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Posted on July 14 at 11:37 a.m.
I have to come back to the matter of Robinson's qualifications. The study of projects and patterns of political and economic domination and oppression - colonization, genocide, apartheid, etc. - is central to Robinson's field of expertise. This is his training and what he does. He is therefore self-evidently qualified to teach this topic. Students in his class are getting a first-rate education about how the world works in this field.
UCSB Parent may disagree with Robinson's conclusions or find Robinson's argument inconvenient, but to claim Robinson is not qualified to teach students about the Israel-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that UCSB Parent does not understand the area of sociology in which Robinson is an expert.
Moreover, while the Israel-Palestinian conflict is complex, it's not so complex that a reasonably intelligent person looking at the situation carefully and objectively will likely fail to come to a reasonable judgment about the character of the situation. It is rather obvious what's going on there. And, realizing what's going on, it is irresponsible to fail to comment on it.
Of course, this is the problem. The truth about Israel's treatment of Palestinians is damning to the ethnonationalist project of the Zionist movement. This is why Robinson was attacked to begin with. When you can't win the argument, you move to silence the arguer. This is a moment in the continuing advance of the new McCarthyism.
On Robinson Cleared by UCSB Academic Senate
Posted on July 14 at 11:21 a.m.
Despite flagrant and systematic human rights violations, Israeli policymakers recognize they cannot carry out the conquest of Palestine in the same manner as Germany. (The current lament among Israeli historians is that Zionists didn't finish the job in 1948). The world today is different than the world of the 1940s. International law is more highly developed. The United Nations and an array of human rights organizations monitor this and other situations.
The new world order not withstanding, Israel, recognizing the UN's inability to act against the wishes of Israel's "stalwart ally," pursues much of the strategy Germans used in its conquest of Poland, specifically an eliminationist model of genocide involving ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
To be sure, Israel has stopped short of is an exterminationist model of genocide in which Palestinians are physically annihilated, the course pursued by Germany in its second phase of creating livingspace. (Under the cover of total war, the Germans were trying to accomplish their project their quickly.) However, stopping short of physical extermination does not render the comparison invalid. It only shows that every historical case has differences from every other. Genocide is the destruction of a people. Physical extermination is but one possible tactic in achieving this goal.
The goal of Zionists is to create conditions so inhospitable that most Palestinians will leave the occupied territories for neighboring Arab countries, countries that already have scores of Palestinian refugees. In the West Bank, Palestinians, already living in tiny cantons - bantustans - with Jewish-only roads snaking through the territories, hundreds of checkpoints, and fences and walls all around and through, will be slowly pushed to the borders to make way for the "natural growth" of "settlements," i.e. colonies. Internal to Israel, Jews are given preferences for all manner of things, including the purchase of land. It is a slow-motion process of genocide, as Robinson described it.
As to the conditions in Palestine, the UN Commissioner-General of the RWAPR, as have others, found that conditions are dreadful in Gaza because of Israel's policy. Israel's closure of Gaza has trapped 1.4 million people behind walls and razor-wired fencing. What is is allowed in covers the needs of less than two-thirds of the people. The blockade is responsible for a steady rise in chronic malnutrition and marked deficiencies in nutrients. The Palestinian diet is now almost entirely cereals and oils. Fruit, vegetables, and meat are scant. Palestinians are kept in a wretched physical state. Israel disallows shoes, washing powder, and shampoo to enter Gaza. Palestinian children must go around without shoes, wearing dirty clothes. Israel prevents the entry of construction supplies; Palestinians cannot rebuild the homes, buildings, schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure destroyed by the Israel military.
Posted on July 14 at 11:01 a.m.
Perhaps nothing is more dishonest in this discussion than claiming that Israel's massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are impoverished refugees after either personally or being born to parents who were driven from their homes by European colonists, is predicated on security matters.
