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Hebrew University
[HUJ, Philosophy] Roy Wagner, the radical leftist academic use of language in the public sphere is not appropriate
Dr. Roy Wagner
Hebrew University
A fellow at The Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities.
A lecturer at the Philosophy Department
Email:  roi.wagner@mail.huji.ac.il

Editorial Note:
Roy Wagner (HUJ), a radical political activist and activist in the GLBT community.  As IAM repeatedly reported, the GLBT, along with assorted feminists, have been very active in pro-Palestinian causes such as Sheikh Jarah Solidarity Movement, Machsom Watch, the Friday demonstrations in Bili'n among others. 
This pro-Palestinian camaraderie was shattered when a number of feminists complained about sexual harassment by Palestinian men; one woman writing as Anonymous reported being raped by an Israeli activist. She also noted that the leadership of the pro-Palestinian groups have refused to take action out of concern for the "overall struggle."   Wagner was apparently aware of the problems because a year ago he suggested a model for creating a safe zone for women in Anarchist Against the Wall.
Most recently, an activist group created an ad against the Migron settlement which alluded to sexual violence and rape. When other feminists protested, the ad was withdrawn, but the heated debate in the radical circles about the meaning of a "culture of rape" goes on. 
Wagner's self- described "thought experiment" is illustrative of this trend.  The Hebrew University academic confesses "When I go out clubbing, it happens that a stranger passes by and fondles my ass. To be honest, I enjoy it".  Even when he has to ward off an unwelcome advance or when his friend was raped, he does not consider it to be an existential crisis, nor does he think that he lives in a "culture of rape."
That said, Wagner swiftly shifts his "thought experiment" to more comfortable grounds, that is the alleged harassment of the Israeli police, and the abuse of non-tenured junior professors who have been striking intermittently for better pay and job security. 
But judging from rambling and convoluted article, the time -honored trick of deflection is hard on this expert in philosophy and mathematics.  Instead of sophistry, he would be well advised to deal with the allegations of Anonymous and her friends in an honest manner, even if it may expose some cracks in the post-Zionist utopia.

He may also want to consider that his use of language in a public discourse is not appropriate as it contributes to the atmosphere of "everything goes in sexual matters." The coarsening and vulgarization of the public square is not going to help the pro-Palestinian feminists or anyone else.

Stanford University
 Mathematics as Literature Workshop

Organized by Reviel Netz

Tuesday, April 13th, 2012, full day

Speakers include:

Amir Alexander, UCLA
Jacqueline Feke, Stanford University
Alain Herreman, University of Rennes, France
Revile Netz, Stanford University
Courtney Roby, Cornell University
Roi Wagner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

location: Classics Building 110, Room 112

Co-sponsored with the Departments of Classics

האוניברסיטה העברית  
פילוסופיה והיסטוריה של המתמטיקה המודרנית

קוד קורס 87509 
שנה 2011-2012 2010-2011 
סילבוס נסקור גישות פילוסופיות בנות זמננו למתמטיקה מודרנית, ואת ההקשר ההיסטורי שלהן. נתמקד בעיקר במאות 19-20. 
הערות *פתוח לתלמידי שנים ב-ג. **יינתן בקריית אדמונד ספרא (גבעת רם).
קוד קבוצה מרצים יום שעת התחלה שעת סיום מיקום סמסטר
א ד"ר רועי וגנר ב' 18:00 19:45 שפ' 101 (קרית א"י ספרא) ב'


In her shoes, in her world: A thought experiment

Tuesday, March 13 2012|+972blog

By Roy Wagner | Translated from Hebrew by Libby Lenkinski

I am writing this for those who are prepared to acknowledge that just because they don’t understand what feminists want, it doesn’t mean that feminists are wrong.

Several weeks ago, the Israeli activist group Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah launched a campaign against funding and whitewashing of settlements that used pornographic associations and rape imagery. It was met with harsh responses from within the community and quickly taken down. But it got me thinking. For the sake of full disclosure, “some of my best friends” are Solidarity activists. I know that most of them think that the campaign was harmful and are working to prevent these sorts of things from happening again. So I wanted to suggest a thought experiment not against Solidarity, but for activists who do not yet understand what was so hurtful about Solidarity’s Migron campaign and why the responses were so intense.

I write this as someone who has not always been a feminist, and who even today is not always sure what a feminist is supposed to do. I write this as someone who took a long time to understand, for example, the hysterical reactions around “sexual harassment” and all sorts of other expressions that seem paranoid, like “culture of rape.” When I go out clubbing, it happens that a stranger passes by and fondles my ass. To be honest, I enjoy it. It also happens that an annoying nudnik leeches onto you and it’s impossible to lose him and that’s infuriating, but to make that into an existential struggle? And I have a friend who was raped, which is terrible. But to say that I live in a “culture of rape”?!

I write this for those who don’t totally get it but also don’t assume that because you don’t get it there simply isn’t anything to get.


