others that are equally important.”
    So nice to hear you finally admit that, even though you are wrong again when you say there are other matters that are “equally” important. No, they are not “equally” important, they are considerably more important, for the simple reason that large numbers of people are not just inconvenienced, displaced, arrested or what have you, but are just plain massacred in other places. These are not abstractions. These are human beings wiped out because they happen to belong to the wrong group du jour. So, be consistent then: stop whining about the Israeli conflict, stop putting all the blame on the Israelis, start upbraiding the Palestinians into behaving like adults and responsible members of the world community, and last but not least, focus on places where racism is violently in effect. Then, maybe, the work done at the Ethnic Studies Department will start having some relevance.

  62. Philip

    I wonder what would happen if Hamas put down all their arms and asked for peace. There would be peace. I wonder what would happen if Israel put down all their arms? they would be wiped out. Why not ask this question at your wonderful event?

  63. Zain

    The Ethnic Studies Department at UCSD contains the most caring faculty I will ever come across in my life and no, that care is not just reserved for people of color as some have so discriminatingly accused. Many believe that the UCSD Ethnic Studies Department has “brought shame” to the city/university by posting an academic analysis of the recent attacks in the contested region of the Middle East, and by providing multiple forums for a rational and academic dialogue to take place. This department has done nothing but good. It has given myself and countless others a critical lens through which we may understand and manage the hateful, patriarchal, capitalist world we live in today.

  64. Rita Heller

    Racial violence is a misnomer.

    It is an impossibility, as both the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis (Jews, Hebrews) are semites. Therefore, using that expression with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is illogical.

    Origin: Shem (Hebrew: שֵׁם; Arabic: سام) was one of the sons of Noah in the Bible.

    Abraham, the patriarch of both Hebrews and Arabs, was one of the descendants of Shem.

  65. L.

    I am Jewish and teach some Jewish Studies at another campus. I encourage folks to read the Israeli newspaper HaAretz online because it’s clear that in Israel there is a fair amount of criticism and dispute over the same issues. Indeed, there are even some young Israelis who would prefer to go to jail rather than serve in the army in the occupied territories.
    Let us get beyond these simplistic notions of being either “pro-Israel” which seems to mean supporting Israeli state policies or “anti-Israel,” which seems to mean being against the existence of the State. How about those who are deeply concerned about/for Israel and who are also critical of its state policies and actions? Being critical of state actions does not make someone anti-Israel just as being critical of our policies in Iraq does not make one “anti-American.”
    I do think that there are anti-Semites in the world but it is very important to make that accusation judiciously. Being critical of Israel is NOT necessarily anti-Semitism! If that were the case, many Israelis would fall into that category. Let us be very careful about throwing around that term, using it only when it is deserved rather than trying to prevent critical discussion.
    I very much appreciate Jose’s last statement above from 2/22–it is thorough and thoughtful.

  66. Steven Demeter MD

    Shame on you! Your condemnation of the State of Israel for defending itself against daily bombardment by rockets fired from Gaza is either a naïve or a cynically anti-Semitic attack on the Jewish state. I say anti-Semitic because it singles out Israel, which took unprecedented steps to protect Palestinian noncombatants, and ignores the barbaric acts it is defending itself against.

    Your condemnation reminds me of an anecdote related by Alan Dershowitz in his book, “The Case for Israel,” about former Harvard University president A. Lawrence Lowell, who, in the 1920’s, tried to limit the number of Jews admitted to Harvard University, claiming that they cheated. Professor Dershowitz wrote, “When a distinguished alumnus objected on the grounds that non-Jews also cheat, Lowell replied, ‘You’re changing the subject. I’m talking about Jews.’”

    Professor Dershowitz, a professor of Law, coincidentally also at Harvard University, defines anti-Semitism “as taking a trait or an action that is widespread, if not universal, and blaming only the Jews for it. It’s fair enough to hold Israel accountable for its actions, but it is not possible to form a fair-minded opinion about them without mentioning the actions of its adversaries against it and without presenting the full historical context in which they take place.

    Steven Demeter MD
    Clinical Professor (Voluntary)
    Department of Neurosciences

  67. nguyễn võ thu hương

    As a faculty member at another UC, I especially appreciate comments by students who feel alienated from their educational environment by statements critical of certain actions carried out by the state of Israel. This would be the last thing I would want my own students to feel. But I support the UCSD Ethnic Studies Department’s statement as an expression of its members’ sense of ethical responsibility to the world they live in and to the scholarship they produce. I was extremely disturbed by the state-waged terror in the form of overwhelming force that could only be viewed as best as indiscriminate, and would have signed on to such a statement by any entity of which I am a member. And I would urge students not to view such statements as sanctions aimed at their politics or national identity, but as an invitation to engagement aimed at complicating the conversation. I see evidence that such conversation is taking place here, and I am glad to have had this opportunity to listen to it. This is education at its best for all of us, faculty, students, and community members.

    nguyen vo thu huong

  68. These comments and all others posted by me reflect my personal views only

    J.J. Surbeck,

    So here’s what we should derive from your comment: B’Tselem (The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and The Red Cross are all biased sources that should not be trusted.

    I assume you would also throw in there The United Nations and The European Union as equally partial and uncredible sources.

    On the contrary you seem to be claiming that: The Israeli Government (incl. the IDF), The Jerusalem Post, and Daniel Pipes (who still claims that Obama is covering up the “fact” that he used to be a Muslim and who has stated hundreds of ridiculous, untruthful things in his long history as a neo-conservative commentator) are trustworthy sources.

    You also have concocted an argument whereby through logical leaps and somersaults you claim that the Ethnic Studies is racist against Africans because it hasn’t commented on genocide in Darfur and the Congo on its website. If we take that to its logical (or rather illogical conclusion) that would unfortunately mean that every single other department at UCSD is guilty of the same “racism” because none of them have those comments on their websites as well. That would also mean that probably more than 90% of all other academic deparmtents in the world are guilty of anti-African racism. Fortunately for humanity, that would mean that Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, The Red Cross, the United Nations, and the European Union are not guilty of this anti-African racism because in their websites they all comment about Darfur and the Congo.

    (BTW, I agree with you on one thing: all these conflicts in Africa deserve as much media attention and action as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It’s unfortunate that Obama didn’t appoint several African envoys as well).

    One last thing, if you look in the E.S. Department’s website, the deparment has one faculty member (Pal Ahluwalia) who is a specialist on African studies and who has written extensively about all the conflicts you mention. It also has other faculty members who do research on matters of race and state violence in other parts of the world (of which nothing has been written in terms of departmental statements). I wish E.S. could have the time and resources to create an blog which would serve as the Wikipedia of social injustices (although that would probably get millions of angry comments. I’m sure there’s people that disagree with those that condemn these conflicts).

    As I said before, the issue of Israel/Palestine is singular in multiple respects: 1) Palestinians are the longest suffering and largest refugee population in the world today (4.25 million people registered with the UN and an estimated million more unregistered). These, of course, are the descendants of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians that were expelled from what became Israel in 1948 and the ones that fled in 1967. None were ever allowed by Israel to return), 2) what makes this conflict unique is not so much its negative outcomes (in terms of numbers of casualties and victims there are much worse conflicts) but the amount of disinformation and spin that has historically surrounded it. Fortunately, the age of the internet and new historical research based on declassified Israeli documents and memoirs is changing that, 3) the US has been at best extremely impartial and at worst extremely complicit in the conflict, and 4) most middle east experts agree that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is an enormous obstacle to creating peace and stability in the region (Israel gives many of the dictators and war lords in the Middle East plenty of excuses to exist by virtue of them (falsely) claiming to be the defenders of Arabs and/or Muslims against “the Americans” and “the Jews”). It’s essentially a gateway issue (not the only one) into regional extremsm, violence, and instability.

    What I’m saying is that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is no small matter yet I do agree with you that there are others that are equally important.

  69. J.J. Surbeck


    You are really admirable. The king of spin. Sounding outraged that we don’t show your remarkable academic skills at ferreting the truth out of unquestionable sources such as all the laughably unreliable sources you swim in all day long. B’Tselem? Human Rights Watch? Amnesty? Even the ICRC (I used to work for them, I know how very partial their alleged neutrality is)? Don’t make me laugh. And yet you have the nerve to admonish people not to read other sources that you demonize like Daniel Pipes. Who are you to decide what is right and what is wrong?

    As one commentator wrote, you did spend a ridiculous amount of time justifying your extremely biased and completely unprofessional views regarding the conflict, and it would equally take me the same amount of time to refute every one of the clearly intentionally misleading arguments you have lined up, so I won’t waste my time there.

    Instead, I would like to ask why your department, and you in particular, are so obsessed with the fate of the Palestinians, for which they are entirely to blame, when their numbers (you did say that numbers mattered, right?) are so ridiculously low as to render your obsession obscene in the face of at least two genocides currently going on while you waste your time (and ours) defending and justifying the unjustificable acts of a terrorist organization.

    Here is the beautiful paradox: even though you fancy yourself as a paragon of academic virtue, you are in fact a racist. For the simple reason that the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans are not worthy of your precious academic time, while blathering non-stop to condemn Israel’s purely defensive action against Hamas’ relentless attacks is. Being the informed academic that you claim to be, you no doubt know that close to 5oo,000 (yes, that’s half a million people) have already been massacred in Darfur. No doubt you know also that more then 5 MILLION people have died in the Congo in the last 15 years. That’s practically a new Holocaust! And yet I don’t hear you whine about any of it. Why? That is the question that needs to be asked.

    The answer is obvious: you are not in the least interested in the intrinsic value of human life. If you were, you would be focus your enormously wasted talents at denouncing the governments responsible for the horrendously high numbers of people killed in ANY place in the world. Shouldn’t you be focusing on the highest numbers first and do your utmost to reduce those numbers? Where are your priorities? On the revolting scale of unnecessary human deaths occuring on this planet, the Palestinians rank close to 50 (according to a recent German study), but given your misplaced obsession with them, they come first, and as a result there is no room left at the inn for any other category of victims. Thanks to people like you,
    the Palestinians have succeeded in cornering the market of victimization at the lethal expense of every other genuinely oppressed group in the world. That is a remarkable achievement that you can most certainly be proud of.

    If you and your department had any sense of the value of human life, you would stop wasting everybody’s time whining forever about the fate of the Palestinians and focus instead on the very real genocides that are still happening as we speak and which have been relegated to oblivion because your entire focus is pathologically limited to the poor Palestinians.

    The conclusion is inescapable: the very department that claims to have as its core mission to combat racism has so completely and utterly lost its moral compass that it ends up being a tacit accomplice to at least two African genocides and several other conflicts where the number of casualties in the civilian population is considerably higher than in Gaza because the belligerents don’t take the precautions the Israelis did take to minimize them (ever heard of the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in the last two weeks?), but of course that it exactly the point: if there is no Israel to demonize and to blame in the picture, the conflict in question is of no interest to the fine and dedicated academics of our fine and dedicated Department of Ethnic Studies.

    You are to be commended.

  70. These comments and all others posted by me reflect my personal views only.

    J. Bonner,

    I agree with you that this is a complex issue that requires a lot of detailed analysis and debate to understand. Unfortunately, the statement is too short and it barely does justice to the issue.

    I cannot speak to why it was written the way it was because I was not a part of its drafting. I can speculate as to why it’s there (and not the thousands of other cases of human rights abuses around the world). First of all, the United States plays a huge role in this conflict, as the main enabler of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian terrritories post 1950s. Secondly, because of the disproportionate amount of force that Israel used in Gaza in such a short period of time, many organisms issued similar condemnations (including the European Union, click HERE to read more about that). What I’m saying is that this was not business as usual in the territories or anywhere else.. Rockets flying into Israel unfortunately is business as usual. Israeli “targeted assasinations” that kill all civilians around the target person is business as usual. Killing close to 1400 Palestinians in six weeks with US financial assistance, US weaponry, and the full backing of the US government is not.

    The good thing about the statement though is that it has allowed us to have a reasoned debate about the issue. With that in mind, I’d like to address your analogy about the molotov cocktails with the following excerpt from the Daily Show:

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), New York (1/4/09): Let me just phrase it for you — something that’ll bring it home. If you’re in your apartment and an emotionally disturbed person is banging on the door screaming, “I am going to come through this door and kill you” — do you want us to respond with one police officer, which is proportional, or with all the resources at our command?

    Jon Stewart: I guess it depends if I forced that guy to live in my hallway and make him go through checkpoints every time he has to take a s**t. But then again by removing him by force — as long as you really believe that there will be no more crazy people left in New York — ok! — .

    The point here is that you cannot disconnect what’s going on in Gaza with Israel’s violent, oppressive occupation post 1967. Also, you cannot disconnect it with Israel’s violent ethnic cleansing of southern Israel in 1947-1949 (which has been thoroughly documented by Israeli historians. There is no more debate among serious middle eastern scholars about that). The irony here is that most of the families that live in the hell hole that Gaza has become today come from the towns that Hamas is targeting with their rockets. Anyone who is 65 years old and above is old enough to remember how they were driven through terror and sometimes force out of their homes, olive fields, orchards in Ascalon, Beersheba, Najd, et. into Gaza. Most are old enought to rememebr the abuses committed against Palestinian civilians (esp. children) during the first and second intifada. Most have come face to face with settlers who have put into action their belief that the entire “greater Israel” should be ethnically cleansed of all Arabs (to preseve its Jewish character).

    It would be plain foolish to not think about today’s conflict in Gaza without considering this historical context that it comes out of (that’s one thing the statement is certainly guilty of so I would join you in critiquing it for that). It would also be foolish to not consider the fact that in 2006, the IDF killed 660 palestinians (28 for every dead Israeli that year). In 2007, they killed 373 Palestinians (53 for every dead Israeli that year). In 2008, (before the Gaza War, or better said, Gaza “Hunt”), the IDF killed 455 Palestinians (25 for every dead Israeli that year up until December). In those years, they also imposed a siege that was condemned by every single major human rights organization in the world as a cruel and inhuman form of collective punishment (therefore Jon Stewart’s metaphor of checkpoing every time a person wants to take a crap doesn’t even come close to capturing the context of the situation).

    Now, I’m not saying that gives Hamas the right to target Israeli civilians. What I would like for you to do though is to join me in condemning these actions as equally barbaric (although to a much greater scale) as the firing of rockets into Israel.

    Now I personally disagree with most of Hamas’ military tactics. They are not only despicable but ineffective. We also have to consider though how after the breakdown of the Oslo peace process (which both Israel and the PLO share blame in), Ariel Sharon did everything in his power to disarticulate Arafat and Fatah. Do you remember when the IDF sieged Arafat’s compound in Ramallah for months?

    It is also an undeniable fact that in the late 1980s, Israel helped create Hamas as a coutnerweight to the power of Fatah and Arafat in the territories. We also have to consider how Hamas is blowback for those operatins, similar to how Al Qaeda is blowback from the CIA’s arming and financing of islamist mujahadeens during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. For more of this, check out HERE Wall Street Journal article titled “How Israel Helped Spawn Hamas.”

    One last thing: while it is partly true that there has been a spike in anti-semitism in recent months, it is also true that in every country surveyed, anti-muslim sentiment is always much stronger than anti-semitism. Check out THIS report by the Pew Research center (the most respected international polling agency in the world). For example, in 2008, in the US, 7 % of people polled held unfavorable views of Jews and 23% held unfavorable views of muslims; in Germany 25 % had unfavorable view of Jews and 50% of muslims). Incidentally, where’s the love of the Anti-Defamation league for these people? If the ADL is actually committed to fighting “extremism and bigotry” and “protecting the fair treatment of all people” alike, you’d think they’d devote at least three times as much money to fighting antimuslim sentiment in the US. You’d also think that they’d devote much more money to fighting anti-black, anti-Latino, anti-Native American, anti-Asian or Asian-American, anti-LGBT, and anti-disabled discrimination and hate crimes which in sum are waaaaaay more in terms of quantity and severity than anti-Jewish discrimination and hate crimes.

    Should Palestinians start counting most of the comments in this blog as indications of “antimuslimism” or more accurately, “antiarabism”? I hope not. I would much rather prefer that we have a frank debate that is free from interruption by frivolously labeling any criticism of Israel as antisemitic. If the maxim that critiquing Zionism automatically equals antisemitism were true, that would mean that several of Israel’s leading newspapers are Nazi newspapers.

    As to the Egypt bombing, this conflict between the secular nationalist quasi-fascist Egyptian state and the Islamic extremists has been going on every since the country was founded pretty much (as it does in all other Arab countries). It’s what in the academic biz we call a “post-colonial” conflict. This is different from Israel’s which is not-post colonial but “modern settler colonial” in a very unique way. I guess that’s what happens when you have a president that has been democratically “elected” by “99%” of the population, who is a staunch ally of anything the United States does, and who routinely arrests, tortures, and kills anyone that disagrees with him. I do not condone anything the Muslim Brotherhood (or any of their spawn groups) do because I disagree with their philosophy and tactics but when it comes to violence in Egypt, there are no innocent parties. Everyone has blood in their hands. It’s a competition for who gets to be dictator, and meanwhile the majority of the population who are not directly involved in either side suffer enormously from it.

  71. These comments and all others posted by me reflect my personal views only

    SoCal Mother:

    One more thing: your statement implying that the International Red Cross refuses to visit Gilad Shalit is plain WRONG. They have consistently tried to gain such acess but Hamas has refused to allow them to see him.

    Here’s a statement they recently issued about it:

    Gaza: still no ICRC access to Gilad ShalitIt has been almost 900 days since the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was captured by Palestinian armed factions from Gaza. To date, the ICRC’s attempts to visit him and to establish contact between him and his family have been unsuccessful. Pierre Wettach, the ICRC’s head of delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, explains.

    What has the ICRC been doing to gain access to Gilad Shalit and find out what happened to him?

    First, let me express once again our deep sympathy with Gilad Shalit’s family. Because ICRC delegates around the world are in regular contact with families in similar situations waiting for news of their loved ones, we are acutely aware of the distress and anger they feel.

    Since Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian armed factions on 25 June 2006, we have been working hard to obtain access to him. We have repeatedly reminded those holding him of their legal obligations, calling on them both publicly and through our direct contacts to treat him humanely.

    The ICRC has repeatedly asked to be allowed to visit Gilad Shalit and to convey family messages to him. In early November, the ICRC requested that Hamas forward to him thousands of letters and greeting cards from various organizations, individuals and schoolchildren. Unfortunately, all these requests have been refused.

    Although our attempts have so far been unsuccessful, we will continue to do everything we can to obtain information on Gilad Shalit’s condition, to gain direct access to him, and to establish contact between him and his family. We would like to meet him in private to make an independent assessment of the conditions he is held in and of his state of health.

    What concrete action has the ICRC taken so far?

    The issue is continuously raised at high-level meetings with Hamas. We are pursuing dialogue with all those concerned, as we believe that is essential for achieving progress. We have to talk to those who hold a person’s fate in their hands in order to be able to help that person.

    We have also maintained regular contact with Gilad Shalit’s family. We inform them, and the authorities concerned, about what we have done. Last summer, his parents Noam and Aviva Shalit shared their thoughts and emotions in an interview that was posted on our website.

    What problems does the ICRC face in its work on behalf of Gilad Shalit and other detainees and missing people?

    There are limits to what we can do and to what international humanitarian law entitles us to do when it comes to visiting people in detention or to finding out what happened to people who go missing in an armed conflict.

    In the case of Gilad Shalit, we deplore the fact that political considerations have outweighed humanitarian concerns, and respect for basic humanitarian principles, making it virtually impossible to help him or his family.

    As a humanitarian organization, we have limited leverage in these matters. All we can do is to remind those who control the situation of their obligation to act in accordance with the spirit and letter of international humanitarian law. The parties to an armed conflict, be they States or non-State groups, have to uphold the law.

    Click HERE to access that statement.

    There, you can also access the following IRC articles:

    1) Access to captured Israeli soldiers remains a priority, interview with ICRC President, Jacob Kellenberger, 8.06.2007

    2) ICRC continues efforts to gain access to captured Israeli soldiers, interview with the ICRC’s head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa, 30.05.2008

    3) Soldier’s parents between frustration and hope, interview with Gilad’s parents, Noam and Aviva, 30.08.2008

    Please, be serious about this blog. Before you comment, get your facts straight.

  72. J

    also for anyone who is going to respond “well hamas/gazans are provoked to attack” This just shows that these crazy extremists do not just focus on Israel (demonstrating my point that these problems are going to spread). This just happened

    Why are they bombing Egypt? Oh those egyptian occupiers, how dare they drive these poor people to have to bomb them! The Egyptians must be practicing racial terror as well! Lets write another post! (Sarcasm)

  73. J

    Look if I’m standing outside your home Jose, and I am throwing molotov cocktails in to your window a few times a day screaming that I will not rest until you and everyone you know are dead, and until your house is mine. Are you just going to sit there, let me in to your house, feed me, give me the strength to keep going? Or are you going to call the police and defend yourself, your home and the people you love? Of course there can be blame attributed to both sides on this issue, but the gazan’s cannot blame israel for their own problems.

    Say this same person threatening your home is no longer threatening your home but is outside asking for peace and asking for your help to. Then would you not help this person? Would you not let them in and feed them and help take care of them?

    Know one wants to help someone who is threatening constantly with words and violence their very way of life. But to those who truly seek help peacefully will not be turned away.

    The reason i believe this post upsets so many people is because the way the facts are painted in this post, makes it seem like Israeli leaders sit in dark rooms talking to each other saying “how are we going to massacre and destroy the lives of the palestinians today!” When in fact the leaders want peace and safety for everyone as much as the non hamas palestinians do. The words used in this post paints Israel as evil and illegitimate, and I believe that is why so many feel attacked and offended by this post.

    While I believe it to be admirable to bring light to controversial issues, I also believe they are controversial for a reason. They are extremely complex and therefore should be approached with absolute care. This post does not do that in the slightest.

    I know many Arabs who have nothing but respect for Israel, and firmly believe in its right to be there, and support its policies. These Arabs understand that life under rulers such as Hamas is a fate worse than hell, which is why they all left the area. There are some real problems in that region that are arising, and some very real and serious human rights issues are taking place at the hands of extremist radical islam. To bash the only state in the region that promotes free speech and other liberties not even close to being allowed everywhere else is absolutely ridiculous. Its like being kidnapped and then shooting the guy coming to rescue you, it just doesn’t make any sense.

    The argument is made too that these are controversial issues so that it is the responsibility of the dept to address them, but my question is, why this specific issue? Why not address the Chinese occupation of Tibet, could it be that you are too afraid to offend the rather large Chinese population on campus? Why not address the life of abuses incest and rape that the women of radical islam have to face every day of their lives.

    Since the posting of this post I am sad to say that I have noticed a spike in anti-semitism on campus. Whether or not it is directly related to the post or not I cannot be sure, however I did first hear about the ethnic studies post from a passerby yelling at me about gaza and “occupation” and other such nonsense. I must say I do not like feeling threatened as I walk down the halls to my classes, which is another reason why I feel you need to choose your words more carefully. I’d rather not have to go to the bathroom and stare at a schwastica etched on the stall door while i am studying for midterms in the library.

    As a Jew I am used to these minor and sometimes not so minor instances of anti-semitism, but I would thank you if you did not help to inflame it.

    Thank you very much.

  74. These comments and all others posted by me reflect my personal views only

    SoCal mother,

    I know very well who Gilad Shalit is.
    Do you, by the way, know what an “administrative detainee” is in Israel? They are the hundreds of people that the Israeli government detains without any habeas corpus or due process rights. They are kept in Israeli prisons–sometimes for years– without even knowing why they’re there, under constant, harsh interrogations. Tell me, is there any significant qualitative difference between this and kidnapping?

    While Hamas now has ONE Israeli prisoner in their custody (Shalit), Israel as of today has 548 administrative detainees in their prisons (of these, we know that at least five of them are under the age of 18). In December of 2008 they had 842 of them.

    To learn more about Israel’s administrative detainees, click HERE to read B’Tselem’s (Israel’s leading human rights organization) excellent coverage of this issue (including up-to-date statistics).

    Demanding Shalit’s release without demanding the termination of the administrative detainee system is sheer hypocrisy. It’s indicative of the double standard that some supporters of Israel hold whereby it’s perfectly ok to kill Palestinian civilians or imprison them but it’s not ok when the Palestinians do it to Israelis. I support neither and therefore when it comes to kidnapping, I condemn the state of Israel 548 times more than I do Hamas because they have 548 state-sanctioned kidnap victims.

    BTW, if you think that somehow the Israeli government is more credible than the Red Cross, please state it clearly in this blog. That way, people reading these comments will know not to trust anything you say. That would make you way more “radical” than anyone in the Ethnic Studies department (if by radical, you meant crazy).

    If you ask around UCSD about its E.S. Department and its professors, you would realize that they are widely respected by other departments as well as other universities in this country for their objective scholarship. Our professors publish articles in prestigious peer reviewed journals and books with reputable publishers (in academia, this is the standard of quality work). The UC system demands a lot of their faculty. They make it very difficult for hacks or quacks to work here. I hope your daughters or sons come to UCSD one day and take an Ethnic Studies course so they can learn how to do logical argumentation about controversial issues of social justice (something which judging from these blog comments, appears to be seriously lacking in our society).

    Quick question: if so many of you seem to think that the Ethnic Studies Department is so full of crap, why is it that no one is commenting on any of the department’s other statements? Is it that a sign of approval? Is the only disagreement here about the Gaza statement? Or is it that those of you commenting here absolutely do not care about anything other than what happens to Israelis? You would think that if the ES Dept is making absurd claims in its blog, all its statements would be equally condemnable, no?

    Let’s have some more arguments backed by evidence and less unfounded accusations. SoCal Mother: if you think the Red Cross is not a credible source when it comes to condemning the blowing up of a hospital in Gaza, then prove to me specific instances in which they lie or distort information (like the Israeli government has been proven to have done hundreds of times, including this time, with their use of white phosphorous in heavily populated civilian areas). Give me independent verification by other international organisms that the Red Cross has aided terrorism.

