Why Israel is ‘singled out’

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 121 Comments

In the recent debate over the proposed boycott of Israeli goods by the Park Slope Food Coop, it was asserted that critics of Israeli human rights abuses are unjustly “singling out” the Jewish state. They are “ignoring” the human rights abuses committed by other governments and eliding the criminal actions of the Palestinians.

One hears the same argument wherever and whenever the subject of the Israel-Palestine conflict is brought up. What about Syria? Iran? North Korea? Myanmar? Zimbabwe? What about Hamas? Why is Israel the target of condemnation when others engage in far worse depredations?

To say that Israel is being “singled out” is to say that it is being unfairly vilified for doing the same sorts of, presumably “bad,” things that other states are doing; it’s to grant, in other words, that Israel is doing something “wrong.” But the implied acknowledgment of Israeli misdeeds by those making this argument is a discursive feint; Israeli transgressions, if specified at all, are glossed over as nothing but garden-variety misdemeanors. Indeed, it’s not that Israel is being “singled out” that’s driving those deploying this discourse to apoplexy. It’s that Israel is being accused of pursuing criminal policies at all. Israel, they believe, is a victim, not a perpetrator. It’s a beacon of civilized democracy in an ocean of Oriental despotism and barbarism. It’s a “light unto the nations,” boasting “the most moral army in the world” and the gay-friendliest city on the planet.

Those who assert that Israel is being “singled out” aren’t interested in assessing where to rank Israel on the scoreboard of global human rights violators. They’re just setting listeners up for an old familiar punch-line: Why is Israel being “singled out?” Because the world hates the Jews. Why do some Jews harp on Israel’s depredations? It’s because they hate themselves.

The charge of “singling out” is at once disingenuous and obfuscatory. It’s another way of saying that substantive criticism of Israel (not to mention organized political and economic action, including boycott and divestment, in support of such criticism) amounts to anti-semitism. It’s intended to stifle criticism — and indeed, honest discussion — and thereby distract attention away from the real-life conditions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza: from the house demolitions; the land theft; the “administrative detentions;” the de jure and de facto deprivation of elementary rights of assembly and speech; the relentless settlement building; the roadblocks, checkpoints, and general interruption of free movement; the theft and wildly unequal distribution of water; the containment wall built on Palestinian territory; the settler violence against Palestinian individuals and property; the use of banned weaponry; the collective punishment of the entire Palestinian people; the bantustanization of the West Bank; the violations of international law; the blockading of Gaza; the manifest racism; and the daily harassment and indignities consciously and systematically imposed on an occupied populace.

To defend such policies and practices is morally impossible. To equate the actions undertaken by the Israelis with those of the weak and stateless Palestinians is ethically obtuse. To ignore altogether the events on the ground in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza by raising the hoary accusation of anti-semitism, wrapped in the packaging of “singling out,” is unconscionable.

Of course, the fact still remains: As appalling as Israeli policies may be, they still aren’t so dastardly as to put Israel at the very top of the list of human rights violators. So why do people (like me) devote so much attention and passion to castigating Israel?

There are several compelling reasons.

First of all, as Peter Beinart recently observed, “We all intuitively understand the rationale for focusing on those offenses over which we have more control, even if they are not the most egregious. If that weren’t the case, how could an American justify focusing her attention on the misdeeds of the government of the United States?”

There’s not a whole lot the U.S. government – or ordinary American citizens – can say or do to improve the human rights situation in Zimbabwe or Syria (both subject to U.S. sanctions since 2003), in Myanmar (subject to sanctions since 1988), in Iran (subject to sanctions since 1979), or in North Korea (whose government the U.S. has never even formally recognized). Trumpeting the misdeeds of these regimes might be psychologically and ethically satisfying, but is politically meaningless, not to say, redundant. It’s sort of like ranting at East Germany perfidy, c.1960.

But Israel? Not only has America withheld substantive criticism of its policies, but the U.S. government and U.S. citizens are, and have long been, the most important global enablers of such policies. Indeed, if the U.S. has historically “singled out” Israel, it has been for special protection, assistance, and cover for its daily crimes against the Palestinians. Whether we look at U.S. military assistance to Israel (amounting to $8.2 million a day in fiscal year 2011, more than 18% of the entire Israeli defense budget),or at private American tax-deductible gifts to illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (including to some of the most violent, fascistic and dangerous crackpots in the region), America and Americans have played the role of Israel’s pre-eminent arsenal, financier, diplomatic supporter, and propagandist. To suggest, under such circumstances, that Israel is being “singled out” by its American critics can only be considered a sick joke.

The idea, moreover, that, as moral actors, we are each obliged soberly to calibrate the world’s injustices and respond only to those we have disinterestedly calculated to be the “worst,” is manifestly preposterous. Life being short and energy finite, each of us is capable of engaging in only so many political battles. The criteria we use for selecting which ones to fight involve a variety of considerations, objective and subjective, conscious and unconscious. This doesn’t mean we’re justified in ignoring, let alone whitewashing, injustices that don’t emotionally engage us. It does mean, however, that it’s absurd to condemn people who devote themselves, for example, to fighting against predatory banking practices or fracking or the Chinese occupation of Tibet or human trafficking on the grounds that there are more heinous injustices in the world.

The struggle against South African apartheid was, for many Americans, an especially important cause. It wasn’t that conditions in South Africa were necessarily the worst in Africa or in the world. It was that many people felt that, given America’s own history of white racism and settler colonialism, they had a special obligation to combat apartheid, an obligation made even more morally compelling and politically meaningful because of the long-standing support and collusion extended to this regime by successive U.S. governments.

As an American whose country is abetting Israeli crimes I find the cause of Palestine similarly compelling. As an American Jew, I find the Jewish Establishment’s thuggish efforts to whitewash Israeli crimes, exploit Islamophobia, muzzle dissent, and prevent the U.S. from framing a coherent foreign policy to be especially deplorable (not to mention, dangerous). When prominent American Jews revile critics of Israel as traitors and blood enemies, otherwise enlightened Israelis go about their daily business oblivious or insensitive to the repressive realities only a few kilometers away, and the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza enters its 45th year, the Jewish claim to some sort of special communal commitment to “justice” rings more hollow than ever.

About Joel Doerfler

Joel Doerfler teaches history (including a course on Israel-Palestine) at the Riverdale Country School, an independent school in the Bronx, N.Y.

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121 Responses

  1. Stateless American
    August 13, 2012, 3:07 pm

    Isn’t it enough to say they’re doing it with our money?

    • W.Jones
      August 14, 2012, 2:09 am

      Well if you’re a taxpayer you have a right to try to get your taxes to go to good things, not oppressive ones. And there’s alot of tax dollars involved.

  2. Scott
    August 13, 2012, 3:17 pm

    Thanks for this. It’s such a frequently used rhetorical gambit, surprising since the answer is so apparent. Don’t the people who raise this question know the answer? Does the implied answer of “anti-Semitism that’s why” actually work on anyone?

    BTW, I was a Riverdale Country parent for a while, glad you’re teaching there.

  3. hophmi
    August 13, 2012, 3:23 pm

    Let’s drop this BS that the singling out argument is meant to stifle criticism. This is a crybaby argument. No one is keeping you from criticizing Israel, and arguing that criticism of Israel is highly disproportionate relative to other countries is not an accusation of antisemitism. It’s also a highly ironic charge, considering that rather than let Coop members make up their own minds about what products to buy, pro-Palestinian activists attempted to force everyone to boycott Israeli products at the Co-op, on both sides of the Green Line. You hijacked a huge organization and wasted a lot of people’s time over five products for public relations purposes.

    The notion that the “Jewish Establishment” is exploiting homophobia or stifling dissent is another crybaby lie. The Establishment has condemned Islamophobia again and again, and you are free to write what you want.

