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Right-of-reply: ADC report muddies the water

December 2, 2010 – 5:30 pm26 Comments

By Larry Stillman

This article is a response to Deborah Stone’s recent piece in Galus Australis and her summary of the ADC special report, “Antisemitism on Campus. Contemporary Jewish experience at Victorian universities”. The article has now been circulated internationally, which may make ADC happy because it’s up there in the propaganda war; but in fact, I received a puzzled query from a professor of Jewish Studies in Canada.

As a preface, let me say that there is a problem with Australian anti-Semitism, and particularly virulent anti-Zionism that crosses into anti-Semitism. Recently I took a Palestinian organization to task for using vile materials produced by the bizarre Gilad Atzom, an Israeli now in the UK. On another occasion I have berated Palestinian protesters for marching with posters taken out of pages of Der Stuermer. I have also gotten into long online ‘discussions’ with well-meaning Anglo advocates whose stereotyping and typecasting are contemptible. I also resent simplistic and stereotypical representations of Jewishness, which the media seems to thrive on (sounds of Fiddler on the Roof).

But there is a problem with misstating or exaggerating the problem of ‘anti-Semitism’ and presenting the ‘evidence’ as authoritative. This is the case with the ADC report. As Deborah Stone says in her report, 50 students who were members of the Jewish students’ organization out of a number we actually don’t know, self-selected to respond online, and that they perceived anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism as direct anti-Semitism. These were students who were motivated and WANTED to respond.

From the start, I will admit that I am primarily a qualitative researcher who understands the ins and outs of that sort of work, but I also know a bit about statistics and validity in social science. There is a basic flaw with the methodology. For the survey to have any credibility whatsoever, it has to be constructed in such a way that the various hypotheses put forward on the basis of the evidence are defensible. The only way to do this is to construct a valid scientific poll, what is known as a random sample of a total population. Usually, in polling, you want at a 95% confidence that the results are valid with a 5% margin of error. For example, with a population of say 3000 Jewish students, you would want a poll of at least 341 students. This can be constructed for example, by phoning a sample of male/female students assuming that everyone has a phone, spread across different age groups and suburbs, as well as faculties and universities. This is the kind of methodology used in the Monash Centre for Jewish Studies 2008-9 Population Survey where it says (p. 39), “A ‘scientific’ sample is only as reliable as the database from which it is drawn”. Thus, a self-selected ‘sample’ of only 50 Jewish students, all of whom are members of the Australian Union of Jewish Students is bound to have an inherent bias because it excludes other Jewish student and working with relatively small numbers and thus making extrapolations is misleading and erroneous.

In addition, the report makes all sorts of assertions without empirical data. As an example, the causal suggestion that Latrobe is more anti-Semitic because it is in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne and closer to Muslim populations and has a training program for Muslims is made without any evidence. Could it not also be due to a strong presence of fringe leftists of Anglo or other persuasions who dominate campus politics? If the ADC’s conclusion is not true, then the ADC could be guilty of stigmatizing the Muslim/Arabic community. I see many Muslim students at Monash and if anything, they are too studious and apolitical.

It can also be argued that the poll had leading questions, because it asked, for example, whether students had seen ‘anti-Semitic’ acts (as distinct from anti-Israeli acts). A cleverer poll would have investigated student’s understandings of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and their relationship to campus politics. It would have closely examined the types of acts that were considered anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist and scaled their perceived and if possible, actual severity. How do you compare ‘Fuck Jews’ on a toilet door to a nasty banner at a rally?

Thus, the survey resembles push-polling, which results in self-fulfilling and confirming answers for the polster. Since anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism are difficult and contested terms, there is a need to unpack the terms in research and get some insight into how students, a) perceive the relationship between the two, b) see the responses of non-Jews, and particularly political antagonists in terms of the distinction, and c) if possible, deal with some real facts (the very hard stuff).

