So the battle at Boise State University seems to continue. And it is getting worse. It was only a matter of time, but the local rabbi, Dan Fink, has decided to butt into the Cultural Center’s “Tunnel of Oppression,” which I wrote about last week. It’s fascinating that in 5 years of teaching there he never intervened in educational work I did about Palestine–likely because he knows he could a) not handle a public debate with me as he would be wrong; b) it’s not his turf. But now that I’m gone he’s intervening in the university’s affairs–in the students’ affairs, to be more precise. Here is the email he sent to them, with a cc line to Bob Kustra, the university president, and to a legislator as well. And if that’s not threatening and intimidation I don’t know what is. But this is Rabbi Dan Fink’s modus operandi: he likes to play the role of Mr. affable, Mr. human rights all the while, if you listen to what comes out of his mouth, it’s all about lies, deceit, and hate against Palestinians. He sort of makes hints at being interested in “fairness,” but his idea of fairness is Jewish supremacy. In his world view Jews are the tolerant, suffering reluctant colonists. He distorts reality through this persona in a way that I find deceptive and in a nut shell: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Here is his letter:
I’ll be very forthright with my concerns.
Over the years, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis has been portrayed in a grossly unbalanced manner on many occasions at Boise State . A former professor who you may know, Marcy Newman, has taught with a venomous animus against Israel . As a result, I am very wary of activities that speak to this crisis—especially when they start with titles like “tunnel of oppression.” My fear is that Israel will be portrayed as the oppressor and the Palestinians as the oppressed. And this is a fear grounded, as I say, in some experience.
The reality is very different. There are oppressors on the Israeli side. There are also Israeli victims—the men and women and children who are sitting in cafes and buses that are blown up by Palestinian terrorist suicide bombers. So, for instance, when one just portrays a check point with Israelis hassling Palestinians, it’s unfair without the historical context: waves of Palestinian suicide attackers that make such checkpoints a necessary evil. Delaying pregnant women at such checkpoints seems heinous—until one notes that women dressed as pregnant and put in ambulances have been used for suicide attacks and transportation of weapons.
In short, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis doesn’t lend itself well to a “sound byte” of oppression by one side. It’s a vast, complicated situation that bears careful study and debate.
I am hoping that someone will be willing to work with me and the Jewish community to hear our perspective and take it into account, just as they should with the Palestinians. Otherwise, my community and I will be forced to vocally demonstrate our disapproval. I very much want to avoid that scenario; we can do that if we communicate and listen to one another. Please have the students working on that theatre—and whoever is advising them—talk with me.
I already wrote about why there are NOT two sides in relation to this tunnel, and if I had time to do so here I would, but you can read my earlier posts if you want to know why. But really quickly I will say this: 1) if you are doing a presentation on the people who are oppressed THERE ARE NOT TWO SIDES; 2) if Palestinians are using weapons it is because THEY ARE RESISTING. When people’s land is stolen by European colonists (whatever their religion may be) and when they are massacred for that land THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO RESIST UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW. Read the Geneva Conventions. Enough said.