When I try to understand it, I put myself in her shoes. I imagine what it feels like when they cat-call me on the street, calling out, “hey hottie.” But I don’t get it, because I imagine a symmetrical swapping of roles, and if you want to understand someone else, it isn’t enough to imagine swapping roles. You have to also take into account the power dynamics.

As leftists, we understand the failure of the following claim: “Israeli violence passes legal checks and balances, and even if there are some bad seeds, or even if some civilians are harmed during an attack on wanted terrorists, what we do doesn’t count as a terror attack against civilians like the Palestinians commit.” As leftists, we understand that this is a ridiculous comparison because it is precisely because of the occupation that Palestinians can’t implement an organized resistance that would constitute “legal war” against military targets. And when we think about Israel’s operational capacity, wild violence and scope of action, the result is no less an act of terror than what Israelis experienced in 2002. Because there is no symmetry in the power dynamic between Israel and the Palestinians, there can’t be a symmetrical comparison between their tactics. So when a man attempts to understand how it feels to be a woman, it isn’t enough that he imagines himself in her shoes; in order to understand a woman, the man must imagine himself in her world.

I came up with an analogy; it is far from perfect but it may be helpful for left-wing men to understand something that’s hard for some of us to grasp. Imagine that you live in a society in which half of the people walking around are armed soldiers and cops in uniform. Imagine that they can see that you are a leftist-anarchist-Arab lover. It’s true that after all, you’ve only been arrested or beaten up rarely, but once in a while it happens. It’s part of your reality. And from time to time someone that you know is shot in the leg or the head.

And in this reality, where half of the people in the street are armed cops and soldiers in uniform, almost every day some soldier on the street suddenly aims his weapon at you and makes shooting sounds and laughs. And at least once a week a cop screams at you from across the street, “Hey! Lefty! You’re arrested. Get over here. Nah, just kidding, just playing around.”

And it’s happened to you, while walking alone down a dark street, that a gang of Border Police officers came out of a bar and smacked you around, just a little. And your uncle who is a cop sometimes takes you aside and begins asking questions that quickly turn from casual interest to straight-up interrogation. You know that there’s nothing you can do except go along and wait for it to be over and when it is, not make a big deal because your family, even the left-wingers, feel that if he’s a cop, he must be right.

It isn’t every day that you get beaten or arrested, but every day they make sure to remind you that it could happen. When you go out you must consider whether or not wear the T-shirt with the political slogan, where it’s best not to be alone, and if there’s a lawyer on call that you could turn to if you were arrested, which could happen just like that.

Maybe, through this story, some leftists might figure out what it feels like for some women (not all women, as there are many different women). The analogy is far from perfect, but … Let’s take it one more step.

Suppose your friends, the ones who are active with you in the struggle for the rights of non-tenured professors [who have been striking intermittently throughout this year – eds], some of whom are cops and soldiers, because they’re everywhere, and are not all bad, come up with the following poster: “No job security, No research fund, and a salary that doesn’t justify the effort. The University exploits us, chokes us, and traps us in harmful work agreements.” With this picture (careful: trigger for victims of police violence!):


You ask them to take it down, and they do and they apologize. But your friends also send you the clear message that you really messed up a fabulously successful campaign. Because people would have finally understood that the relationship between the university and the junior professors is truly inhumane, and its as bad as police beating up protesters. And they really aren’t minimizing your experiences, they say, because your friends are actually pro-human rights of leftists. And maybe you’re just too sensitive.

But it’s not the first time that something like this has happened, and you’ve already discussed these things with them, and it’s most painful to take these responses from people who are supposed to be on your side. If for all these reasons you got angry, showed hurt, and yelled on Facebook – then they look at you and say you’re self-righteous, a purist, and because of people like you it’s impossible to advance workers’ rights struggles, and frankly, you’re the one who’s violent here.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Roy Wagner 

To: againstwall againstwall 

Sent: Saturday, 10 March 2012, 23:36
Subject: [againstwall] This Friday in Bil'in

About 10 Israelis and 10 internationals (including one British punk band) joined the weekly Palestinian demonstration in Bil'in against Israeli repression. The demo went on mostly as it did in the last few weeks, with lots of fence cutting and a relative moderation in the use of gas. However, the use of rubber bullets increased markedly, leading to the injury of two demonstrators, and there was at least one occasion of shooting of gas canisters directly at protesters. One demonstrator rode his horse back and forth between the barbed wire fences, apparently to express the demonstrators' spirit of freedom (but not the horse's).

כעשר ישראליות ועשרה בינלאומיים (כולל להקת פאנק בריטית) הצטרפו להפגנה הפלסטינית השבועית בבילעין נגד הדיכוי הישראלי. ההפגנה התנהלה כמו בשבועות הקודמים, כלומר עם הרבה חיתוכי גדר ושימוש מתון יחסית בגז. עם זאת, השימוש בכדורי גומי עלה והוביל לפציעת שני מפגינים. כמו כן, היה לפחות מקרה אחד של ירי רימוני גז ישירות לעבר מפגינים. מפגין אחד הדהיר סוס בין גדרות התיל המקבילות לחומה, ככל הנראה כדי לבטא את רוח החופש של המפגינים (אבל לא של הסוס).


