Monday, January 26, 2009

On how Apartheid South Africa was unfairly demonized -- like Israel

The Afrikaner, or Boer, people of South Africa were internationally demonized like no other people in history.

The Afrikaners began to settle in South Africa in the 18th century, fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They established two prosperous states which created job opportunities for blacks, who began pouring in from adjacent areas. The United Kingdom unleashed two devastating wars on them -- the Anglo-Boer wars. The British used scorched-land methods and invented the concentration camp, in which 15% of Afrikaners from both republics died.

When Afrikaners finally obtained independence, they understood that only a strong Afrikaner state would prevent further massacres. The Republic thus created was not perfect, granted; the blacks, coloreds and Indians were discriminated against. But the world obsessively focused on the Afrikaners' errors, leaving no stone unturned in their drive to demonize them.

South Africa was uniquely singled out for criticism. Not a word was said about the enslavement of the Pygmies in the Central African republics, yet the public yelled "Apartheid!" every time an Afrikaner showed up at an international event. The Chinese occupation of Tibet concerned no one, but the South African treatment of nonwhites --who enjoyed freedoms Tibetans could never dream of, either then or now-- was severely chastised.

Under the Afrikaners, the blacks enjoyed a standard of life far above that of any other African state. By any measure --infant mortality, literacy, life expectancy, you name it-- South African blacks were better off than their neighbors -- so much so that the latter began to leave their civil-war torn countries for peaceful South Africa.

But not content with taking advantage of the Afrikaner-created wealth, the blacks began a terroristic campaign by the African National Congress that killed thousands. Where was their Gandhi? They bombed public places, mined roads killing innocent civilians and sabotaged productive infrastructure. Although the government reacted to this, most deaths were caused by black-on-black violence. A particularly barbaric murder method was approved of by the wife of Nelson Mandela -- the necklacing, a summary execution carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with gasoline, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire. This was used against opponents in internecine ANC warfare.

The Afrikaners only wanted peace, which was offered multiple times to the blacks. After being met with ever more terrorism, Afrikaners diesngaged from 20 areas that were designated as black homelands. Each of these territories was offered full independence; four of them took it -- Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana, and Ciskei. But instead of focusing on building their nations, the blacks continued to resort to terror.

Meanwhile, the international community shunned South Africa -- but not Saudi Arabia, a theocracy where converts from Islam face capital punishment; or East Germany, where people who tried to leave the country were shot dead; or Kampuchea, where Pol Pot perpetrated a genocide of more than 1 million people. Only South Africa, where less than 2,000 blacks were killed by a government faced with guerrilla warfare, was subjected to UN sanctions -- but not Angola, where civil war killed hundreds of thousands.

International hypocrisy peaked in the 70s and 80s. When the South African rugby team (the Springboks) toured Australia in 1971, the leader of the Labour Party, Gough Whitlam, opposed the tour and declared: "Australians should never let an afternoon's entertainment blind them to a lifetime's repression for another nation." This, said by a politician from a country that dispossessed and mostly exterminated its Aboriginal population. Huge and widespread protest also occurred in New Zealand in 1981 against a Springbok tour -- that, in a country that committed cultural genocide against the Maoris, whose language is in a terminal state.

An automatic anti-Afrikaner UN majority recommended several times economic sanctions against South Africa, and third world countries were quick and happy to implement them. Even the US disgraced itself by applying economic sanctions it never imposed on far worse human-rights offenders like Mozambique or the Congo. Of course, none of those countries stopped using South African diamonds or gold, which are key to high-tech industries, or performing heart transplants, an Afrikaner-invented medical procedure.


