Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Talking with Israel-bashers


Every time a newspaper publishes an article that involves Israel--even tangentially--comments pour in from Americans, denouncing Israel, comparing it with Nazi Germany, yada yada. My comment:

Here's a question for all the frenzied commentors on this thread:


Where would you rank Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians on this list of government-sponsored/ordered/tolerated abuses, in no particular order:


* Sudan's Muslim dictatorship's treatment of its Christian blacks in the Darfur region


* Burma's dictatorship's treatment of that country's ethnic minorities--well, and just about everyone outside the junta's family and the military


* Iraq's Muslims' treatment of Iraq's indigenous 750,000 Christians since its "liberation" in 2003


* The Arab world's refusal to grant right of return to the indigenous Jewish populations (around 850,000) whose properties and businesses they expropriated and then expelled in and around 1948--along with their descendants of course


* Turkey's Muslim government's treatment of its indigenous Kurdish population


* Hamas' treatment of Fatah members in the Gaza strip, abuse of women, training of children as suicide bombers, and use of civilians as human shields in military engagements


* Communist China's treatment of Tibet


* Communist China's treatment of all its citizens apart from the 200 million or so urban middle class


* Communist China's treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority


* North Korea's treatment of all its population outside the ruling clique and the military


* Japan's treatment of cetaceans


* Brazil's treatment of its Indian tribes in areas ranchers, miners, or oil drillers want


* Zimbabwe's treatment of all its citizens outside the ruling clique and the military


* Iran's trreatment of half the country by its Islamofascist ruling clique


* Saudi Arabia's treatment of women and minorities (such as its Shiite minority) and anyone who doesn't obey its 7th century social dictates (case in point: a dozen or more girls at a boarding school that caught fire; they died because the religious police forbade the firefighters from rescuing them)


* The treatment of women and dissenters wherever the Taliban rule (today mainly in the Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan)


* The torture of most girls throughout the Muslim-dominated regions of sub-Saharan Africa via FGM


* The systematic murder, rape, and mutilation by various militias and governments in mineral-rich territories of Subsaharan Africa (hence the term "blood diamonds")


* The treatment of Chechnya, Georgia and other territories in and adjacent to Russia by its "democratic dictatorship"


* The substantial contribution to the world overpopulation crisis by the Catholic Church, along with the traumatization of countless thousands of boys and girls by pedopriests worldwide


* The brutal treatment of Somalis in the areas controlled by the country's homegrown Islamofascist organization


I could go on. The point is that even if the Israelis mistreat the Palestinians as badly as most of you say--they're small potatoes on this list of horrors, both in sheer numbers and in intensity of mistreatment.

Yet an editorial on any of these topics would garner only a smattering of comments--and probably none from the zealots on this thread.


So--why do so many Americans who are neither Palestinians nor Israelis kick Israel to the top of this list, when by any rational standards they'd be at or near the bottom?


Australian reader "One Salient Oversight" says the fact that Israel is a client state of America moves it to the top.

Israel is certainly an ally. But if it were truly a client state they'd do what we ask, and they often don't. relying on their powerful lobby here to sometimes thumb their collective noses at us. We also shower billions of dollars on Egypt, with comparably mixed results. Though Egyptian lobbying is far less effective--perhaps because there far fewer educated, politically active Arab-Americans compared to Jewish Americans.

So here's my challenge: assume for the sake of argument that I'm correct as far as the actual government-sanction abuse goes, apart from the question of who gave who money or supports such policies from abroad (relative to the abusing country). So we have the Israelis at or near the bottom of the stack I provided here.

Now--should Americans focus obsessively on the lesser abuses of our ally, or on the vastly worse-and vastly larger-scale abuses of countries that aren't allies, or which are, like China, "frenemies?"

And should we overlook the fact that many of the enemies of Israel (Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah especially) are our dedicated enemies as well?

And not just enemies because of our alliance with Israel. If you read Qutb's writings (he was the Moslem Brotherhood's chief thinker), you'll see that on his travels in America before Israel even existed he loathed us in every way. The freedoms of women upset him particularly.

