The Inspiring Moral Leadership of the Hampshire Students (repost + thoughts)

Due to PapoWorld’s recently pensive state of mind, I’m going to directly repost something written by Philip Weiss.  I tend to really like boutique blogs who can devote themselves fully and deeply to a particular topic or issue (so long as they do so with integrity and from a position of moderate credibility).  When it comes to anything about Israel, these sorts of niche blogs are essential.  I should state upfront: Philip Weiss represents a more progressive viewpoint, whereas many others might, and do, take a position far more supportive of a State’s use of violence (and more-generally, the principle underlying much of American foreign policy, that might makes right). 

(One may accuse me of editorializing there, in my characterization of the spectrum of views on Israeli occupation, but you need to ask yourself what other defense is there, other than might makes right, to overcome the fact of Israel’s creation on Palestinian land.  The Israeli claims obfuscate things for the inattentive observer by pointing to recent tits or tats in the unending conflict, overlooking the cause of the rockets and suicide bombers.  Mind you, this all comes from a government that refuses to give back even the land taken in ’67, and was recently revealed to be 100% complicit in–and condoning of–the illegal settlements that many, yours truly included, consider nothing less than theft and naked imperialism.)

Philip Weiss on “The inspiring moral leadership of the Hampshire students” for encouraging their university’s divestment from companies supporting the Israeli occupation (the post ’67 one), after the jump 

The inspiring moral leadership of the Hampshire students

A few times in the last 3 years I have declared that young people are going to lead us; and each time I have been premature. I did it at Columbia University in an article for New York Magazine in ’07. I did it at Brandeis University in The American Conservative that year too. On both occasions I was stunned to see the diversity of the progressive movement on campus: identity politics meant nothing to these kids; Jews intermingled with Muslims and Asians in a cohesive manner, and no one gave a s**t.

Well now I am saying the same thing about the Hampshire divestment and betting that I will be right. This is a shot that will be heard ’round the nation. It is no wonder that Dershowitz called the students in a threatening manner as soon as they had taken the action: Dershowitz and I recognize the huge symbolic meaning of this stroke. For years divestment was stopped dead by then-Harvard-President Lawrence Summers’s attack on it, in 2002, saying it was antisemitic in effect if not intent, which caused rightthinking gentile faculty to steer away from the issue like a plague. Then it was stopped among the Protestant churches by endless legal wrangling, again with the threat of being labelled antisemitic hanging over their heads.

Those Protestant churches couldn’t adopt simple measures that limited the divestment to companies doing business in the Occupation! The evil occupation, with its crazy settlers and pogroms–which is all the Hampshire initiative applies to, the companies that helped in one way and another to kill Rachel Corrie! So let us be clear, This is a huge moral stroke. And who is responsible: not Protestant churches or Middle East Studies professors, but an organization of committed students, many of them Jews, who will not be intimidated by anyone, their own administration or Alan Dershowitz. Bless them and honor them!

According to one of those students, in this comment on Indypendent, when Hampshire College first divested from Apartheid South Africa years ago, “the Administration did what it could to distance itself from the situation then, too, with then-President Adele Simmons calling it a ‘big non-issue.'” And today when you visit Hampshire, they brag on that bold move! This will happen again. We and Hampshire will look back on the bravery and independence of Hampshire students as we look back on the bravery of the Wilmot Proviso, or of Harriet Beecher Stowe, or of Congressman Abraham Lincoln when he introduced anti-slavery legislation in Congress in 1848– on all these hammer blows by free and unafraid people, others were summoned to the great task at hand!

Again: Dershowitz knows this as well as I do. He is a great advocate. He knows he must stop this now, and blacken the Hampshire initiative, so that no signal goes out to others FROM JEWS that It is OK to do this thing. But Dershowitz is too late. The students hung up on him and laughed. Generational forces are moving past him. He is 70 years old and is advocating for the evil settlement program that even the American government knows is a disaster, that even Gary Ackerman, the Israel Lobby’s main man in the House, or one of them, has lately condemned as settler “pogroms”  (language first employed by me, then later by Jeffrey Goldberg).

Dershowitz employed a traditional Jewish intimidation tactic, calling the Jews and reminding them of their loyalty to the Jewish family. It didn’t work. These were Hannah-Arendt-Baruch-Spinoza Jews who feel loyalty first to the human family.

It is also fascinating that Dershowitz is Israel’s lawyer in the U.S. He played the tough prosecutor here:

“[Hampshire wants] me on their side, they want the anti-Israel students on their side, they want everybody on their side. But unfortunately the divestment campaign is a zero-sum game. Both sides can’t win, and Hampshire let the anti-Israel students win and they will pay a heavy price for that. Unless they withdraw it, they withdraw it and they make it clear they have rejected these efforts to divest from Israel.”

We must accept that he IS Israel’s lawyer, Israel has accepted that, the press has accepted it, and the Jewish leadership has accepted it. As happened when he helped muscle Jimmy Carter away from the Democratic convention. Tragic, but true: that a man of such blindered ethnocentrism and persecution anxiety (“Auschwitz borders,” he called the Green Line) has such a prominent position in Jewish life. 

That is ending due to the incredible act of the Hampshire students. Click on these videos below; hear these students talking about what they did. There is no prevarication, there is no legalism or subtlety. They saw a wrong and wanted to decry it. They did not think about the Israel lobby, about their jobs, about the funding of their school, or the Hamas charter. They did not think about their dual loyalty to the Jewish state. They thought about the social and political evil in which their country is implicated. They thought: those 412 children in Gaza will not have died in vain. These kids are leading us.
(Phil Weiss)


♦NOTE♦ I do think there are very reasonable ways to disagree with his support of this.  Divestment is indeed complicated because of how difficult it is for an organization (the one doing the divesting) to do so without a single contradiction.  As in, some will (and have) call the admin. of Hampshire anti-semitic because they haven’t divested with Cuba, or North Korea.  I hear you, Citizens who see a double-standard being played against Israel.  But I keep coming back to the larger point of divestment: to send a message.  No message needs sending about the injustice of N. Korea or Iran or Saudi Arabia.  Their crimes are well-known here (also, many of their crimes are against their own people, a very weak point for me to raise, but kinda revelant when we consider that the US protects Israel from the UN, and that there are racial and ethnic issues at play–its not merely a local power struggle within a people) and they are sufficiently, some would argue: excessively, demonized by not only our media but our Congressional leaders as well. Whereas Israel has the support and protection of our (largely uninformed) country. 

In addition to the political dimensions involving aggression between two separate peoples and races (as opposed to stuff Castro does to dissenters), there is the element of American harm or involvement.  We are hugely tied to Israel in the global eye.  If people in this country believe this unilaterally beneficial relationship is no longer in the interests of the US, or stronger still: if they perceive our diplo-military support of Israel to be harming the US by creating more “terrorists” and further radicalizing that very sensitive, very dangerous region…then they may choose to call attention to this cancer upon America by publicly calling for divestment of funds from organizations or companies that support the occupation of post-’67 Palestine by Israelis.

(statement from student group) (correction from Board of Trustees using jargon to make this ‘not about Israel per se’) (Dershowitz trips over himself with the lies and propaganda.  see the smears yourself)

I welcome your thoughts.



here is another post by Philip Weiss where we describes HOW THE ISRAEL LOBBY PUTS BLACKMAIL TO USE


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