Wednesday, July 25, 2018

On the Stanford Daily Op-Ed Supporting Physical Attacks on Zionists

A student at Stanford University, Hamzeh Daoud, used a Facebook post, which may be viewed in the JTA article Stanford student threatens to ‘physically fight’ against ‘Zionist students,’ to threaten to physically attack Zionists. Incredibly, he was supported in an op-ed (shown below) in the Stanford Daily newspaper. I have written to the Stanford Daily. This is the text of my letter:

To the editor:

I was astounded by the misinformation, disinformation and ignorance permeating Emily Wilder's defense of the indefensible, Hamzeh Daoud's threat of physical violence against supporters of the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

I will refer to just a small subset of the absurdities in Wilder's op-ed, starting with what follows one of her few accurate statements, that the Israeli Knesset enacted a Basic Law (roughly equivalent to an article in the Constitution), called the "Nation-State Bill."

Contrary to Wilder's wild assertions, the new Basic Law is purely symbolic and basically meaningless. For the most part, it simply restates declarations from the Israeli Declaration of Independence and in practical terms changes nothing, including the status of minorities in Israel, who continue to have the same legal rights as the majority.

Wilder refers to Daoud's "unimaginable pain." I certainly can't imagine Daoud's pain, since there is absolutely no reason for him to feel any, given that the "Nation-State Bill" does him absolutely no harm.

Wilder refers to "Gaza's' kites" as if they were benign. Can she possibly be unaware of the thousands of acres of fields they have destroyed, the tremendous pollution they have crated, the thousands of animals they have killed, and the fact that it has only been a combination of effective Israeli firefighting and pure luck that has, so far, prevented massive human tragedy.

She refers to Palestinian Arab "demands for basic human rights," ignoring the fact that their basic demand is for the destruction of the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. The Arabs in Gaza have governed themselves for nearly a quarter century and Israel completely left Gaza more than a dozen years ago. If the Arabs in Gaza lack basic human rights, they should be directing their anger at their own government, not Israel. (Of course, I write that facetiously, since we all know that if they directed their anger where it belonged, at Hamas, there would be a bloodbath.)

Wilder does give a clue as to why the Arab-Israeli conflict persists with her reference to Daoud as "a third-generation Palestinian refugee." Let's ignore the fact that the actual refugees didn't consider themselves Palestinian, an identity that was adopted only decades later, almost all of them left of their own volition and none of them would have lost their homes had the Arabs joined the Jews in accepting the United Nations Partition Plan, a plan heavily favoring the Arabs, who then already had nearly 4/5 of Palestinian in the form of what was then called Transjordan.

If Daoud is a "third-generation Palestinian refugee," then I'm a "third-generation Russian refugee." Unlike Daoud's grandparents, my grandfather was forced to flee Russia, alone, as a child. When quotas kept my father out of medical school, he didn't launch explosive-laden condoms to set fields in the Bronx on fire; he found another profession and built a life for himself and his family. And unlike Daoud, there is no way this "third-generation Russian refugee" is going to threaten anyone with physical (or intellectual) violence.

It's long past time for the Palestinian Arabs to get over their almost entirely self-inflicted "Nakba" and start building a functioning society and lives for their families. I have one last recommendation, to live by a slogan popular when I was a college student: make love, not war.


Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel
Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut
Founder, PRIMER-Israel (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting)

If you also wish to write to the Stanford Daily, your letter may be emailed to When I sent the letter, I was not aware that Daoud is an RA (Resident Assistant) at Stanford, thus responsible for the welfare of students! So Stanford is employing an RA who is threatening some of the very students he is being paid to take care of! Obviously, he should be fired. It will be interesting to see whether Stanford University acts responsibly.

Here's the op-ed defending violence against students who are Zionists. It may also be read on the Stanford Daily website at

Op Ed: A defense of Palestinian pain on campus

July 23, 2018

My best friend, Hamzeh Daoud, is used to the Stanford College Republicans’ campaigns against him. So I am writing in his defense, to contextualize this latest ordeal and implore the Stanford administration to have a just and even hand when determining how to respond.

Last week, the Israeli parliament passed the “nation-state bill,”declaring Israel to be “the historic homeland of the Jewish people” and enacting measures to maintain this Jewish-only character.

Hamzeh, a third-generation Palestinian refugee, understood that although apartheid has effectively been the Israeli norm since his grandparents were expelled decades ago, this law explicitly and unapologetically makes Palestinians second-class citizens. In an instant, he posted his reaction online.

