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Time to call out the campus Israel Lobby

Tom Pessah | Mondoweiss

Imagine you are a student activist trying to get tobacco products banned from your university. You insist that cigarettes cause cancer, as so much research has shown. Your opponents are other students who claim the connection is tenuous and controversial, that student government should not make judgments on complex health issues, and that some students are so attached to their cigarettes that their very identities would be under attack if such a measure were passed. What if these students called themselves regular smokers, but were in fact trained and sometimes paid representatives of Philip Morris and Marlboro? How much credibility would they have on campus?

The answer depends on whether opponents of tobacco products buy into the frame of two symmetrical student groups – “pro-smokers“ and “anti-smokers,” or whether they call out their opponents for being representatives of external bodies.

One of the biggest failings of pro-Palestine student movement in many U.S. schools is buying into the symmetry frame. We’ve largely accepted the idea that efforts to divest from Israeli apartheid are promoted by pro-Palestine student groups, and opposed by pro-Israel ones (“the Zionists”) – as if these are two symmetrical parties.

But this is a completely false picture. Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine truly are grass-root organizations. Despite persistent rumors about their secret Saudi oil money, SJP chapters hold bake sales to send students their national conferences. On the U.C. Berkeley campus, attention was diverted from SJP’s cookies and brownies by the College Republicans, who put on a lavish spectacle involving students in swimsuits. The SJP sale raised a little under $6.

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44 Senators, including many Democrats, sign AIPAC letter to Obama against Iran negotiations

Phillip Weiss | Mondoweiss

A terrifying letter, signed by nearly half the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, pushing Obama toward war with Iran– and let’s see who is telling us about it.

MJ Rosenberg a few days ago:

AIPAC is still worried that there might be a breakthrough in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Accordingly, its staff drafted a letter to President Obama that will be circulated by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Its goal is to have the entire Senate endorse the hardest possible line to kill the next round of negotiations which is slated to convene in Moscow next week.

The letter demands the following as “the absolute minimum steps” which Iran “must take immediately.”

  1. Shutting down the Fordow facility
  2. Freezing enrichment above 5%
  3. Shipping all uranium enriched above 5% out of the country.

In return the AIPAC/Senate letter tells the President to offer NOTHING except the continuation of negotiations. In other words, AIPAC proposes a negotiating framework under which Iran makes tangible concessions in return for our agreeing to… more negotiations. Any easing of sanctions is specifically ruled out.

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