Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Racism in America

Ta-Nehisi Coates has just published an article in the Atlantic that makes an effective case for reparations for Black people in America: The Case for Reparations.
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.....
The early American economy was built on slave labor. The Capitol and the White House were built by slaves. President James K. Polk traded slaves from the Oval Office. The laments about “black pathology,” the criticism of black family structures by pundits and intellectuals, ring hollow in a country whose existence was predicated on the torture of black fathers, on the rape of black mothers, on the sale of black children. An honest assessment of America’s relationship to the black family reveals the country to be not its nurturer but its destroyer. 
And this destruction did not end with slavery. Discriminatory laws joined the equal burden of citizenship to unequal distribution of its bounty. These laws reached their apex in the mid-20th century, when the federal government—through housing policies—engineered the wealth gap, which remains with us to this day. When we think of white supremacy, we picture Colored Only signs, but we should picture pirate flags.
On some level, we have always grasped this. 
“Negro poverty is not white poverty,” President Johnson said in his historic civil-rights speech.
Many of its causes and many of its cures are the same. But there are differences—deep, corrosive, obstinate differences—radiating painful roots into the community and into the family, and the nature of the individual. These differences are not racial differences. They are solely and simply the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice, and present prejudice.
We invoke the words of Jefferson and Lincoln because they say something about our legacy and our traditions. We do this because we recognize our links to the past—at least when they flatter us. But black history does not flatter American democracy; it chastens it. The popular mocking of reparations as a harebrained scheme authored by wild-eyed lefties and intellectually unserious black nationalists is fear masquerading as laughter. Black nationalists have always perceived something unmentionable about America that integrationists dare not acknowledge—that white supremacy is not merely the work of hotheaded demagogues, or a matter of false consciousness, but a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it. 
And so we must imagine a new country. Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie. Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans. 
Won’t reparations divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say—that American prosperity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt. 
What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.
On April 30, 2014, the New York Times published the results of polls from the 1970s through 2012 on the views of whites toward blacks.

Percentage of white Americans in 2012 who said that:

  • It's okay to discriminate when selling a home - 28%
  • Say that they would not want to live in a place where half the neighbors are black - 21%
  • Say they would oppose having a close relative marry a black person - 21%
  • Say whites are more hardworking than blacks - 40% 
  • Say most blacks don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves out of poverty - 45%
  • Say blacks shouldn't push themselves where they're not wanted - 34% (in 2002)

SJP and Cornell anti-Israel resolution: William Jacobson in the Ithaca Journal

Bill Jacobson of Cornell just wrote a good op-ed piece for the Ithaca Journal on the recent vote by the Cornell Student Assembly to table an anti-Israel resolution.
Guest Viewpoint: Democracy worked to defeat Cornell anti-Israel resolution 
William Jacobson
The Cornell Student Assembly recently voted, 15-8-1, to table a resolution backed by Students for Justice in Palestine and others to divest from certain companies doing business in Israel
The tabling of the resolution has led to accusations that SJP and other anti-Israel groups had their voices silenced and were deprived of speech. 
The latest such claim was in a recent Guest Viewpoint by Ithaca College professor Beth Harris, who singled me out as supposedly contributing to the stifling of student voices and depriving them of the democratic process through coverage at my website, Legal Insurrection
The claim that anti-Israel students were deprived of the democratic process is laughable. 
The anti-Israel students simply lost the vote. Overwhelmingly. About an issue — divestment — which has been a topic of discussion for years. 
Losing a vote is not losing democracy. Just the opposite. It is democracy in action. 
Many legislative bodies utilize preliminary procedural motions to eliminate proposed legislation that has no chance of success. There is no right to waste a legislative body’s limited time for debate of a resolution that has so little support. 
The tabling of the resolution, however, did not deprive anti-Israel students and faculty of being able to voice their views. 
The Cornell Sun regularly runs columns and letters against Israel, and the anti-Israel students appear with local activist groups to organize and agitate. Students also appear on campus in many other ways, including through guest speakers, to make their supposed case against Israel. 
Anti-Israel students also recently held the malicious “Israeli Apartheid Week” including a main event sponsored by numerous Cornell academic units, including the English Department. 
This is typical of what is happening on campuses, where anti-Israel faculty seek to put their thumbs on the scale to amplify already vocal anti-Israel voices. But it didn’t work this time, and that’s what they really are upset about. 
Indeed, Harris and certain academic units at Ithaca College also sponsored a talk by Cornell professor Eric Cheyfitz in favor of an academic boycott of Israel. When I asked to be able to appear at that event to give an alternative view so students could hear both sides, Harris limited me to a mere five-minute rebuttal. 
When Harris limited my time to speak, I didn’t whine and moan about my speech being suppressed. Instead, I declined and IC Hillel kindly scheduled a separate event for me. 
Seriously, let’s stop the nonsense that not always getting your way means you have had your rights violated. 
The debate on campus is robust on all sides. 
The anti-Israel groups simply lost the vote. Democratically.