And on that topic, why do those so passionately devoted to the Palestinians' well-being completely overlook Hamas' Taliban-lite treatment of Gazans?

Not to mention the fact that while Israelis have treated many Palestinians harshly and don't accord Arab-Israelis full equality (albeit more freedom that Arab-anything elses in the Arab world), calling Israelis Nazis and their treatment of Palestinians genocide leaves us without any language to describe the other situations on the list of abusive nations included here (see Amesty International for their list as well).

Client state or not, the Palestinians have it good compared to at least one billion other people on Earth--probably a lot more than that, but at least one billion.

And all the arguments given to justify singling out Israel above all these other nations holds water in my book.

I'm not letting Israel off the hook. But the frenzied denunciations I read constantly from American leftists are counterproductive. Calling a pickpocket a rapist insults both the pickpocket and actual rape victims. Calling Israelis Nazis so offends most Americans that it obscures whatever abuses Israelis might actually do.





6 comments:

One Salient Oversight said...

So what you're really saying is that you think it is okay for Israel to do whatever it likes?

Of course you're NOT saying that, however you have fallen into a similar trap by arguing that other instances of injustice are not being dealt with fairly by the American public when compared to Israel.

Israel IS a special case and DOES deserve to be an important area of discussion, over and above those other issues you mention, simply because of America's close involvement and support of Israel.

You mention Burma and its dictatorship and how bad it is. Well if the US supported Burma financially and had Burmese nationals in high levels of the US government, then surely complaining about Burma would be VERY important to Americans.

Americans worry about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians more than these other areas precisely because there is a large and influential pro-Jewish lobby and because America supports the Israeli government and military financially.

Ehkzu said...

Thanks for providing an international perspective (from Australia as I recall).

It's true that the US government provides a lot of support for Israel, and it's also true that Israel has an incredibly powerful lobby here.

OTOH it's also true that most rogue nations have support from powerful countries:

Burma--from China; Iran--Russia and China; Sudan--China; and so forth.

And while Americans are free to criticize their government, Chinese are not. So the only criticism possible is from abroad. And China's support for human abuse is vastly greater than America's, by any rational standard.

Leftists will dispute that but I believe they're grossly underestimating the effect of China's amoral quest for natural resources to exploit.

They're also appropriating a number of rivers that countries like India and Vietnam depend on. This is going to become huge once the Brahmaputra and the Mekong shrink to a trickle.

I concede that Israel's status as a client state of America makes American concerns germane--and personally I feel that the deadly attack on the USS Liberty has never been properly addressed.

But OTOH if we seek to address the wellbeing of the greatest number of people, and acknowledge America is a world power with world concerns, then other human rights issues rise much higher than Israel.

I observe that a billion human being go to sleep hungry every night--none in Israel-occupied lands. And that the routine rape and murder carried out in Sudan and Burma and other countries vastly exceed the privations of the Palestinians.

None of this justifies any Israeli misdeeds that may occur or may have occurred.

I am trying to contextualize them, however, and I find the near-complete silence of the American left about other, far worse misdeeds worldwide--albeit not by American client states--very strange.

After all, people all over the world demonstrate and complain about the actions of other countries--witness the deadly riots in Arab countries over a handful of--to our eyes--innocuous Danish cartoons.

So why demonstrations about Israel, about Danish cartoons, about French headscarves, but nada about the really bad stuff going on?

It all seems almost completely unrelated to the gravity of the offenses involved.

Sean said...

In a previous post response, I mentioned that Israel's enemies are winning the PR war. The recent blockade fiasco should be enough proof that those waging a PR war against Israel are doing an extraordinary effective campaign.

To a large extent, I've also noticed that there's always one particular 'favorite' country to criticize. Over the last couple of years, it's been Israel. Keep looking back a few years, and it was Sudan, or China's treatment of Tibet. In almost all cases, the amount of media attention has been disproportionate to the atrocities being committed there. Perphas instances like Sudan are exempt from this statement, but even then, there were other genocide-like activities going on across the globe that gathered precious little attention. But Israel attracts even more attention for its sins.

