Posts Tagged 'Israel'

The “BDS” Movement: A 3-Question Test for Antisemitism

“BDS” (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) is an international movement of Western leftists, primarily university faculty and students, claiming to be human rights activists protesting Israel’s illegal occupation of lands claimed by Palestinians. The land was occupied in a series of three wars begun by Israel’s enemies, of course. And Israel has given back occupied lands in the past, when the other party (Egypt) agreed to cease making war against Israel.

Israel’s enemies never quite say what Israel must do to be accepted back into the community of non-boycotted nations. Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and much of the rest of the region (including the “moderate” Palestinian Authority) have a clear answer: they want Israel to cease to exist. “Please commit national suicide, and we will drop the boycott.”

But still, if Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian lands against the wishes of the inhabitants, isn’t it simple fairness to protest? Shouldn’t we give the BDS-ers the benefit of the doubt as to their good, non-racist intentions?

If you meet one and want to find out for yourself, ask them these questions.

1) Are you also proposing a boycott of Russia over its illegal occupation of Ukrainian national territory (Crimea), in violation of Russian-signed treaties; or its incredibly brutal occupation of Chechnya? If not, why not? (25 words or less, please.)

2) Are you proposing divestment from Chinese companies over China’s particularly brutal and illegal occupation of Tibet?

3) Are you working to impose sanctions on Turkey over its illegal occupation of half of Cyprus, not to mention Kurdistan?

If you want to drag this out, you can ask them about Serbia’s occupation of North Kosovo, or Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, or countless other cases.

No, the BDS Movement has no interest in China or Russia or Turkey or Serbia or Morocco. There seems to be something missing from those situations, some element that makes them somehow not particularly objectionable to those folks. What could it be that makes Israel’s unwilling occupation so especially awful?

The answer is: JEWS!

QED: BDS is straight-line Antisemitism.   Any denial is just BS.

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Criticism, Self-Criticism, and Antisemitism

[My friend Ben Finiti has posted yet another interesting piece. Check out his other stuff at benfiniti.com.]

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A common thread of modern leftist anti-Israel antisemitism is the claim that Israel has only itself to blame for Jew-hatred. If only they had been “nicer” to the Arab armies and terrorists committed to their annihilation! A preposterous but familiar excuse for leftist racism.

But in another sense, antisemitism does indeed have roots in Jewish history. For Israel, in addition to discovering monotheism and the concept of a meaningful history, also invented self-criticism. The first references to Jews as a stiff-necked, materialistic, ungrateful people may be found in the words of the prophets of ancient Israel, quoted in the Jewish (and Christian) bible.

In a PBS series on Jewish history, host Simon Schama (a respected historian) cited as proof of St. Paul’s anti-semitism his claim that the Jews had often slain their own prophets. Schama seemed unaware that Paul was quoting Jesus, and Jesus was quoting the Prophets Nehemiah and Elijah, criticizing Hebrew ingratitude:

“They were disobedient and rebelled against Thee, and cast thy laws behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.” (Nehemiah 9:26)

“They children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword.” (1 Kings 19:10, quoting Elijah)

The prophets lambasted their own people in order to turn them to repentance. When Christian antisemites began seeking excuses to hate this strange “other” people, they found plenty of ammunition in their shared holy books.

In a similar vein, Protestants criticized the Catholic Church in order to purify and save it. The Enlightenment took the Protestant critique and used it to overthrow all of Christianity.

And it may be noted that some Jewish critics of the state of Israel, both on the left and right, find themselves perilously close to this danger point. Their well-intended (in some cases) criticisms of Israeli government policy are immediately embraced by those who openly seek the annihilation of the Jewish state. They are touted as especially valid because they come from the Jews themselves!

Conclusion: Honest self-criticism (or acceptance of the criticism of others) is a risky business. It will invariably empower one’s enemies, so it must be approached in the most serious spirit and with only the highest purpose, as was the case with the Prophets. And one must always consider the likelyhood of intentional misuse of one’s words.

Israel’s critics need to face facts

Every critic of Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians must (apparently) be reminded of several basic facts.

First, a historical fact: Israel did not start the war.  In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine between Israelis and Arabs. Israel accepted the Partition Plan and announced its intention to live within its borders, in peace with its Arab neighbors.  Those same Arab neighbors rejected the plan, declared war, and vowed to wipe Israel off the map and sweep the Jews into the sea.  The borders have changed with every Arab failed attempt to accomplish this, but the aims of both parties have remained the same.

Second, another historical fact:  Israel has voluntarily withdrawn from territory occupied by its armies, sometimes unilaterally, several times in the past (Lebanon in 2000, Gaza in 2005).  In almost every case, the territory has then been used as a base for attacks on Israel, resulting in the murder of Jewish civilians.

Now, some current facts.

First, Israel is prepared to meet with the Palestinian Authority anywhere, at any time, without pre-conditions, to discuss peace.  This offer is frequently repeated by Israel, and consistently rejected by the Palestinians. (See most recent offer here.)

Second, Israel recognizes the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own.  In contrast, Palestinian leaders refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist within ANY borders.  Here is the Palestinians’ most “moderate” leader, Mahmoud Abbas:

“They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state,” Abbas said in a meeting with some 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the US, shortly before taking the podium and delivering a speech at the United Nations General  Assembly.”

If Israel’s critics wish to be taken seriously, they need to admit these facts and explain how these problems can be addressed by Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories.  If not, they stand exposed as anti-Semites demanding that Israel commit national suicide.

