Thursday, December 12, 2019

My Atlantic Debut: The Story Behind the Firestorm over Trump's Antisemitism Order

I've been keeping a bit of a lower profile this year -- I'm on the job market, and so it just seemed prudent to maybe tamp down on anything that even had the slightest risk of provoking controversy or offending a hiring committee.

Anyway, here I am writing in the giant international platform that is The Atlantic on Trump's antisemitism executive order (this follows on the heels of yesterday's JTA article on Trump's antisemitic IAC speech and the response of groups like the AJC to that).

Fortunately, the stress of managing reactions to a new publication will be canceled out by a relaxing day of following British election returns. I can feel my energy returning already!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

British Jews Should Announce They Can't Support Corbyn--or Johnson

This was a piece I initially wrote for publication outside of the blog. It had a tumultuous journey, including being accepted in one newspaper before the editor withdrew the offer an hour later. Most recently, it spent two weeks in limbo after the editor who was considering it solicited the draft ... then immediately went on vacation for a week. When he returned, he promised to get to it "first thing Monday". I never heard from him again.

Anyway, the election is tomorrow and there's still no sign that he will get back to me, so you're getting the piece here. It's slightly less timely than I'd like -- though much more timely than if I posted it after election day.

* * *

Earlier this month, The Guardian published a letter from twenty-four prominent non-Jewish figures, publicly declaring that they could not support Labour in the next election due to the raging antisemitism that has enveloped the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

For the UK’s beleaguered Jewish community, it was a taste of that elusive elixir: solidarity. The knowledge that Jews do not stand alone, that we do have allies, that there are people who will not stand idly by and do nothing as this wave of antisemitism comes bearing down. That the letter’s signatories included figures like Islamophobia watchdog Fiyaz Mughal, who is intimately and painfully aware of the direct dangers a Tory government would do to him and his community, only makes it more powerful. In a very real sense, this is what it means to have true allies.

These past few years have been rough on British Jews, but if there is a silver lining, it is in moments like these: the public witnessing of all those who remain willing to plant their banner and fight antisemitism. The statements of resignation from persons who no longer can associate with a party that has become a force for hatred against the nation’s Jews. The figures—some Jewish (like MP Ruth Smeeth), some not (like London Mayor Sadiq Khan)—still bravely resisting antisemitism from within the party.

And there is grim satisfaction to be taken in Corbyn’s almost comically-high public disapproval ratings—which have reached upwards of 75% in some polls. For this, too, is at least in part a public and visceral repudiation of the brand of antisemitism Corbyn has come to represent.

Yet it is the ironic misery of the Jewish fate that we cannot even take unmediated satisfaction in those rejecting Labour antisemitism. Why? Well, because of the primary alternative to Labour: the Conservative Party, led by Boris Johnson.

The Tories have their own antisemitism problems, although—and as a liberal it pains me to say this—they pale in comparison to those afflicting Labour, at least today. And for me, I’ve probably written more on Labour antisemitism than I have on any other social problem outside of America or Israel.

But if the Tories are not today as antisemitic as is Labour, where the Tories can be aptly compared to Labour is along the axis of racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. It is fair to say that on those issues, the Conservative Party is institutionally xenophobic in a manner that is on par with Labour’s own institutional antisemitism. Or put differently: Boris Johnson is to Muslims, Blacks, and Asians what Jeremy Corbyn is to Jews.

This is hardly unknown, and the latent nativism of the Conservative Party’s Brexit policy is only the tip of the iceberg. We saw the ugliness of Conservative racism in the Windrush Scandal, where Afro-Caribbean British citizens were harassed, detained, and even deported as part of the Tories’ pledge to create a “hostile environment” for undesired immigrants in the country (notwithstanding the fact that the Windrush Generation consisted of natural-born British subjects). We saw it in the game efforts by Muslim Conservative politicians to draw attention to festering Islamophobia amongst Tory candidates and politicians, and the grinding resistance of the Conservative political leadership to seriously investigate the issue—surely, this resonates with Labour’s own kicking-and-screaming approach to rooting out antisemitism inside its own ranks.

And—like with Corbyn’s Labour party—Tory xenophobia starts right at the top. In 2018, Boris Johnson was slurring Muslim women in Europe as “letter boxes”. Advocates at that time urged then-Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw Johnson’s whip. She declined. Now he’s Prime Minister. In the meantime, Islamophobic instances in the country surged 375%.

