“Those who deny freedom to others do not deserve it themselves.”
–Abraham Lincoln, 1860
A relevant query: How do you give powerless people empowerment, give persecuted people safety, and ensure oppressed people have social justice?
For centuries, the Jews had to ask this question regarding themselves. Now, they must ask the same question about another group of human beings—a group next to which many of them are now living. This is an opportunity for a basic lesson to be learned by all involved: One doesn’t escape oppression or persecution by oppressing and persecuting others.
Many right-wing Zionists have compared the JSM (the Judean Settler Movement) to the settlement of the American West in the 19th century. This comparison is eerily accurate—though in an ironically unintended way. A brief review of history illustrates the vulgar parallel:
Both settlement enterprises involved the theft of natives’ land by a violent, occupying force—a force that viewed its own people as categorically superior to the indigenous people. Both settlement enterprises involved the forced expulsion, systematic oppression, relentless persecution, and sporadic slaughter of the natives by the settlers. In both cases, the brutal occupation was perpetrated under the auspices of divine Providence. In both cases, the indigenous population was seen as inferior to the “chosen group” who was displacing them. The displacement was, therefore, deemed just.
It seems inconceivable that one could (rightfully) view the white man’s treatment of Native Americans as despicable in one breath while endorsing RZ policies in Canaan in the next breath. It’s not merely that both are morally reprehensible; it’s that they are morally reprehensible FOR THE SAME REASON. (Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee illustrates striking parallels, as though unwittingly alluding to the plight of modern-day Palestinians.)
We must remind ourselves that an act of terrorism is an act of terrorism independently of the identity of the perpetrator or of the victims. That is to say, if it is terrorism when Palestinian militants do it (based on X, Y, Z criteria), then it is terrorism if the IG does it (based on X, Y, Z criteria). The crucial point here is that X, Y, and Z are criteria that must be applied universally, or not at all.
This view is predicated on a fundamental maxim: The life of a human in group A is just as valuable as the life of a human in group B. Thus, it doesn’t matter who A is or who B is. Moral principles are identity-neutral, and so X, Y, and Z can never be functions of tribal identity. The “wrong when you do it but not when we do it” approach has been allowed for far too long—yet it has been standard operating procedure by superior powers throughout history. The typical rationalization for this m.o. is patently preposterous, yet ubiquitously accepted: “It’s ‘terrorism’ if they do it, but ‘self-defense’ if we do it. End of discussion.”
One must wonder: What, if not this, could possibly make a foreign policy appalling?
The egregiousness of the transgression is only augmented to the degree that a sovereign government orchestrates the perpetration—as is the case with the IG, yet not the case with Palestine. The culpability for the transgression, then, must be ascribed accordingly. When the RDF perpetrates an act of terrorism, it is far more egregious than when isolated Palestinian militants commit an act of violence. (This holds true independently of the fact that the DEGREE OF transgression is also massively asymmetrical: the harm of the terrorist acts by the IG far, far, far exceeds the harm done by the attacks by Palestinian militants.)
The value of human lives has categorical parity across tribal membership. If Hamas is guilty of supporting terrorism, then, by the exact same standards, the IG is—by far—the biggest terrorist organization on the planet. X, Y, and Z: Tell me what those criteria are, and let’s see who qualifies. Terrorism is terrorism, just as oppression is oppression—regardless of the identities of the perpetrator or the victim.
Giving freedom to others—especially others who are different from ourselves: this is what Lincoln called “the last best hope of Earth”. All human progress is predicated on this hope: universal emancipation. Those who stand in the way of this mission are not merely the enemies of progress, but enemies of humanity itself. This is based on a fundamental tenet: No group is superior / inferior to any other group. Failure to recognize this basic proposition is at the root of most of the problems mankind has faced throughout history.
So far as justice in concerned, goyim or Jew is a categorically irrelevant distinction. Any Faith that posits a deity that says otherwise is perverse. It’s time to think anew. To paraphrase Lincoln: In giving freedom to the subaltern, we validate the freedom of the already-free. “Honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve.” That isn’t about pro-this-group or pro-that-group; it’s about pro-mankind. In resolving any feud, nothing less is acceptable.
Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. In an 8/14/11 essay on Salon.com, he offers a brief explanation of the Palestine-Israel situation. The following is an excerpt regarding the United Nations General Assembly partition resolution of 1947:
“Instead of Palestine becoming an independent state with a one-third Jewish minority, or most of it going to its Arab majority, the U.N. mandated that over 55% of the country–only 7% of which was Jewish-owned at that time—should become the state of that minority. The Arab state called for under the plan, however, would have been divided in four pieces, would not have included Jerusalem or Haifa (two of the three cities with the largest Arab populations), and embodied numerous other injustices. The gerrymandering necessary to give the Jewish state most of Palestine was so grotesque, in fact, that it would have had nearly as many Arabs as Jews in its population.
“Perhaps because of revulsion at (and guilt over) the just-revealed horrors of the Holocaust, these provisions were all presumably considered acceptable to the great powers, headed by the U.S. and the USSR, which rammed this resolution through the General Assembly. The Palestinians, shattered by British repression of their desperate anti-colonial revolt at the end of the 1930s, divided, and leaderless, never reacted coherently to this unjust plan, except to reject it. But it was superseded long before it was due to be implemented in mid-May 1948 by successive offensives of well-organized and well-armed Zionist forces, which took over vast swaths of land that had been allotted to the Arab state. The great powers did nothing to prevent this from happening, or later to ensure that a Palestinian state came into being. This is not surprising, as most of them, as well as Israel and Jordan, were in fact opposed to the creation of such a state, and connived in Jordan’s absorption of most of what remained after Israel had expanded its control to 78% of Palestine by the time of the 1949 armistice accords.”
It is very important to be aware of the Big Picture when assessing the salient factors involved in a situation. Khalidi recognizes that the fundamental moral issue at hand is, “allow[ing] superior rights to one people at the expense of another.” Such an agenda must be openly denounced and decisively condemned whenever it is encountered. It is the modus operandi of racism, and must never be tolerated.
There is now one primary reason that RZ’s adamantly refuse to allow Palestine to establish official statehood (other than the fact that Palestinians aren’t part of the chosen group): Once Palestine is deemed an official state, is will have access to the international criminal court, and be able to try the IG for crimes against humanity, for which the IG itself well knows it is egregiously guilty.
This single consideration accounts for the obstinate and ferocious refusal of RZ to allow Palestinian statehood. That is where we now stand. The U.S. government should be ashamed that it has not stood for universal human rights, and allowed the IG to continue its atrocities with impunity. (Obama especially should be ashamed of himself, as he was primarily elected by the NON-RZ portion of the electorate.) It is no secret that the Likud Party, essentially the world’s biggest terrorist organization, should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. That it is controversial here in the U.S. (and, barring Israel, ONLY in the U.S.) to say that those like Ben Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are terrorists is, indeed, a national embarrassment.
The Palestinians have shown a resilience that is eminently praiseworthy. For two generations, they’ve exhibited patience in the face of the on-going intransigence of the IG, even as they’ve endured relentless oppression (and even state-sanctioned massacre). To have endured a brutal occupation the way the Palestinians have is a testament to the fortitude of the human spirit.
The abiding resilience of the human spirit is precisely what will get us all through problems like this. We would expect no less if Jews were fighting against oppression and occupation from a cabal of Aryans hell-bent on establishing an Aryan State. Our principles must remain consistent—lest they mean nothing. Morality can not exist with hypocrisy. In civilized society, no homeland is to be defined by race. No other race is obnoxious enough to do so, those of Jewish lineage shouldn’t pretend that they are uniquely entitled. Ethno-centricy must be relegated to the dustbin of history. The deeper meaning of pluralism is unity in diversity, predicated on the fraternity of mankind, not of any particular race or religion.
Why should Palestine be made a nation-state? The establishment of stable nation-states in regions filled with “tribal” hatreds and “failed” states—both of which sponsored terrorist activities –is the most accepted approach to ensuring peace, security, and social justice for all people. Effective nation-states, when democratic, not only clamp down on fanatical / dysfunctional activity, but foster the environment that is least conducive to the emergence of such activity in the first place. For effective nation-states HELP their citizens, maintain security, and keep extremists from taking root.
