Students push for divestment at university

USC’s campus has recently become the scene of a growing movement by pro-Palestine supporters speaking out against what they see as illegal occupation of territory and discriminatory practices by the Israeli government.

The movement, known internationally as the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement, aims to achieve sanctions or other official action against Israel.

Activists hope to achieve this by means of boycotting certain Israeli institutions and stopping business in — or divesting from — companies that are involved in the occupation of what BDS supporters say is Palestinian territory.

The movement has been spearheaded on campus by Students for Justice in Palestine, a pro-Palestine student group that has attempted to raise awareness for the movement by hosting events and collecting petition signatures.

According to SJP President Marwa Katbi, the group is currently focusing on the Israel Divestment Campaign, which is a statewide campaign aimed at collecting enough signatures to create a ballot initiative that would require California’s two public retirement funds to divest from corporations that are directly involved in Israel’s occupation.

“It’s a very focused target, and it’s smart in the sense that these companies — American and Israeli both — specifically finance certain aspects of the occupation,” said Katbi, a senior majoring in English. “For example, Caterpillar will directly give the bulldozers that the Israelis use to demolish homes. It’s very well-researched and specific, so you’re not targeting all of Israel, just the occupation specifically.”

Opponents of the campaign, such as ’SC Students for Israel, have continued to speak out against the presence of a divestment movement on campus.

Shanel Melamed, the president of SCSI, said that the campaign is a radical movement that has no place on campus.

“From a rational view, the divestment actions being attempted at the moment are thinly veiled anti-Semitism,” said Melamed, a senior majoring in international relations and public diplomacy. “A divestment campaign is not a form of negotiation, conversation, dialogue or understanding. It’s very much a radical stance that says, ‘We don’t even want to talk with you, we don’t want to negotiate with you, we don’t want to meet in the middle with you and we just don’t want you around.’”

Some supporters of the BDS movement have argued that they too want only to negotiate — that the movement is in fact aimed toward bringing about a successful atmosphere of peace and cooperation.

“We just want to create the conditions for genuine negotiation,” said David Lloyd, a professor of English. “This apocalyptic claim that the BDS movement wants to destroy Israel … is just not true. We’re only asking that people respect what every democracy in the world respects, which is the equal rights of all its citizens.”

Lloyd disagreed with the idea that the BDS movement was nothing more than anti-Semitic sentiment, pointing out that prominent Jewish leaders have joined the movement because of Israel’s actions.

“A lot of these initiatives are being run by Americans and international Jewish organizations,” Lloyd said. “This is not an insidious conspiracy of Muslims to undermine Israel. Jewish leaders are the most prominent people in the boycott movement.”

Melamed said, however, that the Israeli government has come under attack from radical anti-Israeli movements, which has forced it to take the defensive.

“We’re being forced into this political situation that’s being pushed upon us because our campus is being used as a platform for people to spread their political ideologies,” Melamed said.

32 replies
      GERALD BUSCH says:



      IF NOT NOW….. WHEN ?






      SIMPLE ?

  1. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    Here’s the definition of Islamophobia: “Someone who has studied Islam, its core religious texts and its history, and understands it for what it is.”

    Here is what some Islamophobes (rational observers of Islam) have said about Islam and Muslims. Some of the Islamophobes date back 1,400 years to the time shortly after the warlord, Mohammed, was born.

    1. Winston Churchill On Islam
    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.”
    “Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”
    2. John Quincy Adams on Islam
    “The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force.”
    3. John Wesley on Islam
    “Ever since the religion of Islam appeared in the world, the espousers of it…have been as wolves and tigers to all other nations, rending and tearing all that fell into their merciless paws, and grinding them with their iron teeth; that numberless cities are raised from the foundation, and only their name remaining; that many countries, which were once as the garden of God, are now a desolate wilderness; and that so many once numerous and powerful nations are vanished from the earth! Such was, and is at this day, the rage, the fury, the revenge, of these destroyers of human kind.”
    4. Hilaire Belloc on Islam
    “Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world, which will shake off the domination of Europeans – still nominally Christian – and reappear as the prime enemy of our civilization? The future always comes as a surprise, but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam.”
    5. Bishop Fulton J Sheen on Islam
    “Today (1950), the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world Power.”
    6. Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria on Islam
    “I am afraid that God has sent these men to lay waste the world”.

