Alison Weir at UC-Irvine

It’s Israel Apartheid Week at the University of California-Irvine. I went to see Alison Weir who runs She gave a great talk, a beautiful combination of data and emotionally compelling comments on her personal experience as a witness to the plight of the Palestinians–very moving.

When  it comes to the data, she is at her best in showing how the US media is corrupted by its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–an issue that extends far beyond the Middle East to include everything related to multiculturalism in America, including coverage of the Kagan nomination. She presented data on the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and National Public Radio. NPR is particularly interesting because it is often the target of pro-Israel activist organizations like CAMERAPro-Israel groups have sought to boycott NPR and have pressured it financially. (Corroborating Alison’s work, just today Mondoweiss posted another devastating critique of NPR–this time “on the month-old Israeli ‘military order’ that allows the IDF to deport any Palestinian inhabitant of the West Bank it defines as an ‘infiltrator,’ simply for lacking the paperwork that the Israeli government itself refuses to issue”–Arizona on steroids. But don’t expect American Jewish organizations to get worked up about it even though they are unanimously against the Arizona law.)

And here she lists all the journalists writing for American publications (one hesitates to call them American journalists) who cover the conflict but also have family ties to Israel or have served in the Israeli army (some may still be in the IDF). Two particularly struck me:

• A previous [New York]  Times bureau chief, Joel Greenberg, before he was bureau chief but after he was already publishing in the Times from Israel, actually served in the Israeli army.

• Media pundit and Atlantic staffer Jeffrey Goldberg also served in the Israeli military; it’s unclear when, how, or even if his military service ended.

Weir is optimistic that things are heading in the right direction. She thinks that more and more Americans seem aware of the situation in Israel. The Israel Apartheid week and the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are high-profile efforts on college campuses. Outside the lecture hall was an elaborate display of anti-Israel cartoons and an apartheid wall that had been around to a number of campuses.

Apartheid Wall
Apartheid Wall; Universities are listed on bottom
Mock Israeli tank
Mock Israeli tank
Latuff Cartoon on display
Latuff Cartoon on display

It made me think that my current TOO article on John Mearsheimer may have been too pessimistic. Let’s frame it at its most hopeful: If the Israel Lobby loses its control of the political process in the US, it would mean that Jewish power in general loses. And that would have major implications for a wide range of issues, from immigration to the legitimacy of assertions of White identity.

One thing that struck me was that almost all the ~150  students who came to her talk were Arabs. The women wore scarves, and almost everyone wore a black anti-Israel tee shirt, so the meeting had the air of a uniformed, homogeneous, almost military group, with a couple of White outliers like me. Her talk was sponsored by the Muslim Students Association. It was preceded and followed by the reading of a passage from the Koran in Arabic, followed by an English translation. The event was held in the campus Cross-Cultural Center which has offices for all the ethnic activist student organizations. Immediately following her talk, the MECHA activists set up their meeting, presumably to denounce what’s going on in Arizona. (MECHA and all the other student ethnic lobbies and leftist groups are co-sponsors of Israel Apartheid Week. Hostile Jews have turned up at some of the IAW events, especially Norman Finkelstein’s talk, but I felt cheated by not witnessing any shows of Jewish hostility. They evidently pick their targets, and Finkelstein as a “self-hating Jew” is certainly high on their list.)

So even though I was cheered by the thought that more people are becoming aware of what’s going on in  Israel, it was depressing to think that the anti-Apartheid doings are basically just another ethnic lobby. These students identify with the left, and I rather doubt they would be sympathetic to my view that they really shouldn’t have been allowed into the US in the first place. And they would be rather hostile to the idea that Whites have interests too.

I felt like a foreigner viewing someone else’s show. Outside the lecture hall, I felt like a foreigner even more. Despite the fact that UC-I is in the heart of Orange County (formerly considered a bastion of White Republicanism), spotting a White student was almost a rarity.  Whites officially make up around 23% of the students at UC-I, well below their proportion in the state. UC-I is often called the University of Chinese Immigrants, but Chinese were not particularly noticeable. It was all manner of non-Whites, from every part of the world.

Just walking around campus the percentage of Whites seemed to be far less than what the university says. The official statistics are based on freshman enrollment, and I suspect that a lot of White freshmen decide UC-I is not the place for them and transfer to some other university.

It was actually rare to see a White student. When I got into the student union, there were 2 or three Whites in a total of about a hundred. Four White guys later came in and sat together–probably at least implicitly realizing that their association was based on their race. But it was eerie how Whites stood out because of their minority status–almost like being in Hong Kong or Karachi and noticing a few stray Americans.

Like the Palestinians, I had the feeling of being displaced. Only I very much doubt that the Arab students who were involved in the Israel Apartheid Week would sympathize with my feelings.

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