In support of an academic boycott

Today’s topic is one I was hoping I could avoid, since I know that my stance will alienate many of my own supporters. But after I read the comments on this post by Bill Gasarch, and reflected on all the men, women, and children who were dispossessed of their land while the world did nothing, I realized I could no longer remain silent.

Most of you will know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t: I urge the readers of this blog to join me in severing all academic ties with the settler state of New Zealand, until that state makes complete restitution for its historic crimes against the Maori people. That means no more giving seminars at the University of Auckland. No more reading papers with “ac.nz” in the author’s email address. Indeed, no more involvement with any physics or climate research in Antarctica, the flights to which leave from Christchurch.

Some will say my proposed boycott smacks of anti-Kiwi prejudice. But in reality, some of my best friends are Kiwis. Furthermore, I hope and expect that those Kiwis who care about justice will embrace my proposal, for the chance it affords their rogue state to confront the lies and denial upon which it was founded.

Others will ask: if we’re going to boycott Kiwi scientists over the dispossession of the Maori, then why not boycott Australian scientists over the aboriginals, Chinese scientists over the Tibetans, or American scientists over the Native Americans, Iraqis, Vietnamese, or Guatemalans? I trust, however, that sensible people will recognize this question for the Kiwi diversionary tactic that it is. For what could Australia, China, or the US possibly have to do with New Zealand? Until the Kiwis acknowledge that the issue is them and only them, there is no hope for progress.

Even in a world rife with violence and despair, I can think of no single issue with a greater claim upon our conscience. And that is why I ask again: who will join me in severing all academic ties with New Zealand?

85 Responses to “In support of an academic boycott”

  1. Carl Says:

    In addition, I heard that no small, flightless birds were killed on 9-11. Coincidence or a sign that they control the banks of the world? You decide.

  2. Resolventeer Says:

    Scott,
    that’s one of your best!

  3. Ran Says:

    Excellent point, well delivered. :)

    I wonder how many fail to notice that the mere idea of a boycott as a response to collective punishment with nationalist basis is kind of like… Collective punishment with nationalist basis?

    I also wonder how many also fail to notice that a British boycott as a response to an occupation is the utmost hypocrisy, seeing as the UK is one of the largest occupiers in the world today (N. Ireland, Gibraltar, Iraq, etc.) and probably the largest occupier in history (South Africa, India, HK, Middle east etc.)

  4. Erik Hetzner Says:

    This analogy doesn’t work at all.

    To pick two simple examples. Did a New Zealand human rights group have to respond on 17 May to calls by New Zealand politicians to cut off water & electricity to Maoris? http://www.btselem.org/english/Press_Releases/20070517.asp

    Did a rocket attack on a now supposedly independent Maori territory result in the deaths of 8 people, relatives of a representative of an elected Maori politician? http://www.btselem.org/English/Gaza_Strip/20070521_Al_Haya_Family.asp

    You may be opposed or not to the boycott. But if you recognize the crimes which have been committed against the Maoris and other native inhabitants of colonized lands, certainly you have a duty to speak out against what is now happening in the territories occupied by Israel. To do otherwise is to suggest that your only concern is for what has occurred in the past, where it may be safely opposed or condemned without fear of criticism or attack.

  5. wolfgang Says:

    Great post!
    And the Maori never used terrorism and suicide attacks…

  6. Scott Says:

    Thanks, everyone! Incidentally, don’t worry if you get an error message when you try to post a comment. The comment will show up; there’s no need to repost. Bluehost is acting up yet again.

  7. Boaz Barak Says:

    Hi Scott,

    This is perhaps a topic best avoided by blogs.

    I do oppose the boycott (against Israel, I’m still thinking about the New Zealand one), and did find your post funny. But, the reality is that Israel has an ongoing occupation for 40 years of 3 million people. Besides not being able to vote, some other daily features of their lives are roadblocks, more than 50% unemployment, shut down universities, house demolishing, administrative detention, being collateral damage from Israeli targeted killings, and more.

    Now, there’s also plenty to write about the Palestinians own fault in this situation, and about things like terror and rocket attacks (though I don’t think any Israeli would want to trade places with the Palestinians). Even if Israel wanted to end the occupation today (which most Israelis do), I don’t know if we have a good way to do it. Also, there are worse things going on in the world right now (e.g., Darfur though I don’t know if Sudan has any academics to boycott)

    So I’m not sure what my point is, maybe just to point out that this is not a black-and-white issue.

    Boaz

  8. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    Scott: thanks for comment #6. I could not figure out what was going on, and thus posted two slightly different (with and without slashes) versions of the Tom Lehrer song. Thanks for deleting the near-duplicate.

    I’d experimented with commenting via different browsers on different wintel boxes, and from a SUSE Linux box, and got the same erroneous error messages.

    I think that we should boycott all Homo sapiens sapiens activities to wallow in self-disgust over our ethnic cleansing of Homo sapiens neanderthalis, and our occupation of Neanderthal and Java man territories.

  9. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

    I’m calling for an academic boycott of The Bronx until all the people displaced by the Cross-Bronx Expressway are given homes on the median divider.

  10. Michael Bacon Says:

    “Even if Israel wanted to end the occupation today (which most Israelis do), I don’t know if we have a good way to do it.”

    A good start would be the recognition of Israel’s right to exist in secure borders. If this was the view of the Arab states in general and the Palestinians in particular, the issue would, in my view, already be well on the way to resolution. A Palestinian state could be established in short order and it would garner broad support interntionally. However, notwithstanding that large numbers of Palestinians support a land for peace solution, there are far too many who, with continuing support from countries and organizations who explicity call for the destruction of Israel, hold out the false hope that peace can be achieved any other way. So long as this is the balance of forces in the region, there will not be a solution to the problem.

  11. Erik Hetzner Says:

    Wolfgang, ten minutes on Wikipedia would tell you that you are wrong on the facts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pai_Marire

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkner_Incident

  12. joe Says:

    Excellent post, Scott. Well done!

  13. Ran Says:

    Erik – this analogy doesn’t work indeed.

    Did a New Zealand human rights group have to respond on 17 May to calls by New Zealand politicians to cut off water & electricity to Maoris?

    The Palestinians are being given water & electricity by Israel despite the fact that their official stance is that Israel should be destroyed, and that the current state is war. Can you point to one incident in history where a nation supplied water or electricity to another nation during a war between them?

    Did a rocket attack on a now supposedly independent Maori territory result in the deaths of 8 people, relatives of a representative of an elected Maori politician?

    I didn’t know Maori’s official charter was that all white men should be expelled from any land ever inhibited by Maoris, and that bombing civilians is a common Maori tactic for this cause.

    But if you recognize the crimes which have been committed against the Maoris and other native inhabitants of colonized lands, certainly you have a duty to speak out against what is now happening in the territories occupied by Israel.