    7. Gregory Palamus of Thessalonica on Islam
    “For these impious people, hated by God and infamous, boast of having got the better of the Romans by their love of God…they live by the bow, the sword and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to murder, pillage, spoil and not only do they commit these crimes, but even – what an aberration – they believe that God approves of them. This is what I think of them, now that I know precisely about their way of life.”
    8. William Eaton on Islam
    “Considered as a nation, they are deplorably wretched, because they have no property in the soil to inspire an ambition to cultivate it. They are abject slaves to the despotism of their government, and they are humiliated by tyranny, the worst of all tyrannies, the despotism of priestcraft. They live in more solemn fear of the frowns of a bigot who has been dead and rotten above a thousand years, than of the living despot whose frown would cost them their lives. The ignorance, superstitious tradition and civil and religious tyranny, which depress the human mind here, exclude improvement of every kind.”
    9. John Quincy Adams on Islam
    “In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar [i.e., Muhammad], the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind.”
    “THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE (Adams’s capital letters). Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and goodwill towards men.”

    10. Lord Tebbit on Islam
    “The Muslim religion is so unreformed since it was created that nowhere in the Muslim world has there been any real advance in science, or art or literature, or technology in the last 500 years.”
    11. Vernon Richards on Islam
    “The true Islamic concept of peace goes something like this:’Peace comes through submission to Muhammad and his concept of Allah'(i.e. Islam). As such the Islamic concept of peace, meaning making the whole world Muslim, is actually a mandate for war. It was inevitable and unavoidable that the conflict would eventually reach our borders, and so it has.”
    12. Andre Servier on Islam
    “Islam was not a torch, as has been claimed, but an extinguisher. Conceived in a barbarous brain for the use of a barbarous people, it was – and it remains – incapable of adapting itself to civilization. Wherever it has dominated, it has broken the impulse towards progress and checked the evolution of society.”
    13. Theodore Roosevelt on Islam
    “The Greeks who triumphed at Marathon and Salamis did a work without which the world would have been deprived of the social value of Plato and Aristotle, of Aeschylus, Herodotus, and Thucydides. The civilization of Europe, America, and Australia exists today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization, because the victories stretching through the centuries from the days of Miltiades and Themistocles to those of Charles Martel in the eighth century and those of John Sobieski in the seventeenth century.”
    “During the thousand years that included the careers of the Frankish soldier and the Polish king, the Christians of Asia and Africa proved unable to wage successful war with the Moslem conquerors; and in consequence Christianity practically vanished from the two continents; and today nobody can find in them any ‘social values’ whatever, in the sense in which we use the words, so far as the sphere of Mohammedan influence. There are such ‘social values’ today in Europe, America, and Australia only because during those thousand years the Christians of Europe possessed the warlike power to do what the Christians of Asia and Africa had failed to do – that is, to beat back the Moslem invader.”

    • Divestment Worked on South Africa
      Divestment Worked on South Africa says:

      Churchill advocated using gas bombs against Iraq in the 1920’s. This is mild compared to Israel’s virtual incineration of Gaza in 2008.

    • CE
      CE says:


      1. Your definition of Islamophobia makes no sense. Here, I’ll give you some help: -phobia, via Latin from Greek means “extreme or irrational fear or dislike of a specified thing or group”
      2. A bunch of dead white guys talking about ‘ze moslems’ as if they were aliens, or at least some unworthy subspecies doesn’t exactly a cogent argument make.

