War Crimes? Fuggedaboutit!

Yaacov Lozowick, a great fan of the Guardian, linked to this article. The UN has refused to investigate war crimes in Sri Lanka. Read on.

Sri Lanka last night scored a major propaganda coup when the UN human rights council praised its victory over the Tamil Tigers and refused calls to investigate allegations of war crimes by both sides in the final chapter of a bloody 25-year conflict.

In a shock move, which dismayed western nations critical of Sri Lanka’s approach, the island’s diplomats succeeded in lobbying enough of its south Asian allies to pass a resolution describing the conflict as a “domestic matter that doesn’t warrant outside interference”.

So the next time you read “UN condems Israel”, you have the right to raise a skeptical eyebrow.

Seven Pakistani Children

Reading Corriere della Sera yesterday, I came across an article about the Pakistani army and its attempts to root out the Taliban from the Swat valley. The details are, so far, not promising from the perspective of “human rights.” You might find similar stories in your local paper.

The point is that there are many civilians involved in the bombing operations. The Corriere notes that the “harsh conflict” on the perifery of Mingora (with over 200,000 inhabitants) “shows little respect for the Geneva Convention.” In the village of Puchar, captured Talebanis are hanged from trees. Elsewhere cadavers wrapped in plastic are dropped from helicopters on Taleban-controlled zones. Artillery and aviation shoot the moment they discover an enemy hideout. Often, the price is civilian casualties, and damage to public buildings and farmland. (I loosely translated this, but you get the picture).

“This time it’s serious. It’s a fight to the last man. The amount of collateral damage is unknown, but there was probably no alternative.”

These are the words of Syed Talat Hussein, a reporter for Hajj TV in Islamabad.

I’m just pointing out the asymmetry whenever the media report a conflict between Israel and it’s neighbors. You would never read an article like this one about Israel. There is no worry over the refugees, no tear shed for the “collateral damage.” It’s just good guys chasing bad guys.

Most people, of course, would agree that it is a shame to have to bomb civilians in order to root out terrorists. But most people will not speak out against the Pakistani army, or the Pakistani government, or “reconsider” Pakistan’s right to national existence. They will not call for boycotts of Pakistani goods and universities. That Pakistan is increasingly considered the most dangerous country on earth at the moment is of no issue. Stop the Taleban! is the only cry that matters.

Where are all the humanitarian voices of concern when Pakistani civilians are being mowed down in the midst of brutal conflict? Where are the condemnations? Will Caryl Churchill write a play next month, Seven Pakistani Children?

This is inconceivable. We only hear these concerned citizens’ voices when there are victims of Israeli aggression. The rule is that when civilians die in war the world is silent. Israel, as usual, is the exception (as long as the dead are not themselves Israeli).

Their silence now is loud and clear.

Memoirs of an Anti-Anti-Semite

David Mamet, in his 2006 book The Wicked Son, throws out a Molotov cocktail in his first paragraph: “The world hates the Jews.” That’s strong language, and one needs to back it up these days in order not to be called an anti-anti-Semite.

What’s an anti-anti-Semite, you ask? Someone who has it in for anti-Semites and their nasty world view. Spotting anti-Semites used to be easy, before they went underground. Anti-Semitism used to be quite common, especially here in Europe, where most countries decided at one point or another in their history that the Jews living within their borders were far too many. These people didn’t want to live near so many Jews, so they periodically drove them out or killed them. This was the opposite end of the spectrum from “light” Jew-hatred, as in T.S. Eliot’s poem “Burbank With a Baedeker:”

The rats are underneath the piles.
The jew is underneath the lot.

As if to amplify his hatred through orthography, note that Eliot wrote “jew’ and not “Jew.” The Nazis would perfect the dehumanization process within a few decades of the publication of Eliot’s poem. For further discussion of Eliot’s anti-Semitism, see Anthony Julius, T.S.Eliot, anti-Semitism, and Literary Form.

This is just a brief reminder that anti-Semitism was once a commonplace in “civilized societies.” It went out of style after the Shoah,  because the anti-Semites were forced to recognize the consequences of their hatred. Or perhaps because a new culture of “human rights” was developed to safeguard the world against future genocides (the term was coined by Raphael Lemkin). This new culture is embodied by the UN, an organization which has spent more time condemning the State of Israel for long-term border disputes than any other country or conflict on earth.

Which brings us to anti-Zionism, which replaces anti-Semitism through the use of a “legitimate” target: Israel. As a modern state, the logic goes, Israel shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. Agreed. But it isn’t as if Jews, before Israel came into existence, had been exempt from criticism–quite the opposite. So now the game is to suffocate the Jewish State with lawfare, beating the ploughshares of “human rights” discourse into the swords of anti-Zionism. But even so, is anti-Zionism simply anti-Semitism in disguise?