So why is Israel so special? Ehkzu, why is it so easy to come up with a list of other global events that dwarf the injustices done in Israel? I'd venture to say that we (and by 'we', I mean those in the US, and other western-government countries), tend to identify with Israeli culture much more that other cultures that were mentioned in the post "Talking with Israel-bashers", therefore we hold them to a higher level of accountability.

Just as there's all kinds of outcries against civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq when our military tries to attack civilian disguised terrorists, so we pour on our criticism of Israel as if criticizing our own bungled attempt to 'liberate' another country.

Here's some stats on international aid provided by the USA: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1261.pdf

While Israel ranks fairly high on our scale, they don't take the lions share of international aid. As you mentioned, Egypt is ranked fairly high also. But Israel is too easy to relate to, too easy to criticize, and unlike many other beneficiaries - they actually listen to us (unlike China, Sudan, or any African war-lord). This last point is what really fans the flames. Try criticizing Mugabe - see how far that gets you. Or even better, go into North Korea for some Israeli-style media reporting - let me now how that goes. There's a reason that the drug war along the US-Mexico border is so ill-covered by the media while the comparatively docile G20 protesters made the front page: Reporters don't get beheaded while trying to report on the Mexican drug war. There's a reason we'd rather criticize Israel than actually criticize China on it's treatment of Muslim minorities: China owns our debt, and is a Goliath in the East.

I don't condone the actions of Israel, but I think it's important to view the Middle East, and especially Israel, on a macro scale. Complete war between the Palestinians and Israelis will never happen in the current environment there, therefore there will never be peace. The current situation is a stalemate, with Hamas operating as a 'resistance movement'. This resistance movement celebrates when they kill Israeli civilians through planned attacks. When this happens, the world is not only silent, but braces for Israeli retaliation. The world cries foul when 20-year old Israeli soldiers kill an armed protester in a bungled operation, then ignores the war chants being uttered by the Arab world.

Once again, I do not think that killing peaceful protesters is permissible, but I do think that we hold Israel to a much higher standard than we do Israel's enemies. This imbalance in expectations is certainly unfair. But let's face it: it's much easier to criticize Israel.

One Salient Oversight, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Sean said...

In a previous post response, I mentioned that Israel's enemies are winning the PR war. The recent blockade fiasco should be enough proof that those waging a PR war against Israel are doing an extraordinary effective campaign.

To a large extent, I've also noticed that there's always one particular 'favorite' country to criticize. Over the last couple of years, it's been Israel. Keep looking back a few years, and it was Sudan, or China's treatment of Tibet. In almost all cases, the amount of media attention has been disproportionate to the atrocities being committed there. Perphas instances like Sudan are exempt from this statement, but even then, there were other genocide-like activities going on across the globe that gathered precious little attention. But Israel attracts even more attention for its sins.

So why is Israel so special? Ehkzu, why is it so easy to come up with a list of other global events that dwarf the injustices done in Israel? I'd venture to say that we (and by 'we', I mean those in the US, and other western-government countries), tend to identify with Israeli culture much more that other cultures that were mentioned in the post "Talking with Israel-bashers", therefore we hold them to a higher level of accountability.

Just as there's all kinds of outcries against civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq when our military tries to attack civilian disguised terrorists, so we pour on our criticism of Israel as if criticizing our own bungled attempt to 'liberate' another country.

Here's some stats on international aid provided by the USA: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1261.pdf

While Israel ranks fairly high on our scale, they don't take the lions share of international aid. As you mentioned, Egypt is ranked fairly high also. But Israel is too easy to relate to, too easy to criticize, and unlike many other beneficiaries - they actually listen to us (unlike China, Sudan, or any African war-lord). This last point is what really fans the flames. Try criticizing Mugabe - see how far that gets you. Or even better, go into North Korea for some Israeli-style media reporting - let me now how that goes. There's a reason that the drug war along the US-Mexico border is so ill-covered by the media while the comparatively docile G20 protesters made the front page: Reporters don't get beheaded while trying to report on the Mexican drug war. There's a reason we'd rather criticize Israel than actually criticize China on it's treatment of Muslim minorities: China owns our debt, and is a Goliath in the East.