The survey has another problem, because it doesn’t look at how students perceive Israel’s actions (good, bad, ugly) and how actions at particular times lead to activity on campus. Instead, the survey works from an unproblematicized picture of Israel, that is a ‘Zionist approach’, which again, excludes or marginalizes legitimate and /or extreme critique.

Another issue that the survey fails to address adequately is that of identity on campus. The report claims that students live in fear on campus and that they play down their identity. But again, the survey only looks at the responses of the most highly motivated of students who responded to the survey. I suspect that on campus, many Jewish students who come from a relatively cloistered and privileged existence are somewhat shocked to be in contact with the rest of the population. Unquestioned Zionism comes into strong conflict, and assertive and not very polite debate with very different sorts of people with elements of a culture clash. But again, this is just a hypothesis that has to be tested through much more careful forms of research.

The ADC report is a very sloppy self-fulfilling report that should not be called research. Yes, there is a problem with ultra leftists and a few others on campus and over-enthusiastic embrace of the Palestinian cause at all costs, but the effects of what they do (and what Jewish students do in response) are not well analysed.

Reading

Anthony Lerman, Sense on Anti-semitism

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26 Comments »

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Larry, many of your points are valid, but I take issue with this one:

    “The survey has another problem, because it doesn’t look at how students perceive Israel’s actions (good, bad, ugly) and how actions at particular times lead to activity on campus.”

    This is irrelevant when looking at the issue of how anti-Zionism morphs into anti-Semitism. Even if Israel were committing despicable acts, this would not justify anti-Semitic sentiment.

  • Leah Kantor says:

    It seems to me that Deborah Stone put in the proviso you describe in her introduction, acknowledging that the study has methodological limitations. The point is that even if one of the anectodes she reports are true, particularly in relation to the behaviour of teaching staff, it is one too many, and of serious concern.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Larry, just because survey methodology is flawed it doesn’t mean the conclusions are incorrect – it just diminishes the level of confidence one can have in the results –
    in this case the survey’s conclusions are entirely in keeping with the sort of observations you make in the introduction to your piece (as well as a lot of other anecdotal evidence) so the conclusions of the survey are qualitatively plausible, even if quantitatively questionable

    and lets say for arguments sake that, due the various biases in the survey, the 68% of 50 respondents are in fact the only Jewish students in Victoria to witness antisemitic events on campus- lets assume not one other student has had a problem- that leaves 34 students who have experienced antisemitism on campus- I am sure you are not suggesting this is a trivial issue

    The tobacco industry used to hire people who knew a thing or two about statistics to debunk the very early ( and of necessity inconclusive) emerging data on the risks of smoking…

  • frosh says:

    Larry,

    341 students? Not 340? Or 342? Or 350?

    It sounds like you are misusing a software program that calculates statistical power (G*Power perhaps?) or a book of power tables (Jacob Cohen’s?). Those are designed for null hypothesis significance testing – I’m not sure they are meant for this type of study.

    I agree with you that that this study has limitations due to its small sample size and sampling procedure, and thus one should not extrapolate frequencies from this study.

    However, as a purely exploratory or descriptive exercise, the study has some value.

    I also don’t agree that the question you used an example was push-polling.

    Asking students “whether students had seen ‘anti-Semitic’ acts” is not push polling. Push polling would be if they phrased the item like this
    “There has been widespread anti-Semitism on campus. How many such incidents have you seen?”

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Frosh. Don’t be silly. I am only quoting numbers relevant to conducting effective survey research–the sort of thing used by researchers such as Roy Morgan or academic pollsters. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_%28statistics%29 and a good book on sampling.

    And I am not working for a tobacco company Andrew, I am trying to unpack confusion.

    To Frosh and others, the point I am trying to make is that when strongly emotional terms like anti-semitism/anti-Zionism are surveyed, working off perceptions alone is very difficult(one person’s anti-Semite is another’s f-wit).

