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

110 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. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.”

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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…

  32. 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,

  33. 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!

  34. 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).

  35. 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

  36. 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?

  37. 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!

  38. 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!

  39. 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…

  40. 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.

  41. 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

  42. 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

  43. 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.

  44. 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!

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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!

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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”

  52. 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…



  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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!

  57. 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?

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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

  61. 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

  62. 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)

  63. 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?

  64. 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.

  65. Robert

    Ethnic studies professors are the biggest jokes on campus.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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

  72. 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


  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. Jeremy

    couldn’t have said it better myself bruce

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. 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

  89. 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.

  90. 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.”

  91. 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:

  92. 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.”

  93. 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.

  94. Ori

    UNRWA suspends Gaza aid after Hamas steals food and supplies

  95. 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.

  96. mary

    Thank You for sharing.

  97. 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?

  98. 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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

  101. 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.

  102. 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!

  103. 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.


  104. 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.

  105. 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!


  106. 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

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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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