Berkeley divestment Gaza Strip Israel Israel Defense Forces Israeli settlements J Street

Dialogue on the Berkeley divestment resolution

Dan Fleshler #1: Are you crazy? Why say anything positive about the Berkeley Student Senate divestment resolution? It’ll do you more harm than good.

Dan Fleshler #2: Sometimes one has to stand on one’s principles.

Dan #1: What difference would it make? Nobody reads your blog anymore.

Dan #2: There’s still a tiny following. Some people seem to care. My posts get Retweeted.

Dan #1: You’ll never get a job in the Jewish community again.

Dan #2: I can’t get a job in the community anyway.

Dan #1: Even J Street U and the New Israel Fund joined with other groups and signed a letter opposing the resolution. You’ll be jeopardizing ties that are important to you.

Dan #2: I want to believe the tent is big enough. I bet many people who participate in J Street’s political actions support this resolution, too. We can agree to disagree and still work together to support evenhanded American policy.

Dan #1: But you’ll be bolstering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. They heap abuse on everything related to Israel. Doesn’t that bother you?

Dan #2: I have a problem with a lot of the BDSers because they don’t accept the premise of a Jewish state. And it’s wrong to boycott all Israeli institutions, including those that include critics of the occupation. But this resolution doesn’t target Israel as a whole. It urges Berkeley to divest from two American companies “because of their military support of the occupation of the Palestinian territories.” And it urges the university to “examine its assets” to ensure it is not investing in companies that profit from the occupation. Well, why not give it a try? Nothing else has stopped Israeli settlement expansion or the kind of behavior Israel exhibited in Gaza, some of which was appalling.

Dan #1: But this resolution places all blame for the conflict on Israel. Its rhetoric could have demonstrated an understanding of the complexity of the situation, the fact that two sides have contributed mightily to this mess, but it did not do so. Israel is the only party that’s held accountable.

Dan #2: I would have written the resolution differently.

Dan #1: So why support a document if you’re not sure you agree with parts of it? This one also alleges that certain Israeli acts in Gaza were “war crimes.” Isn’t that inaccurate? Don’t you think the standard rules of war are inapplicable to many of the situations Israel faced, where combatants took shelter among civilians?

Dan #2 (pause for a deep deep breath): I am not sure if technically they were war crimes. But Israel put itself in a situation where a great many civilian casualties were inevitable. It didn’t have to make that choice. The whole enterprise was meant to send the message: “Ba’al ha bayit hishtageyah (the master of the house has gone crazy).” Children were killed as a result. They didn’t have to die.

Dan #1: It’s easy for you to say that from the comfort of your American armchair. In the real world, something had to be done to stop Hamas. C’mon. Be honest with yourself. You’re just trying to win friends on the left. You want them to think you’re “progressive.”

Dan #2: Maybe. But they won’t like you, and you’re also Dan Fleshler.

Dan #1: So you’re not really taking a stand. You’re just posting both points of view. Isn’t that the coward’s way out?

Dan #2: I don’t see anyone else posting both points of view. Ambivalent people deserve a voice, too.

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