After thoroughly analyzing the undemocratic, yes, but relatively benign Afrikaner rule in South Africa, and the disproportionate international reaction to it, only one of two conclusions can be drawn. EITHER

1) The world was full of anti-Afrikaner prejudice and even hate, which is evident in the sanctions imposed by the world's nations against Apartheid South Africa, and their silence regarding atrocities, massacres and genocides that dwarf it. The only moral thing to do is acknowledge the injustice done to Afrikaners and revert to the situation of 1991, before the Apartheid regime was toppled by the pressure of a hypocritical international community;


2) Apartheid was wrong, even if methods used to fight it were also wrong, and even if other human-rights violations were even wronger. Toppling it was justified, and there was nothing inherently unfair in singling out the Afrikaners, even if the Congolese behaved worse; just like there's nothing wrong in denouncing the lack of freedom in Cuba, even if Somalia has far less liberties, or -- in criticizing Israel, even if its dispossession of Palestinians pales beside the genocide in Darfur.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My father once heard MLK denounce Israel

My father once heard Martin Luther King denounce Israel. As a young immigrant to the US in the 1960s, he would attend MLK's rallies because he understood that what was good for the blacks also had to be good for the Latino community. At one of those rallies, MLK said, as reported by my dad:

Israel has grabbed land which belonged to the Palestinians, with the same self-granted right with which the slavers grabbed the black people in Africa: the right of a master race dealing with a downtrodden people.

What! You don't believe me? Oh, yes, you must have read somewhere that famous MLK quote. The one in which King says that those who criticize the Zionists actually mean the Jews and are, thus, antisemites.

The problem is that there is as much evidence to prove that my father heard him denounce Israel as there is to confirm that he equated anti-Zionism to antisemitism. Below is the passage familiar to all of us:

Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr., was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge. (...) One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, "Don't talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism!"

But, who reported this? An independent observer, with unimpeachable credentials as a nonbiased reporter?

Er no. It happens to be a very partisan source, namely Dr. Seymour Martin Lipset, a former chair of the National B'nai B'rith Hillel Commission and the Faculty Advisory Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal who died in 2006. The quote comes from the article "The Socialism of Fools: The Left, the Jews and Israel" which was published in the December, 1969 (page 24) edition of Encounter magazine, and was reprinted in other publications. Encounter was a neoconservative publication avant la lettre, which was initially funded by the CIA.

In other words, Lipset was a member of an institution that raised money for Israel's wars writing in a magazine closely allied to the US government. The details he gives are extraordinarily vague: "shortly before he was assassinated" (exactly when?) King went to a dinner in Cambridge (exactly where?) where he admonished a black student (exactly who?). But if it wasn't true, couldn't Dr. King have protested to the magazine? No, he couldn't; he died the year before the article was published.

Do we have further details from other sources? Well, yes; CAMERA claims that King's words were pronounced "in a 1968 appearance at Harvard." Is that so? Er no. On the day of his death, the Harvard Crimson (the university's students' paper) reported:

The Rev. Martin Luther King was last in Cambridge almost exactly a year ago--April 23, 1967.

So that CAMERA is wrong on this (which, by the way, debunks the often-made claim "CAMERA may be biased but it's always factually correct"). All other references to the King quote are either explicitly based on Lipset's article or verbatim transcriptions without attribution.

The evidence being so flimsy, a few years ago someone had the brilliant idea of manufacturing a complementary "Letter to an anti-Zionist friend" by King, which "appeared" in an August, 1967 edition of Saturday Review, and "ratified" King's views on Zionism and antisemitism. Only, those people weren't properly trained on how these things are done. They provided a detail that gave them away; Tim Wise took the trouble to examine all issues of Saturday Review from August, 1967, and found not a hint of a King letter to anyone. Lipset had been much wiser, giving what seemed to be a lot of information on the background to the King quote, but without providing a single concrete, verifiable detail.

And thus are created the Zionist talking points. No, the British commander at the King David never said "I don't take orders from Jews; I give orders to them." And no, never were orders for Arabs to leave Israel broadcast on Arab radio in 1948! But those are subjects for further posts.

So, what do you say? Do you believe Lipset or my father? Or me? Or none?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A man with an axe to grind

Ah, these endlessly evil Palestinians! If suicide bombings fail, they'll try rockets; if rockets fail, they'll try bulldozers; and if bulldozers fail, they'll try -- axes!

The following is a news item from the beginning of the Cast Lead operation Israel has just finished in Gaza with unclear achievements:

An ax-wielding 20-year-old man from Jenin attacked passersby on Rehovot's main Herzl Street on Friday, lightly wounding two people.

