Tag: Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Go Divest Yourself

When I was in college, “divestment” was a big thing. The idea was that colleges, which generally have nine or more figure endowments, should use their investments to bring political pressure on social issues, pulling their money away from “bad” companies and putting it into good ones.

As a rule, colleges and universities are reluctant to do this because the purpose of the endowment is to fund the school, not play politics. And once you start playing that game, you get lost in a morass of conflicting political squabbles trying to figure out which companies aren’t going to annoy some segment of the student population. But that didn’t stop student organizations from constantly agitating to divest from … well, whatever they were mad about that week. In my senior year, they were pressuring my college to divest from the Mall of America. Not because it was a shitty investment but because they had a Hooters there, if you can imagine such a thing. Because I’m sure the one thing that would persuade the Mall of America to boot out a profitable business was a for a small liberal arts college to pull their investment.

It turns out that, in the last twenty years, student organizations have only gotten stupider:

We have covered anti-Israel student government divestment votes the past couple of years.

Groups, typically led by Students for Justice in Palestine assisted by Jewish Voice for Peace, try to get student governments to vote to divest from specified companies doing business in Israel, such as Caterpillar and HP. Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail. In the end, it’s purely symbolic, since student governments have no such power.

Symbolism matters, though, because the campus movement is part of a larger goal of demonizing and dehumanizing Jewish Israelis. Even when they lose a vote, the BDS crowd claims victory because they forced people to talk about their issue.

Last academic year there were a series of divestment initiatives that failed, but recently in the U. California system, several have passed. The anti-Israel groups are very strategic, taking the time to elect their supporters to student councils, and that long-term strategy has paid off in places like UCLA, which rejected divestment last spring, only to see it pass this fall after a change of board membership.

One thing that slowly is coming to light, however, is that the anti-Israel movement is not the grassroots, student-led movement it purports to be. In fact, it has a highly coordinated, well-funded action plan assisted and coordinated by outside groups.

Over $42 million has been designated for this kind of agitation, including money from the Students for Justice for Palestine, who featured a terrorist at their 2012 conference. Those of you old enough to remember the Cold War may remember that the Communists did the same thing: funding “grass roots” organizations to advance their agenda.

That’s not even the worst part:

The anti-Israel movement had another success today, at the University of California system-wide Student Council, where two divestment motions passed, 9-1-6.

The first Resolution was the usual divestment from Israel, and the Israel motion was the focus of heated protest.

Inside, the anti-Israel students also voted to support a boycott of the U.S., among other countries, through a second Resolution calling for divestment from American, Mexican, Russian, Turkish, Indonesian, Brazilian, Sri Lankan, and Egyptian government bonds.

Yes. The U Cal student government has called on the university to divest from America. As Jacobson points out, if you’re going to define Israel’s actions as worthy of divestment, you’re going to have to divest from basically the entire world.

There’s no crazy like student crazy.

Update: Speaking of divestment idiots.

Israel and Hamas Again

I’ve been holding back on commentary on the latest Israel-Hamas conflict to see what was going to happen. What’s happening is a war. The latest news is that Hama militants crossed the border into Israeli territory and have fired over 150 rockets into civilian areas. Israel is responding with air strikes. And the sordid mess goes on and on.

There’s a lot of blaming both sides going on. And while I can certainly see the argument against Israel’s response, I don’t think there is anything close to a moral comparison here. This started because three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered, most likely by Hamas. Hamas has denied involvement but supports the idea of kidnappings in general. Shortly after the bodies of the Israeli teens were found, a Palestinian teen was brutally murdered in retaliation. But the Israeli authorities condemned it as an act of terrorism and have already arrested the people responsible.

That’s how you know who the good guys in this situation are. One side acknowledge the other’s right to exist, condemns brutal violence against innocents and tries to deliver justice for its minority Islamic population. The other is a terrorist organization that does not recognize its opponent’s right to exist and has no interest in delivering justice to the people who murdered three innocent young men.

We can debate Israel’s tactics, sure. But let’s not lose sight of which side we should be on.

Wherein I Call for Throwing Israel Under the Bus

We’re watching a typical fake truce in action in the Middle East right now. New rockets are on the way for Hamas and new Israeli settlements are being built further and further east. It’s only a matter of time before the next bloodletting begins.

All of this has led me to question why exactly it’s considered to be “conservative” to support Israel. Let’s acknowledge the fact that the Israelis are underdogs (they’re outnumbered in the Middle East anyway) and they’re pretty badass in their way. It’s certainly natural to respect them, but why in the world do we support them in such a knee-jerk fashion?

Bear with me here. This is an overdue conversation among American conservatives.

What are conservatives getting out of this relationship, specifically; and what is the US getting in general out of our special relationship with Israel? I notice that American conservatives always support Israel to the hilt and talk about what irredeemable monsters the Palestinians are, but it never seems to make a major difference in the Jewish vote. Why exactly do we care more about keeping Israel Jewish than….Jewish people do? Every time there’s an election in this country, American Jews overwhelmingly vote for the Democrat (who is generally less inclined to care about Israel than the Republican candidate). They don’t give a shit. Why do we persist?