The facts show that Israel, beginning in November 2008, violated the ceasefire numerous times and then used the retaliation by some Gazans to Israeli aggression as a pretext for carrying out their actual objectives: the destruction of Gaza's political infrastructure, collective punishment of Palestinians for their democratic practices, physical reminder of Israel's reserved right to invade Palestinian territory whenever it wishes, and the demonstration of Labor Party resolve to maintain Israel's brutal and racist policies towards Palestinians for purposes of holding onto seats in the then pending election.
It was a massacre. Israel launched a 22-day assault that left 1500 Palestinians dead, more than 300 of them children, destroyed 50,000 homes, 800 industrial properties, 200 schools, and 39 mosques and two churches. Numerous human rights and relief agencies have provided more than enough evidence to convict Israel in a court of law of war crimes and flagrant and systematic violation of human rights.
Amnesty International found in its recent investigation of the Gaza massacre that Israel surrounded its soldiers with captured Palestinians, often children, to make it effectively impossible for Palestinians to defend themselves against the Israeli onslaught. Israeli offensive forces used this tactic and its overwhelming military superiority to kill hundreds of civilians "in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons, air-delivered bombs and missiles, and tank shells." Amnesty found that children and women "were shot at short range when posing no threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers." Many were shot fleeing their damaged homes in search of shelter. The Israeli offensive forces used white phosphorus and flechette rounds on civilian targets. These are hideous weapons. A virtually defenseless population was butchered by a vast modern military machine in the name of a goal that is fundamentally unjust and criminal under international law.
Taken entirely by themselves, the rocket attacks do not justify the actions Israel took. No nation has the right to massacre defenseless civilians and wantonly destroy property in order to control the violent behavior of a handful of individuals. It's bad enough under the apologist's interpretation. However, taken in context, the massacre of Palestinians is a clear example of war of aggression on Israel's part, and represents part of an ongoing ethnonationalist project to colonize Palestine and transform it into the greater Jewish state of Israel. To deny this is to not simply to deny the obvious, but to ignore the stated goals of Zionism.
Posted on July 10 at 9:35 p.m.
The e-mail, which concerned a massacre in Gaza in January 2009, a massacre that was carried out by a military largely paid for by the US taxpayer, was entirely related to the class, which was a sociology class on global issues in a US university. Robinson strives to make his courses relevant by applying theory and concepts taught in class to real world events.
Robinson is neither a liar nor lacking in intelligence. He has published seven books, two with John Hopkins University and another with Cambridge University Press, as well as dozens of articles in peer reviewed journals. He is recognized as a world-class scholar in his field.
Calling the man a "scumbag" and claiming that associating with Muslims discredits him exposes the Zionist agenda in operation in the last comment. If this person really is the parent of a UCSB student then we have at least one parent who doesn't understand what a university education is supposed to look like.
By the way, associating with groups demanding justice in Palestine is the moral equivalent of associating with groups demanding justice for blacks in South Africa before the fall of white hegemony there.
Posted on June 27 at 11:23 a.m.
"Given the prevailing lack of discipline, it would have been impossible to use Congolese machine-gunners to defend the base from air attack: they did not know how to handle their weapons and did not want to learn." This is an example of Guevara's racism?
Anyway, MesaMesa's argument is in places starkly irrational. How does Robinson put the charges of anti-Semitism in play by sending materials critical of Israel through the course distribution list? Is this because some students my think the e-mail is anti-Semitic? Isn't that what happened?
The professor's original email was, first, a letter to the editor from a Jew concerning the Palestinian situation, the publication of which caused the editor to be fired in the face of a boycott by the Jewish community. The letter and the firing have tremendous academic value in a class concerning global issues.
Second, the e-mail contained a photo essay comparing photographs of German brutality against Jews during WWII, many of which concerning the German colonization of Eastern Europe, to photographs of Israeli brutality against Palestinians during the Zionist colonization of Palestine, which extends through the present. The value of this comparison in a sociology course on global issues is self-evident. You have to be willfully ignorant not to see it.