    Seriously, some of you are terrible at making logical arguments backed by evidence. That may be good enough for other websites but not for this blog. We have a higher standard here.

  75. SoCalMother

    Oh, the Red Cross…That’s the “neutral” organization that allows their ambulances to be used to carry terrorists and weapons but can’t be bothered to visit Gilad Shalit. (Note to Jose: Do you even know who Shalit is?)

  76. SoCalMother

    Can you imagine how horrified their parents would be if they knew that their kids were studying radical activism instead of going to a real college program?

  77. Janice

    Wow, Robert. That’s not very productive, this is an online forum. If you do have strong opinions about it, then please make sure to attend.

  78. Robert

    Ethnic studies professors are the biggest jokes on campus.

  79. Cruiser Pirate

    Ethnic studies intellectuals are so skilled at “spin” when they want to create the perception among less intelligent folks that Israel is such a heartless aggressor who initiated this latest conflict. Equally disgusting are these liberal-thinking ethnic studies students and professors’ exaggerated speculation that Israel’s actions will be symbolic to targeting “people of color”.

    First, let’s not forget who initiated the violence and aggression….the militant Hamas. Then, they pull their typical cowardly behavior by hiding their ammo stores, weapons and militants in sacred places like hospitals, mosques, etc., knowing full-well that they’re purposely exposing their innocent citizenry to retaliatory gun fire and artillery. If anyone thinks Israel is going to just sit back and not defend themselves against a bunch of cowardly scum aggressors, they’re sadly mistaken. Frankly, it’s up to the Palestinian citizens and government to put an end to Hamas agressors using hospitals, schools and mosques as safe haven bases of operations. War is a lousy business with high stakes. Time for the Palestinians to shut up and step up, and quit submitting to this kind of terrorism and intimidation by Hamas.

  80. Dylan

    The most disturbing part of this article is that it depicts the attacks on Gaza as solely a war against people of color. As Robert stated Israeli citizens include Druze, as well as Arab Jews, Persians, Indians, Ethiopians, and other groups. These people of color support the Israeli government and its actions. Yet the article claims that the attack on Gaza was an attack on “brown” people.

    Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered tremendously due to the war. To claim that this is one race attacking all people of color downplays actual problems in society that are based on race.

  81. Robert

    israel does practice racial violence. look at what they are doing to the druze who are also arabs. they practice so much violence against them that the druze willingly join the IDF.

  82. The statements included below reflect only my personal beliefs and in no way represent those of my department

    Here’s a quick blog fact checker for you all:

    Marjorie and Michael,

    The IDF has officially now stated that 1,338 Palestinians were killed in the course of Operation Cast Lead. (Thirteen Israelis were killed during the fighting – 10 soldiers and three civilians.) That’s not seriously disputed by anyone. BTW Marjorie, the notion that only 600 Palestinians died in Gaza is laughable at best. That’s what happens when you only read the Jpost, the Fox news of Israeli print media. You should be a bit more careful with where you get your information. The fact that one doctor says one thing does not pass the burden of proof to dispute statistics that are widely respected my multiple neutral parties (e.g. the UN, the Red Cross).

    The debate now is not about total number of Palestinian casualties but how many of them were civilians. Notice how I use the word DEBATE here. There’s still no universally recognized final tally. Up until now, the media has been using the numbers provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. According to these figures, 895 civilians were killed. The reason why these numbers have been cited so much (including by the Red Cross and the UN) is not because of some anti-Israel bias but because they were the only “official” figures out there. This is partly a result of the media ban that the Israeli military imposed on Gaza. Journalists and outside agencies had very little means to independently verify these statistics in real time.

    The IDF disputes these numbers. In their most recent tally, they have verified that at least 300 were non-combatants. Why? Simply because they were women, children under 15, and men over 65. Of the remaining 880 or so, the IDF claims they have confirmed that about half were without a doubt “combatants.” They claim that they estimate that about 2/3 of the other 420 or so are combatants.

    The UN, btw, has not accepted the IDF’s official estimate and are conducting their own independent verification of the incident. Now that the smoke is cleared, various orgs are also investigating. Again, this is not because of some anti Israel bias but rather because the way the UN and the Red Cross count ‘a civilian’ is very different from how the IDF counts a civilian. For more on this, click HERE.

    According to the IDF, a civilian is “a non-combatant” which begs the question then of what counts as a “combatant.” Israel’s definition of a combatant is anyone who is known to have belonged in any way possible either in the past or in the present to any organization affiliated with Hamas in whatever civil or military capacity. This means that if you are a police officer directing traffic in the middle of Gaza city, because you are being paid by a Hamas government, you are a combatant. That means that if they have intelligence information that states that you were once at a Hamas rally you are a combatant. If you are one of the persons who works in Hamas’ multiple mutual aid organizations you are also a combatant. Israel is one of the only countries in the world right now that utilizes this sweeping generalization about who a combatant is (for more on this click HERE, HERE, and most importantly HERE

    No one else is accepting the IDF’s figures because they don’t accept Israel’s loose definition of combatants. All the human rights orgs, the UN, and the Red Cross follow the definition of combatant that was laid out in the Third Geneva Convention. According to this, a combatant is a person who is one of the following:

    1. a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict
    2. a member of militias not under the command of the armed forces
    * that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    * that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    * that of carrying arms openly;
    * that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
    3. or are members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
    4. or inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

    If a combantant does not qualify for ‘combatant’ status, criminal jurisdiction comes into play, and in the US, police powers are sustained by the states.

    For those countries which have signed the “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts” (Protocol I) the definition of “combatant” is altered by

    Article 44 .3
    …Recognizing, however, that there are situations in armed conflicts where, owing to the nature of the hostilities an armed combatant cannot so distinguish himself, he shall retain his status as a combatant, provided that, in such situations, he carries his arms openly::

    ( a ) During each military engagement, and
    ( b ) During such time as he is visible to the adversary while he is engaged in a military deployment preceding the launching of an attack in which he is to participate

    . This is the internationally accepted definition (which is also the one all human rights groups use. B’Tselem does not have a “loose” definition of combatant as some constantly claim. They are following the Geneva conventions).

    This internationally recognized definition of who counts as a combatant is DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT from the one the IDF is using.

    Ironically, Israel’s definition of who a combatant is not too different from Hamas’ or Hezbollah’s definition of who an Israeli combatant. According to these militant groups, everyone in Israel above the age of 18 is a combatant. Why? Because they are either active military, reservists, or are likely to have been affiliated with the Israeli military in the past (except of course of recent immigrants, people who were excempted from service, etc.) Children then, according to the militant’s logic, are either collateral damage or future fighters anyway. Now, I think everybody here would agree that this is an absurd definition worthy of condemnation. We should also at the very least cast some doubt on how Israel is defining civilians versus combatants here. Ultimately though, we should also agree that one civilian death is already one too many. Whether 895 or 400 civilians died in a one and a half month period, it’s still too much.

    The other controversy that Israel is facing has to do with the amount of property they destroyed in Gaza. Here is a quote from one of the investigators Israel itself has hired into this matter:

    Israel Defense Forces investigations into last month’s offensive in the Gaza Strip indicate the army could face significant difficulties justifying the scale of destruction of civilian homes during the fighting. A military source involved in the investigation told Haaretz, “It’s clear to us that in a small portion of the combat sectors immeasurable damage was caused, and that is very difficult to justify from a legal perspective, particularly if such justifications are called for in legal proceedings with international organizations.”

    Here’s another excerpt from a Haaretz article on the matter:

    In most of the legal proceedings surrounding civilian casualties, the army intends to argue they represent “collateral damage,” namely unavoidable consequences of an enemy hiding among civilian populations, or of mistakes in directing fire, such as in the well-publicized strike that claimed several members of the Abu al-Aish family in the Jabalya refugee camp.

    Still, the massive destruction of houses is harder to justify in legal terms. Investigations reveal that in many instances, commanders ordered the destruction of houses obstructing a “line of sight” from an IDF position, or because commanders believed certain buildings could be used to endanger their own safety.

    In other instances, houses were destroyed after explosives or Kalashnikov rifles were discovered there, even when it could have been possible to conduct a controlled explosion causing limited damage.

    In dozens of instances, houses were destroyed on suspicions (which turned out to be unfounded) they concealed smuggling tunnels underneath. An official in the IDF legal apparatus said justifying such operations will be exceedingly difficult.

    On other occasions, there appear to have been discrepancies in the scope of destruction between different combat sectors, apparently as the result of differences in senior officers’ command methods.

    For more on this, click HERE.

    So let’s agree on one thing: there are still legitimate concerns as to whether or not Israel provided sufficient safeguards to protect Palestinian life and property. There is no doubt that Hamas hasn’t done so. That’s no surprise to anyone and it’s not worthy of any dispute. The question is whether the party that has the ability to inflict a hundred times more destruction has followed the same ethnical guidelines they preach (also, Israel has a burden of responsibility as an occupier/seiging agent but we can disagree on that one). The sum of the evidence right now suggests that the Israeli military says it does one thing but does something dramatically different on the ground.

    Last thing: I think we should also agree that for the sake of all parties involved, there should be an INDEPENDENT investigation on casualties and damages on both sides of the conflict. This is what all the human rights orgs are calling for.



    You accuse the Ethnic Studies department of cherrypicking information (in what was meant to be a very abbreviated statement exactly like all the other ones posted in the blog). I think it’s interesting that in your description of the matter, you conveniently leave out some important contextual information. Yes it is true that Palestinian militants have killed many Israelis and inflicted much damage inside Israel since the breaking down of the peace process.

    What you have conveniently forgotten though is that since 2000, not only have 1,071 tragically lost their lives (incl. 123 children, or 11% of all deaths), but 6,288 Palestinians have also perished (incl. 1,487 children, or 24% of all deaths). For more on this, click HERE.

    You also forget that in 2006, Israeli security forces killed 660 Palestinians. That’s three times more than in 2005, according to B’Tselem (Israeli human rights group). At least 322 (half) had taken no part in hostile acts, the group said. In the same period, the number of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israelis fell. Only 23 Israelis were killed in 2006 compared with 50 in 2005. For more on this, click HERE.

    So to sum up, the Palestinian to Israeli death ratio of 2006 was 28 dead Palestinians for every dead Israeli.

    In 2007, Israeli security forces killed 373 palestinians (35% of which were classified as civilians). This same year, Palestinians killed 7 Israelis. This is what B’Tselem (agian, the leading Israeli human rights organization) said about this drop:

    Despite the lower death toll, B’Tselem said respect for human rights had deteriorated in the Palestinian territories due to an Israeli blockade on Gaza, an increase in the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and a rise in the number of Palestinians held without trial.

    “Far too often, Israel fails to appropriately balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control,” the group said in a statement.

    For more on this, click HERE.

    Again, this means the Palestinian to Israeli death ratio in 2007 was 53 dead Palestinians for every dead Israeli.

    According to B’Tselem’s annual report of 2008, up until December 26 (when Operation Cast Lead started), Israeli security forces killed 455 Palestinians (including 87 children). At least 175 of those killed (38 percent) did not take part in the hostilities. During the same period, 18 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians inside Israel. Eight of them (four minors), were killed in the attack at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva, in Jerusalem and Four were killed by rocket attacks and mortar fire. Three Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinias in the Terrritories. Palestinians killed ten members of the Israeli security forces. For more, click HERE.

    In 2008 (before Operation Cast Lead) then, there were 25 dead Palestinians for every dead Israeli.

    Let me reiterate: these are not Palestinian Health Ministry or Hamas statistics. They are statistic gathered by B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organization.

    After December of 2008, we have between 400 and 895 dead Palestinian civilians on one side of the Gaza border and three dead Israeli civilians on the other. That means that between 133 and 298 palestinian civilians died for every dead Israeli.

    I’d like to see you all defend that. At least Jeremy is honest (see his post below). He thinks Gazans deserve to die, simply because the majority of them voted for Hamas (thank you Jeremy for laying your cards on the table). That means then that according to this logic, because all Israelis vote for politicians that between 2006 and 2008 waged war against Palestinians killed between 23 and 53 Palestinians for every dead Israeli, Palestinians should rightfully support actions that kill as many people inside Israel as possible. Do you accept that maxim Jeremy or do you just subscribe to a double standard that only believes the lives of Israelis are worthy of protection?

    May I clarify that I am not advocating here this position. I do not accept any civilian deaths on either side. I’m just trying to make point here that condemning deaths on one side while excusing deaths on the other are not reconcilable in a logical sense. That would only make sense in the mind of someone (like Jeremy) who thinks that some people are more worthy of killing than others more worthy of protecting.


    One last thing Michael: Your claim that “Israel did not bomb hospitals” is patently false. According to THIS Red Cross press release:

    The Al-Quds Hospital run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society in Gaza City was hit by explosions and fire broke out, putting at risk the lives of around 100 patients and the medical staff caring for them.

    “It is unacceptable that wounded people receiving treatment in hospitals are put at risk,” said Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who just completed a three-day visit to the area that included a stop at Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He insisted that all parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law. During meetings held in Tel Aviv this morning with Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Mr Kellenberger insisted once again that the rules of international humanitarian law oblige the parties to a conflict to spare civilians and to protect medical personnel and medical facilities at all times. He requested systematic access to all parts of Gaza for humanitarian assistance, especially medical assistance.

    “The hospital suffered at least one direct hit this morning, and all the patients had to be moved in panic to the ground floor,” said Bashar Morad, director of Palestine Red Crescent emergency medical services. The second floor of the building immediately caught fire. The hospital’s pharmacy was also partly damaged. Fire brigade trucks, escorted by ICRC teams, rushed to the scene and managed to put out the fire.

    Medical and humanitarian facilities are becoming more and more exposed to the effects of the fighting. “These recent developments are particularly alarming in that the Gaza hospitals are already overcrowded and overstretched, and the number of casualties is growing,” said Mr Kellenberger.

    So I toss the ball back to you Michael. Analyzing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict objectively requires that we look at multiple sources of information and make educated statements about them (this means reading other things beside the Jerusalem Post and CAMERA, a very clever advocacy group propaganda website that does exactly what they claim to be dispelling: selective cherrypicking of information. See my response to Ori on this below). It also requires that we always put things into a historical context. That would be the proper acaemic approach, which is the one Ethnic Studies uses, the one the History or Sociology department uses, etc. Hostilities in the south of Israel/Palestine did not start this year. This is but another chapter in the saga that began in 1948. Of course, these are things that you can’t get into with a three paragraph statement (which like anything, could always be better written). They are, however, things we can get into in this blog so I hope you and I can seize this opportunity and have a productive dialogue about this.

  83. Nili Gitig

    How can you call this a forum? A forum is an open discussion and an exchange of ideas. You have already formulated yours and have already passed your verdict. That is not a forum, that is a lynching. This department is not encouraging scholarship or research. This department is encouraging and promoting bigotry, and hatred. How sad that this is a department at a University.

  84. Nili Gitig

    I live clear across the country and boy am I glad. I will not address all the pro Israel and/or pro Arab rhetoric since so many others have done so. What I want to address is the fact that you call yourselves scholars in the department on Ethnic studies. Does ethnic studies only encompass people of color? Are Jews not an ethnic minority as well? How can a department of Ethnic studies be so one sided? Your assertion that Israel’s action in Gaza is terror against people of color is ludicrous. Don’t you know that Israel is full of people of all kinds of colors? There are black Ethiopians all over Israel and no they are not treated as second class citizens. There are brown skinned people in Israel whose parents or grandparents came from the Arab countries that threw them out. They came from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, etc. Their skin color and facial features are no different than those of the Palestinians living in Gaza. If you were true scholars you would know this. If you were true scholars you would present both studies and allow the students to draw their own conclusions. Instead you want to cram your own biased and prejudiced ideas down your students’ throats. Taking a one sided stance against people of a different religion than yours, possibly different color than yours, possibly different ethnic makeup than yours, that is racist. So who is the racist here? Instead of trying to promote harmony and cooperation and understanding and true scholarship between the two sides on your campus, which would be the role of true scholars, you chose to publish a bigotted, racist and factually flawed document that only creates more animosity, more misunderstandings, more misconceptions, and possibly more violence which will never solve anything.

  85. Frederick Remington

    Regarding the “UCSD Ethnic Studies Department Statement on the RACIAL VIOLENCE in the Gaza Strip,” are we to suppose that Jews or Zionists constitute a race? Certainly, you are aware that there are African, Middle Eastern, Asian, and European Jews. Martin Luther King, Jr., regarded himself as a Zionist. To imply that Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza, or anywhere else in the region, are based on race is ludicrous.

    If you’re looking for an example of racism, read Article 7, Paragraph 3, of the HAMAS CHARTER which calls for the liquidation of all Jews.

    Fred Remington

  86. Michael Buczaczer

    I find the statement on Gaza by the “faculty and graduate students in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California San Diego” astonishing, racist and with lack of accuracy and any fairness. The statement shows at worst a lack of knowledge of what had transpired in Gaza most recently and during the past few years, or at best a desire to circumvent some facts and ignore others. One of your conditions for commenting is “We ask that your responses be truthful…” and “It is not an all-purpose public forum for venting unsubstantiated opinions “. I find these requirements noble and welcomed, yet your statement by the faculty and students contains untruths and exaggerations.

    The conflict in Gaza was most unfortunate and sad. People on both sides lost lives and property and for that we all should be distressed. You completely omit the fact that Hamas and its subsidiaries have continuously shelled Israeli civilians for the past 6 years, sometimes with 80 rockets a day, without any provocation. This fact can be checked with any American newspaper and with the UN (not exactly friendly towards Israel). All this began to occur after Israel had pulled out of Gaza, so that the land was no longer “occupied”. No civilians should have to live in fear on a daily basis that his/her life, or their children, may be the next, or that they might lose their home, or other property. No child should have to walk to and from school, or sit in class with a fear that any moment a rocket might come their way and kill or maim them. Children should not have to sit in dark shelters each day, because rockets are sent from the other side. Where is your condemnation to these acts? Your statement has the air of indignation, yet you fail miserably to apply a fair sense of blame.

    Your number of 900 civilians casualties is highly exaggerated and totally unsubstantiated. While I would prefer that not a single person would have died on EITHER side, the UN and Hamas itself had said that about 25%-30% of the casualties were civilians. Since 1300 had died, 30% would be 390. These casualties are unfortunate and no one should be happy about a single one.

    You claim that Israel had bombed hospitals, schools and mosques. Your statement is only 2/3 correct. Israel did not bomb hospitals. In fact Israel knew that the Hamas leadership was hiding in the basement of the Shifa hospital and had they chosen they could have taken out the entire Hamas leadership, but they did not. Israel retaliated at sources of fire from Hamas positions. Unfortunately, Hamas, which does not value the lives of its own people, chose to store armament in, and shoot from Mosques and schools. Those were the targets that Israel hit. Also, journalists, including Palestinian journalists, have reported cases in which civilians were forced to stay in a mosque, or school full of armament.. Their lives were threatened if they were to leave. Hamas then chose to use such buildings as a base for sending rockets towards the Israelis. Many civilians died being forced by Hamas to be sacrificed. For Hamas this makes for good propaganda, which then appears in statements like yours.

    War is not a game and no side should expect the other to respond only in kind to their provocation. In other words, Hamas should not expect Israel to respond in the same measure as their actions, although I’m confident that if Israel had responded in the same exact fashion you would have found a way to condemn them as well. It is Hamas that chose to shell Israeli civilians for years and it was Israel that has shown patience beyond reason, until things got so bad that they had to retaliate. Never in the history of mankind has one side responded in a war to a set of “proportionality”. But, as I mentioned before, had Hamas not shelled Israelis from mosques or schools, Israel would not have responded in their direction.

    I find your statement very upsetting, because you are so righteous about Hamas’ actions and so indignant about Israel’s response. Furthermore, I believe that an institution of higher learning has a responsibility to be fair and balanced in their accusations and criticism. As long as people apply this kind of one sided judgment it will be very difficult to achieve a peaceful solution.

    I hope future critical and indignant statements from your department will cover the followings:

    Why does Hamas dress their young children, less than 10 years of age, in military uniform and gives them guns to parade in (check into any You tube site, research newspapers and magazines)

    Why do Hamas schools teach to hate Jews (not just Israelis)

    Condemnation of Sudan for murdering tens of thousands of its non-Muslim people

    Condemnation of N Vietnam for enslaving and torturing its people

    Condemnation of Iran, Saudi Arabia and other nations in that region, for discriminating against half its population (women), torturing their accused and killing women accused of infidelity (accused, not necessarily proven to be)

    Condemning China for enslavement and torture

    Condemnation of Syria for torture and killing of anyone critical to the regime

    Condemnation of Hamas for killing of hundreds of Palestinians loyal to Mahmud Abbas

    I hope your sense of justice will research the topics above


  87. A Neighbor

    Will it be safe for Jewish students and faculty to walk around campus during your rally? I live in the neighborhood so I really need to know.

  88. SoCalMother

    It’s a shame. It used to be that Middle-Eastern Studies was a serious area of study. Now it’s become so shrill and radicalized that no parent (or taxpayer) should be willing to pay for their child to study it. Why not just rename is Pro-Arab Activism Studies and get it over with? When you quote loonies like Finkelstein (who is a major name in Linguistics) there is no way anyone can take this seriously.

  89. The UCSD Ethnic Studies Department has brought shame to our city with its “Statement on the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip.”

    Israel has not caused “an astounding number of civilian deaths,” as accused by UCSD’s Ethnic Studies Department, since it now appears the civilian toll was greatly exaggerated. The Internet article “Gazan Doctor Says Death Toll Inflated” clarifies that the number of dead in Gaza was only 500 to 600, most of them young people of 17-23 and Hamas fighters. C.A.M.E.R.A., too, has done a good analysis calling into question the Palestinian claim about casualties in the article “Gaza Casualties, Civilian or Combattant?” pointing out, among other things, that Hamas called upon their fighters to take off their uniforms and put on civilian clothing.

    Israel has not denied “basic necessities including food, water, and health care” to Gazans, as also accused. The Israel Project’s “Update: Gaza By the Numbers” details the 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid delivered by 508 trucks from Israel during Operation Cast Lead. Israel has also set up a medical field clinic for Gaza casualties at the Erez crossing.

    Nor has Israel maliciously targeted civilian locations such as “hospitals, mosques, schools, residential buildings,” as additionally accused, since these are the locations where Hamas stores ammunition and from which Hamas fires. As Irwin Cotler, former Attorney General of Canada and legal expert Alan Dershowitz have pointed out, Hamas has violated International Law by targeting civilians in a sovereign nation (Israel), launching rockets at Israel from within civilian areas in Gaza, using humanitarian symbols to launch attacks (such as transporting fighters and ammunition in ambulances), inciting to genocide (as in the Hamas Charter), attacking in widespread and systematic fashion, and using children in armed conflict.

    One wonders where the “righteous” voices in UCSD’s Ethnic Studies Department were when rockets were falling all over Southern Israel or even when homicide bombers where blowing themselves up at Israeli pizza parlors, discos, and hotel Seder celebrations . . . until Israel built that “apartheid” wall.

  90. For those of you who insist on making the spurious allegation that any critique of Israel or Zionism (even if it’s well reasoned and backed with evidence) automatically equals anti-semitism, please read the following article. It was written directly in response to you, by an actual academic expert on anti-semitism

    from: Haaretz

    Jews attacking Jews
    By Antony Lerman
    Tags: anti-semitism, israel

    When I first started professionally monitoring and studying anti-Semitism almost 30 years ago, there was, broadly speaking, a shared understanding of what it was. True, historians differed over a precise definition – quite understandably, given that the term was coined only in the 1870s, and was then used to describe varieties of Jew-hatred going back 2,000 years. There was also a degree of political manipulation of the phenomenon, with both the right and the left blaming each other for causing it.

    Data on anti-Semitic incidents then were often crude and sometimes deliberately misinterpreted to generate aliyah (immigration to Israel), and controversy was developing about whether anti-Zionism, or extreme vilification of Israel, was anti-Semitism.

    We Jews knew who the enemy was. Since Jews do not cause anti-Semitism, we fought those who peddled theories of the world Jewish conspiracy, Holocaust denial, blood libels. Except at the very margins, we didn’t fight Jews.

    How things have changed. Today, bitter arguments rage about what constitutes anti-Semitism. When Jew-hatred is identified, it’s mostly in the form of what many call the “new anti-Semitism” – essentially, anti-Zionism. Others (this writer included) fundamentally dispute that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are synonymous.

    But whatever position you take, it’s clear that a revolutionary change in the discourse about anti-Semitism has occurred: Practically no discussion about current anti-Semitism now takes place without Israel and Zionism being at its center. Judging by the vast number of books, pamphlets, articles and conferences on the subject, this trend is widely welcomed.

    The equation “anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism” has thus become the new orthodoxy, and has even earned the seal of approval of the European Union. Its racism and anti-Semitism monitoring center (the Federal Rights Agency) produced a “working definition” of anti-Semitism, with examples of five ways in which anti-Israel or anti-Zionist rhetoric is anti-Semitic. The 2006 report of the U.K.’s All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism urged the adoption of the EU definition, and the U.S. State Department’s 2008 report “Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism” is also based on it.

    The redefinition of anti-Semitism has led to a further radical change in confronting the phenomenon. Many Jews are at the forefront of the growing number of anti-Israel or anti-Zionist groups. So, perceived manifestations of the “new anti-Semitism” increasingly result in Jews attacking other Jews for their alleged anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

    Anti-Semitism can be disguised as anti-Zionism, and a Jew can be an anti-Semite. In principle, therefore, exposing an alleged Jewish anti-Semite is legitimate. But if you read the growing literature that does this – in print, on Web sites and in blogs – you find that it exceeds all reason: The attacks are often vitriolic, ad hominem and indiscriminate. Aspersions are cast on the Jewishness of individuals whom the attacker cannot possibly know. The charge of Jewish “self-hatred” – another way of calling someone a Jewish anti-Semite – is used ever more frequently, despite mounting evidence that it’s an entirely bogus concept.