The assailant then stood with the ax and shouted "Allahu Akhbar" before being arrested.

A 17-year-old suffered light cuts near his ear. He was treated at the scene. A second person also sustained light wounds, but left before paramedics could reach him.

The attacker told police he came to avenge the death of a friend who died in the IDF's Gaza operation.

"We view this as a sporadic incident, not an organized attack," a Shfela Police spokeswoman said.

The suspect was transferred to the security forces for further questioning.

One of the commenters unsurprisingly proposed:

9. Destroy this man's hometown
That is the only way to fight the terror - destroy the hometown of the terrorist - terror will stop very very quickly. It's up to you Israel, do you want to stop the terror or do you want to be a nice goody two shoes always genuflecting to the internazional community?
Rami - (01/10/2009 22:55)

With most standard dictionaries now defining "disproportionate" as "not done by the Israeli army," I guess this proposal must by now be considered part of the mainstream.

But I see two interesting aspects in this report:

1. The man came all the way from Jenin to Rehovot. It's not exactly a short walk (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):

He must have crossed a few checkpoints and the Apart... Security Fence, yet he wasn't stopped. This would suggest that the dramatic decrease in terror attacks coming from the West Bank may not have to do with walls and roadblocks after all, but with an actual decision by most Palestinians to drop terror as a means to fight Israel.

2. The young man explicitly mentioned his friend who died in the Gaza op. This appears to indicate that terror attacks may not be the result of a Palestinian lust for Jewish blood after all, and that they may be related to actual suffering --be it material deprivation or the loss of their loved ones-- imposed on them by Israel. For God's sake, it even looks like these killing machines are capable of human emotions such as friendship!

Of course, one case is not a sample, but I was impressed by how easily the man made it to Rehovot with his axe, and by how deeply a death can be felt even in a region where seeing people violently die is a daily occurrence.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The new anti-Euskarism

Picasso's "Guernica," an allegory of the destruction perpetrated by the Nazi Air Force on the Basque town of Gernika in 1937.

The actual destruction.

The word Euskara means "Basque language" in the Basque language. And anti-Euskarism is prejudice against or hostility toward Basques.

Once upon a time anti-Euskarism was characterized by violent physical and cultural repression of the Basque people. During the Spanish civil war, Euskal Herria, or the Basque country, was ruthlessly razed by Generalísimo Francisco Franco's National Movement, as well as his Nazi and Fascist allies. Particularly gruesome was the levelling of the town of Gernika by the German air force on 26 April 1937. Also, Basque prisoners suffered unspeakable torture in Franco's jails. And, once the Basques were defeated, the cultural persecution began. Euskara was not allowed in public, and any children who were caught talking in it at school were made to kiss the ground. Basque dances and music were forbidden as well.

Spain is a democracy now, but anti-Euskarism is by no means gone. Only, it now takes a subtler form. Basques are no longer attacked or tortured, and Euskara is taught at school. But the new anti-Euskarism consists of the notion that, of all the peoples in the world, the Basques, and only the Basques, have no right to a State of their own. While Europe has been creating statelets like crazy in the last decade, many of them less populated and less viable than the economically robust Euskal Herria, the European Union upholds the Spanish constitutional prohibition of a Basque state. Peoples around the world have been given an independent country -- the Slovaks, the Timorese, the Armenians, even the Jews, despite their frequent moaning that they're denied one. But not the Basques.

This goes hand in hand with their demonization. Granted, the fight for independence has been carried out by the Basques through in some cases objectionable means, such as ETA's terrorism. But, curiously, it attracts an attention from the media absolutely disproportionate to the real harm it causes. For instance, in all its history ETA has caused some 900 deaths. In the same period, the Lord's Resistance Army has killed tens of thousands in Uganda. However, when you search the New York Times for ETA you find some 6,000 stories, against some 1,500 much shorter ones in the case of the LRA.

The media's bias is evident if we consider that whenever ETA kills a Spanish politician it makes headlines all over the world. However, not a word was said about the Second Congo War, in which 5.5 million people died and the Pygmies were hunted down and eaten by both warring factions!