The suggestion that US institutions of higher learning find it "necessary to destroy all evidence of the Holocaust to understand the significance of the Nakba" is hyperbolic nonsense. Holocaust studies is a fundamental part of curricula across the United States. Who is trying to destroy the evidence of the Holocaust? Holocaust denial when it comes to the Judeocide is virtually nonexistent in the US academy.
Finally, like every murder, every historical event is a singular event taken in terms of itself. This is why, if we want to understand the deeper structures and dynamics that cause and order events, we must compare historical cases. If by singular, you are saying it is sacred, then you very wrong. No historical event is sacred.
On Students Protest Anti-Defamation League's Involvement in UCSB Matter
Posted on June 27 at 10:17 a.m.
MacArthur, while downplaying the power of the Israel lobby, is right about the power of the Saudi lobby. Ironically, MacArthur's piece proves the point about why we should worry about the power of foreign lobbies over US foreign policy. Here "Justice" is attempting to argue that lobbies don't matter but winds up hoisting himself with his own petard. Sweet.
If people want to organize a group to get their message out, they are certainly free to do so. The problem is not the mere existence of a lobby, but the behavior of a particular lobby. By pressuring officials at institutions of higher learning into punishing intellectuals for criticizing Israel, the Israel lobby is assaulting the most cherished values of our democracy: academic freedom and free speech. For this, at least among those of us who still cherish these values, the Israel lobby should be condemned.
Like the Israel lobby, the Saudi lobby has too much influence in our foreign policy (public financing of the political process would go a long way towards robbing these lobbies of their power). However, would Robinson have been persecuted for his speech had he criticized Saudi Arabia? There is intense criticism of Saudi Arabia in academia for its treatment of women, its use of the decapitation as punishment, its control over world oil prices. Where is the intense pressure by the Saudi lobby to suppress such speech?
"Justice" is mixing apples and oranges. While the Israel and Saudi lobbies may have tremendous power and influence, it is the Israel lobby that goes after intellectuals critical of Israeli state behavior. Just because there are other lobbies doesn't free the Israel lobby from criticism of its actions harmful to the interests of American citizens.
I should stop criticizing the NRA because apple growers have a lobby? Please.
Posted on June 26 at 7:43 p.m.
So you are now denying the existence of Zionism, the ethnonationalist ideology advocating the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and Jewish control over Palestine? Zionism is something Ahmadinejad has imagined? This is a very strange denial coming from somebody so dedicated to the uncritical defense of Israel. I would think you would be glorifying Zionism, not denying its existence.
Equally strange is your denial that Zionists have been for the past century colonizing Palestine. Have we been imagining the past century? All those Jewish colonies throughout Palestine, built after the indigenous populations were driven away, do not actually exist? Al-Nakba is a myth? (You don't know what that is, do you?) The Jewish settlers really didn't drive hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their property in 1948, expelling them from Israel, and confiscating their property?
Strange indeed. Why did the United Nations in 1948 recognize the expulsion of Arabs from their land and demand that Israel allow any Arab wishing to return to do so, as well as compensate those who did not wish to return? Is this because there was no ethnic cleansing? Odd that the United Nation would based policy on something that never happened. (You've never wondered what all this business about "right of return" means?)
How is it that Palestinian historians, such as Rhashid Khalidi, and Israeli historians, for example, Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, can document ethnic cleansing in Palestine when it really didn't happen? These scholars claim that have identified around 400 villages and towns that were evacuated and destroyed by Israelis. Abu Sitta finds that the number is greater than 500. Israeli settlements were built on top of them. You don't know about this? Do you know about Plan Dalet, devised by the Haganah (the forerunner of the IDF), the "prime directive" of which, according to Ben-Gurion, in a letter to Haganah commanders in May 1948, was "the cleansing of Palestine."
I am not going to assume that you are an apologist for ethnonationalist oppression and terror. I am going to assume that you're ignorant of history. So I will encourage you to study history so that you may become enlightened. It may not change your mind, but at least then you can own your side with full knowledge of its crimes and motives.
Posted on June 26 at 2:21 p.m.