Jacobson is a clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Further articles about SJP at Vassar

Daily News editorial about Vassar and SJP:
Vile at Vassar 
A college finally cracks down on anti-Israel extremists

Saturday, May 17, 2014, 4:10 AM

After allowing an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel infection to fester for months, the president of Vassar College has finally taken a stand for academic freedom and decency. That it took a display of actual World War II Nazi propaganda for her to act is appalling. 
President Catharine Hill slammed the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine after the group attempted to tar pro-Israel advocates by displaying on the Internet a poster created in 1944 to sow anti-American feeling among the Dutch under German rule.
The cartoon image, under the heading “Liberators,” shows a monster stomping on a European city while wearing a Star of David, holding a money bag clutched by a long-nosed man, bearing a U.S. flag and cloaked in a Ku Klux Klan hood. 
Stirring from her slumber, Hill announced a review of SJP’s status (the group had not yet been granted full campus credentials), said Vassar would probe use of the image “as a bias incident under college regulations,” ordered SJP to “cease representing itself as an official Vassar group” and asked that “the SJP Vassar membership take responsibility for its actions.” Fat chance. 
SJP has been running wild on the Poughkeepsie campus — hosting an obscene “Israel Apartheid Week” and trying to disrupt a college course for students taking a Vassar-sponsored trip to Israel. 
Hill gave a pass to that violation of academic freedom and campus conduct codes. All too predictably, an overflow campus forum discussing the Israel trip then degenerated into a near mob, with Israel-haters hurling invective at Jews and backers of Israel.
Faculty members have joined the depravity. Thirty-nine professors protested after Hill properly said in January that Vassar would not join the American Studies Association’s anti-Semitism-tinged call for boycotting Israeli universities. 
The 39 backed the boycott, with some asserting that Hill’s action “silenced discourse on campus,” as one put it. Duh, they claim they want dialogue while supporting a boycott against dialogue. 
Then it turned out that the 39 lacked the courage of their convictions. When Cornell University Law School professor Bill Jacobson challenged the entire group to debate the merits of boycotting Israel, they all ducked. So on May 5, Jacobson spoke — without fee — on campus at the invitation of the Vassar Conservative Libertarian Union, which is headed by a Muslim student. 
The libertarian union had sought co-sponsorships for Jacobson’s talk from numerous student groups and academic departments. All refused, a fact that demonstrates how strongly anti-Israel sentiment holds sway at Vassar, perhaps inducing a climate of fear among those who feel otherwise. 
Consider that five days before Jacobson’s visit, Israel-bashers Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal stopped at Vassar on a national road show selling separate books calling for Israel’s destruction. Paid for by student activity fees and departmental funds, their event was sponsored not only by SJP but by Vassar’s departments of religion, political science, sociology, English and geography. 
For good measure, the Jewish Studies program, the International Studies program and a variety of student groups signed on in support. 
In his talk, Jacobson demolished the rationales behind the BDS movement, a cause that seeks to delegitimize Israel through boycotts on trade, disinvestment in the Jewish state and economic sanctions. During 90 minutes, he proved that the boycott of Israel is based on factual, historical and legal falsities and is anti-Semitic. 
SJP responded on the web by attacking Jacobson and the audience of “old white people” and rolling out its artwork. First were nasty cartoons from racist and “white power” websites. One showed Israel inflicting a Holocaust on Palestinians and the other said that the Nazi Holocaust cows the West from criticizing Israel. 
Then SJP used the Nazi poster, putting the group beyond even Hill’s tolerance of intolerance.
 JTA published an article a couple of days ago:
Vassar pro-Palestinian group under review for Nazi cartoon
May 16, 2014 8:28am

(JTA) — The Vassar College chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine is being reviewed by administrators after the group posted a Nazi cartoon online. 
The post on the Vassar SJP Tumblr page, which has since been removed, showed a Nazi propaganda poster depicting a many-armed figure sporting a Jewish loincloth and holding a bag of money and an American flag, among other things. The cartoon is captioned “liberators.” 
On Wednesday, Vassar President Catherine Hill announced that SJP’s status as an approved student group is under review. 
“The college is also investigating the SJP’s online posting as a bias incident under college regulations,” Hill said in a statement. “I also request that the SJP Vassar membership take responsibility for its actions and cease representing itself as an official Vassar group, pending these investigations. Vassar College is committed to free speech and academic freedom, but we condemn racist, hateful speech.” 
Vassar SJP apologized Tuesday on its Tumblr account for lax social media oversight.
“We condemn any and all hate speech including any form of anti-Semitism and we are deeply sorry several offensive posts were made in SJP Vassar’s name,” the statement said. 
A German version of the JTA article was published at

Also, from the Coordinating Forum for Countering Antisemitism:

United States / 16-05-2014

SJP Vassar posts a Nazi World War II propaganda poster

Source: truthrevolt

Poughkeepsie, NY - Despite their apology for posting material from Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists, the Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine have kept on doing it.

 Just today, they posted yet another antisemitic image on the Tumblr blog, this time one that is actually a Nazi propaganda poster from WWII .

Here's the image as posted on their Twitter feed. (It's now been taken down, but as of a few minutes ago it was still on Twitter).

UPDATE: Vassar college president, Catharine Hill, denounces antisemitic post of SJP

Subject: [Students] Bias incident investigation
Date: Wed, 14 May 2014 21:07:47
To the Vassar Community:
I am writing to condemn a racist, anti-Semitic graphic posted to the Tumblr online site affiliated with the Vassar chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). In response to this posting, the college is initiating a full investigation and action on the matter under established college procedures. SJP Vassar is a Vassar student “preliminary organization,” an initial status required of all student organizations as they seek full certification by the Vassar Student Association (VSA). I am requesting VSA review of the SJP’s pre-organization status. The college is also investigating the SJP’s online posting as a bias incident under college regulations. I also request that the SJP Vassar membership take responsibility for its actions and cease representing itself as an official Vassar group, pending these investigations. Vassar College is committed to free speech and academic freedom, but we condemn racist, hateful speech.
Catharine Hill

Friday, May 16, 2014

Spring in Ithaca

I'm starting to get depressed with all the gloomy posts about Vassar and SJP, so I think it's time to post some photos of spring in Ithaca.