    First of all, don’t ignore the dozens of genocides around the world as we speak. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the least deadly of conflicts, see the truly excellent article here:

    http://forum.giyus.org/smf/index.php?PHPSESSID=84f719cd88b36fbb115e73677ffb4b48&topic=872.new

    Second, the Palestinians started the war, and they never surrendered, and they will suffer until they choose to end it. Since they are the only side interested in fighting, Israel cannot be blamed for defending itself.

  14. Johan Richter Says:

    Excuse me if I misunderstood something Ran, but as far as I know the Palestinians on occupied areas can’t be said to have an official position at all.

    Nor do Palestinians have an official charter since they are a bunch of different individuals.

    So Scott, now that you have sort of raised the subject, whats your position on Israeli policy towards the Palestinians?

  15. Ran Says:

    Johan – You don’t recognize a leading party’s charter as representing the position of the individuals who voted for this party? Do you think that civilians of Nazi Germany should not have been bombed by allies forces, because “maybe they didn’t support the Nazi party”?

    I wish it could be so, but it doesn’t work. When the leaders of a nation, even an occupied-wanna-be-nation, choose a war, their civilians will always suffer. When the nation held elections, the connection between individual and leader charters is strengthened.

    Maybe you’re not well aware of the situation. While the territories are officially considered “occupied” (even by Israel itself – unlike China or the UK who do not consider Tibet or Northern Ireland as occupied), they have their own parliament, ministries, taxes, judicial system, universities, military (formally police, but still armed forces). The only things that stand between the Palestinians and a formal country is world recognition, and agreement with Israel regarding exact boundaries. I would like to say that there is a border position dispute, but since the Palestinian leaders claim their right to all the lands of Israel – it more of an existence dispute.

  16. Houmbolt E. Says:

    Could someone tell me what about the Turkish occupation in Cyprus? I think this is Apartheid.

  17. Joe Says:

    Let me say, before saying anything else, that I believe the Palestinian situation is extremely complicated, and it is clear that wrongs have been committed on both sides. Please do not interpret what I am about to say as either pro- or anti-Israel.

    You don’t recognize a leading party’s charter as representing the position of the individuals who voted for this party? Do you think that civilians of Nazi Germany should not have been bombed by allies forces, because “maybe they didn’t support the Nazi party”?

    Ran, that is exactly the argument used by extremists when targeting a civilian population. The exact same argument can be applied to the US, the UK or any other democratic country. It is insane to say that it is permissible to target a civilian populace because the government of the country has in someway wronged you.

    Secondly, as regards your second question (which I assume was meant to be rhetorical), it is a war crime to deliberately target a civilian population. Strategically it makes sense in the context of a world war to destroy the supply of workers, since this directly affects the enemies supply line. Even so, it is illegal to directly target a civilian population. They are protected under section 2 of the 4th Geneva convention, as well as several other treaties. Obviously this applies to both sides in any conflict.

  18. Ran Says:

    that is exactly the argument used by extremists when targeting a civilian population. The exact same argument can be applied to the US, the UK or any other democratic country. It is insane to say that it is permissible to target a civilian populace because the government of the country has in someway wronged you.

    It was not an argument in favor of targeting civilians. This is something that Israel is extremely opposing and has not done – unlike the US in Japan (Nuclear), the UK in Germany (Dresden), the French in Algeria, Sudan in Darfur, the Palestinians against Israelis today, and the list goes on.

    The statement was intended to explain why the Palestinians are in such a mess – they chose a war, by choosing leaders who openly call for war. They continually choose not to finish it. It doesn’t mean they all deserve to suffer, but they do and will mostly because of their own choices. That is the point. The occupation was imposed on Israel by the Palestinians, and they show no intention of ending it.

  19. Joe Says:

    It doesn’t mean they all deserve to suffer, but they do and will mostly because of their own choices.

    You still seem to be failing to draw a distinction between the choices of some set of people within a society and the society as a whole.

  20. Joe Says:

    Hmmm… That didn’t go according to plan! The second paragraph was not supposed to be a quote, but rather a comment on it.

  21. Scott Says:

    So Scott, now that you have sort of raised the subject, whats your position on Israeli policy towards the Palestinians?

    Well, I think the occupation has been a disaster for Israel, I think Israel should unilaterally dismantle all settlements except the ones that could go behind a negotiated border, and I fervently hope there will someday be a two-state solution along the lines of the Taba proposal. In other words, by Berkeley standards, I’m an extreme right-wing Zionist. :-)

  22. Jair Says:

    It took me a few minutes, but I finally found my way out of Scott’s maze of irony.

    I don’t see how one’s political stance should make any difference here. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Israel, an academic boycott is a rather pointless and obviously ineffective method. Surely it would not bring about any change except to slightly slow worldwide academic progress and irritate a few Israeli professors.

  23. Ran Says:

    You still seem to be failing to draw a distinction between the choices of some set of people within a society and the society as a whole.

    I’m not really following you. I thought it was clear that I have no problem with making this distinction, its trivial. My statement was that as long as the Palestinian society, as a whole, does not consider a peaceful solution, they will continue to suffer. It has nothing to do with “distinctions”, its just an opinion (I’m tempted to say fact).

    I believe millions die yearly from choices of others within their society (or other societies) – drunk drivers, global warming, terrorist attacks, wars, second hand smoking, etc.

    I agree with Scott that the occupation has been a disaster for Israel. But I also see no solution that does not start with Palestinian recognition that Israel exists and will continue to exist, and that they will never retrieve the lands of Israel, nor be given the right of return. Israel would never allow it, both because it would be suicide, as well as because it was never given in any other conflict in the world – including when Jews fled Arab nations.

    While the UN calls for assimilation of refugees in all conflicts, onlyin the Palestinian case did they call for return of refugees. Also, interestingly enough, in no other conflict in the world have refugee rights been hereditary as they have been defined in the Palestinian case by the UN.

    Makes you wander what drives the UN to making these drastic distinctions.

  24. Roy Says:

    The sun never sets on the British Empire!

  25. anonymous Says:

    The funny thing about this boycott is that it can only have the opposite of its desired effect. If you boycott Israeli academia, you’re inviting the moderate or dissident voices of Israeli academia to leave the country. After all, why should they suffer because of such a boycott? Why not transfer to another country and join the boycott? The more effective the boycott is, the more this will happen, and the more Israeli academia will become dominated by the hardline elements who will only be emboldened by the boycott, and so, indirectly, the people who support this boycott will be quelling dissent in Israel and serving the political elements that they are trying to weaken.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    “Regardless of what anyone thinks about Israel, an academic boycott is a rather pointless and obviously ineffective method.” -Jair

    Does that matter? It’s symbolic, doing your part. I also vote, which for any individual is pointless and ineffective. Of course, I disagree with the boycott — but just saying..

  27. HN Says:

    Scott,

    If a group of German citizens called for a boycott of the Sudanese government, would you go back to the Holocaust to find the irony? Does China have the right to polute for the next 50 years because the West did so for the past 50?

    If X is the right thing to do, one can’t argue with the argument [there is a large set of right things to do ==> X is ironic]

    I do not support the boycott, for the same reason I do not support killing civilians in a war. Moreover, one can’t call for a suppression of academic freedom in the name of political freedom (and other sufferings).

