Thursday, November 5, 2009

Campus Zionists tell Arab to blow herself up, and host Israeli general who calls Arabs a "cancer" --

Jim Holstun on Effie Eitam

On the Web at:

November 3, 2009

Last night (Monday, November 2), Israeli Brigadier General (ret.) Effie Eitam gave a talk at the University at Buffalo. The talk, sponsored by Buffalo Hillel and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), has generated a good deal of controversy, including a protest during the talk. I’ll begin with an announcement I drew up drawing attention to some of General Eitam’s statements, and inviting people to the protest. The links give a good taste of General Eitam’s extreme positions:


protest Fascist effie eitam!
Monday, November 2, 7:00 p.m.
ub Student Union, 2nd floor (
map here)

Sometimes, people overuse the word “fascist”; sometimes, it fits just right.

Hillel of Buffalo and the Jewish National Fund are sponsoring a campus talk by Israeli Brigadier General Effie Eitam, a man so extreme that he has attacked Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert from the right! Israeli journalist Uri Avnery has called him “the #1 fascist in Israel.” General Eitam

—calls Palestinians a “ticking bomb” and a “cancer“ that Israel must cut out.
—admits that Israel attacked Palestinian schools in Gaza; advocates mass transfer of Gaza civilians and turning Gaza Strip into a “free hunting zone.”.
—organizes, as Housing Commissioner, illegal Israeli colonization of the West Bank.
—calls on Israel to expel West Bank Palestinians and colonize their land.
—demands that Israeli Palestinians be ethnically cleansed.
—advocates using Palestinian civilians as human shields in battle.
—calls nations other than Israel a “world of robots without souls.”
—worships warfare in classic fascist fashion: “In war, the most sublime things in man appear. . . . There is a certain uplifting, like the offering of a sacrifice.”

Stop the Hate! At 6:30 p.m. tonight, please join concerned UB students, faculty, and members of the community for the protest in the lobby of the Student Union. General Eitam’s lecture, allegedly open to the public, follows at 7:30.

It was one of the most energetic, unified, raucous, and impressive demonstrations I’ve seen on the UB campus. Thanks are due to primarily to UB Students for Justice in Palestine, and also to the Palestine-Israel Committee of the Western New York Peace Center, and many students, teachers, and other friends from the community.

The lecture room was packed: at least 100 people, maybe more. Moderator Dan Lenard began with a denunciation of our effort to present critical information about Eitam and to urge Hillel to cancel the lecture. General Eitam’s lecture was a mish-mash of Arab-hating, awkwardly-presented hasbara (Israeli boosterism and propaganda), and pure lies.

He actually said that Iran is behind Al Qaeda (no, I’m not making this up), that Palestinians fled their homes in 1948 because Arab leaders ordered them to do so (a myth debunked decades ago by Walid Khalidi and Erskine Childers), that everyone should stop worrying about the Palestinians and let Israel take care of them (they certainly do seem inclined to do this, as the Gaza Massacre shows), that there was a constant barrage of rockets from Gaza until Israel invaded (simply a lie: see “Israel’s Fabricated Rocket Crisis”), and that Palestinians on the West Bank are desperate for Israel to maintain the Occupation and save them from Hamas.

Eitam was practicing not just the Big Lie Theory, but the Multiple Hilarious Big Lies Theory. There simply was no time to address them all.

General Eitam devoted most of the evening to inciting a US war against Iran. Like so many American warhawks unfazed by the disastrous war we have waged to find Iraq’s non-existent nuclear weapons, General Eitam is apparently indifferent to the baseline idiocy of this jingoistic campaign: two massive nuclear powers, one of them berserk enough actually to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, whipping themselves into a lather over the nuclear threat posed by a nation with no nuclear weapons. Eitam even included the most famous “quote” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (in fact, Ahmadinejad never said it) about “wiping Israel off the map.”

In a quietly terrifying suggestion, he observed that Harry Truman was absolutely right to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite the horrors of the results. I don’t think we need to work too hard to see what this analogy implies for Iran. What would local media be saying if someone had appeared at UB urging Americans to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on Israel, or any other nation?

As I read the room, the enthusiastic supporters of Eitam were not a majority. My wife suggests to me that some of the resistance among devout Jews in attendance, particularly Lubavitchers, may derive from Eitam’s rather strong suggestion in interviews that he himself is the Messiah. One attendee corrected Eitam on the infamous “Arab leaders ordered them out” lie, and he asked a pointed question about whom Americans should trust more, Israel or Iran, given Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal, its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its propensity for violating international law (just for the record, Israel has bombed and/or invaded Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and probably Sudan, while Iran has invaded, well, nobody). Eitam did not answer.

I corrected Eitam on two points of fact: his claim that there were no Palestinian refugees when the 1948 war broke out on May 15, 1948 (in fact, there were already more than 200,000) and his claim that Israel “gave” Palestinians full political rights (in fact, Palestinian Israelis had no rights at all and lived under martial law until 1966, and attained only limited civil rights since). I also asked him about his contradictory proposals for the Palestinians in the West Bank: he has proposed both to ethnically cleanse them through forcible expulsions, and to shut them into ghettos, without political rights: “Which do you want? You can’t have both.” He did not answer, but wandered off into space, talking about his proposal to assassinate Yasser Arafat and to exile Palestinian Israel MK Azmi Bashara. It was a sub-stellar performance, suggesting that, with Eitam, the Jewish National Fund may be scraping the bottom of its speakers’ barrel.