Can You Love Freedom and Hate Israel?

I was discussing philosophy recently with my friend Ben Finiti.  The queston arose of whether it is repressive “political correctness” to consider a person’s extreme prejudices (in this case, anti-semitism) when evaluating their position on a philosophical question.

Our initial reaction was that, if at all possible, the philosophical question should be considered separately.

This got me thinking about a question I often ask myself:  how can someone who does A also do B?  Specifically on the question of Israel and Zionism.

How can one preach democracy and hate the most democratic state ever to exist in the region?

How can one value freedom and yet hate the freest, arguably the only free state in the region?

How can one espouse peace and yet hate the only state in the region willing to establish peace with all its neighbors?

And finally, the most perplexing of all: How can one love God and hate Israel?

I know, I know.  Anti-Zionism and opposition to Israel is not the same as anti-semitism.  Supposedly, not every anti-Zionist advocate of return to the indefensible pre-1967 borders hates Jews.  Not every pious critic who screams “Apartheid” and “Imperialism” at Israel’s every measure of self-defense is an anti-Semite.  Not every college professor demanding disinvestment from all Israeli companies would be happy to see Hamas achieve its bloodthirsty dreams.  Not every anti-Zionist wants to see Israel swept off the map, or even the more moderate proposal of allowing Hamas missiles to be positioned 11 miles from Tel Aviv.

But still…

When I hear someone say “I am not anti-Semitic; I am just anti-Israel” I wonder.  Continue reading ‘Can You Love Freedom and Hate Israel?’

Lead, Mr. President !

[An old union buddy of mine wrote the following letter to his local newspaper.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  It would be a good thing if every concerned citizen did the same with his or her local paper.  The author assures me he won’t object to any degree of plagiarism.]

During the 2008 campaign, Candidate Obama was clear about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  In a “60 Minutes” interview (9/22/2008), he said:

“I think that a nuclear armed Iran is …a game changer in the region. It’s unacceptable. And that’s why I’ve said that I won’t take any options off the table, including military, to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier (July 23, 2008), he told an Israeli audience: “That is our single most important threat to Israel but also to the United States of America. So this is something that we’re going to spend a lot of time working on.”

Since then, Iran’s nuclear weapons program has progressed unimpeded.  The centrifuges continue to hum, fuel continues to be stockpiled, and the only remaining question is when the first Iranian nukes will be ready to mount on their missiles.  When, not if.

And where is President Obama’s commitment “to spend a lot of time working on” the problem?  Whatever happened to all the “options” he so boldly kept on the table?  It appears that the options, along with the “single most important threat to the USA”, have somehow fallen off the president’s table. Continue reading ‘Lead, Mr. President !’

Moderate Terrorists Make Peace!

So, let’s see what else has been happening while US forces finally caught up Osama Bin Laden.  

Well, here on a back page of the newspaper I read that the Palestinians have finally negotiated a peace agreement…with themselves.  The Hamas terrorists in Gaza have formed a “unity” alliance with the Palestinian Authority/Fatah government in the West Bank, so that they can work together for their common aims.  The story did not mention what those aims are.

There are, at least in theory, some big differences between Hamas and the PA/Fatah.  Hamas is an openly terrorist organization, committed to the total destruction of Israel, and deeply hostile to the US.  Fatah? Well, not so much. 

The Fatah-controlled PA is generally regarded as “moderate”, meaning that they changed their constitution in recent years to erase their commitment to Israel’s destruction.  Fatah recently gave up promoting suicide bombings of civilians when Israel built a wall to keep them out.  This is why Fatah/PA is considered “moderate”: so much so that, in the interests of peace, the US now gives $400 million a year to Fatah/PA, and provides it with military training.  

So now moderate Fatah/PA and terrorist Hamas are united.  What does that make them? Moderate terrorists, I guess.  And how different are they?  Take the Bin Laden killing, for instance. Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Hamas government, called it a “continuation of the United States policy of destruction” and “state terrorism that America carries out against Muslims.”  The PA officially applauded the US action, but Fatah’s official military arm, The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade,  echoed Hamas: Continue reading ‘Moderate Terrorists Make Peace!’

Reasons to Hate Israel #123 and #124.

I have just read an intriguing and beautifully written post on National Review’s Corner blog by Mike Potemra, entitled “Why Do They Hate Israel?”.  The question seems presumptuous, since the haters have never experienced a shortage of anti-Semitic justifications. But still.

Potemra, about whom I know nothing, raises a thought I have often had.

As he puts it, “Part of the problem, in the United States at least, has to do with elitist contempt for Evangelical Christians”.  I am beginning to believe that much of the global elite’s anti-Americanism stems from just this contempt, which is actually embarrassment with the subject of Christianity.  Evangelicals are the ones consistently bringing up God and morality in public discourse, making us all feel awkward since we have nothing much to say on the subject.  So we treat vocal Christians as embarrassing redneck relatives, changing the subject when they’re listening, and mocking them when they’re not.

And Israel, since the rise of Likud, with sytrong voices of Russian refuseniks, has seemed to resemble Evangelical Christianity at least as much as it does liberal cosmopolitan European Jewry.

I must write more on this soon.  In the meantime, here is the post.

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Why Do They Hate Israel?   [Mike Potemra]

 Mark Steyn recently reminded us of some European polling from a few years ago, showing that the public consensus was growing on the Continent that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace. Continue reading ‘Reasons to Hate Israel #123 and #124.’


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