I'm a Jewish author who – because of my views on the issue of boycotts and Israel – was recently asked by a prominent Jewish organization (Hillel at UCSB) to publish a favorable political statement before being allowed into its building to speak about my book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

Despite my discomfort with such a problematic request, I published it, valuing the potential for dialogue. Now, I've learned that I've been barred from speaking anyway. And so, this is my story – a story tragically being replicated far too often today in American institutions as they decide not just what may, and may not, be discussed with regard to Israel, but who may discuss such issues as well.

You can read much more about my story and its wider implications here.

I'd love to answer any questions about my experience, about this political dynamic in America, about my book, or about I/P politics in general.

I'm hoping this discussion might shine a light on this destructive dynamic which is pervasive within America and, specifically, the American Jewish community: an inability to speak openly and honestly (and respectfully) about Israel.

Twitter verification

tl;dr - I wrote a book and have political views. Others found my politics threatening, and barred me from speaking.

Comments: 215 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

_OsamaBinLaden_38 karma

Have you purchased my children anything? If so, what?

twiddling_my_thumbs21 karma

Am I allowed to laugh?

type1error16 karma

You wrote a story called Today, I’m Coming Out in Favor of BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Against Israel). Upon learning that you endorsed an anti-Semitic movement whose goals are most assuredly not a peaceful, two-state solution, a Jewish organization denied you an opportunity to sell your book at their facility. Given that you were so quick to renounce your views when the opportunity to make some money was taken away, perhaps they found your "favorable political statement" disingenuous.

twiddling_my_thumbs13 karma

As has been written about elsewhere (including Haaretz after that post in 2012), my mistake was associating the initials "BDS" with the concept of economic sanctions, and not exclusively with a defined movement.

My writing has always been consistent in championing a two-state solution to the conflict, however elusive and, perhaps, impossible at this stage. This is obviously counter to the official movement's implicit goal of a single, bi-national state.

And by the way, the official BDS movement is not anti-Semitic in its charter and goals, and is very clear about targeting institutions, not individuals (read: Jews). Though it's a common canard played by some, including yourself. Which is not to say there aren't anti-Semites who subscribe to BDS -- there are. So too are there Islamophobes/racists who subscribe to Israel's settlement enterprise.

Mets1024 karma

But at its core, it believes, implicitly, that Palestinians have the right to a state, but Jews do not? How is that not anti-Semitic to its very core?

twiddling_my_thumbs4 karma

Its implicit goal is for a bi-national state -- a democratic state for both people. Let me put it this way: that desire is not any more anti-Semitic than a desire for a Jewish state is racist.

And I'm one who believes that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state, despite the inherent contradictions and difficulties that entails.

type1error6 karma

A "democratic" state in which Jews are the minority. Why is it so unreasonable for the Jewish people to have a homeland alongside the Palestinians?

twiddling_my_thumbs5 karma

Once again, I'm one who supports the idea of Israel being a Jewish, democratic state.

As to your question, one might easily counter: why is it so unreasonable for the Palestinian people to have a homeland alongside the Jews?

Remember, Israel is a state. Palestine is not, partly because of Israel's settlement enterprise, occupation, and Greater Israel desires.

Mets102-1 karma

No one here has said it's unreasonable for there to be a Palestinian state.

And where is the accountability for the Arab leaders of 1947-1948? If they had agreed to partition then, there would have been a Palestine born alongside Israel. Why are so many silent about that?

twiddling_my_thumbs7 karma

If you would like to focus upon 1947-1948, that is your choice.

It is my view that focusing upon how to solve our current problems, rather than attempting to point fingers into history, is much more productive.

Though if I were to take your tactic, I'd point back to the 70s, 80s, 90s, and so on, and blame Israel for building settlements which are a direct impediment to a two-state solution.

But I'll choose not to do that. Will I critique current policy, and work toward effecting change now? Yes.

But point toward history and claim victory as the "good" side in a zero-sum game?

Nope. Not for me. Though someone has to take up that mantle.

type1error-5 karma

Okay, so you affect change by selling books and boycotting Israel. What else do you do? How do you put pressure on the Palestinians?

twiddling_my_thumbs8 karma

I effect change, or try to, through my writing -- by illuminating damaging polities and shifting public opinion.