Meanwhile, democratic nation-states don’t occupy other countries, or deprive foreigners of social justice. The U.S. government and the IG should be only too eager to establish a Palestinian State—if either cared at all about security (their own and everyone else’s).
The K.K.K. saw the sanctified American soil as the Aryan homeland. Anyone not in the anointed group who stood in the way was the enemy. The trusty ol’ “It says so in the Bible” rationalization was employed as needed. Sound familiar?
Racism, be it Christian Identity or Revisionist Zionism, should be denounced whenever it is encountered. Here in America, we see what happens when hyper-nationalism and ethno-centrism are mixed with an obsession with the Bible. The resulting right-wing cocktail is recognized to be reprehensible in all its forms. When we hear the words “Christian Nationalism”, we rightfully cringe. Its analogues should be denounced for the same reasons.
Benjamin Netanyahu, with his lies, his ethnocentric worldview, and his egregiously flawed thinking, seems to be impossible to reason with. For years, I’ve diligently tried to figure out what makes men like him tick. Sometimes, I feel I just need to grab him by the shoulders and talk some sense into him—find some nascent kernel of humanity that is laying dormant within him. I imagine asking him: “Do you realize what you’re doing?”
Alas, people like Netanyahu don’t care about humanity; they are only concerned with their own tribe, their own agenda—an agenda defined by some deeply ingrained prejudices. The staunch position of such men is characterized by pathological sanctimony—and a degree of obstinacy that no level-headed person could abide. Likud Party members see everything through the RZ lens, which precludes their ability to accommodate anything remotely resembling agape.
Ben is a very intelligent man (he studied architecture and business at M.I.T.) yet exhibits utterly horrendous reasoning skills. When one is an ardent ideologue, intelligence becomes a moot point. (I suspect that moral philosophy was not part of Ben’s architecture curriculum, and we already know all too well that ethics is not the strong suit of an MBA program. So it’s not so surprising that iniquity can follow two degrees from even the most esteemed academic institutions.)
Ben’s views seem to have calcified—perhaps irreversibly—since his college days. The death of his brother, Yoni, in 1976 (during the Entebbe hostage-rescue operation) may have been the catalyst for Ben’s fanaticism. Such a traumatic event seems to have fueled a seething resentment that he was subsequently able to channel through fundamentalist RZ ideology. We see the same phenomenon with many people who join cults.
Here, I use the term “pathological” deliberately, and prudently. Seeing the detention of a single man belonging to one’s in-group as an international travesty while, the same day, seeing the slaughter of dozens of innocent civilians belonging to the out-group as morally permissible, is a hallmark trait of the sociopath.
The “when we do it, it’s national security, but when they do it it’s terrorism” mindset enables otherwise good people to delude themselves into painting iniquitous acts—perpetrated in order to pursue their own interests—as noble…because the acts are perpetrated in order to pursue their own interests. In the grand scheme of things, we must first ask: Who is being treated unfairly? We must first remedy that matter before we can settle differences.
Revisionist Zionists often cite the Pentateuch when groping for rationalizations for their brutal occupation of Palestine. This would be like Greeks today citing Homer’s Iliad in declaring which land rightfully belongs to whom in Asia minor.* Ancient folklore may be sacred to those who choose to make it sacred, but it is no basis for foreign policy. Imagine a Greek saying to a Turk (when forcefully evicting the Turk from his land) “But it says here in the Iliad that…”
The “But it says in this book that…” argument doesn’t work for one group and its anointed text A any more than it could ever work for another group and its anointed text B. Alas, reactionaries regularly employ this absurd argument. We could call this the “pick your favorite book” approach (a.k.a. the “What my book says is more important than what your book says” tactic). This amounts to a patty contest between tribal legacies.
Even more ridiculous is the “Support the IG’s policies or we’ll accuse you of being Anti-Semitic” ultimatum. (Finkelstein, Walt and Mearsheimer, or other victims of this dirty trick can attest to its potency.) Or the underhanded “If you criticize the IG then you’re not ‘pro-Israel’ (whatever that means)” smear.