Incidentally, the JNF was, in a sense, the perfect sponsor for this event. It is famous for “redeeming the land of Israel” and “making the deserts bloom”—i.e., preparing and continuing the Nakba by razing Palestinian villages and olive groves, planting Euro-looking conifers, and stealing Palestinian water to keep them green and lovely. The Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua wrote a classic novella on this topic: “Facing the Forests.” Just last week, the JNF continued with efforts to stealing Palestinian land by planting trees in three ethnically-cleansed Bedouin villages in the Negev—when the mayor of one of those communities set up a tent to protest the action, an Israeli bulldozer came in and destroyed it.

Just as the JNF has aided crucially in the Nakba of the past and the Nakba of the present, so General Eitam is planning for the Nakba of the future: an Israeli newspaper quotes him saying “we cannot be with all these Arabs, we’ll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from the political system.”

The formal part of the lecture and questioning ended, and those of us inside joined the demonstration outside, which grew and grew. I’ve heard that, before we came out, there was some harassment from passers-by, with cries of “terrorists!” One particularly bright young man spat on the floor in front of the demonstrators—as I always say, “If you can’t think and speak, then say it with saliva! But more students were sympathetic and drawn into the chants of the protest, which focused on ending hate speech and resisting the drive to war with Iran. I think there were about forty of us. There was some spirited dabke dancing (certainly not by me).

We waited until the venue’s closing time, at which point General Eitam and his rather small entourage had to leave and walk by us. He came up to me and offered to shake my hand. I declined. He seemed to want an explanation, so I reiterated my objections to his racist statements and political activities. The chants of the demonstrators accompanied Effie and his posse out of the Student Union: not quite the triumphalist departure he’s used to. It was a good evening.

That’s about it. I’m afraid this visit has done a great deal of damage to Hillel’s reputation, and some damage to committed, long-term interfaith efforts in the area. Before the lecture there were a number of unsuccessful efforts to persuade Buffalo Hillel to cancel the visit, on the grounds that a sponsored appearance by such a hateful figure seemed likely to do damage to serious and ongoing efforts at interdenominational peace work. Some repair work will be necessary, but that work is already underway by people of good will, including some who attended last night’s lecture and demonstration, including a good friend who served for a year as a nurse in Gaza while her husband taught in the American School (recently all but destroyed by Israel during the Gaza Massacre), a Muslim-American professor of dentistry, and his Jewish-American physician friend, both of them recently back from charitable medical work in Syria and actively involved in local interfaith work.

The next big event of the Peace Center’s Palestine-Israel Committee will be next March, when the Palestine-Israel Committee will host a visit by Professor Ilan Pappe, the brilliant Israeli historian and cultural critic, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. We do not have the financial power of the Jewish National Fund behind us, but if you’d like to help us raise money for the visit and for children in Gaza, I still have some bottles of Sumud Brand cold-pressed extra-virgin free-trade olive oil, and will gladly deliver to you if you contact me: $20 per bottle, with $5 of that going to the WNYPC and $5 to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (and $10 to pay for the oil). I’m at 884-0895, and You will also be able to buy bottles on the night of the Annual Dinner, November 7th.


November 4, 2009

Hillel Student to Arab Student: "Why don't you go blow yourself up?"

By Irene Morrison

On the Web at:

On Monday afternoon, I snuck into the private lunch for Israeli General Effi Eitam, a far-right, blatantly anti-Arab member of the Israeli government, held in the Hillel offices at UB. My intention was to confront Eitam about his many racist comments and the criminal actions of his government, only to hear shocking comments made by students in Hillel.

"Should we kill him when no one's looking?" joked one Hillel student, referring to Nicolas Kabat, who stood outside the Hillel office, handing out fliers to passerby. The flier is entitled "STOP Hate Speech on Campus" and quotes Eitam's reference to Arab Israelis as a "ticking bomb" and a "cancer" Israel must cut out, as well as his defense of using Palestinians as human shields.

In perhaps the most blatantly racist statement, one Hillel student shouted to Thawab Shibly, "Why don't you go blow yourself up?" But before this, two students remark of Kabat's flier: "But I love hate speech, that's why I'm here," and "I wish I had a human shield."

I then listened to Eitam go on a tirade about Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and how their efforts to make peace with them all failed, and “withdrawal” from Gaza was also a failure. He then compared Israel's reactions to the likes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, explaining that Truman had to "incinerate 200,000 people in a second" to protect American troops. You're right in one respect, Mr. Eitam: bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki is very similar to systematically killing Palestinians. Where I differ: they are similar in that they are both completely morally indefensible.

The greatest irony was his explanation of why they "had to" attack Gazan civilians. He related a story of a female suicide bomber in Israel before she blew up a bus, saying that she looked at an Israeli mother with a baby in her lap before pressing the button. "Even animals don't do that," he said, "when they fight, animals protect their children." He mentioned nothing of the 400 Palestinian children killed in the attack on Gaza, or the fact that their teeth sometimes shatter because of calcium deficiencies as a result of severe restrictions on food aid, or that 100% of Gazan children have PTSD.

When he was done speaking and it was time for questions, I asked him why he has made such racist comments as calling Arab Israelis a "cancer" and a “ticking time bomb” that needed to be expelled from Israel. I had to ask him the question three times before he denied ever having said those things, saying he can't believe people would take his words so far out of context, and that the Arab Israelis in parliament were being "very irresponsible." Of course, these statements are well-documented.

Before leaving (after being yelled at by the organizer for getting into a private talk, with two dozen angry people at my back saying nasty things to & about me), I reminded him of the 400 Palestinian children killed in the most recent attack on Gaza. I didn’t stick around to hear his response.

Update: The student responsible for the quote in the title of this article, who we know as Ben, profusely apologized last night after a stern reprimand from Joanna Tinker.