Tulips in my yard:

The Norway maple on the side of the house in its red glory.

My back yard.

Tulips along the fence.

The cat, looking pensive.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More articles on SJP Vassar

The story about the Vassar chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and their publication of posters and other material from Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist websites has spread more widely today, since the President of Vassar denounced them and announced that an investigation into the group has been started. Here's some recent articles:

From the local Poughkeepsie newspaper, the Poughkeepsie Journal:
An anti-Semitic online posting by a Vassar College student organization has prompted an investigation and a call for Students for Justice in Palestine to distance itself from the Town of Poughkeepsie school. 
In an email message addressed to students, faculty and employees, college President Catharine Hill condemned “a racist, anti-Semitic graphic posted to the Tumblr online site affiliated with the Vassar chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.” College spokesman Jeff Kosmacher described the graphic as a Nazi propaganda political cartoon from World War II “with a racist, white supremacist message.” 
SJP Vassar is a college “preliminary organization.” This status is required of all student organizations seeking certification by the Vassar Student Association. Kosmacher said the college administration and student association will investigate the posting, which occurred within the past week. A spokesman for SJP Vassar, speaking through Facebook, declined comment. 
Hill said in her email the college will investigate the online posting as a bias incident.
“I also request that the SJP Vassar membership take responsibility for its actions and cease representing itself as an official Vassar group, pending these investigations,” the email read. “Vassar College is committed to free speech and academic freedom, but we condemn racist, hateful speech.”
A new article from William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection on an attempt by conservative students at Vassar to put up a "wall of truth" to counter the "apartheid wall" that SJP had put up earlier this year.
The Vassar Conservative-Libertarian Union (VCLU), which sponsored my speech at Vassar, decided that it was time to protest before students left campus for the summer.
VCLU erected a Wall of Truth to counter the many defamatory and false allegations made against Israel. 
The Wall of Truth specifically was placed in the same location that Vassar SJP puts its misnomered “Apartheid Wall” during Israeli Apartheid Week. 
Julian Hassan of VCLU told me on the phone this afternoon that when VCLU put up the Wall of Truth he was confronted by administrators telling him to take it down because it was putting the campus on edge, and that there was not proper permitting. Some students also went to administrators complaining that the Wall of Truth was biased and should be taken down.
The new "wall" was taken down this afternoon by administrators at the college.

The Times of Israel posted an article today.
SJP’s Tumblr account recently published a Nazi propaganda poster by Norwegian artist Harald Damsleth captioned “Liberators” in which a many limbed monster decorated with the US flag, holding a money bag grasped by a long-nosed banker, and wearing a Star of David as a loin cloth, stomps on houses of the innocent. 
Vassar President Catherine Hill released an email Wednesday stating that SJP’s status as a campus organization is called into question. 
In response to this Nazi propaganda posting, the college is initiating a full investigation, wrote Hill.
Jonathan Marks of Commentary posted yesterday on the second SJP "apology":
This apology is better than anything SJP Vassar has said so far, though it does not account for the rant, linked to on SJP Vassar’s Facebook page, that I wrote about earlier in the week, accusing its critics of being “Zionist watchdogs,” paid by “Zionist watchdog organizations” to make “slanderous claims.” This rant, issued in the name of the organization, was presumably written in full knowledge of the posts the “SJP Vassar General Body” now disavows. 
Now consider the post that immediately follows the apology, a quotation attributed to George Habash. “In today’s world no one is innocent, no one is neutral. A man is either with the oppressor or the oppressed. He who takes no interest in politics gives his blessing to the prevailing order.” 
COMMENTARY readers will know that Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization committed to the recovery, through violence, of the whole of what is now Israel, or what Habash called “the Occupied Territories of 1948.” The “only language,” says the PFLP’s founding document, “that the enemy understands is the language of revolutionary violence.” The PFLP pursued its program not only through a series of airline hijackings but also through actions like the 1972 Lods Airport massacre, in which terrorists working with the PFLP fired machine guns and threw grenades into crowds of people waiting in what is now Ben Gurion airport, killing 39. It is in this context that we have to consider the Habash quotation which begins, “Has it been said that these operations expose the lives of innocent people to danger?” Or, as Habash stated more boldly in a 1970 interview, to “kill a Jew far from the battlefield has more effect than killing 100 of them in battle.” That the new post-apology era begins with Habash is, to say the least, not encouraging.
A former student at Vassar (graduated two years ago) posted an article on Daily Kos:
I graduated from Vassar two years ago and I am a proud left winger, but I just can't be down with the Students for Justice in Palestine group at my alma mater. The group is full of filthy anti-Semites, who are spectacularly ignorant about everything from Nazi propaganda to Israel's defense of itself. 
When I read about how some of the SJP characters picketed an Israel class trip meeting, I couldn't help but be reminded of the images of 1960s when equally nasty white people frightened brave souls like little Ruby Bridges, or the Little Rock Nine, as they entered school. But now they've gone too far. Recently SJP-Vassar posted a Nazi propaganda poster to their Tumblr! (Notice the big-nosed Jew hiding behind the money bag in the machine's left hand.) 
.....Amazingly, the SJP can't see this bigotry (and self hate; notice the black arms in the poster?) when they invoke Nazi propaganda posters and anti-Zionist writings authored by trash like Greg Felton. When called on this bullshit the group tweeted that it didn't matter where the idea came from. Excuse me? Imagine the response if some group had quoted a prominent, anti-black racist to support an intellectual assertion. 
Tonight Vassar College president Catherine Hill took a great first step by sending out a campus email where she revoked SJP's club status and initiated an investigation of their hate speech. But some Vassarions—judging from my Facebook feed— are trying to change the subject, which goes against Vassar values. When a group is targeted, the Vassar community is supposed to address their pain, not attempt a changing of the subject. All forms of bigotry are repulsive and Vassarions should stand up against this garbage and not excuse it or try to change the subject. 
Vassar has become a reactionary, illiberal place full of unlettered bigots. No longer will I aid those values with donations.