While threats of physical violence should be taken seriously, Hamzeh’s Facebook post was a response to unimaginable pain – evoked by the erasure of his entire existence, by ethnic apartheid, by the justification for his family’s oppression and expulsion. It should not be understated the immense moral and intellectual stature it took for Hamzeh to criticize this reaction himself and change his language to describe this pain in an edited Facebook post only a couple hours later. The State of Israel and Zionists who unequivocally support it certainly do not possess such morality as they continue to indiscriminately and extrajudicially murder Palestinians en masse in Gaza.

Hamzeh’s growth is evident not only in his near-immediate edit, but also his note explaining this change his language and his decision to keep both posts up as a record of this process. At Stanford University, the responsibility represented by this self-reflection and self-criticism should be viewed as the ultimate testament to a student’s worthiness and intellectual vitality.

I have one more request for the Stanford community: to recognize and actively scrutinize the assymetrical and disproportionate force with which establishments crack down on marginalized students’ reactions to oppression. Although this comparison is of course reductive, just as Gazans’ kites and demands for basic human rights are met with bombs and exploding bullets, Palestinian student activists are subjected to immediate and unforgiving institutional punishment while organizations like SCR, for example, are permitted to repeatedly slander them with baseless claims of terrorist affiliation or invite guest speakers who subject them to death threats and harassment. This is true across the world and throughout Stanford’s history of activism, but now is an opportunity for this institution to intervene.

— Emily Wilder ’20

Contact Emily Wilder at

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Yale Zussman's July Recommendations

Hi Folks,
Here are my latest recommendations.  They range across a lot of issues:

Bishop Graham Tomlin and the Demonization of Israel
by Denis MacEoin
June 24, 2018

Useful background data on religious persecution in the Middle East.
Palestinians: The Only Acceptable Peace Plan
by Bassam Tawil
June 25, 2018

Unfortunately, Mr. Tawil is right.
Arab states not waiting for the Palestinians

Reviews evidence the Arab World is prepared to support Trump's "Deal of the Century".
JULY 7, 2018

Focuses on role external supporters have had in preventing Palestinian recognition of the options actually available to them, and thus prolonging the conflict.
After Hamas: Why Israel Fears A Power Vacuum in Gaza

Here is the text of a letter I sent to The Jerusalem Post on this matter a month ago:
Changing the Gaza Paradigm
Dear Sir or Madame:

Solving the domestic issues of Gaza may not be possible until there is a resolution of its ultimate fate.  There are only four possibilities here, and consideration of them points directly to what must happen next:

1) Hamas remains in control of Gaza--  If this turns out to be case, the fate of Gazans is sealed: their lives will continue to deteriorate as their rulers focus on using the territory as a base for an ongoing war against the Jews.  More death and destruction lie ahead and there is little point addressing civilian needs.

2) Gaza is reunited with the West Bank--  This is the "Palestinian State" scenario, but there is no way to know whether it would mean Gaza coming under the control of the PA or the West Bank coming under the control of Hamas, leading to the same outcome there we have seen in Gaza.  With the PA heading toward internal problems of its own, this is a non-starter.

3) Israel reasserts control in Gaza--  Doing so would require a lengthy urban war that would result in massive casualties and near-universal condemnation of Israel.  Presumably a return to focusing on civilian needs would follow it, but by then the damage would likely be overwhelming.  This is also not in the cards.

4) Gaza is turned over to Egypt-- This would be a reversion to the status quo ante 1967.  It would enable Egypt to root out the Muslim Brotherhood and other enemies of Egypt based in Gaza and likely help Egypt suppress Islamic State activities in Sinai.  Since the world generally doesn't care when Arabs kill Arabs, whatever devastation resulted from asserting Egyptian authority would likely be ignored. Having Gaza under Egyptian rule might be sufficient for the Saudis and Emiratis to underwrite reconstruction, a process that would require extensive construction and produce a large number of jobs in a place where unemployment runs rife.  It might offer hope to Gaza's young and thus reduce the anger that hopelessness has caused.

Resolving the fate of Gaza would also impact the PA and the West Bank.  Since there would no longer be any basis for a "Palestinian State" encompassing both territories, the people of the West Bank would then have to focus on their own fate.  That might create the basis for peace on that front as well.

Yale Zussman
Why Russia Needs Israel

Prof. Hillel Frisch
July 16, 2018
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 895

Useful for understanding Russia's/Putin's (not necessarily the same) approach to the region. The article doesn't address how Russia would square the circle of aligning with both Israel and the Shi'ites.
“Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
Rayburn Hearing Room 2154, Washington, DC
Ambassador Dore Gold
Testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Governance Reform, Subcommittee on National Security

The case for recognizing Israeli annexation of the Golan.

Not beach reading, I know, but I hope it keeps you busy during these lazy days of summer.

Until next time,