We live in an age when many people have a romantic idea of murdered Jews. Europe is positively in love with the concept of the “diaspora Jew,” the embodiment of the rootless cosmopolitanism which has become the new European dream now that nationalism is–ahem–dead. No matter that this same “international Jew” was the target of Henry Ford, Stalin and Hitler. But a Jew-free Europe is a nostalgic Europe (except for France and England, there are only negligible Jewish communities in Europe today–and take a look at France and England to see how they adore their Jews).

Paul Kriwaczeck, in the opening pages of his book Yiddish Civilization, writes of an elderly Polish woman who makes a living handcrafting wooden figures of Hasidic rabbis. The author notes that “such a gift at Easter is supposed to bring good fortune.” That the craftswoman may never have seen a Hasidic Jew in the flesh is no matter. “They are part of our culture,” she says. A taxi driver elaborates: “In the distant future Polish people will recount to each other stories about a time long, long ago when Jews lived among us. But they will be like the folk tales other nations tell their children about ogres, giants and fairies.”

So in a world without Jews, one must simply invent them. If you can’t take them in person, perhaps a lucky figurine will be easier to swallow. Israel makes things a lot easier in another respect: you can hate the Jews from afar, without ever having to come into contact with them face to face. In Arab and Muslim countries where millions revel in anti-Semitic propaganda a la Der Stürmer, the revelers have probably never seen a Jew, much less an Israeli. They get their rocks off hating an image.

All this to say that spotting anti-Semites is hard work. Even the real ones hide behind more acceptable ideologies today. Their venom is still poisonous, mind you. It’s just that it takes a detective to root them out. Once you’ve got one pegged, however, watch your tongue, because calling an anti-Semite by his real name will only get you a libel suit. “Anti-anti-Semite!” Right back at ya’, babe.

So if you write something criticizing Israel’s critics for their lack of precision, invention and originality, or because they criticize Israel for stuff everyone does worse, or for things that simply ain’t true, you get called an anti-anti-Semite. The Israel Lobby has become the “acceptable” version of this knee-jerk defense mechanism, counter-criticism to silence all criticism.

It has been pointed out recently on this blog (see comments) that Israel is a racist country because it is impossible to become a citizen unless you are a Jew. I don’t have to tell you that there are around a million Arab citizens of Israel for you to know this is bull. What lies beneath this canard, however, is strange and disturbing. Let’s get this straight: for centuries, millennia even, Europeans ghettoized, expelled and murdered Jews so as not to have to live with them in peace. Muslims were better, as long as Jews knew their place and kept to it. Now there are very few Jews left in any Arab-Muslim lands. Most of the world is happily judenrein. And now that the Jews are gone, they bitch because they can’t all move to Israel and become Israeli citizens? Since when does everyone want to live in a Jewish neighborhood, anyway?

Recognizing Israel

I’m already tired of quoting Ahmadinejad. He always says the same things. Ynet has two articles worthy of more attention than anything I could post. The first, by Sever Plocker, concerns lawfare and caused me to lose a bit of sleep last night:

The peace-seeking Iran pledges to accept the majority decision in the above-mentioned referendum. Therefore, this is not about nuclear sabre-rattling or a declaration of war on the Zionists, but rather, a just and democratic solution that will be achieved peacefully and with international consensus.

If, as result of the referendum, the Jewish state will be abolished, the Jews would not be threatened with extermination or a second “Holocaust.” They will be allowed to integrate into the great Palestinian state as a religious element with recognized civil rights, even beyond the rights given to Iranian Jews. The Muslims, as opposed to the Nazis, will do everything to protect the Jewish minority to be left in Palestine in the wake of the referendum results’ implementation.

All that is left is to change the UN’s voting procedures: The four billion people residing in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America are the majority, and they deserve to be recognized as such. Iran will serve as their mouthpiece; that is, Ahmadinejad’s mouth.

Well, my allergies caused me to lose sleep. Still, this is a disturbing hypothesis.

The second article is by Yoel Meltzer, and is a wake-up call telling us that the Two State Solution is, by now, a mere relic of wishful thinking:

Please explain to them that it is nearly 100% certain that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will eventually bring missiles to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Equally important, make it clear to them that this is a prediction based upon Middle Eastern reality and not some sort of “scare tactic” or “right-wing analysis.”

In addition, please remind them that suicide, in any shape or size, is forbidden in Judaism and therefore national suicide, which will be the result of a two-state solution, is clearly forbidden.