There is a terrible commonality here: the legitimate fears Jews have about a Corbyn-led British government are mirrored by the equally legitimate worries BAMEs (Blacks, Asians, and Minority Ethnics) about the prospect of another term of Conservative rule.

To be clear: the Jewish community has not endorsed these Conservative predations. They are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit. They have spoken out and stood out against racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, and have done so consistently.

But there is another step that has not yet been taken. The Jewish community might return solidarity with solidarity, and write their own letter announcing that they cannot sanction voting for Labour—or the Tories. Twenty-four Jewish luminaries, each pledging that just as Labour’s antisemitism means that they cannot support Labour, Conservative racism and xenophobia preclude them from backing the Tories.

The UK, after all, is not a complete two-party system, and in many constituencies there are very live options that extend beyond Labour and Tory. The resurgent Liberal Democrats, for one, bolstered by refugees repelled by Labour antisemitism or Conservative xenophobia and showing renewed strength particularly in marginal constituencies where Labour is flagging. Regionally, the SNP or Plaid Cymru also are often competitive. Even the Greens, in some locales, are a viable option.

None of these parties are perfect. One does not need to search far to find instances of antisemitism in these other parties, for example, and the Liberal Democrats still have trust to re-earn following their disastrous stint as junior coalition partners to the Tories less than a decade ago.

But imperfections notwithstanding, none of these parties has completely caved to gutter populism in the way that both Labour and Tory have. They are cosmopolitan in orientation. They have faced antisemitism and other forms of prejudice, but they’ve responded decisively to it. They are not perfect, but they are viable choices, in a way that neither the Tories nor Labour can at this point claim to be.

And yet, still this companion letter—rejecting Conservative hatred with the same public moral clarity as The Guardian writers rejected Labour hatred—hasn’t been written. As much as many dislike Conservative politics, as much as many loathe Boris Johnson and the insular nativism he stands for—we have not forthrightly declared that the bigotry of his party is of equal moral weight and equal moral impermissibility at the bigotry of Corbyn’s party. We have not insisted that both be rejected.

Responding to the argument that Labour antisemitism had to be overlooked because of the pressing necessity of avoiding the disasters of a Tory government, the Guardian letter writers asked “Which other community’s concerns are disposable in this way? Who would be next?”

One could perhaps forgive the Windrush Generation for taking a tentative step forward in reply.

So again: why hasn’t that companion letter been written? Why hasn’t there been the declaration that the Windrushers, the migrants, the Muslims—that these community’s concerns are indispensable in the exact same way that the Jewish community’s concerns should (but often are not) be viewed as indispensable? Why has the wonderful solidarity demonstrated by the Guardian letter not been returned in kind?

The most common answer is that as terrible as Johnson is and as repulsive as Tory policies are, only a Conservative majority can guarantee that Corbyn will not become Prime Minister. Even the LibDems might ultimately elect to coalition with Labour if together they’d form a majority (ironically, many left-wing voters who dislike Corbyn but loathe Johnson express the same worry in reverse to explain why they can’t vote LibDem—they’re convinced that Jo Swinson would instead cut a deal to preserve a Conservative majority). As terrible as Johnson is, stopping Corbyn has to be the number one priority for British Jews. And a vote for anyone but the Tory candidates is, ultimately, a vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Jewish voters who act under this logic, they would say, are by no means endorsing Brexit, which they detest, or xenophobia, which they abhor. They hate these things, genuinely and sincerely. But their hand has been forced. In this moment, they have to look out for Number One.

I understand this logic. I understand why some Jews might believe that in this moment, we cannot spare the luxury of thinking of others.

 I understand it. But it is, ultimately, spectacularly short-sighted.

To begin, if we accept that British Jews are justified in voting Tory because we are justified looking out for our own existential self-preservation, then we have to accept that non-Jewish minorities are similarly justified in voting Labour in pursuit of their own communal security and safety. We cannot simultaneously say that our vote for the Tories cannot be construed as an endorsement of Conservative xenophobia but their vote for Labour represents tacit approval of Corbynista antisemitism. Maybe both groups feel their hands are tied; trapped between a bad option and a disastrous one. And so we get one letter from the Chief Rabbi, excoriating Jeremy Corbyn as an “unfit” leader, and another competing letter from the Muslim Council of Britain, bemoaning Conservatives open tolerance of Islamophobia.

