The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) is the home of some of the most appalling of The University of Toronto's extremist radicals. It's no coincidence that OISE, the home of suspect programs of dubious academic value like 'Diversity Studies', is host to a number of anti-Israel lectures during the bigotfest of "Israeli Apartheid Week."
But to what extent has Jew hate permeated the academic programs at University of Toronto? Judging by some of the theses that are being granted a form of legitimacy, alarm bells should be going off and an investigation may be merited.
Take a look at two theses being guided at OISE's Department of Sociology and Equity Studies. One is a Master's Thesis from a Jenny Peto, one of the individuals behind the self-described "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid."
Her Master's thesis is titled, "The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education"
She describes her thesis in the following terms:
This paper focuses on issues of Jewish identity, whiteness and victimhood within hegemonic Holocaust education. I argue that today, Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood that are widely accepted within that community and within popular discourse in the West. I propose that these claims to victimhood are no longer based in a reality of oppression, but continue to be propagated because a victimized Jewish identity can produce certain effects that are beneficial to the organized Jewish community and the Israeli nation-state. I focus on two related Holocaust education projects – the March of the Living and the March of Remembrance and Hope – to show how Jewish victimhood is instrumentalized in ways that obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state.
Why is Ms. Peto, who ostensibly is concerned about "Jewish racism," discounting the many Jews, both Israeli and not, who are not "white" but are of varied backgrounds other than European who are also part of the "organized Jewish community"? Does she think they don't count, just because they aren't "white"?
Let's take a closer look at part of her thesis:
"Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood"
In other words, the rich Jews who control the world are pretending to be victims. If Ms Peto were a little more insightful, she might realize that the "organized Jewish community" is ensuring that the dangers of anti-Semitism are not ignored, which is somewhat different from claiming "victimhood." The fact that anti-Semitic crimes are by far the greatest type of religious-based hate crime around and are on the increase doesn't seem to have permeated Ms. Peto's obviously limited grasp of things. Anti-Jewish crimes number about 10 times the amount of anti-Muslim crimes. And those statistics aren't from B'nai Brith but the FBI.
Ms. Peto's academic advisor for her thesis is one Sheryl Nestel. Let's see if Ms Nestel has any other interesting thesis that she's "advising."
Yep! She does!
Here's one from a Griffin Epstein. It's called, "Extension: Towards a Genealogical Accountability: (The Critical [E]Race[ing] of Mad Jewish Identity" (author's parentheticals - ed.) and is described as:
Can we be accountable to privilege? Can we find a space for coherent anti-racist secular Ashkenazi Jewish identity in North America, where Jews have been deeply implicated in structural violence? Can we be agents of both complicity and change? This auto-ethnography describes a haunting; focusing on the ghostly presences of my deceased uncle Larry Treiman and Bruno Bettelheim, child psychologist and director of the residential treatment facility where Larry was institutionalized as a child, it creates a deeply personal explanation for how the whitening of Ashkenazi North American Jewish identity, the shifts in discourses of madness and major sociological and economic change in Chicago and New York over the second half of the 20th century constituted my subjectivity and my privilege. This text proposes accountability through genealogy, teasing out the possibility for ethical thought and action through cultivating a deeply personal relationship to the ghosts that make us.
Now this is very interesting. "This text proposes accountability through genealogy." Epstein seems to be arguing that Jews somehow bear a kind of 'race guilt' as if being Jewish is of itself a crime. There are precedents for this kind of thought. The Spanish Inquisition comes immediately to mind, and so does Hitler's Germany.
I particularly liked Epstein's description, "This auto-ethnography describes a haunting; focusing on the ghostly presences of my deceased uncle Larry Treiman and Bruno Bettelheim"
Well, if the ghosts are telling Epstein this is what's going on, it must be true. I'm surprised they're not listed as academic advisors along with Ms Nestel. Perhaps Epstein will do the right thing and list them as co-authors. Maybe the ghosts are the ones that said "Jews have been deeply implicated in structural violence ." As to what other issues Epstein may or may not have, I can only speculate.
What's really alarming is that this is what passes for academic discourse at OISE.
And what is shocking to me is that one of the courses that Sheryl Nestel taught at OISE is "Jews, Identity, and Difference". Maybe someone figures that academic Jew hate is okay as long as it's coming from someone who identifies as a Jew. It isn't.
What is happening at the University of Toronto and OISE needs to be exposed and investigated.
Here is the email address of John Milloy, the Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities:
Let him know what you think.