    But, I do not find the irony in the sense you attempted to convey.

  28. Tyler DiPietro Says:

    I take a neutral position on the Israel/Palestine conflict, but I would agree with those who say that the academic boycott is counterproductive and stupid. Among other things, it gives a rather glaring appearance of antisemitism (since, out of a bazillion political quagmires on the international stage, they picked this to go to this extreme over).

  29. Jack in Danville Says:

    Scott, the greatest contribution to making the world a better place you can make right now is to publish the rest of the Democritus lectures. Only you can do that.

  30. Alex Says:

    I agree that an academic boycott is counter productive and will just increase the prevailing animosity on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. However comparing the situation of Palestinians to that of Maoris or Aborigines is way off the mark. While their current social situation is less then perfect, the historical wrongs committed against them have been generally acknowledged, officially in Australia’s case (I don’t know about New Zealand), and they have a fighting chance of getting a descent life. This is obviously not the case for Palestinians. By giving this false analogy you sidestep the issue. It is an important step towards peace for Arabs is to stop condoning terrorism (if only implicitly) and anti-semitic rhetoric and propaganda. It is also equally important for Jews, whether in America or Israel, to recognize at some point that Palestinians have been wronged and that their plight should addressed for any real longterm peace. The American government is trying to force Japan to apologize, yet completely ignores the Palestinians and people are afraid to even bring the subject up.

  31. Johan Richter Says:

    “Johan – You don’t recognize a leading party’s charter as representing the position of the individuals who voted for this party? Do you think that civilians of Nazi Germany should not have been bombed by allies forces, because “maybe they didn’t support the Nazi party”?”

    I do believe the bombings that were targeted specifically against the civilians, like Dresden, were a moral and military mistake. So yes I believe the bombing of German civilians should have been kept to a minimum. But on the other hand, I also accept that a certain amount of collateral damage was inevitable.

    Also I find your description of the occupied areas problematic. I believe Amnesty and others when they claim that Israeli army violates human rights in the occupied areas*.

    *It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a democracy did something similar. Consider the French warfare in Algeria or the US warfare in VIetnam.

  32. Elvis lives Says:

    Once and for all:
    There is NO such thing as Palestinian nationality.
    “Palestinians” are mostly descendants of late 19th century Arab immigration into historic Israel.
    Personaly, I don’t care that they’ll have their own state. But
    since they have not many things in common (if at all), and no aspiration for being an independent nation, they are right now fighting one another in the streets of Gaza. The current body count is ~20 dead people. Many innocent civilians too.

  33. PF Says:

    Academic boycott will probably target the wrong people. It’s political and economic boycott which could be effective (to stop occupation). UK academics are not able to do the latter, and so their “best” is an academic boycott. So how could academics (of any country) do their “bit” for this rather critical problem in the middle east? Encouraging Israeli universities to accept more Palestinians? Is this asking too much or too little?

  34. Scott Says:

    Scott, the greatest contribution to making the world a better place you can make right now is to publish the rest of the Democritus lectures. Only you can do that.

    They’re a-comin’…

  35. Irit Says:

    Scott wrote:

    Well, I think the occupation has been a disaster for Israel, I think Israel should unilaterally dismantle all settlements except the ones that could go behind a negotiated border, and I fervently hope there will someday be a two-state solution along the lines of the Taba proposal. In other words, by Berkeley standards, I’m an extreme right-wing Zionist. :-)

    Not one word about the Palestinians.. only that the occupation is a disaster for Israel so Israel should dismantle some of the settlements (Israel gets to choose which ones, I suppose). By Waterloo standards, are you a radical leftist?

  36. Eduard-Sa'ad Says:

    Irit,

    Not one word about current Gaza strip residents, fleeing their homes (15,000 at least) because Hamas and PLO terrorists (“militants”, for you) shooting one another? Where is your mercy? (Or is it yet another thing to blame those damn Israelis?)

  37. Ran Says:

    Recent news: Israel offers international peacekeeping force to deploy in Gaza: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200607/s1694423.htm

    I honestly can’t understand how any non-biased individual would believe that Israel is interested in an occupation that costs billions of dollars and dozens of lives annually, especially after such drastic actions as a unilateral withdrawal, supplying weapons to the Palestinian authority (Oslo accords) and suggestions of peacekeeping force. Truly staggering.

  38. Ran Says:

    Oopsi, link to wrong year in previous post, here is a fixed one…

    Recent news: Israel offers international peacekeeping force to deploy in Gaza: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L18653256.htm

    I honestly can’t understand how any non-biased individual would believe that Israel is interested in an occupation that costs billions of dollars and dozens of lives annually, especially after such drastic actions as a unilateral withdrawal, supplying weapons to the Palestinian authority (Oslo accords) and suggestions of peacekeeping force. Truly staggering.

  39. Ran Says:

    Oopsi, link to wrong year in previous post, here is a fixed one…

    Recent news: Israel offers international peacekeeping force to deploy in Gaza: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/870089.html

    I honestly can’t understand how any non-biased individual would believe that Israel is interested in an occupation that costs billions of dollars and dozens of lives annually, especially after such drastic actions as a unilateral withdrawal, supplying weapons to the Palestinian authority (Oslo accords) and suggestions of peacekeeping force. Truly staggering.

    Also, Lebanon is bombing a civilian refugee camp because militants are hiding in it. Am I getting another hypocrisy alert?

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/06/12/lebanon.assault/index.html

  40. Bernard Chazelle Says:

    Dear colleagues:

    I oppose the UCU boycott. It targets the very elements
    of Israeli society that are in fact the most likely
    to contribute to lasting peace in the region.
    It’s got dumbass wankery written all over it,
    with a smidgen of antisemitism added for fragrance.

    That said, I’d like to propose an “anti-boycott”
    specifically tailored to address the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Here is an announcement:

    I am seeking Israeli (and US) academics to join me in a series of public lectures in CS in Israel and in Al-Quds, Bethlehem, or maybe even (though probably unfeasible) Bir Zeit. Think of it as an academic boycott in reverse and a slap in the UCU’s face.

    No doubt the more compassionate among you will say that life inflicts enough misery on the Palestinians without adding, on top of it all, a lecture by me…

    Fair enough. I am under no illusion that peace in the region
    hinges on a better grasp of universal Turing machines.
    I know some Israelis will deride this project
    as appeasement. I know some Palestinians will laugh it off
    as feel-good narcissism (and, frankly, wrong though they may be, I could hardly blame them). I know everyone will think I am out of my depth — at least that part is true.

    The only political premise of this project is that
    one needs more dialogue, not less.

    Plus, for me, this beats sitting on my butt, watching my friends trade insults on CS blogs, and hoping –against all hope– that all the crap in the Middle East will just go away if only we shout loud enough.

    Email me if you’re interested or if you have better suggestions. (No need to discuss this further on this blog.)

    Thanks.

