Part 3: Conclusion to the Common Characteristics shared byAnti-Zionists and The Israel-Right-or-Wrong Crowd

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Israel-Right-or-Wrong vs Anti-Zionsts

Before reading this the final installment of the series, I encourage readers to read the comments in the previous post. Many of the contentions of this series are amply demonstrated by some of  the commenters – exemplars of extremism.

Of particular note is a comment by “Michael.” He neglects to provide his full name; however, he admits to being responsible for a style of mass email campaign that is designed to silence debate in the community – including inquiry among Jewish academics – and defends his right to do so because he believes his views represent “mainstream” Jewry. He does not – indeed, can not – provide evidence for this claim.

Disregard for the welfare of the people they purport to represent:

This characteristic is as ironic as it is horrible.

Along from using the suffering of people on their own side for points scoring purposes, there is another insidious component to this black and white discourse of outrage.

When you care deeply for someone, and he/she is doing something that is potentially damaging to him/herself, is it not incumbent on you not to crtiticise those destructive actions?If this is so with individuals, why is it not so with homelands/causes?

Anti-Zionists who defend every extremist Palestinian action encourage behaviour that drives a wedge between Palestine and the rest of the world, and also makes the prospects of achieving peace that much more remote.

More to the point their blind support bolsters corrupt and violent Palestinian leadership. Anti-Zionists seem to care much less for the day-to day welfare of Palestinians than in decrying every Israeli action.

Similarly, when the Israel-Right-or-Wrong brigade defends every Israeli government action, they are not rendering any great assistance to Israel, rather, they encourage a host of policies that do not serve Israelis particularly well.

Israel has a plethora of problems beyond the conflict with the Palestinians that it does not address, either because it cannot or because the conflict provides a convenient excuse to defer dealing with any number of urgent internal issues.

Misuse of historical events that diminish the horrors suffered by those actually involved in those events:

I feel sick to my stomach when either side trots out the Holocaust to augment an argument.

The Jerusalem Post correspondent linked to in the first installment uses the apprehension of Adolf Eichmann to illustrate a point.

The assassinated Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was certainly a murderer and complicit in the targeting of civilians and, as I have stated before, made himself a target for a assassination.

But he was not a key perpetrator of a genocide.

To drag out the memory of the Holocaust to win an argument for Israel’s current actions is beyond hyperbole – it diminishes the true horror of the Holocaust and who Eichmann really was.

It also serves the purpose of dulling the sensibilities of non-Jews to the scale of the Holocaust’s atrocity. Every time an Israel-Right-or-Wrong advocate invokes the Holocaust – especially in the context of the Israel/Palestine conflict – the genocide is diminished as a benchmark for evil because it is perceived by the reader as nothing more than a debating tactic.

The anti-Zionists similarly do a nice line in exploiting and misusing the language of tragedy.

There is aperceived symmetry that seems to delight the anti-Zionist mind in equating the Holocaust with the occupation of the Palestinians.

There is only one problem: no genocide is being perpetrated against the Palestinians. There are human rights abuses, certainly, and Palestinians live under occupation, but this is simply not the same as methodically rounding up every single Palestinian and exterminating them en masse. To suggest it is betrays either unforgivable ignorance of current events and history, or a profound dishonesty.

Nowadays, the term, “Apartheid” is fashionable to describe the occupation. Apart from being a gross misunderstanding of history, it is also completely inaccurate and unhelpful in understanding the situation.

Firstly, Arab citizens of Israel (comprising one fifth of the population) are full citizens, vote, and have parliamentary representation. The black population in Apartheid South Africa did not have comparable rights.

Secondly, the Palestinians in the occupied territories are UNDER OCCUPATION. This should be enough to protest against without requiring a thoroughly unsuitable superimposition of a completely separate political phenomenon onto the current situation in Israel/Palestine.

Two state deniers are actually advocates for ethnic cleansing:

More subtle anti-Zionists talk gently of the ideal human rights outcome of one state for both peoples. Along with the unicorns and ponies for everyone, do they imagine that there would not be the most horrific civil war in such a place?

Again, only the most profound ignorance of current event and history could lead anyone to suggest in good faith that One State would not mean a Rwanda-style bloody massacre.

Others are more up front and obsess over the “stolen” Palestinian land on which Israelis currently live (including the non-occupied areas) and advocate for ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel.