UPDATE: An addendum
UPDATE 2: Today, I spoke to a director of The March of The Living , one of the organized events Ms Peto claims perpetuates "how Jewish victimhood is instrumentalized in ways that obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state." and comprises a third of her Master's paper. According to him, he has no knowledge of Ms Peto having ever participated in The March of the Living, nor interviewing a single one of its staff or directors or participants. The only first hand research of The March of the Living Ms Peto references in her paper is from its website.
What that says about academic standards at OISE's sociology program is self-explanatory.
Professor Werner Cohn, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, had a very interesting analysis of the quality of Ms Peto's and by extension, OISE's Sociology Department's academic research standards.
If this is a matter of concern to you, in addition to Mr. Milloy, you should copy Tim Hudak, the leader of the provincial opposition at: firstname.lastname@example.org and Jim Wilson, the Critic for the Ministry of Colleges and Universities at email@example.com
UPDATE 3: David Hornik at Pajamas Media did an interesting deconstruction of Peto's "thesis" today (Nov. 19) in a front page piece called, "U. of Toronto Posts Anti-Semitic Tripe"
UPDATE 4: Nov. 23- U of Toronto's weak response and more on the culture of bias at OISE
Great work, VG.
There's no vitriol quite like that of an ethnic/religious self-hater whose zeal for uncovering the dastardly covert plans of those whom they despise know no bounds; in an effort to emphatically separate themselves from their genetic inheritance and prove themselves truly exceptional.
In a way, I'm kind of thankful that these young people are revealing the antisemitic racism implicit in all postmodern victimary thinking. That thinking takes for its model the Nazi/Jew relationship of unquestionable victimization, with its argument-silencing images of mass-murdered, dehumanized, emaciated bodies. But the extension of this European/Jewish model to the postcolonial scene - don't you dare argue over the revelation of absolute European evil - naturally provokes guilt and resentment of another instance of Jewish centrality in world history. Why wasn't some other genocide the historical turning point to the postcolonial era? Why did it have to be a white-on-"white" genocide?
The Jew is supposedly "privileged" in an era when those who can claim victim status are privileged. But this is largely in the mind of the resentful. How much affirmative action do Jews enjoy in academe or elsewhere? However, if these young scholars were unabashed neocons they probably wouldn't do so well in most of academe. By writing turgid victimary prose they actually do enjoy some rewards. They in turn no doubt earn some resentment, from more honoured victims and non-Jewish white guilters, as "smart" Jews playing the game well, potential victims marking themselves as the recipients of unmarked "white" privilege (in secrety Jewish hopes of not being marked for victimization).
Actually, this all began when Tim Hortons started selling bagels.
"This text proposes accountability through genealogy." Is that anything like "The Jews killed Jesus"?
Beyond demonstrating the obsession with identity politics and the occasional dips into anti-semitism, those theses also reveal the frequently thin grip on the very fabric of reality in postmodern thought.
In short, whle we could be charitable and say that the ghost reference might be intended metaphorically, with the current state of sociology it's hard to tell.
Great work ghostly one. I will be writing to John Milloy and to others as well.
The Canadian far left has embraced a new form of anti-Semitism buy relentlessly attacking Israel, while at the same time being astonishingly quiet about human rights abuses occurring in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Cuba. And to add insult to injury, they hide behind a fig leaf of moral supremacy-if only they realized how transparent their fig leaf is.
Jim Reed - check his web site carefully and you'll find lots of covert anti-semitism as well as apologies for Ahmadinajad,radical Islam and an endorsement of Israeli Apartheid week.
Their selectivity reminds me of a statement from Hitler-the Jews have been selected for special handling.
omigod omigod - looking at both these thesis titles and the fact that they hold an anti-zionist conference at university of toronto, clearly we all need to start barricading ourselves in!!!!!!!!!!!!! hunker down - the goys and the self-haters are on their way to get us with.... *gasp*... arguments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A good web site which exposes the NDP
There are some interesting comments (and an inane one) that this post has generated. One of the reasons that this matter is of concern to me is that the theses in question are not at their core simply critiques of Zionism, but their abstracts suggest a Jewish conspiracy and a collective Jewish guilt on the basis of ethnicity.
In my opinion, neither premise is becoming of a credible institute of higher learning.
I took a look at Reed's site and would disagree, based on what I saw, about the claim that it is anti-Semitic. I think he's bought in to some of the anti-Zionist claptrap, but I have seen nothing to suggest that he is either anti-Semitic or explicitly anti-Israel in the way exemplified by some of the caricatures of extremism at rabble.ca.
