Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
May 5, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 5     (5 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 5     (5 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
May 5, 2017

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 5, 2017 PAGE 5A II , + I 1 I By Mitchell Bard anti-Israel activity, AMCHA and genocidal expression" distorted the campus picture were found. Looking at the I am loath to criticize other byignoringpro-lsraelactivity, map, it appears the Nazis have organizations that are trying which dwarfs that of Israel's overrun much of the United to help students and combat detractors; States (if you zoom out, the the BDS campaign on col- In contrast to AMCHA's takeover is slightly less dra- lege campuses; however, I conclusions, the Israel on matic). Perhaps the authors have also felt an obligation to Campus Coalition found a have spent too much time correct misinformation put dramatic12 percent decrease watching the TV series, The out to create hysteria about inanti-Israelactivityanda3.5 ManintheHighCastle, which the alleged dangers faced by percent increase in pro-Israel postulates that Germany won Jewish students. Selective use activity; the war and occupies the East of extraordinary incidents Some of the "incidents" Coast (while Japan controls and flawed data have been shouldnothavebeencounted theWestCoast).Themap'sim- disseminated to create a pic- at all because they were not age of Nazis sweeping across ture of campuses across the directed at Jewish students; the region is reminiscent of country being engulfed with The failure to follow up on World War II propaganda. anti-Israel activity and anti- reports led to the misreport- Even using their flawed Semitism, a portrayal that is ing of incidents that were not methodology, AMCHA's data simply inaccurate, anti-Semitic; shows a significant 30 per- Earlierthisyear, Icriticized All "incidents" werecent decrease in anti-Semitic the AMCHA Initiative for wrongfully treated equally; activity on campus in 2017 publishing a seriously flawed AMCHA claimed a rela- fromthesameperiodlastyear. report that trumpeted "an tionship between hostility It is also important tonote alarming spike in campus toward Israel and hostility that counting swastikas is anti-Semitismduringthefirst towardJews, whichaBrandeis problematic. First, painting half of 2016." The data simply study found was not the case. swastikas are easy, cowardly didn'tsupporttheconclusion: Now, AMCHA is getting acts where the perpetrator The figures in the report publicity for a new report typically gets away so we did not add up; Only 64 cam- that includes interactive maps don't know their motivation puses had any incidents; 44 purportedly showing how (anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, percent of the schools with widespread the problem of antisocial, vandalism). In one the most Jewish students had anti-Semitism is on campus, case, for example, the swasti- no occurrences; I find this release especially kasweredrawnincorrectlyby The most serious acts-- appalling because of its use someonewhowas caughtand harassment and threats-- of a graphic that is offensive had no idea what a swastika were rare. AMCHA recorded andwildlymisleading. Hereis meant. Second, university of- only 11 cases (3 percent) a screenshot from AMCHA's ficials usually respond quickly and, consistent with ADL web site of its new interac- and forcefully when the sym- data, there was not a single tive map: bol appears on campus in instance of a Jewish student AMCHA decided to use stark contrast to their silence being physical attacked; swastika flags to illustrate or dissembling responses to By focusing solely on campuses where "swastikas rhetorical attacks on Jews and Israel. Third, these incidents are often one-offs; that is, a swastika appears once on a building over the course of an entire school year. This is despicable, but hardly an indication of a hostile environ- ment on that campus. The appearance of a swas- tika should be taken very seriously if it appears aimed at threatening or intimidating a particular individual (as in finding one on the door of a Jews' dorm room). Again, as a matter of perspective, it is important to note that Jew- ish students are not being physically attacked. When we talk about problems on campuses, they are typically more endemic and have little or nothing to do with the ap- pearance of swastikas. The AMCHA BDS map is less misleading but also fails to tell the true story of the BDS campus campaign. This illustration is helpful in show- ing that, contrary to much of their overwrought rhetoric, the campuses are not on fire. The BDS campaign doesn't even register in most of the