President of Vassar condemns the "racist, anti-Semitic graphic" posted by Vassar SJP

As reported by William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog, the President of Vassar College, Catherine Hill, has just sent out an email to the Vassar community about the Vassar SJP:

Subject: [Students] Bias incident investigation
Date: Wed, 14 May 2014 21:07:47
To the Vassar Community:
I am writing to condemn a racist, anti-Semitic graphic posted to the Tumblr online site affiliated with the Vassar chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). In response to this posting, the college is initiating a full investigation and action on the matter under established college procedures. SJP Vassar is a Vassar student “preliminary organization,” an initial status required of all student organizations as they seek full certification by the Vassar Student Association (VSA). I am requesting VSA review of the SJP’s pre-organization status. The college is also investigating the SJP’s online posting as a bias incident under college regulations. I also request that the SJP Vassar membership take responsibility for its actions and cease representing itself as an official Vassar group, pending these investigations. Vassar College is committed to free speech and academic freedom, but we condemn racist, hateful speech.
Catharine Hill

Jacobson suggests that the graphic might be the Nazi propaganda poster that I wrote about a couple of days ago.

Monday, May 12, 2014

SJP Vassar defends itself - "That was not anti-Semitic."

SJP Vassar has been getting pretty defensive in responding to those who criticize them on Tumblr. This is their defense of posting the article on "Zionist Internet Trolls" from the Occidental Quarterly (originally published in the Media Monitors Network on September 30, 2009).

I find it odd that they refer to the author as a "guest columnist." Did they commission him to write for them? I don't think so. The author of the article is Greg Felton. So who is he?

Terry Glavin, a distinguished Canadian author, wrote about him when he appeared at the Vancouver Public Library to peddle his anti-semitic tome, The Host and the Parasite: How Israel's Fifth Column Consumed America. Glavin wrote in the Vancouver Sun (February 12, 2008):
What is the right word for a book like Greg Felton's The Host and the Parasite: How Israel's Fifth Column Consumed America
What is the right word for Felton's thesis, which is that a Zionist "junta" was at work on Sept. 11, 2001, and that al-Qaida is a mere concoction in a secret plan to subvert the American Constitution, demonize Muslims and commit mass murder?... 
What are we allowed to call Felton, who traces his Zionist plot back to the 1940s, when these same Zionists made "common cause" with the Nazis to rid Europe of its Jews, and participated in the herding of Jews into Hitler's gas chambers? 
What Felton calls himself is an award-winning investigative reporter and Middle East specialist. His last legitimate journalism job appears to have been with a Vancouver weekly newspaper in the late 1990s, when his brief career as a columnist came to a famously embarrassing end. The column that got Felton into such trouble was also about Zionists. 
In that column, Felton traced Zionist swindles and trickery back through time and across Europe to a massive coverup of events that occurred in the Caucasus Mountains about 1,000 years ago. 
Europe's Jews aren't Jews at all, Felton wrote. Almost all of them are "Khazars," a long-extinct Turkic tribe from somewhere north of the Caspian Sea. 
Felton has been peddling this kind of thing ever since his departure from the weekly Vancouver Courier. He now writes for fringe Arab webzines and an online journal out of Tehran affiliated with the Iranian theocracy's Islamic Propagation Organization.
Felton's byline also routinely shows up on neo-Nazi websites, conspiracy-theory bulletin boards, and sometimes even in pamphlets of the Marxist-Leninist sort. And now, Vancouverites can hear Greg Felton in person. 
The Khazar legend was a staple of 1930s-era European racism. Long after it had been wholly discredited by geneticists, linguists, archeologists and historians, the lie was revived by late 20th-century neo-Nazis. 
Neo-Nazis find it useful as a twisted justification for their Jew-hatred. For Israel's more conspiracy-prone enemies, the Khazar legend completely delegitimizes the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland. That's how Felton employs it, and he gets extra mileage out of it as further evidence of the world's real, hushed-up history, which the Jews don't want you to know. 
No, wait. Wrong word. Felton doesn't use the word "Jews" quite that way. It's the Zionists who are behind the curtain with their hands on the levers. Sometimes he uses two words to describe them. Zionist Jews. Jewish lobby. Zionist parasite. 
When he calls them Khazars, he can attribute to them "the declared purpose of dispossessing and terrorizing" the Palestinian people, and by that one word -- Khazars -- the Palestinians become the only real Semites in the Holy Land, and Israel itself becomes anti-Semitic. 
See how it works? 
In Felton's words, Hamas is not an Islamist death cult animated by that classic anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It's the equivalent of the French resistance during the Second World War, the "passionate defender of Palestinians."
There are no suicide bombings in Felton's lexicon. There are only "sacrifice bombings." Israel itself is a creation of the Nazis. It's the "Zionist Reich." 
And that's the sort of ugliness that rushes in the moment the word "Israel" is mentioned in certain fashionable company these days. Martin Amis settled on the words "secularized anti-Semitism" to describe it. 
If those aren't the right words, then words fail me.
So much for Felton's article being "not anti-Semitic." Way to go, SJP Vassar, defining for Jews what is anti-Semitic.