It is not the place of a higher institution to censor graduate-level research. Moreover, an institution cannot be said to endorse each and every graduate student's position as detailed in his/her thesis. Your request to "investigate and expose" U of T and OISE is absurd.
Your writing is far too glib and pat to be taken seriously. Do you realize this? You've done little more here than hurl insults at people you've never met, and publish a personal enemies list with the explicit intent for your followers to pursue them. Fight your own battles.
It is not the place of a higher institution to censor graduate-level research.
-Actually, what happens in our universities is that students' research proposals are often rejected for a variety of reasons, often because the topic is considered, for one reason or another, beyond the proper bounds of the department's intellectual concerns, or because it is just not up to some notion of intellectual or academic standards. In other matters, peer-review, which is a form of soft censorship rules. Of course the academic establishment only uses the term "censorship" when they imagine the left to be victimized by some conservative force, in their eternal reliving of Galileo vs. the Church, or of "McCarthyism". When the leftist academy squeezes out or marginalizes students and professors who are criticial of the reigning intellectual orthodoxies, then that's just intellectual standards at work.
Try proposing a racist thesis targetting a non-white group and see how long it takes them to "censor" you. What is absurd is your suggestion that a university can ever be all things to all people.
Citizens (and alumni) have every right and responsibility to argue that tax-payer supported universities should have some degree of public accountability (some degree of accountability, by the way, to a thinking person, does not imply some totalitarian "censorship" but rather some kind of ethical discourse, and potential recourse - e.g. boycotts - encouraging transparency in the context of debates over appropriate levels of public/private funding for public benefits received), especially when they are supporting hatred against an identifiable group in the guise of "academic freedom".
But, of course, when you merely suggest some degree of public accountability to an academic leftist, they immediatley wish to portray themselves an absolute victim of the McCarthyite/Nazi state, in an instant. Any other idea is simply "absurd". And then they go out for drinks and whine about the lack of "nuance" in the minds of their enemies. And then they wonder why people dare consider them antisemitic for merely criticizing the Jewish state!
Interesting how on today's National Post page the list of popular articles is:
1. An article condemning the war on free speech.
2. Your article.
Do you find it ironic that you yourself are trying to impose very fascist restrictions on what does and does not belong in the world of academia?
Also, I would urge you to educate yourself on critical race theory before attempting to lead an ignorant critique based on five sentences of Peto's thesis.
Interesting, anonymous at 4:34. You might want to educate yourself on the meaning of "fascist", genius.
Truepeers point is well taken. Most institutions have Thesis committees and these theses must have got past that stage. What that says about the state of affairs at OISE is self-explanatory.
Wow, they're smoking some really good S**t up there in Canada.
I am posting the following truncated comment on behalf of "Ali Suliman". I would have liked to post the entire comment, but it includes assertions that would require substantiation before I could allow them:
"It is hardly news that to dance to the tune of your thesis supervisor is essential to having your thesis accepted."
Your post has some major problems.
1: Being critical of a state or policy does not mean one hates members of the state or the major nationality of the state.
2: The claim about Israeli not being an apartheid state is misleading and purposefully uncharitable. It is technically correct, since the primary definition of “apartheid” refers specifically to South Africa. The term is being used to represent a particular type of political organization in the same way that the holocaust is often used to represent the concept of genocide. By ignoring the intent with which the term is used, you don’t have to address the obvious: there is an economic and political segregation based on raced and nationality. I understand you might want to contest this, but the absence of any treatment in your original piece is very uncharitable.
3: The claim that the goal of the protest is to end the state of Israeli is false. Just read the name of the protest – it is “End Israeli Apartheid” not “End Israeli. The principle target is the occupation. I understand that those who are not sympatric will find the term “occupation” contentious, but my point is, you don’t have to be sympathetic to the protest, anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, or consider Israeli control of the disputed territories to be an "occupation", to be able to understand the purpose of the protest; you simply have to be able to read the name of the protest. Now, I can’t speak for anyone other than myself. As with most protests, it was comprised of many organizations, made up of many individuals, who have many different political goals. Some of those individuals probably hold other, racial political goals, but we can only condemn the protest for the terms it expresses, and to me, participation (in the absence of any other information about one’s political dispositions) only signifies they are against the occupation Palestinian territories and the rigid control over every aspect of daily life.
Despite your attempts to portray individuals that are critical of Israeli’s policies as jew-hating racists, the more moderate support for the protest only involves the outrageous activity of demanding Israeli comply with International Law (how awful, irrational, unfair and racist!) by not expanding the sentiments, and exercising control over the Palestinian people, as well as a call to make peace with an autonomous Palestinian state.