Then there are those who focus on the Palestinian “refugees;” however, the definition of a Palestinian refugee now extends not only to those who fled or were forced out of their homes, but to their descendents as well.

Many of these refugees live in apalling conditions in camps throughout the Arab world. They have never been integrated into their “host” countries – even those born there, because they serve as a convenient tool for certain leaders in the Arab world. This tool is a method for deflecting domestic anger at corruption and various abuses from the Arab/Muslim leaders onto Israel.

One of the many tragedies for the Palestinians, is how they have been used – and allowed themselves to be used – for propping up vile and venal regimes and as a hope of demographically solving the “Jewish question” of Israel by returning – even if they were born outside the Israeli Green Line – to all of historical Palestine.

Meanwhile, Israel-Right-or-Wrong prefers to avoid the issue of how Israel can remain both Jewish and a democratic while occupying an entire people.

It is irrelevant that other governments in the region behave despicably towards the Palestinians. Since Israel decided to keep the territory it conquered in the Six Day War, it has a responsibility to the people living there. To deny our moral obligation to them is to relinquish our right to call Israel a democracy.

While the folk on both sides refuse to acknowledge these very basic facts, they cannot be expected to be taken seriously by anyone who is fair-minded, be they Zionists, pro-Palestinians, or otherwise disinterested Australians.

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22 Responses to “Part 3: Conclusion to the Common Characteristics shared byAnti-Zionists and The Israel-Right-or-Wrong Crowd”

  1. Mohan says:

    “anti-Zionists who defend everyPalestinian action drive a wedge betwenn Palestine ….” The problem with this statement is that it perpetrates exactly what it presumes to criticise – creating a strawpersons and smearing. “Anti-Zionists” are far more measured in their criticism than broad smears and slander.

    The writer has not cared to quote or give evidence in support, no established group supporting Palestinian independence in Australia has supported Hamas or Fatah or PlO or actions undertaken by them. In fact they have always sought to distinguish between actions such as suicide bombings and the justice of the Palestinian cause.

    The bigger problem is that one cannot be “even handed” and still give tacit support to occupation. Occupation, displacement, discrimination and demolitions are the real problems – not any particular individual or group/s.

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  2. Pete Koval says:

    Dear Alex,

    I read your latest installment with great interest.

    I commend your public denouncement of using reminders of the Holocaust to advance political arguments.
    As you say, bringing up the Holocaust in order to legitimise Israel’s current actions, or equating the Holocaust with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians are both deplorable tactics.

    As a descendent of 4 Holocaust survivors, each time the Holocaust is exploited by either side to win an argument I feel that the horrors suffered by my grandparents (and by millions of others) are reduced to mere rhetorical ammunition.

    I also agree that constantly invoking the Holocaust may have the effect of “dulling the sensibilities of non-Jews to the scale of the Holocaust’s atrocity”.
    Indeed, the findings reported in the Psychological Science article (to which I posted a link yesterday) imply that constant reminders of the Holocaust and the ongoing suffering of the Jewish people may have the ironic effect of increasing anti-Semitism. As the authors conclude, “it may be counterproductive in many settings to emphasize victim suffering in an effort to evoke sympathetic reactions and reduce prejudice” (Imhoff & Banse, 2009, ‘Ongoing victim suffering increases prejudice.’ Psychological Science, vol. 20: issue 12, p. 1446).

    I don’t mean to suggest that no-one should ever mention the Holocaust, or that it should be forgotten.
    Rather, I believe that the Holocaust should be remembered solemnly and should be completely removed from the passions surrounding current political debate about Israel/Palestine.

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    • Mohan says:

      Pete Koval has made a very measured argument and I entirely agree with the spirit of his statements. Constantly suggesting that a holocaust is around the corner might invoke fear among the audience population and rally them to reflexive support of a cause, but prove counterproductive eventually. Such fear mongering is often the pruduct of intellectual and ethical bankruptcy.

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  3. Sisu says:

    Yet one just needs to read the comments in The Age whenever an Israel-related story is published on-line…the anti-Israeli factions are very quick to link Israel’s actions as “a Palestinian Holocaust”.

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    • Mohan says:

      Sorry Sisu it was an Israeli cabinet minister who said the Palestinians would face a holocaust. And there is no copyright on the term. Yhe gypsies, communists and Armenians faced similar situations under the Nazis and Ottomans.