    Of course there can be no objectivity in personal perception, but a more careful investigation of the issue as I suggested might have in fact shown there is a difference in how, where and for what (e.g. during the Gaza invasion) things are said (as I suspect in many cases).

    We could therefore design good research to test out the ‘continuum’ between anti-Zionism (or even strong critique of Israel–another dimension) and into anti-Semitism and its relationship to particular events and activities including the activity of both Zionist and anti-Zionist groups such as Socialist Action or Larouchites who turn up every now and again (and to my mind, they are real anti-Semites).

    But of course and regrettably, because there are nasty speech acts, how much are these angry and intolerant undergraduate words concerned about politics as distinct from full-blown action and shall we say, a reluctance to take action on behalf of the police (as in the Menahem Vorchheimer case)? We need to be careful not to lump it all together.

    Back in the 80s and 90s the Commonwealth Bureau of Multicultural Research conducted a lot of high quality quantitative research into intergroup tolerances and perceptions. Unfortunately, the Bureau was closed down as soon as John Howard came to power and the material lost. That material would be very useful for comparative purposes at this time.

    Remember to, that the report says that Jewish students live in fear on campus. That is a very, very serious allegation.

  • philip mendes says:

    I suspect that 15 or even 10 years ago I might have made some of the same simplistic points as LS : that the study is not statistically representative of most Jewish students, that it is clearly biased towards participation by mainstream Zionists who hold conservative views about Israel, and that gee clever academics (like me) could do a lot better without meaning to sound patronising.

    Except that since the second Palestinian Intifada, at least some of us on the Jewish Left have realized that we have a responsibility to support our own community when it feels under attack. “The community knows best” the community development theorists say.

    So I need to listen to what these students are saying. Maybe some hold centrist or centre-right views on Israel that are not mine. Maybe some lead a sheltered lifestyle outside university. But so what? They are not being asked here about their views on the settlers in the West Bank or whether Jews should date non-Jews. They are commenting on what they see as manifestations of anti-Semitism often related to the Middle East debate. And we need to respect their opinions.

    I have spoken at length to one socially progressive Jewish academic who works full-time at La Trobe. He is not a Canadian like LS’s friend or a Monash academic like LS. He knows the Bundoora campus intimately, and his description of anti-Jewish prejudice is if anything more concerning than what is expressed in this study.

    I would also add that there are many Jewish students who would call themselves Zionists, but are hardly unqualified supporters of Netanyahu or Likud. Many are easily able to distinguish between criticisms of the West Bank Occupation, and arguments for Israel’s destruction which too easily collapse into attacks on all Israelis and all Jewish supporters of Israel.

    If LS or James Crafti or any other left-wing Jews feel that they can do a better job than this study and can obtain different results from a mass of unrepresented left-wing Jewish students, then please go ahead. But until you do so, you may want to refrain from throwing unconstructive pot shots at those who have taken the time to start the consultative process.

    Philip Mendes

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Philip

    A silly comment. I am not asking for unrepresentative sampling of left-wing students.

    I am concerned that the issue is properly unpacked because as far as I can see, there is a conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism and/or Zionism and everything in between when I think the issue is much more complex.

    And if things are bad at LaTrobe, then I am pretty concerned.

    I had never heard of James Crafti until now either. I see he is associated with Green Left Weekly and/or warring factions on the left at Latrobe (from seeing what is online). As you and others know, I have nothing to do with leftist cults and I don’t like them.

    My Canadian friend, whom you don’t know is actually quite conservative. There you go. Lay off the personal remarks and sarcasm.

    But we need some good facts before talking about a climate of fear.

  • Robocop says:

    I agree that the survey could have been more comprehensive so that its conclusions could carry a greater degree of validity.

    Surveying errors or not, the impressions of these students are not illegitimate. The survey may not tell us anything we don’t already know and it may not quantify the amount of ‘antisemitism’ on campus. However, many Jewish students *do* feel threatened by the degree of anti-Zionist vitriol spouted on university campuses (some of which borders on antisemitic – whatever that is nowadays).

