Intro to ‘Reality Check’
By Editor John R. Houk
© January 29, 2014
The essay “Reality Check” exposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) as an anti-Semitic movement. The irony of BDS is the amazing amount of Jews and Christians that support it. BDS essentially claims the land more properly called Judea-Samaria (aka West Bank) is to be ignored as part of Jewish heritage and is to be reconstituted as an independent Arab nation called Palestine. Hence Israeli control of the area originally stolen by Jordan in 1948 and recaptured in 1967 is a land of military occupation. The BDS Movement goal is to get nations, corporations, companies, universities, NGOs and individuals to withdraw any investment whether financial or in donation to Israel until Israel complies with the perception that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) end the so-called occupation of Judea-Samaria. Arab Muslims – especially the ones that call themselves Palestinians – not only desires the IDF to leave Judea-Samaria but also for the Jewish State of Israel to end. If you have ever paid attention to Palestinian education and media that means exterminating Jews and turning Israel into a Palestinian State with all Jews exterminated or deported.
The essay focuses on one of the founders of the BDS Movement. This is Omar Barghouti, a Muslim born in Qatar (Wahhabi/Muslim Brotherhood affinity) and an apparent citizen of Egypt who actually earned degrees from Tel Aviv University while simultaneously preaching and teaching hate of Jewish Israelis.
The essay author focuses on responses to Barghouti’s recent speech at UCLA promoting BDS and questioning the right of Jews to exist in Israel. One response is from Roberta Seid, PHD and Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller. Seid is a pro-Zionist supporter of Israel and Seidler-Feller is a volatile BDS promoting Leftist Jew (meaning a self-loather). The responses penned by these are “Omar Barghouti at UCLA: A speaker who brings hate” and “Omar Barghouti at UCLA: No to BDS, no to occupation”. As you will read Seidler-Feller’s title is a bit deceptive.
By Ari Bussel
Sent: Jan 28, 2014 at 9:07 PM
“I have often wondered what Jews or decent people could have done to push back against the anti-Semitic propaganda of 1930s Germany,” says my friend, Dr. Roberta Seid, the historian and scientific advisor of Stand With Us.
Seid was describing an event at my alma-mater, UCLA, where the speaker, Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, was “on the road again with his anti-Israel show and its pack of bigotry and lies.”
I wholeheartedly recommend Seid’s opinion piece, “A Speaker who Brings Hate.” It is a must reading for anyone who has never attended an anti-Israel event, Barghouti being one of the more poignantly memorable of the pack, albeit not an exception by any measure.
Standing stubbornly against Seid’s piece is UCLA Hillel’s Rabbi, our very own Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller. I must admit I was misled for a second, as I read the opening sentence: “BDS is poison and Omar Barghouti is its purveyor.” I should have known, even before reading his piece, that this is the same Rabbi Chaim I have known for years, for a leopard does not change his spots.
Oh, Rabbi Chaim is good, very good indeed. Mid-way through, he repeats the Chorus line: “BDS is poison and Omar Barghouti is a classic anti-Semite.” And then he highlights his own achievements, for there is money to be made, long-time supporters he cannot do without: “What was genuinely disturbing and compelled my verbal protest and walkout,” said Rabbi Chaim, “was Barghouti’s denial of Jewish peoplehood.” I have news, Rabbi Chaim, our enemies almost without exception deny our very right to exist.
Seidler-Feller then reached the crescendo, showing his magnificent colors, like the feathers of an expanded peacock’s tail: “We who love Israel and care about her survival have spoken out neither forcefully enough nor lovingly against the occupation” (sic – should have been with a capital “O”) … “we, the Jews, cannot rule over another people.” And he ends: “Indeed, BDS is poison, but so is the occupation. Wisdom, morality, and loyalty to Israel and Judaism demand that we say no to both.”
Rabbi Chaim so easily neglects the wisdom of our Bible, teaching that words have meaning and can transform things into being, as God Himself did when He named all creatures during Genesis. Using the word “Occupation” is both misleading and hazardous, yet Rabbi Chaim uses it so freely, carelessly, and advocates we stand up in protest to fight for its eradication.
Our real obligation is altogether different, because the Jewish people who live in Israel look at Israel and see a society composed of many diverse elements, but definitely not a homogeneous society. Among these is a substantial number of Muslim Arabs. Israelis have lived by the credo that they are equal citizens, with all rights except the obligation of military service.
What we must ensure, as Jews and people who were created in the image of God, is to behave unto others, the foreigner in our midst, the widow and the orphan, the same way we want to be treated ourselves.
Redefine “Occupation” as “living in Israel as part of Israeli society,” and suddenly the BDS-Seidler-Feller worldview collapses. No more fantasies of a “Palestine” with “Al-Quds its eternal capital.” No more “Right of Return” of non-Jews to the area between the River and the Sea. No more wishful thinking of exterminating the Jews and eliminating their presence in their homeland.
It is Seidler-Feller’s frame of reference and vocabulary that are flawed. So used to self-blame is he, using the word “Occupation,” that he cannot even see how that very approach is racist. He wants a country with all the Arabs gone, for they, too, like him, hate the Occupation. In this respect, Seidler-Feller is no different than those who call themselves “Palestinians.” They want to throw the Jews to the Sea (an independent country where Israel is today, with no Jews), and he wants a country with no non-Jews. A perfect partnership indeed.
I, an Israeli, a Jew and an American, take offense to your statement of paramount purpose (“Say No to Israel’s Occupation”). But more so, I lament your position, for it is no different from that of the Jews some eighty years ago.
Dr. Seid, analyze Rabbi Chaim, and you may begin to understand how the Jews of Europe accepted what was evolving before their very eyes, for “Never Again” apparently has not taken hold within our own community deep enough to withstand the test of time. Or perhaps the promise has been sadly forgotten, buried under a sea of Jewish self-hate.
To Rabbi Chaim, Omar Barghouti is a poison because he disturbs the good Rabbi’s make-belief world. But Barghouti represents the world as it truly is and the true intentions of those who call themselves “Palestinians.”
I direct Seidler-Feller to a non-profit organization called PMW (Palestinian Media Watch). If he were to follow PMW’s output long enough, after the initial shock and waves of nausea have subsided, Rabbi Chaim may see that “Barghouti’s Poison” is nothing but the mainstream approach of those who call themselves “Palestinians.” There are many of them, those of ’67 and those of ’48, and many others who are along for the ride. I used to get confused but no more: They are all “under Occupation.”
Lest “the ‘Palestinians’ in their own words” be dismissed as “right wing propaganda,” the following is taken from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (January, 2014) highlighting the Palestinian’s “Culture of Hatred:”
Incitement and hatred toward Israel, and often Jews as well, is spread by Palestinian Authority controlled television and radio stations, public schools, summer camps, official ceremonies, official speeches and Internet outlets. It is often aimed at children and young people.
Several types of incitement contribute to this problem and severely undermine prospects for peace. These include:
1. The glorification of terrorists who have murdered Israeli civilians. The resulting hero-worship of terrorists justifies past and current attacks, while encouraging future attacks.
2. The denial of Israel’s existence and the delegitimization of a Jewish state in any borders, in part by denying the existence of a Jewish people and its historic, religious and cultural ties to the land of Israel.
3. The demonization of Jews and Israelis, including by the use of anti-Semitic motifs.
4. The inflammatory language of struggle against Israel and “resistance” (often employed as the Palestinian codeword for terrorism) is being widely used by the PA, despite the renewal of negotiations with Israel. The idea that Palestinians must continue the struggle until Israel is replaced by a Palestinian state is a consistent theme. [Editor: Bold print is mine]
For Rabbi Chaim, “The Occupation” likely refers to the West Bank (and possibly, but less likely, to Gaza). But for the Arabs in Israel, the four million in Judea and Samaria and Gaza and another two million or so who are full-fledged Israeli citizens, the whole area is Occupied, nothing there belongs to the Jews.
The cat is finally out of the bag, and Rabbi Chaim does not like what he hears. He conveniently casts aside any internal bickering in “Palestine” (who is the real leader – Hamas or PA, Iran or maybe some other factions, terrorists or tribes) and wants to believe that they (our enemies) want peace. His soft and most sensitive soul cannot bear the severe burn by Barghouti’s revelations. Undoubtedly, the truth hurts.