    There is little question that, around the world, Israel is singled out in a way that is ridiculously unfair, not by American activists, but by serial human rights violators on the UN Human Rights Council, Arab states who have boycotted the country for many years, and European activists whose countries provide no meaningful aid to Israel. Globally, there is no question that an utterly disproportionate amount of the UN’s time is spent dealing with the Israel-Palestine issue, and that this is largely driven by Arab politics, not a concern for human rights. You might ask yourself just what cause your activism serves. Has it led to better peace prospects? No. Has it helped ensconce a right-wing Israeli government in power? Yes. Do the facts show that BDS is successful or that there is a snowball’s chance in hell that American aid to Israel will end because of it? No. Israel’s economic ties with Europe are strengthening by the day, and aside from convincing a few artists not to perform and succeeding in having some settlement products (a tiny portion of Israel’s economy) relabeled, the BDS cult has no successes.

    • Dexter
      August 13, 2012, 6:10 pm

      Um, maybe it is because it is the 21st century and Israel is the last colonial-apartheid regime on the planet.

      Jews: always the victim, never the victimizer…right?

    • talknic
      August 13, 2012, 10:39 pm

      hophmi August 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Uh huh… Israel is acting OUTSIDE of its sovereign extent.

    • Annie Robbins
      August 14, 2012, 12:10 am

      The Establishment has condemned Islamophobia…..arguing that criticism of Israel is highly disproportionate relative to other countries is not an accusation of antisemitism….You might ask yourself just what cause your activism serves…Israel is singled out in a way that is ridiculously unfair….Let’s drop this BS that the singling out argument is meant to stifle criticism. This is a crybaby argument

      so hops, if arguing that criticism of Israel is highly disproportionate relative to other countries is not an accusation of antisemitism, what is the cause of our criticism? and if your argument is not to stifle criticism, what is your point? do you think we should continue in our criticism, since presumably you are not trying to stifle it?

      why are you here and why do you think we are here?

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 12:15 am

        What is the cause? I think it’s a combination of things, but for the most part, I think it’s because the Holy Land has significance for nearly half the earth’s population, and as a result, people pay too much attention to it. There are horrible human rights violations in many African countries, but getting Muslims and Christians to care about Darfur is much harder than getting them to care about Jerusalem.

        How does arguing a political position is misguided stifle criticism?

        It’s up to you whether you want to continue with your criticism. I can’t stop you. I can only articulate my POV.

        I am here to state my view, like everyone else is.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 14, 2012, 1:46 am

        How does arguing a political position is misguided stifle criticism?

        i did not ask that.

        I am here to state my view, like everyone else is.

        and your view is that israel is unfairly criticized, that is your point. This is a crybaby argument.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        August 14, 2012, 2:26 am

        >> There are horrible human rights violations in many African countries, …

        How many African countries were patronized by American politicians of late? Or ever? Israel insinuates itself in to the corridors of power. Romney goes to Jersalem (and not “some African country”), and half the media follows him, live broadcasting all the way. Who is singling out whom? -N49.

      • anonymouscomments
        August 14, 2012, 2:59 am

        hophmi
        “…people pay too much attention to it.”

        hoppie seems to pay a lot of attention to it. i do as well. too much attention? well, this subjective assertion is utterly meaningless, but he is free to say so. but if there was not so much horrible BS to pay attention to, we would not be paying any attention to it.

        come on hophmi, why don’t you actually stop defending israel and excusing it, and work to change the policies we all pay too much attention to. get going, hop to it….

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 10:41 am

        I do work to change Israeli policy for the better. You undermine it.

      • chinese box
        August 14, 2012, 12:03 pm

        “I do work to change Israeli policy for the better.”

        How? By spending your time making bad faith arguments on this forum only to see them demolished?

        What is your real agenda for posting here? To influence lurkers?

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 4:39 pm

        Shorter Hophmi: ‘Palestinians are the least important people in the world, and some of the very worst, too. There’s no good reason, and a million bad ones, why anybody would care about them.’

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 4:44 pm

        “I am here to state my view, like everyone else is.”

        Yes, and there’s nothing I can do about it, Hophmi. But sheesh, could you maybe take a little tribal loyalty into account, and stop making us all look like sociopaths and devious, if ignorant lawyers? My God, Hophmi, what if people judged me by your statements? Would that be fair? C’mon man, this is supposed to be a collective, could you at least pretend you care about other Jews?

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 4:49 pm

        “What is your real agenda for posting here? To influence lurkers?”

        Oh very much so! We saw this yesterday with yonah, and it’s pretty evident with Hophmi, too. There might be the vestiges of a decent character lurking inside him, and he’s gonna make sure, every day, it never gets a chance to speak. And if it’s screaming at you, you just have a little breakdown and start screaming ‘Saying Kosher pickle is Jew-baiting!’ Hophmi thinks he can just drown that baby in in a bathwater of verbiage, before it grows into a man who won’t be denied..

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 5:49 pm

        “I do work to change Israeli policy for the better. “

        Oh no, I did it again! I get started peppering some guy with sarcastic comments, and then I discover he has a deeper side and a depth of character I never suspected. Hophmi, I gotta respect a guy who lives with such a deep sense of failure, a guy who knows his mission is ridiculo…I mean, impossible, but perseveres, anyway. What nobility of character Hophmi!
        What a bunch of crap, Hophmi! And BTW, what do you do, go into a phone booth, and change from the mild-mannered Hasbarist we know into, what, exactly? How do you conflate the opinions and most of all the “facts” you bring here with making Israeli policy “for the better”? All your facts, all your opinions, are the ones which make Israeli “policy” (to use the word very generously) for the worse.
        How stupid do you think we are? Oh not me, I know how stupid I am, but the rest of the people?

      • Kathleen
        August 15, 2012, 8:29 am

        “to influence lurkers” bingo

    • Donald
      August 14, 2012, 12:24 am

      Make up your mind, hophmi. Is pro-Palestinian activism bad because it isn’t effective, or is it bad because Israel doesn’t deserve to be singled out?

      Anyway, you didn’t deal adequately with the two main points of the piece. (One you ignored entirely.) First, we in America should single Israel out because their crimes are our crimes. We are constantly reminded by our politicians that we share the same values, Israel is our bestest friend ever, we hang out together, see movies, kill bad Muslim terrorist evil people, etc… So it’s entirely proper to push back on this. Personally I’d find it a huge step forward if the mainstream talked about Israel the way they talk about some of our other allies with nasty human rights records. There might have been more Democratic politicians who were willing to criticize the US human rights record (under Bush) than there were willing to criticize Israel.

      You mentioned the Arab countries. Well, I think recent events show that Arabs are fully aware of the human rights records of their own abysmal governments and many of them are trying to do something about it. It’s called the Arab Spring and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about it. Did Arab dictators posture as defenders of Palestinians while in effect occupying their own country? Sure. Dictators are hypocrites. Hot news flash.

      Now the point you glossed over is that the only real sense in which Israel is singled out for special treatment and that’s the love and admiration and aid money that we shower on them for no good reason , and in the meantime they continue to practice something that strongly resembles apartheid.
      That’s weird. Well, no, maybe it’s not. It’s normal for politicians to be hypocrites and as for Israel supporters, there are various emotional and historical reasons why they tend to wear blinders, like ideologues generally do.

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 11:05 am

        “Make up your mind, hophmi. Is pro-Palestinian activism bad because it isn’t effective, or is it bad because Israel doesn’t deserve to be singled out? ”

        I didn’t say pro-Palestinian activism was bad. Yours is bad. This blog’s pro-Palestinian activism is bad. The BDS cult is bad. All are more about bashing Israel than building Palestine. It’s anti-Israel activism you practice, not pro-Palestinian activism.

        ” First, we in America should single Israel out because their crimes are our crimes.”

        Oh please. That’s nonsense. Egypt has gotten billions in aid from the US for years. You didn’t give a rats ass about its human rights violations. Saudi Arabia reaps in billions upon billions every year in oil revenue from the United States. You bought their oil at the pump many times, I’m sure. Their crazy monarchy is in power because of the United States. The same is true of Venezuela, another human rights problem you do nothing about except pay it oil money.

        ” We are constantly reminded by our politicians that we share the same values, Israel is our bestest friend ever, we hang out together, see movies, kill bad Muslim terrorist evil people, etc… ”

        Actually, US politicians usually say Great Britain is our closest friend, not Israel. We do share many values with Israel.

