Sunday, October 14, 2007

Minnesotans Against (some) Terrorism

In an op ed in today's Star Tribune, Mark Rotenberg tells us the Important Lessons to be learned for l'affaire Tutu. Among them is this:

Another lesson is about jumping to conclusions without evidence. Tutu's canceled invitation received international notoriety because many thought it was part of a pattern of widespread Jewish pressure to censor Israel's critics.

But President Dease demolished that idea. "I was under no pressure from any pro-Israeli groups or individuals, nor did I receive any requests from them to refrain from inviting Archbishop Tutu to speak," he declared. That an esteemed Catholic university leader would feel compelled to make such a public denial is sad testimony to an upsurge of sinister theories about Jewish power in America today.

The truth is that university campuses are awash with anti-Israel sentiment. Harsh critics of Israel -- including diverse Israeli and American Jewish voices -- are commonplace in academic settings. Their books receive broad popular attention in the United States, and their perspectives dominate international forums. It takes no courage to be an Israel basher and no effort to find anti-Israel literature and speakers on college campuses, in the media and on the Web. Those who bewail secret Jewish influences in American politics are not describing reality, but are dabbling in a dangerous cesspool of prejudice.

Mark Rotenberg is, boys and girls, full of doo doo. The "secret Jewish influences?"  These influences are quite open. This is from an article on the Zionist Orgnization of America's website that Spot linked to earlier:

The decision of a number of American universities to invite Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a featured speaker is deeply troubling, in view of Tutu’s long record of statements comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and complaining about what he called “Jewish arrogance.”

. . .

Speaking in a Connecticut church, Tutu said that “the Jews thought they had a monopoly on God; Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” In the same speech, he compared the features of the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the features of the apartheid system in South Africa. (Hartford Courant, Oct. 29, 1984) Tutu has also asserted that “the Jewish people with their traditions, religion and long history of persecution sometimes appear to have caused a refugee problem among others.” (South African Zionist Record, July 26, 1985)

. . .

Tutu has also openly compared Israel to Hitler and apartheid: “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa … I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about … “I say why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? … The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust. Injustice and oppression will never prevail.” (Ha’aretz, April 29, 2002)

It takes a lotta damn gall, make that chutzpa, Rotenberg, to claim, as you do, that criticism of Israel is "dabbling in a dangerous cesspool of prejudice." The rhetoric of Israeli apologists like Rotenberg becomes more shrill and clumsy as the case against Israel's treatment of the Palestinians builds and becomes more apparent to the American public. Israel is apparently desperate enough to enlist the help of the apocalyptic fools in the American evangelical community. [thanks to Eva Young for the link]

And what should you make of the claim that no one pressured St. Thomas to "uninvite" Desmond Tutu? How about this:

"We had heard some things he said that some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy," says Doug Hennes, St. Thomas's vice president for university and government relations. "We're not saying he's anti-Semitic. But he's compared the state of Israel to Hitler and our feeling was that making moral equivalencies like that are hurtful to some members of the Jewish community."

St. Thomas officials made this inference after Hennes talked to Julie Swiler, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

"I told him that I'd run across some statements that were of concern to me," says Swiler. "In a 2002 speech in Boston, he made some comments that were especially hurtful."

During that speech, titled "Occupation Is Oppression," Tutu lambasted the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians in occupied territories. While a transcription clearly suggests his criticism was aimed at the Israeli government ("We don't criticize the Jewish people," he said during the speech. "We criticize, we will criticize when they need to be criticized, the government of Israel"), pro-Israeli organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America went on the offensive and protested campus appearances by Tutu, accusing him of anti-Semitism.

This is from the same speech quoted by the Zionist Organization of American and linked above.

The City Pages article continues:

Hennes says the input officials received from "the Jewish community" in this case was confined to Swiler and a few rabbis teaching within St. Thomas's Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. "I think there's a consensus in the Jewish community that his words were offensive," Swiler reiterates.

That was news to Marv Davidov, an adjunct professor within the Justice and Peace Studies program.

"As a Jew who experienced real anti-Semitism as a child, I'm deeply disturbed that a man like Tutu could be labeled anti-Semitic and silenced like this," he says. "I deeply resent the Israeli lobby trying to silence any criticism of its policy. It does a great disservice to Israel and to all Jews."

Marv Davidov is apparently one of those "self-hating Jews" you read about once in a while, boys and girls!

As a Minnesotan against terrorism, Mr. Rotenberg, let Spot ask you a question: how is Jewish terrorism against the British during its occupation of Palestine any different than Palestinian terrorism against Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands? You would perhaps find it useful to read a little on Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative.

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