The chutzpah of hasbara

Israel/Palestine
on 15 Comments

First there was the “voluntary” birth control injection of Ethiopian immigrants. Now now we have the secret “voluntary” repatriation of 1000 Sudanese back to Sudan, where even Israel concedes their lives are in danger. From “Haaretz”:

Israel has “voluntarily” returned at least 1,000 people to Sudan, an enemy country that has vowed to punish any of its citizens who ever set foot in Israel.

In the past, the state has said in court that Israel doesn’t deport Sudanese nationals, because “Sudan and Israel are enemy states, such that a Sudanese national who has set foot in Israel can’t return to his country for fear of his life, or so he claims.” …

Aside from the fact that Israel and Sudan are enemies, Sudanese law explicitly forbids its citizens to enter Israel. Its passports even state that they are valid for entry to every country except Israel…

In September 2007, Sudan’s foreign minister said that for a Sudanese to reside in Israel was a criminal offense. The UN’s stance on the issue is also clear. Michael Bavli, UNHCR’s representative in Israel, warned the Population, Immigration and Border Authority that “deporting Sudanese to Sudan would be the gravest violation possible of the convention that Israel has signed – a crime never before committed.”

One of Hasbara’s talking points is that the international community holds Israel to different standards than they do other countries. They are certainly right about that. Is it even conceivable that another “western” country would do something like this, let alone get away with it– without being met by world wide moral outrage and revulsion? The same can be said as well about Israel’s “uncivilized” neighbors; they would be judged harshly for such conduct.

No country likes having downtrodden foreigners sneaking over its borders. But in this day and age, only Israel has the chutzpah, moral self righteousness, and the feeling of immunity to do what by any definition is morally repugnant. 

Why do I say “chutzpah?”

The decision-makers in Israel and their intellectual supporters have been lecturing us for decades on how the restrictive immigration policies of western countries in the first half of the 20th century that kept many Jews out was motivated by anti-Semitism. That the governments of these countries and their populations didn’t want tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of refugees who looked differently, spoke a different language, and seemed entirely foreign– that was not a good enough explanation for their having tightened their borders.

For these thinkers the explanation that people want to live with their own was just an apology for anti- Semitism. And this understanding has taken root. Now when right wing European politicians complain about the “open borders” in their countries they are labeled by many as racists and reactionaries. 

Which leads us to today’s story. How has Israel handled its unwanted visitors?

Nothing infuriates supporters of Israel more than the Nazi analogy. But if you compare the statements from Nazi leaders in the mid 1930’s about Jews to some Israeli politicians’ diatribes against the (very minor) African influx, you would be hard-pressed to see a difference. Describing the stranger in their midst as “a cancer” and “vermin” seems to be popular with fascists everywhere.

How does the “light unto the nations” deal with with this cognitive dissonance? How can Israel’s supporters be so judgmental of countries that want to be homogeneous as Israel itself does such morally reprehensible things? Why does the ADL hardly utter a peep about Israel’s policies?

I think part of the explanation involves ethnocentrism. When non-Jewish parents prefer that their child marries one of their own or when a country club prefers not to have Jews or blacks as members, many Jews say these attitudes reflect bias, prejudice and racism. They believe there is nothing “real” or natural on the part of such people to want to be with their own.

It is almost a false consciousness. There is nothing intrinsic that make these non-Jewish people alike. If they’re not welcoming to “the other,” it doesn’t come out of the way they feel about their own group but more based on the prejudice they feel towards other people. But the Jewish people– and nation– are different. Nothing compares to the way one Jew feels for another. The identity that Jews feel as Jews is incomparable to any identity that any member of another group can feel about his or her group. Thus mainstream Jewish leaders can publicly (and unselfconsciously) describe the high rate of Jewish intermarriage as like a holocaust without giving a second thought to how that sounds to the rest of America.

Their ethnocentricity is so strong that they don’t even realize that other people are ethno-centric too.

So Israel does what it needs to do to keep Israel “pure.” The world needs to realize that certain morally dubious activities by Israel aimed at stopping the defilement of the Jewish people can be compared with what other countries should or should not be allowed to do under similar circumstances.

15 Responses

  1. seafoid
    February 28, 2013, 11:05 am

    “So Israel does what it needs to do to keep Israel “pure”

    Swiss rightwingers would say the same about World War 2.
    link to history-switzerland.geschichte-schweiz.ch

    But it wasn’t right then and it isn’t right now.

  2. Avi_G.
    February 28, 2013, 12:09 pm

    Ya’kov,

    It’s not even that, though your article is very good. The problem here is that Israel fomented the very conflict that caused this refugee problem. It poured and poured weapons and money into it and then sat by the sidelines and complained about those black Africans staining its white character.

  3. seafoid
    February 28, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Israeli minister calls on Israeli directors to make hasbara friendly movies

    link to haaretz.com

    “For that reason,” Livnat continued in her letter, “I, who am opposed to censorship, call on all of you to [conduct] self-censorship. After all, Israel is a democracy to be proud of but a democracy goes into self-defense mode when ranged against five broken cameras are thousands of families that have been destroyed by Palestinian terror. You do nothing about that − you don’t make movies, you are living in a movie …”

    • a blah chick
      February 28, 2013, 7:20 pm

      “I, who am opposed to censorship, call on all of you to [conduct] self-censorship…”
      Translation: not in front of the gentiles.