Mets102-5 karma

I mention those leaders simply because those that seek Israel's destruction bring up the whole history of Jewish leadership in an attempt to indict and give argument for the deed they seek to accomplish.

It is one thing to critique policy and something totally different to embrace those that cloak their anti-Semitism in opposition to Israel policy.

twiddling_my_thumbs12 karma

Answer me this with a straight yes or no: do you think I'm an anti-Semite?

Yes, or no.

Note to Redditors: we have a history away from Reddit.

ranman1124-8 karma

There is a reason the Palestinians have been kicked out of every other nation where they had a significant population. They cant even get along with other muslims, let alone jews.

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

I don't think there's anything I need to say here. You've said enough.

type1error-9 karma

Okay, I'll pose this as a direction question this time.

You wrote: "I have no choice but to formally endorse and embrace BDS." Have you tried to come up with some Clintonesque way to spin so EVERYBODY still loves you? Perhaps. Is it possible that the leaders of this organization weren't being unreasonable, only that they found your explanation unconvincing when you offered it after you were faced with losing a chance to sell your books?

twiddling_my_thumbs9 karma

I already answered you upthread.

I cannot help that you don't accept my answer. That is your choice.

toomanyonesandzeros7 karma

What is the ultimate goal of keeping you mum?

twiddling_my_thumbs11 karma

In general, there is a misguided sense that people like myself, willing to critique Israel and view boycotts as a legitimate form of nonviolent protest, are seen as an enemy. This is typical among those who view the conflict as a zero-sum game: you're either for us, or against us.

In my case, it's difficult to say, since I was never able to make direct contact with those who made the decision. My sense is that there was fear my political views would cause discord, despite the fact that the organization which invited me did so not for me to talk politics, but to talk about my narrative of reconciliation.


"you're either for us, or against us."

There is an observation that if you criticize Israel, even on a single issue, people will call you an anti-semite.

I think this situation is where the loudest parties at the fringes own the debate because the middle gets drowned out.

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

This is, unfortunately, often the case in any political debate or conflict.

AlwaysBeTextin7 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this AMA! If you don't mind, I have a few questions about your opinions regarding the feasibility of long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

*Both sides seem to want Jerusalem as their capital. How could this be worked out in a side amicable to both?

*Israel clearly has more power in this conflict. Although there will be sniping by various countries, it could simply refuse to cater to any Palestinian demand. What's to stop Israel from simply pulling out and saying, "We've tried this for too long, nothing's happening. Goodbye and good luck!"

*Other Arab countries could very easily absorb the Palestinians into theirs and get rid of the refugee situation. In my opinion, they don't because it allows them to scapegoat their enemy, Israel. Do you agree with this, and why do other world leaders not call them out on it?

*Do most outside countries, particularly the US, actually think long-term peace will ever happen? If not, why do they continue to push so hard for it?

twiddling_my_thumbs0 karma

Hi, and thanks for your questions. I don't claim to have all the answers with regard to policy decisions, though I'll give these a shot:

Both sides seem to want Jerusalem as their capital. How could this be worked out in a side amicable to both?

Jerusalem is a capital for both nations -- it's already bifurcated to a degree. West for Israel, East for Palestine, with the religious center (old city) under international control or monitoring.

Israel clearly has more power in this conflict. Although there will be sniping by various countries, it could simply refuse to cater to any Palestinian demand. What's to stop Israel from simply pulling out and saying, "We've tried this for too long, nothing's happening. Goodbye and good luck!"

There is no question that this is an asymmetrical conflict. But Israel isn't going to pull out of the West Bank and leave it to the Palestinians. Why? Because too many politicians have Greater Israel desires, wanting the entire land for the State of Israel. It's what has helped to precipitate the settlement enterprise.

Other Arab countries could very easily absorb the Palestinians into theirs and get rid of the refugee situation. In my opinion, they don't because it allows them to scapegoat their enemy, Israel. Do you agree with this, and why do other world leaders not call them out on it?

I believe there is culpability on all sides, including other Arab nations. However, of all the Middle Eastern countries colonized post Ottoman Empire, Palestinians are the only people who were not granted a political state. Having other countries absorb Palestinians -- take them from their homes or the remaining land upon which they call home -- does not seem to be a practical, nor ethical, solution, IMHO.

