Not a mistake, misunderstanding, or well-intended criticism.
By BARRY RUBIN
The first, most important thing to understand about the Western and especially American debate on Israel is this: Never before in history has there been such a concerted, systematic and vicious campaign to discredit and demonize Israel, and especially to undermine its support in the Jewish community. Without comprehending this fact, the massive attacks from academia, mass media, organizations and even in mainstream political and intellectual debate cannot be understood.In other words, we aren’t dealing with lots of mistakes, but with the mass-production of hate speech.These assaults cannot be taken as isolated incidents. While some are obviously outrageous – the British politician accusing Israel of genocide; a cartoon showing Ariel Sharon eating Palestinian children; Egypt’s president calling Jews sub-humans; the Swedish newspaper claiming Israel murders Palestinians to steal their organs – even the better-constructed items are equally fallacious.Not all are aware, of course, of what they are doing. There are dupes as well as demonizers, but the dupes often seem all too credulous to be wholly innocent.Equally, there are so many lies – new ones appear each day – and so many facts to counter them with that it is partly a waste of time to counter each offensive in itself.What’s necessary is to understand that this is all based on lies, ignorance and conscious bad faith.THE CATEGORIES include, but are not limited to: falsification of photographs and fabrication of events; distortion of history; invention of quotes; publishing disproportionate numbers of anti-Israel books and articles; indoctrination in schools; refusal to mainstream Israeli views and placing an overwhelming emphasis on radical, critical ones; giving excessive credibility to hostile sources’ outlandish tales (a worldwide story on an alleged, since proven false massacre in Jenin based on a single mysterious informant is just one example).There is also the creation of new categories of sin designed specifically as part of the anti- Israel campaign and applied only to Israel, i.e., “pinkwashing” (mistreatment of gays in a country that is among the world’s most open), or disproportionate use of force in wartime.Besides the obsession and double standards are the eagerness, uncontrollable hatred, self-righteousness, unconcern for fairness or balance, and passion that reveal the hidden agenda of those involved. They are indifferent to real war crimes, intolerance and oppression by others in the world. Their behavior should have destroyed their credibility, but they are protected instead.Some details of interest:• This campaign’s intensity and one-sidedness has relatively little effect on the actual Middle East situation or on Western government policies.• The main goal is to portray Israel as responsible for the lack of peace, just as Jews were historically blamed by those hostile to them for anti-Semitism. Since the experience of the 1993-2000 “peace process” era, the fact that the conflict continues because of the intransigence of Israel’s enemies should have been obvious. Yet this history has been forgotten and its impact on Israeli thinking buried or censored.• Much of the new antagonism stems from Western intelligentsia’s sharp turn to the Left. The question, of course, is why Israel in particular is such a prominent issue among the many causes available to them.• What is important is not so much to define specific things as “anti-Semitic” – which generates distracting debates – but to explicate the creation of a situation equivalent in effect to pre-1945 anti-Semitism. Since about 40 percent of the world’s Jews live in Israel and most of the rest support Israel, the resulting slander and demonization is also a slur and hatred against the vast majority of Jews. The irrationality, obsession, intimidation and slander are quite equivalent to what Jews suffered under historic anti-Semitism.• Israel, Israelis and their supporters are portrayed – as in classical anti-Semitism – as irrational creatures involved in incomprehensible behavior. Removing from public consciousness their experiences, attitudes and sufferings leaves the conclusion that their behavior is evil, racist, bloodthirsty and power-hungry.For example, as a country under assault, Israel has to act militarily at times. The army and government have no interest in wasting credibility and resources by injuring Palestinians for fun or out of pure meanness. Yet this is how Israeli behavior is often portrayed.Similarly, Israel has lots to gain from peace since, if secure and lasting, it would provide such benefits as fewer deaths, less time and money going to the military, beneficial trade with neighbors and higher living standards, etc. To believe Israel doesn’t want peace is to believe it is aggressive and has devious ends.And again, if Israel really doesn’t face an existential threat – or only an easily defused one – then its acting otherwise constitutes psychotic behavior.A MAJOR and new theme of this campaign is to convince American Jews that either Israel has become illegitimate or must be bashed for its own good. Undeniably, this campaign has enjoyed success on that front. Others are temporarily taken in by nonsense like the Western expert/media spin on the recent Israeli elections heading the country toward fascism.While what we have here on the surface seems like disproportionate insanity, it is actually ideologically consistent and politically motivated. The result is an environment in which the virulently anti-Semitic, genocidal, anti-Christian, anti-American and pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood is the beneficiary of apologetics while Israel is “bad.”A nut from an extremist cult spit on a teenage Jewish girl in a small town in Israel and the next thing you know there is a serious Western debate over Israel losing its soul.A few fans from Israel’s most nationalist football team don’t want Muslim players – Arabs already play for all the other teams and are never harassed – and the next thing you know the New York Times compares Israel to Nazi Germany.One comforting thing about this campaign is that its activists so often having to resort to lies and exaggeration shows how little genuine material they possess.How much effect is this all having in the real world? Ironically, it is less damaging to Israel itself (attempts at economic boycotts, for example, have yielded no real damage) than to Western Jews who live in the societies so affected. The growing pressure will result in some running for cover – or even joining the assailants – but far more will ultimately wake up.
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