    Telling them to discern between anti-Israel and ‘antisemitic’ behaviour is of little comfort.

    Having to walk around campus seeing posters peppered with loaded buzzwords, depicting a ‘racist’,’colonialist’, ‘imperialist’ country of ‘apartheid’ that commits ‘ethnic cleansing,’ it is hard not to feel targeted. Same with the the semi-regular demonstrations against Israel held by the ‘socialists’ on campus. Or the frequent articles published in the student newspaper. Or having lectures interrupted by these ardent ‘anti-Zionists’. Or finding a swastika engraved into the side of a bathroom stall (it could have been a Hindu/Buddhist symbol though – I am not one to jump to conclusions).

    It is this constant fixation the the Zionist entity that makes Jewish students on campus feel uncomfortable.

  • ian katz says:

    does larry stillman truly believe that before hamas send a suicide bomber or missile into Israel, they first undertake a survey of their future victims to see if there are “right wing “Jews there, or holier than though left wing Jews like Stillman, who have seen the light of morality that the rest of us “zionists” by his primary school level definitions, are seemingly oblivious to.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Larry, you start by saying
    “…there is a problem with … particularly virulent anti-Zionism that crosses into anti-Semitism. Recently I took a Palestinian organization to task for using vile materials produced by the bizarre Gilad Atzom, an Israeli now in the UK. On another occasion I have berated Palestinian protesters for marching with posters taken out of pages of Der Stuermer. I have also gotten into long online ‘discussions’ with well-meaning Anglo advocates whose stereotyping and typecasting are contemptible. I also resent simplistic and stereotypical representations of Jewishness”

    and then essentially try to debunk a small survey which, though flawed, is entirely consistent with your own experience

    it is hard to follow your logic or fathom your motivation

    (the Tobacco industry analogy is admittedly distasteful, but not entirely spurious- goes to the point of motivation- in science, stinging critiques of research often reflect discomfort with conclusions rather than pure love of scientific method)

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Andrew

    The survey only recorded voluntary responses scaled or yes/no responses (I can’t remember at the moment) by motivated Jewish students with some opportunity for feedback which is of a different quality. It is of an entirely different quality and quantity to my experience. I do not make the claims that the report does on the basis of my experience.

    The report also refereed to Michael Danby and Irwin Cotler as authoritative sources which I think many people would dispute and makes other assertions Thus, it was using authorities and impressions based on the survey to make an argument.

    But but the key problem with the survey is that it does not as I have said, manage to unpack the issue definitionally because in particular, the Israel/Palestine issue is so hotly contested, ie. what is proposes to investigate is not subject to agreement.

    It would also make real sense to look at the issue from the point of view of the protagonists in the Palestine movement on campus. How do they see the activity of Jewish students and organizations? How do they define particular contested terms.

    don’t know if that has ever been asked and the answers would be very interesting if we wish to know more about the dynamics of anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism, anti-Semitism and it may actually contribute to dealing with misperceptions and intolerances on campus of difference.

  • Leah Kantor says:

    Larry: Here are some of the alarming anecdotes reported by Jewish students in the Stome report:

    Finding eight
    Some faculty members use their positions to launch polemics against Israel or make antisemitic statements in ways which intimidate Jewish students.
    A number of respondents reported being subject to anti-Israel and/or antisemitic statements in lectures or tutorials. One respondent reported the term “Jewish” being used to describe
    cheapness. Another indicated that his lecturer blamed various social or political problems on “the bloody Jews”. A tutor in a class about studying Australia’s counter-terrorism laws told students that the laws were only needed because of Israel and that “Israelis are the real terrorists”.In an economics class, a tutor told students that Israel was responsible for rising oil prices. In an architecture lecture, a lecturer moved from
    discussing concrete construction to claiming Israel’s security barrier was a human rights abuse of Palestinians. In a psychology colloquium, a lecturer who was supposed to be discussing the psychological issue of conflict spent the full hour speaking about Palestinian victimhood and Israel as an oppressor.
    Students report that they are unwilling to challenge faculty members in these cases because of
    fear that they will be victimised and it will affect their marks.

