Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SJP Slogan. Fail.

There they go again.

Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine (HSJP) just premiered its self-congratulatory documentary.

If the rather lame graphic design is any indication, this film won't be Oscar material. (Here you can check out some shots of the videographer trying to find someone at SJP demonstrations besides the organizers. Fail.)

The title is a bit more clever—or rather, too clever by half—and thereby hangs a tale.

Jon Haber, one of the shrewdest chroniclers and analysts of the divestment movement, has a particularly trenchant analysis of its strategy:
Because divestment activists represent such a small minority of student opinion (and an even tinier minority of US public opinion overall), their goal is to attach their message (that Israel is an “Apartheid state” worth of economic punishment) to a well known institutions such as a university, church or city. This allows them to “punch above their weight” by declaring their anti-Israel message is not simply emanating from a small, non-representative minority, but rather represents the policy of a respected organization.
Hampshire SJP offers a textbook illustration of the practice.

The title of the film, "To Know is Not Enough" (Non Satis Scire), also happens to be the motto of Hampshire College. What better way to affirm the persistent but fraudulent assertion that the institution divested itself of support for the "Israeli Occupation (remembered to capitalize it) of Palestine"?

Unfortunately, the use of "Non Satis Scire" only reminds us that we also have another Latin motto here, which serves as the title of the handbook governing academic life and community norms:
Non Satis Non Scire: Not to Know is Not Enough
The same principle applies to SJP's cavalier attitude toward historical complexity and the basic norms of civil discourse and intellectual honesty: Ignorance is no excuse.

So, nice try with that title. Fail.

No comments: