Follow by Email

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl, "We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.": Bullshit!

"He's going to show you the bricks. He'll show you they got straight sides. He'll show you how they got the right shape. He'll show them to you in a very special way, so that they appear to have everything a brick should have. But there's one thing he's not gonna show you. When you look at the bricks from the right angle, they're as thin as this playing card. His whole case is an illusion, a magic trick."

- Vincent Gambini, "My Cousin Vinny," 1992

In a "remarkable" Washington Post guest opinion piece entitled "We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.," Harvard Professor Steven Levitsky and University of Chicago Assistant Professor Glen Weyl explain why they are "refusing to travel to Israel, boycotting products produced there and calling on our universities to divest and our elected representatives to withdraw aid to Israel, [u]ntil Israel seriously engages with a peace process that either establishes a sovereign Palestinian state or grants full democratic citizenship to Palestinians living in a single state." Levitsky and Weyl begin by observing:

"Undemocratic measures undertaken in pursuit of Israel’s survival, such as the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the denial of basic rights to Palestinians living there, were understood to be temporary."

Odd. Why don't Levitsky and Weyl explain why the West Bank and Gaza were occupied in the first place? No mention of who was responsible for the Six Day War in 1967. Also no mention of the evacuation of all Israeli troops and civilians from Gaza in 2005 by Ariel Sharon and the subsequent firing of thousands of missiles and mortar rounds at Israeli towns and cities from Gaza. Sure, Levitsky and Weyl make reference to Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which is less than 100 percent effective against rockets and cannot stop mortar rounds, but more to the point, I wonder how these two "progressive Jews" would feel if they were forced to live with constant warning sirens and explosions in Cambridge and Hyde Park.

Needless to say, Levitsky and Weyl make certain not to mention that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. Levitsky and Weyl also ignore the fact that several years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Barak similarly offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and tear down 63 Israeli settlements. In exchange for the settlements that would remain part of Israel, Barak said he would increase the size of Gaza by a third. Barak also agreed to Palestinian control of much of East Jerusalem, which would become Palestine's capital, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat, however, also refused.

In addition, these two "progressive Jews" fail to note that in November 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze "to restart peace talks" at the request of President Obama, but Palestinian Authority President Abbas delayed entering negotiations until the last moment and then walked away from the discussions.

And no mention by Levitsky and Weyl of a June 2014 Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll which determined (my emphasis in red):

"Regarding the longer-term, fundamental issue of a two-state solution, Palestinian public opinion has clearly taken a maximalist turn. Other recent polls, even after the collapse of the latest peace talks, showed a majority or plurality still favoring the goal of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel (though the numbers were gradually declining). But now, a clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Or in other words, Israelis are willing to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state. On the other hand, a clear majority of Palestinians refuses to accept Israel's right to exist. My belief is that it is difficult to negotiate a peace deal with a counterparty which refuses to accept your right to exist, but surely these two astute professors know better.

Levitsky and Weyl write:

"But we must face reality: The occupation has become permanent. Nearly half a century after the Six-Day War, Israel is settling into the apartheid-like regime against which many of its former leaders warned. The settler population in the West Bank has grown 30-fold, from about 12,000 in 1980 to 389,000 today."

Levitsky and Weyl make certain not to inform Washington Post readers that as acknowledged by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank. In other words, land swaps can be part of any peace agreement, but there's still that fly in the ointment: Palestinians must accept Israel's right to exist.

Levitsky and Weyl go on to say:

"Israel’s security situation has changed dramatically since the 1967 and 1973 wars. Peace with Egypt and Jordan, the weakening of Iraq and Syria, and Israel’s now-overwhelming military superiority — including its (undeclared) nuclear deterrent — have ended any existential threat posed by its Arab neighbors."

Sadly, there is no mention by Levitsky and Weyl of the more than 100,000 missiles being aimed at Israel from Lebanon by Hezbollah, or the recent arrival of Russian and Iranian troops and advanced armaments in Syria. Iran's commander of it Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, recently visited Quneitra, one mile away from the Israel's border with Syria. Hey, boys, given Iran's perpetual threats to exterminate Israel, what do you think, in your erudite opinion, he was doing there? My view is that Israel is currently facing a greater existential threat than it faced in 1967; however, I am not a Harvard professor. Rather, I am a mere IDF reserve officer with three children in active or reserve combat units.

But never mind. I hope Levitsky and Weyl will indeed boycott products produced in Israel, and they should begin by tossing out their desktop and laptop computers, which most likely include Israeli-invented components. Next, they should trash their cellphones, owing to their likely use of Israeli applications and software. And I hope they will also foreswear any lifesaving Israeli medical devices and medicines. 

Go for it, fellas! Show us how it's done!


  1. Levitsky and Weyl apparently want the Western media to stop covering the Grand Mufti.
    From one of the better analysis in the news last week, Caroline Glick:
    "...As the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Husseini invented and shaped the Palestinian national ethos in a manner that aligned with his pathological hatred of the Jews. Rather than providing the Palestinian Arabs with a positive vision of a future state that would safeguard and cultivate them as a distinct Arab nation, he shaped Palestinian society as a wholly negative phenomenon. It was seeded in a hybrid hatred of Jews that fused Koranic hostility to Jews with racism-based annihilationist European anti-Semitism rooted in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which Husseini translated and published in Arabic.

    The goal of Husseini’s nationalist drive was not to form a Palestinian Arab state, but to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state and to annihilate all aspects of the Jewish national liberation movement through a campaign a terror and political warfare. ...

    These ridiculous lies are only credible in a world devoid of any historical knowledge of the Palestinians’ 95-year history of aggression against the Jews. And so the Palestinians have invented a false history of their war against Israel in which thousands of years of Jewish history is blotted out, and thousands of years of Palestinian history have been invented out of whole cloth.

    In this revised version of events, Husseini has been erased from history. His role in the Holocaust has been deleted. The fact that the goal of the Palestinian national movement from its inception has been to annihilate the Jewish state and that the annihilation of Israel remains its goal still today has similarly been washed out of the history books and the news pages.

    To maintain this fictional account of current and historical events, the Palestinians depend on the collaboration of the Western media.

    And with each passing year, that collaboration has grown more open, expansive and shameless.

    Western reporting on the events of the day now are almost entirely devoid of any relationship to reality.

    [and the new big thing on elite American college campus? stifling free speech. easier for the Big Lies to be cast in stone...they abolished actual history in favor of dead-white-men-evil-imperialists-hysteria at least twenty years ago]

  2. I think you tried really hard and made some very good points, but words are not sufficient to express the deep sense of revulsion, the nausea most of us of feel when reading the pious prescriptions of these privileged *****. The have no responsibilities and no convictions. They will never have to pick up a weapon and put their lives on the line to defend themselves, their family or their country. Yet they righteously preach economic warfare against those who do. They are just little boys with advanced degrees from fine colleges who need them to cover moral void underneath. What does it take to speak up for Israel in America? What risks does it incur? None . But they can't even do that--so bereft are they of even the most minimal qualities of human courage. Pitiful.