    Isn’t this enough? This is what we should be talking about.

    There can be no justification for these incidents.

    I do not understand why your focus of concern is not with these students, and instead is focused on the stats (which are acknowledged as having limitations), and with a wish to explain or minimise hostility against Jewish students. It also has nothing to do with the Palestinian students. They would have to conduct there own survey.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Larry the thrust of the Stone article is about the blurring of anti-Israel and anti-semitic boundaries – exactly the point you make in the paragraph that I quoted

    do you suggest there some way to “unpack” the issue, some point of view in the Palestinian movement, some on campus dynamic that legitimises the introduction of antisemitic language or behaviour into what should be a political debate

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I will only take up the issue of what lecturers and tutors say at this point.

    These are allegations and reports on what students have documented in terms of what appear to he offensive and controversial statements across a range of issues: anti-terror laws, economics, the Wall. I think you need to hear what the lecturer or tutor thinks they said or what other students heard. In addition, many classes are now taped for distance students: there is the evidence to be heard. If the matter really happened, then it is disgraceful, but at least attempt to find out as best as possible from multiple witnesses, what was said or done.

    Or you will end up for example, with someone like me who might give a class on the occupation , being called anti-Semitic. Or someone like Gideon Levy of Haaretz if he gave a guest lecture being called anti-Semitic. If you look at this week’s Jewish News there is a letter from the philosopher Raymond Gaita taking offense at the remarks made about him by Graeme Leonard being anti-Israel in a panel organized by the JNF or with which the JNF had an association.

    It is very easy to pick on people like Gaita who take a human rights perspective & who cares about Israel and accuse him of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic when this is far from the case. I’ve been at other events when it is clear that people in the audience got very angry at hearing other academics discuss Israel’s activities from an international law perspective. They didn’t at all like what they heard from the speakers. Were the speakers anti-Semitic? No. Even anti-Israel? Only in the sense of being critical of Israel’s actions.

    Second, the issue of fearing to object to what is said because of the marks/grading issue is quite serious and should be addressed appropriately, as I have said, through the Dean’s or Vice-Chancellor’s office, because there is of course a power imbalance between student and teacher. I am sure such an allegation would be taken quite seriously.

    I am not legitimizing anti-Semitism as Andrew suggests, I am trying to distinguish between critiques and critical examinations of Israel and Zionism—- and their conflation by students and others into instances of anti-Semitism.

    Thus, by the norms which appear to be held by respondents so far, many Israeli academics who are highly critical of the state would be regarded as anathema (as they are by many Israelis) for their political point of view.

    This is the problem: many people feel that Israel has gone down the wrong path, and many others don’t agree with that position and feel grossly offended when strong language and concepts are used. In class, it can be confronting, or at least the comparison or criticism of Israeli behaviour to other states’ behaviours can seem grossly offensive to what has been an absolute truth. No wonder some students feel uncertain, uncomfortable and threatened.[ And of course classroom invasions are idiotic, and I condemn the sectarians with their mirror image absolute truths.]

    If we want to get into witch-hunts of academics and dissenters then we could of course go down the path of Campus Watch and other organizations in the US, though the situation there is much more polarized. http://www.campus-watch.org/ which has to be countered by http://www.muzzlewatch.com/.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    What would the Australian Research Council think of the problem?

    Here is a positive idea. There is a need for an application to the Australian Research Council to unpack the issue of campus anti-semitism/zionism/intolerance etc in all its complex dimensions.

    However, the test for such an application is that it 1) has to make academic sense 2) actually be of a high enough academic standard to be supported and funded by the ARC– 3) it can incorporate a variety of viewpoints in its design.