country and is concentrated on a handful of campuses primarily in California and the northeast. Here's the real story about the effort to convince univer- sities to divest from compa- nies doing business in or with Israel: In the last 12 years, divestment has been voted on a total of 101 times at 63 of the nation's 2,500 four- year colleges. That means 97 percent of the campuses have never had a divestment vote. BDS proposals have been defeated 62 percent of the time. Of the 38 votes in favor of divestment--at only 29 schools--not one has resulted in any change of a university's investment policy. The school year is not fin- ished, so there may yet be a late flurry of activity, but so far only 13 divestmentvotes have been held this academic year (affecting less than 1 percent of all campuses), compared to 18 last year and 27 the year before. The majority have failed, but the anti-Semites won the last two votes after scheduling them to coincide with the Passover break to ensure most Jewish students would be away. The fact that the BDSers have largely given up on con- vincing Americans to boycott Israel, and are increasingly resorting to desperate tactics such as trying to prevent pro-Israel lecturers from speaking, is just one of many signs the BDS movement may be petering out in the United States (Europe is a different story) as its failures mount and the backlash grows. BDS is now correctly rec- ognized as anti-Semitic and boycotts are being rejected by academic associations that want no part of the Nazi-like efforts to banish Jews from academia. One exception is the Middle East Studies As- sociation, long the home of hypocrites who insist on the right to attack Israel and Jews with impunity while accusing their critics of McCarthyism. MESA is notoriously hostile to Israel but has formally stayed apolitical; however, BDS activists successfully mobilized to change MESA's bylaws to allow a future vote to boycott Israel. The good news is that co- operation between American and Israeli researchers and universities has continued to grow despite the efforts of the boycotters. In addition, legis- lation in Congress is taking aim at BDS while a growing number of states (Texas just became the 18th) are adopt- ing prohibitions aimed at the boycotters. South Carolina, the second state to address the issue, is now taking the next vital step by .propos- ing legislation adopting l he State Department definition of anti-Semitism to make it possible to take action against anti-Semitic BDS campaigns on college campuses. The pro-Israel movement on campus is also growing Nazis on page 15A and By Mei Curtov reason don't respond well to blackmail. Why not dispatch Three opinion pieces on a high-level U.S. emissary U.S. policy toward North Ko- to Pyongyang to negotiate a rea have appeared in the New freeze while sanctions are be- York Times in the past week. ing scaledback, accompanied They deserve critical com- by other inducements (suchas ment. The writers are all very the promise of US diplomatic capable people who share a recognition and a pledge, as deep concern about Korea's both sides made in 2000, of seCurity and the possibility "no hostile intent")? of a major blowup that would The second article, by Max cause enormous human and Fisher, agrees with Kristof material losses throughout that there are no good options theAsia Pacific.As a longtime for dealing with North Korea, student of Korean affairs, for instance severe sanctions however, I find that these and threats of a missile at- commentaries--which re- tack. He's right there. Fisher flectanalysisintheU.S.main- warns that the particular stream media generally--are problem is the North's sur- narrowly focused and alarm- vival instincts, which require ist. They would make it seem it to maintain repression and that, like climate change, "a permanent state of near- we are doomed because "the war." North Korea's behavior situation" has entrapped us. pattern is to keep provoking The first of the three ar- tensions, raising the risks of ticles is by Nicholas Kristof. war and threatening preemp- He correctly points out that tive attack. No concessions, China cannot be relied on to Fisher suggests, seem likely pressureNorthKorea, norcan to move North Korea from attackingNorthKoreaendthe its risk-accepting strategy, nuclear problem. We're run- which puts the onus on the ning out of time, he writes, U.S. and its allies who have so and the danger increases that much more to lose. He then Trump will stumble into war. offers four conditions that he So what's left to try? He offers believes constitute North Ko- a"lousy option": increase the rea's "minimally acceptable" pressure on NK with China's terms: the right to keep its cooperation "while pushing