Or the “It’s divine Providence, so whatever we’re doing is justified” claim (a.k.a. the “God chose us, not you” assertion).
Or the “Anything can be done so long as it’s in the name of OUR security” declaration. (This old gem should be familiar to those living in 1930’s Germany.)
Or the “It’s okay because we were given this land by god X thousand years ago” theory. (Here, feel free to pick any arbitrary number for X.)
Or the “You need to keep your religion to yourself, but we’re allowed to make this all about our religious dogma” strategy.
Or the “You killing one of us is the same as us killing hundreds of you” arithmetic. (Native Americans may remember this vulgar math all too well. This is related to the infamous “We need to steel your land so that we will be better able to protect ourselves from you” rationalization, a.k.a. the “we require greater strategic depth for national security” plea.)
Or the “If WE call it ‘Judea and Samaria’ then YOU can’t call our occupation ‘an occupation’ anymore” gambit (a.k.a. the loaded labels game).
Or the “If some of them do anything hostile to any of us, then we are entitled to do whatever we see fit to all of them” proclamation.
Or the “Sometimes you need to viciously persecute other groups of people just to ensure that your own tribe is never persecuted again” conjecture.
All these rhetorical maneuvers must be called out for what they are: patently ridiculous. The “catch”, of course, is that these are the only rationalizations RZ has at its disposal. Deprive Revisionist Zionists of these talking points, and they’d have nothing left to say. (Christian Zionists also like to invoke the trusty “Israel is our only ally in the region so we must support it no matter what” disclaimer. This is the kind of thinking so often employed to rationalize the support of tyrannical dictators in the past. We should know better by now.)
RZ apologists love to point out that Israel is “the one true democracy” in the Middle East. Well, not quite. When one race has more rights than others in a nation, it is not called democratic; it’s called racist. But even if we grant the “only democracy in the region” point, it is an utterly irrelevant point to the matter at hand. For this isn’t about what the IG does within Israel proper; it is about what the IG does to its neighbors. A nation can have magnificent democracy within its boards, yet still be a terrorist state if it commits crimes against humanity outside its borders.
RZ apologists love to say that they “want peace”, but fail to define the CONDITIONS FOR this alleged “peace”. (The Nazis and Salafist jihadists have wanted “peace” too—if we define “peace” in this sense.) A call for “peace but only on our terms” is no legitimate call for peace at all. In fact, it is the basis for war. RZ seems not to understand this elementary point. The “you must make peace with us before we stop brutally occupying a viciously oppressing you” approach is utterly preposterous, and should be treated as nothing less than preposterous.
They then proceed to depict the returning of land stolen from Palestinians as “giving up their territory”. (It’s like the bank-robber accusing those recovering the purloined booty of taking his money…or like saying he is doing the bank a favor by returning what he stole.) Little do RZ apologists seem to recognize the obvious fact that the hostility of the Palestinians against Israel is primarily due to the heinous manner in which the IG treats the Palestinians. If you want peace, then you must first cease and desist with such appalling policies. For if they were doing the same to you, you’d retaliate too.
RZ sophists then cast the debate as though the only people who disagree with them are terrorists, militant Islamic fundamentalists, anti-Semites, and enemies of freedom. The art of roorback is nothing new for right-wing ideologues. Tarring and feathering the infidel with derogatory labels is an ancient art-form practiced by those who don’t have a sound argument at their disposal…other than falsifying history and resorting to citations from a holy book.
Meanwhile, those who are honest enough to voice inconvenient truths are often more despised than those who spout obvious lies. Those who dare bring important points to peoples’ attention are often excoriated for doing so when those points undermine the anointed agenda. Enough’s enough. The moment we make the elucidation of certain aspects of Reality taboo, we’ve sabotaged any hope for civil discourse. Institutionally prohibited truths are deemed off-limits by the powers that be insofar as recognition of those truths doesn’t serve the powers that be. Once Truth becomes one’s enemy, one should start to suspect that one’s stance is significantly flawed.