    Bernard Chazelle

  41. Irit Says:

    Bernard,

    Your anti-boycott will be a slap on the face of 113 members of the Bir Zeit university community, not just the UCU:
    http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article435

    I believe that it would be less polarizing if you just remained netral on the boycott.

    I also don’t share your view on the likely contribution of Israeli academics to peace.

  42. Erik Hetzner Says:

    The occupation was imposed on Israel by the Palestinians, and they show no intention of ending it.

    In the topsy turvy world of Ran, up is down, down is up, and the occupied impose occupation on the occupiers!

    I will address the issues that have been raised in response to my comment. I will not deal with the rest of the web of lies & distortion you have deployed: it’s simply too deep.

    The Palestinians are being given water & electricity by Israel despite the fact that their official stance is that Israel should be destroyed, and that the current state is war. Can you point to one incident in history where a nation supplied water or electricity to another nation during a war between them?

    This is pure sophistry. By this reasoning, abortion was illegal in the US until 2006, as the Republican party platform supports a ‘Human Life Amendment’ to the constitution. Hamas may have repugnant views, but these are not official stances of the Palestinian Authority.

    Second, you must decide. Is Palestine under occupation, or is it a sovereign state? If it is, as I contend, under occupation, then Israel has a responsibility to the needs of the Palestinian people. If, as you seem to be saying, it is a sovereign state, then it has the right to secure its borders and expel invaders according to the laws of war.

    I didn’t know Maori’s official charter was that all white men should be expelled from any land ever inhibited by Maoris, and that bombing civilians is a common Maori tactic for this cause.

    First, the Maori are a people, not a country. Second, see above.

    First of all, don’t ignore the dozens of genocides around the world as we speak. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the least deadly of conflicts, …

    You are muddying the waters. If you want to talk about the horrors unleashed by the US invasion of Iraq there are plently of places to do so; I am willing to grant that the 600,000 deaths as a result of the US invasion are horrific and terrible. Perhaps we can find common cause in this.

  43. Scott Says:

    Bernard, that’s a great idea! Count me as interested modulo the logistics (about which, I agree, further discussion should be done by email).

  44. Coin Says:

    I don’t see how one’s political stance should make any difference here. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Israel, an academic boycott is a rather pointless and obviously ineffective method. Surely it would not bring about any change except to slightly slow worldwide academic progress and irritate a few Israeli professors.

    The limitations of the idea of an academic boycott go super especially in the state of Israel, where the real problem (at least in my view) is not one side or the other side but the state of polarization that exists between the two sides. An academic boycott by its nature does not move toward mending or de-escalating this polarization, it just participates in the polarization on one side.

  45. israeli student Says:

    PF said: Encouraging Israeli universities to accept more Palestinians?

    Just a small correction: Not even one Palestinian student studies in an Israeli university, as far as I know. You are talking about a country and an “entity” (the Palestinian Authority) being in a de-facto state of war with each other. (kind of :) ) Citizens of one do not study in the other’s universities. (With extremely rare exceptions, I suppose).

    I tried to find a parallel in the world, but it’s hard. The US has a huge amount of, say, Iranian students. The reason I’m writing this reply is that it always makes me laugh when people suggest that we may be biased against accepting palestinians, and maybe we should accept most of them. The situation here is something that foreigners, especially Americans, don’t seem to grasp. That’s why I think that people should study more about the conflict if they want to get an educated opinion about it.

  46. PF Says:

    israeli student: “…it always makes me laugh when people suggest that we may be biased against accepting palestinians, and maybe we should accept most of them.”

    My suggestion was increasing scientific collaboration rather than implying that Israelis are biased towards Palestinians. Scientific communities are often less biased (and the boycott will probably targent the wrong people). However, I do think that there is generally, among the general public, certain levels of bias in accepting nationals of other countries (or “entities”…). This is true not only in the Israel/Palestine case, but also for any two countries X* and X. Sadly, I doubt that this “bias” will be the subject of a laughter any time soon.

    Mutual scientific collaboration (or any productive activity), if not a tall order, could perhaps increase the levels of acceptance among the general public.

  47. Michael Says:

    Erik,

    Notwithstanding the passion you feel regarding this issue, it would be best to focus on how a solution can be brought about. Recognition of Israel’s right to exist within secure borders is simply the prerequisite for any solution. Currently many Palestinians and most of the Arab world continue to mistakenly believe that “victory” can be achieved through other means. They are wrong. Once this issue is settled, I think that a Palestinian state will be established relatively quickly, and it will be widely supported internationally. However you think about the conflict and weigh the equities, no progress will be made toward any lasting peace through any other route.

  48. Erik Hetzner Says:

    Michael,

    The peace initiative of the Arab League (of which Palestine is a member), which was approved unanimously, proposes normalized relationships with Israel and certainly recognizes its existence. As for a state’s ‘right to exist’, there is no such thing. There is a state’s right to be secure in its borders, which is affirmed by the Arab League position.

    On the other hand, Israel has never recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self determination, and certainly not the right to exist of a Palestinian state.

  49. Travis Says:

    I would like to call for a boycott of Canada over its failure to establish a timely treaty process with most of the First Nations peoples. As someone who is 1/32 Native American (or maybe it’s 1/64–I forget), I am outraged that the academic community has ignored my people’s plight.

    I further suggest a collective boycott process, in which academics who believe in boycotts collectively boycott Israel (for Palestine), New Zealand (for the Maori), America (for the Native Americans), Britain (for the Americans and 1812), Canada (First Nations), Germany (WWII), France (just because), and Australia (because their ancestors were sent there for good reason, and we shouldn’t forget that). Any partial boycott of a proper subset of those nations is obviously racist.

    More seriously, I know ad hominem attacks are frowned upon, and Godwin’s Law is to be respected, but when people are calling for collective punishment of Jews can Nazi name-calling be avoided? *Should* it be avoided? Scott–can you officially suspend Godwin’s Law for this particular discussion so I can tell some of the other posters what I think of them?

    Palestine used to be a complex issue, but it’s gotten simpler: the Palestinian people have democratically elected a party (Hamas) that formally calls for the destruction of Israel. I don’t know of a clearer way the Palestinians could declare war. If it’s war they want, how can they complain if it’s war they get?

  50. Anonymous Says:

    Travis,
    Although i agree with most of what you wrote, i don’t think things have gotten simpler after the elections.

    First of all, the Plaestians are prety much in a state of civil war right now , and if Hamas sucseeds in conquering Gaza strip (seems like a matter of days), there will be two, de-facto “Palstinian authoreites”.
    Second, even though the elections were democratic (as in fair and regulated), you have to understand that the voters were largely poor, uneducated people, with little hope in political efforts, after 40 years of occupation, and without access to unbiased information. They voted for the side that would provide better education, jobs, and evan more importantly -was less corrupt.
    You have to understand that the secular Phath movement was so corrupt (think “old freinds of Yesser Arafat”), that it had no chance of winning regional elections.
    And don’t forget patriotism playd a role too – the elections were held just after the “glorious liberation” of Gaza.