The ADL is either misinformed or mischaracterizing the situation. The e-mail was relevant course material distributed to students through the course distribution list, an electronic service associated with the class. The course was a sociology class covering global issues. The materials were distributed to the class in January, during Israel's invasion of Gaza, arguably the most significant global issue occurring that month.
The representative for Stand With Us is more interested in hyperbole than making rational statements. Students in Robinson's class are not the victims of indoctrination. On the contrary, criticism of Israeli behavior towards Palestinians in college classrooms is an important corrective to the standard pro-Israel posture of the US media and most university curricula distorting history and the current realities of that region.
This case was about the Israel lobby's attempt to censor and censure (maybe even worse) a professor who distributed materials critical of Israel to a class studying global issues. Fortunately, they lost.
Posted on June 25 at 12:03 p.m.
Any reasonably intelligent person recognizes that there is no requirement that Zionists have as their motive the extermination of all Palestinians before any comparison with the behavior of Nazis and the experience of Jews in Warsaw may be made. I've listed numerous empirical similarities. You refuse to deny them because you know they're accurate. Instead you make the absurd demand that Israel's behavior be exactly the same as German's behavior before comparisons can be made (raising the paradox that you can't know this until you compare them). What lies in back of your pathetic attempts to be slippery is the obvious question that arises when one compares the images Robinson sent to his students: Why would the descendants of the victims of the Nazis behave in a similar fashion?
The wrongful actions taken against Palestinians have been in pursuit of the ethnonationalist goals of Zionism. Zionists have colonized and are colonizing Palestine, engaging in widespread ethnic cleansing and oppression of the indigenous people there. This has been admitted to and documented by pro-Israel historians. But we hardly need their confessions. We can see for ourselves the house demolitions and the construction of Jewish settlements and the misery this visits on Palestinians. Although Israel tried to censor the Gaza massacre, we nonetheless know what happened.
The result of deliberate behavior, the Zionists have eliminated most Palestinians in what is now Israel. According to Benny Morris, the mistake of the Zionists is not the crime of ethnic cleansing but their failure to eliminate every single Palestinian from Israel (a desire he says proves Zionism is not an ideology of racial supremacy). The history of Zionists behavior towards Palestinians indicates that the ultimate goal is the incorporation of all of Palestine into Israeli territory. Even if this does not ultimately happen, it is certain that Palestinian territory never mandated to Israel will be incorporated in a greater Israel state.
Genocide is killing and/or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group, as well as deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Driving people off their land, razing their towns and cities, ghettoizing them, building walls around them, dividing their families, restricting the flow of needed supplies to their communities, periodically invading their neighborhoods and massacring them, destroying their civilian infrastructure is bringing about the physical destruction of them, if not in whole, then definitely in part.
Posted on June 24 at 8:20 p.m.
Why should the act of drawing an analogy between the behavior of Zionists and the behavior of Nazis result in the prosecution of the person who drew the analogy? If state actors behave like Nazis, why shouldn't professors point that out to their students? If punishing Robinson for making the analogy is itself rather Nazi-like, then what's wrong with pointing that out, too? If students disagree, then they can object. They're adults.
Now, about the character of the scientific study of history. Of course no two cases are ever exactly the same. How could they be? Who in any of this ever denied the truth of historical specificity? Is it not self-evident that history happens at different times under variable circumstances with different actors? But does the fact of specificity mean historical events don't have similarities? The Judeocide and the Great Calamity are different historical events. Are they incomparable? Apartheid and Jim Crow are different historical systems. Are they incomparable? Comparing cases allows us to identify and illustrate common processes. All science works this way.
Are there no similarities between the experience of Jews and the behavior of the Nazis around and in the Warsaw ghetto and the experience of Palestinians and the behavior of Zionists in the Gaza ghetto? Are we supposed to pretend that the miles of concrete walls, razor-wire fencing, watchtowers, checkpoints, harassment, blockades, malnutrition, massacres, targeted assassinations, collaborators, tunnels, organized resistance, and uprising - all features of the Gaza experience - are not also features of the experience of the Warsaw ghetto?