Monday, March 26, 2012

Olmert Speaks Out Against Beinart

No, not Ehud. His brother, Yosef (whom I know well).


Dr. Josef Olmert, who is currently teaching at the University of South Carolina, was so angry at Beinart over his recent New York Times op-ed that he offered to come to Washington to debate against him at a forum. But he didn't make it to the J Street conference.

"Beinart’s article and his book clearly require a response, even if it is doubtful whether free-speech, good-hearted liberals like him are even interested in a debate, as they believe in a boycott of hundreds of thousands of settlers," Joseph Olmert told Haaretz. "It's collective punishment, and I was under the impression that peace-lovers hate collective punishments. Well, apparently only against Palestinians," he said.

Josef Olmert wondered where a proper settlement boycott ends. "What is the case with those who believe in the right of Jews to live in their historic homeland, while they themselves still live inside the Green Line borders?" he asked. "Are they not more dangerous than the settlers themselves, for it is their political support which brings pro-settler governments to power in Jerusalem? And what about those who vote for these governments even if settlements are not necessarily their main agenda? Don't they deserve to be boycotted by virtue of their political blindness?"

"And last, but not least," Joseph Olmert continued, "What about those, like me, who believe that Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria - but also believe, as painfully as it is, that most of these territories will have to be under Palestinian control, if and when the latter will be ready to compromise on 'just' 95% of the disputed lands? Should not we be boycotted for the sin of using Biblical names, thus cultivating, though inadvertently, support for the settlers? Boycott, Beinart should know, is something that you know how it starts; you never know how it ends." He went on to say that that political scientist and activist Norman Finkelstein called upon the organizers of the BDS campaign to "say the truth: that it is their goal to destroy Israel, not just to boycott it."

Another question Joseph Olmert had for Beinart was how effective the boycott would really be. "Take the Arizona example," said Olmert. "Governor Jan Brewer was reelected in 2010 with a landslide. Her voters were not impressed with the boycott." (During my last visit to the West Bank, some business owners boasted that their sales had skyrocketed since the calls to boycott their products).

But at that J Street Conference, you have deep thinking people like Jacob Silverman, a student at UC San Diego, who

is still trying to figure out what he thinks about it. I meet him near the J Street U merchandise, which included t-shirts with messages like "I [heart] two states." He isn’t wearing one of those, but does have a black yarmulke on his head - certainly not typical for this conference.

"It's important to put pressure on the settlements enterprise," says Silverman. "That's also what the Palestinians at the conference said.

J Street - Zionism's Dead End.

Then again, if you are a street person, you can stumble across a headline like this:

Crosswalk proposed for F.C.'s J Street, Highway 69 intersection


No comments: