Friday, February 8, 2013

The HuffPost's Latest Defense of BDS

The Huffington Post will never publish an unbiased point of view on BDS, as we have long known. What I did not expect was for them to fight tooth and nail in favor of it, without actually coming out an endorsing it. In a follow up to Johnathan Weiler's essay-length smear campaign on Alan Dershowitz, a brand new Huffington Post blogger named Kristofer Petersen-Overton (not exactly unbiased either, as we will discuss) has been recruited by the Huffington Post to spread more lies about BDS and the controversy surrounding it. Just as a heads up, he uses many of the same tactics.

He begins with the usual intros and claims that "academic freedom" is under attack, before getting into lying about what exactly this event is:
"[BDS critics havemanaged to transform a standard panel discussion on a controversial issue into a cause for pious outrage."
A boilerplate lie by omission. As Petersen admits himself, there are only two people on the panel: Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. So there will be no "discussion" about BDS taking place. There will be advocacy for BDS, lies about Israel, and propaganda. There is nothing about it to indicate that there is a "standard panel discussion" is ridiculous. A discussion usually involves more than one perspective on an issue. But as Petersen has so helpfully told us, this is pushing hate and intolerance. Academic freedom does not require a college to give money to assist in such an event. But don't worry, he has some spin for that as well, after lying about BDS some more:
"BDS has made enormous strides in the last few years as a nonviolent form of resistance to Israel's occupation, so it shouldn't be surprising that student activists at Brooklyn College would seek to host a discussion on the tactic....One does not simply... criticize Israel at Brooklyn College. I know this better than I'd like to."
If you don't know what BDS is really about, you should not be writing articles about it in the Huffington Post or anywhere else. BDS is not "resistance" to the "occupation," as it also demands that all ten million Palestinians have a "right of return" to Israel. The leaders of BDS freely admit their goal is to destroy Israel, not merely end the occupation. Norman Finkelstein even admitted this, so don't tell me that Petersen knows better than he does. He's simply lying to his audience, and this is compounded when he claims that no one can "criticize" Israel. If the only criticism that you ever engage in is calling for Israel's destruction, then yeah you might run into some problems. Cry me a river.

At this point Petersen stops lying and actually comes clean: his role in this is because he is a fan of the Palestinians and doesn't like Dov Hiskind. Let's hear his story (emphasis mine):
"Exactly two years ago, after reading an unpublished paper I presented at a major political science conference on the subject of martyrdom and Palestinian nationalism, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind crudely denounced me as an "overt supporter of terrorism," launched a highly orchestrated campaign of old-fashioned character assassination, and managed to pressure the Brooklyn College administration into rescinding my appointment as an adjunct lecturer there that semester. I had been hired to teach a graduate seminar on the politics of the Middle East but my past affiliation with a human rights organization based in the Gaza Strip (not to mention my longstanding support for Palestinian self-determination) inspired Hikind and a cohort of sanctimonious witch hunters to spend their time smearing me as an anti-Semite and petitioning to block me from the classroom. 
To make matters worse, Hikind invoked liberal language to justify my firing. In a letter to Brooklyn College President Karen Gould, Hikind lamented my alleged failure to fulfill the "the responsibility of a true academic," which, he argued, is "to remain objective in imparting information and to allow students to draw their own conclusions." Though I had yet to teach a single session of the course, I was apparently too dangerous to be around students."
Just going by the information contained here, Petersen may not be an anti-Semite or a supporter of terrorism but he definitely isn't objective. What he didn't mention here was that he worked for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a well known supporter of terror and propaganda against Israel, as a research assistant no less.

Now let's get into whether Petersen is in fact a terrorism supporter. As always, let's go to his own words and you can draw your own conclusions:
"The ideals of struggle and sacrifice permeate the discourse of martyrdom in Palestine. Since the staggering heights of carnage experienced during the second Intifada, martyrdom has saturated Palestinian society at an unprecedented level. The life and individual story of any one martyr is typically subsumed within the deluge of nationalist imagery, which shores up a generalized idea of national sacrifice. Nevertheless, the status of martyrdom in Palestinian society really cannot be overstated. The term very martyr (shahid), lends a sacred nod of legitimacy to the national cause. In a vivid portrait of the national-biological connection discussed in the first section, the martyr’s reward is reunification in death with the land denied to it in life."
Petersen may not support suicide bombers, but it sure comes off that way, and he doesn't exactly say this is a bad thing either. Regardless, when it comes to the Palestinians and the Israelis, he sure isn't impartial, as this latest article shows even more clearly.

But let's get back to this story, because Petersen has some more indefensible people to defend:
"Now the same unpleasant characters that made my life a living hell for one long week two years ago are at it again. Dov Hikind was quoted recently making hysterical (and unfounded) claims that Barghouti and Butler "call for the destruction of the State of Israel."
Omar Barghouti once famously said: “The two-state solution is not only impossible to achieve now — Israel has made it an absolute pipe dream that cannot happen — but also, crucially, an immoral solution. At best it would address some of the rights of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, a mere one-third of the Palestinian people" and later that, "You cannot practically reconcile the right of return for refugees with a negotiated two-state solution”. So if you're against the two state solution, what do you have left? The destruction of the state of Israel. And if Petersen was honest, he would point this out.

As for Butler, she called Hamas a "social movement," which I think alone makes her disqualified to teach anyone about anything. Petersen may not be a terrorist supporter, but he's a terrorist supporter supporter. Which is not a whole lot better if you ask me.

At this point he launches into some personal attacks on Alan Dershowitz, just like his friend Weiler, and continues against his personal nemesis Dov Hiskind. I really don't care about any of that, if we can just get back to the issue that would be great. 
"It has somehow become acceptable -- even admirable! -- to challenge the basic legitimacy of political speech on university campuses by offering pious reflections on "balance." This completely misses the point: the subject matter of the panel discussion is completely irrelevant. The real debate is not about BDS; it is about academic freedom and the freedom of expression."
Really? It's about academic freedom? So tell me this, Petersen: If the KKK decided to host a propaganda event at Brooklyn College, and the political department gave them money to do it, would you be out here saying what you are saying now? What about pro-Israel academics like Robert Spencer or Geert Wilders? Like other Huffington Post bloggers who have come before you, it's kind of amazing that your commitment to academic freedom only appears when it defends people that you also happen to agree with.

BDS is really good at making themselves look like victims, and Petersen is no slouch at doing it either. But he has it exactly backwards: It's never been about academic freedom and has always been about BDS. More specifically, about Brooklyn College giving money to a propaganda hatefest while still claiming to be impartial. They should do what Petersen and the Huffington Post do, and not even bother to pretend otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Well researched, well written and well done. Thank you.


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