      But she might be onto something, I for one would like to see a stirring film documenting the Great Cottage Cheese War or perhaps how a group of brave commandos overcame, AGAINST TREMENDOUS ODDS a group of hellish Turks wielding chairs and sticks. But perhaps they should keep it personal, like a profile of the nice Army guy Eisner, who was forced to hit people in the face with his rifle butt.

  4. doug
    February 28, 2013, 12:54 pm

    I’ve known a lot of Mormons and they tend to have at least as strong a group identity as the Jews I know. Big difference is they love to out-marry. But only if the outsider converts. Jews allow conversion but make it non-trivial and don’t encourage it. Mormons live to convert but are friendly enough and almost always leave you alone once you make clear you aren’t interested.

    However, while the Jews I’ve had the most interaction with do have a distinct sense of being Jewish, they haven’t been in any negative sense clannish or treating outsiders differently or adversely.

    Of course that is only my experience.

  5. Citizen
    February 28, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Think more Americans might come to this site out of curiosity at least, if the headline was: “The gall of Establishment Jewish propaganda”?

  6. talknic
    February 28, 2013, 2:04 pm

    To a great extent, much of today’s International Law, Conventions and UN Charter were adopted in large part because of the Nazi treatment Jewish people.

    The irony of the Jewish State’s behaviour appears to go un-noticed by those who condone and support those illegal actions, in order to keep supporting them..

    And the irony here in the Jewish Virtual Library
    link to pages.citebite.com
    Most people who are familiar with [th. ..r .f ..d…n…c.] and the [..k.a], are also familiar with the extent [……..] went to, in order to determine [……..] of pure [……] descent, to ensure a pure [……] nation. All kinds of criteria was used including [..lm] showing [….] types, and the testing of pure [….] by determining their genealogical [……] purity. Of course, this was used for the express purpose of weeding out […..] or other non-pure [……] blood. For example, [……..] wishing to join the […… ..t…] had to undergo rigorous questioning to determine their genealogy. These documents are important to us for they show the methods used by the [……..] in all walks of life to exclude […..] from [……..] society. The item shown is such a document. It was used to determine that the applicant for the […… …..] in this case was a full blooded [……] whose parents and grandparents were also pure […..]. This document was used in [……] and is dated 194[.]. To go one step further, to join the dreaded [..s.a.], one had to fill out an additional document going back to great great grandparents to determine a pure blood […]. These documents are rare and important, insofar as they tell us, in the most devious ways possible, the extent to which the [……..] tried to foster a pure blood [……] race. It is a very rare and collectible document of the period. One wonders how the Jewish State’s orders will be looked upon a few years from now

  7. lysias
    February 28, 2013, 2:28 pm

    The decision-makers in Israel and their intellectual supporters have been lecturing us for decades on how the restrictive immigration policies of western countries in the first half of the 20th century that kept many Jews out was motivated by anti-Semitism.

    Chutzpah indeed, considering that the Zionists and their supporters were among the chief supporters of keeping those Jewish refugees out (so that they would have to go to Palestine/Israel).

  8. goldmarx
    February 28, 2013, 2:54 pm

    “Why does the ADL hardly utter a peep about Israel’s policies?”

    Because they’re too busy condemning Seth MacFarlane and Joan Rivers. Joan Rivers was condemned today by Abe Foxman for telling this joke: “I haven’t see a German this hot since he was shoving Jews into the ovens!” (Both Rivers and Foxman are Holocaust survivors)

    If Joan keeps this up, she will find herself hosting the Oscars next year.

  9. WinstonSmith714
    February 28, 2013, 3:59 pm

    i had to look up “hasbara” online and Citizen is correct. propaganda of the Zioniest kind.

    “Nothing infuriates supporters of Israel more than the Nazi analogy.”

    i’ve done that too. Gaza Ghetto.

  10. Erasmus
    February 28, 2013, 4:10 pm

    Re: “First there was the “voluntary” birth control injection of Ethiopian immigrants. Now now we have the secret “voluntary” repatriation of 1000 Sudanese back to Sudan, where even Israel concedes their lives are in danger.”

    That news makes no big headlines.

    BUT this one:
    First woman of Ethiopian origin becomes ‘Miss Israel’

    Yityish Aynaw, 21, hopes that winning Israeli beauty queen pageant will pave the way for a career in modeling.
    By Haaretz | 10:00 28.02.13 |
    link to haaretz.com

    What an open, non racist and non-discriminatory democracy we are.
    You see?