But if the Jews reluctantly vote Conservative “in our self-interest” and BAME citizens reluctantly vote Labour “in their self-interest”—well, there are a lot more BAME voters in Britain than there are Jewish voters. So the result would be a massive net gain for Labour. Some pursuit of self-interest.

Meanwhile, those Brits who are neither Jewish nor members of any other minority group are given no guidance by this approach. There is no particular reason, after all, for why they should favor ameliorating Jewish fears of antisemitism over BAME fears of xenophobia. From their vantage point, these issues effectively cancel out, and they are freed to vote without regard to caring about either antisemitism or Islamophobia. At the very moment where these issues have been foregrounded in the British public imagination in an unprecedented way, insisting upon the primacy of pure self-interest would ensure that this attention would be squandered and rendered moot.

Of course, all this does not even contemplate the horrible dilemma imposed upon those persons who are both Jewish and BAME—the Afro-Caribbean Jew, for instance. They are truly being torn asunder, told that no matter how they vote they will be betraying a part of their whole self.

And finally, whatever we can say about the status of Tory antisemitism today, painful experience demonstrates that tides of xenophobia, nativism, and illiberal nationalism reflected in the Conservative Party will always eventually swallow Jews as well. That day will come, and if history is any guide it will come quickly. Jews should think twice and thrice before contemplating giving any succor to that brand of politics, no matter what seductive gestures it makes at us today.

So no—it will not do for Jews to back the Tories out of “self-interest”, for doing so will ultimately fail even in protecting ourselves. Ultimately, the reason that Jews should clearly and vocally reject both Labour and Tory is not sentimentality, but solidarity—solidarity in its truest and most robust sense. There simply are not enough Jews in the United Kingdom to make going it alone a viable strategy. We need allies, and so we need to find a way to respond to the reality of Labour antisemitism in a way that binds us closer to our allies rather than atomizing us apart. The solidarity they showed us must be reciprocated in kind.

If there is one theme I have heard over and over again from UK Jews, it is the fear of becoming “politically homeless”: unable to stomach voting for Tory nativism, unable to countenance backing Labour antisemitism.

But as The Guardian letter demonstrated, Jews still have friends, and allies, and people who will have our backs no matter what. And if you’ve got friends, allies, and people who have your back, what do you do if you’re worried about homelessness?

I’d say, you start building a new house—one with room enough for all of us.

This Jew is Tired

It's been a rough week (he says, on a Thursday [dear God it's still only Wednesday -- DS]).

It began with President Trump once again dipping back into the antisemitism well in a speech before the Israeli American Council -- repeatedly treating American Jews as if we were Israelis and not American, calling us "not nice people" who would nonetheless vote for him because our great "wealth" was at stake.

It continued when Jewish communal representatives -- typified by the AJC -- could only issue the most mealy-mouthed half-condemnations (couched in lots of insulating rhetoric about how wonderful Trump has been as a friend of the Jews). One could see American Jews start to steam in frustration that, once again, antisemitism on the right would be given a pass (it already feels like forever since I wrote this, but it was actually just released on JTA a few hours ago).

Then a few days later, the New York Times put out what appeared to be a bombshell story contending that the Trump administration was going to issue an Executive Order reclassifying Jews as a separate "nationality". Already raw from the IAC speech, and mistrustful of our communal representatives who seemed to discount the threatening subtext of that speech, Jews boiled over -- furious at the prospect that American Jews should be viewed as being of any nation but America.

A few of us familiar with the civil rights context -- in particular, that Title VI only covers "race, color, and national origin", but not religion -- suspected that the EO was really just going to reiterate a policy interpretation dating back to the Obama and Bush administrations: that when antisemitism targets Jews on basis of actual or perceived ethnicity or ancestry, it is covered under the statute. But we found ourselves shouting into a void as people worked themselves into a greater and greater frenzy. Jews who a few days ago were singing the praises of neo-Bundism were now emphatic that Jewishness was "just" a religion -- a position which would, if adopted, remove Jews from the ambit of Title VI protections altogether.

