Gitlin Doesn’t Get It

One of the extreme radicals of the 1960s who made it into academic establishment status (he was a former president of Students for a Democratic Society), Todd Gitlin, to me inexplicably, was afforded by The Tablet with a column to attack the Cotton initiative to combat BDS labeling of Judea and Samaria products, “The Green Line on the Label.”

Gitlin’s theme is: ‘How a U.S. Senator’s fight against labeling Israeli settlement products is actually a gift to the BDS movement’.

He starts out, however, attacking the two EU countries who have opted out of the labeling directive.

He states:

Since the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are not part of the Israeli territory according to international law, the indication “product from Israel” is considered to be incorrect and misleading. Helpfully, the EC offers alternative formulations it finds acceptable: “expressions such as ‘product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)’ or ‘product from the West Bank (Israeli settlement)’ could be used.”

Without arguing Israel’s legality issues I was wondering, would Gitlin support labeling Arab-populated towns and villages there as “settlements” as well?  And is the “West Bank” a geo-political entity according to international law? Is Gitlin aware of his internal contradictions and his empty arguments?

His arguments also include accusations that Cotton is motivated by monetary greed that:

has something to do with the fact that for his election campaign, he received $960,250 dollars from the Emergency Committee for Israel, headed by longtime Republican operatives William Kristol and Gary Bauer. In the 2014 campaign, Cotton also benefited considerably from at least $825,000 furnished him by a political action committee run by George W. Bush’s former U. N. Ambassador John Bolton, which benefits from donations from the hospital tycoon and bingo king Irving Moskowitz, who invests heavily in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

There is, of course, no implication of any anti-Semitic character in those words.  No other politician benefits from donations from any group, right? And Gitlin is, after all, Jewish (so how can he be anti-Semtic goes the refrain, yes?) who is an anti-Zionist, as he confessed earlier in The Tablet, an anti-Zionism that includes

Embarrassment. Revulsion. Outrage. Righteous defensiveness. Impatience. Visceral reactions of one Jew toward the Jewish State.

Moving on, he does point out that the

…the United States government, which is committed to the tautological but compelling principle that the Occupation is an Occupation, not a legally sanctioned enlargement of the state, which is bounded by the pre-1967 Green Line.

He then proclaims

To deny the legitimacy of the Green Line is a gift to the BDS movement,


It was an armistice line, a ceasefire boundary, which was violated by infiltration operations and terror incursions all throughout the 19 years it existed.  And the armistice agreements were not upheld in the least.

But what really bothers him, on the emotional level it seems is that there is a

perversity [that] satisfies only the zealots who think that God signed the West Bank over to them once and forever because soil is worth more than blood.

No, Prof. Todd, the perversity is yours — afforded by The Tablet.  It was the League of Nations, a very legitimate and international legal body that, recognizing the historic connection of the Jewish people to its historic homeland, agreed that Judea, Samaria and Gaza were originally to be part of that territory.  The Arabs rejected any Jewish presence in the form of independent political control in any area within the Land of Israel.

We do not need God to sign on to that right.  Three-thousand years of history, of immigration to the country, all our traditions and cultural heritage, our presence there all through the centuries despite losing our sovereignty — all this and more guarantees our right to Shiloh, Hebron, Bet El and more.

Our right precedes and is better established than an Arab invading people who, in the 7th century CE, conquered and occupied that territory.  Arab opposition to Israel, the decreed “Jewish state” of the 1947 Partition Plan of the United Nations, is existential and does not depend on borders, boundaries, lines or the like.  One need not be a professor to know that.

Why doesn’t Gitlin get that?

If he is truly worried about BDS and labeling, why not adopt “Made in the Land of Israel”?  “West Bank” doesn’t exist.  “Palestine” doesn’t either. The “Land of Israel” for sure included the area of Judea and Samaria, that he cannot deny.  As a temporary resolution of what bothers him, I’d accept that.

About the Author
Yisrael Medad, currently is a Research Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and Deputy Editor of the English Language Anthology of Jabotinsky's Writings. American-born, he and his wife made Aliyah in 1970. He resides in Shiloh since 1981. He was a member of the Betar Youth Movement World Executive and is a volunteer spokesperson for the Yesha Council. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University and is active is many Zionist and Jewish projects and initiatives.
Related Topics
Related Posts