Do most outside countries, particularly the US, actually think long-term peace will ever happen? If not, why do they continue to push so hard for it?

I'm not sure I can answer this question fully. I can say that those countries involved in peace negotiations certainly have stability and peace in their best interests, and must at least pretend to be working toward it, even while simultaneously knowing they are not doing all that needs to be done to attain it.

Thoughts_impeaded2 karma

Would you consider Jordan a Palestinian nation?

twiddling_my_thumbs5 karma

You seem to be unintentionally implying that there's a Palestinian empire. I suppose this is because parts of Jordan sit on what some consider the historic region of Palestine.

If Jordanians don't consider themselves Palestinians, then nor do I.

izzy21123 karma

I don't think you're correct there. Palestinians are a significant ethnic group in Jordan. They constitute over half of the Jordanian population. Source.

twiddling_my_thumbs5 karma

I guess your question should be this: do Jordanian nationals consider themselves Palestinian?

thefaith10297 karma


twiddling_my_thumbs8 karma

It's a good question. I honestly cannot see how my appearance would create an unsafe environment, though I cannot speak for SB Hillel as to their logic.

thefaith10295 karma


twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

I hear you. I would have loved to speak with someone from SB Hillel directly. Unfortunately, such an opportunity never presented itself.

addctd2badideas7 karma

I'm a former President of a medium-sized Hillel chapter. Luckily, we were never paid much attention to by the Hillel home office so we often got to do interfaith dialogues and panel discussions frequently.

I heard about this recently on Slate's Political Gabfest Podcast and am not surprised. While Jews generally have had fairly liberal roots, there's been a growing conservatism and hawkishness (not to mention narrow-mindedness) in policy circles.

Why do you feel that American Jews have become so right wing in the last couple decades? Is it directly tied to Israel or do you think there's an economic class element to it as well?

twiddling_my_thumbs6 karma

Thanks for writing. On your first point, I'm not sure that there actually is a growing conservatism and hawkishness among Jews at large. The recent Pew study shows that young Jews are much more willing to critique Israel. Though institutionally, I think you are correct.

As to your question, I'm not sure American Jews have become more right-wing in general, and certainly this is the case with regard to Jews in Israel. However, what has changed is that Jews in America, due to either fear or hawkishness (or both), are unwilling to critique Israel and discuss difficult issues in ways that most Israelis find absurd.

To quote the Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg (who I quoted in my article linked above):

The American fight about what you can’t say about Israel, and where you can’t say it, will always sound to an Israeli as if Lewis Carroll scripted it.

CollumMcJingleballs5 karma

Why are American Jews so tied to Israel even if a majority of them have never been there? I catch flak all the time for saying I don't really care for the country since I have never been there and this is considered cause for near excommunication.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Jews are tied to Israel for two reasons, I believe:

1) It is the foundational geographic location about which the entire Hebrew bible focuses -- which is the narrative foundation of our culture.

2) We're scared of being destroyed, and look upon it as the safe haven we've never had.

IamSeth5 karma

I remember hearing you tell your story in an interview on NPR. Powerful stuff. Thanks for joining us here on the internet!

Do you think there is hope for us?

twiddling_my_thumbs4 karma

Thanks -- glad you heard me.

As for hope, if we're talking about an end to the conflict, I will always have hope that there can be a political compromise and national reconciliation.

The realist in me, though, sees how difficult and elusive (and complex) such a realization will be. Do I think there will be a resolution soon? No. Do I hope there will be, and continue to work toward such a resolution? Yes.

foreverfalln5 karma

Have you banned from other speaking engagements?

Also has any institution asked you to speak, either on your book, or your views in general?

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

This is the first time I've been barred from speaking after having an invitation extended.

And yes, I've had a book tour with many speaking engagements within the Jewish community (and without). I'm still have more appearances upcoming.

VodkaOwl4 karma

Two questions:

Do you believe anti-migrant sentiment is wide spread among Israeli citizens?

