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BDS and the Evil Veterinarian


The old adage that if you manage to offend all sides in a dispute you may be doing something right may have been invented by a misanthrope. If so, then Norman Finkelstein may be a misanthrope. Or maybe just an independent thinker who dances to no one else’s tune but the one he composes himself.

Having earned the rabid enmity of indurated and powerful pro-Israel advocates a long time ago, he turned around and gave a few resounding slaps to the leadership of the BDS by pointing out their inconsistencies. Except he was not polite: he called it hypocrisy.

Thoroughly democratic and fighting for Palestinian human rights, including the right to free speech, BDS got so upset that it expelled him. (No, don’t jump to conclusions, no anti-semitism was involved: they also expelled Ken O’Keefe and Francis Clark-Lowes. Those expelled may have committed the hate crime of anti-BDSism, or so it seems.

For good measure, in the spirit of an old Palestinian cultural tradition called “herem” they declared Finkelstein unfit for communing with bona fides anti-zionists possessing a BDS ID card like themselves. Maybe herem is not exactly Palestinian, it is Jewish, and not exactly in the spirit of upholding free debate and free speech, but close enough: as close as tabouleh is to gefilte fish.

Perhaps, just as anti-zionist zionists (AZZs) maintain that the Jewish “guidance” and leadership of the Palestinian movement is essential in order to “kosherize” the movement against accusations of anti-semitism, just so they may have felt the need to wrap a kuffyieh around the herem to Islamize a bit. The man for the job turned out to be Omar Barghouti, an “Arab Israeli” studying at the Tel Aviv University.

Maybe not the ideal man for the job, Omar, who endorses the struggle against the racism of Israel while railing against “whites,” and calls for boycotting Israel’s academic institutions of higher learning while studying in one of them. Nobody is perfect though.

For all we know he may only take courses taught by Israeli professors who are deeply tanned and he may hang in at TA University only to see its decline from up close.

Having been already “herem’ed” by BDS, Finkelstein has not stopped, however: he calls BDS hypocritical for maintaining that they are defending the rights of Palestinians to obtain higher education in Israel just as Barghouti does so brilliantly (pursuing his PhD), while they castigate Israel as an apartheid.

Stung to the quick, BDS called in its own” little dershowitz”: Gabriel Ash. That made it exciting because Ash is intellectually twice blessed, apparently having assimilated some of the Marxist philosophy fed to him in the land of his birth, which he alloyed with the subtleties of Talmudic reasoning to forge it into a fearsome debating weapon.

In fact he is so devastating he should be reserved only for BDS’s most intractable foes. You don’t bring out a cannon to kill flies with it, which makes me think that someone should advise Finkelstein to feel flattered.

Ash defends BDS very well. To paraphrase him: “No, we are not a cult (as Finkelstein accuses). We do not select the targets of boycott by ideology (zionism) or by nationality. No, the criteria are evolving creatively.”

According to the PACBI’s statement: “All such events and projects that bring Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis together, unless the Israeli side is explicitly supportive of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and unless the project/event is framed within the explicit context of joint opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, are strong candidates for boycott.”

“So, you see,” he seems to suggest, “Israel is an apartheid yet it isn’t, or at least in some cases it isn’t, we need to check the explicit Ausweiss of the event to decide ‘Boycott or Not Boycott?”

Ash also explains further why BDS is not a “cult”—I am paraphrasing again: “It is very successful, especially in Switzerland, where I am active and we collected a lot of signatures in supermarkets. Some groups in the BDS are not what you might call “politically mature,” but in Switzerland we are very advanced, so much so that we succeeded in getting some vegetables and fruit labeled “produced in the Occupied Territories.” It is far from being a cult also because we have a lot of wide diversity of opinion—why, would you believe some of our members even call for a relaxation of the boycott? As for representation—do we really represent the Palestinian civil societies?—representation is always problematic, look around you, even parliaments have problems.”

All the way up to here, in my view, Ash was gold, well worth putting on the job. I was rather disappointed to see him mess up on such a good effort at the end, when he cried out in pain that Finkelstein is “undercutting and declawing us.”

BDS“Declawing?!?” So he sees Finklestein as the evil, merciless veterinarian plucking out BDS’s “claws”?

As if that was not bad enough, Ash made it worse by imploring “conscientious persons” to resist being “seduced” (his word) by the evil veterinarian waving pliers at them. Seduced by declawing?! Perhaps Ash imagines “conscientious persons” as a sad bunch of masochists. Maybe he has not met many of their representatives, you know how parliaments are.

In my opinion Ash was wrong—just viewing his effort on its rhetorical merits—to switch from the Marxist argumentation style (“Hey, we’re evolving creatively but we are the most enlightened representatives of the Palestinians, especially the advance detachment here in Switzerland) to the plaintive victimhood wail of the tortured. Maybe, in his defense, between composing the first part of his opus and the rest he was grabbed by the evil veterinarian and declawed, which would explain why the finale ends in soft-paw glancing stroke of the keys in pizzicato.