SJP Vassar posts a Nazi World War II propaganda poster UPDATED

Despite their apology for posting material from Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists, the Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine have kept on doing it. Just today, they posted yet another antisemitic image on the Tumblr blog, this time one that is actually a Nazi propaganda poster from WWII (h/t Petra Marquardt-Bigman). Here's the image as posted on their Twitter feed. (It's now been taken down, but as of a few minutes ago it was still on Twitter).

I went and looked up this image to see if I could find out more about it. I found an interesting article that explains its provenance and meaning. It's by Kristen Williams Backer, "Kultur-Terror: The Composite Monster in Nazi Visual Propaganda," in Monsters and the Monstrous: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil, edited by Niall Scott (Rodopi, 2007).

There are many interesting details in the image of the monster - notice especially the moneybag being held in the figure's upper right hand and the star of David flying from the drum that is its lower body.

The poster is from 1944, and targeted the Netherlands. It was made by an artist named Leest Storm.  As Petra Marquardt-B. has pointed out, the artist was actually Harald Damsleth, a Norwegian artist who designed many Nazi propaganda posters. "Leest Storm - SS," at the bottom right of the poster, means in Dutch, "Read Storm-SS," a Nazi publication. (For an image of the front page of "Storm-SS," go to Storm-SS). More examples of Damsleth's posters can be found at: [Matthew Newton, From the Annals of World War II Propaganda, is the source of this information].

"Storm-SS" was the weekly newspaper of the German SS in Holland. (Source: images of the front page from Axis History Forum).

Here are some general remarks about the poster from Williams Backer's article:

The poster draws upon various images of American life and some specific historical events. One of those events was the 1938 heavy-weight boxing fight between an African-American boxer, Joe Louis, and a German boxer, Max Schmeling.

This is a larger version of the moneybag:

So in this one image we see the arm of the Black boxer, holding the moneybag, to which a man with a big nose is clinging - linking boxing, money, and the Jew.

The author of the article suggests that the banner decorated with the star of David "might be a similar suggestion of the pervasiveness of Jewish power in America."

Read the whole article - it says a lot more about the bizarre juxtaposition of the Klansman's hood and the noose, the cage with Black people inside it dancing the jitterbug, the two little female figures, etc.

Back to Vassar SJP:

This is what I wrote when I saw the poster, with their initial reply:

By adding this poster to their Tumblr blog, they are once again displaying their lamentable ignorance of history and lack of judgment. They really do not look at what they are reposting. If it looks vaguely like something they agree with, they will display it. They don't exercise any judgment, or sophistication in analyzing images.

And they also, as David Schraub suggests, are unable to recognize antisemitism (and in this case also anti-Black racism) even in the most blatant form of a Nazi propaganda poster, much less when it presents in a more subtle form. At this point, I can't help but feel that it's because for them (or some of them, at least), their anti-Zionism is really indistinguishable from antisemitism. They simply don't know the difference. Hence, they are not able to figure out that something is antisemitic and not "merely" anti-Zionist. I think they are suffering from the same problem with antisemitism as a lot of white people suffer when they are confronted by someone telling them they have said or done something racist. They (the white people) deny it because for them anti-Black racism is the KKK lynching a Black man. It couldn't possibly be their own good selves who have just made a racist remark. The same thing appears to be happening with some of the members of the Vassar SJP group. Antisemitism for them is the Nazi Holocaust, and since they don't advocate mass murder of Jews, they couldn't possibly say or do antisemitic things. But they are wrong.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

SJP Vassar "apologizes"

Vassar SJP has posted this statement on its Tumblr blog:

This is what I wrote in response:

To be clear, my problem with SJP Vassar is not only that they use material from racists and antisemites. My problem with them is that they don't think the state of Israel should exist. This conclusion is clear from reading their Tumblr blog, their Twitter feed, and their Facebook page.  They just posted several stories about the Nakba - one of them with the slogan "OVER 60 YEARS OF ISRAEL ETHNIC CLEANSING AND PALESTINIAN STILL RESISTANCE." I don't know what they think should happen - none of their published articles states what their vision for the future is - but their analysis of the past is that the state of Israel should never have been established.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

More articles and tweets about the Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine

David Schraub of The Debate Link has posted a good article about SJP Vassar:
FRIDAY, MAY 09, 2014 
Innocent Until Proven Nazi 
I've been reading with interest the saga of Vassar College's Students for Justice in Palestine branch, which recently has posted a series of material from various White supremacist websites. Rebecca Lesses, a professor at a fellow New York liberal arts college, initially posted about it here and has since written several follow-up posts.