Also, how do you feel about the language used by Israelis to describe African refugees and migrants, such as: "vermin", "cancer", "infiltrators" that threaten "the [Jewish] character of the country"?

twiddling_my_thumbs5 karma

There is no question that there are racist streams that run through Israeli society today, and it's something that is deeply troubling to progressive Jews such as myself (both in and outside of Israel).

wikitorah4 karma

Should anyone be banned from speaking at a Hillel? What about an active supporter of armed struggle; a current member of Hizbullah, for example? What about an academic that questions the scope of the Holocaust using the term Shoah-business? I'm just wondering if you are for a completely open debate or just believe you are within the red lines.

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

I think each Hillel, as with any organization, has the right to choose who should and should not be sponsored or hosted.

I also feel that the best model to date for creating an open, honest space in which people can debate difficult issues respectfully is Swarthmore Hillel, which has declared itself as an 'open' Hillel. (Meaning: it rejects Hillel International's restrictions on who can, and cannot, speak within a Hillel building.)

downboat-ahoy-1 karma

So you don't think someone who actively supports terrorism should be barred from a Hillel?

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

I don't know anyone who actively supports terrorism who would like to "speak" at a Hillel. Do you?

downboat-ahoy-8 karma

So, not many Muslims want to speak at a Hillel? Because there are many Muslims here in the US who actively support terrorism.

Also, "I don't know of any" doesn't mean there aren't any out there. Plus, it's a hypothetical question in the first place with a binary solution set- yes or no. Yes you don't think they should be barred or no you think they should.

twiddling_my_thumbs9 karma

I believe you just equated Muslims and terrorists. Yes, you did.

And that's where we end our discussion.

silentmarine3 karma

...the American Jewish community: an inability to speak openly and honestly (and respectfully) about Israel.

(I might seem ignorant asking this...)

Any idea why? Are they afraid?

twiddling_my_thumbs4 karma

This is my humble view -- but one reason why there is such fear is because Jews as a people are still collectively suffering from post-Holocaust PTSD. (And really, who could blame us?)

There is an existential fear for Israel's destruction, and that fear creates a situation in which people view the conflict as a zero-sum game. You're either with us, or against us.

Those who feel this way view anyone who might legitimize boycotts as a nonviolent form of protest as against us. Which is why I was barred from speaking, I believe.

silentmarine3 karma

There is an existential fear for Israel's destruction, and that fear creates a situation in which people view the conflict as a zero-sum game. You're either with us, or against us.

Those who feel this way view anyone who might legitimize boycotts as a nonviolent form of protest as against us. Which is why I was barred from speaking, I believe.

Is this a majority / significant view? What about international vs US?

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

It's a good question -- I guess we'll have to get Pew to ask this question in their next Judaism study.

My sense is that this is not a majority view, but a view held by a very strong, vocal, and (most importantly) powerful minority.

silentmarine5 karma

Sorry, my next question was right before your response. Thank you for your answers as I'm genuinely curious.

Notice this anywhere internationally or do you think this is mostly a U.S. problem / view?

twiddling_my_thumbs4 karma

You're welcome.

And this 'fight' over what we can, and cannot, speak about with regard to Israel seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon. Certainly there are issues in Israel with regard to tamping down NGOs who support BDS, the dialogue is completely open.

There can sometimes be discord in the Australian Jewish community along these lines, but nothing like the U.S. (from what I understand).

PeacefulSolutions3 karma

If you could vote for an Israeli Political Party, which one would you vote for?

Also, if you weren't American, do you think you would live in Israel?

Do you think that Palestinian incitement (I.e. rhetoric in the media, asking for the release of murderers, throwing stones at cars), is part of the problem or do you blame Israel for being in the interest of its own citizens?

Do you recognize the hypocrisy, and well, in general, the Kookiness of BDS (founder attended Tel Aviv University, violent protests in the past, using buzzwords "nazi apartheid babykilling organharvesting etc etc etc " )?

Which peace plan do you think is the best? Geneva?

How do you think recent peace talks will go?

Do you think israel has a right to blockade Gaza? Do you think the action against the flotilla (which, may I remind you, explicitly was to run through the blockade, NOT to deliver aid)?

Do you think Israel has been unfairly targetted by the U.N.? See UN Watch.

Finally, will you send me a PM? You're exactly the type of guy I want to talk to about the conflict. A good conversation is hard to find.

