Thursday, October 17

Submission: Anti-divestment groups resort to personal attacks in lieu of logical argument


The Daily Bruin ran two op-eds Friday in the run-up to the landmark University of California Student Association vote in favor of divesting UC funds from companies enabling Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. One op-ed made a clear, reasoned case for why the UCSA should support this initiative. The other was an attack on me, one of the hundreds of students around the state working on divestment. Reading the articles side by side was an odd experience, and I think it is important to think about why rather than addressing the issue of divestment, the author, Tammy Rubin, chose to attack me instead.

I want to suggest four reasons why the anti-divestment subset of the pro-Israel community has resorted to personal attacks.

First, they can’t offer a coherent, persuasive case for why we should reject the Palestinian call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, the movement to end American and international support for the Israeli government until it grants the Palestinians basic rights under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law. If they could, it would be a much better strategy than trying to tear down members of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Second, it was recently revealed that members of pro-Israel groups conspired with off-campus donors to fund free trips to Israel for elected students and finance the Bruins United party in student elections. In response, they have become desperate to show that the pro-Palestine community does the same thing. This is laughable. The costs associated with winning a divestment campaign are minimal. Like most groups, we apply for UCLA student group funding to help purchase T-shirts, fliers, posters, snacks and the like. Our strength doesn’t come from buying elections or giving student leaders a paid vacation, it comes from having the facts on our side.

Third, attacks like the one made against me suggest that anti-divestment students are unwilling to face new political realities. To see what I mean, put yourself in the shoes of an anti-divestment student. If in fact divestment is a popular mass movement supported by everyday students, then you need to confront and adjust to this reality, either by coming up with more persuasive arguments against divestment, or by moving toward the mainstream. But if you can delude yourself into thinking that the entire divestment movement is orchestrated by scary extremists lurking in the shadows, then you don’t have to confront the issues on their merits at all. All you have to do is expose Palestinians and their supporters for the “Hamas-supporting anti-Semitic multimillionaire terrorist sympathizers” that they really are, and people will stop supporting divestment.

But that’s just not the case. I’m not the scary monster that Rubin would portray me to be, and neither is anyone else in SJP. When I was an undergraduate at UCLA, I was mostly involved in the anti-sweatshop and fair trade campaigns. Today as a doctoral student in sociology, I study the consequences of the federal government’s transition from public housing to voucher programs. I have won prestigious fellowships and have been recognized for excellence in teaching. Outside of my work in SJP, I have advocated for admissions reforms and increased diversity in faculty hiring. Most people in SJP, including Palestinians and women of color who are much more vital to the organization than I am, are the same – everyday students who dedicate time to supporting the Palestinian people. The anti-divestment community must come to terms with this fact and realize that Israel’s violence is what is shocking and outraging us into becoming activists.

Fourth, I believe Rubin’s effort to smear me is actually an effort to intimidate you, the reader. The underlying message of her article was that if you speak out too loudly or work too hard, Rubin or another anti-Palestinian activist will smear you just like she tried to smear me. Harassment and vilification of activists happens on many issues, from opposing sexual violence to campaigning against tuition hikes to even just being a racial or ethnic minority, undocumented or not perfectly conforming to gender binaries. But I’m not going to be intimidated and neither should you. I’ve received a tremendous outpouring of support from my students, colleagues and faculty, and despite Rubin’s attack, I’m not worried that my advocacy for Palestinian rights will diminish my ability to get a job or have a successful, fulfilling life. As our movements grow and become stronger, the effects of these attacks will only continue to diminish. The students united will never be defeated.

Kurwa is a doctoral student in sociology and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

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  • Ina Lionsden

    Usually saying something like “I’m not a monster” is a tell of a guilty conscience, like Richard Nixon’s “I’m not a crook.” Usually when someone says “trust me,” they are not worthy of trust. Kurwa is trying to engage in damage control after the facts show him, along with prominent BDS supporters, to be tied up with some of the most virulent antisemites on the planet.