    So in my opinion the situation is much more complicated now: a few years ago it seemed that everybody agrees what the solution should be ,and that each setback is something very temporary. Now, it seems that things could get much worse ,and stay that way for an indefinite amount of time.

    What we really need now, i think, is an academic boycott. :)
    “Keeping The Jews Out Of Science – solves problems around the world from ~1935!”

  51. Ran Says:

    Every anti-Israeli out there who blames Israel for the occupation (I dislike the terms “pro-Palestinian” and “pro-Isaeli”. I believe being pro one side is being pro the other as their goals of peace are mutual. Therefore someone who is biased is only anti)

    I propose a challenge (which I have proposed before and never received a reasonable answer to). You have been granted the official position of super-dictator of Israel. You have full power over Israel’s political decisions. Can you suggest a set of actions that will at least theoretically end the occupation, raise an independent Palestinian state, and end the conflict?

    Erik Hetzner –
    The occupation was imposed on Israel by the Palestinians, and they show no intention of ending it.

    In the topsy turvy world of Ran, up is down, down is up, and the occupied impose occupation on the occupiers!

    Going ad hominem will not buy you respect, quite the opposite. Also, not understanding that the occupation was imposed on Israel implies that you simply have no knowledge of the basics of the occupation’s development. While the question of whether or not Israel has the power to end the occupation is debatable (I personally believe they cannot), the fact that the Palestinians imposed it by war is self evident. It was their refusal of the UN division plan and their attempted genocide of all Jews in the middle east that lost them the war of 1948 and brought them under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation. Later, when they again attempted genocide of all Jews in 1967, the occupation became Israeli, and has remained such ever since. They had several offers of independence from Israel, but never agreed to the terms.

    The Palestinians are being given water & electricity by Israel despite the fact that their official stance is that Israel should be destroyed, and that the current state is war. Can you point to one incident in history where a nation supplied water or electricity to another nation during a war between them?

    Hamas may have repugnant views, but these are not official stances of the Palestinian Authority.

    Hamas charter includes, among other things, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” This is pretty straightforward. If you say the PA is not Hamas and should not be held liable, then I also assume you believe that the US shouldn’t be blamed for Iraq, because only the Republic party called for the war, and that China cannot be held liable for Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan or the events of Tienanmen square, because it was the communist party’s doing.

    Hamas is the leading party, actually chosen by votes, and their stance and actions thus represent the Palestinians’ stance, at least better then any other opinion you might find in the area.

    Second, you must decide. Is Palestine under occupation, or is it a sovereign state? If it is, as I contend, under occupation, then Israel has a responsibility to the needs of the Palestinian people. If, as you seem to be saying, it is a sovereign state, then it has the right to secure its borders and expel invaders according to the laws of war.

    The situation is not black or white. The Palestinians have a parliament, ministries, universities, an armed force, etc. – but they’re not a sovereign state because they always refused to accept Israel’s offers of independence. The origin of the conflict is their belief that the existence of Israel is invading, because the land was at some point controlled by Muslims. So they wage war as much as they can, while Israel keeps them at bay. The only reason there are so few casualties in this conflict is the fact that the Israeli army does a good job.

    I didn’t know Maori’s official charter was that all white men should be expelled from any land ever inhibited by Maoris, and that bombing civilians is a common Maori tactic for this cause.

    First, the Maori are a people, not a country. Second, see above.

    Why does it matter if they are a people or a country? If the Maoris where given a parliament and then elect a party that calls for expelling all white men from New Zealand, employing bombings – would you support them? Would you call the NZ government to end occupation of NZ and return to Europe?

  52. Michael Bacon Says:

    Erik said: “Israel has never recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self determination, and certainly not the right to exist of a Palestinian state”

    Virtually all reliable sources support the conclusion that the last Camp David discussions were very close to a two state solution. Israel had signed off on the proposal, and it was Arafat who at the last minute decided that he couldn’t do the deal. The book by former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross provides lots of detail on this point and I believe his report is as accurate an account as available.

    It’s not surprising, however, that Arafat in the end refused. The civil war going on currently between Palestinian factions is a clear indication of the balance of political forces on the Palestinian side, and Arafat was rightly concerned that he couldn’t sell the deal at home.

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that reasonable people must acknowledge that it is primarily (but not exclusively) the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist that stands in the way of a settlement.

    Nations do not have “rights” as such, and I agree that the “right to exist within secure borders” is not a right in that sense. It is, however, a political and military reality and without comfort in this regard, Israel would be foolish to make material unilateral concessions.

    I think that regardless of one’s view of the causes and history of the conflict, this is simply the reality of the facts on the ground, and addressing this issue is the key to moving toward a solution.

  53. Erik Hetzner Says:

    I reject your characterization of me as anti-Israeli.

    Can you suggest a set of actions that will at least theoretically end the occupation, raise an independent Palestinian state, and end the conflict?

    The answer to this question is so trival that I can only assume that you have rejected every answer as not being ‘reasonable’. However, let me say that in this case I propose that Israel adhere to UN General Assembly resolutions: A/RES/61/111, A/RES/61/112, A/RES/61/113, A/RES/61/114, A/RES/61/115, A/RES/61/116, A/RES/61/117, A/RES/61/118, and A/RES/61/119, which can all be read here.

    In the topsy turvy world of Ran, up is down, down is up, and the occupied impose occupation on the occupiers!

    Going ad hominem will not buy you respect, quite the opposite.

    This was not an ad hominem attack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Hamas charter includes, among other things, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” This is pretty straightforward. If you say the PA is not Hamas and should not be held liable, then I also assume you believe that the US shouldn’t be blamed for Iraq, because only the Republic party called for the war, and that China cannot be held liable for Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan or the events of Tienanmen square, because it was the communist party’s doing.

    Although I find repugnant the idea that a nation’s inhabitants must be held liable for the actions of the state, I am willing to grant a certain responsibility for the actions of the US in invading Iraq. I am certainly not willing to take responsibility for the the Republican party platform, or the platform of the Larouchites. If you can’t tell the difference between the platform or charter of a political party (the charter of Hamas) and the actions which are carried out by a state’s elected officials (the invasion of Iraq), I can’t help you. I don’t know much about China, but if their system is anything like the old USSR, yes, in that state the CP is so intertwined with the government that the issue is confusing. But the clashes currently occurring between Hamas & Fatah certainly give the impression that one party is not in complete control in Palestine.

    As for the rest of your mischaracterizations of Israeli history, I don’t have the time to handle them all, and this isn’t really an appropriate venue (though I fear it’s too late for that).

  54. Erik Hetzner Says:

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your response. I was trying to clarify the difference between recognizing a nation’s so-called ‘right to exist’ and its actual existence. In this case the distinction is drawn because the Palestinians have, in act and in policy, recognized Israel’s existence and its right to security within its internationally recognized borders. So, it is demanded, this is not enough, you must recognize Israel’s ‘right to exist’. Has the US ever recognized the right to exist of Mexico? No. We recognize its actual existence, not its abstract right to exist. The whole issue of ‘right to exist’ is an invention which has muddies the waters of debate & provides further reason for Israel not to accept the international consensus (see UN General Assembly resolutions above) on how to end the conflict.