        ” Well, I think recent events show that Arabs are fully aware of the human rights records of their own abysmal governments and many of them are trying to do something about it. It’s called the Arab Spring and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about it”

        Bull. Where’s the Arab movement to stop the genocide in Darfur and turn in indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir? Where’s the Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia? Where’s the movement to make sure Egyptian women do not end up behind veils> Was the Arab Spring about human rights, or did Arabs just grow tired of being poor?

        “Now the point you glossed over is that the only real sense in which Israel is singled out for special treatment and that’s the love and admiration and aid money that we shower on them for no good reason ”

        Israel is a bigger target in Europe than it is here, and Europe gives it no loan guarantees. It is a big issue because Christians and particularly Muslims have a vested interested in the Holy Land which each has at one time or another controlled. Other than this interest, there is no other reason or explanation for why Israel is completely oversaturated with media.

      • The Hasbara Buster
        August 14, 2012, 12:06 pm

        Oh please. That’s nonsense. Egypt has gotten billions in aid from the US for years.

        The aid the US gives to Egypt is a bribe so that the country won’t make war on Israel. So that it must be counted as aid to Israel, too.

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 2:16 pm

        “The aid the US gives to Egypt is a bribe so that the country won’t make war on Israel. So that it must be counted as aid to Israel, too.”

        Nice try, but that’s ridiculous. Egypt doesn’t need a bribe to refrain from war with Israel. It needs only to remember that Israel kicked it ass multiple times and would do so again if the opportunity arose. It was a bribe to keep Egypt in the US camp during the Cold War and to generally remain a friend of the United States.

      • chinese box
        August 14, 2012, 4:44 pm

        @Hasbara Buster,

        Hophmi actually thinks he’s going to impress people here by recycling arguments that were discredited long ago. He’s so out of his depth on this forum. It’s really just sad.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 4:52 pm

        “Israel is a bigger target in Europe than it is here, and Europe gives it no loan guarantees. “

        The Jew-haters! No loan garauntees? What’s next, camps and chambers?

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 10:17 pm

        “Hophmi actually thinks he’s going to impress people here by recycling arguments that were discredited long ago.”

        Chinese box, you should not make fun of the disabled. Hophmi suffers from Ziocaine syndrome. A Ziocaine syndrome event starts whenever a person with the disability begins to discuss, or think about Israel and Zionism. I’m sure you know that, it’s easy to see what it does to them. But what you may not know is the each Ziocaine event (technically, they are called “jags” ot “highs”) ends with Ziocaine amnesia. That’s why Hophmi can’t remember that all these arguments have been refuted, demolished and destroyed about, oh, once a day for the year or so I’ve been reading. And that’s why he comes back with the same stupid arguments again and again, and can’t understand why they don’t work this time
        So please, a little consideration for the disabled. Remember, Hophmi has to live with the fact that this is what he did to himself. To that kind of burden, you want to add contempt? Well, I know I sure do!

      • Donald
        August 15, 2012, 12:02 am

        “You didn’t give a rats ass about its human rights violations.”

        Silly. You talk as though you know what letters we’ve written or money given or other forms of activism we’ve engaged in just because you see a us here. To the extent I actually have been active (posting a comment at a blog means squat–I think I waste too much time here and writing this reply is helping me to see that) I’ve written more letters on other human rights topics than Israel. For much of my life East Timor seemed the most important human rights issue, because it was so little known and the American role so shameful. During the 80′s most people were active on Latin American issues (where Israel was, incidentally, supportive of various right wing thugs and genocidal killers.) I’m not sure why you mention Venezuela when Colombia has been far more violent. (And if the US weren’t so bogged down in the Middle East I suspect we would be talking a lot more about Venezuela–probably about some covert war we’d be supporting there against the government.)

        I was surprised to see you attack the Arab Spring. It may go badly–too soon to tell. But normal people applaud the bravery of ordinary Arab citizens who stood up against their own regimes, risking torture or worse.
        I think you need to take a break from this place. You get so mad I wonder if you say things you’d regret saying in calmer moments, just to score a point. Yes, the Arabs have been silent about Darfur as far as I know (I don’t know much), though that’s no different from the silence you’d find in America (except from the far left) on the many crimes which we are directly involved in supporting. People everywhere are one-sided and inconsistent and sometimes outright hypocritical regarding the atrocities they pay attention to. Right now many Arabs fight for democracy and rather than acknowledge that, you sneer. Mondoweiss could use some dissenting voices, but you make it too easy to dismiss whatever legitimate criticisms you can make. Why do that?

        In Europe I suspect there are a mixture of motives for the attention they pay to Israel, some good and some not so good and you identified some of them. Israel claims to be a Western democracy, so that alone means they will get singled out for much the same reason South Africa got singled out in an era where there were many African dictatorships. But in America Israel is treated with almost reverential respect by politicians. That draws attention.

      • chinese box
        August 15, 2012, 7:57 am

        @Mooser

        He’s been up for three days straight on the ‘caine, so we can’t really hold him responsible for anything he says here.

      • Kathleen
        August 15, 2012, 8:30 am

        That aid is all about keeping peace with Israel

      • chinese box
        August 15, 2012, 9:47 am

        “It was a bribe to keep Egypt in the US camp during the Cold War and to generally remain a friend of the United States.”

        Right, and it was just a coincidence that it came about as part of the Camp David Accords:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        I just hope that no one reading Mondoweiss is gullible enough to believe your lies.

    • NorthOfFortyNine
      August 14, 2012, 1:19 am

      There is little question that, around the world, Israel is singled out in a way that is ridiculously unfair … Globally, there is no question that an utterly disproportionate amount of the UN’s time is spent dealing with the Israel-Palestine issue, and that this is largely driven by Arab politics, not a concern for human rights.

      Actually, Israel is singled out by the US Congress. How many visits this year? Compare that number is to visits from congressmen & women to Canada, the US’ largest trading partner. I will take a stab at it and say the scorecard is 100-0. And this is to say nothing about the presidential hopefuls. What’s the line on Romney showing in Ottawa anytime soon?

      Israel singles itself out. And it does so by design. There is an extant political goal to insinuate itself into the wheel house of global power politics. And then when views antithetical to Israel’s rather atrocious record peep up — you’re picking on us!!

      Please stop the whinging when what goes around comes around. -N49.

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 11:07 am

        “Actually, Israel is singled out by the US Congress. How many visits this year? Compare that number is to visits from congressmen & women to Canada, the US’ largest trading partner.”

        Haven’t made the comparison, but I bet there are plenty of Congresspeople who have visited Canada. The media may not cover it, though.

        “There is an extant political goal to insinuate itself into the wheel house of global power politics.”

        I think most countries try to insinuate themselves into the wheel house of global power politics.

      • Kathleen
        August 15, 2012, 8:32 am

        Come on Hop where is the link on the Canada claim? Congress people to Canada…not happening much.

    • eljay
      August 14, 2012, 7:43 am

      >> This is a crybaby argument.

      Says the guy who then proceeds to employ a crybaby defense of the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel, a state born of terrorism and ethnic cleansing, and maintained and expanded by means of a 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

      Funny stuff.

    • chinese box
      August 14, 2012, 9:09 am

      “You might ask yourself just what cause your activism serves. Has it led to better peace prospects? No. Has it helped ensconce a right-wing Israeli government in power? Yes.”

      Funny, I seem to remember Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu (first term as PM) being “ensconced” before BDS even existed. Who are you going to blame for that?

      For someone who believes BDS and activism are ineffectual and insignificant, you sure do spend a lot of time hyperventilating on this forum, hophmi.

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 10:26 am

        “Funny, I seem to remember Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu (first term as PM) being “ensconced” before BDS even existed. Who are you going to blame for that?”

        All were followed by Labor governments.

        “For someone who believes BDS and activism are ineffectual and insignificant, you sure do spend a lot of time hyperventilating on this forum, hophmi.”

        I don’t believe BDS is ineffectual. It is a fact that it is, because most people do not believe Israel worthy of BDS’s aim of destruction.

        I am a small minority in a room that is overwhelmingly against me. There is far more hyperventilating amongst the dittoheads here than there is from me.

      • Chu
        August 14, 2012, 11:25 am

        BDS aims to create a viable Palestinian State by using punitive measures for Israel to comply with international law. BDS is not destructive to Israel, only if the Jewish state continues to break international law. It’s a necessary component to stand up to a group that continues to evade the established laws of nations.