4: You might find it interesting to learn that the End Israeli Apartheid week was created as a counter protest to IDF recruitment on campuses. I am not pointing this out as a claim that radical or reactionary politics (such as those calling for the destruction of Israeli) are justified, or making some asinine claim about the pro-Israeli camp starting it. People have different perspectives and legitimate disagreements. They should be allowed to voice their opinions (and hopefully be called on to defend their opinions), and the university is the proper forum for this activity. During the week, one side supports Israeli policies by recruiting for its armed forces, the other is critical of the policies and the practice of military recruitment on Canadian campuses by using jarring language – both are legitimate activities.
I miss Canada and the academics, the Northern Lights pot, the ability to mentally masturbate in front of everyone, and the fact that there is always someone who thinks that a dog turd on the sidewalk is a good thing to discuss in relationship to how the Jews control the world.
Truth be told, if nothing else, the good professor at OISE gave me a good laugh at her ignorance...better still, this is subsidized by your Canadian taxes...talk about the Jews getting the last laugh - they crap on each other, get the government to fund their salaries, then add more kindling to the bottom of the woodpile so the academic chain just keeps on growing.
Long live Jewish anti-semitism, the gift that just keeps on giving !!
There may be some foundation for the theses being worked. At worst for the subject matter in question, is the potential for an embarrassment caused by a revealing truth. The truth is always sacred, even if hurtful. Sometimes truths are not "accepted," despite their veracity.
If the propositions and/or conclusions drawn from the work are false, and ridiculous, then the laugh shall be upon the writers, sponsors, advisers, etc.
Whether or not an academic feels cause to distance himself from the Jewish (or any other) community, is a deeply personal matter that must be respected. And this alone is not sufficient cause to automatically reject any proposition seen as adversarial to the community in question. There is no wrong in listening to the proposition.
When the river sounds, it carries water.
Peter, your suggestion that I portray all "individuals that are critical of Israeli’s policies as jew-hating racists" is far from correct. It's actually absurd. I'm critical of Israeli policies regarding treatment of Palestinians on the West Bank, their proportional representation system and the disproportionate influence of ultra-religious parties there, the lack of engagement with the Abbas government earlier on, etc, etc.
You've fallen into the same trap of which you've accused me, in saying I'm accusing people who are critical of Israel of being anti-Semitic. Jimmy Carter has been very critical of Israel and as much as I think he is completely wrong about his assessment, I can assure you that he is anything but a "jew-hating racist." And by the way, aside from the fact that he apologized for his allegation about Israel practicing a form of "apartheid" he always made it clear that he was not speaking about Israel proper, but the West Bank.
But there are a couple of points I want to make sure I respond to, even though there are very many here that could consume many pages of writing.
The "apartheid assertion" is quite simply false. Racial segregation and disenfranchisement are key components of apartheid and Israel quite simply doesn't practice them. The word "apartheid" is very intentionally being used for inflammatory purposes by those who attempt to deligitimize Israel and the fact that they are singling out the country with the best human rights record in its region for being discriminatory, or worse, saying that it's a criminal state, is extemely suggestive that it isn't a coincidence that it's the one Jewish state they are singling out for this criticism.
But the point of my post really had more to do with the pervasive, fanatical anti-Zionism that has become a component of the culture at OISE.
And regarding the two theses, one alleges a Jewish conspiracy to exploit Holocaust guilt (basically a regurgitation of notorious ex(?)-Maoist Norman Finklestein's idiotic theories) and the other proposes "accountability through genealogy." - their own words make the prima facie case for what I'm saying.
Great article. Keep up the good work...and ignore the ridiculous Jew hating posts.
Why does this Jenny Peto person get any attention? Is her only credential being part of a laughably ironic group called "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid"?
I am quite stunned by the approach that has been taken by these graduate students. Not just because of their ignorant approach to Jews but also by their complete revisionist approach to Jews in North America.
Please correct me if I am wrong but weren't Jews the founders of the anti-defamation league, supporters of the 1960's US human rights movement - Martin Luther King, as well the origin of some of the most prolific challenges to racist laws. I have no idea what is driving this stupidity at U of T but it is quite obvious that someone is asleep at the switch.
What I also find interesting is that if anyone had the audacity to write a similar hateful diatribe outlining the corruption of the Palestinian state, or Black criminal statistics they would have been called to the carpet. But hitting the Jews is fair game. There is something deeply wrong here. Moreover are we breeding a justified approach to racism/antisemitism in our higher learning institutions? One that masks hate for intellectual discourse? This is dark path. One that should not be tolerated by any community. Jews maybe the first they attack but they won;t be the last.