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    • Sisu says:

      Mohan,
      I know that other groups were subjected by the Nazis to the same level of barbarism of that of European Jews. But as a whole the Jewish peoples of Europe suffered the most…. not that this is a competition to see which ethnic or cultural group fared worse in the Holocaust. Suffering is suffering, murder is murder, and whether is is 20 thousand homosexuals or 6 million Jews, or the 20 million killed in Stalin’s purges, it is still wrong and still suffering.

      But how can you, and the posters to The Age on-line who are quick to accuse Israel of a “Palestinian Holocaust”, say that the events of past mass murders is in any way equivalent to the current Israel-Palestine situation? In another thread Alex has asked you to submit your “evidence”, which I await with interest.

      If Alex’s list is too hard, you might want to start with similarities between I-P and pre-Final Solution Nazi laws. Where are the laws defining what makes a person “an Arab”? The laws against intermarriage? The removal of the intelligentsia of the Occupied Territories from their positions (eg doctors, lawyers, etc)? Confiscation of wealth?

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  4. Morry says:

    I like the article, and don’t see sense in nitpicking minor points. There is only one part that may need rounding out, that goes to the most inane definition of “refugee” I have ever encountered, one designed to ensure that it is an evergrowing problem no matter what is resolved.

    “however, the definition of a Palestinian refugee now extends not only to those who fled or were forced out of their homes, but to their descendents as well”

    THis is true, but doesn’t quite provide the full story. Most refugees are resettled in a host country, and at that point cease to be a problem, cease to be “refugees”. Not so Palestinians. Hypothetically, but very feasibly, an Arab man, any Arab man, could have met a Australian tourist in 1946, in that part of Palestine that was to become Israel, could have married her and settled in Melbourne. Hardworking and setting up his own falafel manufacturing concern, he could have ultimately achieved great wealth as an Australian immigrnat and citizen, could live in a mansion in Toorak. His Australian born and bred grandchildren are still “Palestinian refugees” by definition.

    There are currently around 6 million Palestinian refugees. In four decades or so that number will double, no matter what, no matter who accepts them, or what their circumstances, because that is the way the UN has defined a Palestinian refugee … as opposed to the UN definition of all other refugees.

    Yes, I know, it’s crazy, which is why it needed to be highlighted.

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    • Alex Fein says:

      Morry, neither time nor space allowed me to articulate the situation as well as you have. Thank you very much for providing this much needed information.

    • Mohan says:

      Sorry Morry Australian born-Palestinians consider themselves exactly that and they are descendants of refugees. It is strange that you do not see the injustice of inviting those with no organic connection to the country if they are of Jewish descent but refusing even voting rights to Palestinians living under Israeli rule, while proposing to give voting rights to Jews who have never lived in Israel.

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    • Morry says:

      Firstly, Mohan, I couldn’t have made it clearer that I was dealing with UN definitions, which allow people to claim both status and benefits as “Palestinian refugees”. What some may choose to do with that isn’t my concern.

      As to the rest, I suggest you read beyond the narrow confines of Arab propaganda. Perhaps begin with the Mandate docunment of 1922 that sets out the conditions of setting up the Jewish homeland. It is there that the conditions for Jewish immigration are first stipulated. The Israeli Declaration of Independence and Israeli Law almost totally follow the stipulations set out for it internationally.

      That said, every nation has the right to set its own immigration policies, and all do. It is particularly telling that you only have a problem with those of Israel. Every nation also has the right to choose who it accepts as citizens. If you claim that the West Bank and Gaza are occupied, then, by definition, the last thing you can demand is voting rights for that occupied population … it simply negates the whole concept of occupation, because that would mean that it’s part of Israel. It’s simple, Mohan, these people don’t get to vote because they aren’t Israeli. They did get to vote in Jordanian parliament because they were Jordanian. If, like Jordan, Israel aanexed the West Bank, you would have a case. As it is, Israel has only annexed East Jerusalem, and those residents do in fact have the right to vote and all the other rights inherent in Israeli citizenship.

      The demand for a two state solution at the same time as demanding voting rights in Israel is little short of laughable … or have you abandoned a two state solution, Mohan? Do you no longer seek independence for the Palestinians? Are they no longer a people, with rights to self-determination, in your eyes, just disenfranchised Israelis?

