It’s About Settlements, Not BDS [ssba]

It’s About Settlements, Not BDS

Hiam Simon (Ameinu’s COO) and I responded to a false assertion that PPI supports BDS.  Both Dr. Scott David Lippe’s charge and our response were  published in our local New Jersey community weekly, The Jewish Standard, as letters to the editor.  This is most of our letter:   

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement was established in July 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations to promote the general boycott of Israeli companies and companies doing business with Israel, the general boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, divestment from Israeli companies and companies doing business with Israel, and international sanctions against the State of Israel. For many years, Partners for Progressive Israel and its predecessor organizations have actively opposed this movement as a general attack on the Jewish state and the Israeli public.

But we don’t believe Dr. Lippe was particularly interested in investigating either our personal views in opposition to the BDS movement or those of Partners for Progressive Israel. He is interested in promoting a particular agenda in support of West Bank settlement activity. So let’s discuss this real agenda, and the substantive differences between us. Read More »

Removing the Flag and West Bank Settlements [ssba]

Removing the Flag and West Bank Settlements

We have all been horrified and transfixed by the events in Charleston this week. Those of us who live in the state of South Carolina perhaps have been a bit more horrified and transfixed than most.  There is much, too much, to say about the Charleston murders, but let me focus on one, seemingly ancillary aspect that has surprised me—how quickly attention has turned to the presence of the Confederate flag on the grounds of the state house in Columbia.

The Confederate flag was first flown above the state house in 1962, as a response to the civil   rights movement.  Its hoisting over the state house had absolutely nothing to do, in any direct way, with the Civil War. After a bitterly contentious fight, in 2000, the flag was removed from the dome of the state house, and placed near a memorial to Confederate soldiers, a sort of tortured “don’t ask, don’t tell” bad faith compromise that didn’t satisfy anyone.   The compromise had other odious components, such as a requirement that no war memorial in the state could be changed without a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

And so the Confederate flag has flown ever since.  The state house grounds are perhaps the most schizophrenic historic site I have ever seen, overflowing with the rhetoric of the Civil War and Reconstruction—hatred towards damn Yankees, the commemoration of some of the vilest racists in the history of this country, alongside a frieze, intended as a concession representing the African American history of the state.

But other than on the state house, in my experience, the Confederate flag is no longer seen in public in South Carolina. I have seen very few cars with rebel plates, and never seen it waved as football games. If you want a Confederate flag, you keep it private. (And I suspect the private display of the flag, on frat-house walls and the like, is still pretty common.)  But there really is no longer an acceptable public role for the flag.  The flag on the state lawn grounds is increasingly isolated. Read More »

Illinois Boycott Law is Quietly Erasing Israel’s Green Line [ssba]

Illinois Boycott Law is Quietly Erasing Israel’s Green Line

Illinois legislators have initiated what could be a dangerous new trend in anti-boycott legislation. The proposed law, tucked away discreetly in an amendment to Senate Bill 1761, stipulates that the Illinois state pension system must withdraw money from any company that boycotts Israel or supports a boycott. Perhaps even worse, the bill specifies that boycotting the State of Israel includes “companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”

The bill works something like this: Let’s say that Hewlett-Packard has caved to the BDS movement’s call to cease the transfer of products or services to the West Bank. The vast network of funds within the Illinois pension system would then be withdrawn from HP and reinvested elsewhere. I struggle to think of another political issue that would be handled this way.

Read More »