We should suggest that RZ apologists try the “All human beings are equally valuable irrespective of race” hypothesis…and see how their ideology holds up. Alas, giving humanism a test drive isn’t always easy, as it forces one to confront one’s own prejudices and challenge one’s own vested interests. In fact, for most of us, humanism can be stupendously inconvenient. But that’s the point of rectitude: Principles matter most when adhering to them isn’t conducive to one’s own agenda. Questioning one’s own dogmas is difficult when those dogmas have been deemed sacrosanct.
By proceeding according to HZ instead of RZ, the IG would be forced to treat the suffering of a single Palestinian the same as it would treat the suffering of a single Israeli. Imagine that. (This, of course, would entail having to completely abandon RZ.) What could possibly convince the IG to do such a thing? For starters, galvanized Jews around the world could take a stand for Humanitarian Zionism—and use their leverage and influence IG policy.
Perhaps RZ apologists could put down the Pentateuch for a moment and read Kant’s Groundwork For The Metaphysics of Morals. (This would be analogous to a metallurgist setting aside an alchemy tract and picking up an introductory chemistry textbook.) Knowing the difference between an objective moral framework and a specious religious doctrine is like knowing the difference between astronomy and astrology. Meanwhile, so long as RZ apologists use the Torah as a history book, they may as well be using The Lord Of The Rings. Might we be so bold as to suggest RZ apologists pick up an actual history book—one that illustrates that it’s possible for goyim to be horrifically oppressed too? Or would goy-suffering just not sound quite as tragic to the RZ’s ethnocentric ear?
* Actually, this is an unfair comparison. The accounts in the Iliad are far less preposterous than those in the Pentateuch. Moreover, the Iliad is of far superior literary value to the Hebrew Bible. It’s safe to say that the typical romance “trash novel” has higher literary quality than the Torah—not to mention more historical accuracy and—most likely—possesses a better moral message.
Using citations of the Pentateuch to rationalize one’s behavior is on par with citing Dianetics or a Wiccan pamphlet. In terms of moral cogency, Torah-based rationalizations should be treated no differently than L. Ron Hubbard quotations or the ramblings of a witchdoctor. After all, dogmatism is dogmatism.
Other than the patently absurd claim that they were given a certain tract of land by their deity, the JSM rationalizes its on-going, illegal land-grab by holding that Jewish people are entitled to forcefully seize real-estate from the subalterns for various other dubious reasons. One of them is the following:
“We need the land simply because we currently don’t have enough real-estate (within the bounds of the post-1967 “Israel”) to accommodate our number.”
Meanwhile, the sumum bonum of their lives is to proliferate as much as possible—a mission that one would think may take a back seat when the major complaint is “we need more space”.
The Jewish population of Israel has increased 16.5% in the last decade (from under 4.9 million in 2000 to over 5.7 million in 2010). (Israel’s Jewish population more than quadrupled in size from 1950 to 1990.) Over 13% (about 750,000) of the current Jewish population have moved to illegal settlements in Palestinian territory (via the demolition of any housing in their path). That is to say, the expansionist settlers now occupy land stolen from Palestinian civilians via forced expulsion from (and destruction of) Palestinian homes…not to mention the slaughter of anyone who dared resist. Why? They need more space. Meanwhile, increasing their number is priority number one for every one of them.
One forfeits the right to be taken seriously once one indulges in such blatantly conflicting agendas. Add to this the call for ethnic purity—after Jews were almost eliminated from existence because of the EXACT SAME demand made by another group—PLUS claims of divine ordinance, and we have a case of full-fledged sociopathy.
As Allan C. Brownfeld of The American Council for Judaism noted, “Among American Jews born after 1980, only 54% feel ‘comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state’. The reason, [social scientist Steven M. Cohen] explained, is an aversion to ‘hard group boundaries’ and the notion that “there is a distinction between Jews and everybody else. [RZ] claims millions of men and women who are citizens of other countries as being in ‘exile’ from their real ‘homeland’. Why is it not content to be the homeland of its own citizens?”
