Thursday, July 26, 2012 | return to: views, opinions


Third intifada, ‘one-state’ solution get traction at confab

by guy herschmann

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One might have expected the Birzeit Society’s 11th annual convention in Burlingame, with its schedule of family outings and festivities, to be a pleasant family affair. The society, established 25 years ago for Palestinians from the village of Birzeit who now live in the U.S., attracted approximately 700 people to its five-day gathering in early July.

But instead of a warm family atmosphere, I witnessed chilling anti-Israel extremism. Children were indoctrinated with anti-Israel and intolerant rhetoric. An emerging generation of activists was trained to proudly use deceit and manipulation to promote a “one-state” solution that has no room for Israel.

At the panel “Palestine: One State vs. Two State Solution,” criticism was heaped on the Palestinian Authority, not for its corruption but rather for normalizing relations with Israel. Mai al Kaila, the P.A.’s ambassador to Chile, tried to win over the crowd by commiserating about the difficulty of establishing Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and by emphasizing that the P.A.’s goal is that “all refugees living in the diaspora have their lands in Haifa, Jaffa and everything.”

5herschmann_guyShe tried to justify the P.A.’s promotion of a two-state solution as a necessary compromise. “What can we do when we don’t have a military power … or a nuclear power?” she asked. The crowd grumbled. “Our strategy now … is nonviolence.” The grumbling grew louder. The audience seemed unable to tolerate the idea of two peaceful states for two peoples. When she sat down, a man declared that “we need an intifada.”

The panel’s featured speakers were the Rev. Naim Ateek and the Rev. Don Wagner, both from Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based ecumenical Christian group known for its hostility to Israel. Panel moderator Ramiz Rafeedie called all supporters of Israel “your enemies.” He warned that advocating a one-state solution could alienate potential allies because it attacks the legitimacy of Zionism, so he advised audience members to refine their arguments to win supporters.

Ateek described a future Palestinian confederation with Jordan and Lebanon as a remedy for a two-state stalemate. “We need to have a third intifada,” he stated, adding that it should be “totally nonviolent.” Wagner contributed classic anti-Semitic canards, saying that Congress is “sewn up” by Zionists. Ateek’s closing statements summed up the tone of the convention: “We say no. We adamantly reject the two-state solution at any price.”

The audience response to these statements was the most disturbing aspect to me. The panel attracted an audience of more than 200, primarily families, including youngsters. They responded enthusiastically to calls for a third intifada, with children as young as 7 applauding with their parents.

A second panel, “BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) on American Campuses,” was equally extreme. Dina Omar, a Berkeley graduate and student at Columbia, joined Nora Barrows-Friedman, who writes for Electronic Intifada and al Jazeera, in laying out BDS strategies and goals.

Omar urged the audience to get BDS branded as “just one piece of a larger question of social justice.” She advocated outreach to any and all religious, racial and ethnic groups, economic justice groups, and environmentalists to insert BDS — the collective punishment of Israel — into all progressive causes. Displaying Occupy Wall Street and Free Tibet flyers emblazoned with BDS slogans, Omar urged students to “use your institutions’ symbols, rhetoric, and propaganda … to turn or flip the message or to insert your message in however subversive a way you can.”

Barrows-Friedman called the message that “people just … need to get along” an Israeli plot against Palestinians.

The speakers advised against reaching out to pro-Israel students, especially if they are Jewish. When asked whether there are any Jewish groups with whom BDS activists can work, Barrows-Friedman, who is Jewish, responded, “It depends on your level of tolerance.” After a pause, Omar answered that the group Jewish Voice for Peace may be acceptable.

In fact, the BDS movement frequently uses token Jews to make its case and deflect charges of anti-Semitism. Barrows-Friedman awkwardly sidestepped an anti-Semitic comment from an audience member, making light of a canard about the “Jewish-controlled” global financial system.

That a P.A. official who supports normalization with Israel was criticized for being too moderate reflected the tone of the conference and should be cause for serious concern. A new generation of youth is being carefully groomed to reject peace and the existence of the Jewish state.

Guy Herschmann, a recent graduate of U.C. Santa Cruz, is a campus coordinator for the Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs in Northern California and western Canada. He attended two days of the conference.


Posted by Dan Spitzer
07/26/2012  at  05:30 PM
A Couple of Notes on Conference Participants

Nora Barrows-Friedman was a senior producer of Dennis Bernstein’s Flashpoints on KPFA. On its, she and Bernstein provided misinformation from the Palestinian territories which regularly turned up in propaganda disseminated by pro-BDS organizations such as MECA, Students for Justice in Palestine, Kesher Enoshi and, the hater of haters, JVP.

Dina Omar was a major figure in the denigration of pro-Israeli student activists, including Noah Stern, in false allegations that they committed acts of violence vs Students for Justice in Palestine at a political rally. Omar couldn’t articulate the truth if her family’s life was dependent upon it…

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Posted by Michael Harris
07/28/2012  at  10:07 AM
JVP openly works with Sabeel

Given that “Jewish” Voice for Peace openly collaborates with Sabeel, one should rightfully conclude that JVP also shares Ateek’s rejection of the two state solution “at any price” (even, presumably, the price of peace and of the price of millions of Jewish and Arab lives).  So why don’t they have the minimal intellectual honesty to admit it? Who are they trying to fool—besides themselves?

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Posted by Frank
07/29/2012  at  03:47 AM
The LA Times should release the Obama-Khalidi videotape

A propos of this palestinian Israel-bash, the Los Angeles Times is still hiding a videotape of the 2003 farewell bash in Chicago at which Barack Obama lavished praise on the guest of honor, Rashid Khalidi — former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat.

Khalidi, a PLO adviser turned University of Chicago professor, was headed to Columbia to take over the University’s Middle East-studies program (which he maintains as a center of anti-Semitism) and assume the professorship endowed in honor of Edward Sayyid, another notorious terror apologist.

The party featured accolades by many of Khalidi’s allies, colleagues, and friends, including Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, and Bill Ayers, their terrorist friend turned professor.  It was sponsored by the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), a rabidly anti-Israel bunch which had been founded by Khalidi and his wife, Mona, formerly a top English translator for Arafat’s press agency. 

AAAN received a major grant from the leftist “Woods Fund” when Barak Obama was on its board.  Small world!

Approaching the election, Obama is holding himself out as a friend of Israel.  Lets see the tape.

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
07/29/2012  at  08:05 AM
Stop with the Khalidi/Ayers Nonsesense

Politicians meet with all persuasions of people before reaching their highest office. That doesn’t mean that they are influenced or politically controlled by them.

I’m certain that Romney, a good Mormon, has meet plenty of racist rightwingers in his Republican political career. The conservative wing of the GOP is rife with them. But I won’t correspondingly call Romney a racist.

I worked with Bill Ayers in the anti-Vietnam War movement when we were students at the University of Michigan. I didn’t like Ayers, but we worked together for common cause. Regardless, I don’t think that my interaction with Ayers would lead anyone to call me a terrorist or a pro-Palestinian partisan (as Ayers has now become)...

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Posted by Shaygets
08/03/2012  at  11:25 AM
Two States dream

If anybody believe’s that the Arabs will allow a two state solution, they are living in a dream world. The Arabs have more than 95% of from the original
Palistine(from before 1920) and are still not happy. They will only be happy when Israel disappear’s.

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