I could see decades worth of civil rights progress unraveling in the face of an ever-increasing frenzy. Reflexive opposition based on incomplete information was making otherwise sensible people start putting out ideas that would virtually dynamite huge swaths of the legal apparatus standing against antisemitism -- and they were doing so under the banner of fighting antisemitism. And on a personal level, after spending literally years trying to draw attention to the mainstreaming of antisemitism on the political right, this is what gets the Jewish community to finally blow its top? This is what we rebel against? I was actually getting nauseous.

Thankfully, things died down a little today as the EO's text was actually released and people realized it was not redefining "Jew" out of "American". Attention now has shifted to the EO's implementation of the IHRA antisemitism definition -- a non-legal definition that was not designed for use in legal enforcement actions and whose vagueness and imprecision risks, if not managed carefully, chilling protected First Amendment activity.

But I scarcely have the bandwidth to dive into that issue (and boy does it ever need diving into), because while all of this was happening there was a shoot-out at a Jewish grocery store in New Jersey, killing five. At first, police said they didn't think it was "terrorism-related". Then the story shifted -- maybe the store had been specifically targeted. Now we've learned that at least one of the perpetrators was a Black Hebrew Israelite -- portions of which have long been associated with radical antisemitic activity. And that, in turn, has brought out some of the ugliest iterations of the Twitterati, who are just transparently delighted that this shooter was Black and are eager to let actual Black Jews know it. It's despicable. It's despicable that Black Jews aren't even allowed to mourn antisemitic violence without someone insisting they take responsibility for it.

Want to know one difference between being a White Jew and a Black Jew? When a White guy shoots up a synagogue, I don't worry that the next time I show up people at my shul will look at me and question whether I'm one of them.

But what we should really be focusing on is that this appears to be an antisemitic shooting, and it confirms what -- contra a particular sort of grievance-monger would have you believe -- is in fact very well-known and very well-attended-to in the Jewish community: that there is a branch of radical antisemitism in other minority communities that can and has turned violent against Jews. Black Hebrew Israelites do not fall neatly on a left-right spectrum (you should read this entire Emma Green column, and not just because it makes this point), and it's crude and debased to think that just because Black therefore Left. But regardless of where one situates it ideologically, it is certainly a distinct form of antisemitism that needs to be taken seriously as distinctive.

Not that anyone needed to tell us that. But by golly you can bet people will tell us that, over and over again, as if we didn't already know, as if we needed the lecture while we grieved.

What a week. What a terrible, tiring week.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Can We Just Resist the Bauble for Once?

The Justice Department Inspector General completed its review into the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and found no wrongdoing. If you're Attorney General Bill Barr, this is obviously The Wrong Answer, and by golly he's going to keep on creating new investigations until someone gives the Right One.

At which point, we all know what's going to happen, right? The newspaper headlines will blare "Justice Department: FBI Behaved Inappropriately in Trump-Russia Investigation." Trump will declare victory. The media will put on its sternest contemplation face as it ponders this new revelation. Nobody will have the guts to say it's an obvious concoction, and not worth any attention at all.

But -- futility aside -- I'll still issue my plea: Can we not? Given that we all know exactly what it is coming, why it's coming, and what it is -- can we just resist the shiny bauble? Just this once?

I know, we can't. But still ... please?

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What To Do With The Two Truths About Kamala Harris

Ever since Kamala Harris prematurely ended her once-promising presidential bid, I've seen a host of progressive takes making roughly the same claim about two simultaneously "truths":

  1. There are plenty of legitimate reasons not to have preferred Senator Harris as one's number one candidate; and
  2. Senator Harris was held to a higher and more unforgiving standard because of her race and sex.
And indeed, both of these things are true. Obviously, people are allowed to have policy beliefs that align with other candidates more than Senator Harris. And equally obviously, racism, misogyny, and misogynoir also factor in to how people weigh various issues and commitments in assessing the different candidates, as well as in governing how people move along the spectrum of "not my speed, but that's okay" to "she-devil COP!"

But what I haven't seen is a lot of people taking the next step, and asking what we do with these two truths.

This isn't, after all, just a Kamala Harris problem. These truths will emerge in any circumstance where we believe that unjust social prejudice is systemic and ingrained, such that it will manifest not just in fits of irrational hatred but also in "normal politics". An important implication of viewing racism and sexism as systemic is that it will still exert force -- often considerable force -- in political and policy disputes where there are perfectly valid reasons to take a variety of different positions. So the remedy can't be "don't oppose Kamala Harris" (there are legitimate reasons not to support her!), but neither can the existence of legitimate reasons to oppose Kamala Harris be taken as decisively falsifying any influence of racism and/or sexism.