    Anything from strong criticism of Israel’s policies, through sympathetic critiques of Zionism, to advocacy of a one-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict, is defined as anti-Zionism, when none of these positions are prima facie anti-Zionist. Many attackers endow their targets with the ability to bring disaster and dissolution to the Jewish people, thereby making it a national and religious duty for Jews to wage a war of words against other Jews.

    I realize that many readers will regard these attacks as fully justified. But think for a moment about who benefits. Can it really help the fight against anti-Semitism to place the fantasy of the anti-Semitic Jew at its center? There are many issues about which Jews should argue robustly with each other, but the attack by Jew on Jew is acrimonious and demeaning – Can it do us any good? I would say no to both questions, for overwhelming reasons.

    Serious discussion of current anti-Semitism – rational, objective, academically grounded – is virtually nonexistent. It is being replaced by internecine Jewish political battles and endless controversies over the alleged anti-Semitic implications of comments on Israel by public figures. Practically the entire business of studying and analyzing current anti-Semitism has been hijacked and debased by people lacking any serious expertise in the subject, whose principal aim is to excoriate Jewish critics of Israel and to promote the “anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism” equation. The new EU-approved definition fundamentally subverts the term because to warrant the charge of anti-Semitism, it is sufficient to hold any view ranging from criticism of the policies of the current Israeli government, to denial of Israel’s right to exist – without having to subscribe to any of the elements that historians have traditionally regarded as constituting an anti-Semitic view. And it puts out of bounds the perfectly legitimate discussion of whether increased anti-Semitism is a result of Israel’s actions.

    This is no basis on which to develop effective policies to combat anti-Semitism.

    It’s a long way from the oft-repeated mantra that “anti-Semitism is not the Jews’ problem, but that of the non-Jews,” to this war against Jews who allegedly offer comfort to, or are themselves, anti-Semites. So far, indeed, as to suggest that we have lost our way.

    As befits a time when fear is in vogue, we have successfully widened the pool of our enemies – as if by doing so, we are somehow going to be safer.

    Antony Lerman is director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London. He writes here in a personal capacity.

  91. Ted

    Though I do agree that Israel has made some regrettable mistakes in this past conflict Gaza, I find one particular aspect of the ethnic studies accusation pretty silly. I have been to Israel 2 times, and I will tell you that most Israelis are brown and hairy, kinda like Arabs. So to say they are targeting brown people is pretty ridiculous. Also Arabs living in Israeli lands have more rights, politically and socially than they do in Saudi Arabia and many other corrupt and autocratic/totalitarian Arab nations. I feel that religion plays a bigger role in this than “brown” skin because if that were the case Israel would have to start killing all of its Moroccan, Syrian, Persian, Yemenite and Iraqi Jews.

  92. R. Avery Ellisman

    I am deeply alarmed by the “Statement on Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip” published by the faculty and graduate students of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California. Indeed, if written by those worthy of the term “scholar”, the piece would at least acknowledge the indescriminate firing of over 7,000 missles or mortars by Gaza’s Hamas activists at Israeli civilians since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza (i.e., the period prior to, during and after December 27, 2008 through January 4, 2009), and recognize the documented use of Gazan mosques, schools, hospitals and/or civlian residences as platforms and/or hideouts for the launching and/or storage of these deadly missles and armament.

    When a graduate student myself, I was taught that the first hallmark of critical scholarship was the identification and subsequent abeyance of relevant personal biases. The point then and now is that without employing a high degree of personal honesty, one’s research will invevitably miss or distort important points of fact. Consistent with poor scholarship, UCSD’s Department of Ethnic Studies published statement doesn’t hesitate to reference what it calls “racial violence against Palestinians”, yet makes no mention of Hamas’ attempt to “cleanse” Gaza of those who don’t share their political or religious beliefs, nor does it acknowledge that Israel’s Defense Force – indeed Israel itself – is made up of men and women of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.

    As a graduate of Calfornia’s higher education system and tax paying resident of this state, I take issue with unjustified and biased statements made by those who are studying or faculty at a university I support. Based on what UCSD’s faculty and graduate students in the Department of Ethnic Studies chose to write and publish, I can only conclude that, rather than “critical scholars in the field of racial and ethnic studies”, they are themselves little more than new-age anti-semites who, having both pen and pulpit, cloak a time-worn and hateful screed in undeserving robes of academia.

  93. Bruce Kesler

    Kit, you make language meaningless when you equate the term “power” with “racial.” Similarly, you miss that true professionals in any field do not only see the world through their own profession (e.g., in your words, “A mathematician will argue that the world is governed by math. A physicist will argue that the world is governed by physics. An ethnic studies scholar will argue that the world is governed by the racial and the violence that is always tied to it.”) Rather, true and the best professionals are multi-disciplinary. Further, the best teachers do not only push their views (again in your words “Professors teach the theories and ideas that they ascribe to.”) but present a well-rounded survey of various views and a well-researched and documented review of the empirical evidence.
    Ethic Studies departments are notorious for absolving themselves of academic standards and of excellence.
    This report by the ethnic studies department is a telling example, and should be embarrassing to its members. It will convince many others why your department is rightfully not respected nor respectable.

  94. Jeremy

    And I do not mean this to sound as harsh as it is going to sound, but as to the victims of gaza who have had to put up with an immense amount of pain and suffering (i would say brought upon them by their governments positions.) I have to say, they need to feel responsible. You cannot hope for peace and a better life by giving power to a group of people that threatens the existence of it’s neighbors. While my heart goes out to all the gazan’s and their families, if they want a peaceful life then they should not give authority to the violent and the insane. I know people who lived in gaza and had to leave because of the violence and extremism that has grown in that area, because they and their families have been persecuted and murdered not by Israeli’s, but other Gazan’s. So my response, as cold as I’m afraid it may sound, to a degree unfortunately the Gazan’s have reaped what they sowed. If they truly want peace, then they need to elect peace. They need to fight within their borders for peace in their own land. Once they stop threatening Israel, Israel will trade freely with the gazan’s as they are doing with the West Bank, and Israel will not be forced to use arms against gaza. Buy how can a state sit by as their neighbors threaten every day their very right to exist, and not only speak words of hate and murder, but fire rockets indiscriminately at the citizens. How can you not expect any fighting back? If you want the borders open, stop stealing all the supplies. Stop bombing all the supplies. Stop sending suicide bombers in to Israel. It’s simple…if you want peace, act peacefully. Israel does not have that option unfortunately, because if Israel stopped defending itself, then more and more bombers, and more rockets would hit Israel, and its sovereignty would be in Jeopardy, and I bet the international community wouldn’t say a word. If gazan’s want peace, then stop the violence and there will be peace. Israel gave gazans that land, and yet that was not enough for them to have peace. Every peace talk in the history of the region since 1947/48 has inevitably resulted in a rejection by arab states, and a war against Israel. Every time Israel agrees to the treaties even though every time they lose more and more land, but the arab countries reject them and attack israel. Why is this? Israel wants peace, but these countries want the end of Israel, because it is a JEWISH state. That is why I feel an attack on Israel is an attack on Jews.

    After Israel became a State and the arab nations lost their invasion of Israel, Israel said to the arabs living in Israel “stay and be free citizens.” But the arab countries said “no don’t live with the Jews, live in arab states, and soon we will get rid of Israel.” Well those “refugees” weren’t allowed back in to the arab states, and have been used as political pawns in a campaign against Israel ever since. Do you know who these people are? Jordanians and other arabs who are called today “Palestinians.” These very people have been offered citizenship and full rights in Israel time and time again, but they refuse time and time again. Do you know why? Because Israel is a Jewish state, and they would rather be dead than to live in a Jewish state.

    So in this region, the only state that doesn’t kill the opposition on a daily basis is Israel. As I said before, try being a Jew in any of these bordering states, or even a Christian for that matter.

    I have Christian Palestinian friends who had to leave because of the horrible persecutions they’ve faced under radical Islam.

    When the goals of the surrounding countries are specifically geared towards murdering Jews, and destroying a sovereign nation, how can you say that it is wrong for that nation to defend itself? What right do a few professors and 20-30 year olds living in southern california have to criticize a country who is defending itself.

    When the US accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy, there weren’t outcries against the US saying “The US is massacering the Chinese!”

    Its is a very very said thing that there have to be any loses of life in war and conflict, but that is the nature of this world unfortunately. Like I said, if they want peace they can have peace by stopping the violence against Israel.

    As Golda Meir said, “There will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel.”

    My final point is that Israel is the only country that has continually actually lost its land through out all of this time. I have said it before and I stand by my statement that there is no Israeli occupation anywhere.

    Sorry if this post is a little jumbled, I am in the library between classes and just trying to fire off a few things before class.

  95. Jeremy

    I agree that anti-semitism and anti-israeli sentiments aren’t exactly the same, but this article shows that they can be and are often very very related.

  96. Kit Myers

    Dear all,

    I appreciate every post. I would remind folks that in order to have a more constructive conversation we should make a greater effort to engage other commenters that we disagree with. It doesn’t mean we can’t be offended by what is said. But seriously, let’s make a little more effort to think outside of the box. (This is brought up because of Billy’s comment, which in three sentences attempts to “discredit” a well-argued perspective—whether it is “liberal” or not. This rhetorical move does nothing to help your argument and perspective. It merely represents your desire to not engage meaningfully or critically.)

    It seems that there are three major things that are maddening the opponents of statement against racial violence: 1) that it uses the terms “racial violence”; 2) that it doesn’t condemn Hamas and violence against Israel; 3) a department shouldn’t be spreading or “indoctrinating” its view on other students. I think Rashne Limki’s comment on “what is racial violence” is helpful. Racial violence is not about numbers. The United States is imagined and thought to be a “melting pot” of “multicultural love” but racial violence happens here every day. Indeed, the success of the US is dependent on racial violence. For example, it is dependent on cheap, illegal labor (including chattel slavery, contract labor, prison labor, and im/migrant labor). In other words, the minority can easily enact racial violence on the majority—both “inside and outside” of said nation. In other words, racial violence is about how power operates, which is why many commenters who support the statement are referring to “occupation” and “regulation” and “surveillance” as the modes of racial violence.

    But as many of you have keenly noted, Hamas is certainly not without power. They have power to send missiles into Israel. Ethnic studies “should mention” this. The statement is a brief condemnation of state-sanctioned racial violence. Hamas has been condemned. In 95% of media outlets, the “conflict” is framed as “Hamas as terrorist.” Jose and others supporters of the statement have acknowledged the violence is not unidirectional (Israel  Gaza). But to state what the world already knows (that Hamas is violent), would be to state very little at all. Thus, the statement gets at the conditions and context of the both Hamas violence and Israel state violence—which is racial violence through occupation. I think we should not fall into the common trap of “balanced” news or facts (as Fox News and CNN claim). This is why I dropped journalism because there was a desire to provide “balanced” reporting. For example, let’s say there is a protest on the rights of undocumented immigrants, and there are 200 people gathered for the event, but then there are also 10 anti-immigration protesters. “Balanced” news would give equal “voice” to both sides, not taking into account that the “minority voice” in this instance is actually the “majority voice.” So yes, Hamas is violent toward Israel, but everyone knows this.

    Lastly, on the point of keeping “personal political” views outside of the academic sphere, i.e. the department should never make such a statement that might influence thought; it should only foster critical thinking. One of the points of ethnic studies, along with other “nontraditional” departments, programs, and areas of studies (critical gender studies, post colonial studies, indigenous studies, queer studies, etc.), is to think critically. This involves interrogating the “norm”; how history has been written; and how power operates. We in fact do want to influence our students to think beyond/outside what is fed to them on an everyday basis. I would argue that this is the goal of EVERY department on campus. Every department is subjective in what it wants their students to learn. For example, science is not taught all one way. Which way is better? And is all science “correct”? Is it all “truthful”? Of course it is not. Theories and ideas are constantly reworked and challenged (very long standing theories—such as evolution). Professors teach the theories and ideas that they ascribe to. A mathematician will argue that the world is governed by math. A physicist will argue that the world is governed by physics. An ethnic studies scholar will argue that the world is governed by the racial and the violence that is always tied to it. All professors, teachers, and instructors are imparting their own perspective whether they admit or not.

    Okay, this is my last comment. There is a book called When Victims Become Killers, and it discusses and historically contextualizes the Rwandan genocide, and how Hutus committed genocidal violence against their former oppressors, Tutsis. There is something deeper than the “original” Tutsis violence against Hutu though—it is Belgian colonialism. This is why the Rwandan genocide is racial violence even though both Hutus and Tutsis are “black.” I bring this example into this discussion because no one in this specific debate/forum (on this blog) is denying the violence against Jews during the Holocaust and up until today. Rather, there is an argument being made that we must/need to be more critical about how racial violence (power) operates. Thus, one of my main points is that Rashne’s explication of racial violence is necessary context that could not be included in the statement against racial violence. It is beneficial to read that along with all of the other posts (I know this is laborious but it keeps individuals from looking silly) before you comment on the statement.

  97. Jeremy,

    With all due respect, you have the right to believe anything you want. What I’m asking you to do though is to construct a rational argument that will convince me and anyone else reading this that any critique of Israel’s actions = anti-semitism (as you seem to claim). The only specific documented remark that MLK ever made about zionism and anti-semitism was at a dinner table conversation in 1968 in which a young man spoke disdainfully of jews as he criticized zionism (this BTW is not many, it’s only one instance and we only know about it because one person who was there claims that’s what he said). This does not mean that MLK provided a blanket defense of anything Israel does as holy and a blanket condemnation of any critique of Israel as inherently anti-semitic. So I would like to go back to what I said originally: show me why you think this is so.

    Now, in regards to your feelings about anti-Semitism in general, I too share your disdain of these manifestations of anti-Jewish racism (and I’m sure everybody in the Ethnic Studies would agree with you on that as well). This doesn’t mean that the fact that there is a small minority of anti-Jewish crazies out there gives the state of Israel total immunity from critique. If you feel hurt or vulnerable right now, it’s because of your inability to distinguish between rational critique and irrational manifestations of hatred.

    Let me also remind you that there are many Palestinian students at UCSD right now, including a colleague of mine in Ethnic Studies whose family lives in Gaza. How should they feel with the actions of late? Wouldn’t you agree that having family in a place that is being systematically destroyed should make a student feel more vulnerable and insecure than just being a jew in a world in which a very small minority of people are anti-Jewish? If someone were to commit an act of hatred against you as a Jew, you would have my sympathy and support, the Ethnic Studies’ Department sympathy and support, and you would have the support of 99% of the American public. Palestinains on the other hand are routinely placed in the position of being victims of violence but they get very little sympathy from people in “the West.” I hope you will at least agree with me that there is a disparity here.

    The answer to this conflict lies in dialogue, like the one we’re engaging in now (which is inevitably uncomfortable sometimes). There’s lots of dialogue like this in Israel, BTW. Silence will only perpetuate the conflict even more. We need to be able to openly critique the actions of both the state of Israel and Palestinian leaders to find a solution to this mess.

  98. Jeremy

    perhaps this article can explain why im so emotional about this post.

    i do not like feeling “uncomfortable” because I am a Jew. This post does nothing more than make me feel alienated and targeted on campus. I thought the purpose of ethnic studies dept was to broaden the community and not discriminate or isolate members of the community. All this post does is make me feel isolated and vulnerable on campus.

  99. Jeremy

    that specific quote has been addressed as a hoax, but there have been numerous other instances where he has expressed the same exact sentiment. Also the main purpose was the article’s whole, not just his quote. Regardless of who said the quote, it is still relevant and i believe to be accurate under most circumstances.

  100. The following contains responses to comments added by Ben, Lee, Jeremy, Stephanie, and Bruce. The text here represents my views only. All of my comments are in the interest of peace and security for all parties involved in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.


    Two quick corrections:

    1) I’m not sure how the fact that Israel now allows Israeli Arabs to enlist in the army means that they’re treated fairly considering how unfairly they’re treated in most other things that actually matter. In case you didn’t read this in my last comment, here’s an excerpt of a 2007 US State Department annual report on human rights practices in Israel that identified many forms of anti-Arab discrimination inside Israel. It says: “The government did little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens.” Here are some excerpts of an article on the report and other similar reports by human rights organizations:

    Among many issues, it notes the humiliating treatment of Palestinian citizens, including community leaders, during security checks at airports and checkpoints….In 2001, Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report into the separate education services offered to the Palestinian minority. It found systematic discrimination: in the number, quality and condition of buildings; in classroom sizes and the provision of teaching resources; in funding by the government; and in developing the curriculum. It reserved its harshest criticism for the dire state of special education for disabled Arab children….Israel has also sought to undermine the value of Arabic, even though it is an official language of the state. Few Jews learn even basic Arabic, whereas Arab children are required to learn Hebrew to advanced level….University courses are in Hebrew or English, as are public meetings and court cases. Many Arab workers report being sacked for speaking Arabic at the workplace….Much international attention has focused on the recent decision by the Knesset to ban family unification in the case of marriages between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza….In many cases, it is now impossible for couples to live together: under the new law, Palestinians are denied entry into Israel, while Israeli Arabs are banned by military orders from entering Palestinian areas….Economically, the Palestinian minority have been suffering the brunt of Israel’s recession. The worst 36 unemployment blackspots in Israel are all Arab localities….Despite the manipulation of the jobless figures, unemployment among Israeli Arabs is twice that of Jews….The country’s big monopoly corporations such as the telecoms firm Bezeq and the Israel Electricity Company have Arab employees in the single figures even though they have a combined staff of more than 20,000….Some of the worst discrimination is faced by the 140,000 beduin living in the Negev. Many of their communities have never been recognised by Israel, even though they predate the state….Consequently, some 70,000 inhabitants have been forced to live in tin shacks or tents, without electricity, water or sewage services, and any municipal services. Young children often have to travel dozens of miles to reach a school….As part of an attempt by the government to force the beduin off their historic farming lands and into planned urban reservations – to make way for Jewish communities and wealthy Jewish farmers – the government has repeatedly sent in planes to spray beduin crops with herbicides…..It has also demolished mosques in the Negev, in line with a long-standing policy of denying state recognition to hundreds of holy places for Christians and Muslims that predate the creation of the Israeli state in 1948….Much of the debate in the Israeli media about the Palestinian minority concentrates on the “demographic threat” Arab citizens pose to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state….In 2002, the government set up a Demography Council of Jewish academics, lawyers and gynaecologists to devise ways to increase the birth rate of the Jewish population and dissuade Arabs from having large families….Removal of child benefits for Arabs have been top of the political agenda ever since….In the past week, transport minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the expulsion of the “Arabs of Israel” on Army Radio. It was not the first time he, and other ministers, had made such racist remarks….Demographic warnings have also been heard from the very top, including a speech in December by the treasury minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He observed: “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens…”The minority’s own political representatives have been effectively neutered. None of the Arab parties has ever been allowed to join a coalition government. Their voices have been entirely absent from the decision-making process unless they join Zionist parties (click HERE for original article).

    Also, as I said in my last statement, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently admitted to Arab Israeli leaders that “There is no doubt that for many years there has been discrimination against the Arab population that stemmed from various reasons” (click HERE for a Haaretz article on this statement).

    Hearing you say that Arabs in Israel are treated fairly is as offensive as hearing white americans say that racial minorities in the US are treated as equals and that they therefore have nothing to complain about. Most Israeli arabs would disagree with your statement here and would consider it not only ignorant but also patronizing. I welcome you to go stay in East Jerusalem (as I did) or Jaffa, or Haifa, Akko, or Nazareth and talk to people there. Ask them if they feel they’re treated fairly by Israelis.

    Here’s another interesting article:

    (from poll reveals steep rise in racist views against Arabs in Israel; many participants feel hatred, fear when overhearing Arabic, 75 percent don’t approve of shared apartment buildings. Over half of the Jewish population in Israel believes the marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man is equal to national treason, according to a recent survey by the Geocartography Institute. The survey, which was conducted for the Center Against Racism, also found that over 75 percent of participants did not approve of apartment buildings being shared between Arabs and Jews. Sixty percent of participants said they would not allow an Arab to visit their home. Five hundred Jewish men and women participated in the poll, which was published Tuesday. According to the survey, racism against Arabs in Israel has seen a sharp rise since a similar survey was conducted two years ago. In 2006, 247 racist acts against Arabs were reported, as opposed to 225 one year prior. About 40 percent of participants agreed that “Arabs should have their right to vote for Knesset revoked”. The number was 55 percent lower in the previous survey. Also, over half of the participants agreed that Israel should encourage its Arab citizens to immigrate from the country. Over half of the participants said they would not want to work under the direct management of an Arab, and 55 percent said “Arabs and Jews should be separated at entertainment sites”. Participants were asked what they felt when they overheard someone speaking Arabic. Thirty-one percent said they felt hatred, while 50 percent said they felt fear. Over 56 percent of participants said they believed that Israel’s Arab citizens posed both a security and a demographic threat to the country. When asked what they thought of Arab culture, over 37 percent replied, “The Arab culture is inferior.” “The Center Against Racism has set itself a goal to monitor all racial incidents against Arab citizens, and to fight racism as much as possible under the law through public action,” the center’s annual report said. Bachar Ouda, the center’s director, said the survey’s findings were worrisome, and urged the government to intervene in the situation. “We call on the education minister to take the gloves off and deal with the issue seriously, because it is dangerous to coexistence. We call on the state prosecutions office, and the attorney general to take action,” Ouda said

    .Now if you’d actually know what apartheid means, you’d know that apartheid does not simply mean absolute legal segregation in a clearly defined space. It is accompanied by other racially discriminatory measures in different degrees in the territories outside the areas where formal segregation is practiced. There is no doubt that apartheid exists in its full form in the territories (with the separation walls, checkpoints and simultaneous settlement expansion further cantonizing what is supposed to be a sovereign Palestinian state).

    Inside Israel, there is no formal apartheid although the way Israeli arabs are treated is influenced by the apartheid in the territories (similar to how black South Africans in Capetown or Johannesburg did not necessarily live in bantustans but they were discriminated against nonetheless. The influence of apartheid can be seen in how Israeli Arabs receive inferior government services. Did you know that in Israel, a Jew cannot legally marry a non-Jew. Why? Because in Israel, there is no civil marriage. There is only religious marriage via an orthodox rabbinate that forbits jews from marrying goyim (see this article). That’s apartheidlike (similar anti-miscegenation laws existed in South Africa). Did you know that in Israel it’s almost impossible to get citizenship if you’re a non-Jewish immigrant? That’s apartheidlike. In apartheid south Africa, as a European immigrant, it was fairly simple to get citizenship. If you were a black African immigrant though, the opposite was the case. Apartheid in the territories also influences how Israeli Arabs are always treated as potential internal enemies (hence Lieberman’s ascent to power based in his promise that he’ll strip away the citizenship from Arab Israelis and turn their villages over to the Palestinian Authority).

    2) We can critique Hamas for things like extrajudicial killings, exacerbating a violent internal feud (Abbas’ PLO is equal to blame for this, just as they too do extrajudicial killings). We can blame them for not being fully democratic by not following the rule of law. However, it is simply not true that Hamas imposes Shaaria (strict Islamic law) in the occupied territories. They cannot because according to polls the majority of Palestinians are opposed to it. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to do it or won’t try to do it. There’s been rumors that they’re thinking about instituting punishments like lashes, crucifixion, etc that come from this. They haven’t yet. If they do, it will be political suicide (HERE’s a good article on this subject). The majority of the people won’t go for it, just like the majority of Palestinians (according to polls) condemned the 9-11 attacks and expressed their solidarity with the American people in the aftermath (the video you referenced seems to imply that most Palestinians were happy that 9-11 happened which is simply not true). This is an important point to make. The majority of Palestinians would much rather have democracy than tyranny, peace than violence. They are HUMAN BEINGS just like anybody else. It’s widely accepted that Hamas’ surprise victory was due to the fact that people were fed up with the corruption and inaction in the PLO. It was a protest vote against Abbas, not a vote in favor of instituting Shaaria.



    Thanks for giving us an excellent example of a radical ethno-nationalist argument. “These invaders of Israel clearly belong EAST of the Jordan River.” EVERYBODY: here is a person who embraces the full ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Lee: is this your recommendation for making peace in the Middle East? Expelling all “the Arabs” out of Palestine? Good luck with that.

    If we follow your logic here to its full extent, should Native-Americans and Chicanos then ethnically cleanse you from California? Why don’t we just expel all descendants of white immigrants from the Americas? Would you be willing to voluntarily go back to Germany (or wherever Schoembart comes from)?I think it’s clear to most people that read this blog that it is people like you who are the biggest threat to Israel’s security. Your way is the antithesis of peace.



    If you’d read my response to M. in my previous post, you would have learned that the MLK quote you are referencing has been proven to be a hoax. He never said such a thing (for more, click HERE and HERE). Second of all, if the letter were true (which it’s not), it was purportedly written before the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. I’m pretty sure that as a peace and social justice activist, if MLK were alive today, he would be strongly condemning the treatment of Palestinians post ’67.

    Notice that some of us here are making arguments and using evidence to support it. This is different from just stating accusations. If you really think that anti-zionism automatically equals anti-semitism, make an argument proving that because the connection there is not obvious. First of all, define what you mean by anti-zionism. Do you mean any critique of Israel’s policy? If so that would make the majority of people in Israel anti-semitic, because unlike here, in Israel, it’s perfectly ok for jews to criticize what their government does. Secondly, what do you mean by anti-semitism? Expressing hatred for jews simply because they are jewish? If so, then prove to me that critiquing Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians is based only on anti-jewish hatred. So far, you’re not doing a very good job of convincing anyone of this.