    • CheckYourIgnorance

      As a witness in the room, Kurwa is not doing damage control. You can even watch the video. No hostility was thrown by pro-divestment groups. Yet the “victims” were being hostile. This isn’t congruent with any minority narrative that I’ve seen. As someone who encompasses many minority identities, the anti-divestment group, representing an “oppressed” minority was the aggressor and completely disrespected entire campus communities. Not just the Palestinian students. The restraint that was expected of the Palestinian and pro-divestment groups was not scene of the Jewish and anti-divestment crowd. One group’s feelings were obviously valued more than the other. Which is just as unjust and any perceived underlying message. That message was outright. I say this as a Black, first generation, low-income male raised in Georgia. I know what it feels like to be oppressed. That was disgusting.

      • Ina Lionsden

        Um…what?

        • CheckYourIgnorance

          I think I got my message across quite clearly.

          • Ina Lionsden

            You typed a lot of characters, yet said nothing.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            You hearing nothing is not the same as me saying nothing.

          • Bonnetierre

            I think you kaffiyeh is too tight around you neck, you may want to loosen it.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            Lol. I don’t where a kaffiyeh. Your racist presumptions are near-amusing.

          • Amber Latif

            I don’t understand, Ina. Are you here to discuss the article or to attack your peers? Learn some respect.

          • Mifty Popularis

            Respect is earned, not freely given. Fools (as you have shown yourself to be) deserve none.

          • Amber Latif

            When you have a legitimate argument (and when you have taken a second look at the resolution/checked your facts) we are more than willing to hear your point of view. We will always welcome an opportunity for mutual understanding. Personal attacks against us are not productive to your cause so I suggest you try a different tactic.

          • Ina Lionsden

            You have no idea what my “cause” is. And I”ll be the judge of what is productive or not. When “your side” engages in scorched earth tactics that demonizes entire populations without cause (or you could say for the cause of Jew hatred), then you truly should be more careful with your choice of words. There is no mutual understanding possible. The facts have been checks and yours have been found to be lacking.

          • Amber Latif

            Instead of telling me I don’t understand, why don’t you enlighten me calmly and respectfully? Unless your goal is to prolong hostility. If that is the case, don’t change what you’re doing.

          • Ina Lionsden

            And a symbolic vote to single out Israel — the victim of decades of genocidal violence by antagonistic neighbors — isn’t prolonging violence? When Islamic countries are the worst human rights abusers in the world bar none? When it comes to persecution and violence against women, when it comes to violence against gays, when it comes to treatment of religious minorities. Almost every armed conflict in the world involves combatants taking innocent lives in the name of Islam and either another Islamic or non-Islamic entity.

          • Amber Latif

            Your argument is once again built with ad hominems and personal attacks. If you are unwilling to make progress, we aren’t going to get anywhere and you’re wasting my time. I’m going to bow out now. I wish you well.

          • Ina Lionsden

            Never invited you to the conversation and you contributed nothing, so please do bow out.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            You didn’t invite me to the “conversation” either. Is it because she’s a woman that you feel you have the right to disrespect her more than me? No one will ever bow to you.

          • Mifty Popularis

            We were already engaged in a conversation that she chose to interject in with complete non sequiturs. Who said anything about it being related to her being a woman? You reveal yourself to be a misogynist with that assumption.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            The “I” thing goes for you as well, mister. Also, you weren’t engaged in their dialogue. If so, your presence resembled that of a gnat buzzing between two people communicating. That is to say, you weren’t readily engaged.

          • Bonnetierre

            I am sure any thesis you attempt to write will be thrown in to the dumpster by your professor. If you ask your psychology professor anything, he might be tempted to have you taken in for a mental evaluation.

            You are a disgusting human being posing as an intellectual. You are a fraud and an empty shell of a person. You should hide your face on campus, lest your stupidity be shown to the public. You’ve already made yourself a running joke on these boards.

            As my uncle always said, “You can’t fix stupid!”

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            Your uncle may like Ron White’s comedy. And I’m not going to hide my face (though veiling is a significant religious practice). Trust that I’m more than an empty shell. I’m composed of blood, flesh, and bone. Hence one of the reasons I am able to type this. And my brain is fine. Hence why I am one of the ~20% of this nation to attend college. As for my professor, he’s already proven you wrong. Nice try with the ad hominem, though!