Please keep up the good work!
I can assure you that [Carter] is anything but a "jew-hating racist."
I usually agree with Richard, but disagree with this item. The manner in which Carter
- falsified information in his book
- chose a title which demonised the Jewish state
- showed contempt for any Jews (such as Dershowitz) who attempted defense
leaves me with no doubt whatsoever that Carter is a Jew-hating racist.
So I guess it is true: radical anti-Israeli views can lead to anti-semitism.
Following the shameful revisionist history path that Ilan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein follow (whom she cites).
I've had the privelage of having anti-semitic slogans screamed at me in Montreal from black people (heil hitler) and from white people (f'n Jew). To be honest, Jews are not white. Ask any white supremist or Aryan Nation member. Rather, I think we are a color unto our own. Maybe purple?
When Epstein writes "This text proposes accountability through genealogy," she's NOT talking about race as genealogy (meaning ancestry and/or blood) as the author suggests, but genealogy in the sense that Michel Foucault develops in his work. This is an approach to understand history, not a recourse to rather narrow biological and/or familial relations, as the author suggests. Strike one.
The sociological, historical and cultural research demonstrating the mechanisms through which Jewish people in the U.S. became associated with whiteness is well-documented. Karen Brodkin wrote a book in 1998 called "How Jews became white folks and what that says about race in America," following similar work done on ethno-racial communities that went through similar sociological processes (e.g. How the Irish became white, 1995). If you're not aware of this research done by well-known Jewish intellectuals in the U.S., why not check it out. Strike two on the author and commentators for distorting this research.
Next, Leto says: "I focus on two related Holocaust education projects – the March of the Living and the March of Remembrance and Hope – to show how Jewish victimhood is instrumentalized in ways that obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state."
Nowhere does she say that she interviewed members of the organization in question. Not all research involves interviewing people, in fact, only a tiny minority of academic research does. Most research involves sifting through archives, media sources, websites, policies, and other documents that form a story. In fact, in using the genealogical approach I mention above, tying all of these things together is key. Disagreeing with someone's methods is one thing; calling them a (self)-Jew hater is an entirely different one. If you disagree with her research, then just come out and say so. Your actual critiques have nothing to do with the substance of the arguments in question. Strike three!
The problem is that there is no consensus in the Jewish community about these political issues and instead of having an honest and open discussion about it, you call it (self)-hate speech! Notice that all the people you cite in the article who are so hateful to Jews are Jewish themselves. It seems to me that the problem here is the attempt to present all Jewish people as having the same voice on important social issues. That's just absurd. Not all Jews think or believe the same thing, to suggest otherwise or to refuse Jewishness to those Jews who disagree with you seems dangerous to me.
OK, anon at 4:35
Regardless of Foucault's notion of genealogy as a historical development of a people rather than a biological notion, the idea of a collective accountability based on membership in an ethnic group (achieved by birth, so in effect there is no practical disassociation from the biologically genetic aspect) is inherently racist.
And if you think the issue is about whether Jews are "white" or not (about half of whom are not), you've missed the point to the degree of complete misunderstanding.
It is about the idiotic, odious notion that Jews are collectively manipulating and expoliting Holocaust education and it's also suggesting that "white" Jews have little valid concerns about anti-Semitism, when statistics clearly show that anti-Semitic crimes are the most frequent type of religiously-based hate crime. But that's all paranoia from the evil Jews because they're all rich and powerful, huh?
And while first-hand interviews aren't always necessary for academic research, confining the ONLY first hand research to a perusal of their website four years prior to the paper's date..well I will say it again, what that says about the standards at OISE is, I believe, shameful. And "research involves sifting through archives, media sources, websites, policies, and other documents that form a story." Did you find any of those inquiries into March of the Living in Peto's thesis?
But since it's rabidly anti-Israel, I suppose they are willing to make some allowances.
If you take some time off congratulating yourself for your "pitches" and actually think about the ramifications of the theses and an institution that gives them credence, you might have a bit more insight into what's going on.
Collective accountability based on membership of an ethnic group is wrong and is racist. That is why the current trend to lump all Moslems together and be suspicious of them as a group based on the actions of a few is also racist.
Richard, in your comments and in the post you identify any Jew that goes against the line that you think represents the Jewish point of view as a self-loathing type. Surely it is just as racist to expect someone to think in a specific way because they are Jewish. Nasty little slur there too, "identifies as a Jew."