As for the US’s interests, the unquestionable support that the US has for Israel is doing nothing much but pitting us against the Arab world (and increasingly, the Turks) for the sake of very little. Is this a good decision to make toward the national interest? Pissing off 400 million+ plus people who control a shitload of oil for the benefit of 6 million people who provide us with no vital resources or anything else, really?

Is it about supporting democracy? Because democracy is essentially bullshit, you know. I’ve never understood why promoting and defending democracy overseas is such a priority for some conservatives. Democracy has made a royal fucking wreck out of the US, after all.

Are we worried about a human rights disaster if Israel is wiped out? That’s a nice moral concern, but the US does a fine job of ignoring such things in countries where the people don’t look like us. Why is any of this our job, anyway? The Palestinians aren’t our enemies or even our problem. Even Hamas isn’t a particular threat to the US. This instinctive desire to root for Israel and curse the Palestinians makes less and less sense to me with every rocket fired and bomb dropped.

Now I’m not going all anti-Zionist here. Israel has every right to exist as a Jewish state. What I can’t wrap my head around is why we think it’s our job to defend them and demand their protection regardless of what (sometimes brutal) steps they take to maintain that status. That Israeli lobbying cash that keeps our elected representatives in thrall isn’t lining any of my pockets. How about you? I think our “leaders” are duping us, truthfully.

Simply put, I’m tired of defending Israel when the rewards are clearly diminishing, if there are any at all. Demographics and political developments among Israel’s neighbors give me a bad feeling that we’re supporting the losing side for no good reason.

It’s perfectly appropriate for us to admire a romantic and embattled people. It’s another thing entirely–and arguably not conservative–to place the ambitions of such a nation above the long-term interests of the United States. I think it’s time for American conservatives to break up this bad romance.

Hamas and Israel, Round 47

One piece of news that got lost in the election scramble last week was that rockets starting being fired out of Gaza again. Today, Israel struck back:

Israel on Wednesday launched one of the most ferocious assaults on Gaza since its invasion four years ago, hitting at least 20 targets in aerial attacks that killed the top military commander of Hamas, drew strong condemnation from Egypt and escalated the risks of a new war in the Middle East.

The Israelis coupled the intensity of the airstrikes with the threat of another ground invasion and warnings to all Hamas leaders in Gaza to stay out of sight or risk the same fate as the Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed in a pinpoint airstrike as he was traveling by car down a Gaza street. “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a Twitter message.

There have also been shots fired at Golan Heights, where Syrian munitions have fallen and provoked Israeli response. A dozen more rockets have been fired out of Gaza today.

We’ll have to see how this goes. But it’s not looking good. With both Egypt and Syria unstable, a war against Israel could be just what their leaders think the doctor ordered. I would not be surprised if we move a carrier or two into position just in case.

The Palestinian Push

The Palestinian Authority is pushing for recognition as a full state by the UN. They are a few votes shy of forcing the US to either accept it or veto it.

While I support the existence of a Palestinian state, eventually, I think full statehood is a bad idea, partly for reasons outlined by Fareed Zakaria:

At the end of the day, there is only one way you’re going to get a Palestinian state. And that’s if the Israelis agree to it. They have the land; they have the guns; they have the money. Palestinians may regard it as deeply unfair, and I understand that. But it is the world that we live in. The only way they’re going to get a Palestinian state is to engage directly with the Israelis.

And the only way they are going to engage with the Israelis is to get control of their own damn country, especially Gaza. Israel can not put up with being rocketed on a periodic basis. The push for full statehood is mostly a push to further isolate Israel, rather than work with them.

And that’s the key point here. The Palestinians have basically ignored every olive branch for the last 90 years. And, for all their rhetoric, the Arab nations don’t really want a Palestinian nation either. Jordan and Egypt happily occupied and oppressed areas that were supposed to be Palestinian and much of the territory that is supposed to be Palestine is still owned by Jordan, who haven’t even hinted at complying the UN mandate of … 1948. This isn’t really about a Palestinian state, which could have been created anytime in the last six decades. This is about cutting out Israel. This is about the Palestinian Authority getting their country without having to abandon their genocidal intentions.

Obama, to his credit, is siding with Israel. The indications are that he will either call for a year long “study” to delay things or veto it. France is playing their usual “the dog at my homework” game and supporting giving non-member state status. Britain seems likely to align with us. And everyone is trying to make sure this doesn’t come to a head in the Security Council.

We’ll see what happens. I haven’t been happy with Israel’s behavior lately. And at least part of the reason previous deals failed was because Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert were undermined by their own government. But we can’t agree to this transparent ploy to create a nation that is effectively at war with an ally. Thankfully, our Administration understands that.