Posted by: University of Mississippi | April 22, 2009

Anti-Divestment DM Columnist Starts Hate Group

I believe the time has come to issue a formal statement about M. Zubick’s short-lived Facebook group: “Dan Blazo is a Godless Agitator, Agent of Hamas, and Jew Hater.”  I have been putting this off for a while now, as I don’t believe hate-groups like this are relevant to a constructively-minded website like ours.  However, today’s front page story in the Daily Mississippian has compelled me to state my position on this issue.

I have never met Mr. Zubick or 13 of the other 14 members of this Facebook group.  I find it troubling that these Ole Miss students were willing to endorse the attacks and insults in the group description without ever verifying the truth of these claims.  However, I realize that good people can make bad judgments, and I am confident that the majority of these group members were merely jumping to the wrong conclusions due to their trust of Zubick’s claims. 

Zubick, unfortunately, was not concerned with the truthfulness of his claims.  There is no doubt in my mind that this group was created as an ad hominem attack against the Israel Arms divestment campaign.  Zubick wrote a column criticizing the divestment campaign, which I responded to with a letter to the editor.  The day my letter was published in the DM, Zubick created his hate group.  Rather than address the issue under debate, Zubick committed an ad hominem fallacy by attacking the person, rather than the opposing argument.  Ad hominems are intended to distract attention away from intellectual debate to something unrelated, thereby attempting to discredit the opponent rather than his argument.  This tactic is generally perceived as a sign of desperation, used when the attacker finds himself losing the argument on logistical merits.

Two days before Zubick created the group, I called his cell phone and left a voicemail.  The message I left went something like, “Hey Mr. Zubick, this is Dan Blazo from the Israel Arms divestment campaign.  I read your column in the DM and was wondering if you wanted to participate in a forum we’re hosting about the Conflict.  We want it to be informational and representative of both sides, so just give me a call back if you’re interested.”  Instead of calling me back, Zubick founded his group.  Clearly he did not want to debate on fair terms, presumably because of his perceived disadvantage.

Additionally, Zubick has made false allegations about my own personal history in attempt to damage my reputation.  Here he is especially uncreative with his attacks, as they are the same ones used against anyone who speaks out against the Israeli military.  Zubick has no evidence that I am a “Jew-hater,” and I doubt that he sincerely believes this claim.  He has no evidence that I am “the leader of a group trying to kick the R.O.T.C. off campus,” since this is untrue, as well.  Nor has he any evidence that I have ever called Christians “bible-thumpers,” or Hamas militants “freedom fighters,” because I haven’t.  He fabricated lies and presented them not as jokes or hyperboles, but as facts. 

I believe that a university should be a place to embrace free expression and free speech in a nonthreatening atmosphere.  A real virtue of higher education is the exchange of diverse ideas and opinions.  Without the diversity of ideas, we cannot decide for ourselves which opinions make more sense to us than others.  We cannot challenge or improve our outlooks on life unless others inspire us to reconsider our opinions.  Zubick’s attack of my character represents the antithesis of academic freedom.  Freedom of expression does not extend to unprovoked, untrue attacks against a political opponent.  Nor does it allow threats of violence, such as the group officer title: “aiming his 166mm at a certain hippie’s house.”  I strongly believe in the legitimacy of defamation of character laws.  Without enforcement, laws cease to exist.  By filing formal charges against Zubick, I am fighting to uphold the integrity of these laws and the integrity of free expression at Ole Miss.

I have not lost hope in Mr. Zubick.  I hope he will understand that hate speech is both unproductive and inappropriate.  I hope that in the future, if he finds himself unable to win an argument, he will withdraw, concede, or reassess his own opinion, rather than engage in personal attacks.  I would like to put this conflict behind us soon so we can return to the important issue for which our “side” has a considerable advantage in a fair debate: the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

-Dan Blazo

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Responses

  1. You state Zubick claimed lies for facts, but you similarly claim lies for facts concerning the land of Israel. By referring to the area as “Palestine,” you commit a fallacy of the greatest offense (because it perpetuates an ideological stance based on untruths that contributes to the nature of a conflict thousands of miles away). The area called “Palestine” was dubbed as such by the Romans during the Roman Empire as an underhanded jab against the Jews who lived there at the time, based on the knowledge of the name of the Jews’ ancient enemies, the Philistines (who are not semitic at all–read more about your history, and don’t rely on the bias in the news). The Jewish people live in a small percentage of the land they were originally promised by the British, but they have as much right to the land (if not more) than the United States has to California (or the rest of the country, perhaps?). Right until the middle of the 20th century, the Jews were called Palestinians and the present-day “Palestinians” were called Arabs, did you know that? Why don’t you take the time to look over the facts of history again and determine something the world hasn’t already decided for you.

  2. There is also no legal basis for calling Israel “occupied” Palestine; it’s just a perpetuation of “doublespeak”–there are negative antisemitic undertones to that statement which is on all levels a lie. And only fuels the conflict. For being a promoter of peace, you don’t do a very good job perpetuating it.

  3. Rae,

    I refer to these Arab people as Palestinians because they are living in occupied Palestine, and most of them have roots in these regions that trace back for generations. I could call them Arabs living in occupied Palestine, it doesn”t make a difference to me aside from the inconvenience of typing the latter phrase.