    As for the Camp David accords, there exists more controversy than you think as to who was responsible for their collapse. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_2000_Summit#Reasons_for_impasse for some references.

    I don’t have the time to get into long debates about this history of the conflict, but I will continue to respond if anybody thinks that I have misrepresented the facts or made an error.

  55. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

    About self-determination: After looking at the unpopularity of more open borders in the United States, I’m getting dubious about American self determination.

  56. Ran Says:

    Erik –
    I reject your characterization of me as anti-Israeli.

    No such characterization done, actually, it was addressed to anyone who attacks Israel’s policies in the conflict.

    Can you suggest a set of actions that will at least theoretically end the occupation, raise an independent Palestinian state, and end the conflict?

    The answer to this question is so trival that I can only assume that you have rejected every answer as not being ‘reasonable’. However, let me say that in this case I propose that Israel adhere to UN General Assembly resolutions: A/RES/61/111, A/RES/61/112, A/RES/61/113, A/RES/61/114, A/RES/61/115, A/RES/61/116, A/RES/61/117, A/RES/61/118, and A/RES/61/119, which can all be read here.

    These are irrelevant to the subject, they deal mostly with human rights issue, which is important but not relevant to this discussion. I want a proposed solution to the conflict, and by “reasonable” I mean something that is not in the lines of “Announce that Israel is no longer a Jewish state and allow immigration of Arabs until they are a majority” nor in the lines of “Nuke the Palestinians”, which are the only two general types of suggestions I’ve heard that could end the conflict. If this is so trivial, let us know the exact set of actions, and we can asses whether they could work.

    This suggestion is not cynical btw, I really would like to find even a single possible solution that Israel could implement.

    In the topsy turvy world of Ran, up is down, down is up, and the occupied impose occupation on the occupiers!

    Going ad hominem will not buy you respect, quite the opposite.

    This was not an ad hominem attack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Addressing a person instead of the issue is ad hominem.

    Although I find repugnant the idea that a nation’s inhabitants must be held liable for the actions of the state, I am willing to grant a certain responsibility for the actions of the US in invading Iraq.

    This isn’t a matter of holding civilians liable for actions of their state. At no point did I suggest this, surely I wouldn’t consider an American guilty of deaths of Iraqis, nor a British guilty for the occupation of Northern Ireland.

    What I did was treat the Palestinians as a group, and attribute to that group the charter of their leaders, something you do every day when you say “Israel did A, the US does B”, etc. If the Palestinians’ elected leaders wedge war against Israel, then the Palestinians are at war with Israel. You can’t say that just because they don’t have an official country, that means their leader’s actions are not representative of the people, and that the Palestinians actually want peace. Maybe some Palestinians don’t want the war. Maybe some Americans don’t want Iraq. Maybe some Chinese don’t want Tibet. But their countries’ leaders decided otherwise, and they are stuck with the consequences (like it or not).

  57. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    Joseph Hertzlinger:

    I live in greater Los Angeles, which some activists consider occupied territory, along with parts of Arizona, Texas, and other states. With all due respect for my Hispanic students, whom I have enjoyed teaching at colleges and universities, and shall be teaching in a local High School this summer (as Summer School Math teacher), please allow me to mention the below. Should there be ana academic boycott of Southern California universities, including Caltech, USC, UCLA, and the like?

    MEChA stands for “Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.” or “Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.”

    MEChA is an Hispanic separatist organization that encourages anti-American activities and civil disobedience. The radical members of MEChA who refer to themselves as “Mechistas,” romanticize Mexican claims to the “lost Territories” of the Southwestern United States — a Chicano country called Aztlan. In its national constitution, MEChA calls for self-determination by its members to liberate Aztlan. MEChA’s national constitution starts out: “Chicano and Chicana students of Aztlán must take upon themselves the responsibilities to promote Chicanismo within the community, politicizing our Raza with an emphasis on indigenous consciousness to continue the struggle for the self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlán.”

  58. Michael Bacon Says:

    I think this ongoing war of “analogies” is misguided and does not get to the real issue.

    Erik said: “But the clashes currently occurring between Hamas & Fatah certainly give the impression that one party is not in complete control in Palestine.”

    This is the correct and understanding this dynamic is central to understanding why so little progress has been made.

    No one seems to dispute that Hamas (and many others in the Arab world, including a good many in Fatah) explicitly call for the destruction of Israel, and as a result are unable to adopt philosophically a two state approach or to make the types of concrete compromises necessary to help resolve the situation and bring closer the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    It is impossible to achieve a two state solution while actively calling for and taking actions to bring about the destruction of one of those states.

    So long as this is the approach of so many Palestinians, there will be no progress, notwithstanding other obstacles that are not Palestinian created.

  59. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

    I think of the Aztlan people as a special case of anti-immigration activist, except they’re more opposed to people crossing oceans than land boundaries.

  60. Scott Says:

    The Nation of Aztlan is also a pioneer in the relatively young field of Hispanic antisemitism. Most comically, a couple years ago Aztlan websites and email lists announced their spectacular discovery that many grocery store items contain secret markings on the packaging — for example, a small “K” or an encircled “U” — to indicate that the manufacturer paid an extortion tax to the international Jewish cabal.

  61. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    The Nation of Aztlan is not a joke. Dr. G. David Brin, PhD in Astrophysics, who left Academia to live the lovely life of a best-selling science fiction author, has a talented brother who lost his academic job when he tangled with what he describes as a combination of The Nation of Aztlan and Communist professors. I omit the name of the college, to protect the guilty. Nationalism and subnationalism is, unfortunately, often linked with antisemitism, and similar virulent memes. Dave Brin’s father, the late Herb Brin, is eulogized by Dave:

    “… When the first issue of Heritage rolled off the press, Herb Brin inscribed above the masthead of his fledgling newspaper the words, ‘Justice, Justice Shalt Thou Pursue….’ The prophet’s noble admonition was a hot, living reality to Brin, translated into action every week on the editorial pages of his four California newspapers.”

    “The pursuit of justice would take him from the slums of Chicago to the glitterati of Hollywood, from civil rights marches to the crematoriums of Auschwitz, from international summit conferences to the Eichmann trial, from the silent Jews of Moscow to the 1967 battlefields of Israel. And along the way, he would put his pen to some of the most vivid, passionate poetry and prose of our time….”

    “How a journalist, how an editor could also be a brilliant poet is a source of astonishment – and of gratitude.”
    — Elie Wiesel

    See:

    http://www.davidbrin.com/herbbrin.html

  62. Erik Hetzner Says:

    These are irrelevant to the subject, they deal mostly with human rights issue, which is important but not relevant to this discussion.

