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BDS is Nazism and Omar Barghouti is Hitler says UPenn professor in shocking smear

Whenever you think that smears against the Palestinian solidarity movement cannot get more inflammatory or sickening, something new appears. In the latest shot against the upcoming boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference at the University of Pennsylvania next weekend, the movement is being openly compared to Nazism by a University of Pennsylvania professor.

I have written to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann asking her to speak out against these smears and noting that I wish to quote her response in my conference speech.

Ruben Gur, a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Radiology & Neurology at UPenn, writes in The Daily Pennsylvanian:

The purpose of BDS as presented seems similar to what was apparently stated in their version of “Mein Kampf” (I am referring to Omar Barghouti’s book titled “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”) and base my understanding of it on the article in the Harvard Crimson.

Notably, true to Crimson’s standards the referenced piece by Mr. Don is written in a way that does not slander any of Penn’s esteemed faculty. By contrast, your Guests from BDS are allowed to introduce our esteemed colleague Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz as a “notorious Israel apologist.” And this passed your editorial review under the guise of an “Explanation”?

The aim of the hateful and discriminatory BDS rhetoric is to delegitimize Israel in preparation for the ultimate goal of its destruction. A relevant precedent for such a movement is the groups organized by the Nazis in the 1930’s to boycott, divest and sanction Jews and their businesses. Sadly, now as then, there are Jews among the posse in the assault on their own people. The macabre sight of the likes of Stella Kübler, (arguably Hannah Arendt) and the Capos in the extermination camps is about to be replayed here at Penn.

Gur is apparently a former Israeli soldier and served as an expert witness in the defense of Ramzi bin al Shibh, a Guantanamo detainee whom the US accuses of involvement in the 11 September 2001 attacks.

I understand that The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run newspaper, but even that is no excuse for such poor judgment in publishing such outrageous and sickening smears. Comparing Omar Barghouti to Hitler and Jews and others who support human rights for Palestinians to Jewish collaborators at Nazi extermination camps is sickening.

There is no place for this kind of rhetoric. It is not only deeply defamatory against its targets but I consider it a form of Holocaust denial. Comparing a student conference at UPenn to a Nazi death camp says effectively that Nazi death camps were nothing more harmful than a student conference.

Asking UPenn President Gutmann to speak out

University of Pennslyvania president Amy Gutmann wasn’t shy to express her disapproval of BDS. That’s her right. She also has a responsibility to speak out against this kind of hateful and inciteful rhetoric.

I wrote her the following email this morning:

Dear President Gutmann,

I am scheduled to speak at the BDS conference at your university next weekend. I am aware that you have expressed your opposition to BDS. That of course is your right. However, since you have not refrained from commenting on matters of substance, I would like to ask you now to condemn in the strongest terms the inflammatory rhetoric by a University of Pennsylvania professor, Ruben Gur, comparing leading Palestinian human rights proponents to Hitler, Jewish speakers and students to extermination camp capos, and the movement in general to Nazism.

You can read Professor Gur’s atrocious words in The Daily Pennsylvanian today.

Do you believe that this kind of rhetoric has a place on your campus and are you comfortable with your students, faculty and guests being defamed in this manner?

I look forward to your urgent response to which I would like to make reference in my keynote speech at the conference.

Sincerely,
Ali Abunimah

Comments

thank you, ali, for speaking out about professor gur's fascist comments. it is hard to imagine anyone referring to omar barghouti, a warrior for human rights if ever there were one, being compared to adolf hitler.
i know your speech at penn. will be as hugely informative, as subtly elegant, and as scintillatingly expressed as your speech last year at the university of london.
good, warm wishes,
moira

I urge everyone to comment on the DP website beneath Gur's slurs. Here's my submission:

As an alumnus of Penn, I'm shocked that a professor who formerly served in the Israeli military would be permitted to spew hateful bigoted rhetoric on the pages of the DP. The editors should be ashamed to have published this histrionic, shrill, spittle-flying invective, which smears a student as a capo and diminishes the horror of the holocaust by cheaply using its horrific imagery to demonize a peaceful global movement.

Angrily comparing Barghouti to Hitler causes the reader to roll eyes and shake one's head at the absurity of the screed. Even more absurd is that DP published this hasbara.

As one of the speakers at this weekend's conference who is Jewish and therefore deemed a Nazi collaborator by Professor Gur, I would like to echo Ali's statements and simply add this.