14 Responses to BDS and the Evil Veterinarian

  1. etominusipi July 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    anyone who wishes to retain a special label must live by the consequences of that.

    my ethno-racial identity as a Yorshireman evokes neither great enthusiasm nor animosity, except perhaps in certain backward and inbred mountain villages in Lancashire.

    statistically, goy = human

    so what are non-goys? i think we should be told.

    • Roy Bard July 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

      “anyone who wishes to retain a special label must live by the consequences of that.”

      genetic accident

      • fool me once... July 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

        Hi Roy, er not wishing to evoke another crushing Cohen critique, honest( 😉 ), but Carlin sadly didn’t escape the “influence”. Like others, I enjoyed Carlins delivery and take on things but caught him starring in the awful Scary Movie 3 film by David Zucker, one of the ZAZ trio. He plays a character called the Architect. Maybe his keen philosophical eye developed a blind spot in later life due to undiagnosed khazaracts. 😉

  2. etominusipi July 8, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    brilliant. and lovely. the man was a sage. sadly, i’ve only recently begun to see his stuff, after his train left the station.

  3. who_me July 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    the ash-finkelstein bds “controversy” is another of those establishment/status quoian jewish tactics to keep people occupied with unimportant things and away from working on things that would actually bring about a positive change. it’s a form of the divide and conquer strategy, as well.

    create a policy that looks effective, but isn’t and encourge its implementation. then create another policy, equally non-effective in intent, but similarly appealing asthetically, and encourge its implementation. each policy will gather its adherents and they will strive for “their” policy to the exclusion of the other one. this creates a divide where the opposing sides then fight against each other and ignore their original wider purpose. and the strife is all over things that don’t really matter that much to the purpose of the org.

    so not only is the group neutralised by keeping it occupied with doing “busy work”, they are divided and fighting against each other over this crap. and guess who wins.

    this is how the left was destroyed in the usa, and is being destroyed in europe, by the infiltration of both jewish zionists and jewish/goy agents provacateurs sowing divisiveness and promoting self-neutralising policies and actions.

    the way to counter these people is to ignore them and their rubbish. become independent of their influence and create orgs and movements without them. stop accepting blindly the info one is given and deconstruct it instead. ask questions. like:

    “how does this policy or action get us toward our goals?”

    when the logic doesn’t add up, ask why.

    • Gilad Atzmon July 9, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      the ash-finkelstein bds “controversy” is another of those establishment/status quoian jewish tactics to keep people occupied with unimportant things and away from working on things that would actually bring about a positive change.

      G: totally agree,,, it is there the make BDS and Palestine an internal J debate …

  4. etominusipi July 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    good analysis of splittism and its neutralizing tendency.

    however may i footnote that history teaches us politics and religion are inherently(?)highly fissiparous environments. fissiparity is not always negative in effect. it may foster creative development – for example the strategy works well in the vegetable world, where trees, whose morphology is root and branch founded on the simple algorithm of repeated binary division, constitute an altruistic counterpart of the animal kingdom’s apex predators.

    the difference between a tree branching and a political party dividing into factions is that two branches remain closely related parts of the same tree. they do not have to strive to emphasizer their separateness, for they occupy separate, though proximate, regions of three-dimensional space.

    in social movements there is no such architectural substrate for a split. we are dealing with a fluid rather than a solid. therefore constant ideological pressure must be exerted to maintain the integrity of the split. in such a case, as you say, most participants’ energy is diverted away from the original task.

    whilst you can blame some of this on agents provocateurs the only long-term viable solution to the problem is for people to become less judgmental and vindictive when they disagree. then it might be possible to see, in a more objective and less emotional way, where they can constructively work together, and where they must oppose (and therefore partially neutralize) each other. we might then speak of ‘articulation’ rather than factions.

    most of us, myself included, tend to overvalue our own personal perceptions of reality, and our own vision of right and wrong. let us hope that our children perform better in this regard. and theirs better than they themselves.

  5. fool me once... July 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    AT, do you mean “Francis Clark-Lowes from the PSC” rather than “Francis Boyle from the BDS”? Apologies and delete if I’m talking bollox.

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos July 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks for spotting the error–
      Jooooooooooooooooon, sorry, please correct my error.

  6. Roy Bard July 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Are you happy with that? IIRC Francis was expelled for thought crime rather than criticising BDS….

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos July 9, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

      same diff, as they say

      • Roy Bard July 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

        Indeed Omar Barghouti was in favour of the expulsion. He and the PSC both seem to think you can overcome a system worse than Apartheid without ever referring to race.

        I guess that way you don’t have to think too hard about the injustice of the Bantustan solution that Omar seems to be so keen on…..

        • Ariadna Theokopoulos July 9, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

          He can be a kapo in the bantustan, like Abu Mazen.
          Jews have enough experience with kapohood that they can now teach it to the Palestinians willing to get ahead in the bantustan.