Our enemies systematically deny our right to exist. They erase and contest any connection we may have to the Land of Israel: The Bible describes events that were never in this geographic area. The Temple Mount, an invention. The land, stolen from its true inhabitants. Those sneaky Jews created, imagined and fabricated what they call “The Holocaust” as a ruse to steal a land that never belonged to them.
Why did you walk out of Barghouti’s presentation? I actually sat through the whole ordeal several years ago when it was at Loyola Marymount Law School (a campus headed by a Jew). You must not miss a word and commit it all to memory (as they prohibit any recording devices), or jot it down on paper. Regrettably, nothing has changed, if anything, the substance has only intensified and became more brazened.
Listen carefully. Study. The words are like those branding irons with numbers that will be etched onto your skin for all your days on this earth. But you chose to leave. How convenient. And then you blame us, you put the responsibility on us, and you cast Barghouti as a fanatic, a liar and an anti-Semite.
Barghouti’s efforts must be applauded. He is a genius at what he does, and the BDS movement is one of the most successful in modern times, in a most sinister manner of course. He studies for his doctorate at the “Apartheid [Tel Aviv] university in Occupied Palestine” and then spews his venom from within Israel proper.
He could be stopped, even in a democratic country like Israel. After all, neo-Nazis are not allowed to spew their venom in Germany today.
But he is not much different in so many ways, from many Israelis in the Israeli Academia. Some of them are called “Post Zionists,” but whatever the label, they are some of Israel’s worse detractors.
If Rabbi Chaim were true to his people and our history, he would have done everything in his power to stop Barghouti’s appearance at UCLA. He does have power, this Rabbi Chaim, and alongside him stand the Jewish supporters who pour millions into his activities. He could have mobilized the Jewish students and every person who stands for truth and justice to protest the University and its Regents from allowing such hate speech, against permitting Bargouti from entering the pathways of civilization and hallmarks of education.
But he chose otherwise. Rabbi Chaim stood and strengthened Barghouti, for they both sang the same song: The “Occupation” corrupts. End the “Occupation.”
What is the difference between them and the extent to which they interpret their positions? Barghouti goes all out, whereas Rabbi Chaim limits his interpretation to the West Bank (and possibly Gaza).
Barghouti calls for BDS, whereas Rabbi Chaim likely would boycott Jewish presence and activities (theater, wineries, etc.) beyond the Green Line. If not him personally, then many others who claim it is legitimate to boycott wines from Judea and Samaria, but add under the same breath, that BDS is “wrong, horrible, deplorable and must be fought.”
I know several supporters of the New Israel Fund (more correctly the Fund for the New Israel), Americans for Peace Now and J Street who think along these very lines.
I applaud Barghouti’s success, for it is the flip side of our miserable failure. He fights, and we stand and strengthen his efforts. Now he can say: Here, even a leading figure in the Los Angeles Jewry like Rabbi Seidler-Feller supports our just call to end the Occupation! Jews return to Europe and America, for you have no place in – and no connection to – our land!
Confused? Do not be. Next time Barghouti is in town, go listen to his very polished presentation. Sit and weep, for you will understand how the good, gentle, sophisticated, learned Jews of Europe in the 1930s did nothing. You will witness how the intelligent and respected leadership of American Jewry in this second decade of the 21st Century is following in these same footsteps.
As my European ancestors walked later to the crematoriums, their lives likely flashed in front of their eyes. Did they realize what we do not, that they were instrumental in what befell them, for they did not stand with conviction and possess the inner strength to shout: WE WILL NOT PERMIT OUR ENEMIES TO PREVAIL! [Editor: Bold print mine]
Editor: As you will notice in the about paragraphs sent with the email, Ari Bussel may not have written this awesome essay. Norma Zager is brought front and center in the first paragraph which to me seems to indicate she wrote the essay rather than Ari. Maybe if I was more cognizant of which of the two attended UCLA in their past I could pin point the author better.
Norma Zager is an award-winning investigative journalist and author. Her passion for Israel has driven her to dedicate the past decade writing and having a radio show about Israel.
This is the latest in the series “Postcards from America – Postcards from Israel,” a collaboration between Zager and Bussel, a foreign correspondent reporting from Israel.
Ari Bussel and Norma Zager collaborate both in writing and on the air in a point-counter-point discussion of all things Israel-related. Together, they have dedicated the past decade to promoting Israel.
© Israel Monitor, January 2014
First Published January 25, 2014