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Roy Wagner 
To: againstwall againstwall 
Sent: Sunday, 4 March 2012, 3:14
Subject: [againstwall] This Friday in Bil'in

Not too many Israelis and Internationals (can't remember precisely how many) joined the weekly Palestinian demo in Bil'in against the oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli regime. Because of the rain the protesters were driven to the wall, but the weather miraculously brightened just as we got there. Right at the beginning the soldiers shot a rubber bullet, just to show that they can, and then gassed the shabab along the southern fence. The protesters adapted to the wind and moved to the northern fence, where an army jeep was stoned and portions of barbed wire and iron poles were removed and confiscated with little army repression. At one point a firetruck approached. The local popular committee managed to stop the shabab from throwing stones at the adjacent army jeep, and called to the firemen in Hebrew, English and hand gestures that it was safe to pass, but the driver decided to turn back. Shortly after, the demonstration was declared over, just in time for the drizzle to resume.

לא הרבה ישראלים ובינלאומיות (לא זוכר כבר כמה) הצטרפו להפגנה הפלסטינית השבועית בבילעין נגד דיכוי הפלסטינים בידי המשטר הישראלי.בגלל הגשם המפגינים הוסעו לחומה, אבל מזג האויר התבהר באורח פלא בדיוק כשהגענו אליה. מיד בתחילת ההפגנה החיילים ירו כדור גומי, כדי להראות שהם יכולים, ובהמשך תקפו בגז את השבאב שהתפרשו לאורך רצועת הגדר הדרומית. המפגינים התאימו את מיקומם לרוח ופנו אל הגדר הצפונית, היכן שג'יפ צבאי נרגם באבנים וחתיכות תיל ומוטות ברזל נחתכו והוחרמו עם מעט נסיונות לדיכוי צבאי. במהלך ההפגנה משאית מכבי אש התקרבה. הועדה העממית הצליחה לעצור את זריקת האבנים לעבר הג'יפ הסמוך, וקראו בעברית באנגלית ובסימני ידיים למשאית לעבור, אבל הנהג בחר לסוב על עקבותיו. מעט אחר כך הוכרז על סיום ההפגנה, בדיוק בזמן לפני התחדשות הגשם.


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Roy Wagner pasolini@tau.ac.il 
To: againstwall againstwall 

Sent: Sunday, 22 January 2012, 1:23
Subject: [againstwall] This Friday in Bilin

Almost 15 Israelis and no internationals joined the weekly Palestinian demonstration in Bil'in. When the marchers reached the wall, the army had already been busy gassing and skunking the shabab. While the soldiers' attention was drawn to one side, a protester sneaked in between the wall and the barbed wire and sprayed anti-occupation and pro-Palestinians graffiti. Then a relatively low key exchange of gas for stones followed, both because the the wind blew in the soldiers' faces, and because the stones, as usual, didn't place the over-protected soldiers in any real danger.

קרוב ל 15 ישראליות ואף לא בינלאומי אחד הצטרפו להפגנה הפלסטינית השבועית בבילעין. כשהצועדים הגיעו לגדר, הצבא היה כבר עסוק בלהמטיר גז ובואש על השבאב. בעוד תשומת ליבם של החיילים היתה נתונה לשבאב בצד אחד, מפגין הסתנן בין החומה לגדר התיל וריסס גרפיטי נגד הכיבוש ובעד פלסטין. אח"כ התקיימו חילופי גז ואבנים בעצימות נמוכה, גם משום שהרוח נשבה בפני החיילים, וגם משום שהאבנים, כרגיל, לא היוו איום ממשי על בטחונם של החיילים הממוגנים-לעילא.



----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Roy Wagner 
To: againstwall againstwall 
Sent: Sat, 19 February, 2011 14:20:30
Subject: [againstwall] הזמנה לפגישה

בחודשים האחרונים קבוצה של פעילות עבדה על מודל של התמודדות קהילתית עם פגיעות מיניות ופגיעות אחרות במרחב הבטוח של הקבוצה.
מטרת המודל היא להציע דרך התמודדות שתאפשר מרחב בטוח לנפגעות ולנפגעות פוטנציאליות, תוך עידוד שינויי התנהגות מצד הפוגע שיאפשרו את השתלבותו באותו מרחב בטוח.
המודל איננו משפטי או ענישתי (החחלטה האם לפנות למסלול משפטי היא כמובן של הנפגעות).
אנחנו רוצות להציג את המודל כדי לקבל תגובות ולבדוק אם הקבוצה חושבת שהוא מתאים לנו.
אנחנו מדגישות שהדיון לא יעסוק באף מקרה ספציפי, אלא בעקרונות המודל, כדי להחליט אם יש טעם לנסות להפעיל אותו במקרים שעלו או יעלו.

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