The only answer, as far as I can see, is widespread Arab-Muslim recognition of Israel. This childish,counterproductive intransigence, above and beyond all other “obstacles to peace”, is the true root of the conflict. I wish I had a t-shirt that read:






Because not everyone who might stumble upon this blog reads Israeli papers, and most of the people I know haven’t been  following the Durban 2 circus in Geneva, I’m linking to this video which I saw in Haaretz.

On the sidelines of the Durban II conference in Geneva on Tuesday, a member of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s entourage accosted Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel and began screaming “Zio-Nazi” at the Holocaust survivor.

You can actually see Ahmadinejad walking by if you watch closely. Of course, we’re chumps for taking these thugs seriously, right?

“Racist! Racist!”

Empty seat at Durban 2
Empty seat at Durban 2

Things aren’t going so well after day one up in Geneva. Clowns were arrested, Ahmadinejad called Israel all sorts of bad things and was called a racist himself (but only by the clowns, mind you). There was apparently a move by the already diffident EU delegates to walk out on the Conference once his rant got underway. It isn’t clear from today’s papers whether France and England are there for day two or not. There was a “severe” condemnation from Sarkozy. The Vatican is staying put.

There was soft condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s words, but apparently the UN cannot allow itself to say anything that might be misconstrued as an opinion. They “condemned” Ahmadinejad’s choice of words, though he didn’t apparently pronounce the name “Israel.” Perhaps this means he was speaking of another country when he called it a “racist government” in the Middle East. Maybe he meant Syria, or Lebanon? Maybe he was being self-referential, post-modern, over our heads by talking about himself?

Anyway, the big news from Geneva is that there is no big news. Day one went just as most of us thought it would. Navi Pillay just doesn’t get it:

“A boycott isn’t the best response.”

Apparently this was the extent of her emotion at the hijacking of her Conference by a fanatical head of state who happens to be the world’s most visible Holocaust denier and potential genocidal maniac. Perhaps we should go back and take a look at Jeffrey Goldberg’s painstakingly compiled dossier of Ahmadinejad’s money quotes on Israel.

It’s business as usual at Durban 2.

Why is Caryl Churchill Having All the Fun?

David Hare must’ve been asking himself this very question lately. Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children has garnered all the attention recently among British Israel-bashers and their intellectual followers. Her play has been performed all over the place, it has been the object of harsh criticism for its simplistic view of Israeli history and utter veneration for “speaking truth to power” (what truth? what power?). Caryl Churchill has left her colleagues far behind. She’s been hogging the spotlight.

So David Hare, another of Britain’s illustrious intellectual playwrights, got the chance in this week’s NYRB to vent his own frustration at the Israeli “apartheid-wall”. He calls it a monologue, lending a theatrical veneer to his rant, which others might simply call an op-ed piece.

I won’t pick through its every sentence. I’m not an authority on the subject, though I have seen it, and what I saw at the time (2004) was mostly a security fence. There was a section of high concrete wall, and it was explained to us that this was a built in a place where Palestinian snipers used to shoot Israeli motorists from their rooftops. Those Israelis are always exaggerating–eh, Mr. Hare?

To his credit, Mr. Hare admits that the fence has done its job by curbing Palestinian suicide bombers. He quotes his Israeli friends’ dismay:

“I regret it.” “I’m ashamed of the wall.” “I drive for miles so that I don’t have to see it. But it works. 80 percent of terrorist attacks against Israel have stopped. Have been stopped. Am I not meant to be pleased about that?”

Indeed, are we all not meant to be pleased about that? In Mr. Hare’s Israel, there are good Israelis–who are ashamed at having to protect themselves against genocidal fanatics–and bad Israelis–who do the protecting. Hare enjoys the company of Israeli intellectuals like himself, who discuss over tea and cakes how many meters of Palestinian farmland were confiscated in order to protect Israeli civilians from an endless terror campaign against them for the crime of being Jewish. He loves Israeli self-doubt, the mark of a true Jew. He, like his colleague Mrs. Churchill, despises Jewish self-defense. This is a crime worse than the sixty-year Arab-Muslim war against Israel’s existence.

Here is Hare on Hamas, in a perfectly polished gem of willful ignorance:

Hamas isn’t very nice. You wouldn’t be nice if you lived under permanent siege.

To be fair, Hare was speaking about Hamas torture of Fatah members in Gaza. So he knows they’re not nice guys. One assumes he’s done his homework, too, and knows about the way Hamas operates: booby-trapping homes, schools, zoos, using children as human shields, etc…the usual. But he’s not put off by any of that, he’s too much of an intellectual to be shocked by Hamas. He’s positively floored, however, that Israel would take security measures against such barbaric murderers–measures that–holilah!–inconvenience the murderers themselves and the society which supports them unconditionally. Hare makes no mention that the Palestinians of Gaza have been taken hostage by their own elected leaders, and that the failure of Palestinian society is far more the result of their unwillingness to relinquish their fanatical, monomaniacal and self-destructive war against the very idea of a Jewish state in “their part of the world” than it is the result of any Israeli intractability.