Suffice to say, Vassar SJP is not backing down. They concede that their source (Occidental Quarterly) "is a white nationalist publication, that doesn't mean everything they say is invalid though!" "If the idea is alright, who cares where they come from?" (The idea here, in case you're curious, is that the intertubes are infested with "Zionist internet trolls" -- the electronic cohorts of "fifth columns in foreign governments who subvert national policies to serve Israel"). They contend that linking to OQ "does not mean we support white nationalist ideology; rather, we found this particular article’s description of those behind zionist propaganda campaigns and how they operate to be a helpful articulation of problems many organizations like us face." In short, "we're not white supremacists, but they sure do have it right about the Jews!" 
In a sense this is almost too easy. If you call yourself an anti-racist but find yourself nodding along with neo-nazis, maybe that's a sign that your anti-racist bona fides aren't quite what you think they are. Clearly they don't view themselves as anti-Semitic, but one wonders what exactly would be evidence to these students that this self-appraisal isn't reliable? In large part, this discussion is about Jews who are describing their oppression and gentiles who call us crazy for doing so. Once you're far enough down the rabbit hole, there is no threshold of evidence that makes the Jewish claim credible. The louder we speak, the crazier we are. But most people are not so far gone as to be unable to understand what it means when one starts unapologetically parroting white supremacist slogans. Demonstrating the overlap between "left-wing" anti-Semitism, which clothes itself in anti-racism discourse, and its "right-wing" counterparts is a way of validating the claim -- we can feel confident that these students are anti-Semitic because they're essentially waving its flag. "You shall know them by their fruits" indeed. 
But in another sense I find this very frustrating (aside from the obvious reasons, of course). Suppose Vassar SJP had posted the exact same material, only it wasn't attributable to an avowedly white nationalist website? Would the reaction have been the same? For some of us, sure: we know anti-Semitism when we see it. But for others, it seems that the Nazi link is a crutch -- without it they find it very difficult to even raise the prospect of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has symbology but no content. Ideas, policies, statements, actions, and motives are not anti-Semitic -- only associations are. We saw this with Jenna Delich too -- it wasn't what was said, it was that David Duke was saying it, that was the smoking gun. You are anti-Semitic to the extent you can be tied to Nazis. If you can't, you're in the clear.
I think David is right about this - and it's a point that the British blogger Soupy One has been making insistently on Twitter. For some of the people that he writes about, sometimes even the direct association with the Nazis isn't enough to get the anti-Israel pro-BDS types to acknowledge that that what they are linking to or reposting is antisemitic. He periodically posts a string of tweets on how to spot racist or antisemitic material on Twitter.
Soupy One also has posted on Storify about the Vassar SJP: Anti-Zionists gleefully use Neo-Nazi material

Friday, May 09, 2014

Once again: Vassar SJP and White Nationalist publications

There are times when you simply cannot make it up. SJP Vassar's Communique #1 - On White Supremacy and Its Watchdog reads as if it came from the Onion.

Where to start with the fisking?

Well, first off, they accuse nameless people of "lies, propaganda, and misrepresentation leveled against our movement. Baseless ad hominem attacks have been launched against us in an attempt to mystify both our politics and those of our attackers."

I've read many of the recent critical articles about SJP Vassar, and they address what the group is doing, without engaging in ad hominem attacks. The Commentary article from yesterday even ends with these words: "The SJP consists of students, and perhaps a national publication is not the place to discuss their foolishness." While condescending, this is not an ad hominem attack.

I have not attacked the SJP Vassar students personally. I have criticized their words, as posted on their various internet sites.

They claim that people are accusing them of supporting white supremacy. Since they provide no links, I don't know who they are referring to. I certainly haven't accused them of doing this. I have demonstrated, however, that their Tumblr blog reposts material from White Nationalist sites. They reposted an article from The Occidental Quarterly called "Zionist Internet Trolls." They reposted a cartoon from a White Nationalist Tumblr blog called "neonationalist." Both of these postings are still up on their Tumblr blog (as of this moment). Another blogger on Tumblr, Ora-Shira's Blog commented to them:

The article then says: "We find it an appalling irony to be accused of supporting white supremacy by those who support the racist Israeli regime and its white nationalist agenda. This agenda is comprised of policies that work towards exterminating Palestinians and African migrants, only to replace them with predominantly white Euro-American settlers."

I would like to see some proof that Israel is trying to exterminate Palestinians and African migrants. As Ari Shavit shows in his book My Promised Land, Israeli forces did expel Palestinian Arabs during the 1948-49 war. He details what happened in Lydda, and there are many other examples. Israeli forces also committed atrocities against Palestinians then; the most notorious example is the massacre at Deir Yassin (which Shavit also writes about). About 150,000 Arabs were left inside of Israel at the end of the 1948 war. Arabs are now about 20% of the total Israeli population. The refugees who fled to Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq have also increased greatly in population since 1948. While the State of Israel is guilty of crimes against Palestinians, it certainly did not in 1948 and certainly not now try to "exterminate" Palestinians. 

And the Jewish immigrants who came after 1948 were predominantly not "white Euro-American settlers." Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees entered Israel in the next few decades from North Africa and the Middle East, motivated to leave Arab and Muslim countries by the physical attacks and discrimination that they encountered in those countries. The Arab countries are also guilty of crimes against their indigineous Jewish populations. The current Jewish population of Israel currently is about half of Ashkenazi descent (many of them Holocaust survivors and their descendants) and half of Sephardi-Mizrachi descent.

Now we get to the heart of the matter. SJP Vassar writes:
This should go without saying, and yet here we are saying it: providing an article link from a white nationalist publication does not mean we support white nationalist ideology; rather, we found this particular article’s description of those behind zionist propaganda campaigns and how they operate to be a helpful articulation of problems many organizations like us face. A profound irony is that we have come under assault from the very same trolls the article describes. As students who must navigate the world under the thumb of white supremacy, we understand what it is like to have to take ideas from organizations that have supported white supremacist structures, whether they be from Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Legal Insurrection, or the Occidental Quarterly, and put them in a productive conversation. The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people will continue despite petty slander, and we at SJP Vassar strongly encourage anyone who may read this to question the dominant narrative.
The article is trying to evade the fact that they reposted from a White Nationalist site by claiming that Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, and Legal Insurrection all support "white supremacist structures," along with Occidental Quarterly. OQ publishes articles that denigrate Black people as inferior to whites. It publishes articles from Kevin MacDonald, who accuses Jews of having a "group evolutionary strategy" to undermine western white civilization. While the Jerusalem Post and Legal Insurrection are conservative publications, they would never publish articles like those. OQ is the "kinder, gentler" face of the white supremacist movement in the United States. The SPLC puts OQ into the category of "academic racism," writing "Founded in 2001 by Chicago millionaire publishing scion William H. Regnery, the Charles Martel Society puts out The Occidental Quarterly, a journal devoted to the idea that 'race informs culture' that is edited by a Who's Who of the radical right."