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

Likely Meretz, unless Labor grew a spine or became more politically viable.

n3w73 karma

I hear you on the Radio when you spoke with CJAD in Montreal. You seem like a well educated person. Their loss.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Hey, thanks for letting me know. I really enjoyed that interview.

-Mona-3 karma

Ok David, you talked me into it -- I signed up!

My first question goes to the heart of Zionism itself. For most of my life I supported Zionism, and then the Internet began showing me some very ugly things both about how Israel came to be, and how it maintains its "Jewish character."

Basically, I believe I had been wrong to think a heavily militarized ethnocracy can escape evil, no matter whether it is white Christians seeking it, or Jews. It began to dawn on me that I have always been repulsed at notions the U.S. needs to protect its "white" or "Christian" character, and that protecting an ethnic and religious Jewishness cannot be expected to yield more enlightened consequences -- entirely regardless of whether Jewish reasons for embracing militaristic, nationalistic Zionism might be more sympathetic than those of American white racists.

Your thoughts?

twiddling_my_thumbs4 karma

This is really a fantastic question. and a difficult one to answer.

I too am repulsed by ideas of the U.S. needing to maintain any religious or ethnic character, and push back against such notions whenever they arise.

So why do I not do similarly with regard to Israel? If I am to be honest, the answer is an emotional one: I believe that there needs to be one place in the world in which Jews can have a self-determining space. This is based on thousands of years of history full of persecution, genocide and displacement.

Now, I recognize, as you do, Israel's geo-political misdeeds. And I also recognize the inherent difficulty in reconciling the desire to have a Jewish and democratic state.

I suppose I'm just not ready to give up on the idea that Israel cannot achieve this in a just fashion.

That's my honest answer -- an answer certainly worthy of critique.

-Mona-5 karma

Thanks. I've come to feel that Israel has destroyed some of the best aspects of Jewish ethics and culture. Instead of being universalist defenders of rights for all, Zionism has turned many Jews into insular nationalists who defend the indefensible.

My education and background is American law, and I know that this field would be impoverished without some very great Jewish-American minds and the values guiding those minds. Those values, however, are irreconcilable with policies of ethnocracy, militarism and religious separatism.

So, while I can sympathize with the lure of a Zionist nation in response to several millennia of Jewish oppression, I see Zionism destroying some of the best aspects of Jewish culture and ethics. I read Max Blumenthals' book (as well as much else) and feel Zionism has cause too many Jews to become the very hatefilled people they seek to escape.

twiddling_my_thumbs0 karma

You and I certainly agree -- as do many Israelis -- that the best aspects of Jewish ethics are not consistently being expressed by the current state.

That saddens me, and partly motivates some of my political critiques.

currentchris3 karma

Who thought up that title for your book?

What do you buy those kids?

twiddling_my_thumbs6 karma

My publisher and I both agreed on it -- it was actually the first line of my pitch letter to the publisher, and they chose it for the title.

I bought the 5-year-old daughter a stencil set, and the 11-year-old boy a Rubik's cube.

maldorordx3 karma

עברית מדבר?

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Yes, I do speak Hebrew -- but it's hard to type on my iPad with a different keyboard construction.

כן - מדבר עברית.

-Mona-3 karma

David, my second question, this one about BDS.

I'm ambivalent about that movement because I don't know who it might harm, and how much. I opposed sanctions on Iraq, oppose them on Iran, and worry that economic punishment can cause horrible suffering.

Do you think BDS could hurt people in any serious way?

If it merely shames Israel, I have no objection to BDS. My concern is restricted to serious harm, if any, that could result (including to non-Jewish Israelis).

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

Regarding whether BDS could hurt either Israelis or those Palestinians pushing it, I cannot say. I suppose, on the one hand, if sanctions and boycotts became normative, individual Israelis could be economically harmed. And on the other hand, I suppose Palestinians could similarly be harmed by retaliatory actions.

Now, one might argue that this alternative -- a nonviolent form of opposition -- is much preferred to violent conflict. And I would agree.

Though I also agree with you that such economic sanctions might not yield positive results.