  2. Raymond Deane
    Raymond Deane says:

    ““From a rational view, the divestment actions being attempted at the moment are thinly veiled anti-Semitism,” said Melamed”…
    There’s nothing “rational” about this point of view, but something quite fanatical.
    In politics there’s a simple maxim: “the first one to mention Hitler loses.” This should be supplemented by another: “the first one to accuse anti-Zionists of anti-Semitism loses.”
    Apart from anything else, you’re crying wolf and making the anti-Semitism accusation useless – a dangerous thing to do when that particular pathology hasn’t entirely disappeared.
    However, the new anti-Semitism is Islamophobia. Please, Melamed, turn your attention to this scourge instead of defending the indefensible.

  3. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    Lloyd’s had one Guiness too many. Is he following in the famous Irish tradition of brain-numbing via too much whisky?

  4. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    Some straight talk from one of our new congressmen.

    Lloyd won’t like it because it is true. lloyd’s currency of trade is lies.

  5. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    I wonder what lloyd says about this?

    Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. We’re talking about Lloyd.


    Lloyd, honestly, drop the hate. Just drop it. For you to perpetuate this type of negativity, racism and sheer hatred makes it clear to the USC audience that you have no credibility in academia, or in any other arena.

    Stop singling out Israel, stop supporting Hamas, and stop bringing Jihadist values to our campus. If you call yourself pro-Palestinian, be that– don’t be like the rest of the Arab world who uses the Palestinians as a pawn, through which to try to destroy Israel.

    No one thinks Israel is perfect, but you and SJP are simply negative, problem-oriented radicals who worsen the sitaution for everyone.

    Please, consider endulging in a dose of reality. Its almost 2011. Drop this modern blood libel, stop preaching the demonization of Israel, and take part in actions that are moderate, rational and positive.

    And stop giving USC a bad name– Stop dirtying USC’s reputation with your Berkeley nonsense.

  7. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    This proposal is focused exactly where it should be:

    on the brutal, decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories and the institutions that directly participate in it. Though I’m sure no effort to the contrary will be spared by the usual parties, I think it is going to be very difficult to portray this proposal as anything but a call for the recognition of Palestinian national rights and sovereignty.

    • Sammy G
      Sammy G says:

      The “occupation” is not the cause of the conflict. Before there was any occupation there were Arab attacks against Jews in the Holy Land in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936, 1947, 1948…The root cause of the conflict is that Arab society rejects a large Jewish presence in the Middle East, and rejects the notion that the Land of Israel is the rightful homeland of the Jews.

      • Divestment Worked on South Africa
        Divestment Worked on South Africa says:

        There was a large Jewish presence before 1948 in Egyot and in Iraq. They were there for many years with no problems.

        It is the presence of a violent racist state called “Israel” that is the problem.

        Boycott “Israel”.

        • Sammy G
          Sammy G says:

          Your viewpoint shows that the divestment campaign is not about promoting peace. It is about destroying Israel and the Jewish community there.

          • CE
            CE says:

            Sammy G-

            No one said they wanted to destroy Israel. No one said that they want to destroy the Jewish community there. You can’t just say “You said X which obviously means Y”.

            The BDS campaign is not called the “Kill Jews” campaign, you wanna know why? Because it’s not the “Kill Jews” campaign.

            Please, instead of making arguments that bear no logic, let’s talk facts.

            Thanks, all.

  8. CE
    CE says:

    Since when is anti-Israel=anti-Jew?

    Me personally I love the Jews; not so much the Israel.

    And I really don’t understand how saying “I disagree with what this nation is doing, so through non-violent means I am going to make an intellectual argument using economic coercion” exactly fits the “anti-Semites trying to make their sick ideology appear mainstream” description.

  9. CE
    CE says:


    I appreciate both your enthusiasm, and your well-spaced paragraphs, but on content, we may have to disagree.