      • chinese box
        August 14, 2012, 12:50 pm

        “All were followed by Labor governments.”

        And your point is that that Bibi will be in power forever now because of some nasty activists overseas? Is the Israeli population ever responsible for it’s own bad choices?

        You still haven’t supported your statement that international activists are responsible for the Likud government being in power. And you’re also missing the larger point. The Labor party brought the world “Operation Grapes of Wrath” and a sham peace process that only served as a fig leaf for endless settlement construction. That party isn’t a force for positive change and it never will be.

        “I don’t believe BDS is ineffectual.”

        And yet you just argued that trade between Israel and Europe was growing, and that we who support BDS are wasting our time. You can’t even keep your own talking points straight.

      • hophmi
        August 14, 2012, 2:13 pm

        “And yet you just argued that trade between Israel and Europe was growing, and that we who support BDS are wasting our time. You can’t even keep your own talking points straight.”

        Learn to read. I don’t believe BDS is ineffectual. It’s not my believe. It is cold hard fact that it is ineffectual. Are we clear now?

        “You still haven’t supported your statement that international activists are responsible for the Likud government being in power. ”

        The BDS activists make it easy for the right to tar the left in Israel with the BDS smear and synonymous liberal Zionism with anti-Zionism.

        “Is the Israeli population ever responsible for it’s own bad choices?

        Are the Palestinians? They elected Hamas.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 4:56 pm

        “I am a small minority in a room that is overwhelmingly against me.”

        You forgot to add that the door is locked, and you’re attached with iron rings bolted to the walls. That’s what makes it soooo unfair. You can’t leave, and gee, we won’t let anybody else like you in. (There’s an app attached to the registration page which detects and prohibits Zionists from posting. Clever, no? Diabolical, but clever!)

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 4:59 pm

        And as far as the”hyperventilating” goes, Hophmi, I’m supposed to sit here and let you make us look like idiotic bigots without a word of protest? Why, what would you do if somebody here said “Darfur isn’t important, we should send money to Israel instead of feeding those Ethiopians” Why you would protest that immediately, wouldn’t you?

        So please Hophmi, tell me what I should do, as a Jew.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 5:29 pm

        What the…Oy! Where am I? Oh, I must have dozed off for a minute. Had the worst dream, a nightmare. I was asking somebody, an American non-Jew for something, I needed an extension, or credit or something, and he just kept laughing and saying “Trust you? Ha! I’ve seen the kind of arguments and rhetoric Hophmi uses on Mondoweiss! No way I’m believing anything you say!”
        I’d better go get some coffee, that was an upsetting little dream. Just a dream, tho, it can’t hurt me…

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 5:39 pm

        “I am a small minority in a room that is overwhelmingly against me.”

        Well, where’s the rest of your gang? Your compadres? Your Irgun Squad? Bring em on! No reason why you have to subject yourself to an unfair fight. Why there must be scads of people out there eager to associate themselves with your “facts” and your way of arguing. What Jew wouldn’t be proud, button-bursting-proud to associate themselves with your point of view and way of expressing it.
        OMIGAWD, here they come now, snapping their fingers, and singing their song:
        When you’re a Jew,
        You’re a Jew all the way,
        From your first little bris
        til they cart you away!
        You’re never alone, you’re never unprotected….
        (Apologies to S. Soundheim)

      • chinese box
        August 15, 2012, 8:28 am

        “Learn to read. I don’t believe BDS is ineffectual. It’s not my believe. It is cold hard fact that it is ineffectual. ”

        BDS has a long way to go, but most boycotts aren’t successful overnight. If it doesn’t concern you at all I have to question why you spend so much time carrying on here.

        “The BDS activists make it easy for the right to tar the left in Israel with the BDS smear and synonymous liberal Zionism with anti-Zionism.”

        First of all, if you’re referring to the Labor Party, it doesn’t constitute “the Left”. The Labor Party has been complicit in the occupation and settlement-building. It’s part of the problem.

        Secondly, I question whether the majority of Israelis have even heard of BDS in their hermetic information bubble. Do you have any actual data to prove that BDS activism caused elections to go to Likud?

        Lastly, even if BDS did sway the election, the blame lies with Israeli society for it’s total lack of self-examination, not BDS. And in the end it doesn’t matter that much. If the Labor Party gets in more peace processing that only serve to provide jobs for Dennis Ross and Aaron David Miller, and the world will turn a blind eye to the settlement-building because there’s a “peace process” again.

        No change is going to come from within Israel. They wouldn’t even talk about Palestine at the J14, for Christ’s sake. That’s why BDS is necessary. But I suspect you know all this already. Your agenda is to promote the status quo and dupe a few uninformed lurkers or posters along the way.

  4. Carowhat
    August 13, 2012, 3:36 pm

    I see one reason for Americans to vigorously criticize Israel long and hard. It is the only country that has threatened to bomb Iran before our presidential election, an action, if carried out, will involve the US into a war we don’t need, can’t afford, which shatter our ailing economy, plunge us into a decades long depression and make America as much of an international pariah as Israel already is. Anyone who says we can’t criticize Israel is nuts. Look what she’s threatening to do to us.

  5. pipistro
    August 13, 2012, 3:42 pm

    If nothing else, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe don’t claim at all to be the the light unto the nations or to have the most moral army in the world. And above all, one thing is to be a thug among the others, another is to fight with alacrity to gain a 1st prize as the “night” unto the nations.
    By the way, in the age of the internet, the trick of repeating a lie enough times to turn it into truth doesn’t work any more.

  6. American
    August 13, 2012, 4:00 pm

    ““We all intuitively understand the rationale for focusing on those offenses over which we have more control, even if they are not the most egregious. If that weren’t the case, how could an American justify focusing her attention on the misdeeds of the government of the United States?”

    Check.
    People tend to focus on what they can do something about..or at least ‘think’ they can do something about.

    Add to what adds to the world singling out Israel.
    1) The holocaust victim Hypocriscy in what they’ve done to the Palestines.
    2) The inane propaganda and obvious lying that make the hypocriscy even more infurating.
    3) Israel putting itself ‘above’ all laws other nations would be expected and or required to go by.
    4) Basically making the world watch them beat the shit out of people and steal everything they have, while at the same time giving us all the finger, demanding money so they can keep doing it and telling us all at every opportunity to go F*** ourselves if we don’t like it.

    Added to for Americans in particular:
    1) How Israel has involved us.
    2)How the US could stop it but won’t.
    3) Because zionist and foreigners took over our politicians and policy.
    $) How they deceived and propagandized the US public for just this purpose so no active popular outcry would arise to intefer with their’ use’ of America.
    4) What it cost us.
    5) The impact of I/P on the US reputation around the world.

    It all adds up. They are asking for it…been asking for it for a long long time.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    August 13, 2012, 5:12 pm

    RE: the post “Why Israel is ‘singled out’”, by Joel Doerfler

    MY COMMENT: Nicely stated, Mr. Doerfler!

    RE: “As an American Jew, I find the Jewish Establishment’s thuggish efforts to whitewash Israeli crimes, exploit Islamophobia, muzzle dissent, and prevent the U.S. from framing a coherent foreign policy to be especially deplorable (not to mention, dangerous).” ~ Joel Doerfler

    MY COMMENT: I fear that Revisionist Zionism and Likudnik Israel (specifically by virtue of their inordinate sway over the U.S.) might very well be an “existential threat” to the values of The Enlightenment ! ! !

    • ALSO SEE: ‘Israelis are helping write US laws, fund US campaigns, craft US war policy’, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 6/30/12
    LINK – link to mondoweiss.net
    • AND SEE: “America Adopts the Israel Paradigm”, by Philip Ghiraldi, Antiwar.com, 7/05/12
    LINK – link to original.antiwar.com
    • AND SEE: “Report: Israeli model underlies militarization of U.S. police”, By Muriel Kane, Raw Story, 12/04/11
    LINK – link to rawstory.com

    P.S. AND HERE’S ANOTHER THREAT TO THE VALUES OF “THE ENLIGHTENMENT”:
    “US Religious Right Propelling Homophobia in African Countries”, by Common Dreams, 7/24/12
    LINK – link to commondreams.org

    • Carowhat
      August 13, 2012, 8:58 pm

      You’re right Dickerson. Israel is an existential threat to the United States. By attacking Iran she could involve us in a war which would put the country in a depression. And when we come out of it 20 years from now we won’t be a first world nation anymore, let alone a superpower.