I know women who are feminists and I know women who are not feminists and are embarrassed by feminists. To borrow your words. Maybe someone figures that academic women hate is okay as long as it's coming from someone who identifies as a woman. If it sounds strange here then your comment about Sheryl Nestel must be regarded as equally as strange.
Harebell, when you write "Richard, in your comments and in the post you identify any Jew that goes against the line that you think represents the Jewish point of view as a self-loathing type," perhaps you could provide a specific example of that. I haven't been able to find one.
You say "Surely it is just as racist to expect someone to think in a specific way because they are Jewish."
I agree. Nowhere have I said or implied I expect anyone to think in a certain way because they are Jewish. It is Ms Peto, who attributes racism to "the mainstream Jewish community" who does what you're accusing me of.
The term "identifies as a Jew" is there because the people in question frequently make a point of identifying themselves as Jewish, like Ms Peto very specifically has on a number of occasions. They appear to think that doing so is a license to malign the entire, as she says, "mainstream Jewish community."
Your invention of non-existing facts and apparent inability to comprehend what you read suggest you could be an OISE Master's degree candidate.
Respectfully, I do not believe I commit the same error. My critique was not motivated by your criticism of the thesis, but the characterization of the protest. A protest which I have argued is clearly critical of political policies and only minimally commits one to the (what I consider an entirely justified) belief that Israeli should comply with international law. Unfortunately things become rather difficult because you have used a quotation, one that you are now free to disavow at will, but I have to assume was selected to introduce the article because it was indicative of your opinions. Perhaps my language was inappropriately degenerative for a productive conversation, but the intellectual link remains, as suggesting that participation in a protest that is critical of policy is enough to brand someone an anti-Semite, which means “a person who discriminates against or is prejudice or hostile towards Jews.”
I have not read the theses, therefore I have refrained from mentioning them at all. My claims were not motivated by your critical reaction to the theses or the structure and/or policies of academic institutions. I respect your right to be critical of them, and have not condemned you for it. My problem is with the deliberate misrepresentation of the legitimate aspects of the protest.
The apartheid assumption is not quite simply false. Before diving deeper into definitions, I wish to preface by making it clear that I understand and support the larger thrust of your argument. I do not dispute that Israeli is a democratized, secularized state that is, in theory, committed to equal rights of its citizens independent of racial considerations. I also agree this is laudable, and understand your impulse when you compare Israeli to its neighbours as these aspects are desirable and should be promoted.
Moving towards issue of substance, with regard to definition we have another point of agreement, which is that “racial segregation and disenfranchisement are key components of apartheid...” The second definition of apartheid (skipping the first which highlights the root from South Africa, so we might access the generalized concept) is “any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.” The disagreement is going to be over whether Israeli practices segregation and disenfranchisement.
While a secular state, it is abundantly clear that Israeli is a nation state. It is, and must remain (so we have been told) a Jewish state. Clearly we have a consideration of race. This is why Israeli will never accept claims of a historic right of return for refugees. It should not, and it cannot. But the motivation for the refusal is the understanding that Israeli must remain a racialized state, and therefore is very different than the type of secularized, democratic state that Canada is. It is also interesting to note that application for citizenship is highly focused on racial identity with particular guarantees for the Jewish. So far, I have only sought establish that despite the positive aspects of being secularized and democratic race is a consideration of Israeli policies (and it could be argued a preoccupation with race is a necessary precursor the existence of the state itself.)
Now we must turn our attention to its citizens and the declaration of commitment to formal equality, because I suspect you are interpreting the racial segregation as a necessarily explicit in declaration of policies. This is a reasonable position to take, because the word derives from the particular South African experience were the policies explicitly disenfranchised on the basis of race. I do not maintain that requirement. We have a situation where two people are divided in wealth, freedom, political rights, and opportunities, that just so happens to be highly correlated to race. Regardless of the explicit declarations or the motivations of policies (I’m willing to accept that Israeli is being sincere when they claim that imposed curfews and embargos over the contested territories are motivated by security concerns and are not deliberately designed to inflict suffering), we have a situation where people are divided roughly along racial lines. With the Israelis citizens enjoying political control and substantial freedoms, and Palestinians unable to make any contribution to the political process or the policies that will be enacted over the territory while suffering restrictions on their movement, their commerce, their access to international goods and markets, and claims to basic human rights. (such as, the disruption of the provision of healthcare as evidenced by the outrageously long ambulance response times in the contest territories.)
