Another sign that we’re winning. This piece in the Wall Street Journal denying that the struggle for equal rights in Palestine has an “analogy” in the civil-rights struggle against Jim Crow doth protest too much. The author, Richard Friedman, a leader of the Jewish Federations in Alabama, is plainly afraid of the power of the analogy and has to go in for bigger and bigger stretchers– what John Mearsheimer has described as the last resort of the lobby, “smashmouth politics.”
Friedman describes Alice Walker as “unhinged” for urging Alicia Keyes to boycott Israel. He smears the entire “Arab world” for its “apartheid” treatment of women. He insists that Palestinians are terrorists, completely ignoring the long tradition of nonviolent protest inside Palestine. He states that Israel has repeatedly sought to give Palestinians sovereignty, at a time when Israeli leaders have stated that they have no interest in doing so. And Friedman is reduced to the most tired cliches: that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and America’s only true friend there.
The analogy is false: “Apartheid” is a more apt description for the systemic discrimination against women across the Arab world than the only democracy in the Middle East. But this comparison is also an insult to the courageous civil-rights activists who risked their lives in Birmingham, Montgomery and elsewhere in the South to attain full rights for black Americans
What characterized the civil-rights movement was its strict adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence. Even when attacked with fire hoses and police dogs, civil-rights demonstrators courageously refused to retaliate.
The Palestinian leadership, by contrast, for decades has used violence whenever missile attacks or suicide bombers suit its aims. It is Israel that has shown an inclination to absorb punishment, though the country’s tolerance stretches only so far before it responds militarily to attacks.
The comparison that Ms. Walker and her comrades in the boycott-Israel movement make to the civil-rights movement is false in other ways. Unlike the American South decades ago, when local governments enacted laws and policies to prevent U.S. citizens from attaining full rights, Israel has tried repeatedly to reach an agreement with the Palestinians in the West Bank that would grant them sovereignty. In 2005, Israel even withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. We all know how that turned out.
Those civil-rights activists who participated in the movement of the 1950s and 1960s—as well as others who remember the era—owe it to that noble cause to speak out when Ms. Walker and others distort and misuse this period in American history to advance an anti-Israel agenda….
This year, Birmingham is commemorating the 50th anniversary of a pivotal year for the civil-rights movement and for the history of our city. Those of us who live here are particularly obligated to combat the bogus analogy linking the Palestinians and the civil-rights movement—and to continually remind people that Israel remains America’s best friend in the Middle East.
Turns out Friedman first published this screed, or its parent, in the Birmingham newspaper. He is a former newspaper reporter who took part in the movement against segregation in the south. More Anthony Weiner-ism, more PEP (progressive except Palestine, which curdles everything).