Why would an ostensibly anti-racist organization like SJP Vassar want to be connected in any way with The Occidental Quarterly? This is what I find particularly baffling. Why didn't they just apologize, remove the articles from the Tumblr blog, and move on?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Other articles and tweets on SJP Vassar

Commentary: What is going on at Vassar College - Jonathan Marks
Vassar has recently distinguished itself in at least two ways. First, it is one of a tiny group of colleges whose faculty supported the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel in substantial numbers. Thirty-nine faculty members signed a letter that sang the praises of the boycott-Israel movement. Second, as I have written here before, Vassar was the venue for an open forum at which two professors were vilified for leading a trip to Israel and at which Jewish students who spoke up were heckled. William Jacobson has provided extensive coverage of the situation at Vassar and was there to speak earlier this week. 
In a blog entry describing reactions to Jacobson’s speech, Jewish studies professor Rebecca Lesses draws attention to a series of posts by Vassar’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, the most shocking of which includes this language: “Of course, mainstream media hasbarats have been around for decades, as have ‘hasbaratchiks,’ fifth-columns in foreign governments who subvert national policies to serve Israel.” The author of the linked article, Greg Felton, also wrote a book entitled The Host and the Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America. Lesses observes that the Occidental Quarterly, on which the SJP draws, is an anti-Semitic magazine. While I hesitate to take the word of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which she cites, for it, a look through the Occidental Quarterly, which includes an article about libertarianism as a creed advanced by Jewish intellectuals to advance Jewish “group evolutionary interests,” tends to support the charge. 
When the source of the passage they had quoted was brought to SJP’s attention on their Facebook page, they were completely unrepentant: “We at Vassar are all about the academic freedoms. If the idea is alright, who cares where they come from?” 
Of course it is disappointing that the Vassar SJP believes or pretends to believe that academic freedom is a defense of their decision to cite with favor an anti-Semitic crackpot writing for an anti-Semitic publication. More shocking is their belief that “the idea is alright.” Even an undergraduate can be expected to know that when you accuse a group of being part of a “fifth column,” you are accusing them of treason and suggesting that they deserve the fate of traitors. 
The SJP consists of students, and perhaps a national publication is not the place to discuss their foolishness. But the adults in the room, including the 39 who signed the pro-BDS letter, and the administrators who stood by while Jewish students were heckled at Vassar, ought to be held to account for inattention to to a campus climate in which students feel free to post and defend anti-Jewish tropes.
Frontpage Mag - Students for Justice in Palestine Says Neo-Nazis are Right about Jews - Daniel Greenfield
Students for Justice in Palestine, despite its occasional use of Jewish front men and women, is a hate group that has engaged in attacks on Jews. But one Students for Justice in Palestine chapter in Vassar appears to have crossed the line into openly endorsing Neo-Nazi views of Jews.

It’s not surprising that SJP members would feel this way. Nazi materials are still popular in the Middle East, especially among Arab nationalists. PLO/PA leader Abbas wrote a Holocaust denial thesis.

They just usually know better than to say it.

The author of the linked article, Greg Felton, also wrote a book entitled The Host and the Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America. Lesses observes that the Occidental Quarterly, on which the SJP draws, is an anti-Semitic magazine. While I hesitate to take the word of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which she cites, for it, a look through the Occidental Quarterly, which includes an article about libertarianism as a creed advanced by Jewish intellectuals to advance Jewish “group evolutionary interests,” tends to support the charge.
That’s the Kevin McDonald flavor of hate.

Greg Felton has defended Gilad Atzmon, who is quite blatantly anti-Semitic, rather than a critic of Israel. He defends Holocaust denial and he’s a 9/11 Truther.

Felton also claims the Jews are really European Khazars and that Zionists were behind the Holocaust and 9/11.

Meanwhile SJP’s Tumblr ran a post accusing Jews of “willy-nilly throwing around charges of antisemitism”.

Because when you’re caught defending Neo-Nazi levels of crazy anti-Semitic hate, that’s just willy nilly.

As I wrote earlier, the Kansas City shooter’s reliance on Max Blumenthal’s work showed how increasingly Neo-Nazis and the radical Anti-Israel left have become dependent on each other.

Blumenthal had also posted at Mondoweiss which is closest to the intersection between Neo-Nazis and the Anti-Israel left.

One of its writers had said, “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, but I can understand why some are.” Another had written that, “Israel is no normal state, but one governed by the forging of Zionist system-logic into a Satanic ideology.”

Alan Sabrosky, wrote at Mondoweiss that “an awful lot of American Jews” are “agents of a foreign government” and called for “excising” the cancer. Elsewhere he wrote that, “I don’t care if we’re called anti-Semites or not,” claimed that most American Jews are “traitors” and accused Israel of being behind the September 11 attacks.

Mondoweiss’ Jeffrey Blankfort went so far in his hatred for Israel as to assert that, “When it comes to talking about Israel-Palestine — David Duke and Pat Buchanan are more informative than Noam Chomsky or people on the left.”