    BTW, whether you accept it or not, Israel does “occupy” the West Bank and Gaza. That is an undisputed fact. Also, the fact that there are countries with much worse human rights records than Israel doesn’t give it carte blanche to occasionally deviate from human rights and humanitarian law whenever they want. Displacing 800,000 people in 1948 and not allowing them to return is a crime against humanity. Occupying territories contrary to international law is also a crime. I don’t care what happens in other countries. Destroying 10,000 houses in Gaza and killing hundreds of civilians and injuring thousands is a violation of the international rules of proportionality. Imposing a siege like the one we’ve seen in Gaza is a violation of humanitarian law. If Israel wants to portray themselves as the only democracy in the middle east, then they need to FULLY respect the humanity and rights of the Palestinian people (no matter what Palestinians do in their acts of resistance). There is no halfway democracy. The fact that the region is full of tyrannical governments is no excuse.



    First of all, I don’t particularly care whether or not you put an accent on my name. I just want to clarify one thing for the record though: I did not misspell Gilad Shalit’s name (shin, lamed, iod, tet; there is no khaph in between there). You did. Look it up. I did get one thing wrong though. I called him Corporal Shalit. He was a corporal when he was kidnapped but has since been promoted to the rank of Sergeant, so I was wrong about that.

    Now here’s my favorite part about your comment: you claim that NPR, Haaretz (the oldest and most respected newspaper in Israel) and Human Rights Watch are left-wing media sources.

    First of all, you are wrong about HRW. They have provided extensive coverage of Darfur (click HERE for example, or just type Darfur in the search field of the HRW website and you’ll find twenty other articles similar to this one). Also, if you type “sharia” in their search field, you’ll find a wide range of articles on violations of human rights laws (esp. against women) in places like Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

    If you read through the publications section of the HRW website, you will find irrefutable evidence that cover almost every single case of human rights violations in the world (just click on the country tab and scroll down. They have reports on almost every country). Also, if you’d actually read their reports (rather than a schpeel about them in some pro-Israel advocacy group website, which BTW I also read) they’ve provided extensive critiques of Hamas’ violations of human rights and rules of war. It’s in all their reports. What they ask for is that laws be respected by both sides.

    Thirdly, there is very little in the HRW reports about Israel’s conduct in the territories that is not reflected in Amnesty International and more importantly, B’Tselem (The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories). They all condemn Israel for the same things. If you’re going to accuse HRW of being leftist and impartial, you’ll have to accuse these other organizations as well, which basically would mean that according to you, there is not a single mainstream human rights organization that is credible. Good luck with convincing anyone else of that.

    Here are some other “leftist” sources I use in my comments: (Israeli news website)
    The Independent (UK newspaper)
    The Guardian (UK newspaper)
    The London Review of Books
    The BBC
    The New York Times
    Shlomo Ben Ami (former Israeli foreign minister)
    The Likud Charter of 1999 (from the Israeli Knesset website)
    President Jimmy Carter
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
    The US State Department
    The United Nations
    Prof. Sara Roy (Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University)
    David Ben Gurion
    The Israeli Center Against Racism

    I would love to have time to debate arch neo-conservative authors like Caroline Glick and Daniel Pipes but unfortunately I don’t. I’d much rather spend my time dialoguing with rational people like you. BTW, you criticize me for reading leftist sources and in the same sentence recommend I read these people? Seriously? Do you have any idea who Daniel Pipes is (and the crazy things he’s done and said)? Let’s start with his claim that Barack Obama is a secret muslim. He also thinks there should not be a Palestinian state (he advocates “handing over” Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan). Reasonable guy, huh? I also fondly remember the website he used to run when I was in college which served as a neo-macarthyist forum for exposing “radical” professors (i.e., any professors he disagreed with) and getting them fired from universities. Yeah: he’s big on freedom of speech and academic freedom. Honest Reporting BTW is an advocacy group tht fronts as an independent media monitoring organization. If they are so idependent, why do they only monutor critiques of Israel? Are we to presume that Israel never makes any mistakes as they would have you believe? Is this more “reliable” than NPR, Haaretz, HRW, or the UN?

    Notice how in my comments, I don’t quote from a single advocacy group website. Most of my sources come from either respected independent human rights organizations, newspapers or networks, protagonists in Israel’s history, or widely respected university professors.

    You on the other hand are probably reading too many pro-Israel advocacy group websites (judging for your denunciation of NPR as partial against Israel which is a ridiculous accusation).

    Let’s do this, if you have a problem with my sources, challenge them directly and refute them with more reliable sources. Don’t just refer me to other people’s arguments. Make your own.


    Bruce (& again, Jeremy):

    Please read my response to Ben above.


    EVERYBODY: let’s try to make more arguments (with documented sources) and less personal accusations.

    That’s supposed to be the point of this electronic forum. Let’s dialogue in good faith.

  101. Jeremy

    couldn’t have said it better myself bruce

  102. Bruce Kesler

    Since the purported “ethnic studies” advocates in this thread insist that Israel is engaged in a racial war upon Gazans, they might consider that in Israel the percentage of Jews of Sephardic/Asian/African origin make up about half.

    Many of these are poorer than average due to education and opportunities, but have been integrated and advancing.

    Indeed, Arabs within Israel enjoy more freedoms than in other Arab countries, not to mention the West Bank or Gaza.

    Compare that to the rampant racism, repression of women, and persecution of other than Moslems within Arab countries.

    It seems that those in UCSD’s “ethnic studies” program need to do some serious self-examination before adopting a racist ideology of their own.

  103. Stephanie

    Dear Jose, [sorry about the lack of accent on the e]

    But then, you should also learn to spell “Schalit” correctly.

    It is obvious that you draw your information only from the left-wing liberal media such as NPR, Ha’aretz and Human Rights Watch [a total misnomer]. The only “rights” this organization “watches” are those of the “oppressed Palestinians.” Nothing appears on Darfur, nor does it concern itself with the plight of women living under Shari’a law, for example. Your citing the UN as a reliable and impartial source would be laughable if it weren’t so depressing. The UN does nothing but demonize Israel without uttering a peep about the many nations that are in true violation of its stated principles. Nor do I see any reference to others who post weekly on Israel/Gaza issues, such as Daniel Pipes, Caroline Glick, or Honest Reporting.

    If your notion of being a “critical scholar” means that you draw your information only from one side of the issue, then you are simply “critical” but not at all “scholarly.”

    I also take issue with you and your department using your faculty positions as a “bully pulpit” from which to spread your own brand of “truth” rather than encouraging your students to learn to think independently. While I fully agree that you have a right to your opinion on issues, I totally disagree that the classroom and its environs are the place for you to express them. Your personal opinions should always be expressed OUTSIDE of your professional habitat. Your job is to encourage students to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions — it is not your job to try to brainwash your students to adopt your personal worldview.

    There is a great deal more I could say, but I’d prefer to be less verbose than you have been.

  104. Jeremy

    anti-zionism is anti-semitism

    the only people who have any sort of freedom in the middle east live in israel. no other country over there gives the same rights to its citizens. Try being a jew or even a member of a different Muslim belief in these other countries and see what REAL racial terrors you face. To attack the only thing working in the region is beyond stupid. This anti-semitic trash talk has got to stop already, its enough. And this talk about “occupation,” try being actually being occupied by Russia or Turkey, or something. They wouldn’t put up with ANY of this behavior. They’d completely run tanks through all the buildings and completely massacre every last one of them. Even though there is absolutely NO OCCUPATION by Israel, Israel’s treatment of gaza is far better than any other country would treat gaza under these same circumstance. How come no other Arab countries want the gazans? how come even the west bank doesn’t want them? how come Egypt will not help them? NO ONE WANTS THEM! They are terrorists that cause nothing but pain and suffering to their own people, and Israel wants to HELP THEM. So stop your meaningless racist attacks.

  105. Lee Schoenbart

    Land-for-peace will never quench the Arab and Muslim desire to wipe the Land of Israel and the State of Israel from the face of the Earth.

    The Arabs and Muslims don’t want land-for-peace, they want pieces of Jewish land any way they can slice it and dice it. And it’s humiliating that Israel and Jews the world over have to be chronically subjected to this.

    When Ariel Sharon unilaterally relinquished Gaza, the result was and has been a society that behaves more like wild animals devouring each other than a grateful culture of human beings.

    Please make the readers aware of the British Mandate and the Balfour Declaration of the 20th Century. Jordan, Transjordan was to have been the home of the so-called Palestinians – NOT THE LAND OR STATE OF ISRAEL! These invaders of Israel clearly belong EAST of the Jordan River.

    Here’s the link that makes my case:, entitled “History in a Nutshell.”

    Anyone who watches “History in a Nutshell” should have the brains the good Lord gave them to say, “Enough already,” the land is Israel’s and the Arab nations need to find a way to incorporate and reintroduce the so-called Palestinians back into their own world.

    It is not the Jews and Israelis who are the occupiers, it is the so-called Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim supporters.

  106. Dennis Childs

    “Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

    The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its apartheid policies.”
    –Nelson Mandela

  107. Ben Bluen

    Dennis, I think you are really taking things the wrong way in your analysis. It is true that one man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. However, I would call an organization a terrorist group when that group carries out and then claims responsibility for suicide bombings and rocket attacks whose primary purpose is to kill as many innocent civilians as possible. Now if you would label anyone who is launching rockets (or suicide attacks) against your hometown as a freedom fighter and not as a terrorist, then I pity you.

    Dennis, you speak of Apartheid in South Africa, where there was nearly complete separation between white and colored people. However, this was a racial problem. On the other hand, Israel is a spectacular country that openly permits worship of religion, whether the religion be Islam, Christianity, or Judiasm. In fact, around 20% of Israel’s population is non-Jewish, mostly Arab muslims, and I do not see these people living in segregated towns and ghettos like black people did in aparthied South Africa. The non-Jewish Israeli’s today serve in Israel’s army and its parliament (Knesset). In comparison, Hamas forces the people of Gaza to strictly adhere to Islamic rules. Those who deviate from these rules are beaten. The Taliban did the same thing in Afghanistan, by the way.

    One could argue that Israel’s security wall in the West Bank invokes references to apartheid, but this was built for security reasons (although some parts, I admit, are like a land grab). In fact, when I was in Israel in the summer of 2006, people in Jerusalem were unafraid to venture out at night to enjoy the World Cup (soccer games for those who don’t know). Attacks had dropped 97% at that time compared to previous years during the intifada.

    So Dennis, please think back on your comparison of Israel to apartheid and remember that when you compare Israel to apartheid, you are comparing apples to oranges to arrive at an illogical statement.

    In no way am I advocating collective punishment or collateral damage, but when someone has a gun pointed toward a person’s head (in this case, rockets raining down on your people), it is a kill-or-be-killed scenario. The choice is to act, or have more of your people get killed by those in Hamas who deny Israel’s right to exist. When you say collective punishment is against the law, Dennis, you must also remember that launching rockets purposely aimed at civilian is also against international law as well.

    Also, let us see how Israel “profits” from this recent war in Gaza. Countless rockets fell upon its cities and daily life was brought to a basic standstill in Southern Israel. However, this was a calculated risk that was considered to stop those who lob ever more dangerous and sosphiticated rockets into its cities. Israel “profit” is that it return millions of dollars in taxes to the Palestinian Authority every year, and that it supplies the West Bank and Gaza with food, electricity, and other necessities. In aparthied run South Africa (and still today), a significant portion of South Africa’s population was without power and basic supplies.

  108. Ori,

    So at least we agree on one thing, there are casualties on both sides, not just in terms of dead bodies but also in terms of truth. What we’re still disagreeing about is the proportion. Let’s take the website for example.

    Any person who only reads this website when seeking information about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would think that there is a vast media conspiracy to portray Israel in a negative light. This is very interesting, because most people who think that the Palestinians are the primary victims of this conlfict think that the western media is too soft on Israel (mainly because they bow down to pressure from groups like CAMERA).

    What’s interesting about this group is that their cherrypicking of information that unconditionally supports anything the Israeli state does contradicts their stated purpose of exposing “biased” media. CAMERA is the epitome of bias. Are we to believe that the Israeli government is so perfect that they never do anything worth criticizing (as CAMERA would have you believe). To them, even the Israeli press is biased against Israel (see their section on Haaretz). BTW, here are some crtiticisms of CAMERA:

    *In a 2003 profile of the organization in the Boston Globe, Mark Jurkowitz observed:The group has been criticized as not seeking accuracy in reporting but rather engaging in censorship and fighting for a pro-Israeli bias”To its supporters, CAMERA is figuratively – and perhaps literally – doing God’s work, battling insidious anti-Israeli bias in the media. But its detractors see CAMERA as a myopic and vindictive special interest group trying to muscle its views into media coverage.”[61]
    * Mitchell Kaidy, writing in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, criticized CAMERA’s efforts to pressure university libraries to remove books that the organization finds offensive.[62]
    * On January 13, NPR president Kevin Klose and WBUR general manager Jane Christo addressed a mostly pro-Israeli crowd of about 900 in a debate over NPR bias at Boston’s Temple Israel. “Economic blackmail” is the term Klose uses to describe CAMERA’s tactics. ” CAMERA is essentially an advocacy group that calls itself an umpire but only calls foul balls,” he adds.
    * “It’s important to make a distinction between advocacy groups that pose as watchdogs and watchdog groups doing independent and open-minded critiques of media performance,” says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.
    * Journalist and author Robert I. Friedman wrote in 1987 that “CAMERA, the A.D.L., AIPAC and the rest of the lobby don’t want fairness, but bias in their favor. And they are prepared to use McCarthyite tactics, as well as the power and money of pro-Israel PACs, to get whatever Israel wants.”[63]
    * Writing about criticisms from CAMERA he and his colleagues have received, Jerusalem-based journalist Gershom Gorenberg wrote ” It is not the press’s job to provide PR for any government. Until CAMERA gets this straight, self-respecting journalists will regard an occasional snarl from the watchdog as proof that they’re doing their job.”[64]
    * Writing about attempts by CAMERA to get a local Pasadena, California church to cancel an appearance by Palestinian activist Reverend Naim Ateek, Rob Eshman, Editor-in-Chief of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, wrote “I’m always leery when Jewish groups ride in from out of town to try to save us from the bad guys. We have plenty of sharp-eyed Jewish defense groups locally who can tussle on our behalf. It’s just a bit condescending to think we rubes, out in America’s second-largest Jewish city, don’t know how and when to fight. Or whom.”[65] Eshman later clarified that his criticism was directed specifically at CAMERA’s handling of the Ateek visit, and not toward the organization in general. “I think CAMERA, which in so many cases I find useful and correct, is in this case making things worse,” he wrote.[66]
    * In 2005, Donald Wagner, Executive Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Associate Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern Studies at Northpark University,[67] argued that “for propaganda purposes Israel and its friends at CAMERA claimed “there were no new settlements” while “not only did the settler population double, so too did new settlement construction in the 108 new ‘settlement outposts’ established between the end of 1992 and 2000”.

    One of the pillars of liberal democracy is to have the freedom to print news articles and books from multiple points of view. The point of this is that citizens of a democracy are supposed to be intelligent enough to discern what is true from what is false or innacurate. CAMERA wants to simply censor anything they disagree with. They despise debate. This directly contradicts the principles of liberal democracy (e.g., removing books they don’t like from university libraries). Do you agree with this?

    BTW, HERE’s a website that documents multiple instances in which various media outlets either ignore points of view critical of Israel’s actions or actively silence Israel’s critics. The list is quite extensive. Also, I should point out that unlike CAMERA or ADL, this is not an advocacy group that paints itself as a media watchdog.

    Last thing: my last name is Fusté, not Fueste (a common mistake).


  109. Dennis Childs

    As Jody pointed out there is not much that needs to be added to Ben Balthaser’s succinct comments. However, I did want to chime in just to say that we can go back and forth in regard to the moral question as to the use of violence by a people who are occupied/colonized ad infinitum. Indeed during the PR campaigns against armed resistance in South Africa (just like those in places such as colonial Algeria, Haiti, Kenya, the US during slavery and Indigenous genocide, etc) it was very easy for the apartheid government to use the label “terrorist” in respect to resistance fighters to disqualify and efface the real issue that was leading to violent rebellion in the first place: that being of course APARTHEID itself and the systematic dispossession, murder, land-robbing, ghettoizing, and collective punishment of those forced to live a Bantustan existence. If the conversation here is going to be about solutions then it has to be geared along the lines of what is causing the strife. This again, is clearly the illegal occupation and systematic robbing of Palestinians of their rights as a people.

    As Ben Balthussar makes clear, this last cease-fire was broken not by Hamas, but by Israel with its assassination of six members of Hamas in early November, and also by its continuance of the siege that sealed off the strip from aid, food, etc. — a blockade that was to end as a condition of the Egyptian brokered ceasefire. Mainstream Israeli media (unfortunately its much better than US media on the subject) has made it clear that the bombing of Gaza was a plan that was in the works long before the cease-fire was even declared. But you will not hear this on CNN. The fact is that the war mongers in Israel use provocation to incite violence because they are not interested in a “solution” to this problem if by that word one means a Palestinian state–only if by “solution” one means the sort of devastation that was committed against Jews, Gypsies, communists, queer folks, and others during the Nazi reign. Stated simply, for the power brokers in Israel, the solution to the Palestinian problem means getting rid of the Palestinians one way or another as a people. This is at the core of the Zionist project of a “land without a people for a people without a land.” Unfortunately for this project, the Palestinians are still there and they and the world know it.

    The argument that the collective punishment and murder of over a thousand civilians by Israel including hundreds of children merely represents unintentional “collateral damage” of a righteous “defense” campaign is so galling as to make any comment against it absurd. Israel (and the US who funds and arms it) knows full well that such campaigns will lead to such death tolls; so any notion of a lack of “intent” is ridiculous. Collective punishment is against international law.

    But more importantly, the occupation is illegal and is at the core of all strife. Again, the fact is that US and Israel warlords do not want any “peace” in this region: they profit too much from it. They will continue to provoke Palestinians into violence to rationalize their further decimation. The so-called “pull-out” of Gaza was a ruse so that Israel could accelerate the number of settlements that its building in the West Bank.

    Anyone who is outraged at the loss of human life in this region should stand with the Palestinian people for their human rights and for the civilian population not to be “accidentally” bombed and burned to death with white phosphorous. Only the end of the occupation and the funneling of billions of US dollars to Israel to prop it up will end the bloodshed.

    If you recognize the struggle of Palestinians as a freedom struggle against a colonizing power (a big if for many people, especially in the US) then your energy is well spent in your offering solidarity to the Palestinians and not in uninformed, ahistorical, moralizing about the use of violence on the part of the victims of the occupation.

    I’ll just end by quoting Nelson Mandela on the subject of the apartheid state in Israel:

    “Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

    The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its apartheid policies.”

  110. Ori

    Jose Fueste,
    Thank you for your response, and you are right that there are casualties on both sides. And that is what I was trying to point out that the ES dept fails to do. The statement doesn’t even attempt to provide any historical hint as to why Israel initiated Operation Cast Lead:

  111. Billy

    Nice try Jose, you spent a lot of time and effort on that post I’m sure. Too bad the vast majority was completely misconstrued and absolutely false. But we can see you are a tool of this “department.”