    Your point about Hamas is correct; they never have voted at the UN, but let’s not forget that they won fair and free elections to be the Palestinian Authority leaders, but were never allowed to rule after the Fatah-executed, US and Tel Aviv-backed putsch.

    Beyond that, we can debate the relative merits of democratic systems or ethnocratic systems, but it’s clear that in no one’s definition would Israel fall under the former category. Just one (of many) examples to illustrate my point: University tuition is heavily subsidized by the state, but in order to qualify for these subsidies, one must have served in the army. Because, for many Arab Israelis (Arabs of 48) policing Gaza, the border areas, or Arab towns is nearly unconscionable, given what has happened, the army is no longer a viable choice for a certain chunk of the population. University for some then becomes prohibitively expensive, and Israel is shown to be as much a democracy as Mississippi under Jim Crow. Yes, on paper, the group has the right to something, but in reality, do they have the SAME right?

    Simply “striving” to give all of its citizens equal rights, as you say, does not a democracy make.

    What Israel is, is a reality. The sooner the Arab parties come to terms with that, the sooner we can have a solution- be it with one state or two. But in the meantime, please, let’s not make Israel into something it’s not. Such posturing does not help progress the issue–something that is in the best interests of both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

    • Jonathan
      Jonathan says:

      CE – Your comment is yet another example of the rampant disinformation pro-Palestinian groups distribute on Israel. University tuition is indeed heavily subsidized by the state of Israel, but is identical for any student, regardless of military service. It is true that some independent organizations might offer scholarships for people who have performed military service, but that’s their right and is no different than what happens in the US. By the way, other organizations only offer assistance to Arabs.

  10. Ruth Beatnik
    Ruth Beatnik says:

    Prof. Lloyd, as a Jewess I no longer feel safe on British campuses, thanks to people like you whipping up anti-Israel hysteria which is completely unfounded on the real facts on the ground, and which is used by the more thuggish elements of the student bodies in the UK to result in creating an atmosphere where Jewish students are routinely intimidated and subjected to hate speech on the best of days, and actual physical violence on the worst. Thank you very much for bringing one of the darker and more embarrassing aspects of British University life across the pond with you and allowing it to flourish here at USC.

  11. Diane
    Diane says:

    Well put, Steve.

    The U.N. report that Max mentions is highly controversial as to its accuracy.

    I see that Max also pointedly ignored your point that Israeli divestment would hurt the Palestinian people as well.

    And claiming that Hamas and Hezbollah (and the Iranian president, for that matter) are not threatening to wipe out Israel is a blatant, wrongheaded LIE.

    • colles
      colles says:

      170 Palestinian civil society organizations, from trade unions to churches and mosques, havs supported the call for BDS. The real destruction of Palestinian well-being comes from the Occupation and the Israeli control of the economy, exploitation of Palestinian water, land and resources, and its control of exports and imports,destruction of Palestinian agriculture, and so forth, not from BDS. The same crocodile tears were shed when the African National Congress and other South African anti-apartheid organizations called for sanctions against South Africa. It is a completely hypocritical red herring.

      • Diane
        Diane says:

        And such divestment did indeed hurt poor people in those areas, “colles”, but you are certainly correct that that is not the primary reason so oppose BDS. The primary reason to oppose BDS is that it is just another tactic of the movement that hates Jews and wishes to wipe Israel off the map. The constant drumbeat of misinformation about oppression of Palestinians in Israel is growing tiresome.

  12. Steve
    Steve says:

    Every democracy in the world also demands that people be allowed to live in peace and security and not be threatened by external forces that are determined to destroy their very existence. Where is the Palestinian voice that asks Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran to recognize Israel as a democratic nation and assists in the ending of missile attacks on Israeli civilians? Where are the other Middle East nations who have a historical connection to the Palestinian people and why are they only making this Israel’s problem? Where is the Palestinian voice that demands these Middle East nations invest in their economic development rather than bombs and missiles intended to destroy Israel? Israel’s peace and security must be guaranteed and recognized and the other Middle East nations must take an active, helpful role to bring peace to the region. Divestment in Israel would be an insidious and underhanded effort that will only hurt the Palestinian people who rely on the Israeli economy for their economic livelihood.