But wait, it gets better:

Even Professor Neill Lochery of London University, a friend of Israel, the author, for goodness’ sake, of Why Blame Israel?, has described the security fence as a white elephant. “Already,” he says, “the wall belongs to a bygone era.” Because before it was even finished, before the $2 billion had even been spent, Israeli’s enemies had switched tactics. They had moved on from suicide bombing to missiles, to firing Qassam rockets, which could, if deployed in the West Bank as they have been in Gaza, sail oblivious way up high above the wall, fueled by nothing but sugar and potassium nitrate.

Get it? Before the wall had even been finished, Israel’s enemies had “switched tactics!” Doh!! This is Israel-as-Homer Simpson, a blundering doofus always one step behind the wily Palestinians. Why bother trying to curb mass murder when your murderers will only switch tactics? How stupid of them! What could they be thinking? Of course, the Palestinians only abandoned suicide bombing because it was no longer feasible, because Israel had defeated it as a tactic. This is proof of the determined ingenuity of the murderers, not of the incompetence of the Israelis to forsee every possible attempt to murder and terrorize its citizens. David Hare has it backwards.

There is nothing especially new in Mr. Hare’s monologue. He chills with the intellectual elite on both sides, content to take their observations as hard-won truths. This gives his own insights more clout, being on familiar (and non-hostile) ground. And, as we all know, it’s no great feat of courage to criticize the Israelis. They will not come after you, kidnap you, graffiti your walls or threaten you. They will not wage war against you in any way, except perhaps intellectually. Some of them will even agree with you, whether you are full of shit or not.

Surely this is the mark of a sick society, one which has lost its moral compass in the muck of war. Eh, Mr. Hare?

Durban 2: An Imminent Fiasco

Days away from the Durban 2 conference in Geneva, and the only major coverage seems to be in the Israeli media. Which isn’t a big surprise, seeing as they have more to lose from the backlash than anyone. Today’s Jerusalem Post explains why Israelis are worried:

Already in advance of Durban II, a two-day anti-Israel NGO conference is scheduled to meet on April 18 and 19th, called “The Israel Review Conference.” An anti-Israel rally is also scheduled in Geneva for April 18.

Israel Review Conference can only mean one thing:

United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation, Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People

So this is the secret meaning of the Durban conference. It’s a kind of primer for the real event, when the hevyweights show up to do the big Israel-bashing.

Is there still anyone out there who cannot see this facade for what it is? It is thinly disguised Jew-hatred (oh, but there will be anti-Zionist Jews there doing the bashing–so don’t call them anti-Semites!) sanctioned by the UN–an organization which has completely lost its bearings. And everyone will be there–everyone except Israel, the US, Canada and–I never get tired of repeating this–Italy. The EU will be there “in good faith”, which is how things are officially done these days in Europe.

The UN High Commissionerfor Human Rights,  Navanethem Pillay, had this to say:

“The goals set out in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action have not been achieved. This reality should prompt us to seek common grounds to move the struggle against racism forward. The tools and capacity for achieving the goals outlined in the Declaration and Programme of Action are within reach if we remain committed to those objectives.”

I take this to mean that Israel still exists, and it takes another doleful “conference” of racists, xenophobes, Holocaust deniers and their appeasers to strike another blow at the Jewish State and its supporters.

Tell me, a week from now, if I was wrong.

They Call it Lawfare

Two weeks ago I saw Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor give this speech at the Italian Parliament. Italy is so far the only European country to have pulled out of the Durban II Conference in Geneva, which will be held next month from April 20-24.

Anyway, the point is that NGO Monitor has assigned itself the task of carefully monitoring all those saintly NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc…who are themselves on the prowl for every Israeli human rights violation–even when there are  none. These NGO’s display what is called the “halo effect”, which is basically a form of infallibility. Many people feel that their humanitarian status makes them unbiased and therefore moral, and people like to have their morality spoon fed to them, especially when it comes to Israel.

In Durban, NGO participants singled out Israel for attack. Palestinian NGOs distributed copies of the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and leaflets depicting Hitler and the caption, “What if I had won?” The answer: “There would be No Israel and No Palestinian bloodshed.”

So much for blessed neutrality.

War crimes, human rights violations and International Law are invoked these days in the destruction of Israel’s credibility. As Melanie Phillips wrote, “Israel and the Jews are being systematically delegitimized and dehumanized–a necessary prelude to their destruction.” This is the new strategy, same as the old. If you can’t destroy Israel with human bombs, Kassam rockets, daily death threats and Israeli bulldozers, you might as well give lawfare a shot.