  8. MHughes976
    August 13, 2012, 5:25 pm

    Something that is wrong doesn’t cease to be wrong because something else is wrong too.

    • Fredblogs
      August 13, 2012, 5:43 pm

      No, but something that is normal and/or justified doesn’t become wrong just because you take it out of context either. See, the original author is wrong about “other countries do it” admitting that Israel is doing something wrong. For example, there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures. The U.S. does it all the time. Israel does too. There is nothing wrong with demolishing houses built without permission on public land, the U.S. does that. So does Israel.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 13, 2012, 8:32 pm

        “For example, there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures.”

        Yeah, and if the way they become “unpermitted” is based on bigotry and racism, well that’s just how the israelis roll…

      • William Burns
        August 13, 2012, 10:16 pm

        Israel does this in the context of systematically denying persons of the disfavored minority groups permits, and does not demolish houses built on public land by Jews. Everybody who comments on this blog knows this, so stop wasting our time.

      • talknic
        August 13, 2012, 10:46 pm

        Fredblogs August 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

        “something that is normal and/or justified doesn’t become wrong just because you take it out of context either”

        Israel is acting outside of its legal sovereign extent. You’re the one taking it out of context.

        “or example, there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures. The U.S. does it all the time.”<

        In the US.

        “Israel does too”

        Outside of Israel.

        “There is nothing wrong with demolishing houses built without permission on public land, the U.S. does that.”

        In the US.

        ” So does Israel.”

        Outside of Israel. Israeli civil law has absolutely no jurisdiction outside of Israel.

      • Philip Munger
        August 13, 2012, 11:34 pm

        there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures.

        — the last time I went to get a permit to build a structure, I filled out a two-page form, turned it in, paid my small fee, and was issued a permit. Not sure it is that easy to get such paper work for Palestinians, Fb. Had I had to go through what most Palestinians seeking to build go through, I would probably have regarded the process as “something wrong.”

      • Kathleen
        August 15, 2012, 8:37 am

        Especially when it is your land or Israel tore down your home that had been there

      • thankgodimatheist
        August 14, 2012, 12:11 am

        “unpermitted structures.”
        Unpermitted by whom? An occupying colony? Those structures very often preexisted your racist ethnocentric entity. Is there still a need for evidence that the objective is to clear Palestinian land of its inhabitants and settling it? Whom are you trying to embezzle again?

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars
        August 14, 2012, 1:47 am

        “For example, there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures.”

        So by extension, it sounds that Fredblogs has solved the settlements issue : All structures settlements’ structures being illegal under international law should knocked down. Simple ! … I’ll be glad to help !

      • ColinWright
        August 14, 2012, 2:57 am

        “…For example, there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures…”

        Of course, Israel essentially refuses to issue permits for Palestinians structures.

        So really, it’s a bit like if I refuse to let you buy food and then bust you for shoplifting, isn’t it?

      • Fredblogs
        August 14, 2012, 1:47 pm

        Actually, about half of the Palestinian’s permit requests in Jerusalem are granted. I don’t know what the ratio is in the parts of the West Bank under Israeli administration.

      • Shmuel
        August 14, 2012, 2:19 pm

        Actually, about half of the Palestinian’s permit requests in Jerusalem are granted.

        Fiddled statistics and cherrypicked nonsense (courtesy of Camera) that includes permits requested by Jews in East Jerusalem, and fails to take into account the tiny amount of land on which Palestinians are allowed to build in the first place, extensive public construction for Jews only (and none for Palestinians), and a host of other circumstances and policies specifically designed to maintain a large Jewish majority in Jerusalem. To claim that no such discrimination exists – as a matter of policy – is extremely dishonest.

        For an honest look at discriminatory housing policy in Jerusalem, see e.g. link to eng.ir-amim.org.il

        I don’t know what the ratio is in the parts of the West Bank under Israeli administration.

        There is a wealth of information on discriminatory construction policies in the WB. You can start here: link to btselem.org

        If you’d like a little more detail, there’s this report: link to eng.bimkom.org

      • eGuard
        August 14, 2012, 5:24 am

        Fredblogs: there is nothing wrong with knocking down unpermitted structures. U.S. does it all the time. Israel does too.

        Not the settlements, though they are not permitted. That is racism, Fredblogs.

      • MHughes976
        August 14, 2012, 10:39 am

        There is no inherent wrong in demolishing structures whose original construction was rightfully refused permission, though even then there might, depending on circumstances, be incidental wrong if the demolition were to cause great suffering. However that may be, Doerfler’s argument was not about attempts to show that certain things done by Israel are not wrong at all but about attempts to sweep aside condemnation of them by making reference to other things. Yet a wrong done in Bolivia does not cease to be wrong because of something similar done in Australia.

  9. ahadhaadam
    August 13, 2012, 8:11 pm

    There are two very simple explanations:

    For one, Israel’s crimes are nothing but minor: both ethnic cleansing and apartheid are recognized as crimes against humanity, i.e. the most severe crimes a state can engage in, on par with genocide – and they have been going on since Israel’s establishment at various intensities and levels.

    The second one of course is that if there was a worldwide boycott or sanctions against it, we wouldn’t have to be so active in raising consciousness and calling for sanctions. And since Israel’s government is elected, Israelis cannot even claim that a mad dictator is carrying out these policies without their consent. In essence, it’s the most justified boycott where the entire populace is accomplice to these crime.

    The double standard is glaring: when Saddam invaded Kuwait it didn’t take more than a few weeks before the US, under the pretext of enforcing international law, organized a coalition and drove him out. With Israel, it’s quite the opposite – if anything the US will send troops to defend Israel’s occupation of its neighbors lands…

    • RoHa
      August 13, 2012, 9:34 pm

      There is one very simple explanation.

      We are fed up with the constant whining and lying.

    • YoungMassJew
      August 13, 2012, 10:41 pm

      @ ahadhaadam
      Well said.

    • Fredblogs
      August 14, 2012, 1:49 pm

      Kuwait hadn’t attacked Iraq or threatened it in any way. Jordan and Egypt were in the process of launching a full scale invasion of Israel when Israel preemptively struck them in the Six Day War.

      • marc b.
        August 14, 2012, 2:41 pm

        Kuwait hadn’t attacked Iraq or threatened it in any way.

        a. kuwait and iraq had long-standing disputes over kuwait’s ‘creative’ drilling practices, kuwait arguably pilfering oil from iraqi fields.
        b. the US (april glaspie) seemingly gave iraq the ‘go ahead’ on military action, indicating that any iraqi incursion into kuwait would be a matter for those two nations to hash out.

        Jordan and Egypt were in the process of launching a full scale invasion of Israel when Israel preemptively struck them in the Six Day War.

        you left out my favorite part: it’s not ‘preemptively struck’, the full term is ‘preemptive counterattack’. geddit? this tactic permits israel to launch a counterattack in response to . . . ? nothing. jordan and egypt were not ‘in the process of launching a full scale invasion’. as i remember, the IAF initiated the war when it flew its fighters into egyptian air space, intentionally pulling into egyptian radar, then releasing heat-seeking missiles against taxing egyptian fighters, still on the tarmac. certainly a smart tactic, but not a response to an imminent invasion. that was the military move the set the war off, if i got it right.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 14, 2012, 2:57 pm

        Kuwait hadn’t attacked Iraq or threatened it in any way.

        when iraq went to war with iran as our proxy and kuwait’s proxy they expected to be funded for the eight years of blood and treasure just like other countries chipped in and split the bill when we invaded in the 92 gulf war. that is not unusual, germany and even japan helped fund that war as i recall. but kuwait was demanding iraq pay them back and there was a meeting set up, in kuwait, to discuss the debt from the iran/iraq war. the US, allegedly, told saddam they would back him standing up to kuwait over that debt. then they didn’t.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 14, 2012, 3:11 pm

        “Jordan and Egypt were in the process of launching a full scale invasion of Israel when Israel preemptively struck them in the Six Day War.”