The left likes to claim that it fights fascism, yet it’s become increasingly comfortable with Neo-Nazis when fighting their common Jewish enemy.
Petra Marquardt-Bigman

Brandeis Center - Pro-Palestinian Antisemitism at Vassar (Petra)
Vassar College, which describes itself as “a highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college,” has recently attracted a lot of attention because of the energetic activism of so-called “pro-Palestinian” groups like Vassar’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who were apparently supported by dozens of faculty members.  As I noted in a related post a few weeks ago, the anti-Zionist – and sometimes also anti-Semitic – website Mondoweiss seemed to view the activism at Vassar as a kind of bellwether indicating victory in the “BDS war on campus.” By now, Mondoweiss has published another similarly triumphant report on a Vassar event with the movement’s “rock stars” Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal; according to an announcement on Facebook, the event was co-sponsored by Jewish Studies and the departments of English, Political Science, Religion, Geography, and Sociology. 
Before addressing subsequent developments, it is useful to recall that the first Mondoweiss report included the acknowledgement that “SJP students can be obnoxious,” though it also suggested that they should be compared to “abolitionists during slavery” who were “dedicated to a principle worth living and dying for.” However, if this comparison is at all justified, it is arguably in the sense that the goal of “pro-Palestinian” activism is the abolition of the world’s only Jewish state – and it is hardly surprising that the pursuit of this goal indeed often results in undeniably “obnoxious,” i.e. anti-Semitic, conduct.Vassar SJP neonat HolocaustVassar’s SJP chapter seems eager to provide plenty of evidence for this deplorable phenomenon. As Rebecca Lesses documents in a just published blog post, SJP Vassar featured anti-Semitic material on their tumblr page. When I clicked on the link to check out the page, I discovered that additional anti-Semitic material had been posted – or, to be more precise: a cartoon suggesting that Israel can get away with any behavior due to the Holocaust was cross-posted from a site named “neonationalist.” Apparently, Vassar SJP had no qualms about featuring material from “neonationalist,” even though the page is exactly what one would expect: a “white pride” promoter sharing utterly offensive material on topics like “Nationalism,” “Racialism,” “Anti-Feminism,” and, yes, “Anti-Degeneracy.” 
If this was an isolated case of supposedly left-wing “pro-Palestinian” activists and far-right reactionaries finding their lowest common denominator in their shared enthusiasm for anti-Semitic material, it would perhaps not be worth mentioning. But unfortunately, there are plenty of similar examples, as I have shown when I documented (pdf) the popularity of Max Blumenthal’s work on Israel at racist and neo-Nazi forums. In the meantime, it has become clear that in addition to the sites I mentioned, Blumenthal’s writings were also posted on the neo-Nazi forum used by the arrested suspect in last month’s fatal Overland Park, Kansas, shootings. As William Jacobson rightly emphasizes in a related blog post, this does not mean that Blumenthal should in any way be considered as responsible for the shooting; however, Jacobson is also right to argue that it is time to examine “the intersection between neo-Nazi and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories.” 
Likewise, it is arguably time for colleges and universities to examine the question if the support from faculty and staff for supposedly “pro-Palestinian” activism shouldn’t be matched by support for programs that would educate students about anti-Semitism. If Mondoweiss is right to see Vassar activism as a bellwether, there can be no doubt about the urgent need for improving students’ knowledge and understanding of anti-Semitism.
Petra also tweeted that SJP Vassar has apparently taken down one of their posts from a White Nationalist site:

Jeffrey Goldberg

Yair Rosenberg

P.S. A comment on these sources. Commentary and Frontpage Mag picked up on my posts about Vassar SJP. I think it's important for the word to get out that although members of the Palestinian solidarity movement claim to be anti-racist, and against anti-semitism, they sometimes have a scary affinity for racist, far-right White Nationalism.

But that doesn't mean that I agree for the most part with the political views of either journal. I would put my own political beliefs pretty squarely in the traditional Democratic camp, and in some cases further to the left. It's clear both journals are much further to the right than I am on almost all issues. 

The motto of FrontPage Mag is "Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out." Obviously, I do not agree with that. There are reasoned criticisms of liberalism and strong advocacy of conservative positions - but this is not one of them! I think the article from FrontPage Mag is reasonable - but don't bother reading the comments, because several of them display the irrationality that is typical for comments on articles that say anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this case, right-wing irrationality, which is sometimes liberally sprinkled with anti-Muslim slurs. In articles in more centrist or left-wing online sites, you can see left-wing irrationality, liberally sprinkled with antisemitism. 

FrontPage Mag is published by David Horowitz, who began his political journey as a New Left activist in the 1960s and is now firmly on the right. 

Commentary was founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee and is now a neoconservative stalwart. In its own words:
Since its inception in 1945, and increasingly after it emerged as the flagship of neoconservatism in the 1970s, the magazine has been consistently engaged with several large, interrelated questions: the fate of democracy and of democratic ideas in a world threatened by totalitarian ideologies; the state of American and Western security; the future of the Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture in Israel, the United States, and around the world; and the preservation of high culture in an age of political correctness and the collapse of critical standards.
Commentary far more frequently than FrontPage Mag publishes articles that I agree with (generally some of their articles on Israel or antisemitism).

More from SJP Vassar - it is "alright" to republish articles from antisemitic White Nationalists

Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine justified their publication of a link from the Occidental Quarterly on their Facebook page as well.

This is a screencap of the discussion:

"If the idea is alright, who cares where they come from?" Would they have the same response if they found out a supporter of Israel had links to racist sites on his or her blog? I doubt it - it would be used as a way to characterize that person also as a racist.

What is wrong with them?