I'll finish by quoting something Cory Robin recently wrote called, "A Challenge to BDS Critics." I'm posting it as a thought piece, not because I agree with all his politics:

For the last month I’ve been responding to critiques and challenges of BDS. Now I have a question for its opponents and critics. What do you propose as an alternative strategy? The Palestinians have tried four decades of armed revolt, three decades of peace negotiations, two intifadas, and seven decades of waiting. They have taken up BDS as a non-violent tactic, precisely the sort of thing that liberal-minded critics have been calling upon them to do for years (where is the Palestinian Gandhi and all that). So now you say BDS is bad too. Fine. What would you have the Palestinians—and their international supporters—do instead?

Cheerwinediet3 karma

Just wanted to say thanks for writing this! I will be reading it soon.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Thanks for the kind note. You're welcome.

Marcus7503 karma

How long did it take you to write the book and was it a painful process?

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

Thanks for the question.

It took me about three years. And the process was not exceedingly painful -- I had done much of the psychological work necessary to move beyond it (to a degree). In other words: the book was an act of creating something beautiful out of something tragic, and not an act of therapy.

earlycat2 karma


twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Why do you think hate exists?

parasseux2 karma

Could you provide a quick summary on your current political views please?

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

The best thing I can do is share the statement I published at the request of SB Hillel:

I am a progressive Zionist who believes firmly in the idea that Israel should be a Jewish, democratic state, despite the inherent challenges and contradictions such an existence presents. I am also one who fully supports a two-state political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which each side is able to live within defined, secure borders.

I believe that economic sanctions, such as boycotts, are legitimate forms of nonviolent protest, in contrast to, say, violence or vandalism. I do not, however, subscribe to the BDS movement or its implicit vision of a single, bi-national state as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I am saddened by the fact that Palestinians do not have full academic freedoms, I do not support the academic boycott of Israeli universities and institutions as a productive tactic. And while I have written extensively on the suffering Israel’s continued occupation has brought upon Palestinians living in the West Bank, and while I support pressure being brought to bear upon Israel to reject its settlement enterprise and push toward a final peace agreement, I reject those anti-Semitic streams which unofficially surface within the BDS movement.

cp51841 karma

Hasn't every day of the Israeli government done progressively more to discredit zionism and the feasibility of a jewish state?

Hasn't israel betrayed the ideals of a harmonious jewish state every day. and not just in violent ways? Has anyone done more to discredit zionism than the israeli government?

Who could support the current state of zionism in israel? At times it even discriminates against different groups of jews.

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

I will say this: the far right in Israel has done as much to threaten the feasibility of a Jewish state than anyone with their Greater Israel policy desires.

yon762 karma

Did you go to Pardes with a guy named yonatan?

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

I did -- we were Chevrutah, and he was much smarter than me.

Is that you? Curiosity is killing me.

yon763 karma

I was wondering why you did not write about him in your book. I think this omission is the true reason you are banned from speaking at that hillel.

twiddling_my_thumbs5 karma

One: I'm laughing.

Two: I had never considered this. You are likely correct.

dont_be_dumb2 karma

You mentioned the old city, religious capital is under international control. Is that arrangement agreeable to both sides and working well in practice? Could it be extended to the whole country? Clearly the two most interested parties are not capable of resolving the issue, so shouldn't the international community step in? The area of dirt being fought over is no more special than any other dirt. It's just had several thousand years of tradition poured into it that's caused the smartest creatures on this planet to forgo logic and reason in favor of emotion and primal rage. At what point do we say enough and take the toys from the entitled children? How about no one live there? Make it a historical, cultural landmark to remind us of how terribly wrong we get it sometimes.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

I think that it's clear neither party is capable of solving this divide without international/outside pressure. This is one reason why I feel the United States is so critical - if there is one country capable of compelling Israel to step away from its geo-political policies, it's the U.S.

There are obvious reasons why this has not yet occurred, but a shift in U.S. public opinion could change this dynamic.

Dabee6252 karma

On the topic of those that are boycotting Israel, do you ever find it ironic that the people who push said boycotts often write their polemics using computers with Israeli parts? From what you've experienced, how many people who claim to be boycotting Israel still use Israeli products without even knowing?

twiddling_my_thumbs7 karma

No, I don't see the irony.

Israel is a rich, developed country relative to those who are pushing boycotts, who have no self-determining country and no sustainable economy upon which to build a tech. industry.