        Eban Abba and Menachem Begin admitted that the Arab states weren’t going to attack and that Israel was the agressor. But what the fuck did they know? Right, Fredo?

      • ColinWright
        August 14, 2012, 4:30 pm

        “… Jordan and Egypt were in the process of launching a full scale invasion of Israel when Israel preemptively struck them in the Six Day War.”

        First off, that’s fantasy. Secondly, it begins in mid-stream — as if all this wasn’t preceded by Zionist aggression to begin with. One might as well start an account of World War Two in 1944 and argue that the Germans weren’t the aggressors.

        Tell us about all the Palestinian attacks on international Jewry before the Zionists began attempting to take over Palestine.

      • Kathleen
        August 15, 2012, 8:39 am

        At least you admitted Israel started that war and attacked preemptively

  10. ahadhaadam
    August 13, 2012, 8:45 pm

    Let’s also not forget the fact that Israel was established through ethnic cleansing and the prevention of refugees from returning to their homes. In fact, the powers that are the “international community”, i.e. the West, have been complicit and have turned a blind eye to the refugees for 64 years now, preferring to finance the problem instead of solving it, just like they are doing now with the occupation.

    Israel should never have been admitted to the UN and no country should have recognized this rogue state as long as it prevented refugees from returning to their homes.

    Let’s face it: Israel has always been a criminal gang under the guise of a state: it was created by criminal gangs and ethnic cleansers who even assassinated UN envoys. And just like any criminal gang, it views itself as not bound by treaties, the laws of warfare or humanity in general.

  11. radkelt
    August 13, 2012, 10:17 pm

    To justify any action “because America does it also” is seriously insane. America
    is number one again! historically in terms of innocents killed and semi-successful
    genocide.
    As to “existential threat”, I doubt any Israeli feels it more keenly than I. War with
    Iran can reasonably be expected to result in global radioactive contamination.
    About singleing out Israeli compared to other states human rights transgressions,
    I say when their PM gets 28 standing ovations in the US Congress, when they get
    $3 billion plus (part of which I was compelled to contribute) then I will oppose them vigorously.
    P.S. Thank you Mooser for your enlightening response to my recent post.

    • Mooser
      August 14, 2012, 5:23 pm

      “P.S. Thank you Mooser for your enlightening response to my recent post.”

      That is extremely kind of you to say, and I appreciate it greatly. Thanks.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 10:25 pm

        I found the post and my reply, and I owe you even more appreciation than I thought. Thanks again.

  12. Kathleen
    August 13, 2012, 11:46 pm

    Besides Israel being in the wrong on the building and expansion of illegal settlements, being in violation of more UN resolutions than any other nation, being unwilling to sign the very Non Proliferation treaty that they demand their neighbors abide by…Israel’s continued illegal and immoral expansion of illegal settlements etc ARE A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT FOR THE U.S. Former and present CIA analyst say this, Dr. Zbig, Former President Jimmy Carter, Former weapons inspectors, the 9/11 report even states this. ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL ACTIONS ARE A SECURITY THREAT FOR THE U.S……AND ISRAEL

  13. Darcha
    August 14, 2012, 1:27 am

    The ‘poor Israel’ argument is particularly weak when it comes to Syria. Just some back-of-the-envelope calculations:

    Cast Lead
    1400/22 days=64 per day; 1300/22=59 per day

    Syria (to 8/8/12)
    /487 days (8.8.12)
    Wikipedia high 28,795 = 59.2 per day
    Wikipedia low 21,050 = 43.2 per day
    Wikipedia average 24,922 = 51.2 per day
    Syrian Opposition (to 5/8/12) (link to en.wikipedia.org) 23,593 = 48.5 per day
    CNN (12/8/12)18,000 = 36.6 per day

    Civilians:
    Cast Lead: 700 = 32 per day
    Syria:
    Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (to 13/8/12) — (link to batchgeo.com ) 3,070= 6.2 per day
    UN (link to huffingtonpost.com) (to 27/3/12) 9,000 = 25 per day
    Wikipedia high (50% of total casualties) 14,397 = 30 per day
    Wikipedia low (50% of total casualties) 10,525 = 21 per day
    Wikipedia average (50% of total casualties) 12,461 = 26 per day

    Further, in Syria, there are escape routes for civilians to flee the fighting; Gaza was like shooting fish in a barrel. Fixed-wing aircraft? Check. Helicopter gunships? Check. DIME munitions? Not Syria. White phosphorous in population centers? Not Syria. Captive child human shields? Haven’t heard anything about Syria.

    Double standards anyone?

  14. ColinWright
    August 14, 2012, 3:03 am

    The analogy I’ve always been happy with is that if a teenager takes to stealing cars, that’s deplorable. If teenager happens to be my own son, it’s horrifying, it’s intolerable, and it’s incumbent upon me to do something about it.

    Since we here in the US largely made it possible for Israel to come into being, since we protect her, and since we nurture her, we are responsible for her behavior.

    If Israel actually would be independent, if she would go her own way without asking for or receiving anything from us, then indeed the plaint that she is being ‘singled out’ might have some validity.

    But she isn’t, so it doesn’t. The protest is no more valid than if my hypothetically car-stealing son protests that I’m not doing anything about all the other teenagers stealing cars.

  15. clubroma
    August 14, 2012, 3:50 am

    Please save the United States from Isreal !!!

    • Gene
      August 14, 2012, 11:36 am

      It’s not only the US that needs to be saved although I recognize that the US-Israel partnership is used to keep the others in line.

      As Ewa Jasiewicz said:

      “We are all complicit in the reproduction and reinforcement of the occupation — it is an international occupation, it is an international issue, …”

      It’s not about “singling out Israel”; it’s about Resistance to Occupation not only of Palestine, but of our countries, our lives, our minds.

      [See here.]

  16. NickJOCW
    August 14, 2012, 6:47 am

    One reason, surely, is that Israel is a Middle Eastern nation seeking to be accepted as Western. All over the world there are those who mistreat others and one feels bad about it, but Syria, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, KSA, DCR, Zimbabwe etc. have no pretensions to be taken as Western. A Saudi employer mistreating a Philippine maid in Riyadh is one thing but if she wished to be accepted in a US neighborhood and join the PTA it would become quite another.

    • ColinWright
      August 14, 2012, 4:18 pm

      “…One reason, surely, is that Israel is a Middle Eastern nation seeking to be accepted as Western…”

      You say this with the implication that Israel therefore intends to adopt Western values.

      I would say that on the contrary, she expects the West to adopt her values — the blatant disregard of law, the worship of force, the overt and vicious racism, the unbridled chauvinism — as our own.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 10:31 pm

        “I would say that on the contrary, she expects the West to adopt her values — the blatant disregard of law, the worship of force, the overt and vicious racism, the unbridled chauvinism — as our own.”

        Man, you Israel-chauvinists get my goat! What do you mean, “adopt her values”? “Blatant disregard of law, the worship of force, the overt and vicious racism,” and “unbridled chauvinism” are all things we do plenty well here in the good ol’ USA. God damit, I’ll give you the cherry tomatoes, but when you Israel-boosters start stealing credit for our real accomplishments, I get mad. Just one example: Sure Israel is pretty rotten to the Palestinians, but did Israel ever have legal, lifetime slavery? So don’t give me this Israel invented everything jazz, I know better. And the US had Jim Crow almost a hundred years before Israel tried it. You guys are always trying to take credit for everything!

    • chinese box
      August 14, 2012, 8:53 pm

      I would say that it’s not so much an issue of “Western values” as of development and the level of education in the country in question. Whether it’s fair or not, Israel is going to be held to a much higher standard of behavior (by the people of the world, anyway, if not by the US government) than fifth world countries like Myanmar and Sudan.

  17. pabelmont
    August 14, 2012, 9:48 am

    “It’s a beacon of civilized democracy in an ocean of Oriental despotism and barbarism.”

    But consider, please, that Israel (or the Jewish Agency) deliberately chose to locate their new state in the Orient, and despotism was well known in the 1900s. The Ottomans were not cozy-fuzzies, nor were the Arab tribes.