Obviously, this is a question I've pondered for awhile, since it roughly corresponds to how I think the antisemitism-Israel relationship works (there are perfectly valid reasons to dislike many things Israel does, and also Israel gets held to a more exacting and unforgiving standard because of its Jewish character). And there too, the answer can neither be "never oppose Israeli policies", nor can it be "because there are legitimate bases to oppose Israeli policies, antisemitism isn't an issue." The uncomfortable truth is that antisemitism still operates even in the arena of legitimate opposition to Israeli conduct, and by the same token the fact that antisemitism still operates in that arena doesn't in itself delegitimize the validity of opposing Israeli actions.

Boiled down this way, the problem is even thornier than many have let on: under conditions of ingrained, systemic racism and sexism, there is probably no way to have a discourse about Kamala Harris that is not affected by racism and sexism. There's two trade-offs here: the one I already mentioned, where Harris opponents can't say "there's no racism or misogyny at work here, we have legitimate reasons for our views"; but also another one where Harris proponents can't say "in any case where we can say racism or misogyny is doing work, that case is per se delegitimated."

Why can't the latter claim work? Because one implication of viewing racism and misogyny as pervasive social forces is that there isn't a way to extract a "pure" discussion of her that is innocent of them. They'll always be there. Which means -- since again, the conclusion can't be "everyone is obligated to support Kamala Harris" -- we have to figure out what it means to ethically participate in a political discourse about prominent Black women in conditions where racism and misogyny simply will be present. People are not taking that problem seriously enough, because they retain a fantasy whereby via either sufficient cognizance or self-discipline we can neutralize the effects of racism and misogyny and drop them from our analysis. If that's not possible, and the racism and misogyny must always factor in even as they don't control, we're in far more discomforting terrain.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Post-Thankful Roundup

I was thankful on Thanksgiving, but now the holiday is over and I'm back to being misanthropic.

* * *

The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles Kate Manne (congrats on her baby, by the way!).

I'd find these complaints about how the right is rewriting Mizrahi history to suit its political agenda more compelling if the left hadn't completely abandoned this arena for years (with occasional exceptions for hopelessly idealized histories that are equally political, just with different motivations).

A new survey on British antisemitism is out and making waves. I think several of their methodological choices are questionable, to say the least, which prevents me from endorsing its conclusions without reservation. That's unfortunate because there is some interesting data in there, but it's occluded by the authors' own manifest ideological biases. I might write separately on this.

Shocking-not-shocking, part one: A Jewish member of the McGill student government was given an ultimatum to either withdraw from a trip to Israel or resign (she's doing neither, and daring the body to impeach her). Shocking-not-shocking, part two: A non-Jewish student government member going on the same trip was weirdly overlooked and given a pass.

Ohio legislators introduce bill threatening life imprisonment for any woman, girl, or doctor who has or performs an abortion. "Abortion", here, includes not reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy, which is currently not medically possible.

Anti-Vaxxers make headway in Samoa; dozens of people die of measles in Samoa.

Is there a word -- presumably, a German word that's four words smashed together -- for the distinct feeling of anger one gets at a person or object precisely because one knows one can't reasonably be angry at that person or object? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

We Need More (and Better) Polling on BDS--Ask Me How!

A new poll, from the left-wing "Data for Progress" outfit, has dropped on BDS. This is the second poll that's devoted significant attention to BDS to have been released in the past month (I talked about the first, which came out of the University of Maryland, in this post).

The main takeaway I'm getting from reading these polls is, first and foremost, that most people don't know that much about BDS. The UMD poll, for instance, found that strong majorities of respondents had heard either "a little" or "nothing" about BDS; the Data for Progress memo acknowledges that it got an abnormally high amount of "not sure" responses even after dedicating lengthy paragraphs explaining to respondents what BDS (supposedly) is.