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  5. Mohan says:

    Hello Sisi
    Thank you for your comment. A genocide is defined as an action with intention to eradicate totally or in part a group (religion, national et al).

    Regarding comparisions, no two events in history are identical, you see parallels – discriminatory laws, practices, enslavement, victimisation, displacement. Israeli Jews in the West Bank can vote but Palestinians living under Israeli rule cannot vote, travel on the same roads, live in the same neighbourhoods, acquire building permits, study, work or travel with the same freedom as settlers. Have their homes, farms and businesses attacked by armed settlers, have different colured number plates, face administrative detention, cannot marry Arabs inside the greenline and join their spouses.

    And Israeli politics oscillates between Likud blocks total “redemption” and Labour’s “aparthied”. Can any one honestly claim that Arabs/Palestininas do not face similar conditions as European Jews under Nazis ? Admittedly there are no gas chambers, but there is the attempt at forced deportation or moving them into ever-shrinking cantons.

    If some one like Liebermann or an evemore extreme follower, and a group of supporters come to power in a situation of general economic recession and political crisis, they could enforce another wave of violence and displacement as happened in Bosnia or Turkey under the Ottomans.

    At present, the latter is only a potential threat, but the earlier practices are are all real – one has to only refer to the reports of Israel Shahak, Tanya Reinhart, Uri Avaneri, Jeff Halper, Uri Davis, Amira Hass, Gideon Levy et al.

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  6. Sisu says:

    Sorry Mohan, I know you are a firm believer in your Cause, but you are grasping at straws here. Also, I know the definition of genocide and I don’t see the numbers of Palestinians decreasing – so your attempt to link Israeli action with those of the Nazis is proven false.

    Also, the settler phenomenon is different to that of Israel at large – there are many in Israel and on this forum that are opposed to the settlers. Although recent actions of Israel in regard to settlers is, in my opinion, doing Israel more harm internationally, I do not see it as a Statewide attempt to kill, destroy, or limit Palestinians.

    Also, I think you need to differentiate between an Occupying Power and a colonial one – despite many attempts to label Israel as a neo-colonial power, I don’t see the evidence. To then say that those in the Occupied Territories have some moral right to voting in domestic Israeli politics because they have been in some way “colonised” is ludicrous.

    In effect, despite your committment to the Palestinians, it does not seem you can support your claims of a Nazi-like genocide (or attempt at same).

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    • Mohan says:

      Hello Sisu

      Sorry I got your name wrong earlier. As I will show, I am not clutching at straws. I was not speaking about the population of Palestinians, I was speaking about the total or partial extermination of a nation – it’s habitat, language, culture, economy and so forth.

      And I was not talking about support or opposition to settlers, but the policy of placing settlers there with the armed backing of the state agencies and expanding settlements.

      And no colony ? Well I suppose imposing one’s political rule, security machinery, currency and sending in loyal groups to displace the indigenous population – Ireland, Algeira – are colonial policies.

      And it is ludicurous that people have to apply to Israel for building permits, pass through Israel check posts, use Israeli currency, fly in and out of Israeli airports and posts, live under Israeli laws, allow Israel to build on their territory and still not have a right to vote while the Jewish settlers in the same territory have a similar right ?

      More ludicurous than 500th generation Indian Jews having the right to “return” to a place which they do not know or have no organic connection with ? Or the Israeli government’s proposal to allow all Jewish people to vote in Israeli elections ?

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    • Mohan says:

      Hello Sisu

      You seem to have missed the point of the definition. There is no stipulation that the attempt has to be successful – by comparasion the Nazi attempts were not successful either and by analogy should not be termed “genocide”.

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  7. Mohan says:

    Sorry Morry

    Both the Balfour declaration and the mandate documents were self-serving instruments of imperial rule – both of them were imposed on the Palestinian people without consultation or consent. In the case of the mandate, in betrayal of the promise of freedom.
    The Balfour declaration even stipulates that the existing Palestinian insterest will not be affected. And David balfour even declared that Palestinians need not be consulted about it.

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    • Morry says:

      Mohan, get a grip, there was no “Palestinian people”, never in history. The first time that label surfaced to describe any Arab was in the late 1960s as part of Arafat’s propaganda campaign.