  112. Below are responses to comments by Marina, Jeremy, Chuck, Ben Bluen, M., and Ori Clarification: all the comments expressed here reflect my views only. They do not in any way represent the views of either the Dept. of Ethnic Studies or UCSD.. Dear all, First, a couple of clarifications on previous comments: 1) Marina: Our job in the department of Ethnic Studies is to interrogate questions of power, violence, and inequality, especially ones having to do with colonialism and its aftermath and the deployment of social identities like race, ethnicity, nationality etc. This does not mean we cannot take positions on issues that are politically controversial. If you look at our other posts, in the Katrina one for example, we take a stance condemning the government’s abandonment of New Orleans’ African American population. We don’t say: “on the one hand this is what the African-American residents of New Orleans say” and “on the other hand, this is what the Bush administration claims.” We so the same with the issue of immigration and the impact that the San Diego fires had on San Diego’s immigrant community. We don’t say “according to nativist groups, illegal immigrants do this, and that, and bla bla bla). We base our collective comments (which we rarely issue), on our knowledge of history and our intellectualization of how social power works makes us certain that one side is right and the other side is wrong. That is as close to objectivity as we can get on these issues. Of course, objectivity is always subjective. Our analyses are also colored by our racial, class, gender, ethnic, religious, national identities and the experiences we’ve gone through occupying those multiple intersecting identities. Part of our job is to make comments in issues of social justice based on our extensive collective expertise. This comes with the territory of a university which is supposed to be a “marketplace of ideas” (other departments may come to other conclusions based on their expertise and that’s fine as well). Also, on the issue of making students feel safe, no one in the Ethnic Studies is threatening any student. I don’t understand why you think this is a threat to anybody’s safety. The people whose safety is at stake are in Israel and Gaza (the majority of whom are in the latter). There is nothing unsafe about critical debate. Our intention is to promote critical, constructive dialogue, which might make some students feel discomfort. Our comments were simply directed at the actions of the Israeli government. There is no mention of Jews or Israelis as people. It’s just about the state. Let me also remind you that just as we have israeli students, we also have palestinian students in the department (including a graduate student that has relatives in Gaza). We need to be sensitive to their needs as well. Now, I personally want to express my empathy for you and your family. I worked in Ashkelon for two summers, excavating in the ancient city right in the national park (by the Sea). It’s a lovely city. I know how close it is to Gaza so I understand your concern for your family. I also know that 50% of the population was displaced from the city due to security concerns. This is unfortunate. I think I speak for my colleagues here: no one is glad that there are rockets being sent into Israel. Although the statement doesn’t state this clearly, we seek an end to all violence against civilians. It’s not in there because our critique was directed at the Israeli state. I would like clarify one thing though: the notion that somehow Israeli suffering in this conflict (before and during Operation Cast lead) is equal or worse to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza (or anywhere else in the territories at any moment of this decades long conflict) is false. I take objection with how in your comment you somehow equate one with the other. Palestinians have borne the burden of not just casualties (including civilian casualties) but also injuries, destruction of property, misery and poverty due to the blockade, and the general humiliation that comes with being a population whose ancestors were ethnically cleansed from their land two generations ago, who were made to be the largest refugee population in the world, who were made to live in the most densely populated place in the world (Gaza) which is essentially an open air prison surrounded by one of the strongest militaries in the world. Israelis don’t have to go through checkpoints. Did you know that the majority of those who live in Gaza come from Ashkelon? Their families lived there for centuries. Those forts that you see in the park by the sea were built by the ancestors of today’s Gazans almost 1,000 years ago. Do you think it was right for your country to push them all into the strip and treat them they way they have been treated since 1948? Here are the facts: only a handful of Israelis today are getting kidnapped (like corpral Shalit) by Palestinians. On the other hand, the Israeli state has almost a thousand administrative detainees in their prisons, with no due process rights, no right to see the charges or evidence against them or appeal their conviction. This is tantamount to kidnapping. (if you don’t believe me, check this B’Tselem webpage). Palestinian prisoners also get routinely tortured in Israeli prisons. Palestinians also are not deploying a military power that continues to allow settlers to progressively take over Israeli land with the outright intention of keeping it for themselves and kicking them out. They also don’t have an occupying power building a wall inside Israel to incorporate as much land as possible under the pretext that it is a security wall. Now I know what you’re going to say: the wall is there to stop potential suicide bombers. That doesn’t mean the wall has to be built beyond the internationally recognized border (the green line) that is supposed to demarcate what international law says should be a sovereign palestinian state. The wall in the West Bank is incorporating not just all of greater jerusalem (so that no part of it will never be palestinian) but enormous pieces of fertile land and water resources. The reason why the wall goes as far inland into the west bank as it does is not because of security (click HERE). It’s because of greed. So please, please, please: if you’re going to make the nice and decent gesture of saying that you feel for the suffering of Palestinians, be true to fact and history: acknowledge that in this conflict, Palestinians have suffered not just more civilian deaths (the 1:10 ratio that characterizes the Gaza War is fairly typical of all other wars against Palestinians) but in terms of all the other forms of violence that are committed in the region. If you are a human being who cares about human suffering first, you should have no problem admitting this. We should all want to put an end to the violence on both sides but before violence there needs to be justice, and before justice is allowed to reign, the truth needs to come out first. No truth, no justice; no justice, no peace. 2) Jeremy: The Hamas charter is a despicable document. It is as despicable as the tactics which Hamas employs, which in my my opinion, have turned the legitimate right that Palestinians have to resist an occupation into a spectacle of violence against civilians and a showcase for an exclusionary, intolerant, islamic ethnonationalism which is not likely to lead to peace. That being said, they are not the only violent, ethnonationalist bully in the neighborhood. There’s an even bigger one right nextdoor to Gaza, albeit with a much more sophisticated public relations machinery. Consider this: the Hamas charter is as despicable of a document as another famous ethno-nationalist manifesto: the Likud charter of 1999. This document emphasizes the right for Jews of any part of the world to settle in “Judea (and) Samaria” (more commonly known as the “West Bank”) and Gaza,” and as such, brings it into direct conflict with Palestinian claims on the same territory, although the majority of Palestinians claim the entire territory of Israel as their own. Similarly, their claims of the Jordan river as the permanent eastern border to Israel and Jerusalem as “the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel,” do the same. * The ‘Peace & Security’ chapter of the Likud Party platform “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” The chapter continues: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.” If you don’t believe me, read the party platform yourself (you can read it for yourself HERE). Likud, BTW, is the party that has controlled the Israeli state at two critical moments during the Oslo Peace process: after Rabbin was assasinated by a Jewish extremist for attempting to make concessions to the Palestinians, and after the breakdown of the peace negotiations in 2000. While people keep mentioning that Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, Likud has never conceded the right to self-rule to Palestinians either. Yes, they played lip service to it in Olso but Netanyahu seemed to do everything in his power to derail those accords. This is what Avi Shlaim says about that in The Iron Wall:
    “His first target was the Oslo accords, which, though not committing Israel to the idea of an independent Palestinian state, pointed in that direction. By making it clear that he remained absolutely opposed to Palestinian statehood, he all but pulled the keystone from the arch of peace. The Oslo accords repreented a step away from the previous Israeli doctrine of maintaining control over the Palestinians in the occupied territories. By adopting at the outset hard-line pre-Oslo positions, Netanyahu was reasserting this doctrine. His aim was to preserve direct and indirect Israeli rule over the Palestinian areas by every means at his disposal. He was as uncompromizing in his opposition to Palestinian statehood as Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin had been. But, as he was it, his Labor predecessors had sold the pass, so he had to be more creative in his efforts to regain list ground. The main elements of his strategy were to lower Palestinian expectations, to weaken Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, to suspend the further redepoloyments stipulated in the Oslo accords, and to use the security provisions in these accords in order to reassert Israel’s dominant position” (Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall, p. 575).
    .Likud dominated the political agenda of the state of Israel when Israel got the closest at making peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians were able to negotiate, concede (given their weakened position) but Likud got greedy. Instead of settling, they wanted to keep as much of the pie as possible. It’s not a matter of whether or not I or any other person has the right to vote for them or not vote for them. It’s that these positions have dominated Israel’s agenda. Why was it that Ehud Barak failed to agree on final status accords at Tabah? It was because Likud was condemning him for making concessions with the Palestinians, therefore forcing him to retreat to Israel to try to preserve Labor’s majority which he lost, thanks to the agitating of Sharon and company. This is what Shlomo Ben Ami had to say about that in an interview (he was Foreing Minister and the main Israeli negotiator at Taba:
    “Now, with regard to Taba, you see, we were a government committing suicide, practically. Two weeks before general elections, the chief of staff, General Mofaz, who is now the Minister of Defense, comes and in a—I say that in the book—in something that is tantamount to a coup d’etat, comes and says publicly that we are putting at risk the future of the state of Israel by assuming the Clinton parameters, and we accept them, we assume them. And then I go to Cairo and I meet President Mubarak, and President Mubarak invites Arafat to see me in Cairo, and I say to Arafat, “We are going to fine tune this in a meeting in Taba, if you wish.” And then we go to Taba, and we negotiate in Taba. And in Taba, Prime Minister Barak instructs me to conduct secret negotiations with Abu Alla. Within the negotiations, we had the second track trying to reach an agreement, and he even agrees to all kind of things that he was not very open to before that. Now, this was the end. We saw that we are not reaching an agreement, and we need to go back, even if for the electoral campaign. I mean, we were a week before the elections. I mean, we were practically nonexistent. Our legitimacy as a government to negotiate such central issues as Jerusalem, as Temple Mount, the temple, etc., was being questioned, not only by the right that was making political capital out of it, but by the left, people from our own government. “Shlomo Ben-Ami is ready to sell out the country for the sake of a Nobel Prize.” This is what Haim Ramon said, one of the labor ministers, so it was unsustainable. We could not go any longer.”
    Note that even a Labor minister was involved in condemning Barak for making these concessions. The problem then is that due to Israel’s parliamentary system, a coalition of the hard-liners who want to make little or no concessions on the main issues of the occupation conflict are given a “heckler’s veto” of sorts. They have never allowed Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians for a true peace settlement in good faith. In critical times of peace negotiations (like Taba) they threaten to withdraw from majority coalitions and dissolve parliaments, and essentially in this way, derail Israel’s actions towards peace. They are also the ones that make it possible for settlement expansion to continue in spite of the fact that every single major international roadmap, accord, etc. always calls for this settlement expansion to stop. Now, this doesn’t mean that Likud will never accede to making any concessions to Palestinians. We know this from experience. Menachem Begin was one of the most radical of all Likudniks, former head of Irgun which committed shameless acts of terrorism against palestinian civilians (e.g. throwing grenades into crowded markets) and refused to ever make any concessions to his enemies. Even though he was the jewish equivalent of a radical militant Palestinian nationalist (in beliefs and terrorist tactics) he was one of the only Israeli politicians to ever sign a big peace accord with his neighbors (the first Camp David agreement) with President Sadat of Egypt. Of course, Israel later reneged on their promise to withdraw from the occupied terrories (see recent interview with President Carter on this point HERE). The same can be said about Sadat, another uber-ethno-nationalist who later proved to be willing to negotiate. Now, as despicable as the Hamas charter is in its content, it is an undisputable historical fact that there are moderates in key positions within the Hamas organization that have expressed a willingness to acknowledge the right for the Israel to exist as a state on the condition that Israel follow the national consensus for how to solve the conflict. As Norman Finkelstein notes:
    “for the past three decades the international community has consistently supported a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict that calls for two states based on a full Israeli withdrawal to its June 1967 border, and a “just resolution” of the refugee question based on the right of return and compensation. The vote on the annual U.N. General Assembly resolution, “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine,” supporting these terms for resolving the conflict in 2008 was 164 in favor, 7 against (Israel, United States, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau), and 3 abstentions. At the regional level the Arab League in March 2002 unanimously put forth a peace initiative on this basis, which it has subsequently reaffirmed.”
    In recent times, Hamas has repeatedly signaled its own acceptance of such a settlement. This is what Khalid Mishal, head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, stated in an interview in March of 2008:
    “There is an opportunity to deal with this conflict in a manner different than Israel and, behind it, the U.S. is dealing with it today. There is an opportunity to achieve a Palestinian national consensus on a political program based on the 1967 borders, and this is an exceptional circumstance, in which most Palestinian forces, including Hamas, accept a state on the 1967 borders….There is also an Arab consensus on this demand, and this is a historic situation. But no one is taking advantage of this opportunity. No one is moving to cooperate with this opportunity. Even this minimum that has been accepted by the Palestinians and the Arabs has been rejected by Israel and by the U.S. (Mouin Rabbani, “A Hamas Perspective on the Movement’s Evolving Role: An interview with Khalid Mishal, Part II,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Summer 2008).
    Finkelstein also notes that :
    “Israel is fully cognizant that the Hamas Charter is not an insurmountable obstacle to a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border.”[T]he Hamas leadership has recognized that its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future,” a former Mossad head recently observed. “[T]hey are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967….They know that the moment a Palestinian state is established with their cooperation, they will be obligated to change the rules of the game: They will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original ideological goals.”
    Hamas’ willingness to negotiate and Israel’s unwillingness to engage them has also been confirmed by President Jimmy Carter himself (the only US president that successfully facilitated a peace agreement between Israel and one of its enemies). In december, after the 2008 ceasefire had been broken by Israel and then Hamas, Carter met with Meshaal in Damascus (again, the head honcho in Hamas). Meshal indicated to him that Hamas was willing to go back to the ceasefire if Israel would lift the siege on Gaza. He says he passed along the statement to the Israeli military, but he never heard back from Israeli officials. Two weeks later, Israel launched its three-week assault that left more than 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, at least a third children, dead (For more, click HERE and HERE). The bottom line here then is that there are extremists and moderates on both sides. The moderates can negotiate but only if they can control the extremists in Israel who don’t want to give any bit of land and sovereignty to Palestinians, just as the Hamas moderates have to curb the influence of the more radical uncompromising anti-zionist militants that still foolishly think that Palestinians will be able to expel the Jews from Palestine. That of course is far from happening because right now, both sides are playing politics with the issue. One side has three main parties trying to outmacho each other telling their electorate that each of them will be more tough on the Palestinians. The other side is trying to outmacho the PLO telling Palestinians that they are the only ones with the gonads to resist Israeli power. Recently, they’ve also stolen UN goods so that they too can claim that they are the only ones who care about feeding and caring for the poor (a strategy that has always won Hamas votes). The politics on both sides is disgusting. Now Jeremy, your assertion that the Gaza is not occupied is not only false, it is ridiculous. During the so called disengagement, Israel did not “disoccupy” Gaza. They simply unilaterally (i.e. w/o consulting with anybody on the Palestinian side, Hamas or PLO) withdrew their army to the borders, thus controlling not only the airspace and coast of gaza but also regulating what came in and out through its land borders, all the water that flows into Gaza, and all the commerce that goes in and out. What they effectively did then was to substitute one form of occupation for another one: a siege. On your assertion that the department’s comment is a racist attack against Jews and Israelis, notice that there is not a single mention in the statement of Jews or Israelis. This is an attack on the actions of a state, a perfectly legitimate thing to criticize. 3) Chuck: I agree with you on one thing: we shouldn’t forget the Israeli victims of the Second Intifada. During these years, 1,053 Israelis (719 confirmed civilians) tragically lost their lives. There was much damage done in Israel due to suicide bombings and other forms of attack. This was a sad chapter in an even sadder history of this bloody struggle. Let’s also not forget (as you seem to do) of the killing of 4,745 Palestinian civilians (including 2,024 confirmed civilian deaths) during the Second Intifiada. This doesn’t include the injured, the targeted killings that kill one militant and 20 civilians around him (often his/her children), the thousands of demolitions of homes as collective punishment, the jailing and torturing of thousands of people as administrative ditainees without charges (including children), etc. etc. But if you want to get historical, let’s also not forget the First Intifada. For the first three years of this uprising, the Palestinians protested with largely non-violent civil disobedience, with general strikes, barricades, boycotts, graffittis, and kids throwing stones at tanks (the only violence). In the end, after things turned more violent, 1,100 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and 160 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. The vast majority of Palestinian deaths were civilians whereas half of Israeli deaths were soldiers. Let’s also not forget Yitzhak Rabin’s (then defense minister) orders to soldiers to break the bones of Palestinian protesters, including children. Here’s what he said: “The first priority of the security forces is to prevent violent demonstrations with force, power and blows … We will make it clear who is running the territories.” Did you know that between 23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the intifada as a result of this policy. Almost one third of these were ten years or under, one fifth were five and under. More than four fifths had been beaten on their heads and upper bodies and at multiple locations (the data in this paragraph is from an on-the-ground report by Save the Children titled “The Status of Palestinian Children During the Uprising in the Occupied Territories” in Journal of Palestine Studies 19:4 (Summer 1990). The suicide bombers of the Second Intifada were of this generation. So I agree, let’s not forget. Let’s remember the entire picture here. 4) Ben: First off, let me say that I appreciate your desire to keep dialoguing on this issue. Now on your comments about our mission as teachers, see the comment on Marina’s post above. Also, your analogy here “This is like a Democratic teacher telling you to vote for the Democratic party” doesn’t work. This is not a matter of political or policy differences. It’s a matter of the difference between what leads to an overall peace and what leads to decades of violence. It’s the difference between what is just for as many people as possible, and what is flat out unjust. I think it’s safe to say that as academics and human beings, it’s ok for us to take a stance on what we decide is unjust based on our knowledge of history and intellectualization of social conflicts. Secondly, I do not understand how you can reference one article about Hamas stealing UN supplies (see my comments about Hamas above) without referencing the reason why supplies are needed in Gaza in the first place: namely, the brutal siege of Gaza as a form of collectively punishing Gazans for choosing to vote for one political party in an election (BTW, it seems that Hamas and UNRWA have settled the issue anyway so it’s a moot point). How can you accuse Hamas of depriving their people of aid while conviently forgetting why Gazans are desperately in need of aid in the first place? Seriously! What kind of lame cherrypicking of information is this? Who is responsible for the Gaza blockade? The blockade began in 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza strip and, effectively ending their power-sharing agreement with the PLO which they had voluntarily entered to all by themselves in the first place because they swept in the past elections (which all international monitors said was a legitimate victory). They had not need to share power with the PLO. When they did decide to do this, they clearly signaled that it was part of an effort by Hamas to become legitimate players in the peace negotiations alongside the PLO. So why did they end their agreement? Why did they sieze power from the corrupt PLO so abruptly? This has been extensively documented in an investigative article published in Vanity Fair. What the article proves is that the US tried to get the PLO to overthrow of the Hamas-led goverment after Hamas swept Palestinian elections. Hamas preemted the move and kicked the PLO out of Gaza (click HERE to read the article. It’s very interesting). After that, Israel (knowing exactly what had happened because they were participants in this attempted coup against Hamas) began to publicly claim that it was Hamas that had orchestrated the coup in the first place (something that the VF thoroughly invalidates based on extensive interviews and documentation). They took this Hamas takeover as a pretext for initiating the blockade and effectively punishing Gaza’s population for democratically electing Hamas in the first place. Obviously, this created added tension between Israel and Hamas. Israel committed target assassinations inflicting heavy civilian casualties on one side. Hamas started firing their rockets into Israeli civilian areas on the other side. Israel rounded up people for jailing as administrative detainees (i.e. official kidnappings since these people have no way of challenging their detention or even seeing evidence against them), and Hamas kidnapped Corpral Shalit. In 2008, Hamas signed a ceasefire with Israel in the precondition that Israel end its blockade on Gaza. For months they stopped missle firings almost completely. Israel did not keep their side of the bargain in terms of easing the blockade. This is how President Carter tells it in a recent interview:
    PRES. CARTER: Well, I know what happened in this last ceasefire. I was the one that helped to orchestrate it. When I went that April I asked Hamas to accept a ceasefire just in Gaza. Their first position was no, we’ll only accept a ceasefire with the entire Palestine, that is, Gaza and the West bank. I knew that Israel would not accept that, so they finally accepted okay, we’ll accept the proposition that you put forward to us, Mr. President, that is, Gaza ceasefire only. I relayed that information to the chief negotiator between the Hamas and Israel, Omar Sulaiman, head of security in Egypt. And he pursued that proposition and finally reached an agreement late in May – about a month and six weeks later – and the agreement was that they would stop all attacks on each other, that Hamas would stop all the rockets and that Israel would open up the supply line going in to supply food and water and medicines and fuel to the one and a half million Palestinians. That was the agreement. Hamas kept their promise I would say 99 percent. Three months there was just one mortar round or rocket fire – no damage done. But Israel did not keep their promise on opening up their supply lines; they only increased to about twenty percent. But still Hamas kept their promise until the fourth day of November, at which time Israel attacked Gaza militarily because they claimed that there was a tunnel being built. It turned out that the tunnel was completely within the walls of Gaza and there are probably a thousand other tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. But that was what precipitated the breakdown in the ceasefire.
    The blockade has been devastating for the citizens of Gaza. Sara Roy recently published an article in the London Review of Books detailing its effects on Gaza’s citizenry. Here are some key excerpts:
    This means that an average of 4.6 trucks per day entered the strip compared to an average of 123 in October this year and 564 in December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so. Between 5 November and 30 November, only 23 trucks arrived, around 6 per cent of the total needed; during the week of 30 November it received 12 trucks, or 11 per cent of what was required. There were three days in November when UNRWA ran out of food, with the result that on each of these days 20,000 people were unable to receive their scheduled supply. According to John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. On 18 December UNRWA suspended all food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes because of the blockade…The majority of commercial bakeries in Gaza – 30 out of 47 – have had to close because they have run out of cooking gas. People are using any fuel they can find to cook with….Banks, suffering from Israeli restrictions on the transfer of banknotes into the territory were forced to close on 4 December. A sign on the door of one read: ‘Due to the decision of the Palestinian Finance Authority, the bank will be closed today Thursday, 4.12.2008, because of the unavailability of cash money, and the bank will be reopened once the cash money is available.’
    The blockade was widely criticized by numerous international organizations:
    On January 24, 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a statement calling for Israel to lift its siege on the Gaza Strip, allow the continued supply of food, fuel, and medicine, and reopen border crossings.[2]. According to the Jerusalem Post, this was the 15th time in less than two years the council condemned Israel for its human rights record regarding the Palestinian territories.[30] The proceedings were boycotted by Israel and the United States. On March 7, 2008, several international aid groups, including Amnesty International, CARE International UK, and Oxfam, issued a report saying that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip was more acute than at any time since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. They urged Israel to lift the blockade, characterizing it as collective punishment against the 1.5 million residents of the territory.[31 On December 15, 2008, following a statement in which he described the embargo on Gaza a crime against humanity, United Nations human rights investigator Richard A. Falk was prevented from entering the Palestinian territories by Israeli authorities and expelled from the region [32] (from Wikipedia).
    So Ben, in your most recent comment you cite the article about Hamas’ stealing of supplies in Gaza and you claim that it should give us “insight to Hamas that purposely deprives its people of supplies that Israel permits to enter Gaza.” First of all, there is nothing in the article that says that Hamas is depriving Gazans of these supplies. What the article does suggest is that Hamas is stealing them so that they can redistribute the supplies themselves (“The ability of Hamas to provide aid is crucial to maintaining support for its rule in the territory.”). The article also explains that according to Hams officials, they decided to confiscate the supplies (as the legitimate government body inside Gaza) because they believed UNRWA was giving the supplies to political opponents of Hamas. Like I said before, the matter has been settled. Hamas has apologized for the incident. They claim it was a mistake and the UNRWA said that once they get all the supplies back, things will go back to normal. So what’s the big fuss here? You and I can say a lot of legitimate cricisms of Hamas, but one thing we can’t say is that somehow Hamas deprives their constituents of supplies. That is exactly how Hamas rose through prominence: through their multiple local charities and welfare programs. While the PLO was stealing billions of dollars from the PA and not showing anything for it, Hamas was on every street corner in the territories doing concrete, tangible things for Palestinians. My opinion is that Hamas completely sucks except for that. 5) M: Now your comment is the one I have the biggest problem with. With all due respect, what do you think gives you the right to lecture an entire department made up of experts on matters of race (professors and graduate students) on what race means? Is your ego seriously that gargantuan? Yes: it’s true that Israel is an ethnically diverse country. It’s also true that Israel has a pretty shameful record of historical discrimination against jewish immigrants coming from other Arab countries. Are you familiar with the phrase Mizrahim Meluchlahim (מלוכלכים מזרחים?, Hebrew for “dirty orientals,” the term used to refer to sephardic immigrants who were forced to live in Ma’abarot tent cities while European Ashkenazi jewish immigrants were placed inside the much nicer Kibbutz housing). Israel also has a record of anti-black discrimination against Ethiopians (have you ever heard of the phrase Kushim or כושים (the hebrew equivalent for the N-word?). Sixty percent of Ethiopian Israelis live in poverty compared to 20% of the general population. Check out the following quotation from this article:
    Ethiopian immigrant leaders express disappointment that many of their Israeli-born children with fluent Hebrew have fared no better and complain that the real problem is discrimination by white Israelis….”These aren’t isolated incidents, it’s pure discrimination,” said Batia Eyob, director of an immigrant advocacy group that has documented a rise in anti-Ethiopian behavior in the past five years….Ethiopians complain of problems finding employers to hire them but say the discrimination starts at school….Figures show a dropout rate among Ethiopians of 23 percent by the age of 17 compared to 15 percent for other Israelis. Ethiopian youngsters say they find themselves the butt of racial slurs from some teachers as well as pupils…Asher Balata, 18, said he hit his school principal “because he called me a nigger” and ended up expelled just months before high school graduation (I also recommend this article).
    Trust me: I worked with Ethiopian jews for two summers in Ashkelon. I became friends with some of them (unlike many of my coworkers who treated them like work mules). Many of them spoke to me about the difficulties they faced living in Israel. But let’s assume that there is total racial harmony in Israel: that it’s a multicultural haven. Are you then saying that because Israel has black immigrants it means that they’re not racist? That’s like police commisioners saying that because there are black cops, that means that their officers can never be guilty of racial profiling or racial violence. Now, to go to my least favorite part of your comment:
    However, for the sake of the integrity of your ACADEMIC department please do not misuse the term “race” because you are delegitimizing the racial issues that Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought so hard to bring to national consciousness. He understood the meaning of race, and he also understood Israel’s right to exist, and he would stand with me deeply hurt by an institution that would throw around a word like that hurting a huge student population in the process. Shame on you and the others who wrote and stand by this horrible, irresponsible, false, and ultimately, anti-Semitic statement. This department is a sham.
    First of all, I don’t know if you got this memo or not but the reputed letter that MLK wrote in defense of Zionism has been proven to be a hoax (for more, click HERE and HERE). So please stop spreading that unfounded rumor. Second of all, if the letter were true (which it’s not), it was purportedly written before the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. I’m pretty sure that as a peace and social justice activist, if MLK were alive today, he would be strongly condemning the treatment of Palestinians post ’67. Now, I don’t think I have to define the meaning for race to you (as we use it in our research and in our statement). For that, I recommend you read Rashne’s excellent post below. What I would like to do is to apply that concept of race to the history of Israel. It is an undisputable historical fact that Israel is a settler colony that was occupied by ethno-nationalists who wanted to found an ethnocracy for themselves only, in a land that a book that was written thousands of years ago and that hundreds of stories and myths says that it was rightfully theirs. On the whole issue of land claims, I made this timeline this timeline which puts into perspective the Zionist claim that Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jews. By the way, on the issue of this land claim, I made a timeline in which each bar represents a period where a particular ethnic groups had political supremacy over part of what is now modern Israel. If you notice, the jews were in sometimes full and sometimes partial control over this territory for around 1100 years. What we now call Palestinians are basically christian and muslim families (many of whom converted from Judaism) that lived on that area without moving anywhere until the massive relocations of 1948. That population was there for 1683 years. As a sidenote, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this but right now, one of the biggest bestsellers in Israel is a book called When and How Was the Jewish People Invented. It is written by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand). The book provides ample evidence for a thesis that scholars in the know already recognize as an undisputable fact. What this thesis claims is that the Romans never really expelled all Jews from Judea in the second century. Many of them stayed and ultimately converted into christianity and islam. This means that Palestinians are in part genetically related to the original settlers of Judea. The book also claims that on the other hand, many of the Jews from Europe and other places who immigrated to Israel are descended from gentile converts into Judaism. For more on this book, click HERE. Going back to the early settler colonization of Turkish and then British Palestine, the early Zionist settlers of this land clearly laid out their intentions in their records. They sought take over the entire land of Palestine for themselves and then gradually remove Palestinians from it. There are numerous documents of that era that attest to this. Even in the early Yishuvs in the late 19th century, the Jews established a policy whereby they would only hire jewish laborers. They not only took land away from Palestinians (sometimes bought legally, sometimes acquired extralegally) but they took away their sustenance. You can read about this in Gershon Shafir’s book on the subject (he’s a sociology professor at UCSD). It’s titled Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882-1914. Check out the following important quotes from that era:
    Were the early Zionists planning on living side by side with Arabs? In 1919, the American King-Crane Commission spent six weeks in Syria and Palestine, interviewing delegations and reading petitions. Their report stated, “The commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favor, The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conferences with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase. “If the principle of self-determination is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine — nearly 95%of the population — are emphatically against the entire Zionist program.” To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted. No British officers, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms. The officers generally thought that a force of not less than fifty thousand soldiers would be required even to initiate the program. That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program. The initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a “Right” to Palestine based on occupation of two thousand years ago, can barely be seriously considered. Quoted in “The Israel-Arab Reader” ed. Laquer and Rubin. Side by Side… Zionist land policy was incorporated in the Constitution of the Jewish Agency for Palestine “Land is to be acquired as Jewish property and the title to the lands acquired is to be taken in the name of the Jewish National Fund, to the end that the same shall be held as the inalienable property of the Jewish people.”, The provision goes to stipulate that “The Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labor.”, The effect of this Zionist colonization policy on the Arabs was that land acquired by Jews became extra-territorialized. It ceased to be land from which the Arabs could ever hope to gain any advantage. The Zionists made no secret of their intentions, for as early as 1921, Dr. Eder, a member of the Zionist Commission, boldly told the Court of Inquiry, “There can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish preponderance as soon as the numbers of the race are sufficiently increased.” He then asked that only Jews should be allowed to bear arms. Sami Hadawi, “Bitter Harvest.” Given Arab opposition to them, did the Zionists support steps towards majority rule in Palestine? Clearly, the last thing the Zionists really wanted was that all the inhabitants of Palestine should have an equal say in running the country. Chaim Weizmann had impressed on Churchill that “Representative government would have spelled the end of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. Churchill declared, The present form of government will continue for many years. Step by step we shall develop representative institutions leading to full self-government, but our children’s children will have passed away before that is accomplished.” David Hirst, “The Gun and the Olive Branch.” Denial of the Arabs right to self-determination Even if nobody lost their land, the Zionist program was unjust in principle because it denied majority political rights. Zionism, in principle, could not allow the natives to exercise their political rights because it would mean the end of the Zionist enterprise. Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “Original Sins.” Didn’t the Zionists legally buy much of the land before Israel was established? In 1948, at the moment that Israel “declared itself a state” – “Read The Proclamation of Israel’s Independence”- it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine. After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying and selling within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs. Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 – UN Resolution 181 – it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced “absentee landlords” in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances). Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine
    All these historical clarifications are included in “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict” by: Jews for Justice in the Middle East. You can download it HERE.= After this Jewish ethno-nationalism led to the further arrival of jewish refugees fleeing from anti-semitic violence abroad, the Palestinians started to gradually rebel against jews. Why? Because they knew that the Zionist settlers had the intention of displacing them from this land. Eventually, with the 1948 war, the Zionists took this opportunity to “ethnically cleanse” (ethnic cleansing is a euphemism referring to the persecution through imprisonment, expulsion, or killing of members of an ethnic minority by a majority to achieve ethnic homogeneity in majority-controlled territory.) as many Palestinians as possible from what became Israel in ’48. This has been thoroughly documented by both Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe (two of the most famous Israeli historians). BTW, I encourage you to view an excellent documentary on this period on the Israeli takeover of Jaffa in ’48. It’s called Palestine Street (you can view it HERE). This settler colonialist mentality has many parallels with the mentality of the Puritan settlers of the NE United States (they too were a persecuted minority that thought that they had a God given right to take over Native American lands; they too saw Native Americans as savages whose lands could be taken with impunity and whose bodies could be killed with little or no moral outrage. The same happened with the Anglo-Boer settlers of South Africa. They dehumanized their victims of settler colonialism as they took over their land. There is another parallel with these places. In all three cases (the US, South Africa, and Israel), whenever the indigenous people in the receiving end of colonialism rebelled against their colonizers, two things happened. First, the rebels were vilified with labels similar to what the term terrorist signifies today (thus undermining any legitimacy for violent resistance). Secondly, in all these settler colonialist settings, the colonizers pursued a policy of retaliating against resistance with disproportionate force as a way of “disciplining” the indigenous population and teaching to accept submission or else. Now, you’re probably asking right now: what does race have to do with any of this? In its historical evolution, the idea of race developed side by side with colonialism as a way of legitimizing colonial violence against indigenous peoples. It became a way of systematically dehumanizing people, making them seem as inherently more violent or evil on the one hand and inherently worthy of colonizing, enslaving, or cleansing ethnically on the other hand. Ironically, modern racism is very much rooted in European anti-semitism (esp. via the Spanish recoinquista and inquisition). When Europeans conquered the Amercias (and later Africa and Asia), they drew from the proto-racialization of jews as inheritors of “impure blood” and applied these prejudicial ideas to their new conquests for entirely new ends (e.g., the legitimiaztion of the dispossession, genocide, and enslavement). The idea of race did not always use the body as a signifier of evil and inhumanity. It also used religion, culture, ethnicity, etc as signifiers of this. This is why race doesn’t necessarily have to do with skin color. In the nineteenth century, with the new European colonial ventures into Africa and Asia, racial constructions were used to legitimize those conquests as well. The “Orientalist” trope of the bruttish Arabs who only submit to force was cemented in this era. These Arabs were supposedly inferior and inherently evil not because of their phenotype or physiognomy per se but because of their religion, culture, and language. This was the same stereotype that the Jewish zionist settlers of Palestine brought with them. They were basically bringing with them from Europe the European anti-arab prejudices that legitimized Europe’s conquest of the entire Middle East at the time. This criminalization and dehumanization of Palestinians has been evident not only in the attitude of early Zionists toward Palestinians (e.g., not caring about what happened to this displaced population). When the Palestinians began to rebel against the attitudes and plans of the early Yishuvs, hard line Israelis devised a strategy of strategic deterrence against Arabs (also referred to as the Iron Wall strategy or Ben Gurionism which is a different form of it). According to this mentality, Israel had the right to take over for the Jews and inflict as much damage on the Arab populations to protect what supposedly belonged only to Jews. The Palestinians were not only dehumanized in a way that made it seem like it was ok to turn them into the biggest refugee population in the world. In every conflict, Israel killed a disproportionate amount of Palestinian civilians without thinking twice about it. There’s an exchange value to Palestinian life, as if like currencies, every Israeli is worth ten palestinians. Now, you’re probably thinking right now that I’m forgetting about Arab nationalist anti-semitism. While it is true that in the 1930s several arab nationalist leaders expressed approval of Nazism and regurgitated European anti-semitic comments against Jews (including Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s new corrupt puppet tribal chief of the Palestinians whose doctoral dissertation is a denial of the Holocaust), it is also true that the root of this attitude was quite different from European anti-semitism. European anti-semites discriminated against Jews because they were a subaltern minority. Palestinians discriminated against Jews because they felt that Zionists were not only discriminating against Arabs in equally anti-semitic ways (the Arabs too are semites so technically the term applies to them) but were also acting on these beliefs. This is what David Ben-Gurion said of the Arab revolt of the 1930s:
    “In 1936-9, the Palestinian Arabs attempted a nationalist revolt… David Ben-Gurion, eminently a realist, recognized its nature. In internal discussion, he noted that ‘in our political argument abroad, we minimize Arab opposition to us,’ but he urged, ‘let us not ignore the truth among ourselves.’ The truth was that ‘politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside\'” Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”
    In other words, Arab anti-semitism was a form of reverse anti-semitism. It is also true that the majority of Palestinians did not espouse Nazism or any form of European anti-semitism. For a while, a moderate majority proposed to allow Jews to live freely as they did in Palestine (with little problems and discrimination) as long as the Jews abandoned their plans to establish an exclusively jewish state in Israel. This disagreement ultimately led to the Arab Revolt, the war of ’48, the Ethnic cleansing of Palestine between 1948-49, and the escalation of the conflict. After this, a significant sector of the Palestinian nationalists responded to the Zionist project by reiterating that they would allow jews to exist in the area as long as they renounced their desire to preserve a jewish state and instead establish a secular multi-ethnic state. That obviously never went anywhere because Israelis of all political inclinations have always agreed on one thing: that Israel should be primarily for jews only. What if we did that in the US? What if we decided that this whole country ought to be for whites only (except for a population of 20% with less political rights? Would you consider that racist? Now you’re probably going to tell me now that this is an exaggeration, that Israel is a democracy where Arabs can vote and are treated fairly. Although Arab Israelis do have de jure citizenship, it’s an undeniable fact that de facto, it’s a second-class citizenship. The racist state, institutionalized, and interpersonal anti-Arab racism in Israel is rampant. A 2007 US State Department annual report on human rights practices in Israel identified many forms of anti-Arab discrimination inside Israel. It says: “The government did little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens.” Here are some excerpts of an article on the report and other similar reports by human rights organizations:
    Among many issues, it notes the humiliating treatment of Palestinian citizens, including community leaders, during security checks at airports and checkpoints….In 2001, Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report into the separate education services offered to the Palestinian minority. It found systematic discrimination: in the number, quality and condition of buildings; in classroom sizes and the provision of teaching resources; in funding by the government; and in developing the curriculum. It reserved its harshest criticism for the dire state of special education for disabled Arab children….Israel has also sought to undermine the value of Arabic, even though it is an official language of the state. Few Jews learn even basic Arabic, whereas Arab children are required to learn Hebrew to advanced level….University courses are in Hebrew or English, as are public meetings and court cases. Many Arab workers report being sacked for speaking Arabic at the workplace….Much international attention has focused on the recent decision by the Knesset to ban family unification in the case of marriages between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza….In many cases, it is now impossible for couples to live together: under the new law, Palestinians are denied entry into Israel, while Israeli Arabs are banned by military orders from entering Palestinian areas….Economically, the Palestinian minority have been suffering the brunt of Israel’s recession. The worst 36 unemployment blackspots in Israel are all Arab localities….Despite the manipulation of the jobless figures, unemployment among Israeli Arabs is twice that of Jews….The country’s big monopoly corporations such as the telecoms firm Bezeq and the Israel Electricity Company have Arab employees in the single figures even though they have a combined staff of more than 20,000….Some of the worst discrimination is faced by the 140,000 beduin living in the Negev. Many of their communities have never been recognised by Israel, even though they predate the state….Consequently, some 70,000 inhabitants have been forced to live in tin shacks or tents, without electricity, water or sewage services, and any municipal services. Young children often have to travel dozens of miles to reach a school….As part of an attempt by the government to force the beduin off their historic farming lands and into planned urban reservations – to make way for Jewish communities and wealthy Jewish farmers – the government has repeatedly sent in planes to spray beduin crops with herbicides…..It has also demolished mosques in the Negev, in line with a long-standing policy of denying state recognition to hundreds of holy places for Christians and Muslims that predate the creation of the Israeli state in 1948….Much of the debate in the Israeli media about the Palestinian minority concentrates on the “demographic threat” Arab citizens pose to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state….In 2002, the government set up a Demography Council of Jewish academics, lawyers and gynaecologists to devise ways to increase the birth rate of the Jewish population and dissuade Arabs from having large families….Removal of child benefits for Arabs have been top of the political agenda ever since….In the past week, transport minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the expulsion of the “Arabs of Israel” on Army Radio. It was not the first time he, and other ministers, had made such racist remarks….Demographic warnings have also been heard from the very top, including a speech in December by the treasury minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He observed: “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens…”The minority’s own political representatives have been effectively neutered. None of the Arab parties has ever been allowed to join a coalition government. Their voices have been entirely absent from the decision-making process unless they join Zionist parties (click HERE for original article).
    No you know why you can’t discredit this fact? Because even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently admitted to Arab Israeli leaders that “There is no doubt that for many years there has been discrimination against the Arab population that stemmed from various reasons” (click HERE for a Haaretz article on this statement). Avigdor Lieberman’s is pledging in his campaign that he will formally ban Arab political parties unless they pledge loyalty to all actions carried out by the Israeli state. As a matter of fact, three weeks ago, the Central Elections Committee ruled in favor of disqualifying the United Arab List from participating in next month’s general elections on grounds that it does not recognize the Jewish state and advocated armed struggle against it. Atty. Gen. Menachem Mazuz has since said the decision was based on flimsy legal evidence. The Supreme Court finally overruled the decision. Apparently many people in Israel agree with Lieberman’s mentality because every day his party seems to be faring better and better in the polls. Lieberman has also threatened to strip Israeli Arabs of their citizenship. His campaign slogan is “Lieberman understands Arabic” implying that Arabic is not a true language but rather a tendency to behave with force. Lieberman here is repeating the familiar trope that Arabs only respond to force). Click HERE for a youtube video of some of Lieberman’s TV campaign ads with this slogan (in Hebrew only). Finally, let me remind you of an incident that happened eight years ago. In 1998, the UN hosted a World Conference Against Racism in South Africa. Participants drafted a resolution that condemned Zionism as a form of racism. In response, Israel and the US walked out of the conference. This effectively forced participants to tone down the language and remove this part of the resolution. This is what the secretary of the Arab league Amr Mousa said at the time: “Israel’s racist actions against the Palestinian people have to be dealt with in an international conference that aims to eradicate racism. Arab countries are not expecting the Durban conference to be a venue for dealing with the Arab- Israeli peace process, but they certainly expect that the Israeli racist practices against the Palestinian people will not be overlooked.” Therefore, your claim that no one portrays this conflict as having to do with race is false. Furthermore, the declaration of 2001 was based on UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 (1975) in which a majority of 75 countries “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” This was part of a broader resolution titled “Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.” That 1975 resolution was rescinded by the General Assembly in 1991, but only after Israel made its revocation a precondition for its participation in the Madrid Peace Conference (a key meeting of the Oslo Peace Process). The point of reintroducing it in 2001 then was to underscore that by allowing the further apartheidization of the West Bank, Israel had failed to correct its racist policies. To sum up M, before making accusations such as “this department is sham,” have some humility and learn about your country’s history. I’m sorry but your claims are wrong. 6) Ori: I’d like to address your claim that:
    Operation Cast Lead was NOT an attack on the Palestinian people, but rather an attack on Hamas. Plain and simple. The news here doesn’t report the long list of terrorist attacks and rockets that fall on Israel on a REGULAR BASIS. It’s terrible that people in the Middle East are accustomed to this, but it is not ok. It isn’t ok to happen even once.
    This is what the Israeli state claims but the facts on the ground do not reflect that reality. During Operation Cast Lead, the consistently used their weapon in ways that they knew would inflict damage on civilian life and property. Now there is no piece of information that this was willfull. The IDF did drop leaflets, send text messages, provide phone calls, etc. This, as we know, did not work in mitigating civilian casualties (this is what Saif’s poem is getting at). Although the IDF and IAF told Gazans to evacuate, it did not account for the fact that such evacuations in a place that is densely populated and that has no place to escape to outside the seiged area were not possible. Also, it does not explain why 47 members of the Samouni family were killed by tank shells while taking refuge in a place that they were told to go into by IDF. It also does not account for why people died inside and right outside UN schools (see my previous post). It also does not account for why white phosphorous were used in a way that violates the laws regulating their use by exposing civilians to white phosphorous chemical burns. The Israeli state’s actions were at best crassly negligent and at worst willful targeting (we have to remember that Israel historically has used a policy of strategic deterrence through collective punishment. It’s a fact). No, you can blindly believe that the IDF and IAF were only targeting Hamas but if you are a Gazan who
  113. continued from post below (read the other one first)

