Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Friday 24 July 2020

Swarthmore College Continues its Anti-Israel Propaganda

In 2014, when he was a lecturer in peace and justice studies at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Sa'ed Adel Atshan, an adviser to the campus Students for Justice in Palestine, and now a tenured assistant professor at his alma mater, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, took part in a campus event held, in the words of Matt Lebovic reporting for The Times of Israel,
'to expose what they call the “intersectionality” of Zionism with other forms of oppression.'
And what, you may ask, was that all about?  Here, in a nutshell, is the answer:
'Israel was condemned for imposing an “interlocking matrix of oppression” onto Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, women, children, gays, the disabled, and others.'
Lebovic continued:
'Coined in 1989, the feminist sociological theory of intersectionality has often been applied to studies of black women, who – so goes the theory – derive their most potent sense of identity from the intersection of being female and black, as opposed to one characteristic over the other.
More recently, anti-Israel groups have adopted intersectionality to denounce Zionism’s alleged subjugation and silencing of its many critics, including Jews.
“Our very bodies disrupt Zionist narratives,” said Sa’ed Atshan ...
Identifying himself to conference participants as a gay Palestinian, Atshan demanded Israel be “decolonized” for its racist policies. He also condemned Israel for creating a Palestinian society rife with honor killings and the persecution of gays – all caused by the intersection of Zionism with misogyny and homophobia, he said.
“Let us not let the Zionists shape the narratives of Palestinian imperfections,” said Atshan, who received a standing ovation from more than 300 students in a Tufts auditorium.
“We all know Israel is an apartheid state and should be boycotted,” Atshan said.
The activist professor said one-third of his SJP chapter’s students are Jewish, and he cited the “deeply racist and pervasive Birthright Israel program” as an obstacle to peace.
Atshan and other speakers used SJP’s fourth annual conference to call for “reciprocal solidarity” among oppressed groups around the world. Indeed, during the half hour before Atshan’s keynote, three black presenters scarcely mentioned the Mideast, focusing on racially charged events in Missouri and Michigan instead...' [Emphasis added, here and below]
I have blogged several times about Atshan, who each year takes his students on slantedly propagandistic study tours of Israel and the Disputed Territories (see here and here and here).
Canary Mission has some eye-opening lowdown on him here

He's on record as stating:
"I dream of a binational secular democratic state in Israel/Palestine that provides equal rights to all citizens and inhabitants of the Holy Land (Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Christians and Muslims) regardless of ethno-religious affiliation.
I believe that we can and will realize this within our lifetime."  
In 2018, as reported in the Jerusalem Post by Benjamin Weinthal,  a talk entitled “On Being Queer and Palestinian in East-Jerusalem” that Atshan was due to give at the Berlin Jewish Museum as part of the museum’s ongoing exhibit “Welcome to Jerusalem” was cancelled following protests, the Israeli Ambassador to Germany telling a Munich newspaper that “Atshan is very closely connected with BDS" and “is not a person who wishes to build bridges of understanding with Israel” 

The Swarthmore Bulletin, meant for the noted  liberal arts college's alumni, is published quarterly.  This year's most recent (April) issue consists of 80 pages.  The first 48 pages are occupied by feature articles, the final 32 by class notes.
Fully ten pages of the features section (an inordinate number in comparison to the remainder of the articles) is devoted to an international conflict, and that conflict is -- yes, you've guessed it.  This is not the first time that Atshan's propaganda has infiltrated the Bulletin, and I fear that it will not be the last. Indeed, no article sympathetic to Israel has ever been published in the magazine.

The latest anti-Israel piece, written by Alisa Giardinelli, focuses on a Study Tour of "the Holy Land" led by Atshan during the past academic year, the latest of several he has undertaken since being appointed to the college staff, and the most-subscribed tour to date.