          • Bonnetierre

            Really? Is that the best you can do? Resort to calling him a woman hater because he put an ignorant person in their place? She brought nothing to this discussion, and proceeded to attack him on a very juvenile level.

            Typical.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            Putting someone in their place is an inherently supremacist phrase. You do nothing to refute my point. I don’t believe she attacked him on anything, but instead was saying to show mutual respect to hold a conversation. But if that’s attacking, then oh well.

          • Bonnetierre

            Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, sharmuta.

          • Bonnetierre

            Amber, you bring nothing to this discussion but the typical SJP, MSA, spirit of stupidity and ignorance.

            You are clueless, and not in a good way.

          • Bonnetierre

            All I heard was “I hate Jooos.”

          • Bonnetierre

            Amber should think before she types.

            Your an unclassy human being, go make some friends.

          • Bonnetierre

            If you message was to make yourself look ridiculous, I would say you did quiet well.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            lol. clever.

        • Ina Lionsden

          This poster is the perfect embodiment of the logical conclusion of identity based grievances. It’s all a competition to who can tally up the most identity based disadvantages. “As a [racial minority], [non-heteronormantive], [trans], [disabled], [socio-economically disadavanted] ____, I can personally argue that I am the more aggrieved by your microaggressions.” How about sticking to the facts and logical arguments? Have you been intellectually neutered? Does identity politics castrate your mind?

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            Wrong. You will not manipulate my words if I’m still present on the message board. The point is that you should know what it felt like. You should know, as a historically oppressed minority, what that feels like. You are not the only one in pain. THAT is the message.

          • Mifty Popularis

            If you think you can measure up to Jews , the subject of your scorn., in terms of historical grievance and persecution, then you truly are an ignoramus. Or is that a “trigger word” or “dog whistle”? You have no message — you trade only in language of oppression. You bring a butter knife to an intellectual gun fight.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            Jews aren’t the subject of my scorn, you presumptuous bigot! I referred to those disrespecting their peers on the Senate floor last night! The bill was referring to companies known to be in violation of human rights ordinances! Don’t you dare belittle the narrative of someone! Just as I don’t belittle your narrative. THAT is why you have so many people, colorful, diverse people against you. I don’t bring weapons to this dialogue, but you’ve only proven my point by bringing yours.

          • Ina Lionsden

            Your narrative is garbage, I will belittle it as I see fit.

          • Ina Lionsden

            Supremacist. You belittled a truly victimized group that is being singled out for criticism by the egregiously Anti-Semitic BDS effort because they haven’t experienced persecution like you have and aren’t playing perfect little victims by staying silent. The bigot is you.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            We are belittling (to make seem unimportant) no one. We are disagreeing with the way in which you voice your pain. Through the subjugation of others. That isn’t peace. And it is not just. We fully acknowledge your narrative. It is not your narrative that is wrong. No one’s personal feelings and perspectives are completely legitimate and illegitimate. Not mine nor yours. But you’re forcing everyone out. Your self-defense hatred and resentment is just as wrong as any perceived or outright anti-Semetism. Just like I cannot state, “I hate all White people due to colonization and the results of it”, your cannot belittle the personal perspectives of your peers. Nor should you feel comfortable doing so. Everyone feels that they are right. When Hitler committed one of history’s most disgusting displays of genocide, he thought that he was doing a service to others. But his action were just as awful. You disrespecting any and EVERYONE who doesn’t wholeheartedly agree with you should be rejected as well. Nothing that I’ve said has been an attack on any entire group of people (other than those member of the Coalition of Peace who displayed an incredible amount of disrespect). And Mifty Popularis’ attempt to trivialize the pain the people still feel to this day as a result of American slavery (the lynchings, the rape, the whippings, the housing discrimination) and the residue from that which still clings to our society today. Everyone deserves a base level of respect. Hostility and disrespect cannot be tolerated. It is disgusting. That goes for someone drawing a swastika on a wall. It also goes for the irresponsible dismissal of peers when they attempt to have a voice. How can you support Charlie Hebdo and yet have such terrible double standards when a narrative isn’t convenient for you? And that is a proverbial you. It is all so very wrong. And with that, I am truly done. Do what you will with the words. But I, indeed, just said something.