It is depressing just to compare the enormous amount of coverage devoted to Basque terrorism in relation to that dedicated to the African wars. And we’re talking about people who at most kill 2 or 3 Spaniards a year.

The world is obsessed with the Basques! Why so much prejudice? Why this wave of new anti-Euskarism?

Too good not to boast about it

In a recent post we saw how US Secretary of State Condi Rice planned to vote in favor of the Gaza ceasefire resolution at the UN, but president Bush overruled her after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told him to. The US eventually abstained in the vote.

After Olmert publicly boasted of his feat, US diplomats tried to do the understandable damage control, denying that the abstention had to do with any suggestion from Israel's PM. However, neutral observers who witnessed the whole process have, according to a Haaretz article, confirmed Olmert's version. The Haaretz piece ends with this observation:

Olmert's associates understand all too well that this story merely provides fresh ammunition to those who claim the Jews are the ones who really control America.

Well, yes, it sort of looks like, no? Unless Prince Bandar has achieved unprecedented levels of subtlety in his Machiavelian schemes, this is definitely not a product of the all-powerful Saudi lobby.

It is not the first time that Israeli officials are candid, or, euphemisms aside, cynical about the US's servile attitude. In a very juicy interview given in 2006, Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon's foreign policy adviser, had this to say:

The channel between [US Secretary of State] Rice and me has two main purposes. One is to advance processes that are initiated, to examine our ideas and their ideas. The road map, for example, or the disengagement plan. But there is an equally important function, which is troubleshooting. If something happens - an unusual military operation, a hitch, a targeted assassination that succeeded or one that didn't succeed - before it becomes an imbroglio, she calls me and says, `We saw so-and-so on CNN. What's going on?' And I say, `Condy, the usual 10 minutes?' She laughs and we hang up. Ten minutes later, after I find out what happened, I get back to her and tell her the whole truth. The whole truth. I tell her and she takes it down: this is what we intended, this is how it came out. She doesn't get worked up. She believes us. The continuation is damage control.

Correct me if I'm being antisemitic, but this amounts to stating that when Israel fucks it up, the US rushes to do the face-saving for them.

Maybe the Israelis have decided not to deny anymore that they exercise an out-of-all-proportion influence on the US. But it may also be that when you have the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation in history as your errand girl, it becomes somehow difficult not to brag about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When they say "the Islamists..."

...they mean the Muslims. They may use other words and constructions, like "the jihadists," or "the radical elements within Islam," but they always mean the Muslims. They will be careful to quote other Muslims to make the most outrageous claims, like "not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim." They will make it clear there exist individual Muslims who are good people (although they'll rarely bring themselves to say "I have a Muslim friend"), but then will proceed to cite so many Islamic people who are real bastards as to leave you asking if there really exists a single decent person within the faith. They will say that the problem is not the religion, but then will introduce so many caveats and bogus research items from Islamophobes as to convince you that the problem is the religion.

These polite haters know they don't need to say things explicitly. They're confident that rank-and-file Zionists, the ones who write letters to the editor and go to the demos, will get the message. Because they(the letter writers and demo goers) are intelligent people who chose the right side in the Crusade, oops, War on Terror.

And get the message they do:

(ISLAM = CULT OF HATE banner held by demonstrators in a pro-Israel rally in New York City. From Bomb a ghetto, raise a cheer, a video by Max Blumenthal.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's Turkish for "First they came"?

The last few years have been marked by signs of genocide around the world. In the Second Congo War, the Pygmies were hunted down and eaten by both warring factions. More to the point, in Sderot a roof was broken by a Hamas missile two weeks ago.

But the world can't take any more massacres, be it of short black people or of Jewish real estate. That's why we have Holocaust Museums, and Holocaust experts who tour the world's auditoriums to preach their Never again message.

But, is it working?

