Essays

Hamas and the Israeli Ruling Coalition Are Not Collaborators

A response to Jeffrey Goldfarb

Jeffrey Goldfarb argues that if we criticize the behavior of one group, we should not turn a blind eye to the behavior of another. He complains that the contributions of Yossi Gurvitz, Omri Boehm, and Nahed Habibibah to this seminar, while effective in their criticisms of the policies and practices of Israel, ignore the terroristic tactics of Hamas. The truth is, he suggests using a phrase of Omri Boehm, that both Israel (or at least its ruling coalition) and Hamas are “collaborators” in terrorism. Insofar as they both seek “military solutions to problems that ultimately must be addressed politically … they share responsibility for the escalating inhumane death and destruction.”

Jeff’s initial point is a good one. There are good moral as well as political reasons for Palestinians and their supporters to look critically at the tactics of their political leaders — not only of Hamas but also of Fatah. But to move from this to …

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Essays

Death, Destruction, and the Israeli Turn to the Right

One of the most depressing aspects of the current war in Gaza is the repetition of images in discourse about the conflict. “Defensive Edge,” “Pillar of Defense,” and “Cast Lead” all bleed into each other. Images of death and destruction recur across patriotic monikers that stand as a monument to the limited inventiveness of the national copy writers. Nothing much seems to change. And yet, with every iteration of death and destruction, Israel’s political culture turns more and more to the right.

This is felt most acutely by Israeli Arabs, but is also being increasingly felt by left-wing Jews in Israel. There are, of course, striking differences between the two experiences. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

On Bitter Satisfaction

The European Court of Human Rights ruling on Polish-CIA collaboration

The verdict was more forceful than expected. On July 24, 2014 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg handed down two unanimous rulings in the cases of Al Nashiri v. Poland and Husayn (Abu Zubydah) v. Poland. The cases concerned the extraordinary rendition by the CIA of two terrorism suspects to a secret detention site in Poland. Both men alleged that in December of 2002, during the early phase of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” they were secretly transferred to Poland, where they were tortured while being held, for nine and six months respectively, in an unacknowledged detention facility. …

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Essays

Operation Protective Edge and Just War Theory

I teach Just War Theory (JWT). I defend it strongly as a necessary moral guideline for world politics in classes full of cynical students, Israeli-raised students, many of whom went through the grinding machine of the occupation (themselves grinding Palestinians in check points, night arrests, and the like); students who speak fluently the language of power. But at times I myself see the dark, the political abysses in which JWT becomes almost nothing but a scholastic exercise, like debating how many angels (or for that matter, demons) can dance on the head of a pin.

Think of the recurrent explosions of violence in Gaza/Israel, which in its current phase is called by Israel “Operation Protective Edge.” The recurrence of the violence has a fundamental importance that should not be overlooked in applying JWT to Operation Protective Edge. …

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Essays

Reflections on Critical Responses to the Tragedy of Gaza

As the years progress, I am becoming convinced that most people can’t walk, chew gum, and think at the same time.* Why did people who were highly critical of American capitalism feel compelled to overlook the atrocities associated with Stalinism? Why did other people critical of Soviet power look favorably upon the “authoritarian” but reliably anti-communist Latin American dictatorships as part of the free world? And to get to my present discomfort, why do those who are highly critical of Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank, ignore the terrorist tactics of Hamas? And why is it that those who are concerned with Palestinian terrorism ignore deeply problematic qualities of the order of things in Israel today? …

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Essays

Gaza: How Will It End?

As I am working on my dissertation, I try to isolate myself from the present and dig into the past, in the hope that something will be revealed. However, I can’t help but to be dragged back to the reality on the ground, because the topic of the past is relevant to the reading of the present.

Throughout this new round of atrocities and violence that is spreading throughout Palestine and Israel, one thing keeps ringing in my ears. According to the Israeli media, there was no choice but to hit the Gaza Strip with all the might of the Israeli Army because the violence that took the form of rocket fire came from the Gaza Strip. And to my amazement, the “civilized” world has reiterated that the State of Israel, as a sovereign and free country, has a right — even an obligation — to strike back against belligerence and protect its civilian population.

The question that must be asked is: who determines the operating chronological framework? …

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Essays

The Other Victim under the Rubble of Gaza

Words and the path to negotiation

For more than ten days, the Gaza strip has again been under attack by Israel, and although missiles are fired everyday by Palestinian factions into Israel, the causalities are massively (if not uniquely) on the Palestinian side. Twenty-four hours after the beginning of a sustained ground operation on Thursday, July 17, one may rightly fear that the number of victims, like the dozen Palestinian children killed in the past week, will increase to indecent proportions.

This renewed operation by Israel, initially hidden behind the media frenzy of the World Cup and now of the Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine, is another round of collective punishment against Gazans — a gesture that has not gathered much international attention despite the gravity of the situation.

The point is not only to count the number of dead bodies under the rubble of Gaza …

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Essays

Israeli Academics Condemn the Slaughter and Endless Oppression of the Palestinian People

This protest petition just came to our attention. As a pubic service we are circulating it here. In the coming days, analysis from alternative perspectives will follow, including pieces by Nahed Habiballah, Benoit Challand and yours truly. – Jeff Goldfarb

The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people, is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. …

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EducationEssaysRaceRace/isms

How My Social Justice Failed My Family

I’ve never felt more helpless than when I heard my dad tell me that he was selling the house where I was raised. After using my student loans to help cover the overdue mortgage payments, we were still unable to stave off the inevitable. Facing the prospect of the bank foreclosing on the house, my father was forced to sell my childhood home. And despite my knowledge of the precarious position of middle and working class black people and the enduring nature of poverty, particularly in an area like the Mississippi Delta, I still feel like it’s at least partially my fault.

The sociologist in me says that divorce often plunges black families into poverty. My parents divorced in 2009. The sociologist in me says that the economic downturn disproportionately damaged black people. My dad lost his job soon after the divorce. …

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Essays

The Strongest Terrorist Organization in the Middle East

Israel Defense Forces

The IDF deliberately chooses to attack the families of Hamas activists. This is a war crime. Shall every Hebrew mother know, that her son serves in a terrorist organization.[1]

“Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, this is the news broadcast. Az Adin Al-Kassam fighters took responsibility this morning for the bombing of the house of Captain Motti, an IDF platoon commander, in Hanarkisim Street in Tel Aviv. Captain Motti’s wife, Ariela, was killed in the bombing, along with Yair, his 2 years old son, Sigalit, his 1 year old daughter, Shlomit, Motti’s 64 years old mother, and Yaron, a 23 year old neighbor, who was just visiting the family. Three nearby apartments on Hanarkisim Street caught fire, and eight neighbors were hospitalized with varying degrees of injury. According to Hamas’ statement, they did know that Captain Motti was not at the time present in the house. …

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