    lost a relative or who knows someone injured or whose house was destroyed, you are not going to believe that.

    Hamas’ targeting of civilian populations is reprehensible (although they too claim that they are targeting military given that there are military areas in the places they are shooting at). Of course, this notion is ridiculous. They know well that rockets are going to kill civilians, just like IDF and IAF generals know that their strikes will kill and injure civilians and destroy their property and infrastructure. Nobody in the ES Dept that I know of would approve of Hamas’ firing of rockets into Israel. What really gets me though is that here, you are essentially condoning the massive destruction of civilian life and property. What you do not realize is that your position is way more destructive and dangerous than the one expressed in this statement. Don’t be sorry for the deaths of Palestinian people. You should be outraged.

    By the way, those attacks against Israelis in 2008 you mentioned are regrettable and should be condemned. What you fail to mention here though is the casualties on the other side. According to Human Rights Watch:

    Between January and June 2008, Israeli forces conducting military operations killed 388 Palestinian fighters and civilians in Gaza, about half of whom were civilians; 59 of the dead were children. Israeli forces killed 41 Palestinians in the West Bank between January and the end of October, of whom at least 15 were civilians. The largest Israeli military operation, between February 27 and March 3 in Gaza, killed 107 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians. Human Rights Watch examined one area occupied by Israeli troops during the operation and found strong evidence in four incidents that Israeli forces deliberately fired at and killed five civilians, medical personnel, and incapacitated fighters. In other attacks, Israeli forces did not appear to take all feasible precautions to ensure targets were military and not civilian.(Click HERE for this entire report).

    Another report claims that:

    the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israelis has soared 100 percent since the U.S. sponsored November peace talks in Annapolis, according to Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouti. The former Palestinian information minister and head of the Palestinian National Initiative political movement backed up his claim with data showing that the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed last year was the most unbalanced ever, at 40:1, up from 30:1 in 2006 and 4:1 from 2000-2005 (click HERE for an article on this).

    Also, the notion that Israel sent their troops in because of humane reasons is absurd. Troops of any army, are a broadsword. Any militaru officer will acknowledge that they are full or rotten apples that occasionally commit war crimes (the same as in the US army). Good training only minimizes this. Nativist, xenophobic, or racist hysteria pulls soldiers in the opposite direction and makes them do regrettable things. Therefore, sending IDF troops into Gaza is no way to mitigate Palestinian casualties. Every time soldiers operate within the occupied territories, they commit innumerable abuses (check B’Tselem). They bomb their way from building to building, loot people’s homes as they occupy them, and in some cases, leave racist graffiti in their walls (can we agree that graffiti such as “Death to Arabs,” and “One down, 999,999 to go” left by IDF soldiers in Gaza are racist?).

    Not only that but now, we are increasingly seeing the presence of religious fundamentalists in these troops who call for the outright extermination of Palestinians (they are the Jewish version of jihadists). Recently:

    The Israeli army’s chief rabbinate gave soldiers preparing to enter the Gaza Strip a booklet implying that all Palestinians are their mortal enemies and advising them that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute”. The booklet, entitled Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, was published especially for Operation Cast Lead, the devastating three-week campaign launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire against southern Israel. The publication draws on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Jewish fundamentalist Ateret Cohanim seminary in Jerusalem. (for full article, click HERE).

    These too my friend are FACTS. More innocent people in Palestine die every year than the innocent Israelis who regretfully die. And what is the root cause of it all? The Occupation, the occupation, the occupation. Do you want to put an end to all this bloodshed? Then join me in calling for Israel to suspend its settlement construction and to sit down and negotiate in good faith with all Palestinian elected representatives on a comprehensive peace resolution in accordance with the international consensus and the Arab Peace initiative.

    BTW, if my country were attacking an occupied population and inflicting war crimes and numerous violations of human rights against them, I would condemn them. For example, we should all condemn the atrocities that the US military and private contractors have committed in Iraq. We should also condemn the Iraq war and posthumous occupation which overall has directly and indirectly led to the deaths of between 600,000 and 1,000,000 Iraquis and about 4,000 Americans.

    If by the way, my country was doing this while also trying to brainwash me by telling me that somehow military actions that will likely cause enormous loss of civilian life and property are somehow legitimate, I would call their bluff and criticize my country, as tens of thousands of Israelis have done and millions of people all over the world have also done during Operation Cast Lead.

    I would like to make it clear here that my intention is not to offend you. My motivation as a scholar in training is to legitimately criticize the actions of your country (not your parents) and as a citizen of the world I have every right to do so with my knowledge and intellectualization of fact-based history and current events. The instability that your country is partly responsible for creating in your region of the world has had a rippling effect around the world. So don’t take it personally. It’s our obligation to criticize what we objectively perceive to be injustices in other parts of the world. It’s just as legitimate for someone to criticize the actions of the US in the War on Terror, or say the actions of Apartheid South Africa at the heyday of this failed, unjust project. Should Americans get offended as you are getting offended now when people criticize the US policies in the War on Terror? Seriously: think about it- this is a very Joe the Plumber response. You think you are being patriotic but your patriotism here will bring nothing good for your country or for anybody else in the world. Don’t you think this world would be a much better and more peaceful place if instead of blindly believing everything that our governments tell us we would have the intelligence to critique the bad things that our countries do and and the moral courage to condemn them? That to me is true patriotism. Loving your country sometimes requires that you scold it, as a parent should scold a child out of love when she/he does something wrong.

    HERE’s an interesting article from Haaretz titled “Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?.” I highly recommend you read it.


    To wrap up this ridiculously long response (I apologize for that), I’d like to return to the Dept. statement. The problem we are pointing out in Israel’s behavior in the war is that due to its historical dehumanization of Palestinians, it has pursued a military strategy that creates an “exchange value” of sorts whereby Israeli lives are worth much more than Palestinian lives. I just read an article today in Haaretz titled “The philosopher who gave the IDF moral justification in Gaza.” His name is Prof. Asa Kasher of Tel Aviv University. Here’s an excerpt:

    “In Kasher’s opinion there is no justification for endangering the lives of soldiers to avoid the killing of civilians who live in the vicinity of terrorists. According to Kasher, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi “has been very familiar with our principles from the time the first document was drafted in 2003 to the present.” Kasher’s argument is that in an area such as the Gaza Strip in which the IDF does not have effective control the overriding principle guiding the commanders is achieving their military objectives. Next in priority is protecting soldiers’ lives, followed by avoiding injury to enemy civilians. In areas where Israel does have effective control, such as East Jerusalem, there is no justification for targeted killings in which civilians are also hit because Israel has the option of using routine policing procedures, such as arrests, that do not endanger innocent people.”

    This is a classic example of this “exchange value.” In this philosopher’s mind, the lives of IDF soldiers are worth much more than the lives of Palestinian civilians. That is exactly why so many civilians died in Gaza. If for example IDF soldiers saw a person shooting from a building (which is everywhere in Gaza because the place is covered with buldings), those soldiers are allowed to shoot at the entire building. If they kill civilians inside of it, it’s perfectly ok according to this logic, because they were protecting IDF soldiers.

    This, BTW, is not too different to how Hamas legitimize their rocket attacks. For them, their lives are worth much more than the lives of Israeli civilians (except in the cases of suicide bombings). If they wanted to “fight” Israelis, they could send militants with Ak-47s accross the border to fight soldiers. Of course, these militants would be immediately killed by IDF forces, this making this resistance not only ineffective but also putting hundreds of Palestinian lives at risk. Their solution then is to target Israeli civilians since it’s the way of carrying forth military resistance with minimal palestinian losses (according to this logic).

    This philosophical notion that the lives Israeli military are worth more than the lives of Palestinian civilians explains why this week, the IDF ruled that its shelling of a building in which they killed three young girls was “reasonable.” These were the daughters of doctor, Izz el-Deen Abu el-Eish, a Gazan who works in Jerusalem and regularly appears in Israeli television. This incident was made famous when Dr el-Deen called into a TV station and gave a live account of the killing of his daughters before hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Anyway, the report concluded that because Hamas militants were shooting “near” the bulding, IDF forces had the right to shell it regardless of who they killed.

    Now you can claim to me that this is an accident. You can call it “collateral damage” as much as you want. In my mind (and I think many would agree with me on this one), this is simply a rhetorical whitewashing of indiscriminate manslaughter with added plausible deniability. It’s a way of murder without the self-guilt of committing murder or without giving others the ability to call it as such. Yes: Hamas killing civilians is bad, but Israel kills many many more civilians. Both sides need to show restraint.

    At the very least, if this happened in the US during a police operation, officers could be charged for criminally negligent homicide. You can say that this is different because it’s a military setting, but it’s not justifiable considering that that army has no right to occupy Gaza in the first place (according to international law, it’s supposed to be a sovereign Palestinian state).

    Do you see the dehumanization in this mode of thinking? When Israel does it, it’s a classic example of settler colonialist state violence. “Let’s teach the Arabs to respect us… this is what happens when they resist our will to occupy them.” When Palestinians kill Israeli civilians, it’s shameful and regrettable but it’s different. Why? Because it’s a response to this settler colonialism. It’s an imitation of the dehumanization thrown back at the colonists. Now, you’re probably saying: that’s racist too. Maybe, but the bottom line is that there is a root cause to this mutual dehumanization: COLONIALISM. If you end the occupation, you end the violence.

  114. Rashne

    This is a response to the objections raised as regards the use of the phrase “racial violence” in the statement above. Some commentators appear to reduce “racial violence” to the idea of racism; others find troubling the idea that the term “racial” is being applied to racially/ethnically diverse religious and national groups (i.e. Jewish, Israeli and Palestianian peoples). I would like to point out, therefore, that to read “racial violence” as such, is a complete misunderstanding of the phrase. Racial violence is a mode of power exercised – most often by a state, but often by other organized, militarized groups – in order to control, subjugate or exterminate a people due to the idea that the latter always already pose a threat to the civilization of the former. Thus, racial violence always follows the logic of self-defense and self-preservation against the always already threatening other.

    Racial logic functions so that an entire people are made to signify deviance, irrationality, violence, etc. – in short, everything that runs counter to the presumed ideals of modernity, and the interests of “civilization” and “humanity.” I would therefore refer readers specifically to this excerpt from the statement: “…Israel’s military objectives, the destruction of Hamas, cannot justify the indiscriminate killing of men and women, young and old, just because they live in the Gaza Strip, because they are Palestinians. This generalized construction of the enemy is at the core of racial violence. It criminalizes a whole population. It aliments existing representations of Arabs, Muslims, and Brown people in general as ‘criminal/terrorists.’” Thus, every holocaust that history stands witness to – that of Native Americans in North America, of Armenians in Turkey, of Jews in Europe, of Muslims in Bosnia, of black Africans in the Sudan – are instances of racial violence. Slavery is an instance of racial violence. Colonialism is an instance of racial violence.

    The argument about what constitutes a “race” here is impertinent and futile. Racial violence is not about “race” as is commonly understood – i.e. black, white, native, asian, latino, arab or whatever new racial groups the state decides to create – but about the process of racialization. Of casting an entire people as a deviant, threatening other. This is the project of Ethnic Studies. Ethnic Studies does not teach one about “different peoples,” “different cultures,” “different races,” “different nationalities.” It doesn’t merely teach about histories of oppression, struggle and resistance. It teaches how power operates in the production and execution of subjugation, violence, and death. The process of racialization, and the execution of racial violence, are thus integral to how Ethnic Studies views the execution of power. To consider the Ethnic Studies project as anything else, is to completely misunderstand the project. And this is the context that the statement above must be read in.

    The statement condemns the use of racial power and racial violence (as defined above) by the state of Israel. It does not call Israelis or Jewish people racist. It recognizes the violent, death-dealing power executed by the state through its settler-colonialist status. The statement does not cast Israel alone as a state that executes racial violence – rather, it contextualizes the latest attacks on Gaza within the context of global/ized racial violence – whether it be the Iraq war, the criminalization and incarceration of people of color in the U.S., state-sponsored anti-Muslim violence in India, or state/legal violence against aboriginal peoples in Australia.

    And finally, a note specifically to Ori. You wrote: “When September 11 happened in the US, airport security was insane, but as a US citizen, would anyone want anything less from their government?” To compare the lockdown on Gaza that Saif referred to in his poem, to the “insane” security at U.S. airports post-9/11 is a trivialization of the situation in Gaza that has me completely speechless. In my mind, it highlights the complete lack of understanding that generally haunts debates about Israeli self-defense against Palestinians. To compare an airport – a space generally marked by uncoerced, free movement – to Gaza, which is like being quite literally under house-arrest, with limited access to basic life-sustaining amenities, is quite shocking.

    But you do point to one important thing about racial violence. Post 9/11 airports did in fact become a site for the exercise of racial power through the practice of state-sanctioned activities such as profiling, detention, and rendition.

  115. Ori

    UNRWA suspends Gaza aid after Hamas steals food and supplies

  116. Ori

    That really was a lovely poem, but with all due respect, the attacks by the IDF do not destroy entire towns at one time. I am truly sorry that the Palestinians cannot leave and that the checkpoints make lives very difficult, but why were the checkpoints put in in the first place? To protect the Israeli citizens.

    The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they do in fact prevent terror and save lives.

    For example, on November 2, 2002, a van carrying boxes of jeans pulled up at a checkpoint. Soldiers checked the IDs of the men in the van and discovered one of the passengers was a wanted man. The van was unloaded and it was not until the soldiers opened the last box that they discovered an explosive belt that was being delivered to a suicide bomber. Two weeks later a taxi pulled up to the same checkpoint. Soldiers found two computers in the trunk that seemed unusually heavy. They opened the boxes and found two explosive belts. They also found a bag with a gun (Ha’aretz, November 28, 2002).

    This is the reality. When September 11 happened in the US, airport security was insane, but as a US citizen, would anyone want anything less from their government? Human life is the most precious thing, and I am proud to have a government that protects it citizens.

  117. mary

    Thank You for sharing.

  118. Saif

    This poem was written in response to a statement by a UCSD student named Rebecca who spoke against the Gaza resolution at the AS meeting.