Is it ironic that Israel relies upon U.S. technology, and foreign aid, when it also blasts U.S. critiques?


alonmln2 karma

Hi, I'm an Israeli teen, and I have some problems with your approach. Though I haven't read your book, by reading your comments here I do feel like I've got a good enough idea about your point of view, and my problem is with your support of BDS. I myself don't have a strong opinion or a solution for the conflict, but I think that by "punishing" the civilians of Israel with the BDS, instead of promoting your causes for welcoming peace, you create antagonism. Both you and I know that Knesset's members are not affected directly by the BDS, and although it's a factor to consider, it doesn't have the slightest effect on the fanatics and the (relatively moderate) radicals. in fact, from my point of view of the "simple civilian" it makes us think that the rest of the world is playing a game of pointing fingers to blame, and not trying to solve the problem. Thus it feels like instead of understanding our fragile situation, we're just excluded from the national community. Thanks for the response and תודה!

twiddling_my_thumbs0 karma

Thanks so much for writing!

I want to clarify that while I view boycotts as a legitimate form of nonviolent protest, I don't support all of the tactics, such as the academic boycott.

Now, I think you made some interesting points a) about the possibility of BDS creating an antagonistic atmosphere, b) that "punishing" civilians with a boycott may not promote causes of peace, and c) that politicians are not affected.

In response, I want to offer these thoughts, but in reverse order (with the letters matching yours):

c) politicians are affected by public opinion, and if economic sanctions cause the populace to turn on those policies being targeted, it can have an electoral effect. (Can being the operative word)

b) in general, I am opposed to such moves that punish civilians. However, it can be argued that the Palestinian people as a whole have been punished by de-facto sanctions (and real ones) by having their economy stunted by a military occupation and lack of self-determination.

a) Regarding BDS possibly being antagonistic, I want to offer what Cory Robin wrote recently in a post called "A Challenge to BDS Critics"

For the last month I’ve been responding to critiques and challenges of BDS. Now I have a question for its opponents and critics. What do you propose as an alternative strategy? The Palestinians have tried four decades of armed revolt, three decades of peace negotiations, two intifadas, and seven decades of waiting. They have taken up BDS as a non-violent tactic, precisely the sort of thing that liberal-minded critics have been calling upon them to do for years (where is the Palestinian Gandhi and all that). So now you say BDS is bad too. Fine. What would you have the Palestinians—and their international supporters—do instead?

I'm interested in your thoughts.

belgiangeneral1 karma

Do you know of any good or interesting Israeli-Palestinian co-operation projects? Like joint projects such as joint history books, joint theater, joint films, and so forth? Do you think similar joint projects are a good way for achieving reconciliation?

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

There are many. Below are just three examples of many:

1) Bereaved Families Forum - in which Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost children in the conflict come together to process their pain and the conflict.

2) The Technion (Israeli technical university) and Al Quds are currently working together jointly to improve water quality and solve resource issues.

3) There are a number of joint films, comedy troupes, and performance companies who work together (too many to count).

belgiangeneral1 karma

Thank you!

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

You're welcome!

downboat-ahoy1 karma

Do renounce Hamas and Hezbollah? What do you think of prominent Muslim speakers who will not publicly renounce terrorist groups?

I'm very interested in seeing what a Jewish person intent on reconciliation has to say about this. It seems like many Jews want to bend over backwards to help Palestinians while the most vocal Palestinians don't want to compromise at all.

twiddling_my_thumbs4 karma

I denounce anyone who supports terrorism. That's not a particularly difficult thing to do.

PloniAlmoni11 karma

Was this in 2001/2 ish? I was living in Israel and this time and I can't believe what you took away from the situation to be truthful. Why you have such sympathy and sense of understanding for the family of a murderer but not Israeli society as a whole is beyond f***d to be honest.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Tell me: what did I take away from the situation to be truthful that you feel is false?

Have you read my book? Until doing so, I have no idea what you're basing anything on.

yfarren1 karma

"I am an author who was denied a forum, by people who disagree with me. Help me get free publicity as I try to say anyone and everyone should give ME their forum to speak under! Cause that is how important I am!"

Go away you whiny troll.

twiddling_my_thumbs0 karma

Cynicism duly noted.