    • Max
      Max says:

      Hi Steve,
      Whenever UN resolutions have been passed and on many other occasions, Iran and Hammas (and Hezbollah I think) have repeatedly voted for a two-state solution which would RECOGNIZE ISRAEL AS A DEMOCRATIC STATE. The trouble comes when Israel tries to claim to be a Jewish State, by and for Jewish people, which necessitates the marginalization of non-Jewish people.

      Democracy is Israel’s for the taking if that is indeed what it wants. If Israel did choose to be a democratic state instead of a Jewish one, 95% of violence targeted against Israel would stop immediately and people could live in peace.

      • Charlotte
        Charlotte says:


        First of all, I think you need to get your facts straight. As far as I’m concerned Hamas has never been able to vote on a UN Resolution, I don’t see how they could considering that no Palestinian state is a member of the United Nations. Furthermore, Hamas has never voted on or agreed to a two-state solution.

        Now that that is cleared up…

        Why is it that other democratic countries in the world can call themselves Islamic democratic states, Christian democratic states, etc. and yet Israel, the one and only Jewish state, cannot refer to itself as a Jewish democratic state?

        I think it needs to be clear that Israel is not a theocratic state, Jewish laws are not enforced as state law. However, Israel is called a Jewish state because it has Jewish influence. This doesn’t mean that only Jews can live there or that anyone who isn’t Jewish is marginalized. All Israeli citizens have equal rights according to Israel’s Declaration of Independence which reads that the State of Israel “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex…” Now I can’t say that everyone in Israel is treated equally, but I can’t say that of any current democracy, including the United States (I mean it took almost 100 years for black people to given the right to vote, and they still aren’t treated equally). This is something that every democracy strives for, just like Israel.

        Israel can be a Jewish Democratic state that strives for all its’ citizens to have equal rights under the law and has the ability to exercise those rights. Israel has every right to call itself a Jewish state or a national homeland for the Jewish people, and just like every other democracy they have the right to decide who can become a citizen of that country.

        I hope one day the Palestinians have a democratic state called Palestine and that the people currently residing in the West Bank and Gaza strip, Jews and Arabs alike, will be grants citizenship and given equal rights.

        Democratic countries can have a religious influence and background and still be a democracy, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. The United States is one clear example of this.

        I think you need to think long and hard about why Israel is really the target of so much violence. Is it really because it isn’t democratic? or is it simply because it is called a Jewish state? Jews have been persecuted throughout history in nearly every place they’ve lived, why would Israel be any different? The only difference is that it comes from beyond our borders and not from within.

        • Taylor
          Taylor says:

          I already tried once to respond to this nonsense, and my comment was removed by the moderator. Perhaps this is because we aren’t allowed to post links to other articles as part of our comments? In any event, here’s my previous comment, as best I can remember, sans links to the supporting articles in the Wall Street Journal and Haaretz.

          Though Hamas has never voted in the United Nations, it’s not difficult to assess their support for the two-state solution roughly outlined by international consensus. One only has to search “Hamas 1967 borders” to find evidence of this support. Conversely, one only has to search “Likud platform” to find evidence of the opposite position, openly advocated without even the slightest hint of protest. Moreover, the point should be obvious. The suggestion that anyone, even those who cloak their motives in the language of a militant interpretation of Islam, after being granted a state in accordance with basic international law, would still be interested in a military conflict with the overwhelming hegemon in the Middle East (Israel) and the World (the U.S.), is absolutely ridiculous. The suggestion that the Iranian regime would seriously attempt an attack of any kind, nuclear or otherwise, on Israel is equally ridiculous. You should be embarrassed to have made such statements publicly.