One might object that the individuals are not Israeli citizens and therefore the division is irrelevant. However, Israeli maintains Weber’s monopoly of violence over the given territory. You cannot have it both ways. Either the application of policies within those territories is completely unjustified, as international law is beginning to suggest, (at the very least Int. law does condemn the settlements), and Israeli will have to recognize an independent state with right to self governance complete with sovereign control of their boarders (like every other recognized state), or you have to accept the practical reality – there is a division along roughly racial lines due to the policies that are promoted in the territories that Israeli exerts control over.
Even if you want to reject that argument out of hand (which I think entails an ancillary claim that people don’t count unless they are citizens), we can consider the case of non-Jewish citizens and the explicit commitment to equality between citizens. While they enjoy political enfranchisement, there is an explicitly theoretical bar on them becoming a majority and thus are easily marginalized. However, even more importantly (to me) are things like the Sabbar Kashur case, that suggest that there are deep racial undercurrents in Israeli society despite the claims of a commitment to equality.
You are free to dispute any and all of these points, but even if I have failed to convince, I think I have established the basis for rational disagreement, so I am extremely leery of your claims of it being “quite simply” anything.
Finally, I would like to conclude by agreeing with your suggestion that it is highly probable that many people who are critical of Israeli’s policies are motivated by a dislike of Israeli and sometimes even by hatred of Jews. The reason we are suspicious of ulterior motives is because it suggests the information being conveyed might be dishonest. As someone who takes human rights seriously, I am not concerned with the motivation behind the claims, only the veracity of the charges. The motivations behind the claims are irrelevant if the claims are true. I do not believe any state has the right to violate human rights and I do not consider my belief that Israeli should comply with international law to be hateful.
you've obviously taken a lot of time and put a lot of thought into what you wrote and you are evidently sincere. I appreciate that.
Your argument hinges on your contention that Israeli policy is racially-based. It is not and I would urge you to look into the matter further if you doubt it, and let me explain to you, in brief, why it isn't.
While being Jewish is somewhat unique in that it is often considered both a religion and a race (it was by the Nazis), in the Israeli context, it is a religion, not a race.
How can I prove that?
Israeli Jews consist of many races. They come from all over the world, and have pimentation varying from blond hair blue eyes, to the dark-skinned Jews of Ethiopian and African origin. There are Jews in Israel originally from India and China who have the physiological characteristics of people from the predominant indigenous racial groups of those countries.
Does this prove that Israeli law is not racially based? I believe it does, but let me give you the defining example that proves Israeli law is nothing like South African apartheid:
A black South African could not, under any circumstances, convert into being a white Afrikaner.
Judaism is not a prosthelytizing religion but it does accept coverts without any racial restrictions. A Palestinian Arab can be Jewish and as such would have all the privileges of being a Jew in Israel. In fact, I personally know an Israeli whose mother was Jewish and whose father was a Palestinian Arab and since judiasm recognizes matrilineal descent, he is, by Israeli law, considered a Jew.
This doesn't establish that there is no discrimination in Israel, there is. But it does prove that it is not "apartheid."
As to the supposed "refugees", that is a lengthy discussion of itself. They are pawns being used by the Arab states in the region, but the notion of 3rd and 4th generation "refugees" makes a mockery of the whole concept. You might as well call the Daughters of the American Revolution "Mayflower refugees from England."
I understand you want Israel to comply with international law (which of itself is something of a nebulous concept that is rarely applied equitably.) Remember the context. Israel is a country is a technical state of war with some of its neighbors, who have vowed its destruction.
If you can provide an example of a country under those same or similar circumstances that has shown the same measure of regard for human rights and rule of law, I would be very interested to hear it.
Your talking about undercurrents of descrimination in Israel as a sign of what you're trying to put forward undermines your argument further. Those types of undercurrents are present in many countries. There are greater "undercurrents" of racial discrimination in Japan and Turkey. When are you going to get around to denouncing "Japanese and Turkish apartheid?"
Again, I've never said that Israel, like any other country, is immune from criticism. I've never said that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. But the context of the "Israel apartheid" movement goes far beyond normal or fair criticism.
It most certainly holds Israel to a much higher standard than any other country either in its region or in the context of its circumstances of being in a state of technical war, surrounded by mostly hostile neighbors.
Holding Israel to a different standard is discriminatory. It would stretch credulity to claim that discrimination has nothing to do with its being a Jewish state, therefore that type of discrimination IS, by definition, anti-Semitism.