I don't condone the actions of Israel, but I think it's important to view the Middle East, and especially Israel, on a macro scale. Complete war between the Palestinians and Israelis will never happen in the current environment there, therefore there will never be peace. The current situation is a stalemate, with Hamas operating as a 'resistance movement'. This resistance movement celebrates when they kill Israeli civilians through planned attacks. When this happens, the world is not only silent, but braces for Israeli retaliation. The world cries foul when 20-year old Israeli soldiers kill an armed protester in a bungled operation, then ignores the war chants being uttered by the Arab world.

Once again, I do not think that killing peaceful protesters is permissible, but I do think that we hold Israel to a much higher standard than we do Israel's enemies. This imbalance in expectations is certainly unfair. But let's face it: it's much easier to criticize Israel.

One Salient Oversight, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Sean said...

Part 2 Response:


Here's some stats on international aid provided by the USA: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1261.pdf

While Israel ranks fairly high on our scale, they don't take the lions share of international aid. As you mentioned, Egypt is ranked fairly high also. But Israel is too easy to relate to, too easy to criticize, and unlike many other beneficiaries - they actually listen to us (unlike China, Sudan, or any African war-lord). This last point is what really fans the flames. Try criticizing Mugabe - see how far that gets you. Or even better, go into North Korea for some Israeli-style media reporting - let me now how that goes. There's a reason that the drug war along the US-Mexico border is so ill-covered by the media while the comparatively docile G20 protesters made the front page: Reporters don't get beheaded while trying to report on the Mexican drug war. There's a reason we'd rather criticize Israel than actually criticize China on it's treatment of Muslim minorities: China owns our debt, and is a Goliath in the East.

I don't condone the actions of Israel, but I think it's important to view the Middle East, and especially Israel, on a macro scale. Complete war between the Palestinians and Israelis will never happen in the current environment there, therefore there will never be peace. The current situation is a stalemate, with Hamas operating as a 'resistance movement'. This resistance movement celebrates when they kill Israeli civilians through planned attacks. When this happens, the world is not only silent, but braces for Israeli retaliation. The world cries foul when 20-year old Israeli soldiers kill an armed protester in a bungled operation, then ignores the war chants being uttered by the Arab world.

Once again, I do not think that killing peaceful protesters is permissible, but I do think that we hold Israel to a much higher standard than we do Israel's enemies. This imbalance in expectations is certainly unfair. But let's face it: it's much easier to criticize Israel.

One Salient Oversight, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Sean said...

Part 1 Repsonse:

In a previous post response, I mentioned that Israel's enemies are winning the PR war. The recent blockade fiasco should be enough proof that those waging a PR war against Israel are doing an extraordinary effective campaign.

To a large extent, I've also noticed that there's always one particular 'favorite' country to criticize. Over the last couple of years, it's been Israel. Keep looking back a few years, and it was Sudan, or China's treatment of Tibet. In almost all cases, the amount of media attention has been disproportionate to the atrocities being committed there. Perphas instances like Sudan are exempt from this statement, but even then, there were other genocide-like activities going on across the globe that gathered precious little attention. But Israel attracts even more attention for its sins.

So why is Israel so special? Ehkzu, why is it so easy to come up with a list of other global events that dwarf the injustices done in Israel? I'd venture to say that we (and by 'we', I mean those in the US, and other western-government countries), tend to identify with Israeli culture much more that other cultures that were mentioned in the post "Talking with Israel-bashers", therefore we hold them to a higher level of accountability.

Just as there's all kinds of outcries against civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq when our military tries to attack civilian disguised terrorists, so we pour on our criticism of Israel as if criticizing our own bungled attempt to 'liberate' another country.