    Human rights are irrelevant to the issue? This is a stunning statement. Human rights are the issue. A settlement will never be possible without adherence to human rights; the human rights violations are the obstacle. The occupation, which is a violation of international law, as reiterated in these UN general assembly resolutions, and the human rights violations that emerge from the occupation, are the fundamental obstacles to a settlement of the issues. This is acknowledged by the entire world, with the exception of the US and Israel governments and those of a few tiny island states.

  63. Irit Says:

    Ran wrote:

    by “reasonable” I mean something that is not in the lines of “Announce that Israel is no longer a Jewish state and allow immigration of Arabs until they are a majority” nor in the lines of “Nuke the Palestinians”, which are the only two general types of suggestions I’ve heard that could end the conflict.

    It seems that for Ran, not living in “a Jewish state” with “a Jewish majority” is the equivalent of being nuked.

  64. Bernard Chazelle Says:

    Irit: I am not sure I understand your reasoning but I would love to hear more from you. If you have the time, an email to me would be great. Thanks.

    I knew about Bir Zeit, which is why I said I was not hopeful about a trip to Ramallah.
    But Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds, is open to such initiatives. In fact, he has signed a statement with Menachem Magidor (Hebrew U prez) condemning academic boycotts. By luck, I happen to have contacts with both of them. So, who knows? Things might actually happen…

    Could this initiative unwittingly turn me into Bibi’s useful idiot? (A nightmare scenario for me.) I don’t believe that, but I cannot yet completely rule it out, so any Israeli who believes this is genuinely a bad idea, please let me know. Your views matter a lot to me (even if I end up disagreeing).

    Scott: I am adding you to my list and will keep you posted about future developments.

  65. John Says:

    Addressing a person instead of the issue is ad hominem.

    I hate to be pedantic, but a mere insult is not an ad hominem in itself. The fallacy depends on the relation between the insult and the subsequent argumentation. In other words, saying, as Erik Hetzner did, something like “your arguments stink, therefore you are an idiot” is not an ad hominem. Saying “you’re an idiot, therefore your arguments stink,” on the other hand, would be.

    As for the original post by Scott: amusing and clever, yes, but obviously disingenuous. The current Israeli-Palestinian is of great importance to a huge number of people, not least the Palestinians. The Maori conflict is, by contrast, not even interesting to most Maoris. But indeed, if you do find me a couple of millions of Maoris who are so troubled by the current state of affairs in New Zealand that they regularly throw rocks at causasians, engage politically, and even blow themselves up in protest, then we can talk. Until then, all you have is a meaningless and highly strained analogy.

    Also, do note that there really is a current debate in NZ about giving back land that was confiscated from Maoris long ago. It’s a good cause to support. However, most people naturally don’t see this as equal in importance to the situation in Israel. I doubt even Maoris see it that way.

    Please don’t interpret this as some sort of “anti-Israel” rant. I don’t believe there are any sensible simple stances to take on this issue anymore, and I wouldn’t support this boycott. All I’m saying is that the analogy doesn’t help the debate.

  66. wolfgang Says:

    > if you do find me a couple of millions of Maoris who are so troubled by the current state of affairs in New Zealand that they regularly throw rocks at causasians, engage politically, and even blow themselves up in protest, then we can talk.

    So, basically your are saying that we have to care about terrorists, but not so much about people who do not even blow themselves up ?

    > don’t interpret this as some sort of “anti-Israel” rant.
    Of course not…

  67. Bernard Chazelle Says:

    John: Not sure if you meant it that way, but your comment has great comic potential.

    FOCS business meeting 2010:

    Me: “1+1=2, therefore we should have the next FOCS in Barbados!”

    David Johnson: “Bernard, your argument stinks, therefore you are an idiot!”

    Me: “Should I take this personally?”

    David Johnson: “Yes.”

    Me: “Is this an ad hominem?”

    David Johnson: “Go find out on Scott’s blog!”

  68. Bernard Chazelle Says:

    For those of you who don’t know David Johnson, I should rush to add that he’s just the nicest guy and I am only using his name because he’s a famous computer scientist who probably attended every FOCS meeting since the Jurassic period (even though, of course, he’s still very young…)

  69. John Says:

    Wolfgang, no, what I claim is merely that the length Palestinians are willing to go to suggests that their current situation, whether self-inflicted or not, is a more acute affair than that of the Maoris. I didn’t condone their actions or in any way suggest that they were helping. In retrospect this was probably an unfortunate strategy, as someone was bound to interpret it maliciously. It would probably have better simply to say that the problems Palestinians have to deal with in daily life (checkpoints, house demolitions, discrimination, missile attacks, etc) are more severe than those Maoris have to deal with. Again, this says nothing about the extent to which those problems are self-inflicted, or avoidable, just that the situations are disanalogous to the point where a comparison isn’t very helpful. When the purpose of the comparison is to make an argument, it strays into the territory of the disingenuous.

    As for your final remark, instead of merely being snarky, it would help if you could specify what you interpret as an an argument against Israel or Israeli policies in my post.

    Bernard Chazelle, I’m not sure if you’re mocking me or not, but no, I didn’t intend it as some kind of joke. I didn’t come up with the definition of “ad hominem.” If you think it should be defined some other way, you have to argue with some dead Greek guy, not me. Don’t shoot the messenger.

  70. the reader from Istanbul Says:

    Houmbolt E. said:

    “Could someone tell me what about the Turkish occupation in Cyprus? I think this is Apartheid.”

    Let me educate you. During the formation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, a Treaty of Guarantee, designed to preserve the territorial independence of the new state, was signed. The guarantor powers (the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Greece) promised not to seek annexation of Cyprus, and to assist their communities on Cyprus in the event of major clashes between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots did not like the idea of coexisting with the Turkish Cypriots, and wanted to annex the island to Greece. In July 1974, fanatic Greek Cypriots officially backed by the ruling military junta in Greece staged a coup d’etat to realize that goal. Great numbers of Turkish Cypriots were massacred and buried in mass graves. (That had started about 10 years ago, and things had been escalating all that time.) As a result, Turkey intervened militarily, obeying the Treaty of Guarantee. The Greek Cypriots called this an occupation and successfully isolated the Turkish part of the island from all the rest of the world (now *there*’s a boycott that’s been in effect for more than 30 years). In 2004, a UN plan that involved the reunification of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot states and the pullout of the Turkish military was put to referenda in both ministates on the island. The Turks accepted, but the Greeks REJECTED the plan, since, as mentioned above, they don’t want to live together with the Turks. The international community said the Turks were right and the Greeks were wrong for about two days, and then, as is usually the case when one of the sides of an international disagreement is a Muslim nation and the other is a Judeo-Christian one, they conveniently forgot about the referenda and went back to support the Greek side.

    So if it is Apartheid, it is done by the Greeks against the Turks.

  71. Ran Says:

    @Erik – Human rights are irrelevant to the issue? This is a stunning statement. Human rights are the issue.

