Blog By Barry

January 23, 2009

Is Criticizing Israel Dangerous For Your Career?

Filed under: Palestine & Israel — Ampersand @ 1:51 pm

Ezra Klein, using himself as an example, says that “Criticizing Israel is not an act of courage because it’s not actually dangerous for your career.”

Well, it’s certainly true that it hasn’t been a problem for some people’s careers. Ezra is fine. Stephen Walt’s career seems okay, although I doubt he’ll be getting a White House nod.

But there are two important areas where people’s careers are threatened. First, and most importantly, you’d have a hard time finding a single Senator or Representative willing to criticize Israel’s policies — a unity that puts the US Congress radically out of line with the country’s split beliefs. Jon Stewart aptly described how Israel is treated by national politicians: “It’s the mobius strip of issues — there’s only one side.”

We also saw this during the presidential campaign, when Obama dumped Robert Malley as an adviser, after Malley was criticized for being pro-negotiations and anti-Israel. I’d say that Malley’s criticism of Israel has damaged his career prospects. I doubt Obama will be calling on Professor Khalidi’s advice anytime soon, either.

Secondly, there are persistant attempts to squash the careers of academics who criticize Israel. Because tenure and hiring processes tend to be secret, it’s impossible to know which complaints are legitimate — but the widespread (and correct) perception that if you criticize Israel, powerful academics like Alan Dershowitz may not just disagree with you but attempt to destroy your career, has surely had some sort of silencing effect.

This doesn’t mean that criticism of Israel has been wiped out; many academics criticize Israel quite loudly, despite the opposition. But I don’t think “speech hasn’t been entirely wiped out, so there’s no problem!” is a persuasive argument.

UPDATE: Ezra clarifies that he only meant to refer to journalists:

Barry Deutsch is right that congressmen and potential political appointees have more problems. Just ask Rob Malley and Zbigniew Brzezinski what happens to your access in Obamaland after the Israel Lobby decides you’re on the wrong side.


January 10, 2009

Video: Unarmed Palestinian-American Activist Confronts Israeli Soldiers

Filed under: Palestine & Israel — Ampersand @ 12:21 am

A clip from a Korean news show:

I could never, ever do that.

This is an extreme case of “information via internet.” Is any of this information reliable? Who knows?

According to Juan Cole:

She is being identified by my facebook friends as Huwaida Arraf, a Detroiter married to Adam Shapiro, a University of Michigan Poli Sci graduate, and a founder of International Solidarity Movement, a nonviolent activist organization.

A comment on the Youtube page:

This is the town of Balin near Ramallah. Every week a demonstration is held there protesting the wall being built around the town. Usually with heavy presence of Israeli and western peace activists.

And sadly, although the protests are usually peaceful, there are multiple cases of rubber shots wounds and suffocation of tear gas every week.

This video is not new, it was shot at least one year ago.

Eurosabra, in Feministe’s comments, says that the red tape on the soldier’s magazine cartridge indicates that the gun is firing rubber-tipped bullets.

David Nett, in Juan Cole’s comments, writes:

What strikes me in this is how casual the soldiers are as the aim and prepare to fire. Clearly they are in no imminent danger — as they are being confronted by the brave girl, they are not taking cover behind rocks or barriers. They are standing in the open, up straight, on top of a rock in one case, and carefully taking aim to fire at the demonstrators. Their body language is clear — they are not afraid for their own well-being. And yet, absent this girl’s intervention, they seem to have no reservation about casually firing into a crowd that poses no threat to them.

Of course, as I’m sure people will point out, the Israelis could have done far worse than they did — they did not shoot or beat Arraf, they were using rubber bullets, etc.. I don’t believe that “they could have done worse” is the appropriate measure, however.

Curtsy: Flip Flopping Joy.

Create a free website or blog at