Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Chutzpah

On March 6, 2014, three of those of us who participated on the January 2014 Academic and Labor Delegation to Palestine provided a report back at our academic institution about our experiences.
 
The report back was moderated by the Chair of American Indian Studies who began by laying out the protocols that were to be followed for the report back and discussion. The protocols adhered to standard academic guidelines for respecting intellectual property and freedom of speech but as well indigenous protocols regarding respect. These guidelines included not recording the event without the permission of the delegates. Two student journalists with the student paper on campus were present and requested and were provided with permission to record. The delegates also filmed the report back to document the event.
After the report back, the first question/comment was offered by a woman who later identified herself as “Faith.” In response to comments made by two of the delegates regarding Nelson Mandela’s well-known support of Palestinian rights and identification of Israel as an apartheid regime, “Faith” claimed that there was a youtube record of Mandela accepting an honorary degree from an Israeli university and not merely supporting but showing his love of Israel.
 
We subsequently researched this claim and found it not to be true. Mandela received hundreds of honorary degrees from around the world over the course of his lifetime. He accepted an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1997, but no where in his acceptance speech does he assert a change in his position or the position of the African National Congress regarding Israel’s apartheid. In fact, his speech draws parallels between the Bedouin of the Negev and the experiences of Africans in South Africa.
After her remarks and the delegates responses about Mandela, “Faith” was called out by a woman faculty member from UC Berkeley for audio recording the report back with a device she had hid in her purse. The moderator asked her if this was true. “Faith” claimed she arrived late and did not hear any announcement about not recording without permission. She gestured to turning off the recording.
 
Later, along with an inflammatory statement issued to university officials and state representatives, AMCHA (an organization funded by several other Zionist groups in the United States) posted the audio recording on youtube and flagged the report back as evidence of “anti-Semitism” on campus. The recording shows quite clearly that “Faith” was recording the event from the very beginning of the report back, just as the delegates and moderator were getting situated, and so she most certainly heard the moderator’s announcements regarding not recording without permission. The report back provided no instances of “anti-Semitism” though the delegates did, consistent with the United Nations, identify Israel as an apartheid regime engaged in actions of ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination, and displacement that violate Palestinian human rights.
 
Ideology
 
Several times since January, AMCHA has issued statements to university and state elected officials decrying the delegation and delegates as pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic, advocating for violence against Israel and Jewish faculty and students on campus.

It is incredibly difficult not to get pulled into a war over the facts in the context of these accusations. Because it is not a war over the facts, it is a war within ideology.
 
If they can manage to drag you into what will become a ceaseless argument over the facts (you said this, you’ve done this, etc.), then they have succeeded in changing the terms of the debate. Dragging you into a mode of defense that you can never win.

Because in a war of ideology, it does not really matter what you say, they are going to twist and turn everything you say into something else to make their own argument. Because they are most definitely not interested in debate, discussion, or “peace talks,” they are interested in maintaining and expanding the status quo in Israel.

Target, Misfire

Several times since we returned from the delegation, AMCHA and other Zionists have attacked Palestinian colleagues and the program in Arab and Muslim Diaspora Studies on campus. The majority of these attacks, which actually date back recently to the fall, have only once identified me by name or department affiliation (and then only in an attachment of a letter they asked their constituents to sign and mail-in).

Of course, AMCHA and other Zionists do not want to go after “the Indian.” What they want is to convince indigenous peoples in the United States that Israel is indigenous to Palestine. They want indigenous peoples here to stand in solidarity with them over there.

What they do not want, what they absolutely cannot afford to happen, is to have indigenous peoples in the United States (or really anywhere) identifying with Palestinians. Nothing betrays more clearly the ideologies and discourses on which Israel as a state is based than having Israel’s claims on indigeneity challenged by indigenous peoples in the United States (or anywhere else).

So, of course, AMCHA and other Zionists continue to contort themselves into all kinds of positions over the purpose, funding, and result of the delegation without going after “the Indian.” Anything to draw attention away from indigenous alliances, from indigeneity as the grounds on which internationally recognized human rights to governance and territories are based, here and there.

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