    Rebecca said, “I wanted to point out a simple fact that nobody seems to mention. People keep saying that many Palestinian women and children have died and that a much smaller amount of Israelis have died. But nobody mentioned the fact that Israel warn Palestinians when they are going to send rockets. So those children that are dying have time to leave those areas….And when Hamas shoots rockets to Israel from a school full of children I would like to point out that you cannot put all the blame on Israel that all these children are dying. So what this resolution does is that it makes it seem that the amount of children dying is Israel’s fault when it is not.”

    This poem is dedicated to you Rebecca.

    Falling pamphlets from a jet overhead
    Beautiful Arabic letters adorn the sky
    The letters together form a message
    I was praying for a message that read
    “We are here to rescue you”
    “We know what you have been through”
    “We have not forgotten you”

    I am ten years old
    And I live in Gaza
    I have been living in this jail for my entire life
    But I have never given up my dream of becoming a teacher
    I want to teach others how to respect one another
    To struggle together for the right purpose
    To love actions of goodness
    To hate actions of wrongdoing
    To live life like it should be lived
    But the numerous checkpoints prevent school visits
    Strict curfew laws keep me inside for most of the day
    So I saw the pieces of paper from the sky
    As a possible sign of freedom
    A possible sign of love
    A possible sign of life
    But as I caught the floating piece of paper…

    ‘To the residents of the area, because of the terrorist actions that terrorist elements are carrying out from the areas where you live against the State of Israel, the Israel Defence Forces are obliged to carry out an immediate response and act inside the areas where you live, so for your safety you are asked to evacuate this area as soon as possible,’

    Head of the Israeli defense forces.

    “Refrain from staying in areas where Hezbollah is present”
    How can I escape a jail?
    Walls, checkpoints, troops
    How can I escape when Israeli guns are everywhere?
    Guns ready to fire if any of us is seen
    Where can I go?
    What do I do?
    Who do I call for help?
    I stare blankly into the sky of papers

    Pamphlets of death
    Pamphlets of terror
    Who knew paper could be terror
    We are called terrorists
    But nobody outside of Gaza sees terror in these pieces of paper
    Except the Gazans who end up reading the paper
    I put together the words:
    “response” “terrorist” “Defense” “State” “Israel”
    Imagine reading a piece of paper that told of your forthcoming death
    Imagine how you would react
    Imagine what would be going through your mind
    Imagine how you would feel knowing people blame your death on yourself
    But I stood there
    Under the dimmed sunlight
    With confidence
    With pride
    Death is coming
    In the form of missiles, white phosphorus, or starvation
    But I won’t let death make me pathetic
    Because I am a Palestinian child who never lived a life of toys
    Who never lived a life of material joys
    But I have lived a life with my beautiful family
    And that is all I can ask for

    I read the piece of paper again

    ‘To the residents of the area, because of the terrorist actions that terrorist elements are carrying out from the areas where you live against the State of Israel, the Israel Defence Forces are obliged to carry out an immediate response and act inside the areas where you live, so for your safety you are asked to evacuate this area as soon as possible,’

    Head of the Israeli defense forces.

    Missiles can be heard overhead
    I look into the streaking sky
    And yet they say my death is my fault?

  119. Ori

    to ‘M’,
    Thank you so much for your comment. Above all, this department, and those who agree with it, completely disregard that Operation Cast Lead was NOT an attack on the Palestinian people, but rather an attack on Hamas. Plain and simple. The news here doesn’t report the long list of terrorist attacks and rockets that fall on Israel on a REGULAR BASIS. It’s terrible that people in the Middle East are accustomed to this, but it is not ok. It isn’t ok to happen even once.

    Here are a few examples of the most recent terror attacks that have occured in Israel:

    July 22, 2008: Sixteen people were wounded when a man drove a bulldozer into a bus and four other vehicles in central Jerusalem. The attack was an attempted copycat of an earlier attack on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road on July 2, 2008. The terrorist was shot dead by police.

    July 2, 2008: An Arab resident of Jerusalem deliberately drove a bulldozer into pedestrians and vehicles in central Jerusalem, overturning and flattening a number of buses and cars. Three people were killed and 66 injured in the attack.

    April 9, 2008: Two Israeli civilians were killed and two wounded when Palestinian terrorists attacked an Israeli-controlled border crossing where fuel is piped into Gaza. The attack at the Nahal Oz depot was carried out by members of various terrorist movements, including the Popular Resistance Committees.

    March 6, 2008: Eight men, seven of them teenagers, were killed when a Palestinian gunman entered the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and opened fire. The terrorist also wounded nine in the attack before he was killed at the scene.

    February 4, 2008: A 73-year-old woman was killed and 40 people were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a shopping center in the southern city of Dimona. A second bomber was shot by a police officer who noticed him reaching for his explosive belt. Both Hamas’ armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, and Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack.

    January 24, 2008: Two terrorists entered the Mekor Hayim High School Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, south of Jerusalem, and stabbed two students. The terrorists were killed by two of the counselors in the room. The Izaddin al-Kassam’s Martyrs Brigades, the Hamas military wing, claimed responsibility for the attack.

    January 24, 2008: Rami Zoari, 20, from Beersheba, a border police officer, was killed and another female officer was seriously wounded after terrorists approached the entrance to Shuafat refugee camp in northern Jerusalem and opened fire on a group of Israelis. The Battalions of Struggle and Return, a previously anonymous offshoot of Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack.

    December 28, 2007: Two Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists while hiking outside of Hebron. A third hiker managed to escape.

    You must realize, that these listings above are FACTS. Innocent people in Israel have died. And this doesn’t include the THOUSANDS of rockets that have TARGETED ISRAELI CIVILIANS in the past few years.

    Please understand that the poor accuracy of these rockets should not cover their intention. THESE DAILY ROCKETS AIM TO KILL AS MANY ISRAELIS AS POSSIBLE.

    This is a fact, and if you question it please please take a few seconds to skim the Hamas Charter.

    And in response to Benjamin Balthasers reference to an article in Haaretz…

    The writer of that article says, “If that means Qassams falling on Sderot, then so be it.”

    I do not need to put this in any context to make clear that this writer thinks it is ok for rockets to be fired into civilian towns.

    Benjamin, do you think that is acceptable?

    Ethnic Studies Professors, do you think that is acceptable?

    And to those who applaud this bold statement, I ask you, what would you want your country to do if it was under constant attack? What would you want your country to do if your children had to learn to run into a shelter in response to a siren?

    The truth is, I am very sorry for the Palestinian people living under Hamas, but do not only look at Israel’s response, look at the inital threat. Ask yourself WHY Israel did what it did. Ask yourself WHY Israel sent in its soldiers rather than just sending missiles to totally level Gaza. Do you think Israel really used its entire military reserve?

    This department, claims that it is attacking the Israeli government, but not Israelis. I am Israeli. I support my government. Israel is a home to me. If someone says something against your parents, do you take offense? If you are one who loves your parents, then yes. “Oh, well its not against you, its against your parents.”

    Ethnic Studies Department: This statement offends me, but mostly, it shows your lack of historical knowledge. To whoever chose the words of this statement:

    Do you still stand by “systematic extermination”?

    This is not only an exaggeration, it is wrong.

  120. M

    I am a graduating senior at UCSD and unfortunately due to your department’s irresponsible, embarrassing, and quite frankly erronious statement against Israel, I am embarrassed to be graduating from an institution that allows academic departments to publicize false statements based on emotion and media representations. I have taken a few classes throught the Ethnic Studies department and am personally shocked at how the department itself, which has taught me about what race is, would misuse the term in its own public statement. Israel is country made up of immigrants from Eastern and Western Europe, North and South America, and many from the Middle East and North Africa. While those people are Jews, which is a religion and according to many, a nationality- NOT a race. The only time Judaism is referred to in racial terms is by anti-Semites such as Hitler. In Southern Israel, there are a mix of Yemenite, Moroccan, Ethiopian, and Russian immigrants- are the one race against a “race” of Palestinians? Palestinian also is not a race, it is a nationality. Palestinians are Muslim and Christian and from different parts of the region that have different traditions and customs. The Palestinians themselves would not even call this a racial war- many of their own brothers and sisters live in Israel proper and have jobs, and vote in Israeli elections.

    Finally, if race has to do first and foremost with the color of one’s skin or language- Ethiopian Jews who were rescued from anti-Semitism in their home country live in Israel, fight in the army, vote in elections etc…and their skin is a drastically different color from the French immigrants who arrive in Israel due to waves of anti-Semitism in their home country. Whether the Ethnic Studies as a department wants to decide that the Gaza war was unjust for political reasons, or if you are against the way Israel conducted the war for humanitarian reasons- those are still controvercial but at least they are fair arguments. However, for the sake of the integrity of your ACADEMIC department please do not misuse the term “race” because you are delegitimizing the racial issues that Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought so hard to bring to national consciousness. He understood the meaning of race, and he also understood Israel’s right to exist, and he would stand with me deeply hurt by an institution that would throw around a word like that hurting a huge student population in the process. Shame on you and the others who wrote and stand by this horrible, irresponsible, false, and ultimately, anti-Semitic statement. This department is a sham.

  121. Ben Bluen

    Lisa, I beg to disagree. Yes, the job of teachers is to instruct students, but also to explain the facts of both sides of an issue without biased statements toward one side or the other. This is like a Democratic teacher telling you to vote for the Democratic party because the teacher/professor agrees with its party values. Do you really want your professor telling you what is right and what is wrong?

    Jose, Benjamin, Roberto, and Jody, I encourage you to read this short article talking about Hamas seizing UN supplies in Gaza. I hope this gives you insight to Hamas that purposely deprives its people of supplies that Israel permits to enter Gaza.;_ylt=Aghm2B2XcLr2E8Kswxf0zRas0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTJoMHZvNGlvBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwMjA0L21sX2lzcmFlbF9wYWxlc3RpbmlhbnMEcG9zAzE3BHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcnkEc2xrA25ldGFueWFodWdheg–

  122. Hysterical voices are discounted from the get go. Hyperbolic polemics, especially from campus, give the powerful pro-Israel lobby real ammunition in it’s attack and discreditation of all criticism of Israeli policies. Let’s not forget the ‘massacres’ of Israeli men, women and children (both Arab and Jewish) on the streets of Jerusalem during the second intifada. Were these rascist attacks? It might have been more productive for you to simply state that the use of violence never has and never will improve the security of the Israeli or Palestinian people. Only a just peace can do that. And then as scholars you might remind us how people of different ethnic backgrounds (especially Arabs and Jews) have, can and must learn to live together.

  123. Lisa Sun-Hee Park

    Dear Friends,
    I write in strong support of your work as a department and, in particular, your statement regarding the violence in Gaza. It is always easier to pretend that there is only one truth (which is usually determined by those in power) or that a fair or reasonable treatment of a controversial issue is to say nothing at all. Our job as teachers require that we push our students to think critically and thoughtfully — this is never easy, but absolutely vital. The classroom is a part of the real world and we must be able to engage these issues, no matter how difficult or painful, in order to contribute to a full discussion towards social justice. Thank you for your efforts.

  124. Jeremy

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

    “We will not rest until we destroy the Zionist entity”

    Both of these quotes are from the Hamas Charter, how are these not racially terrorizing and violent? Why are they not being condemned? Why are they not being condemned for murdering the Fatah, and shooting brides and grooms at their weddings, terrorizing their very way of life. People here have spoken about “occupation” but the only Jew in Gaza is a kidnapped Israeli soldier. So please get better “excuses” for your racist attacks against Jews and Israel, and stop isolating a whole student body at UCSD. This is absurdly shameful!

  125. Marina

    I want to write a short response to the statements made by the department that will encompass how I feel about it as a student on this campus.

    I believe it is this school’s job to make each and every student safe and respected by its administration and faculty. Regardless of the issue, this school is a body dedicated to the education of its students, or should be.
    As an Israeli student whose family live in Southern Israel, I feel extremely oppressed by statements condemning the country of my origin, as well as my own relatives. I am the first person to stand up for BOTH Palestinians and Israelis and I would not deny that there have been wrongs committed on both sides. However, it is not the department’s job to make comments about these matters so openly endorsing one side. If the comments had been in favor of Israel, I assure you that I would respond similarly.
    It truly breaks my heart to talk to my family and friends, under rocket fire for years, and hear their plea for me to somehow protect and shelter them. I feel disrespected by a school that blatantly forgoes any consideration for my situation (as well as many others) who are so sensitive and heart-broken about this difficult situation.

    With that, I would like to finish by saying that my heart goes out to every single person, both in Gaza and Israel, that is suffering from these difficult events.


  126. The statement I make here reflect my personal views and not necessarily the views of the Ethnic Studies Department.

    Dear Ben,

    My name is José. I am a 6th year Ph.D. student and course instructor here at the Ethnic Studies department. I am writing this comment to you in part to explain why I agree with my department’s courageous decision to compose and publicly issue this statement, and why I disagree with your analysis of the situation and your conclusions about our actions. I am taking the time to write you this long and detailed rebuttal, with a genuine interest in engaging in a healthy constructive debate about this issue that is dear to many of us as it is of dire importance to the millions of people living in Israel/Palestine.

    Before I tell you what I think about the Gaza War and the Ethnic Studies statement, first, I would like to respond to the claims that you make in your comment. Let’s start with your comment on the part of the departmental statement that says “While Israel argues that it is targeting Hamas militants, the astounding number of civilian deaths (exceeding 900 as of January 13, 2009) shows a blatant lack of concern for Palestinian lives.” In your response you seem to be dismissive about the significance of these numbers. You say: “Comparing numbers is a statement of a bookkeeper, which is not expected from distinguished UCSD scholars.” I disagree. I think they extremely important because the numbers are what give us the big picture about why the Gaza War should be reprehensible to any sensible human being. They are the smoking gun evidence showing that what Israel did in its Gaza War was disproportionate, brutal, and murderous. In order to be more exact (and fair to all sides), let me give you a more detailed rundown of the numbers:

    *From the information we have now, more than 1,400 Gazans are dead. *Approximately 40-45% of these are women and children.
    *5,500 Gazans were wounded as a result of Israel’s attacks, including 1,850 children (many with amputations, third degree burns all over their body, some will never be able to walk or even get out of their beds).
    *4,000 to 5,000 homes were destroyed and 20,000 damaged (14% of all buildings in Gaza)
    *50,000 or more Gazans are now homeless
    *400,000 Gazans are without water
    *50 U.N. facilities, 21 medical facilities, 1,500 factories and workshops, and 20 mosques were reportedly damaged or destroyed in the war
    *All of this damage was done inside a blockaded strip of land that is 25 miles lo ng and 4 to 7.5 miles.
    *Inside this strip of land live 1.4 million people (Gaza is the most densely populated place in the world)
    *In terms of Israeli casualties during the Gaza offensive, 14 lost their lives, including three civilians and eleven soldiers (three of which were killed in a friendly fire incident). Around 285 Israelis have been wounded as a result of Hamas rocket attacks during the offensive.
    *This means that all in all, 140 Palestinians died for every dead Israeli.

    Now I hope you and I can at least agree that all these deaths and injuries are equally reprehensible, as is the destruction of property and infrastructure on both sides. What I suspect we disagree on is who is to blame for this.

    In your analysis of the war, you seem to claim that Hamas is primarily responsible for the enormous casualties and injuries in Gaza. I know this is a talking point that the Israeli government has widely disseminated through their impressive PR apparatus. You may have even gotten an email telling you to repeat this remark. Maybe you got this from one of those “advocacy guides.” Regardless, it is patently inaccurate. To quote Bronner and Gordon (two Israeli professors), “No matter how many times the Israeli government tries to blame Hamas for the latest Palestinian civilian deaths it simply cannot explain away the body count, especially that of the children.”

    I am not disputing the fact that Hamas does sometimes attack Israeli troops from buildings or homes. Unfortunately, since the Israeli government did not allow many journalists inside the strip during the conflict, it cannot be independently corroborated. What I am disputing is that Hamas’ use of civilian buildings and alleged boobytrapping of them was the primary cause of civilian death in the Gaza strip. The majority of deaths in Gaza are due to the fact that the Israeli army cares very little for inflicting death and injury on civilians. They pretend otherwise through the Israeli government’s PR campaign but the facts on the ground speak otherwise. We now have hundreds of testimonies that have been copied down by respected human rights organizations and journalists during and after the war. Here’s a brief sampling of this record:

    We now have abundant evidence that the Israeli army bombed and heavily shelled (w/ artillery and tanks) densely populated refugee camps and neighborhoods where people had nowhere to flee to, even if they did receive text messages and phone calls (which Gazans routinely deny that they received). For an excellent story on this, see: “For Trapped Gazans, Few Options for Safety” The Washington Post, 1/5/09

    The most heart-wrenching case of civilian deaths in Gaza was that of the Samouni family, which lost 48 of its members in one day (imagine losing 48 of your relatives in a matter of several hours). This is how it happened (according to dozens of eyewitness survivors): on Jan. 4, IDF forces moved into the Zeitoun area and occupied one of the Samouni homes. According to the children who survived, when soldiers arrived, they shot the father of the household on the spot as he came out of the house unarmed, with his arms up. The soldiers then started to fire their weapons inside the house which was full of children. Witnesses say the survivors — some wounded — were eventually allowed to leave that house. Many fled to Wa’el al-Samouni’s home nearby. On January 5, after about 90 Samounis had taken shelter in Wa’el’s house, the IDF began to shell the area with tank and artillery rounds. Eventually, they hit this second Samouni initially killing dozens of people in the house. In the confusion and panic, dozens more fled the partially collapsed house. Many of those, Ahmed says, were wounded. Afterwards, survivors desperately tried to get ambulances in the area to pick up the wounded but IDF soldiers did not allow the ambulances in (even after red crescent officials pleaded with them). This is what one of the red-crescent ambulance drivers told a reporter: “They told me to lay down on the ground on my stomach. A soldier stood next to me and searched me. I told him that I’m from the Red Crescent. The soldiers just kept telling me, ‘Shut up! Shut up!’ They made some phone calls to I don’t know who. Then they told me to just drive away and leave the area quickly,” he says. IDF soldiers even shot at survivors who were trying to get the wounded out.

    The Samounis’ “part of Zeitoun sits on slightly elevated farmland, key terrain for the Israeli army to control the southern approach to Gaza City. Witnesses say over the years militants have regularly launched rockets at Israel from the orange groves around the area. However, witnesses say there was little or no resistance here when the Israelis attacked. Evidence on the ground supports that: There are almost no casings from AK-47 rounds or remnants of rocket-propelled grenades — the main weapons of Hamas militants” (from an NPR story on this tragedy).

    If this story doesn’t disturb you still, check out what Israeli soldiers scribbled in the walls of one of the Samouni houses they occupied before leaving and then shelling the area: Some was in Hebrew, and some was written in English: “Arabs need 2 die”, “Die you all”, “Make war not peace”, “1 is down, 999,999 to go”, and scrawled on an image of a gravestone the words: “Arabs 1948-2009” (pictures of these graffiti have circulated the net widely). For more on this story, click HERE and HERE.

    The main human rights organizations working in the Gaza strip (B’Tselem, Al Haq, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch) have documented numerous cases similar to this one. For example, on January 6, an Israeli War Apache bombed and destroyed a four-story home. The home belonged to the al-Daya family: tragically, all thirty members—predominantly women and children—were killed and buried under the rubble.

    It’s also worth mentioning here killing of Gazans inside UN shelters (all of which were painted blue with big UN flags, whose coordinates were given to the IDF before the war):

    *Jan. 5: Asma UN school designated as a temporary shelter shelled by Israeli forces. Three civilians killed.
    *Jan. 6: Over 40 Palestinians were killed and over 50 injured following shelling of an UNRWA school-shelter in Jebalya Camp. Israel maintains that it was responding to rocket fire from Palestinian militants who were hiding inside the school compound. UN officials who were in the school at the time as well as numerous eyewitnesses deny this is true.
    *Jan. 15: Israeli shells (including white phosphorous shells) hit UN-RWA Warehouses, burning a large part of the compound and destroying large amounts of food and supplies. This occurred the same day that UN Secretary General Moon was visiting Israel. It also occurred on the same day that Israeli forces hit a Red Crescent hospital as well as the offices of international news media groups.
    *Jan. 17: White phosphorous shells hit yet another UN school-shelter where 1,600 Palestinian civilians sought refuge. Two civilians were killed (a woman and a child). Witnesses said four more people were killed when other shells struck nearby as people tried to escape. HERE’s an excellent on-the-ground report on that incident.

    Now think about this: if this is what the Israeli military did to clearly marked UN facilites whose coordinates they knew beforehand, imagine what they did in the rest of the unmarked buildings where the majority of the civilian population was hiding.

    The enormous amount of damage inflicted in the Gaza strip cannot be simply explained away by claiming that Hamas holds the Gaza strip’s civilian population hostage, and therefore they are to blame. Even if Hamas does store weapons in apartment buildings, that is no excuse for bombing civilian buildings. There is also no excuse for destroying the UN’s warehouses with white phosphorous even if there was a militant firing from the compound (which the UN denies). By the way, there is not a single independent verification of this rumor that the IDF has been spreading that Hamas booby traps buildings to kill Palestinian civilians. Of all the journalists in Gaza now, not one of them has found evidence of this. Look it up.

    The reason why so many civilians die has to do with two things: 1) Israel’s strategic defense strategy (also called Ben Gurionism): the notion that Israel’s security depends on intimidating its enemies into submission. This includes this idea of responding to attacks with ten times the force used by Israel’s enemies. It has been thoroughly historically documented (ask Prof. Gershon Shafir from UCSD. He and two other professors talked about it extensively at a forum on the Gaza War last week). This strategy has also been thoroughly documented in Prof. Avi Shlaim’s book (an Israeli authority in the issue of the occupation) titled The Iron Wall 2) the excuse of “collateral damage.” Almost every time Israeli helicopters carry out targeted assassinations, they kill five, sometimes ten, sometimes fifteen civilians that are surrounded the targeted person. How does Israel explain this? They claim it’s unfortunate collateral damage. But seriously, do you take that as a sincere apology? The Israeli generals know that civilians are going to die in that attack. They simply do not care. When an artillery cannon fires a shell into a crowded area, they know there’s a good chance they’ll kill civilians. They don’t care. When a tank fires a cannon, the same thing happens. On top of this, you have these nineteen year old kids with gun who have been raised to loathe Palestinians, and who many times commit hate crimes against them. How do you explain the graffiti they left in the Samouni house? How do you explain reports of IDF soldiers killing unarmed civilians in cold blood (human rights activists are investigating the shooting of civilians that were visible waving white flags, another clear violation of the rules of law). On top of this, check out the latest. New reports have circulated over numerous newspapers of how the:

    the Israeli army’s chief rabbinate gave soldiers preparing to enter the Gaza Strip a booklet implying that all Palestinians are their mortal enemies and advising them that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute”.

    The booklet, entitled Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, was published especially for Operation Cast Lead, the devastating three-week campaign launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire against southern Israel. The publication draws on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Jewish fundamentalist Ateret Cohanim seminary in Jerusalem.

    In one section, Rabbi Aviner compares Palestinians to the Philistines, a people depicted in the Bible as a war-like menace and existential threat to Israel.

    In another, the army rabbinate appears to be encouraging soldiers to disregard the international laws of war aimed at protecting civilians, according to Breaking the Silence, the group of Israeli ex-soldiers who disclosed its existence. The booklet cites the renowned medieval Jewish sage Maimonides as saying that “one must not be enticed by the folly of the Gentiles who have mercy for the cruel”. Click HERE for entire article.

    Israelis claim they have the right to self-defense from rockets. What they don’t realize is that Palestinians say the same thing. They claim they have a right to self-defense from an illegal (according to UN law) occupation. With the recent barrage of rockets that Hamas sent, they claim they have a right to self-defense form a siege that both the UN and independent human rights organizations have been denouncing as an inhuman blockade. There is no denying that this blockade was a cruel form of collective punishment intended to teach Palestinians a lesson: “this is what happens when you vote for a party that uses violence to resist an occupation.”

    The logic of this purposeful use of heavy force with a calculated collateral damage is not too different from the way Palestinian fighters purposely kill civilians. The only difference is that Israel takes great care in spinning this as somehow either an accident or a series of unfortunate events. Hamas, on the other hand, has the worse PR machine in the world. Why? Because they tell it like it is: “We killed Israeli civilians, because they kill our civilians and want to permanently remove us from our land.” It’s a dangerous spiral of violence. Both parties are not too different. The only difference is that one party has ten times the capacity to inflict damage on the other. That party is also more in control of the situation on the ground given that it is the occupying power. The other party is an occupied population, fighting for their legally mandated right to have their own sovereign state, where Palestinians don’t have to suffer the humiliation of being colonial subjects with little or no rights, where they don’t have to give up their farmlands and valuable water resources to settlers who hate them and who think that the land Palestinian families have occupied for generations belong to them because their God tells them so. Did you see the 60 minutes report that came out this week, by any chance? If you haven’t, click HERE. Check out what the settlers in the West Bank have to say about what they’re doing. They are not ashamed of their intentions nor do they hide them. They are glad to tell reporters that they want to keep the West Bank and remove all Palestinians from that land because they feel it is theirs by the will of God (what kind of God allows people to kill, maim, and torture other people for land? Probably the same God that says that it’s ok to fly planes into skyscrapers, the God of violence, hate, and conquest, or at least the desire to become a conqueror).

    The mentality that Jewish settlers have today is the same mentality that led to the ethnic cleansing of the pieces of land that became the original Israeli state in 1948. And yes, historical records clearly show that it was nothing less than ethnic cleansing (by its dictionary definition). Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were terrorized into leaving their homes by armed militias who in many cases committed massacres in Palestinian villages. As a matter of fact, Menachem Begin, the leader of Irgun (the most infamous of these) has the first prime minister in the Likud party, the same party which is going to win the upcoming elections. This is the same party that still claims in their charter that when Likud is in power, they will never allow Palestinians to have a sovereign state. Well, there you have it: Likud doesn’t recognize the right for Palestinians to have an independent state. Hamas and Likud are almost mirror images of each other. The only difference is that the latter has nukes, and one of the most sophisticated armies and intelligence organizations in the world.