    Had Israel located in a little-used section of, say, Canada or Australia or USA, the comparison would be far more extreme. (Of course, displacing “white” people would not have gone over very well, but that’s a matter of “white” racism rather than Jewish criminality.)

    Historically, the world attempted to formulate “laws of war” BEFORE it attempted to legislate laws of human-rights (i.e., within countries as opposed to, for example, in occupied territories). Thus, comparisons with allegedly nasty Oriental despotisms is irrelevant if the point of comparison is “laws of war” rather than “human rights”. Everything about the expulsions of 1948 and the occupation after 1967 is about “laws of war”.

    The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 were established well before Israel declared independence. “Along with disarmament and obligatory arbitration, both conferences included negotiations concerning the laws of war and war crimes.”

    The updates to the Hague conventions, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, were well in the works, under discussion, substantially agreed to, by the time Israel declared independence. The entire Israeli project was done in direct contemplation of breaking international law from the get-go.

    • libra
      August 14, 2012, 1:16 pm

      Pabelmont: “(Of course, displacing “white” people would not have gone over very well, but that’s a matter of “white” racism rather than Jewish criminality.)”

      I’m struggling with this statement. Was it written ironically? Or is it just an ugly example of anti-racist racism?

      Either way, it explains how easy it is for the Lobby to occupy Capitol Hill. Any resistance would be “white” racism. And we can’t have any of that. No matter what the consequences are for the Middle East. Or for that matter the great majority of American citizens, whether “white” or otherwise.

      • pabelmont
        August 14, 2012, 5:45 pm

        I meant that “white folk” would react badly to Jewish (or any other) displacement of other “white folk”. White pro-white racism. But white folk don’t so much care about depredations, legal or illegal, against people of color. That is how I perceive the white racism I referred to. (Consider the wars of the USA as examples in support of this idea.)

  18. NickJOCW
    August 14, 2012, 11:27 am

    Concepts like fairness and humanity are not universal, rather they belong to a particular branch of Western socio-cultural development. They happen to voiced by the world’s ageing super-power, but not by everyone else, and not by Zionists. There is simply nothing to be gained by trying to reason with a hungry wolf. Better hit him on the nose where it hurts. That he may understand.

    • Woody Tanaka
      August 14, 2012, 1:08 pm

      “Concepts like fairness and humanity are not universal, rather they belong to a particular branch of Western socio-cultural development. ”

      Oh, that’s a load of bigoted horseshit. Concepts like fairness and humanity are universal because they’re part of human nature. Cultures may define them differently (and, frankly, the way the West defines and has defined them is pretty barbaric), but to claim them for yourself is the hight of bigotry.

      • NickJOCW
        August 14, 2012, 3:47 pm

        Woody, Heavens above, I don’t claim them for myself or the West. My point, I am sorry it was not clearer, was simply that they are not universal. If they were we would all be in Eden. Not only are they not universal but large swathes of humanity don’t even pretend they are. As concepts, I consider them to have Hellenic origins (consider the socio-cultural roots of most of those on embargo breaking vessels) but pursuit of that notion would take us way off course. Do you consider settlers have them? If so, how do they sleep nights? If not, how can they be universal?

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 15, 2012, 9:11 am

        The are not universal in the sense that every person holds them. Nothing is universal in that sense. They are universal in the sense that they are not excluive to Western civilization. Claiming such things fairness and humanity (as well as decency, honor, fairness, intelligence, culture, and on and on and on) as being a preserve or gift of the White Man and absent in the scheming cut-throats among the brown, black, red and yellow men of the world is a common theme in the history of imperialism and was as false then as it is today.

      • Kathleen
        August 15, 2012, 8:41 am

        “because they’re part of human nature” Totally agree. And some cultures, religions and families cultivate this thinking and ideals and many do not.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 15, 2012, 9:15 am

        “Totally agree. And some cultures, religions and families cultivate this thinking and ideals and many do not.”

        I think that many of the things which people see as non-cultivation is actually a different cultivation. That’s not to say that there aren’t ways of looking at things that are worse than others. It’s to say that because someone else looks at things different than you do doesn’t mean that they aren’t cultivating the thinking.

        For example, one of the things that Europeans claim about East Asians is that they don’t value or develop individualism. That’s simply not true. They don’t do it in the same manner as Westerners do, and will often suppress it in favor of other values, but it’s not missing. So the Westerners simply suffer from a lack of perspective and information.

    • ColinWright
      August 14, 2012, 4:14 pm

      “Concepts like fairness and humanity are not universal, rather they belong to a particular branch of Western socio-cultural development…”

      Try reading Mencius, among others. It’s offensive to say it, but your remark really reflects only your own ignorance.

      I’m a big fan of Western civilization myself. However, (a) the facts will force one to very, very heavily qualify any chauvinism, and more importantly…

      (b) I totally fail to find in this any need to attack other cultures. I’m really, genuinely not worried that the global caliphate is upon us. I honestly think they can do what they think best, and we can do what we think best, and there’s no need for a quasi-genocidal war on the subject.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2012, 10:37 pm

        “I’m a big fan of Western civilization myself.”

        Wow, Colin, so am I! And if we can get enough people to agree with us, maybe we could try it. It just might work.

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 4:03 am

        Colin, The fact that Mencius and many others have argued for an innate goodness in humankind does not necessarily make it so. Philosophers are concerned not with what is, but why it is. Besides, there is a profound difference between what is possible in the heart of an individual (you for instance) and what actually happens in societies particularly those over a certain size, which most today are. If I look out to the horizons of human activity today I see precious little evidence of humanity or fairness. Considering me ignorant is your privilege, but someone less compassionate than I might respond by considering you to be romantic and unrealistic.

      • ColinWright
        August 15, 2012, 4:18 am

        Nick.

        What you said was this: ““Concepts like fairness and humanity are not universal, rather they belong to a particular branch of Western socio-cultural development…”

        That is an untrue statement.

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 4:49 am

        Colin, if it was my reference to Hellenism that irked you, let me explain. The Hellenistic world viewed evil and punishment through the prism of an Olympian Court where evil was offensive to the Gods and punishment was retribution. I consider that way of looking at things to have been profoundly influential in the development of the Western world, and still to be so.

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 5:21 am

        Colin, Our exchanges are out step. It is only in the Western world or contaminated pockets elsewhere that you encounter voices whining that this or that is unfair. However, let’s leave it, I suspect we are only in terminological disagreement.

      • ColinWright
        August 15, 2012, 5:46 am

        “Colin, if it was my reference to Hellenism that irked you, let me explain. The Hellenistic world viewed evil and punishment through the prism of an Olympian Court where evil was offensive to the Gods and punishment was retribution. I consider that way of looking at things to have been profoundly influential in the development of the Western world, and still to be so.”

        I’m fairly sure that completely misconstrues the moral nature of Greek religion. Their gods were quite amoral, often on different sides, etc. You want to do something, it’s a good idea to enlist the support of the god concerned or at least appease him — but morality had nothing to do with it

        A God or gods that made his judgement based on moral criteria rather than on who had just offered him the biggest sacrifice or just pure whim is more or less a later development, as I understand it. In the Mediterranean and the Middle East, more or less a consequence of universalizing Jehovah, I would guess. Eastern religions I don’t know much about — but certainly a good deal of Buddhism is concerned with concepts of cosmic justice.

        Then there’s Uhuru Mazda and the concept of a struggle between light and dark. However, I just don’t see your claim holding any water to speak of. Fairness and humanity — even if the terms are closely defined — simply weren’t particular monopolies of the West or any particular group in it.

      • ColinWright
        August 15, 2012, 5:53 am

        “It is only in the Western world or contaminated pockets elsewhere that you encounter voices whining that this or that is unfair. “

        First, ‘contaminated pockets elsewhere’ would cover just about everything. What isn’t ‘contaminated’ by the West?

        Second, now you reduce the (universal) desire for justice and the (very widespread) desire for humanity is reduced to ‘voices whining that this or that is unfair.’

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 6:06 am

        Fairness and humanity — even if the terms are closely defined — simply weren’t particular monopolies of the West or any particular group in it.

        I did not claim they were not univeral but that they are not. I don’t see how you can disagree with that.