  11. DICKERSON3870
    February 28, 2013, 4:54 pm

    RE: “Why do I say ‘chutzpah’? The decision-makers in Israel and their intellectual supporters have been lecturing us for decades on how the restrictive immigration policies of western countries in the first half of the 20th century that kept many Jews out was motivated by anti-Semitism.” ~ Yakov Hirsch

    FOR MORE EVIDENCE OF CHUTZPAH ON THE PART OF THE DECISION-MAKERS IN ISRAEL AND THEIR SUPPORTERS, SEE THESE EXCERPTS FROM “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict”, Third Edition (2001), Published by ‘Jews for Justice in the Middle East’:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . “In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” ~ John Quigley, ‘Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice’
    “It was summed up in the meeting [of the Jewish Agency’s Executive on June 26, 1938] that the Zionist thing to do ‘is belittle the [Evian] Conference as far as possible and to cause it to decide nothing… ~ Israeli author Boas Evron, ‘Jewish State or Israeli Nation?’
    “[Ben-Gurion stated] ‘If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second — because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of
    the Jewish people.’ In the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, Ben-Gurion commented that ‘the human conscience’ might bring various countries to open their doors to Jewish refugees from Germany. He saw this as a threat and warned: ‘Zionism is in danger.’” ~ Israeli historian, Tom Segev, ‘The Seventh Million’

    Roosevelt’s advisor writes on why Jewish refugees were not offered sanctuary in the U.S. after WWII

    “[Roosevelt] proposed a world budget for the easy migration of the 500,000 beaten people of Europe. Each nation should open its doors for some thousands of refugees… So he suggested that during my trips for him to England during the war I sound out in a general, unofficial manner the leaders of British public opinion, in and out of the government…The simple answer: Great Britain will match the United States, man for man, in admissions from Europe…It seemed all settled. With the rest of the world probably ready to give haven to 200,000, there was a sound reason for the President to press Congress to take in at least 150,000 immigrants after the war…
    “It would free us from the hypocrisy of closing our own doors while making sanctimonious demands on the Arabs…But it did not work out…The failure of the leading Jewish organizations to support with zeal this immigration programme may have caused the President not to push forward with it at that time…
    “I talked to many people active in Jewish organizations. I suggested the plan…I was amazed and even felt insulted when active Jewish leaders decried, sneered, and then attacked me as if I were a traitor
    …I think I know the reason for much of the opposition. There is a deep, genuine, often fanatical emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement [Zionism]. Men like Ben Hecht are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own.” ~ Jewish attorney and friend of President Roosevelt, Morris Ernst, ‘So Far, So Good’

    ENTIRE “ORIGIN” BOOKLET – link to archive.org

  12. hophmi
    February 28, 2013, 5:06 pm

    ” Describing the stranger in their midst as “a cancer” and “vermin” seems to be popular with fascists everywhere.”

    One politician said that. Not the entire polity. We’ve had more politicians here says nasty things about undocumented immigrants than Israeli politicians have said about Sudanese immigrants.

    So as usual, the Nazi analogy is simply ridiculous, not to mention highly inappropriate.

    “Why does the ADL hardly utter a peep about Israel’s policies?”

    You’re simply ill-informed. In fact, the ADL has spoken out about this issue. link to archive.adl.org

    “I think part of the explanation involves ethnocentrism. When non-Jewish parents prefer that their child marries one of their own or when a country club prefers not to have Jews or blacks as members, many Jews say these attitudes reflect bias, prejudice and racism. They believe there is nothing “real” or natural on the part of such people to want to be with their own.”

    Whoa. I think most Jews have no trouble understanding why people would want to marry members of their own race and religion if they so chose. That is very different from excluding people from a country club.

    “Thus mainstream Jewish leaders can publicly (and unselfconsciously) describe the high rate of Jewish intermarriage as like a holocaust without giving a second thought to how that sounds to the rest of America.”

    Please tell me how many Jewish leaders have referred to the high rate of intermarriage as “like a holocaust.” I think Jews, like any minority, are worried about the prospect of completely assimilating into the majoritarian Christian culture and losing all sense of identity. However, you rarely hear much about intermarriage anymore. Most Jews accept it as a fact of life, and most of the liberal streams of Judaism, anyway, have realized that intermarriage is not necessarily synonymous with full assimilation.

    Most Americans understand full well that Jews are not biased against them and that they are simply concerned with ensuring that Jewish life continues in the United States.

    “So Israel does what it needs to do to keep Israel “pure.” ”

    LOL. It’s one of the most racially and religiously diverse places on Earth. America deported 400,000 people last year, most of them quietly, many, many of them on the basis of minor criminal convictions, many, many of them who had been in America for many years and had children and lives here. Don’t tell me about how Israel is worse than the rest of West (just check out the attitudes toward immigrants in France and Holland) because it quietly deported 1000 Sudanese who were undocumented (and treated them much better than the neighboring states in the region did, that’s for sure).

  13. Les
    February 28, 2013, 6:34 pm

    Speaking of hasbara, here’s Agence France-Presse’s headline for a Jonathan Pollard report:

    “Backers of alleged Israeli spy to protest ahead of Obama’s visit”

    Among the more interesting comments is this: “Execute him for spying and release his body ..everybody wins”

    link to rawstory.com

    • JennieS
      March 1, 2013, 4:41 am

      Jonothan Pollard is not an “alledged” spy. He is a convicted spy and Israel admitted he was spying for them.

Leave a Reply