    This might clear up many arguments. The problem of course is to find the right academic team to do the job and what is called an ‘industry partner’.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    I absolutely agree that kneejerk accusation of antisemitism in response to criticism of Israel is to be rejected because it represents an attempt to stifle legitimate debate..

    but the territory we are discussing can be very blurred – what is strong emotional expression versus hate-language, sharp rhetoric versus villification, political leanings versus prejudice -only at the extremes are antisemitic statements unambiguous – on campus it is more likely to be couched in more or less sophisticated language that requires interpretation, judgement (and “unpacking”- even by the speaker him/herself)

    these distinctions may not lend themselves to the sort of rigorous and quantitative examination you recommend – maybe a case of “you know it when you see it”

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Andrew, this is the purpose of high-quality research. Any research would involved mixed methods, that is quantitative and qualitative work, as well as including some difficult work on concepts to be both tested and defined.All the terms you used in parag two are in fact part of the story. As far as possible, a non-partisan research team should be involved.

    From memory, because I know longer have the material, it would use some of the kinds of methods used by the Bureau of Immigration and Multicultural Research in looking at integroup perceptions and relations in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the BIMR was closed down by John Howard and material literally binned and it is hard to find.

  • rachsd says:

    Larry,

    On the one hand you argue (correctly) that complaints of antisemitism on campus range from legitimate to spurious, but then in the comment section you seem to argue that because some are spurious (students who might hypothetically complain that a lecture on Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is necessarily antisemitic), the legitimacy of all complaints are undermined.

    Universities should be able to take action on instances of legitimately shoddy and biased teaching without Australia needing to invest millions of dollars in an ARC funded research program. However, anecdotally, the universities don’t do this and a minority of academics continue to teach in an unacceptable manner.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    No, I am not claiming that Rachel that all complaints are undermined.

    We need to be more rigorous, including what is claimed about the ‘minority of academics’. I’d like to know what they think they said or others think they said.

    Nor would such a program of ARC research be millions. Maybe $100,000.

  • frosh says:

    Larry,

    I’ve been out of acadaemia for a few years now, but unless there’s been some major changes under the ALP, $100,000 grants for research that has no commercial applications (and not even socially essential) are very hard to come by.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Frosh–not quite right.

    There is in fact an ARC funded project for about $230,000 over the next three years for hate crimes, granted to researchers at Monash. Being an industry ‘partner’ does not mean a commercial partner, but an organisation that matches funding and in-kind support, though there are also straight out research grants that don’t require a partner.

    Of course, competition is fierce and the amounts often paltry. They are a huge amount of work to develop.

    So this kind of funding is not impossible if it falls under the relevant category.

    Of course, someone may have done high-quality research about inter-group relations on campus and beyond, but I suspect we would know about it if it excisted.

  • James says:

    I think Philp Mendes post speaks volumes.

    “I suspect that 15 or even 10 years ago I might have made some of the same simplistic points as LS : that the study is not statistically representative of most Jewish students, that it is clearly biased towards participation by mainstream Zionists who hold conservative views about Israel, and that gee clever academics (like me) could do a lot better without meaning to sound patronising.”

    So 10 years ago you applied an academic standard what changed?

    “Except that since the second Palestinian Intifada, at least some of us on the Jewish Left have realized that we have a responsibility to support our own community when it feels under attack. “The community knows best” the community development theorists say.”

    Ahh so the political situation changes and suddenly academic standards go out the window! Well that is useful. Shit statistics are shit statistics until politics changes. I wonder if Yes Prime Minister or The Hollomen did a spoof on something like that.

    “So I need to listen to what these students are saying. Maybe some hold centrist or centre-right views on Israel that are not mine. Maybe some lead a sheltered lifestyle outside university. But so what? They are not being asked here about their views on the settlers in the West Bank or whether Jews should date non-Jews. They are commenting on what they see as manifestations of anti-Semitism often related to the Middle East debate. And we need to respect their opinions.”

