Jonathan Butler is the UM student whose hunger strike led to the resignation of UM President Tim Wolfe. Butler, and Concerned Students 1950, demanded that the UM President resign and that he hold a press conference in which he, “must acknowledge his white male privilege, (and) recognize that systems of oppression exist.” And yet, ironically, a glance at some of the groups Butler supports, authors he admires, and the people who praise him, reveal that he may be just as guilty of the same kind of racism that he accuses others of so vehemently. For example, a website called, “Tigerboard.com,” shared this quote by Butler, “Nationally, I’m ‘Black for Palestine’ which advocates for the end of the occupation of Israel in Palestine.” Black for Palestine, is a group which advocates for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement. And BDS is a movement which advocates not only for an end to the “occupation,” but which also calls for an end to the State of Israel, and is undeniably anti-semitic.
To understand why the BDS movement is undeniably anti-semitic requires understanding the goals of BDS. In the last two decades the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority have been working for a solution to the conflict under the guidelines of the two state solution. However, the leaders of the BDS movement do not seek a two-state solution. Omar Barghouti the co-founder of the BDS movement stated, “I clearly do not buy into the the two state solution.” Barghouti has even stated, “if the occupation ends, let’s say, would that end the call for BDS, no it wouldn’t.” Instead, BDS moves beyond seeking an end to the “occupation,” and demands that Israel accept what is known as the “right of return,” or the relocation of millions of Palestinian (refugees) from around the world into Israel. President Obama has made the fulfillment of this demand clear, “the right of return, would extinguish Israel as a Jewish state.” Further, The US State Department, The Pope, and President Obama have all defined the call for the destruction of Israel as anti-semitism. In other words, BDS is anti-semitic at its core – a propaganda movement designed with the goal to deny Jewish people rights, and to destroy Israel.
- BDS is designed to deny Jewish indigenous land rights to Israel. Jewish people’s nationhood, language, and religion all originate in Israel. BDS is based on a form of revisionist history where indigenous Jewish people are depicted as “colonizers.”
- BDS is designed to deny Jewish people the right to self-determination. Zionism is the independence movement of the Jewish people, and BDS is designed to stop Zionism.
- BDS is designed to deny Jewish Israelis the right to self-defense. BDS is based on the premise that Israel was created on stolen land, and the land must be returned, and therefore Jewish people have no right to defend Israel. BDS also uses another false accusation to justify terrorism, which is that Israel is an “apartheid state” in regards to the West Bank and Gaza. But, this claim is false, because Palestine is a UN recognized non-member state, and therefore not apart of the Israeli legal system.
Not only is Butler an affiliate of a BDS group, he was even singled out as a hero by, Students for Justice in Palestine, the leaders in the BDS movement on US campuses. The entire west coast coalition of SJP chapters issued a letter in support of Butler. In addition to being a hero to a group with openly anti-semitic goals, Butler has shared quotes on facebook by three anti-Israel authors: Robert Young, Angela Davis, and Alice Walker. Although the quotes he shared did not mention Israel by name, each quote was made in reference to fighting colonialism, and all of these authors falsely place the struggle against Israel as a struggle against colonialism. Butler wrote, “Radicalism simply means ‘grasping things at the root’ according to Angela Davis… Radicalism and Love are mutually inclusive in the movement for justice. So don’t call yourself an ally or supporter of the movement for justice if you only ‘support’ when I talk about love but try to discredit the movement and demand my silence when we begin to address Racism, Sexism, Poverty, White Supremacy, Colonialism, etc.” Butler concluded his comments about radical love with a quote by Alice Walker, “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Butler also shared a quote from a book called, “Post-Colonialism: A Very Short Introduction,” by Professor Young, “though you may assimilate white values, you never quite can become white enough.” Butler argued that one must struggle against colonialism, and all of these authors falsely place Israel in that context.
To test the the claims of what anti-Israel activists seek, then simply look at quotes by Professor Davis and Professor Young. Young is the perfect example of someone who tries to deny Jewish people their indigenous land rights. He concluded his lecture at the, “Edward Said Memorial Conference,” by stating, “Palestinians do belong to Palestine still, even if Palestine does not belong to them, not yet.” While Angela Davis is the perfect example of someone who tries to deny Jewish people the right to self-defense. Davis argues, “So now we’re confronted with the task of assisting our sisters and brothers in Palestine, as they battle against Israeli apartheid. Their struggles have many similarities with those against South African apartheid. One of the most salient being the ideological condemnation of their freedom efforts under the rubric of terrorism.” Davis’ apartheid claim is false, but, this allowed Davis to argue that any terrorism, which would include stabbings, suicide bombings, and the murder of random civilians should not be condemned. Alice Walker, whom Butler quotes, believes that everyone should read an author named David Icke. Icke writes books explaining that reptilian aliens control the Earth by taking on human form and gaining political power. A Neo Nazi website described Icke’s work this way, “He believes that the Zionists are singled out especially for these Reptilians to operate through.”
So, how is it that Butler, who threatened to die of starvation unless someone else admitted their racism, can be so blind to, and even promote, authors and a movement based on racism against Jewish people? In addition, Butler has been praised by openly racist individuals and hasn’t disassociated himself from them. Louis Farrakhan made a video in support of Concerned Students 1950, and yet, Farrakhan has said, “Hitler was a very great man.” Butler has also received praise from Carl Dix, a leader in the Communist Revolutionary Party. Dix personally traveled to the UM campus, and handed out flyers in support of Butler. Yet, Dix is another anti-Israel activist, who has even defended Hamas.
Jonathan Butler is the face of a movement that demands an end to all systems of racism. Meanwhile he belongs to a group, admires activists, and is praised by people who are all associated with justifying the murder of innocent Jewish Israelis. Ironically, Butler got upset about a swastika drawn on campus, and yet BDS is a major cause of the rise in violence and vandalism against Jewish students. In Butler’s defense, perhaps he does not truly understand all of the implications that come from supporting BDS groups. Perhaps Butler cannot understand these things clearly because he suffers from, “Gentile Privilege.” Gentile Privilege is when a non-Jewish person benefits from so many privileges while living in a majority gentile society that he cannot even “recognize that systems of oppression exist” against Jewish people. Sometimes he cannot even recognize that everyone he admires actively promotes those systems. Gentile privilege is being totally unaware that Jewish people don’t like it when people say they stole the land they have lived in for 3,500 years, tell others to boycott Jewish goods, murder them with knives, suicide bombers, and rockets – and call them alien lizards.