    Inherently false. If the occupation causes violations of human rights, then ending the occupation will cause the end of the violations. The other way around is not necessarily true (see the occupation in N. Ireland or east Timor – much further from ending, although human rights violations are much less prominent)

    That is why I ask for a solution to the occupation, not to it’s symptoms. Note that neither yourself nor any other commenter have suggested such a hypothetical solution. Apparently, everyone is so busy blaming Israel, that no time is left to think of whether Israel could actually do something differently.

    the human rights violations that emerge from the occupation, are the fundamental obstacles to a settlement of the issues.

    No. The war existed before the occupation, and the occupation was before human rights violations. The fundamental obstacles to settlement of the issues is the apparently unbridgeable gap between Palestinian position and Israeli position on several key issues.

    Again, human rights violation are merely a symptom of the occupation and the terrorist activities within it. After ambulance, press vehicles, pregnant women and young children were all used for terrorist attack, its no wonder that the soldiers in these areas become edgy and trigger happy, and its no wonder that they impose strict order. They just want to survive, and when your life is at stake, human rights appear less important to you. Basic hierarchy of needs.

  72. Michael Bacon Says:

    Given the news out of Gaza today, it looks like the Palestinians have adopted their own “two state” solution. One for Hamas and the other for Fatah.

  73. Erik Hetzner Says:

    Ran:

    If you’d read the UN resolutions, you would have read:

    1. Reaffirms that Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development;

    Dismantling of the settlements, which are all illegal, would be a useful first step to settlement.

    I will no longer participate in your rigged game. You have made up your mind. You are not to be convinced, and I don’t have the time to refute every lie that Israel and it’s supporters have conjured up in the last 40 years.

  74. Michael Bacon Says:

    Erik said: “Dismantling of the settlements, which are all illegal, would be a useful first step to settlement.”

    Israel has unilaterally dismantled some settlements, and the recent failed Camp David negotiations included trade-offs of some existing settlements for other land, which practically is the only way a deal can get done.

    But this misses the point — no reasonable person could believe that any unilateral concessions by Israel would result in Hamas, and those who support and think like Hamas, abandoning their explicitly stated and actively pursued goal of destroying Israel. Until this changes, there will be no path to peace.

    The current Hamas offensive and the very real possibility of Hamas controlling Gaza only highlights this point and makes the possibility of a negotiated solution even more remote.

  75. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

    Opposing the settlements sounds quite a bit like trying to keep people from moving into the “wrong” neighborhood.

  76. Ran Says:

    Erik – Dismantling of the settlements, which are all illegal, would be a useful first step to settlement.

    Illegal depends on whom you ask. These lands were never inhibited by Arabs nor were they ever under Palestinian control. Israelis built homes in deserted areas which were conquered from Egypt and Jordan in a war. It’s true that settling in conquered lands is illegal (doesn’t bother the UK in Gibraltar or N. Ireland), but Egypt and Jordan later denounced their interest in these lands when they signed the peace treaties with Israel. So the exact legal status of these lands today is not defined, as it doesn’t fall under any existing law.

    Besides, throwing away the people who live there just because they happen to be Jewish or Israeli is kind of racist, wouldn’t you think? I mean, if someone lives in a settlement in the west bank and they change their religion to Muslim and say they are Palestinian, does this mean they suddenly have the right to be there? And if a Palestinian in the west bank converts to Judaism and gets an Israeli citizenship, this means he will have to be deported from the west bank from the home he built on land his ancestors paid for? These are not trivial questions. We should consider them deeply before we decide on what is right and what is wrong.

    But lets assume that you do this, and throw away hundreds of thousands of people from their houses, a humanitarian disaster, but indeed feasible (as we’ve seen in smaller scale in Gaza). According to the Palestinian leaders, this will still not mean the end of the conflict (even Fatah who are more moderate have many more demands), and judging by the Gaza case, it will increase violence from Hamas etc. who will claim victory and that violence against Israeli civilians worked into frightening Israel out of the west bank.

    So you’ll now have hundred thousands dislocated, plus increased rocketfire into Israeli cities killing Israeli civilians. The Israeli army would probably retaliate and Palestinian civilians will also die. How does this improve the situation?

    I will no longer participate in your rigged game. You have made up your mind. You are not to be convinced, and I don’t have the time to refute every lie that Israel and it’s supporters have conjured up in the last 40 years.

    I’ve made up my mind because of you. This is the fourth time or so that I’ve asked commenters and writers of blogs for a feasible solution, and got none. It makes me see that while you enjoy Israel-bashing, you are not really interested in finding a solution to the conflict.

    Wow, you said that Israel lies (and previously that I lie). Seems like a fun game, I say you lie twice! Ain’t that mature.

    I’ve stated before, I’m really interested in a solution. But if you can’t give one that will even hypothetically work, what makes you think that Israel can?

  77. Ran Says:

    Erik – last note. You wrote “you have made up your mind”, but in no point in any comment did I say something beyond the scope of “we have a serious problem that doesn’t have a unilateral simple solution”. It’s possible that there exists a solution, it’s possible that it’s unilateral, it’s possible that its simple. But as long as you can’t find one, seems like we agree.

  78. Bernard Chazelle Says:

    John: Just joking. Honest. (I thought this thread could use a a little levity :-)

  79. Eyal Rozenberg Says:

    Hmph. A lot of the comments here, and perhaps Scott Aaronson’s attitude as well, only help to convince me that a boycott – albeit a symbolic one which doesn’t really hold up – might be a good idea after all as a rejection of all of the ridiculous claims which aim to trivialize the issue or legitimize Zionism.

    BTW, as for Nusseibeh, he’s one of the more prominent collaborators with Israel, more willing to sell out his people than even the Fatah leadership (which is now paying some of the political price for its past conduct). Also, even as an Israeli and regardless of the Palestinian issue, I would be worried to see anybody’s signature next to shameless people such as Magidor, who with the other heads of Israeli universities were active in breaking the recent student strike (and are now refusing to pay the academic staff for the extra work due to the extension of the semester).

    As for the Maori, see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Waitangi_claims_and_settlements
    I’m not very well familiar with the Maori cause myself, and if Maori organizations would call for some form of another of solidarity against oppression/racism/etc., I would probably be inclined to oblige them.

  80. wolfgang Says:

    Are you *the* Eyal Rozenberg, revolutionary anarchist and author of “just deserter” ?
    In this case you should certainly sign the boycott…

  81. Eyal Rozenberg Says:

    Well, yes, I am him… I thought nobody read Harper’s, maybe it’s more popular than I imagined. Anyway, I haven’t signed. Like I wrote at the complexity blog:
    http://weblog.fortnow.com/2007/06/petition-against-boycott-of-israel.html
    I’m of two minds about it.

  82. Oyster Says:

    Scott, this is brilliant. Can I snarf it?

  83. Scott Says:

    OK!

  84. Shmuel Says:

    What about boycotting the Maori for their genocide of the Maoriori? (Didn’t you guys read “Guns Germs and Steel”?)

  85. Links for July 1st — Daily Ideas Says:

    […] Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » In support of an academic boycott – Academic boycotts: Let’s hit New Zealand! […]