    Now, I personally am no fan of Hamas. In my regard, they are a tyrannical, anti-democratic organization. I also disagree with the tactic of purposely inflicting harm on Israeli civilians. But they are not the main problem here. They are part of it but not the big chunk of it. The root of all this violence is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. The violence that the Palestinian commits is a logical response to this. If you and I were Palestinians, if we heard from our grandparents how they were driven through terror from their farmlands in Ashkelon into refugee camps, if we heard from our parents how our uncles were killed, detained without due process or right to a trial or even a lawyer as “administrative detainees,” tortured, beat almost to death by IDF soldiers, if you and I had to go through all the dehumanizing checkpoints in the West Bank, if you and I were living there without a job, without a secure economic future for ourselves and for our families while settlers around us build fancy apartment complexes with swimming pools, manicured lawns, where privileged children play, you and I would probably want to send a couple of rockets into Israel. We would at least be tempted to do so and it would require an enormous amount of inner peace and self-restraint to not resist with violence to such an ignominious injustice. I would hope that I personally could resist that temptation, but I haven’t been there so I couldn’t say. Could you?

    By the way, if you like other students who have written us are skeptical about whether or not the violence that the Israeli state committed in Gaza constitutes “racial violence,” I invite you to visualize the following scenario: imagine that right here in San Diego (where I live), a robber is holding dozens of people hostage at gunpoint inside a bank. Now imagine that the police decides to intervene with the robber by dropping five 1 ton bombs on the bank, killing those inside and slaying and inuring dozens more in the surrounding neighborhood. Now imagine that when relatives of the dead complain, the excuse the government uses is that they did it because there was an armed and dangerous criminal inside. They also hypocritically express regret for the loss of life of the civilians inside and around the bank. As more and more condemn the attack, they also add that the responsibility of these deaths lies with the bank robber, who used them as human shields. Of course, this would never be tolerated in the U.S. It would be too revolting. Why then is it acceptable in Gaza? I imagine that someone interested in discrediting this analogy might say that it’s different because the bank robber’s hostages are all innocent whereas Gazans voted for Hamas. The implication here would be that because of this, they are somehow complicit in terrorism. Is that why killing them is less immoral? Did the hundreds of children killed vote for Hamas?

    To me, it’s still hard to understand why Israelis and Americans continue to make excuses for the enormous loss of civilian life there. I personally would never think of excusing Hamas’ killing and terrorizing of Israel’s civilians. The problem here is that there’s a hundred civilian Palestinian victims for every civilian Israeli victim, but somehow, some people think that those dead Palestinians are less deserving of pity. I heard an NPR interview the other day with an Israeli woman residing in one of the towns that has been hit by rocket fire. When the reporter asked her if she thought Israel’s attack on Gaza was disproportionate, her response was “Not at all. Why should Israel apologize for having a strong military?” (I’m paraphrasing). I’m unable to comprehend how people who I know to be intelligent and kind can stand by idly debating whether or not Israeli is using excessive force in Gaza. Would anyone think twice about whether the bombing of that robbed bank constitutes disproportionate force? Why then do people believe the Israeli government when they sterilize these deaths as either accidental, collateral damage, or somehow the doing of Hamas? To me, the reason why there are those who feel no moral outrage at the Gaza bombing lies in how we (the West) have dehumanized Palestinians because we regard them as somehow complicit in “terrorism” (regardless of whether they actually take up arms or not) by virtue of their identity and the spaces they occupy. This dehumanization is not contemporary. It draws from the centuries old semiotic vocabulary of “orientalist” representations of Arabs as somehow barbaric, irrational, brutish, inherently violent, and therefore deserving of brute force. These ideas legitimized the West’s violent crusades, its later conquest of India and southeast Asia, just as it makes Israel’s occupation morally justifiable. This dehumanization of Hamas is what made the Bush administration stubbornly refuse to negotiate with Hamas (because “We don’t negotiate with TERRORISTS”). I hate the overuse and misuse of the T-word so I would like to ask the following question without calling Israel’s actions state terrorism: what makes Hamas’ launching of rockets or suicide bombings distinguishable from Israel’s bombing and shelling of Gaza? The IDF are not surprised that they’re killing so many civilians. Their killing of civilians is perfectly predictable. What then makes them somehow less murderous? What makes Israel’s government (partly made up of parties that refuse to recognize the right of Palestinians to have a state, including Likud) somehow more benign, more willing to negotiate for peace than Hamas? Up until recently Fatah didn’t recognize Israel’s right to “exist” but neither did Israel’s government recognize the right of Palestinians to exist. It wasn’t that long ago that Golda Meir said that “there is no such thing as Palestinians.”

    The dehumanization of Gazans (and more specifically, Hamas) is similar to what legitimized the mass bombing and spraying of Napalm and Agent Orange of millions of Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians. Somehow, they were all communists or “gooks,” meaning they are more “animal” than “human” when it comes to how much their lives are worth. This is similar to what allows American soldiers or private soldiers to kill “hajjis” or “towelheads” (i.e. any non-American who is between the Mediterranean sea and China, except Israelis of course) for no apparent reason with impunity (e.g. Nisour Square massacre). This is similar to how police officers routinely get away with beating and sometimes killing African-American men in the US with impunity (a perfect example is what happened to Oscar Grant in Oakland this month). Essentializing people as inherently evil beings makes us feel less bad when they die. Hence the racial part (essentializing = racializing). Nationalism has a lot to do with this as well. We can also call it ethno-racial-nationalist violence. “Those” people over there deserve less protections than “our” people over here in “our” ethnic group and/or in “our” nation.

    When people at the receiving end of ethno-racial-nationalist violence are dehumanized in this manner, they can sometimes act the role by equally dehumanizing their oppressor. It is not that they don’t have free-will. They do, but what else are they going to do? The circumstances of their oppression will inevitably lead many of them to pursue the same course of action that their oppressor pursues: violence. Therein lies the answer of why Hamas keeps firing rockets into Israel. A dehumanized colonial subject whose lives and sentiments are worth nothing to a colonial oppressor usually loses respect for the life of those identified with the colonizer. That is the situation that exists now. It is a result of occupation, the original sin, the first stone thrown in this bloody feud. Hamas has suffered significant losses in this operation but this does not mean that Israel is defeating Palestinian resistance to its occupation. Israel has just created a whole new batch of youth who have seen their relatives and neighbors dehumanized and killed, and who will seek revenge by exacting the same kind of violence on Jews. Not all Palestinians will follow this path because as human beings, most Palestinians recognize that you shouldn’t do onto others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you. They also don’t have the impediment that Israelis have to realize their moral contradictions: the Israeli state’s powerful public relations whitewashing of its violence. When Hamas fires rockets at Israeli civilians, at least they don’t make excuses for it. Palestinians therefore have less of an impediment seeing the murders that their own commit as murders.

    The only way for Israel to reach the pax-Israeli that many Israelis say they want is to end not only the occupation but its disproportionate policy of deterrence through shocking its enemies with brute, unrestrained force. Israelis have to see Palestinians as human beings just like them. Palestinians need to do the same with Jews, but we have to get the order right, the latter will never occur without the former happening first. Imams and political leaders in the region will continue to demonize Jews until the occupation ends (not all do, BTW). The whitewashing of murder needs to stop. Only through truth-telling, truth-seeing and acting to resolve one’s moral contradictions will this violence end. Until that happens, I bemoan the many morally contradicted people who I know, who don’t realize that they sometimes don’t think and feel as humanely as they think they do. With a world like this, anything can happen.

    Violence breeds violence. Ethno-nationalist projects of the 19th century that ethnically cleanse a population build ethno-nationalist movements of resistance. Jews dehumanized Arabs from the beginning of the Zionist venture. The early Zionists simply did not care what the Arab residents of Palestine thought of what they were doing. Why? Because they were “Oriental,” meaning, not fully human. When they realized that the Arabs did care and resisted the Zionist usurpation of their land, the Jews then came up with the Iron Wall strategy: “in order for us to be safe, we need to show these Arabs that they can’t mess with us. Since they are Arab, because they don’t reason like us Jews who are rational, the only language the Arabs will understand is violence so let’s teach them with violence that they have to submit to our will.” That was the mentality of the time. It’s evident in the Zionist documents of the era. I welcome you to take a look at them. Some Palestinians then stupidly responded to this by embracing anti-Semitism. We can all wish that didn’t happen, but the truth is that the majority of the Palestinian population didn’t even know who the Nazis were or what this European and Russian anti-Semitism thing was about. They too were minorities in the Ottoman and then British empires. They knew how it felt to be treated like a Jew in Europe. They resisted against the jews by staking a claim to their ancestral homeland, and that is when the Zionists got in the way with their own ethno-nationalist project. Palestinian nationalists didn’t hate the Jews because they were Jews. They learned to hate them because the Jews progressively took their land and their sustenance.

    The other thing that comes out of the dehumanization of the Palestinians is the alienation of Israelis and Jews in the diaspora form Palestinian suffering. I worked for two summers in Ashkelon. I visited the West Bank and East Jerusalem multiple times. These are two world apart. In Israel, most of the time, things are quiet. People live as people here in the US live. They hang out, have dinner in nice restaurants, people go to the movies, they go for a hike, to hang out at the beach or at a club in Tel Aviv, they take their pet out for a walk, read a good book in a café, etc. In the Palestinian territories, people are dirt poor. The have to deal with checkpoints, with soldiers abusing them, harassing them. In times of war, they have to deal with tank shells, artillery pieces, bombs, sharpshooters, death, destruction, and the terror that this creates. In the 1990s (when I was there), many Palestinians worked inside Israel. Most saw how Israelis lived comfortably and peacefully. That is the quality of life they desire and they believe they will only attain it by having their own state. During this time, very few Israelis visited the occupied territories unless they were there as soldiers. Very few Israelis or foreigners have seen the relative misery that Palestinians have been forced to live in as a result of Israel’s dispossession and displacement of Palestinian lands and occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967.

    Most of the Palestinian population today suffers from emotional disorders. Children who witness military attacks are scarred for life. Many of them get post-traumatic stress disorder. Israelis are alienated from that. So are Jews and non-Jews everywhere, including UCSD students like you Ben.

    I would like to end with the following: I’m assuming that you are as smart guy and that you are now at the point in your life in which you’re learning to see the world through your eyes and not through the eyes of others. I was as old as you when I worked in Israel for two summers. I had been told wonderful things about the place. I was very impressed by what I saw there the first time, but the more time I spent there, the more my impressions changed, because as an outsider, I started to see things for what they are and not for what my parents or anybody else had told me.

    I’m also assuming that in many areas of life, you don’t think exactly like your family or the people you grew up with. That will happen to you more and more as you progress through your 20s, as it happened to all of us.

    You also probably don’t believe everything your government tells you, as you shouldn’t. A wise Jew once said that “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out” (I.F. Stone). I never believe anything my government tells me until I corroborate it independently. It’s in each government’s inherent nature to deceive. You should never trust neither what the US government tells you nor what the Israeli government tells you. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t trust what anybody tells you. You should corroborate it for yourself.

    As a critical person seeking a genuine, original, critical understanding of the world, I hope you take the time to learn the history of the early Zionist occupation of Palestine. Read Ilan Pappe’s book about the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Read Avi Shlaim’s book about the Iron Wall strategy. Read Norman Finkelstein’s work on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Read it and weigh it against what other pro-Israeli sources say and make up your own mind.

    The last thing I will ask you is that as a human being, never think that it is excusable for a government to kill more than 1,400 people. The dehumanization of Palestinian lives is rampant in Israel now more than ever as a result of this war. According to Israeli professors Bronner and Gordon, this week, as the Israeli soccer league started back up again, Israeli fans in a stadium began to yell the following new chant: “Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?” sang the crowd. “Because all the children were gunned down!” came the answer (I suspect Palestinians probably dehumanize their occupiers in similar ways). The reason why wars happen is because good people like you and me stop seeing the humanity in those we identify as our enemies. This is exactly what happened in the Holocaust. It is what allowed the trans-Atlantic slave trade to flourish for centuries. It is what legitimized the conquest of the Americas from north to south and the dispossession and genocide of its native peoples. It is what allowed and continues to allow the parallel vilification and exploitation of immigrant laborers of color.

    Regardless of what you and I think about this conflict, if we want there to be peace, we need to live as examples of peace. We need to see ourselves not as Jews, or Americans, or as Israelis, or Palestinians, or Iraqis, or Afghans. We need to see each other as human beings. Otherwise, we become complicit in wars of state-sanctioned violence against a dehumanized, despised, racial “other.” This is why I support my department’s statement. If find it to be accurate and just. If you are hurt by it, it is only because the truth of the situation hurts.. I see it, not as a denunciation of Jews, or Israeli citizens. It is a condemnation of a state-sponsored dehumanization and destruction of Palestinian lives. We should weep for them, just as we should weep for the very few Israelis that have died in this conflict, just as we should lament the hundreds of thousands of Iraquis that have died as a result of this country’s war against them. We should cry for them AND or the American soldiers that died or were injured there. We need to see the humanity in the people that are being killed and that are doing the killing. I emphasize that for there to be peace, all people in all sides of these conflicts have to do this, especially to the ones that have the most capacity to do harm (the Israeli and the US governments).

    Ultimately, there will never be peace in the Middle East until everybody regains their humanity and stops dehumanizing the “other.” If you are a man of peace, I call on you to reflect on this seriously. If you are a man of war that only thinks that Israel should be for Jews and Jews only, then I wish you good luck with that, although I will admit that every now and then, I will weep for you and those like you because in your world, you will neither victory nor peace. You will only sow and reap more war and more violence, for yourself and for the rest of us.

  127. Roberto

    Thank you for the statement and I applaud your Department for taking such a courageous position. Courageous, not because of the content, as you and many others including Benjamin are correct to state that the assault and ground invasion are morally untenable, but courageous for posting it, since unsurprisingly the first two comments take issue with the very existence of the postings rather than the content. Their call to have it removed and to attack instead the qualifications and education of respected faculty speaks precisely to the fact that folks would like to pretend it is not happening as they knew it is not morally justifiable. And Ben, your reasoning really requires some thinking and self-reflection; really, though, are you listening to what you are saying… Ori, though Benjamin said it best, I would simply reiterate that we must rightfully distinguish critiques of the state of Israel and its policies from antisemitism, this will get you nowhere… and let us remember that Palestinians are also a semitic people, so would you consider that state of Israel antisemitic also?

    The question of Hamas attacking “without provocation” is silly at best, as the long history of occupation is unacknowledged in this narrative. Hamas is the democratically-elected government, with broad popular support in Gaza and West Bank, so the argument that people are held hostages and/or used as human shields has long been discredited. Perhaps an important issue to consider is that given the occupation all the people in Gaza (Hamas, Hamas supporters and non-supporters) live in one of the most densely populated lands in the world… I like the closet analogy from Benjamin, it is quite clear. But if we are to take both sides seriously, then numbers, though always limited, are important. Roughly 100 Palestinians for every Israeli killed is an issue not just of numerical value, but one that speaks to the differential power relations involved. I agree with Benjamin that it is Israel that is its own worst threat.

  128. Jody Blanco

    I don’t know how much there is to add to Mr. Balthaser’s comment above — it’s a pretty exhaustive rebuttal to the claims that Israel has suffered unprovoked attacks and is merely exercising its right of self-defense; that it’s “Hamas’s fault” that Israeli military have decided to target hospitals, mosques and schools; and that any criticism of Israeli policies whatsoever either constitutes “hate speech” or anti-Semitism.

    I was particularly struck by the language of Israel’s military leaders, b/c they resonate so powerfully with the same language that justified the creation of concentration camps in the Philippines and genocide in (German) Rhodesia — do concentration camps and genocide sound familiar? Here’s a quote from the US commander authorizing concentration camps in 1900:

    “…the greater part of the people, especially the wealthy ones, pretend to desire but in reality do not want peace… when all really want peace we can have it promptly… a policy should be adopted that will as soon as possible make the people want peace, and want it badly… the greatest good to the greatest number can best be brought about by putting a prompt end to insurrection”. J. Franklin Bell, commanding brigadier general of US Army in Luzon (Philippines), 1900 (on the creation of concentration camps).

    Here’s the reputed origin of the phrase “final solution” [Endlosung] that was used to incalculable ends during the Holocaust. It actually came from the German campaigns against the Maji-Maji anti-colonial uprising in Zimbabwe:

    “[T]he ‘final solution’ [Endlösung] to the native question can only be to break the power of the natives totally and for all time.” Doctor Hartmann (1904)

    This final solution to the colonial question in Zimbabwe led to German-led genocidal warfare resulting in the deaths of 75,000, mostly civilians. Stop the violence!


  129. Benjamin Balthaser

    As a response to the two comments above, it’s very easy to get into a back and forth about “who started it” and who is to blame for the conflict. I would argue that in the United States especially, we are often told only one side of the story: that Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense as an unprovoked response to Hamas’ rockets; Hamas is a terrorist organization; Hamas does not desire peace or negotiation. Like any statement by a good lawyer, there is a grain of truth, but it discounts all facts in basic opposition to its assertion of Israel’s legitimacy.

    First, it’s widely cited, even within the Israeli press, that Israel provoked this war by maintaining the blockade of Gaza – which is understood in international law as an act of war – and by the killing of Hamas members by bomb in November, (see report by Ha’aretz., Israel’s most prestigious newspaper. In addition, according to UCSD professor Gary Fields, the border area in Gaza is subjected to aerial and tank bombardment from Israel on an almost daily basis, and he documents numbers of Palestinian injuries and deaths that have resulted from this shelling since Israel pulled out of Gaza several years ago. This is of course, in the context of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, of which Gaza is a fenced in refugee came, housing over a million and a half people, without state-issued passports or ability to travel, living in extreme poverty and hardship. Israel withdrew its army from Gaza yet maintained control over air and sea , often depriving the strip of basic food and medical supplies for weeks at a time – reducing them to a state of total deprivation and dependency. Amnesty International has documented the effects of the blockade in one of their press releases, As John Stewart said on the Daily Show, Hamas may feel like a crazy person pounding on the door, but it is only because he’s been locked him in the closet, beaten, and denied food. If one wants to understand the growth of Hamas, it is in that context that one must understand it.

    As one of the posters to the blog mentioned, it is not a question of numbers – and I agree, it is not the number of dead that makes the Israeli occupation so horrible (indeed, I would say the U.S. occupation of Iraq makes the Israeli siege of Gaza look humanitarian in contrast). Yet, as mentioned on the Ethnic Studies website, Israel is conducting operations as a question of design, racial and ethnic by nature, by which it hopes to pacify an entire population in order to expand a Jewish-only state (the Arab citizens of Israel describe their plight in NYTimes as living as “second class citizens,” . As Israel’s most prominent military analyst, Zeev Schiff, summarized his remarks, “the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously…the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…[but] purposely attacked civilian targets.” The reasons were explained by the distinguished statesman Abba Eban: “there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.” Spoken by Israeli officials, this would seem a precise description of what’s going on today in Gaza, and seems to also be a precise summary of a war taken on along racial lines of collective punishment. For more,

    I could on and on about the various acts of aggression authored by the Israeli state, the on-going military occupation of the West Bank in violation of international law as well as specific UN mandates, and the Israeli refusal to negotiate with the elected government of the Palestinian people despite Hamas’ repeated suggestion that they would be willing to talk. Israel may not like Hamas for good reason, but were Likud elected in the next round, I doubt anyone would accept a Palestinian refusal to negotiate on the basis that Likud governments or government officials have previously violated international law or have uttered racist proclamations. But I won’t, for one simple reason: I’d like to end by arguing that what Israel is doing today is bad, not only for Palestinians, but for Jews living in Israel and abroad.

    First, as disclosure: I’ve been to Israel, I lived on a Kibbutz in the north, I have friends who live in Israel and who have family there, and distant members of my own extended family are Israeli citizens. I even bought trees for Israel as a child, and remember the Israeli flag hanging in my synagogue next to the American one, and feeling a stronger sense of identification to the Star of David than to the Stars and Stripes. And why the invasion of Gaza was so upsetting for me has as much to do with my compassion for Palestinians as it does for my sense that Israeli’s hard-line attitude with the Palestinians and its own neighbors will seal the country’s fate as – at best – living in a perpetual state fear, held hostage by its own aggression. Did the siege of Gaza make Israeli’s safer? Rockets rained down on Sderot. Did the invasion of Lebanon make Isarelis safer? My friends from the Kibbutz talked about rockets falling in towns around them, and of family members who were then fearing for their lives. Other Israeli friends of mine talk about the 2nd Intefadah as the fear someone will walk with a bomb into their university lecture hall. One can’t walk down a street in Israel without seeing the constant presence of soldiers, weapons, fear.

    The question one thus has to ask is, if Israel provoked the recent war in Gaza, is Sharon provoked the recent Intefadah by walking with armed soldiers to the Haram Shareef, if Ehud Barack provoked the collapse of the Oslo Peace accords by continuing – even expanding – settlement activity, then either the Israeli government is simply childishly unaware of what they do (which I highly doubt), or as seems more plausible, is sabotaging the peace process themselves

    The Israeli government has a long inglorious record of failure when a real opportunity for peace and security is at hand, including the most recent refusal by Israel of the 2002 Saudi Peace initiative adopted by the Arab league, with guarantees of Israeli saftey by neighboring countries. Whenever Israel has a chance to support Palestinian or other Arab moderates by taking conciliatory steps, it almost always refuses the chance and takes the hard-line direction. As Ira Chernus writers, “Israel conciliates only to support Palestinian “sub-contractors,” who may speak words critical of Israel but promote policies that Israel has already approved. (It was right-wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu who said that Israel would make peace only with Palestinian leaders who were “sub-contractors.”)

    “The Hamas moderates are not “sub-contractors.” They are willing to accept Israel’s existence and promise it security, but only in return for full sovereignty over all of the West Bank and Gaza, including East Jerusalem. It’s roughly the same kind of deal that Yasir Arafat insisted on. If Israel had accepted that compromise from Arafat at Camp David six years ago, the Middle East could now be moving closer to peace. But the Israelis refused. They stigmatized Arafat as an “irrelevant” obstacle to peace.”

    There’s no question that Israeli policy aims to keep the conflict going. The only question is, Why? The answers are endlessly complex. Some Israelis (like some Palestinians) get money and power by keeping the battle going. But not very many. Most Israelis just suffer from it. It seems very likely to me that some on the right believe they can get more Palestinian land, for others, it is a cynical understanding that the politics of fear are easier to sell than the politics of peace. Notice the media outcry at Olmert’s recent statement that Israel will need to give up East Jerusalem to win peace – not words to win elections by in the Knesset.

    At some point, hopefully the Israelis will wake up – as Americans may have with the last election – that racist colonialism and violence do not make them safer. In poll after poll, the Palestinians want peace; the Israelis want peace, but the former will not do it without the dignity and economic independence that is their right. We do not service to the Israelis by supporting their wars, and indeed, the sooner the Israeli government can see the Palestinians as human beings, the sooner they can live in peace with them.

    As for the final comment, about the “threat” of the Ethnic Studies dept. to Israel, that would be laughable as absurd if it weren’t so dangerous: the biggest threat to Israel right now is itself.

    b’shalom, salam alaykum
    Benjamin Balthaser

  130. Ori

    Thank You Jeremy and Ben for your responses,
    It is clear to me that this department has some issues with hypocrisy. They seem to reserve racial discrimination to those of color, but fail to address or even see the anti-semitism embedded in this issue and, furthermore, help propogate this at UCSD. I fail to see how this statement is at all constructive.

  131. Jeremy

    I find it amusing that the department asks for the comments to “be truthful, respectful and professional,” when their very own comments do not follow any of those criteria. To sum up such a complex issue so haphazardly on a University website is irresponsible at best. I am embarrassed for the University that one of our very own departments which supposedly consists of well qualified and educated individuals could be so careless with their statements, and would take such little consideration of how such statements can effect the community and isolate a whole section of the student body. These comments are amateur at best and I think they should be removed immediately. While I do not object to free speech, this crosses the line with directed hate speech against the state of Israel, and even though free speech is a wonderful thing, as a department of UCSD you are doing a disservice to the University by posting this trash on a UCSD website.

  132. Ben Bluen

    As I read this statement, I am truly shocked out of my mind. Quoted from the department’s statement, “While Israel argues that it is targeting Hamas militants, the astounding number of civilian deaths (exceeding 900 as of January 13, 2009) shows a blatant lack of concern for Palestinian lives”. Comparing numbers is a statement of a bookkeeper, which is not expected from distinguished UCSD scholars. For one, Israel has air raid sirens that alert its citizens when rockets from Hamas rain down upon Israelis WITHOUT PROVOCATION, in order to kill as many people as possible, soldiers or civilians. However, Israel sent text messages to Palestinian people to flee their homes. However many could not as Hamas booby-trapped their homes that would explode if any residents tried to escape. Israel tries to only target militants, but civilian casualties in Gaza have increased as Hamas militants operate in densely populated areas and use human shields for defense when fired upon. How is this not considered despicable?

    About humanitarian aid-Israel stopped its operations for several hours daily, even compromising its own objectives so that aid could be delivered to the people of Gaza. Would any other country or Hamas stop its rocket attacks so that aid could go to Israeli victims of these attacks?

    The answer is clear that this statement should either be removed or be reversed and directed against Hamas, a recognized terrorist group. I hope that the Ethnic Studies Department will realize that their statement is misguided and that it will at least remove it as soon as possible so that students can formulate their OWN thoughts about sensitive issues such as this one. For that to happen, one needs to understands both sides of the story. The last thing that students need to learn is biased opinions from faculty, whether pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, Democrat, or Republican.

    -Ben Bluen

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