Jul 29, 2010

concerned about Veritas


While surfing Facebook just now, I just came across a site that has me very concerned.  http://veritashandbook.blogspot.com  is "The Veritas Handbook Home Page", which is VERY well done.  They just went public with a Press Release.  It is free, very viral (pdf, blog, fb, etc...), and uses Israel Advocacy techniques and resources to (as they put it) "provide readers with a fuller understanding of the development and progression of the Palestinian struggle for justice and equality."  But, similar to the BDS campaign, the framing of the project is much more problematic than the campaign itself.  The press release begins:

July is historically an important month in the struggle for Palestinian human rights. It was in July when the British Empire officially established its control over Palestine through the League of Nations Mandate System (July 24th 1922); it was in July when the first major Zionist terrorist attack against Palestinian civilians occurred (July 26th 1938); it was in July when the International Court of Justice ruled the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank to be illegal in international law (July 9th 2004); and it was also in July when the Palestinian people issued their historic call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel (July 9th 2005), which has formed the basis for the global mobilization against Israeli apartheid in recent years. 

The Handbook consists of five sections.  Here's how the Press Release describes them:
    1. A Concise History of Palestine: Geared towards educating an uninformed audience while solidifying information that any regular activist may have, it has been designed such that it could be a course for activists with a one hour session, once a week, for ten weeks.
    2. Commonly Asked Questions: Aimed towards providing activists with factual, comprehensive answers to commonly asked questions.
    3. Perspectives and Debates: Contains scholarly and academic insight by some of the most significant thinkers in the field and seeks to inform activists about the important issues surrounding our work and the controversies that arise. These issues, including the interpretations of Israel's "right to exist," approaches to confronting the Israeli occupation regime, non-violent and violent resistance, and the varying proposals for a solution to the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, are all addressed from a variety of perspectives. We have not taken a stance on any of these issues, but instead hope to provide you with the resources to make your own decisions.
    4. Appendices: Five appendices with a comprehensive resource guide with numerous sources for accurate information, solidarity organizations, links to printable posters and pamphlets, human rights reports, and primary resources. We strongly suggest referring back to the primary resources and human rights reports that llie at the heart of understanding the reality of the situation. We have also included significant information not easily accessed, such as details about the Palestinian villages destroyed and depopulated during the 1948 Nakba, a list of Palestinian prisoners (men, women, and children) currently held illegally in Israeli detention, and a list of the children murdered by Israel during Operation Cast Lead. This section is best used virtually as it contains links to many resources, and if you do choose to print the handbook, we suggest that you omit this section.
    5. Extended Bibliography: Comprehensive bibliography that can be used as a reading list.

Chevreh, this might be just another grassroots tool for delegitimizing Israel by framing the struggle for Palestinian human rights as incompatible with Zionism, a false equation.  But it's also a very compelling presentation, well-designed, and viral.  Are similar tools being made available which defend Zionism as a noble aspirational vision?  It's the volatile encounters on campus that make most clear what the "Pro-Israel" groups on campus need to do - acknowledge mistakes Israel has made/makes, and find ways to express a Zionism resonant to those exposed to the partially-correct and emotionally-overwhelming social justice claims of groups like Veritas.  

Concerned, and hoping we can respond effectively and thoughtfully, on campus and beyond,

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.shefanetwork.org
-- menachemcreditor.org

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