Not according to Ben Cohen, an occasional contributor to Harry's Place. Under the title Antisemitism roars in Turkey, Cohen scares us out of our ignorance by painting a grim picture of the situation of Jews in Turkey:

There are people around the clock besieging the Israeli consulate in Istanbul shouting their hatred against Israel and Jewish people. All around Istanbul billboards are full of propaganda posters against Israel like; “Moses, even this is not written in your book” and “Israel Stop this Crime.” On the streets the people are writing such graffiti as: “Kill Jews,” “Kill Israel,” “Israel should no longer exist in the Middle East,” and “Stop Israeli Massacre.”

The week-end before, some people wrote, “We will kill you” on the door of one of the biggest synagogues in Izmir resulted in the closing down of synagogues. Near Istanbul University, a group put a huge poster on the door of a shop owned by a Jew: “Do not buy from here, since this shop is owned by a Jew.” A group put posters on his wall saying that: “Jews and Armenians are not allowed but dogs are allowed.” Some young people are even threatening others with violence if they are seen as pro-Israel in social networking websites such as Facebook and Hi5.

However, I ask for Cohen's forgiveness if I'm a bit skeptical about his post. In a world in which the Lord's Revolutionary Army kidnaps young children in Uganda and brainwashes them into guerrilla fighters, are a few hate posters such a big deal?

Of course, it can be argued that, because Cohen is Jewish, the LRA's horrible practices are not as important to him as attacks that are related to the Jewish community. In that case, one wonders why he didn't write a post on this Jewish-community-related incident:

Extremists spray-painted "Mohammed is a pig" and "Death to Arabs" early Sunday on the walls and doors of the Sea Mosque in Jaffa, sparking the fury of the Islamic Movement in the mixed Arab-Jewish city.

The hate slogans also included "Kahane was right," a reference to the slain Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach movement, and "No peace without the House of Peace," alluding to the Hebron structure from which dozens of far-right activists were evicted earlier this month.

Haaretz, 21 Dec 2008

But, more importantly, it's startling that Cohen manages to write a full post on Turkey without addressing the shameful attitude of Israel, Zionism and the organized Jewish comunity vis-à-vis the state's brutal assault on other minorities. In a country that murdered or expelled Armenians, Greeks and Kurds, with the Jews remaining silent, it was a matter of time before the Jewish community itself would be targeted.

Particularly outrageous is organized Jewry's refusal to acknowledge, and in some cases outright denial of, the Armenian Genocide. Here's a short reminder:

  • In 1982, the Israeli government asked Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel not to attend the International Conference on the Shoah and Genocide held in Tel Aviv, because the Armenian genocide would be discussed there. Wiesel gave in to the pressure and boycotted the conference, under the aliby "I can't do anything against Israel's will."
  • In 2001, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made the astonishing claim that the Armenians – 1.5 million of whom were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks in 1915 – never experienced a genocide. He went so far as to refer to the Armenian account of the mass slaughter as "meaningless".
  • In 2007, Bernard Lewis, one of the main propounders of the concept of a "new antisemitism," had this to say to Haaretz: "The meaning of genocide is the planned destruction of a religious and ethnic group, as far as it is known to me, there is no evidence for that in the case of the Armenians." For remarks in a similar vein published in Le Monde, Lewis had been found guilty of genocide denial by a French court the previous year.
  • The US Jewish community has sabotaged repeated times efforts to give Congressional recognition to the Armenian Genocide. Among the institutions involved in the repulsive drive were the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B'Nai Brith, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC)..

As can be seen, the government of Israel, Zionist and Jewish institutions, and Jewish-studies scholars have repeatedly engaged in efforts to downplay and in fact deny the Armenian genocide. The excuse given was that acknowledging it would endanger the position of the Jewish community in Turkey. If what Cohen reports is accurate, it looks like the brilliant strategy has failed and they sold their intellectual honesty for a bowl of lentils.

In fact, that's what would be suggested by the poem found at the house of Martinesip Niemollerzöglu, a Turkish Jew who committed suicide days ago:

First they came for the Armenians — and I said nothing because I’m not an Armenian.

Then they came for the Greeks — and I didn’t speak up because I’m not a Greek.

Then they came for the Kurds — and I remained quiet because I’m not a Kurd.