For me, this is about the larger, meta-issue (of dialogue on Israel being constrained in the U.S.), though I view my book as possibly having a place within that larger dialogue.

yfarren0 karma

You think unless [everyone you want, including people you offend, give you to their forum to trumpet ideas they disagree with] that means there isn't dialogue?

I mean, I don't know a thing about you, other than the inflammatory headline you choose [sorry, how is it me being cynical, when you choose the inflammatory headline instead of saying anything of substance about yourself?] but why should someone who finds your ideas offensive, give you a podium? Would you say it is offensive if the KKK didn't want to give a podium to someone from the NAACP?

This post is just whining about how someone you disagree with didn't give you your preferred forum. Oh. Poor you. And now you are trying to dress it up as "oh, its not about me, it is some bigger issue!"

Please. Do you have no shame, or honesty?

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Clearly you've missed the point of this issue, which is to highlight a very real dynamic with in America, and the American Jewish community, in which people are fighting to limit what we can talk about with regard to Israel, rather than engage in dialogue and debate.

This isn't a personal issue -- my story is a microcosmic example of this larger problem.

If you'd like to consider it whining, that's your right. But I think it's a narrow view.

yfarren-1 karma

If you are trying to have a conversation about how robust and open the Jewish community is to different ideas, do you think reddit is the place to do it?

If you are trying to have a conversation about the general state of idea exchange, shouldn't you bring some evidence, about that? The ONLY evidence you bring is "oh, poor me! People I disagree with DON'T LIKE ME". That isn't a general conversation. If you can't tell the difference, I don't know what to say.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

Why would Reddit not be a good place to expand such a dialogue?

It's not as though this is the only place in which I engage in such discussions.

yfarren2 karma

Generally, saying "oh look at those close-minded people over there" is a lousy way to engage those people.

And so far, you aren't even saying that. You aren't commenting about overall trends, you aren't bringing up how AIPAC and J-Street (google's suggestion for "Jewish Israel Lobby ...") interact with each other, and voice different opinions.

Your post is "look at me. ME!!! THEY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST ME!!! IT MUST BE A GIANT CONSPIRACY!!!! STOP THEM"-- You don't bring any evidence, or any information about overall trends. To say you are talking about general events when your post is all "me me me, and what a victim I am"-- either you are a terrible speaker and advocate, or you have a massively overgrown sense of self importance.

If you want to start have a conversation about the general state of open idea exchange-- try not saying "look what they did to ME! IT IS BECAUSE THEY ARE A BUNCH OF SPEECH BANNERS!!!". That isn't evidence of a general trend.

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

We disagree. Clearly this isn't a conversation you'd like to have, based on my approach, which is fine. I'm engaging with plenty of others.

Good luck.

xzt1230 karma

You expected religious people to be open to all ideas and dialogue? Are you naive?

twiddling_my_thumbs1 karma

Thank you for letting me know that 'religious people' are not open to ideas and dialogue.

I will change my worldview accordingly.

_splatterpuss_0 karma

If a member of my family had murdered your loved one the last thing I would want would be for you to be there. In that case I would be suffering from the grief of losing one of my loved ones and also faced with having to apologise for the actions of my loved one against yours.

It seems like you are injecting yourself into someone else's grief, not to mention the highly evocative title of your book designed solely to portray yourself as a victim and the ultimate good-guy for being able to forgive people who did you no harm.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

The family of the perpetrator invited me to their home, and wished for me to be there.

If you read the book, you'll see you're mistaken.

_splatterpuss_1 karma

I apologise, I did not know that and obviously that makes me incorrect in everything I asserted.

twiddling_my_thumbs2 karma

No worries.

wikitorah0 karma

How bizarre is it that the place you would actually have the most freedom to speak and write critically of the Zionist regime is Israel?

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

First, not a fan of the phrase "Zionist regime."

Second, I think Israel should get credit for creating a country in which free speech exists (some of the anti-democratic legislation that has been pushed recently notwithstanding).

Czar_stumbles-3 karma

do you think all Israeli people are terrorists?

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

No. Do you?

Czar_stumbles1 karma

im sorry, but judging(i know i shouldnt have) on the title of your book, it seems like you do. im sorry if i offended you.

twiddling_my_thumbs3 karma

You didn't offend me. I'm just not sure how you got that from the title of my book.