This actually is reflective of a larger methodological problem facing polls like this. They want to generate data that's neither just noise or "I don't knows". But since most people don't know anything about BDS, that means the surveyors need to explain what BDS is. This, in turn, creates two problems:
  1. "BDS" is a fragmented idea; there are a host of different tactics and programs which have at one form or another fallen under its ambit. Any effort to explain BDS in a remotely brief fashion inevitably will end up elevating and promoting a particular iteration of BDS over potential competitors.
  2. The more description one has to do, the more opportunity there is to inject surveyor bias -- describing BDS in terms that reflect the questioner's own support or opposition to the movement.
In the case of both surveys, but especially this new Data for Progress one, it is pretty evident that the questioner is at the very least BDS-sympathetic. The cynic might say that all these polls are therefore demonstrating is that when BDS is described in exactly the manner its supporters would want it to be described (It's non-violent! It seeks nothing more than the end of the occupation! Opponents want to take speech pathologists out of the classroom because of their beliefs!), it gets a respectable amount of support. Fancy that! Draw up a push poll pushing in the opposite direction, and it's likely you'd get different results.

Still, one could nonetheless find these surveys useful as a means of message-testing, i.e., telling us whether particular ways of framing BDS are likely to gain a sympathetic hearing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, framing BDS relatively narrowly -- targeted divestment from a company that "provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons" -- generates support in a way one would suspect might dissipate if one instead illustrated its demands more broadly -- say, "severing ties with all Israeli colleges and universities". BDS critics will accordingly say that these messages are based on lies -- BDS, after all, isn't narrow in this way. But as I've written elsewhere, I expect BDS to behave like other social movements in that it will moderate as it mainstreams. So I actually do think polls like these are emblematic of and may accelerate a trend whereby "BDS" supporters will coalesce around narrower actions like targeted consumer boycotts of particular companies (e.g., settlement goods), and jettison more ambitious actions like blanket boycotts of all Israeli companies, period.

That said, I'd actually like to test my hypothesis that more moderate forms of BDS poll better than more radical versions. And I'd also like to sidestep the problem that most people don't know what BDS is, and the problem of injecting my own biases in describing to them what BDS "actually" is.

So if someone wanted to fund my survey -- and if you do, feel free to email me -- what I'd do is avoid asking about BDS (other than a raw, unadorned "do you support or oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel" [yes/no/not sure]), since it's a term that it seems most people don't know and is quite pluralized even for those who do know it. Instead, I'd just ask questions about support for various campaigns or policies that have, at one time or another, been promoted under the BDS banner, to see what people actually do and do not back.

Here are my rough ideas for questions:
1. Should products from Israeli companies operating in the West Bank be labeled as coming from "Israel" or "the West Bank"? [Israel/West Bank/other/not sure]
2a. Some people support a consumer boycott of Israeli products which are made or manufactured in the West Bank. Do you, personally, support such a boycott? [Yes/no/not sure]
2b. Some people support the US government banning the sale of Israeli products which are made or manufactured in the West Bank. Do you, personally, support such a ban? [Yes/no/not sure] 
3a. Some people think investors such as pension funds and university endowments should divest from specific companies operating in Israel or the Palestinian territories which are accused of assisting in human rights violations against Palestinians. Do you, personally, support such divesting? [Yes/no/not sure]
3b. Some people think investors such as pension funds and university endowments should divest from all Israeli companies. Do you, personally, support such divesting? [Yes/no/not sure] 
4. Some people think America should place conditions on foreign aid to Israel, for example, by requiring that such aid not be used to support settlement construction. Do you support placing such a condition on foreign to Israel? [Yes/no/not sure] 
5. Some people think that Americans should refuse to do business with all Israeli or Israeli-owned companies operating in the United States. Do you, personally, support boycotting all Israeli or Israeli-owned businesses? [Yes/no/not sure] 
6. Some people think that American universities should sever institutional ties with all Israeli colleges and universities (for example, ending research partnerships, study-abroad programs, and student exchange programs). Do you, personally, believe American universities should sever institutional ties with all Israeli universities? [Yes/no/not sure]
7. Some people think that Israeli teams should be forbidden from participating in international athletic competitions, such as the Olympics and the World Cup. Do you, personally, support barring Israeli national teams from international athletic competitions? [Yes/no/not sure]
8. Some people think that Israeli artists and cultural figures should not be invited to perform at American theaters and centers. Do you, personally, support a policy of refusing to invite Israeli artists and cultural figures to perform in America? [Yes/no/not sure]
9. Some people think that American colleges should not host talks from Israeli political or academic officials. Do you, personally, believe colleges should not host talks given by Israeli political or academic officials? [Yes/no/not sure]
10. Some people think that American governmental officials should not work with counterparts in the Israeli government (for example, by traveling on trade missions to Israel or participating in training exercises with Israeli colleagues). Do you, personally, believe American governmental officials should refuse to work with counterparts in the Israeli government? [Yes/no/not sure]
11. Some people think that Jewish student organizations at American colleges should be defunded, and that other student groups should refuse to work with them, because these Jewish student organizations are "pro-Israel". Do you, personally, support defunding and/or refusing to work with Jewish student organizations because they are "pro-Israel"? [Yes/no/not sure]
My hypothesis is that we'd see significant differences in levels of support as we moved through these different questions. And if there is significant stratification across these various questions, that suggests (a) that asking people whether they support "BDS" doesn't tell us that much, because the term encompasses a huge variety of different proposals which carry different levels of support and (b) that support for "BDS" is not "in for a penny, in for a pound" -- people can support "BDS" while not supporting all campaigns which fly the BDS flag.

