The Jewish state, moreover, belongs to a tiny group of countries — the United States, Britain, and Canada among them — never to have suffered intervals of non-democratic governance.
Hammond titles his piece, Oren’s Worship of Israel’s resilient democracy, a wonderful line. As this sort of proclamation truly is based on religious ardor. Thanks to Nima Shirazi. Excerpts:
But “Israel is entirely unique” and “exceptional”, Oren worships. If it is not perfect, it is because it “has never known a moment of peace, and must struggle to reconcile the often-clashing duties of preserving liberty and ensuring national survival.” Of course, “preserving liberty and ensuring national survival” is Oren’s euphemism for “occupying and stealing Palestinian land”, which is why there is no peace, least not for the Palestinians who suffer under the occupation, or from Israel’s frequent acts of aggression, such as its massacre in Gaza from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”. Oren admits that Israel “grapples” with discrimination, but his excuse is that this, “unfortunately, is common to virtually all countries”—yes, even (gasp) the United States! His focus is, of course, on Arabs living within Israel. He makes no argument that Arabs living in the occupied territories do not face institutional discrimination. In fact, he admits to it later on (we’ll come to that).
He tries to offer some examples of how wonderful Israel is in being tolerant of the Arabs in its midst. So he says, for example, that Israel tolerates Ahmed Tibi as a member of the Knesset (Israel’s legislative branch), even though he “once advised PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and recently praised Palestinian ‘martyrs’”, which, he adds, is “a well-known euphemism for suicide bombers”. That is technically true, but his implication is that even though Tibi praised suicide bombers, his presence is still tolerated in the government because Israel is so tolerant and fair with its Arab citizens. Of course, “martyrs” is also a well-known euphemism for innocent civilians murdered by Israeli soldiers. But Oren’s point wouldn’t sound as good if he pointed that out, so he doesn’t. It just wouldn’t be as effective propaganda if he didn’t demonize Tibi by putting words in his mouth. His next example follows suit: “Another Arab Knesset member, Hanin Zoabi, was censured for her participation in the 2010 flotilla in support of the terrorist organization Hamas, but retained her seat and parliamentary immunity.” Of course, the May 2010 Freedom Flotilla was not in support of Hamas, but in support of the rights of the Palestinian civilians living in Gaza, whom Israel has been collectively punishing in violation of international law by placing the entire territory under siege. But that doesn’t sound as good as saying that the flotilla supported terrorists, either. He goes on and on with this same kind of lying sophistry. Fast forward to where he acknowledges that Arabs living in the West Bank face institutional discrimination. He tries to dismiss this by saying that “the legal situation in the West Bank cannot simply be reduced to democracy or non-democracy.” There are areas under the administrative jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and some under Israel. He brags about how fair Israel is in dealing with the Arab pests, who, for example, complain about “the location of Israel’s security barrier” by “claiming it infringed on their land”, and whose complaints have been heard by the Israeli Supreme Court, which has “often found in the Palestinians’ favor and ordered the fence moved.” Of course, Israel doesn’t sound quite so wonderful when you point out the fact that all of the wall within the West Bank is illegal, its very existence in the occupied territories a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. So, naturally, Oren doesn’t mention that. He doesn’t mention that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in 2004 that the parts of the wall built occupied soil violate the rights of the Palestinians.
He goes on like that a bit more before lying, “Prime Minister Netanyahu has made the two-state solution the cornerstone of a peaceful prototype state.” That, of course, is false. Oren could possibly have made the case that Netanyahu favors “a two-state solution”, if he were to define a “state” as a territory excluding most of the illegal settlements on the best Palestinian land; a territory also excluding East Jerusalem, which Israel has illegally annexed (the U.N. Security Council has repeatedly condemned Israel’s legal actions in this regard and declared them “illegal, null and void”); a territory whose borders are controlled by Israel; which is not permitted to enter into treaties with other states; which is not permitted sovereignty over its own airspace; which may not have a military to defend itself; which is divided up into non-contiguous areas by Jewish-only highways connecting illegally built settlements; etc. If he defined a “state” thusly, Oren might have had a case. But he didn’t do so, and he didn’t say “a two-state solution”; he said “the two-state solution”. The two-state solution, in favor of which there is an international consensus, is that Israel must withdraw completely from the occupied territories in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed in the aftermath of Israel’s occupation of the territories during the ’67 war, and a Palestinian state established along the pre-June ’67 lines (the ’49 Armistice Lines, a.k.a., “Green Line”), with minor and mutually agreed adjustments to the final border. Netanyahu, needless to say, absolutely rejects the two-state solution, so Oren’s statement is just an outright lie, without even any attempt to be clever about it.
He rambles on a bit longer after that, but you get the idea. Israel is “a work in progress”, it “has its flaws”, but it is nevertheless a vibrant “democracy”, a place where the democratic ideal shines through the darkness, a beacon of light. “[W]hich country”, Oren asks, “could rival the commitment to the rule of law displayed by the Jewish state”? A commitment evidenced by its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory, illegal colonization, illegal construction of the annexation wall, it’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, it’s ’08-’09 massacre in Gaza, it’s May ’10 murder of nine civilian peace activists aboard a civilian vessel in in international waters, etc., etc., etc.