      Let’s play a game. Find two Palestinian leaders (king, president … anything) prior to Yasser Arafat. You can go as far back in history as you like. Ohh, and say a monetary system, or some early Palestinian laws. Books? As in before that Egyptian, Edward Said, began writing.

      Mohan, you do yourself a huge disservice by simply and uncritcally parroting Palestinian propaganda to a group of people who know better, and who can direct you to sources that prove it to be the nonsense it is.

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  8. Mohan says:

    The mandate was a joint Anglo-French attempt to mollify the US and world and was a continuation of the Sykes-Picot agreement. Both imposed on the Arab and Palestinian people and used to justify colonial rule under a legal garb – Palestinians revolted against the mandate throughtout the period including the no-tax campaigns which were britally suppressed by Orde Charles Windgate and the SNS.

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    • Alex Fein says:

      Mohan, you’re going to need to have a think before you write and consolidate your thoughts into a single response per person to whom you’re replying.

      I have asked you to do this in the past, and am reminding you that you need you to do this again now.

      I do not want to have to delete any of your comments; however, I also do not want your comments to dominate the discussion by their sheer numbers when so much of what you say could easily be redacted into a single response.

    • Sisu says:

      Mohan: you do seem to confuse the status of Palestinians as a people occupied by Israel, with the Palestinians being a part of the citizenry of Israel itself. Your attempt to label the very real and very abusive human right violations with “genocide” is where you and I disagree.

      I will admit freely that I have grave concerns over Israel’s actions in the Occupied Territories – as many do here. The Wall, the security, Settlers, the checkpoints are all matters with which I take great cause. But the existence of these does not mean that Israel is committing genocide – real or intended – against the Palestinians.

      Steering back on topic, as the initial post by Alex shows, it is those that are so dogmatically quick to prove “their” point against the “other” side that lessen their argument and, by extension, the very Cause they claim to represent.

      The regular commentators here are a diverse bunch and I doubt we would all agree 100% with each other – but we can, and do, discuss these matters. You are so stridently anti-Israel to the point of calling Israel a genocidal nation, and so pro-Palestinian that you can elevate that people’s needs above those of another people.

      Ultimately, as with those whose kneejerk reaction is to defend each of Israel’s actions no matter what, there can be no discussion, no acknowledgement, no passing of ideas and concepts.

      Personally, you have turned me off in your comments such that I now dismiss anything you say; you do not have my respect and I question even the validity of my own thoughts when they coincide with yours. This is your legacy. My advice is that there is more than one viewpoint in any situation, and until you realise that there are people – living, breathing people – on both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide the sooner you might do some good for both.

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  9. Mohan says:

    Sorry Morry

    You are rpeating the old Golda Meir line. What a people call themselves is not very relevant, what is relevant is their continued existance in a region – There were no “German people” but Bvaraians, Prussians, Saxons etc until unification, the same with UK or France.

    And the name Syriapalestina was used by the Greeks for the territory. People achieve a national identity in a historical process – what is undisputable is the continued existance of the Palestinian people in the region.

    Try an analgy – there was no “Australia” when the first fleet arrived – ergo! There is no Australia and no First Fleet!
    And I am not worried if you don’t believe me – I don’t expect you to. I have had intermiably circular arguments with Zionists for years and am not at all surprised.
    And When have I ever denied the existance of people in Israe – if you care to read the postings that all the names I have cited as writers are Israelis.

    Any way have a god day, becuase noting I say will convince you or change your view – I don’t even expect it. Ultimately, it is a question of applying objective standards,norms, values to a problem without seeking exception on extranious grounds of identity, race, religion, nationality, gender et al.

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    • Mohan says:

      Apologies for mistake. The posting was in reply to SISU and Morry.Of course there are the standard smears that I deny the existance of people in Israel.
      And I had discussed because I recognise there can be several view points. No where have I denied that. Of course not all views are equally valid and the clash of ideas will sort the chaff from the grain.

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  10. Mohan says:

    as for Morry’s comment at my “Arab propoganda”, Societies can live without kings – Palestine was a part of the Ottoman empire ( the name dates back to Greek rule) under the valiets of Damascus and Beirut.

    Can you find an Aboriginal or president before the coming of the First Fleet / So Aboriginals do not exist ?

    Even by your own standards whom would you call the Sherif Husseini , or the the Palestinian National Conference of 1919 ?

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