          Meanwhile, actual policies of extreme aggression are being carried out right in front of you, and this somehow eludes the same outrage directed at the rhetorical flourishes of an impotent and rather opportunistic politician in Iran.

      • Steve
        Steve says:


        Perhaps a well read individual in the UK can enlighten you. I’m sure you would take the position that Israel is a ‘rogue’ state in this debate but I guess it depends how you define ‘rogue’. Mr. Latner’s position will hopefully get the hatred of Israel as a Jewish nation out of your system.

        The Cambridge Union Society held a debate on the motion that ”
        Israel is a rogue state” on
        October 21st.

        The debater, Gabriel Latner, gave a copy of his speech to
        Mondoweiss with the request that it not be edited. I am
        reproducing it here, only by adding paragraph spacing and slight grammatical
        corrections where it seemed appropriate. The square bracket comments were
        his, written afterwards.


        This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully,
        idealists. I’m not. I’m a realist. I’m here to win. I have a single goal
        this evening – to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the ‘Aye’
        door. I face a singular challenge – most, if not all, of you have already
        made up your minds.

        This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already
        have a set opinion. I’d be willing to bet that half of you strongly support
        the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we’re
        destined for a tie. I’m tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to
        do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in
        an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they’ll
        even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or
        more accurately, against Israel. It would be so easy to twist the meaning
        and significance of international ‘laws’ to make Israel look like a criminal
        state. But that’s been done to death. It would be easier still to play to
        your sympathy, with personalised stories of Palestinian suffering. And they
        can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is, that
        treating people badly, whether they’re your citizens or an occupied nation,
        does not make a state’ rogue’. If it did, Canada, the US, and Australia
        would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous
        populations. Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to
        wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack
        intellectual rigour.

        More importantly, I just don’t think we can win with those arguments. It
        won’t change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you
        won’t. So I’m going to try something different, something a little
        unorthodox. I’m going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel
        supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my
        speech – I will have presented 5 pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is,
        if not a ‘rogue state’ than at least ‘rogueish’.

        Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is ‘bad’. I will not be
        arguing that it doesn’t deserve to exist. I won’t be arguing that it behaves
        worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is

        The word ‘rogue’ has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But
        the word itself is value-neutral. The OED defines rogue as ‘Aberrant,
        anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place
        or time ‘, while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this
        definition ‘behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a
        destructive way ‘. These definitions, and others, centre on the idea of
        anomaly – the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state
        is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that
        behaves exactly like Israel.

        The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state
        alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195
        countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular.
        Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo
        for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is
        0.0051% . In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10
        is 0.017% – more than twice as likely. Israel’s Jewishness is a statistical

        The second argument concerns Israel’s humanitarianism, in
        particular,Israel’s response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian
        refugee crisis – for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that – but
        the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is
        still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab
        League will call it such. [I actually hoped that Mr Massih would be able
        speak about this – he’s actually somewhat of an expert on the Crisis in
        Darfur, in fact it’s his expertise that has called him away to represent the
        former Dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.] There
        has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have
        not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt – where they are treated
        despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to
        Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are
        also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the
        border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated
        with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and
        perhaps Israel’s cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli
        government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian
        refugees Citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the

        But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and
        medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees
        attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to
        save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets. Compare
        that to the US’s reaction to illegal immigration across their border with
        Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving
        water to border crossers who were dying of thirst – and here the Israeli
        government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call
        that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.

        My Third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity
        which the rest of the world shuns — it negotiates with terrorists. Forget
        the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his
        hands – they’re in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak.
        Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to
        the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the
        PFLP- an organisation of ‘freedom fighters’ that, under Abed Rabbo’s
        leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22
        Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending
        delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the
        world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks
        with the leaders of the ETA – the British government would never negotiate
        with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about
        peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But
        Israel can do the exact same thing – and earn international praise in the
        process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue – behaving in a way that
        is unexpected, or not normal.