          • Ina Lionsden

            You try so hard to sound reasonable, but your arguments are anything but. You admonish Hitler yet, like him, you single out Jews and Israel for unfair treatment and scorn. You’re a coward.

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            Also, as an aside, in this entire back and forth, you’ve made use of “I” in reference to yourself in the following ways:

            “Your narrative is garbage, I will belittle it as I see fit.”
            “And I’ll be the judge of what is productive or not.”

            In discussing this issue, you (proverbial) MUST be engaged. You (proverbial) must take personal responsibility for the situation in it’s entirety. That is what global citizenship entails. You (proverbial) are cognizant of how you affect the situation. So I beseech you (direct) to include yourself and your unique, personal narrative to the discussion. Be present. It is such detachment that has led to some the world’s biggest tragedies. Failure to acknowledge what you, yourself, contribute to the overall reality.

          • Ina Lionsden

            Yes — global citizenship. Good — now we’re getting somewhere Let’s talk about the awful atrocities being committed around the world. How come you are not leading the charge against those countries? Russia, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Burma, Libya, North Korea, Equatorial Ginueau, Syria, Somolia, Turkmenistan. Why focus on the only democratic, liberal, pluralistic state in the entire Middle East? Maybe because it’s the Jewish state?

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            You just proved my point again! Your challenge is to use “I” in critiquing, even acknowledging something about your argument thus far that has been just (even the slightest bit) shy of perfect. Self-reflection and criticism. And humility. That is my challenge to you. Will he succeed? The world may never know….

          • CheckYourIgnorance

            I wasn’t talking to you. In your swift attempt to belittle me, again something that I have not done to you, makes you blind and deaf to that fact. I don’t speak for all people when I acknowledge an attack on an entire group of people. I’m ending any further attempt at dialogue. Those who stumble upon this comment section have the freedom (thank God) to choose for themselves and dissent from your dictatorial monopoly on the determination of all personal narratives. You’re seriously going against self-determination, global citizenship, and respect in your very own argument. And yet you wish people to agree with you. I have a very unique shade of Brown. All black people don’t look the same, but in the eye of the supremacist, which you’ve proven, we are only our skin and our narratives don’t matter with respect to yours. That is supremacy.

  • Bonnetierre

    Kurwa is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that provides material support to terrorists.

    UCLA SJP has hosted Amir Abdel Malik who once brandished a check made out to Hamas, Palestine and called for an anti-Semitic backlash.

    It hosted Hatem Bazian, SJP’s co-founder, who raised money for Hamas and trafficked in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. It hosted Alison Weir who claimed that medieval Jews drank blood. It hosted Taher Herzallah who wrote that “Hamas’ rockets are an oppressed people’s audible cry for help. – JHOC

    Last month, SJP held a fundraiser for convicted terrorist Rasmae Odeh, who murdered two students in Israel with a bomb.

    Anyone who supports SJP supports terrorism. SJP should be banned on all American campuses; we have no room for terrorist sympathizers on our soil!

  • CrazyEaterTartGirl

    No, what will diminish your ability to get a job is a Master’s in sociology…

  • BradD99

    Israel is less than 1% of the Middle East.
    It is the world’s only Jewish-majority state, next to 20 Arab states and 50 Muslim countries.
    Israel is so tiny you can barely see it on a map.
    And the vast majority of citizens of Israel were refugees, from other parts of the Middle East, from other parts of Israel/Palestine, and elsewhere.
    Israel is a tiny little state, yet the most democratic state in that region BY FAR.

    Yet there are some mentally ill people in this world who spend literally 12-18 hours a day of their “life” devoting all their energy into trying to convince other people that erasing/destroying the world’s only Jewish state is 1) Not anti-semitic (2) Peaceful and for justice.

    Nazis tried to destroy Jews.
    And now in 2016, “Nazis” in another form try to destroy the world’s only Jewish state.