Now they come for me — I always said they were a bunch of antisemites!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A question for my shrink

Dear Dr. Campodónico,

I have a query to make, and I can't wait till Thursday's session. No; it's not about a dream this time around (bad news in that area, by the way: the blonde with the three tits keeps popping up), but about an article I've read in the Jerusalem Post. These are the relevant paragraphs:

The Security Council resolution passed on Friday calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza was a source of embarrassment for US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who helped prepare it but ultimately was ordered to back down from voting for it and abstain, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday.

Rice did not end up voting for Resolution 1860, thanks to a phone conversation he held with US President George Bush shortly before the vote, Olmert told a meeting of local authority heads in Ashkelon as part of a visit to the South.

Upon receiving word that the US was planning to vote in favor of the resolution - viewed by Israel as impractical and failing to address its security concerns - Olmert demanded to get Bush on the phone, and refused to back down after being told that the president was delivering a lecture in Philadelphia. Bush interrupted his lecture to answer Olmert's call, the premier said.

America could not vote in favor of such a resolution, Olmert told Bush. Soon afterwards, Rice abstained when votes were counted at the UN.

See, after reading this I was left with the impression that -- well -- I'm not sure I'll gather the courage to confess this -- although it's also true you're bound by doctor-patient privilege--

OK, let's say it once and for all: it looked to me, from the article, that the Prime Minister of Israel gave an order to the President of the United States, and as a result of that order the US Secretary of State had to change the vote she had already decided to cast at the UN Security Council to accomodate the Israelis' desires. And even though I rationally knew that it couldn't be true, that these kinds of things can only happen in conspiracy theories, in my innermost self I was convinced that my twisted reading of the events was accurate.

Dr. Campodónico -- am I an antisemite?

Placing more value on Jewish lives

Eamonn McDonagh and I have something in common: we're both Argentina-based bloggers who write in English on the Israel/Palestine conflict. Other than that, our worldviews differ radically as he believes all criticism of Israel can be explained away as antisemitism. Of course he will make the usual disclaimers stating there can be anti-Zionists who aren't antisemites, but he will never provide an actual example.

Eamonn's method to prove an anti-Zionist's antisemitism is simple: first, check his location and ethnicity; next, compile a short list of human-rights violations affecting his country or ethnic group; and, finally, conclude that he is an antisemite because he talks about Israel's crimes but not about those other violations he should be more concerned with.

In his latest post, Eamonn discusses a recent incident in the city of Resistencia, in Northeastern Argentina, where a group called Túpac Amaru protested Israel's actions in Gaza by painting graffiti on Jewish institutions. A despicable and irrational action that must be thoroughly condemned, certainly, but one that must be seen in the context of a country where vandalization of public and private property enjoys wide impunity. Eamonn comments:

Some will respond by saying that this is a non-story about a non-event, just slogans painted on a few buildings, not exactly the end of the world. I don’t agree. In a province with some of the nation’s gravest social problems and with a large indigenous community, the bulk of which lives in conditions of abject poverty, at least one small planet in the vast constellation of the country’s social and human rights organizations decided last Thursday night that of all the problems with which the world is afflicted, the most urgent is Gaza and that the best contribution it could make to resolving it was to harass the tiny Jewish community of Resistencia.

McDonagh mixes one reasonable assertion (the Jewish community should not be attacked because of the Gaza op) with one unreasonable one (Túpac Amaru should not protest about Gaza because there are other more urgent problems) in the hope that the reasonableness of the former will make up for the ludicrousness of the latter.

In fact, Túpac Amaru is addressing all the time the grave social problems Eamonn wants them to tackle, as is known to any habitual reader of the Chaco press (but not to Eamonn himself, who only gets interested in the province when he smells the possibility of charging someone with antisemitism).

The suggestion that Túpac Amaru can't talk about Gaza so long as poverty and discrimination against indigenous peoples persist reminds one of the argument (unfortunately often made) that the State shouldn't finance universities so long as there exist hungry people that could be fed with that money.

Eamonn proceeds then to draw his conclusion:

The idea is taking hold in some very remote places that every Jew is jointly and severally responsible for the actions of every other.