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 7:15 am

        The ‘morality’ or otherwise of the Greek Gods is not at issue. My point was that they were the ultimate judges of human behaviour whose relentless retribution would fall on high and low, even taking generations to work through. This was not a lip service belief but a profound, all pervading, ever present reality carrying the assurance that in the end no one could get away with anything, and Greek drama regularly evoked emotions intended to preserve that assurance in daily life; a bit like the health warning in a cigarette packet. And, yes, I largely accept your first and second points above although I admit the choice of ‘whining’ is perhaps a shade Swiftian for this Twittering age.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 15, 2012, 9:20 am

        “I don’t see how you can disagree with that.”

        And that is exactly the problem.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 15, 2012, 9:21 am

        “It is only in the Western world or contaminated pockets elsewhere that you encounter voices whining that this or that is unfair. ”

        Bullshit. The concept of and desire for fairness is an inherently human one. (In fact, it isn’t even an excluvively human one, but has been experimentally demonstrated in other primates.)

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 10:19 am

        Woody, it isn’t actually. The whole thing veered off course. My original attempt to contribute to this subject was moderated so what is being quibbled about is a somewhat circumcised alternative that lacks relevance to the issue, Why Israel is singled out.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 15, 2012, 10:40 am

        Well, regardless of whether you think something “veered” off course, any statement that fairness and humanity are Western concepts that the rest of the world doesn’t share is simply rank bigotry suitable for nothing other than a Klan meeting.

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 2:19 pm

        I agree, it would be absurd to claim such values as Western. Or Zionist for that matter. If you accept the latter proposition we are all but back to where we would have been had I not been moderated all that time ago.

      • ColinWright
        August 15, 2012, 2:52 pm

        Nick says: “I did not claim they were not univeral but that they are not. I don’t see how you can disagree with that.”

        That is not what you said. What you said was that ‘fairness and humanity’ were a monopoly of what was delicately termed ‘a particular branch of Western socio-cultural development.’

        That is not true.

      • ColinWright
        August 15, 2012, 2:55 pm

        Nick: “The ‘morality’ or otherwise of the Greek Gods is not at issue. My point was that they were the ultimate judges of human behaviour whose relentless retribution would fall on high and low…”

        I assume that’s an attribute of gods in all theologies — certainly most.

        It wouldn’t be confined to the Greeks. Not that I know the details, but I’ll take a flyer and assume it would apply to the deities of the Maya.

        “…even taking generations to work through.

        It’s possible the notion of collective punishment isn’t as wide-spread — but I suspect it too is all too universal.

      • NickJOCW
        August 15, 2012, 4:10 pm

        Colin, one of the difficulties here, and Woody raised it, is a belief that we are born with concepts of fairness and humanity pre-installed within us, whereas in my view they are acquired through familial, cultural or religious influence. The former view would seem to demand some explanation as to how so many appear to be without them. Mine on the other hand requires no such exegesis since those without them never had them to lose. Of course they are not exclusively Western but in our Western culture they can be traced back to the peculiarity of the Greek mythopoeia that took moral issues out of the hands of men and laid them in the jurisdiction of the Gods. That, in my view was a deeply significant development which still affects our thinking today since

        When ancient Gods like cloudy dreams were slipping from the eye
        Bequeathing their immortal thrones to men who live and die

        the discarded baton was retrieved by Christianity. My contention is simply that that was the route, it had nothing to do with philosophy or theology and was self-evidently Western. My earliest contribution here, the one that was moderated, was intended to question whether a parallel route is traceable from the Abrahamic tradition. I don’t know the answer to that, I have raised the question before but no one could provide an answer which leads me to suspect there may not be one, particularly as my fairly normal familiarity with the Old Testament can’t find one either. If that is so then the ultra orthodox Zionist may be presumed to be without any source of religious, familial or cultural influence towards those values, which might explain their attitudes and behaviour to others and the antipathy it arouses, an antipathy which since their insensitivity is countenanced by Israel itself extends in that direction as well.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 15, 2012, 6:52 pm

        “Colin, one of the difficulties here, and Woody raised it, is a belief that we are born with concepts of fairness and humanity pre-installed within us, whereas in my view they are acquired through familial, cultural or religious influence. The former view would seem to demand some explanation as to how so many appear to be without them.”

        They lose them through familial, cultural or religious influence.

      • NickJOCW
        August 16, 2012, 7:48 am

        Your view is that the settlers were born endowed with concepts of fairness and humanity but lost them along the way. My view is that they never had them to lose. Either way, the reason they behave as they do is because they do not possess them. We agree at last. Hegel would have approved.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 16, 2012, 9:17 am

        “Either way, the reason they behave as they do is because they do not possess them. We agree at last. ”

        No, we don’t agree. I don’t know whether they do not possess them or if they do possess them but ignore them, if the use a justification to override those principle or a myriad of other things. I would say that they are not exercising those traits, however.

    • pabelmont
      August 14, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Agreed. Israel has never reacted to the many disapproving words UNSC and EU and USA have spoken. Words have no effect whatever on people bent on getting whatever is available to be gotten. The criminal statutes (words) do not prevent crime.

      Actions are needed. And that is why the USA, which allowed the no-teeth UNSC 465 (1980) (demanding removal of all settlers and dismantlement of all settlements) vetoed so many other UNSC draft resolutions, especially any that had “teeth” (i.e., which leaned toward enforcement rather than mere exhortation).

  19. badger
    August 17, 2012, 11:32 am

    As a European have no choice but to focus on Israel as it is a wannabee European nation. They play in European Sports tournaments like with football and have been given the under 21 European Football Tournament next year, they enter the Eurovision Song Contest, winning it a few years ago so the subsequent contest was held in Israel. Want preferential trading status…
    If they don’t want Europeans to focus in on then then stop trying to be one of us, can’t have your cake and eat it.
    We are also regularly told we owe the Jews because of the Holocaust regardless of our nation or the fact that it was during past generations though it is not mentioned that any debt owed should be shared with the Romany who still are heavily persecuted and have no homeland or heavy financial support with preferential treatment, those with disabilities or gays all of whom were also targeted. The debt would also have to be shared with those of the former USSR due to the largest number of deaths being from those nations, and for that matter our ancestors who also gave their lives to defeat fascism.
    To them who much support has been given over the the last 50 years much will be required, to them who little or no support has been given little can be expected especially if instead of support a blind eye was turned to their oppression. It is sad that those who have suffered much think it is now ok to pass that suffering on to others.
    I am not anti Jewish or an anti-Semite, I would happily support them but not when their actions are oppressive to a whole people because of the actions of a few. To argue that the punishment of the whole Palestinian people because of the rockets fired by a few is nothing short of evil, this is shown by the number of deaths of innocent people from each side by the action of each side. It is like the British army having attacked all in Northern Ireland in response to the bombing on the UK mainland by the IRA rather than the response that was taken that has lead to the present ongoing peace. Or should that be thrown away each time there is an incident? It is like the black Africans in South Africa taking revenge on every white because of the years of apartheid rather than the response they showed. They have shown themselves to be of a higher moral standing, being more civilised, seeking to go forward rather than get stuck in the past cycle. It is the responsibility of the powerful to take the risks as the British and South African governments did. Not expecting the IRA and their ilk to no longer be a threat and not having a paddy every time they were attacked, similarly the response in South Africa to racists attacks.
    It is time the Israeli Govt showed similar strength instead of passing laws and funding strategies that create a preferential standing to those of Jewish antecedents over other Jewish Citizens or should we in European countries pass laws that place those not of European Blood are put at a disadvantage. That would include Jews of course no matter how long they have lived in Europe. I presume the Zionists would agree with that as that is what is being done in Israel though I don’t.

    • hophmi
      August 17, 2012, 12:23 pm

      “any debt owed should be shared with the Romany who still are heavily persecuted and have no homeland or heavy financial support with preferential treatment, ‘

      You hit the nail on the head. And the way the Romani are treated are exactly why it is offensive to suggest that the Jews should have stayed in Europe.

      And by the way, Europe is not “supporting” Israel. It is trading with it. Israel has been self-sufficient for a long time now. And those who do receive slave labor and survivor pensions from the Germans do not owe them a thank you card.

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