Thank you for the explanation. Your position is much clearer now, in that you aren’t maintain a standard of explicit policy declaration, and your religion not race argument does bypass the implicit divide I was arguing for. I also accept the classification of religion, however, there clearly is something about the blood as it is a religion whose memberships is dependent on matriarchal linage and is *generally* (and I use this very tentatively) hostile (perhaps discouraging is a better term) of conversion. Your Afrikaner example does sway me, because I have already given Israeli credit for their Arab citizens. You’ve made a strong point; there is something clearly different about this situation than the South African case, however I can’t shake the fact that there are massive disparities in rights and resources that break down along racial lines even if you maintain that the racial distribution is merely the incidental product of religious membership which has a majority, but whose membership is not necessarily dependent on race. However, even that seems to be in dispute, because there are control policies on conversion (and disparities between religious conversion and who Israeli officially recognizes as a convert). I can only offer a more whimsical example, but do you believe that Israeli would accept all refugees and surrounding Arabs that wished to live in the territories if they attempted to hijack the identity by mass conversion and attempting to modify the practices internally? They won’t be recognized. Race still plays a part, even if you have established it is not absolute, but there is a clear codification of a cultural identity to the exclusion of others. It is different than South Africa, but not so drastically different that I believe the term loses explanatory power.
I agree that the refugees are being used as political pawns. I evoked them purely to make the point that Israeli has exclusionary an exclusionary identity (which we are now debating as religious, racial, cultural, etc...) which makes it different from other secular states. If you recall, I also said that the right of return cannot and should not be accepted by Israeli. I understand you point, as I admit the practical necessity that the “refugees” are not going to be able to return. The problem is that Israeli is still in the process of displacing people from territory that the international community does not recognize as part of the state. Intellectually, the notion that a wrong fades with time (2nd, 3rd generation) doesn’t hold weight. Practically, those claims can’t be realized, and usually in similar cases of historical injustice apologies are offered and token compensation is distributed. That can’t happen here because the violation is ongoing, and I can’t really condemn those who refuse to abandon their claims.
International law is a nebulous concept. Human rights particularly. I am aware that even the concept of Human rights is problematic. These are things are unlike all other law, as they claim to be normative, not by contract, force, or consent, but by virtue of what they are. My posts are already considerably longer than the average, so I shall save the tomes I could write about international law and simply say that I see value in the core concept, even with the vagueness, the conceptual confusion, and the critiques.
I don’t need to find an example of better behaved country than Israeli in a similar situation. That is not a valid form of arguing. It might work on a lot of people, and I certainly think many people would be receptive if you were to explain an indiscretion in the following manner: “The guy was a jerk. He was really annoying, he followed me for three blocks, and kept pushing my buttons so I turned around and hit him, and most people would have too!” But while the statement might be true, it doesn’t provide adequate justification. That argument can properly evoke empathy, but X cannot become justified or appropriate simply because others are behaving worse. The transition from the previous paragraph detailing human rights scepticism hopefully has become clearer. I would accept it if you simply didn’t believe in human rights, if you have doubts about them, didn’t believe in their normative force, didn’t believe certain rights were necessary or binding. I would disagree (depending on what and how one might object to human rights), but I recognize that as a valid form of argument. Others behaving worse appears to the next evolution of the, we need to be suspicious about their motives for making the charges argument. Either undermine my claims that the violations are wrong, or please accept that Israeli shouldn’t be violating international law even if they comply with some/most of it and are considerably better than other countries.
Lastly, it is dangerous to call someone out when you know very little about them. My criticism of violations only undermines my argument if I hold Israeli to a different standard. In the past, I have objected to Germany’s racial immigration policies preventing successive generations of migrant workers from obtaining citizenship. I have been to Japan, and while I love the country, I am very critical of the xenophobic attitude. And, I am ignorant about Turkey. (which you might now demand that I should inform myself about, but does in this case act as a valid to reply to the charge of different standards as it explains how I maybe intellectually consistent without having made any criticism - yet.) While I dislike the xenophobia of Japan, I’m not going to call for an end to Japanese apartheid, because of a critical difference; I don’t consider ongoing effects of the Diaoyu dispute to be parallel to Israeli control of the contested territories. My action in this case is limited to a decisive lack of sympathy at the (self-induced) pain many Japanese will probably feel as they have to allow “alien” workers into the country in the next three decades to fix their demographic problems, because I believe inclusion should stem from merit, participation and contribution, rather than race, class, or religion. A better example might be China and Tibet, and by now you can probably guess my position on that.
Edit: “... please accept....”
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