Which, of course, is thoroughly disingenuous. Jewish institutions in Argentina are pro-Zionist to the marrow of their bones, and what was attacked in them was their support for Israel, not their Jewishness. Nonaffiliated Jews were not attacked; secular Jewish university professors were not harassed over the Madoff scandal; bearded and hat-covered Haredim were not punched in the face over businessman Enrique Eskenazi's dubious dealings with the Kirchner presidential family. It was Israel-supporting institutions (not random Jewish citizens) that were attacked over what Israel (not an isolated Jew) did.

But Eamonn McDonagh demands very high standards from us. The question is: does he meet them?

From his bio, Eamonn is an Irishman who came to live in Buenos Aires in 1999. We could expect him to write about the national healing process in Ireland, or about the many socioeconomic issues Argentina faces. But that's not the case. He hardly ever mentions Ireland, and, while he writes a lot about Argentina, it's only when the story can in some way be connected to antisemitism.

Why is he so obsessed with antisemitism, and with criticism of Israel?

Is it because he's concerned about the status of minorities? No; that can't be: the Bolivian minority is widely discriminated against in Argentina. Unlike the Jewish community, the Bolivian community has had members killed in the last five years because of their ethnicity (see, for instance, here, here and here), yet Eamonn has remained quiet about it. And despite his pretended interest in the country's indigenous communities, he has said nothing about the Argentinian State's attempt to swindle the Mapuche Curruhuinca people in connection with a touristic resort built on their lands.

Is it, then, because McDonagh wants a balanced reporting of conflicts? That can't be either. When on 6 March 2008 eight Jews were murdered by a Palestinian in Jerusalem, Clarín, Argentina's foremost daily, reported it on its cover:

When on 6 June 2008 21 Sinhalese were killed by the Tamil Tigers in Sri lanka, on the other hand, Clarín did not devote cover space to the incident:

Yet Eamonn did not write a post in condemnation of Clarín's unfair treatment of the Palestinians, lambasting the daily for giving far more prominence to their terror attacks than to the Tamils' much worse mass killings.

Is it, then, because he is concerned about religious persecution? Again, that can't be; otherwise he would be writing post after post about the Hindu persecution of Christians in India.

What's the origin of Eamonn's obsession, then? I can't tell for sure, but I'll make an educated guess. Eamonn, like some Jews and, indeed, like many non-Jews imbued with an irrational adoration of the Jewish people, believes a Jewish life to be more valuable than a non-Jewish one. It's true that many people in his adoptive country suffer much more than the Jews. But they're brown, monotonous, uninteresting people who haven't won any Nobel prizes.

That's why spray-painted graffiti on a Jewish center or, in his words, the "new, cool, fat-free, environmentally responsible anti-Semitism" worry him more than the real death, suffering and dispossession of peoples that committed the original sin of not being Jewish.

Friday, January 9, 2009

On Hamas, the Likud, charters and partnership for peace

Using its secret war-winning formula ("always fight the Arabs"), Israel is dealing Hamas a crushing defeat in Gaza. This can hardly come as a surprise to anyone, since all analysts concurred that the Islamic group didn't even remotely match either the weaponry or the discipline that allowed their cousins from Hizbullah to, at least, hurt Israeli pride (but actually not much more) in 2006.

But dealing a defeat is not the same as getting a victory. Yesterday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire, with the US significantly failing to veto it. Also, president-elect Barack Obama has voiced concern about the number of casualties -- a statement that, for an American president-elect, would be considered by some as verging on antisemitism. This comes as a diplomatic blow for Israel, despite the considerable effort invested by Zionism in the propaganda arena. Zionists have fielded an impressive army of spokespeople, speechwriters, pundits and bloggers who have spent the last two weeks splitting hairs over the definition of "disproportionate" (when in fact, disproportionality is now an official Israeli policy).

But the public does not pay much attention to those tireless (and tiresome, and tire all) efforts. As Gideon Lichfield has noted:

Six hundred Palestinians dead versus nine Israelis, as of today's figures: There's just no way to make that proportion look pretty. Retired generals can drone on all they like about what "proportionality" really means in the laws of war, ambassadors can helpfully point out that many more Germans were killed than British in the Second World War, but these are theoretical notions; on television, what looks bad looks bad.