nuclearandmissileprograms; for a deal in which North Ko- no regime change; end of rea would verifiably freeze its sanctions; and"withdrawal or nuclear and missile programs reduction" of the U.S. alliance without actually giving up its with South Korea. But Fisher nukes, in exchange for sanc- believes these conditions are tions relief." very unlikely to be met, and This is a lousy option, thus, like Kristof, wonders if though perhaps not for the we aren'theadedto"disaster." reason Kristofthinks. Though The New York Times edito- North Korea certainly wants rial board joins with these tokeepitsnuclearandmissile writers in worrying about programs, it is very unlikely Trump's impulsiveness and to agree to freeze them un- the possibility of a disastrous der pressure from U.S. and preemptive strike on North Chinese sanctions. It's acase Korea. The board holds out of sticks before carrots-- hope that China and the U.S. a non-starter. The North might somehow be able to Koreans for some strange rein in the North; but its best suggestion is that Trump "ratchet up sanctions and find a way to engage the North in negotiations." These three writings share a number of misconceptions. First, the sources they con- suit--those mentioned and those we may reasonably presume have informed the articles--are weighted in favor of evaluating military capabilities, not diplomacy. Thus, the key analytical question is not what induce ments may persuade North Korea to freeze or reduce its nuclearand missile programs, and put them under interna- tional inspection, but rather what kind of punishment will hurt North Korea enough for it to surrender its nukes and missiles. Focusing on mili- tary capabilities, moreover, ignores intent: It makes quite a difference whether North Korea's military buildup is for attack or deterrence. And if, as a number of former US officials have said, deterrence of a U.S. attack is responsible for the buildup, that suggests a menu of incentives to provide North Korea with strategic reassurance. Second, the writers never examine any of the history of U.S.-DPRK diplomacy. So it's easy to dismiss negotiations as an option, as though it is hopeless to try. There's more than a little hint here of Cold War-era "you can't trust the communists."Yet many in the Korea-watching community have long argued that diplo- matic engagement with the North has been productive at times. The 1994 Agreed Framework during the Bill Clinton administration halted North Korea's production of nuclear weapons for a decade, and the 2005 accord under the Six Party Talks produced an "action-for-action" agreement on political and economic issues that still has value for all sides. And let's not forget that North Korea is not the only party that has failed to comply with agreements or undermine them with bel- ligerent behavior. U.S. administrations have consistently posed obstacles to compliance, such as re- fusal to restart talks until the North has given up its nuclear weapons, refusal to talk to Pyongyang without preconditions, and annu- ally carrying out large-scale military exercises jointly with South Korea. Third, in the case of Fisher's article, his list of presumed North Korean conditions for an agreement come from his imagination, not from examination of the record. Ending the U.S.-South Korea alliance is no doubt a North Korean hope; but that's not among its central demands. Even ending sanctions isn't a condition per se. What North Korea wants is the legitimacy that comes from diplomatic recognition and assurances of regime survival, alongwith a peace treaty that ends the Korean War and paves the way for economic aid from the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and others. What North Korea would accept as conditions for those concessions can only be determined by talking with it--a subject neither Fisher nor any others entertain. It is hardly surprising, then, that a stalwart of liberal re- porting such as the New York Times provides deeply pessi- mistic accounts of prospects on the Korean peninsula. Instead of offering a perspec- tive that takes engagement- minded diplomacy as its start- ing point, the Times articles look at worst-case futures. To be sure, the word "negotia- tions" does appear in these commentaries, but without serious interest in them. We are thus left to throw up our hands and surrender to the inevitable: Trump's threats, which the Times authors find dangerous but unable to get beyond. Strange that the Times laments the evis- ceration of the State Depart- ment and sidelining of its top leadership, yet fails to connect the dots to North Koreapolicy. Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University. Hog Wild! SO IS THERE STILL SOMEONE AT THE TIMES WHO VERIFIES I WS ITEM ,