I find it a fascinating extension of the denial of actual Holocaust history that Gur chooses to ignore the findings of Israeli courts in trials of Jewish collaborators with the Nazis — who were actually in cahoots with the World Zionist Organization. The most notorious case was that of Rudolph Kastner, a top official in the Israeli Labor Party, and the person in charge of the Rescue Committee in Hungary during the war, who actively collaborated with Nazi official Adolph Eichmann (the architect of the Holocaust) to get a approval for a "VIP train" of 1,685 Hungarian Jews to leave Hungary safely for Israel. In exchange for the safe passage of the train, Kastner agreed not to warn the tens of thousands of Jews of Hungary (whose rescue was in his hands) about Hitler’s plans for their extermination and not to take any action to protect them. Worse, he helped to deceive Hungarian Jews, convincing them that they were simply being relocated. Kastner had not acted alone, his plan for the VIP train had the support of the highest leaders of the Jewish Agency.

If Professor Gur would like to go head to head on such questions, he is welcome to present his case in person this weekend. I will happily obliterate him in any argument about Palestinian solidarity.

I am a Jewish American-Israeli (I live in Israel) who wholly supports Omar Barghouti and BDS. I support bds not only because the occupation is inhumane to Palestinians but also because it is harmful to Jews, and because I support non-violent means of ending the occupation. BDS is a non-violent means of pressuring Israel's governments to end the occupation and colonization of Palestine. Professor Gur by using ad hominem reveals his own character but does not convince. Had he had used reasoned arguments to oppose bds one might have agreed or disagreed. But ad hominem smears reveal that he has nothing of substance to say. Thus instead of reasoned argumentation, Professor Gur's smears lead to the gutter. May he wallow in it in pleasure.

Unfortunately, the DP has already closed the column for comment, or this would appear there too:

Shame on Professor Gur. I never expected to hear such obsessive virulence & paranoiac bigotry from someone qualified to teach at my Alma Mater of 40 years ago. Zionism & Judaism are not the same entity, any more than the Haridi best express the Divine Ruach; & Penn is not an extermination camp. To love Israel does not permit one to deny its failings, or how could they be amended? & he ignores the ongoing struggle of many Palestinians & Israelis to support each other together rather than as opponents. This is not the voice of Israel: it is merely the voice of one fearful, hateful & power-hungry party. Surely Israel is larger than that....
Rev. F. Mark Mealing, Ph.D. Penn. 1972

I want to show my utter contempt for ex Israeli soldier Prof. Gur's smear against Omar Barghouti and the worldwide BDs movement. How true the comment that it insults the memory of the millions killed by Hitler to compare a student conference to Nazism. This is not only delusional nonsense, but it bases itself on the worn notion that the Israeli politics of occupation and of feverish aggression towards anyone or any country who disagrees with that, most frighteningly shown towards Iran now, are held by Jews the world over. Israel knows perfectly well this is propaganda. Many Jews turn their back on Israel, and do not get involved, and many more, my husband among them, work to oppose the occupation through BDS and other means. I especially salute the brave Israeli Jews who oppose their country's barbaric treatment of the Palestinians.

"Gur is apparently a former Israeli soldier" - we can leave out the "apparently".

In a statement before military court (re Guantanamo Bay prisoners), page 19 in the pdf:
"MILITARY SERVICE: 1965-67 Israeli Defense Forces"

www.defense.gov/news/Jun%202009/
then look for "D-116 Def Mot for App Relief and Gov Response 3.9.pdf"
(a direct link triggers the spam filter)

Professor Ruben Gur reverses reality when he equates BDS with “groups organized by the Nazis… to boycott, divest and sanction Jews.” In fact the Zionist Federation of Germany equated itself to the Nazis in a 1933 note to the Hitler regime:

“Our acknowledgement of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group ... Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration even of a government fundamentally hostile to Jews, because in dealing with the Jewish question no sentimentalities are involved but a real problem whose solution interests all peoples, and at the present moment especially the German people ... Our observations, presented herewith, rest on the conviction that, in solving the Jewish problem according to its own lights, the German Government will have full understanding for a candid and clear Jewish posture that harmonizes with the interests of the state.”

Read their complete note in 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With The Nazis which I edited in 2002 for Barricade Books. Copies are available via BrennerL21@aol.com.

The sillier the claim, the more ridiculous and foolish the maker looks.

On the contrary, I'm sure Prof. Gur is aware of the infamous Goebbels quote: "“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it..." : that's the game Gur is shamefully playing and he knows it.

Good point.

I was just trying to be polite.