17 Comments

I think BLM was easier because it was easy to have the moral high ground, and many liberals/progressives prefer to be correct (ie: "on the right side of history") than anything else. Palestine is pretty straight forward for them for this reason, it is morally correct to stand with/for Palestine. But I think for other people, they have a competing sense of morality/duty.

But I also think people need something to rally behind that feels important/encompasses their morals. I think all the time about how my city, like all cities, has rising homelessness, an ineffectual state government, groceries are still expensive, wages are stagnated - but this is the thing that gets people to take to the streets. This is a larger response than when Roe vs Wade was overturned which is more salient to the average America (especially the poor ones) than Israel/Palestine.

I remember being on Twitter and people trying to find Jews to follow onlike because they knew so little about Judaism. But suddenly they're not anti Semitic, can find all these white liberal Jews to denounce Israel (and hide behind) as they go on and on about settler colonialism and genocide.

I dont think America has leftists. I think America is full of self righteous people convinced by their own moral correctness.

Biden gave billions of aid to Ukraine, a conflict everyone has gotten over, but didnt want to give us another stimulus check that he literally campaigned on.

I think people just want to relive the 60s forever and feel like they are living through this massive political movement and they want to be remembered as the people who murdered Nazis, burned their draft cards, fought police as they protested on college campuses.

People want spectacle. And they want to feel really good while they do it.

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The fact that BLM protest were (objectively) the largest-participation protests in US history, AND that they accomplished (legislatively, materially) almost the least concrete outcomes of any such historical mass protests should lend credibility to your point that “I think people just want to relive the 60s forever and feel like they are living through this massive political movement and they want to be remembered..

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“In the interim, both SJP and JVP lost funding from the administration.”

And there’s the rub. Student political orgs should not be funded by any administration. Do you think Berkeley or Harvard *funded* SDS back in the 60s? I think it would foster both a more realistic and much more mature campus political mindset if students were given the message that “admin” are not their parents, are at best neutral and at worst (realistically!) hostile to certain political stances, given admin’s implication in the neoliberal imperial matrix, AND ALSO for the students, that they don’t owe admin deference or fealty. Permits for protests? It depends on what you’re willing to risk: suspension, expulsion, a plum job at McKinsey? Clarify the stakes and then get a true sounding of the depth of people’s political commitments.

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Floyd likewise didn't rampage through Minneapolis. The first the public heard on that story was the random injustice of his killing...but the first the public heard on the present crisis was the horrific Hamas attack on civilians. So it isn't hard to see why there would a difference in response, even if all else were equal. American war support after 9/11 had a very long tail-off. We should expect the same for 10/7 - the images are as grotesque.

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Columbia tolerates the BDS movement just fine. Student Gov voted for it this year, and ... nothing else happened. Columbia’s Jewish population doesn’t feel safe at the moment, there has been at least on attack. These groups’ protests have demonstrated (per this article) that they attract hate-filled people, even if that isn’t the organizers’ intent. Student safety is paramount.

Meanwhile, exactly Zero students lost rights here? The students can still protest, no? Two organizations were suspended, that’s it. Those are concepts, not people.

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For my Boomer generation (Jewish or gentile), the narrative of Zionism owed more to Leon Uris‘ Exodus (book and film) than to Herzl or Golda Meir, to wit: “Zionists didn’t force the Arabs out; they left voluntarily!” (Notice that the rabid older settler Daniela Weiss still clings to this trope in a recent New Yorker interview.) The only antidote is to insist again and again on the real narrative of the expulsion of a people, even while curbing self-righteousness by bearing in mind that white Americans live on land from which native peoples were expelled. I think this might help counteract the insufferable self-righteousness of both anti-Zionists, who present Israel as a unique pariah, and of Zionists who ignore that resisting native peoples have often committed what would count as atrocities against Jewish settlers in Palestine, in this country or elsewhere. But if I were Jewish or if I had relatives in Israel, I might still think of what Camus said about Algeria: “If I have to choose between the FLN and my mother, I’ll choose my mother.” One man can kill another man, but one truth can’t kill another truth.

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I wonder if Columbia's new Egyptian-American president feels that she has to strategically overcompensate for her ethnicity at what has traditionally been the Ivy League's most Jewish school.

Spontaneous demonstrations are long a part of Columbia's history. To unfairly penalize a group with certain beliefs, for not waiting ten days to respond to current events, especially if that group has a large following is just asking for trouble. This strategy of containment may have a strong counter-reaction and therefore may not end well for Columbia.

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It has been very interesting to see the institutional response in the United States when compared to Europe, where the sociocultural reaction to this latest round of the Israel-Palestine conflict has been much closer to 2020. Suella Braverman’s recent firing (after she referred to a large pro-Palestine protest as a “hate march”) hammers that home.

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Columbia is chicken and always has been... what you leave out and you should not have is that the

government in ISR now is finished as soon as the 'war' gets stable... and Iran will back off unless they are suicidal, which is of course possible!!!

Hamas overplayed its hand, but so has Bibi--- the last 20 years of ISR policies re Pals has been ignorant and harmful, a set-up for the Oct 7 horror show, 'death porn' by angry and deluded young men.

Arab refusal has always been the core problem with the creation of the Jewish Homeland! More ignorance and harm by Arabs against the Jews since Trumpeldor! Poor Dayan wanted to be a farmer!

Know this too now: Death to antisemites and Jew-killers! We are at war and as they say: "by any means necessary". So be careful!

Evil must be defeated. Period.

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Perhaps i should have asked what a "client-state" means, because it's one of those vague terms that probably means different things to different people.

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Columbia administrators would not be in this position if they had applied their own code of conduct in the first place. Their failure was reprehensible and their attempts to compensate now are futile. We already know who they essentially are. I can’t feel too sorry for these banned groups. If they did nothing wrong now, then it’s punishment for what they did wrong before.

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Ross,

I think Israel possesses its own agency in what it's doing in Gaza. The United States can put pressure on Israel, but it's unrealistic to think that the US would abandon Israel and Israel knows this. There's a huge difference between what the US can do in "2023" and what it could do in Vietnam. One was our war; the other is not.

I do find it strange that students are protesting with such vigor the actions of a foreign government. But at the same time, I'm fine with the protests and am concerned with any encroachments on free speech.

In the meantime Israel will do what it's going to do and the protests to me are a sideshow.

One more distinction. You can despise the Netanyahu government as I do for all sorts of reasons, and believe that his govt. did many things that made October 7th more likely, but you can still believe that post October 7th, any Israeli govt., including one without Netanyahu, would be doing pretty much what this Israeli government is now doing.

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Why is it strange that U.S. citizens are protesting the actions of a foreign government whose military apparatus depends on U.S. support?

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Israel is not an extension of the United States. 15% of the Israeli military budget comes from the US. And Israeli military technology benefits the US.

I'm not disputing the right to protest. I just think it's pointless, i.e., the country they're protesting against doesn't care. So the protest ends up being one American faction against the other.

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"15% of the Israeli military budget comes from the US. And Israeli military technology benefits the US. "

This is silly. Israel benefits far more from US technology than vice-versa. And there is a great deal of indirect military aid and support, such as the air craft carriers that have now moved into the Mediterranean etc... As Ross says, Israel is effectively a US client state- this really should not be in dispute.

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If you think Israel would be behaving the exact same way without unconditional U.S. support than you have a very strange take on that relationship.

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It might in fact be behaving worse. An Israel without implicit US backing is essentially a rogue nuclear state surrounded by enemies.

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