        Another part of dictionary definition is behaviour or activity ‘occuring at
        an unexpected place or time’. When you compare Israel to its regional
        neighbours, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is. And here is the
        fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its
        neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic
        state in the Middle East- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the
        Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a
        small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria,
        homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But
        homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in
        Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can
        adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by
        exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death
        sentence. In fact, it beats America.

        Israel’s protection of its citizens’ civil liberties has earned
        international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual
        report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the
        world. It ranks each country as ‘Free’ ‘Partly Free’ or ‘Not Free’. In the
        Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a
        ‘free’ country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to
        citizens in say, Lebanon- a country designated ‘partly free’, where there
        are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but
        the Syrian regime as well. [I’m hoping Ms Booth will speak about this, given
        her experience working as a ‘journalist’ for Iran,] Iran is a country given
        the rating of ‘not free’, putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea,
        and Myanmar. In Iran, [as Ms Booth I hoped would have said in her speech],
        there is a special ‘Press Court’ which prosecutes journalists for such
        heinous offences as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging
        the ‘foundations of the Islamic republic’ , using ‘suspicious (i.e. western)
        sources’, or insulting islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed
        journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They
        also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. [I
        don’t know if Ms Booth was affected by that] I guess we can’t really expect
        more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are.
        Theocracies and Autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue,
        democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do
        anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

        I have one final argument – the last nail in the opposition’s coffin- and
        its sitting right across the aisle. Mr Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all
        evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For
        those of you who have never heard of him, Mr Gidor is a political counsellor
        attached to Israel’s embassy in London. He’s the guy the Israeli government
        sent to represent them to the UN. He knows what he’s doing. And he’s here
        tonight. And it’s incredible. Consider, for a moment, what his presence here
        means. The Israeli government has signed off,to allow one of their senior
        diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very
        legitimacy. That’s remarkable. Do you think for a minute, that any other
        country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to
        have a debate where the motion was ‘This house believes Britain is a racist,
        totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the
        world’, that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No.
        Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never. And
        there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever
        be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at
        Guantanamo Bay. But Israel has sent Mr Ran Gidor to argue tonight against [a
        ‘journalist’ come reality TV star, and myself,] a 19 year old law student
        who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.

        Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now-
        because it forgot rule number one. You never add credence to crackpots by
        engaging with them. It’s the same reason you won’t see Stephen Hawking or
        Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once
        again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a
        rogue state.

        That’s five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel.
        But I have a minute or two left. And here’s an argument for all of you –
        Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel
        destroyed OSIRAK – Sadam Hussein’s nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the
        world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except
        for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But
        they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq. That rogue action should earn
        Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom loving peoples. But it
        hasn’t. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to
        remember something; while you’re here, Khomeini’s Iran is working towards
        the Bomb. And if you’re honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the
        only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of
        necessity act in a way that is the not the norm, and you’d better hope that
        they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue
        Israel than a Nuclear Iran. [Except Ms Booth]

  13. Max
    Max says:

    Boycott Israeli Apartheid.

    Recently, the United Nations investigative report on the flotilla massacre came out with the following findings:

    -The force Israel used “was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers.”

    -“at least six of the killings can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.”

    -The Huffington Post: “The report says Dogan had apparently been “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time” before being shot in his face.”

    -Contrary to Israeli claims that their soldiers only responded with live ammunition to an immediate and deadly threat, “live ammunition was used from the helicopter onto the top deck prior to the descent of the soldiers.”

    Join the divestment campaign and stop these atrocities.

  14. Boycott Israel
    Boycott Israel says:

    Thank you! The human rights of Palestinians are worth at least this much.
    Israel has 300 atomic bombs and is not in any danger from this campus.

    However, Israel’s ability to freely massacre Gaza is in danger from this campaign– and that’s good.

Comments are closed.