I'd also like to ask a few follow-up questions the answers to which I think might be very illuminating:
12. In general, the decision by a corporation to refuse to do business with Israeli customers or Israeli businesses because they are Israeli should be ... [Protected, as a matter of free speech/Prohibited, as a form of nationality-based discrimination/not sure]
13. Which of the following statements do you most agree with?
(a) We should encourage closer connections between Israelis and Americans, as a means of transmitting shared values and facilitating understanding across cultures; or
(b) We should sever connections between Israelis and Americans, as a means of signaling disapproval of Israeli policies and putting pressure on Israelis to change them.
14. Some people believe the state of Israel should be eliminated and replaced by a state of Palestine. Do you believe the state of Israel should be eliminated? [Yes/no/not sure]
Anyway, if you'd be interested in the answers to these questions and have access to funding for survey work, let me know! My contact details are very available on the internet.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume LVI: The Impossible Burger

Have you tried The Impossible Burger -- the plant-based veggie patty that actually tastes like a regular, meatified hamburger? I have -- at White Castle, of all places. Impossible Burgers are pricier than their dead-animal counterparts, and I figured a slider was a cheap way to try it out with minimal risk in case I didn't like it.

(A friend told me that I was especially brave to try an Impossible Burger at White Castle. I remarked that it would have probably been braver to eat the meat patties there).

How was it? Well, my assessment is in line with the conventional wisdom, I think: it's not the best burger I've ever had, but it's not the worst either, and most importantly it does taste like an actual burger. That puts it head and shoulders above any other competitor, as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, if you're like me and you've had an Impossible Burger, take a moment to thank -- or blame -- your local Jew. Because ...
[E]nter a new food-borne Jewish plot: the menacing Impossible Burger.
You may recognize that creation as a non-meat-based patty that claims to be indistinguishable in taste and texture from a traditional hamburger.
But one Joseph Jordan and one Mike Peinovich claim to have uncovered the sordid truth. They announced on their paywall-protected white power podcast — that the fake meat is, as you may have suspected, part of a Jewish scheme to destroy the white race.
It is an odd accusation (aside from its essential oddness), since the scientist-founder of Impossible Foods Inc. is a lily-white gentleman by the name of Patrick O. Brown. But who knows? Maybe his decidedly un-Jewish name is as fake as his burgers, he has bleached his skin and hidden under his T-shirt lies a tallis kattan.
It’s not entirely clear how the newfangled burger ties into the Jewish plot. But it apparently has something to do with the purported dangers of soy and an intent to, as Messrs. Jordan and Peinovich assert, “make it impossible for working people to be able to afford meat, make it impossible for working people to drive automobiles, make it impossible for average people to live in an industrial society.”
And should that case somehow prove less than convincing, Mr. Jordan adds, “They wanna make us into India!”
Making things even more undeniable, he adds that “the new breed of hyper-wealthy Judeo-capitalists in the tech industries especially” want to usurp industries currently run by “goys.”
Mr. Peinovich then provides the coup de grâce: “Oh, you’re not gonna believe this: it’s kosher!”
I do believe it, actually, seeing as the Impossible Burger is -- again -- a plant-based product.