Adulatory of Atshan, Giardinelli's article is headed "Empathy & Exploration; This journey to the Holy Land offers immersive lessons in understanding conflict", and in it we read such passages as the following:
"Now, with two books forthcoming this spring, Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians, and a third, Paradoxes of Humanitarianism: The Social Life of Aid in the Palestinian Territories, under contract, the responsibility Atshan feels to continue his scholarship and teaching has never been stronger"
 Beneath the subheading "Gaza": 
"To reach the last stop on the last day, the bus turned off the highway and onto a dirt road that rumbled past a three-man Israeli tank unit. It would be as close as civilians could get to the Israel-Gaza border. There, from the vantage point on a low ridge, was the buffer zone immediately in front of everyone as well as the distant high-rises of Gaza City. As the group stood next to a military range tower with shell casings underfoot, it was just about sunset. Then the call to prayer sounded. The group stood in rapt silence, mesmerized by the gorgeous sky, the deep, lyrical tones, and the knowledge that, while separated by an electric fence less than 100 yards away, they shared this scene with the 2 million residents in this blockaded strip of land. A short burst of distant but distinct automatic gunfire broke the reverie. Everyone quickly returned to the bus."
In the caption of an accompanying photo taken by Giardinelli she tells us:
'The group outside a West Bank village. Nancy Yuan ’20, who was born in China and raised in New Zealand, says she appreciated the trip’s many vantage points ... says “And since the plight faced by Palestinian refugees is so protracted, I thought if I don’t take this class, I might miss the chance to grasp what is happening in this multifaceted conflict.”
Layan Shaban, a Haverford student who went on the tour, whose brotjher  Ahmad ('19), who took Atshan's class "a couple of years ago but did not go on the trip", explains:
“My dad wouldn’t let him,” she says, citing her father’s concerns about how an Arab would be treated in Israel. “I also wanted to strengthen my Palestinian identity. I think I’m getting there.”
Beneath the subheading Sderot:
“I’ve been closer to death as a student here than as a soldier on the Gaza border,” says Dar Cohen, 27, from the Sderot Media Center... The Swarthmore group stood with him outside the city’s police station. There, stacked against a wall, were remnants of some of the many rockets that had been launched indiscriminately into the city from Gaza, less than a mile away. Although they fall far less frequently than they did 10 years ago, he says the most recent fell less than two weeks before this visit..."
But then:
'Driving through Sderot’s streets, Angeline Etienne ’22, of Miami, says the bomb shelters prompted her to question who can afford them.
“That doesn’t take away the fact that you’re scared and that you’re in danger,” she says. “But whose fear is more valuable? Whose safety is more valuable?”..."
Regarding Hebron:
“As a Jewish male, I know I won’t have to deal with a lot of the security checks and other security measures that a lot of other classmates are having to deal with,” Max Katz-Balmes ’20 says after an incident in Hebron. “If I’m feeling uncomfortable, as one of the people with the most privilege, I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
.... For most students, the frequent presence of armed Israeli soldiers — on the streets of Hebron, in a lounge in Ashkelon’s Sapir College, even briefly on the bus crossing a checkpoint — was a new, and unsettling, sight.
“Speaking from my perspective and my community, weapons do not make us feel safe at all,” says Etienne, the sophomore from Miami. “So learning that for a majority of the [Jewish Israeli] population, Mizrahi or Ashkenazi, weapons make them feel safe — that’s genuinely something that I don’t understand.”...'
In Lifta an old man, Yacoub Odeh, told the student group “That was my house”:
'Standing in what had been Lifta’s central plaza, Yacoub Odeh, 79, pointed past a tree and up to the ruin of a modest stone structure that still clung to the side of the hill. It was one of about 50 that together were all that remain of what had been, until 1948, a vibrant Palestinian village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
On this Sunday, Odeh led a tour through the village’s overgrown paths, past groups of male teenagers who also gathered there, in what is now a nature reserve. Along the way, Odeh spoke of a future in which everyone — Christian, Jewish, Muslim — could live together, “as our grandfathers did.”
“That was a very moving experience,” says Robert Zigmund ’21, a philosophy and peace & conflict studies major from Glenside, Pa., “especially with the contrast of walking past the remains of the houses and seeing people laughing and just playing on them.”...'
Note how that old man's vision dovetails with Atshan's professed vision of a binational state in Israel's place.  Surely it does not take an average Swarthmore IQ to foresee the likely demographic and religious consequences of such a state.

Am Israel Chai!

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