These are now about more than tuition. They have become a cry for social solidarity and against the whole neo-liberal agenda.
A collections of my thoughts on Israel, Judaism, Politics and other stuff
I just heard your interview with Peter Beinart and Daniel Gordis on how anti-liberal values will or will not alienate Diaspora Jews from a connection with Israel. As a synagogue going Canadian Jew (and also an Israeli citizen who has served in the Israeli military) I was fascinated by the discussion, but surprised that this, of all things, is the aspect of Israel/Palestine conflict that CBC chose to discuss on air.
Surely, for most Canadians, the crux of the Israel/Palestinian issue is not – and should not be - how Israeli policy will affect Jewish continuity in the Diaspora, but rather how it will or will not bring peace and justice – most specifically how the injustices of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and the daily suffering it bring to the Palestinians, can be ended.
Peter Beinart correctly pointed out that Israel’s policy in the West Bank are odious and undemocratic. As he alluded to in the on air interview, and states more specifically in his book, Beinart calls the occupied terrifies “undemocratic Israel.” He correctly points out that Israel is a democracy for only half of the people under its control – maintaining a 45 year long military occupation of several million Palestinians: one that privileges Jewish settlers over indigenous Palestinians in dozens of ways, most significantly in granting Jews the vote while denying it to Palestinians in neighbouring villages and neighbourhoods. Yet Beinart’s major problem with this is not that it is simply unjust unfair and the cause of huge suffering to the Palestinians, but rather that such actions will alienate young Jews in North America. Such narcissism is sadly too common in the current Jewish community – which not so long ago was more known for its commitment to universal justice, and progressive values.
Finally I would point out that Beinart says toward the end of the interview – and I am paraphrasing here – that he opposes those that want Israel to become a “secular bi-national state” that loses it’s legally binding Jewish character. But isn’t that exactly the kind of state that Canada claims to be – founded on bi-nationalism, secular (with no privileging of religion), and multi-cultural: where all ethnic religious groups can survive and thrive: develop their cultures and practice their religions together. If it’s good enough for Canada – and, I might point out, most Canadian Jews strongly support this multi-cultural vision of Canada – why isn’t it appropriate for Israel?
"Pro-Palestinian activists are planning to take a year-long legal battle which has brought into question the connection between anti-Israel protest and anti-Semitism to the European Court of Human Rights. The Scottish High Court refused to take into account the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories when upholding on Tuesday a previous ruling that an attack on a Jewish student's room last year was racially-motivated.
The appeal was over the case of an American exchange student from Yeshiva University, Chanan Reitblat, who was studying for one term at St Andrews University in eastern Scotland. Last March, two fellow students entered Reitblat's room to visit a friend of theirs who had shared the room and passed out drunk. They noticed a large flag of Israel that Reitblat had on his wall, and one of them, opened his trouser, rubbed his hands over his genitals and then rubbed them over the flag. Reitblat claimed that they had called him a terrorist and one of them urinated in the sink.
Five months later, a local Sheriff's Court convicted one of the students, Paul Donnachie, of a racist "breach of the peace" and sentenced him to a 300 pound fine and 150 hours of community service. ...."Unfortunately, though the court may have come to the right conclusion, it did not publish its reasons, and therefore the dividing line between legitimate protest and racism is still not clearly drawn.
"But Donnachie did not accept the Sheriff's ruling saying, "This is a ridiculous conviction. I'm a member of anti-racism campaigns, and I am devastated that as someone who was fought against racism I have been tarnished in this way." ...
... Donnachie appealed to the Scottish High Court of Criminal Appeal, claiming that while his behavior towards Reitblat was personally unacceptable, his conduct had not been racist or anti-Semitic, but rather a legitimate political protest against Israeli policies, ... [claiming] that there had been a miscarriage of justice when the Sheriff refused to hear ... the conditions in Israel and the Occupied Territories. On Tuesday, the three judges of the High Court in Edinburgh refused to overturn the verdict and sentence ....
The ruling has been hailed by Jewish organizations in Britain.... “The Jewish Community and Jewish Student Community welcome today’s definitive court ruling that abusing a Jewish student due to his identification with Israel is criminal and racialist in nature. Interest in or identification with Israel and support for its legitimate welfare and right to exist is an integral part of Jewish identity of the mainstream Jewish community.” ...
The head of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Mick Napier, said following the High Court ruling that "we will continue to pursue this case through every possible legal avenue, including the European Court of Human Rights. The initial conviction was absurd, all the hostilities by Donnachie were against Israeli state symbol."
Napier insisted there was nothing anti-Semitic about the attack. .... 'A national flag is a political symbol and an Israeli flag is provocation to people who see it as a symbol of a terrorist state.' "So who is right? When does political protest become racism? Is the official British Jewish Community response correct when they say: "Interest in or identification with Israel and support for its legitimate welfare and right to exist is an integral part of Jewish identity of the mainstream Jewish community.” and therefore it should be immune from criticism or acts of protest? Or is the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign correct when they say "A national flag is a political symbol and an Israeli flag is provocation to people who see it as a symbol of a terrorist state", and therefore is a legitimate target for protest?
The Israeli Embassy in London said following the ruling that "it means that a man who rubs his genitals and waves them around cannot be considered taking part in political protest. It is doubtful that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign can conform to this new level of political discourse.""As is often the case lately, the Israeli foreign ministry misses the point and just makes itself look ridiculous. At least Donnachie had the excuse of being drunk.