    The land “promised by the British” was not Britain’s land to give away in the first place. The people living in this region (Arabs living in what is today Israel and occupied Palestine) never offered to give their land away for free. Britain did not even control the land until the Zionist movement began. The Belfour Declaration was never legitimate, and even if it was, the “human rights for the indigenous people” are not being fulfilled (see UN GA resolutions, Security Council resolutions, Human Rights Commision resolutions, ICJ 2004 ruling and dozens more ruling, Amnesty International reports, Human Rights Watch research, etc.) The 1967 War was considered legitimate by the international community, and the UN recognized Israel’s annexation of the “1967 borders.” Since then, Palestinians have been defensless, and further annexation of their land has been deemed illegal by the international community. Israel continues to annex Palestinian land…

    And I believe referring to the region as “occupied” Palestine is no less politically biased than calling it “Israel.” In fact, it’s less biased, given the United Nations referals to the land as such. Palestine is not a country, you’re right. But the land currently inhabited by Palestinians is not to be governed by the Israeli government, which is unrepresentative of the Palestinian people(although some level of military occupation may be justified during a phasing-out of the occupation, as the wall is torn down and the Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank begin to close down, Israeli troops will be needed to ensure the safe passage of Israeli citizens).

    The people living in the West Bank are occupied by a government that does not represent them. Israelis elect their own government and disallow the Palestinians’ elected government from assemblying. Occupation is most certainly an accurate description of the situation in the West Bank. But it’s really not the semantics I’m concerned with anyways. Look at the facts.

  4. As for this remark:
    “There is also no legal basis for calling Israel “occupied” Palestine; it’s just a perpetuation of “doublespeak”–there are negative antisemitic undertones to that statement which is on all levels a lie” I find it ironic. You are using deceptive logic yourself, and an informal fallacy at that.

    You suggest that my rhetoric is biased in that it unduly disfavor’s the government of Israel. Then, without drawing a link between the two disparate terms, you substitute “antisemitic undertones” for anti-Israeli government policies. However, this gap is where so many members of your side have fallen in logical debates. The fact is, there is no link between our criticism of the Israeli government and antisemitism. Antisemitism has been exploited by many of those who support aggressive Israeli military operations. If your defense relies on the vast majority of the world being anti-Semitic, or on Jimmy Carter being a Holocaust denier (not building a strawman, just mentioning the extremes this exploitation has reached), it is probably time to find a new defense. Read “The Holocaust Industry,” a book whose author is an American Jew whose parents were Holocaust survivors (Norm Finkelstein).

  5. “Two days before Zubick created the hate group, I called his cell phone and left a voicemail. The message I left went something like, “Hey Michael, this is Dan Blazo from the Israel Arms divestment campaign. I read your column in the DM and was wondering if you wanted to participate in a forum we’re hosting about the Conflict. We want it to be informational and representative of both sides, so just give me a call back if you’re interested.” Instead of calling me back, Zubick made a hate group about me. Clearly he did not want to debate on fair terms, presumably because of his perceived disadvantage.”

    Um, having been at the meeting when you proposed a resolution seeking ASB sponsorship for this forum, you stated that Zubick had called you three times to get back to you on this, but you didn’t want to answer your phone while in session. Now, either you were full of shit then, or you’re lying out your ass now (highly believable). Which is it?

  6. ASB watcher,

    You’re right about this. I did say that Zubick called me three times at the ASB meeting. I was wrong, he didn’t. I received three calls during the meeting from a 662 number that I did not recognize. I assumed it was him, but upon checking my voicemail, realized it was not. I should not have assumed that and I apologize for conveying that assumption to the ASB. However, I do not believe that this reflects anything more than an understandable false conclusion. I am a human being and therefore, I make mistakes. However, you should consider this, if you are a keen observer of the ASB: my statement at that ASB meeting about Zubick having called me came after the president of the senate announced that the resolution would be voted on during the subsequent weekly meeting. The resolution called for a forum on the conflict for the day after the following week’s meeting. So obviously I would have had to present a thorough plan for the forum at the subsequent meeting, and the notion that Zubick had called me on the previous Monday would not have helped my proposal one iota. But even if you choose not to take me for my word, or for the missing link in the “strategic motive” hypothesis alleging intentional fabrication of that story, the fact will remain that my record is completely irrelevant. I’m just a messenger. The real issue is the occupation of the West Bank, and my character is being used as a distraction.

  7. I really think these antisemitic issues need to be cleared up. Supporting a policy of non-intervention with regard to the Middle East has nothing to do with religion.

    I have many friends who are Israeli citizens, and American citizens, they all have tried to convince me many times that Israel has the most powerful military in the world. These are people who live in Israel parts of the year and have to serve in their military, they have tremendous pride in what they do and in the nation they serve.

    Many of my friends consider it an insult that Israel would collapse and disappear without America spoon-feeding them money and weapons.

    Personally, I don’t see religion when I look at this conflict. I see a nation who no longer needs America’s help, and a nation with a failing economy who desperately needs to cut its foreign policy budget.


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