As I await news of Omar Barghouti's "much anticipated" appearance at Brooklyn College tonight with some misfit professor from UC Berkeley, I note that he is drawing big-time support from (who else?) The Socialist Worker.
In the meantime, I would like to add a few more observations from his appearance Monday night at UC Irvine in front of about 30 people-almost half of whom were pro-Israel.
Aside from his attacks on Israel, Barghouti referred to "American racism and support for Israel". As part of his slide show, he showed quotes by Martin Luther King on oppression and justice, which were not made (by King) in reference to Israel. He also showed a cartoon showing a white person pointing at a black person saying "Go back to Africa", along with another white person telling a brown person to "Go back to Mexico", and a third white person telling someone else to go back to somewhere. (I forget the latter, but it had something to do with Arabs.) Keep in mind this is a man who was educated here in the US at Columbia University and is presently a student at Tel Aviv University, where I guess they don't take attendance-at least for students nearing the age of 50. (He was born in 1964.)
But I digress.
I would submit that Barghouti understands little about our history with race and what America was like in the time of King compared to what we are like now. He prefers to simply dismiss us as a racist nation that has not and can not change. By my calculations, Barghouti was about 3-4 years old (wherever he was) when Dr King was assassinated. I was in the army at the time and recall those days vividly.
Secondly, Barghouti spent a few minutes talking about something called "pink-washing", which refers to Israel promoting the fact that gays have full rights in Israel (as opposed to its neighbors), He then mentioned several gay entities in the US who are against Israel. As he did so, he constantly used the adjective "queer" to refer to gay people and organizations. I guess I am not fully up to the times, but when I was growing up and most of my life, to refer to gays as queers was considered the worst form of epithet. After all, the word does mean "strange", does it not? Seemingly, many gay advocates have adopted the word, as some blacks have adopted the n-word to keep it living in our lexicon, unfortunately. I guess in another generation, the in-word will be the f-word when it comes to homosexuals.
But I again digress.
The sad fact is that among Israel's neighbors, to be identified as gay is an invitation to persecution or even death (something to do with sharia law, you see). In Iran, they solved their "gay problem" by simply hanging them all.
That is why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can proudly proclaim that Iran is "gay-rein" (cleansed of gays, as the Nazis would say).
That is why Barghouti has to bring up a nonsensical idea like "pink-washing" because he knows that the Jewish state stands in stark contrast to the Arab world when it comes to gays-and other minorities, such as its Arab and Muslim citizens, for example, who enjoy much more in the way of rights than if they were living in Arab countries.
Finally (and tellingly), when an audience member asked him if he would still push the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement if a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority did not satisfy him on a certain point, such as the "right of return", Barghouti answered that in such a case, the BDS movement would continue. No Palestinian government could bargain away their rights, says Barghouti.
So you see, what that means is that even if Israel makes that much sought after peace deal with the Palestinians, it doesn't mean the end of efforts to destroy the Jewish state by the Barghoutis of the world. The right of return is crucial because, if fully implemented, it would effectively end Israel as a Jewish state since not only would it mean 1948 refugees returning (most of whom are probably dead), but their descendants as well.
Besides, if BDS went away, what would Barghouti do with the rest of his life? He is a college student nearing 50 with no real job to pay for him traveling the world with his slide show.