    So because politics has changed suddenly we listen to right wingers when we didn’t do so before? What sort of unscientific, unscolarly claptrap is this?

    “I have spoken at length to one socially progressive Jewish academic who works full-time at La Trobe. He is not a Canadian like LS’s friend or a Monash academic like LS. He knows the Bundoora campus intimately, and his description of anti-Jewish prejudice is if anything more concerning than what is expressed in this study.”

    Who is this academic and what has he actually said???? Seeing as you seem happy to out me on this list (despite my not holding any academic status or claiming such status). If you have concrete evidence of Anti-Semitism lets here it but second hand non-specific concerns seem even more tenuious then the survey.

    “I would also add that there are many Jewish students who would call themselves Zionists, but are hardly unqualified supporters of Netanyahu or Likud. Many are easily able to distinguish between criticisms of the West Bank Occupation, and arguments for Israel’s destruction which too easily collapse into attacks on all Israelis and all Jewish supporters of Israel.”

    Who would these people support… Kadima and their murder of 1500 Palestinians in operation cast lead? What sort of distinctions are you making here.

    “If LS or James Crafti or any other left-wing Jews feel that they can do a better job than this study and can obtain different results from a mass of unrepresented left-wing Jewish students, then please go ahead. But until you do so, you may want to refrain from throwing unconstructive pot shots at those who have taken the time to start the consultative process.”

    I am curious how much money was actually invested into this survey. Was there a grant of some kind? With very little resources I could put together modest research way more credible (in terms of questions and sample size) then this sort of embarrasing stuff which is making its way overseas. I am not going to volunteer my time to a cause which has no actual proof to back it up. I have real issues that need my and others attention… Like thousands of dead Palestinians… Actually there was a very detailed report on that, it was by this guy called Goldstone. He is a very well respected, Jewish judge from South Africa who is openly Zionist. Yet Israel and many on this list would choose to ignore that well put together document but accept this pissy survey….

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I’m not going to speak for James here who I don’t know at all, but Mendes’ allusion to feeling obliged to supporting the Jewish community because it feels under attack on the grounds of ‘community development’ has been annoying me. It is hokum. There is such a thing called personal judgement, ethics and so on. There is no imperative to support any group or politics on political or ethnic loyalty for the sake of ‘community development’ grounds. This is pretty clear in community developing writing and experience, something with which Philip should be familiar. One always has the right to say no! when a boundary is crossed.

    The feeling of being ‘under attack’ which Philip has used to justify his position is one that is increasingly discredited given the emergence of groups ranging from the progressive and very Zionist Jstreet to other left Jewish groups. Not everyone takes his position that everything since the breakdown of Oslo and the Indfadahs has been a contrived Palestinian plot. Mendes’ narrative and what flows politically from it is strongly disputed. It is just as arguable that Israel has contributed in a disproportionate way to the violence and growth of extremism–with Palestinians, far more than Israelis being the ultimate victims.

    Moreover, I think it’s pretty well clear now, particularly in the past month or more that Israel’s civil society wounds are increasingly self-inflicted, contrary to the cause of peace and reconciliation and we have no obligation to defend such politics or myths and spin about a manufactured ‘existential crisis’, as they lead Israel into increased isolation from its former friends with increased support for nonsensical, impossible solutions on the part of some Palestinian advocates.

  • Marky says:

    Hell hath no fury like leftists scorned by same..

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Marky

    Unless you have something serious to say, I suggest you do not post at all. Your serial triteness which appears elsewhere, is not appreciated.

    I was referring to a strong political difference which exists in both Israel and elsewhere, one that has had serious political consequences in the conduct of both war and peace.

  • marky says:

    I have told you before and I repeat again: the second part in mumma loshon as it was not understood in English. If it is not appreciated by a stuffy academic that doesn’t mean much and ich vel dir folgen ven es gefelt mich!, especially as along with many people here, I disagree with many of your ideas.

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