When the dust settles (not a short-term scenario, admittedly, given the enormous amount of dust lifted), Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas. This prospect drives some Zionists crazy: Hamas is committed to the destruction (obliteration or annihilation in other renderings) of Israel! As one of our readers asked: Have you read the Hamas Charter?

Well, yes, I've read it. I tend to despise people who don't know how to write, and I despise more the people who actually quote the pathetic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (itself terribly written), and even more those who call for obliterations. I also believe, however, that, with regard to Hamas, there exist certain glasses that are half-full, despite the stubborness of some in seeing them as (pardon the oxymoron) fully empty.

Hamas has proved it is capable of holding a truce. The period starting from June 2008 was marked by a sharp decrease in the number of imprecise rockets lobbed at southwestern Israel. The following chart (from The Huffington Post via Jews sans Frontières, and based on data from Israeli diplomatic sources) makes this quite clear:

These are the rockets fired at Israel in 2008. The truce started in June, in the context of an average of 200 rockets per month in the January-May period. By July the number had decreased to 1 rocket in the whole month, which was repeated in September and October; August was slightly worse with 8 rockets. While not perfect, this is a huge improvement. Also, the 11 rockets launched in those 4 months were fired by other organizations than Hamas: Islamic Jihad, for instance. One could expect Israel to understand these exceptions, given that the country often claims it can't control its own settlers.

The truce was undermined by Israel, not by Hamas, by imposing a crippling blockade on the Strip. And it was breached by Israel, not by Hamas, when the IDF killed 6 Hamas members in early November. It is undeniable that Hamas did more than its part to uphold the truce.

Does Hamas promise to destroy Israel in its charter? Yes it does. Do clerics in Hamas-controlled Gaza call for horrible things done on Israel and the Jews? Yes they do. But actual actions speak louder. And, moreover, it's just as easy to build an impressive case against Israel by examining its own record when it comes to charters and statements.

Take, for instance, Likud, the party that was leading the polls when the current war started. The Likud party's platform expressly rejects the idea of a Palestinian state, and is adamant that the settlers must stay put.

The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities [i.e. settlements in Judea and Samaria] and will prevent their uprooting. (...)

The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.

The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel's existence, security and national needs.

And its charter claims sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel, which (as different from the State of Israel) includes Judea and Samaria. The charter calls for:

Preserving the right of the Jewish Nation to the Land of Israel as an eternal, inalienable right; perseverance in the settlement and development of all parts of the Land of Israel; implementation of the State's sovereignty on them.

MK Uzi Landau confirmed this when he declared:

I am against the establishment of a Palestinian state and everything must be done to prevent it.

As for Jewish clerics, they have advocated a genocide in Gaza in response to the harmless rockets:

"If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand," said Shmuel Eliyahu. "And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

Joining the verbal warfare are Likud politicians such as Moshe Feiglin, currently running for the Knesset on the party's ticket:

Why should non-Jews have a say in the policy of a Jewish state? (...) For two thousand years, Jews dreamed of a Jewish state, not a democratic state. Democracy should serve the values of the state, not destroy them. You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches.

So a case could be made that Palestinians have no one to talk to, no partner for peace. And they have all the right in the world to refuse to negotiate until:

  1. The Likud is illegalized, or its charter and platform modified so that they'll accomodate the possibility of a Palestinian state.
  2. Incitement by rabbis and politicians is stopped.
  3. Feiglin is expelled from the Likud, and preferably jailed.

Of course, Israel supporters wil ask me to see the half-full glass: Likud's platform notwithstanding, the party did not create any trouble when timid steps toward Palestinian statehood were taken; and Eliyahu and Feiglin's words have not influenced mainstream politics. Fine; I ask them to display a similar pragmatic approach with regard to Hamas.

Israelo-Palestinian negotiations that will include (either directly or indirectly) both the Likud and Hamas are inevitable. Dismissing the latter as a group one can't negotiate with because of its charter or statements is an instance not only of stubborn disingenuousness, but also of a pot calling a kettle black.