If any other ethnic group tried to do the same thing, most people would be outraged, and not hesitate to (rightly) call it what it was: racism. Even the most rudimentary emulation of rectitude requires that we are consistent with our application of universal moral principles. If we put the KKK on an island somewhere, we’d see the exact same program—instituted for the exact same reasons, using the exact same tactics. What does this tell us?
OVERCOMING A FALSE CHOICE:
As stated in “A Brief Overview Of The Issue,” the current dispute is based largely on a false choice: “Israel” (as RZ sees it) or “Palestine” (as Muslim radicals see it). Both perspectives are inherently flawed, and can lead to nothing but mutual vilification and an eternal stalemate.
HZ treats the plot of land in question impartially, as Canaan. It recognizes that the dispute is predicated on a faulty dichotomy in a similar way as had the so-called “nature vs. nurture” argument. The analogy is illustrative:
The notion that behavior can be exclusively attributed to neurological determinism OR exclusively attributed to conditioning from one’s environment is fallacious. As science has discovered, we are all—as homo sapiens—primally hardwired for certain penchants…AND with certain innate capacities and boundary conditions. These are the penchants on which environmental forces may act, the capacities that may or may not be realized according to circumstances, and the boundaries within which conditioning operates quite extensively.
This blend of universal “human nature” and contingency-based “neuro-plasticity” has been elucidated by the insights gleaned in the field of evolutionary psychology. But this hasn’t stopped obstinate ideologues (those with vested interests) from taking “sides” with either absolute behaviorists or absolute determinists—each of whom adamantly insists that it’s an either/or between those two “camps”.
The Palestine-Israel debate has proceeded in a similarly faulty manner. Like evolutionary psychology did with the wrong-headed “nature vs. nurture” argument (a debate between two myopic “camps”), HZ aims to resolve the “Israelis vs. Palestinians” dispute by transcending the myopia of both “camps”. The debate only exists insofar as it is predicated on a false choice.
The fact of the matter is this: Some pro-Palestinian stances are based on racism (e.g. Salafism); some forms are not (e.g. HZ). Some forms of Zionism are based on racism (e.g. the analogue of Salafism: RZ); some forms are not (e.g. HZ). The racist versions can never possibly be reconciled because they are racist.
Due to this problem, stances for the Palestinians and stances for “Israel” can’t be assessed without key specifications: What, exactly, is being asked for? Based on what? In the end, we find that the only morally justified stance for either is the same stance: pro-humanity. The solution, then, isn’t pro-group-A or pro-group-B, but pro-human-rights. Moral principles don’t divide mankind into factions; only factions themselves do that.
Indeed, movements against civil society take make forms—many with loggerheads with one another. But at the end of the day, tribalism is tribalism, regardless of the tribe. Cult activity is cult activity, regardless of the brand. To recognize racism in all its manifestations—those for and those against “Israel”—is key to moving forward. Understanding this, we see that RZ is dysfunctional for many of the same reasons Salafism is dysfunctional. Once we rid all positions of the dysfunction, we will find that all parties share something fundamental: a common ground that transcends tribal affiliation.
AN APT ANALOGY:
Once, on his TV program, Real Time, Bill Maher made an interesting point: If people from Quebec started bombing New England, surely the U.S. government wouldn’t stand for it, and would undoubtedly respond by bombing the shit out of Quebec. Regarding this hypothetical, as stated, Mr. Maher may very well have been 100% accurate.
Presumably, Bill was insinuating that—due to the crude rockets lobbed into Israel from Palestine—the IG is somehow justified in relentlessly attacking Palestine with an on-going military incursion. However, Maher’s analogy is extremely flawed (or, at least, egregiously incomplete). A more accurate analogy would be as follows:
In an effort to expand the territory of New Hampshire and Vermont, New England expansionists (based on license given to them by their deity), had gone over the Canadian boarder and started forcefully evicting Canadians from their homes. Quebec, the New Englanders insisted, was their Promised Land; they were merely taking what was theirs by divine right.
But that’s not all. The New Englanders effect a brutal military occupation of Quebec, replete with the relentless oppression and persecution of all Canadians. This includes regularly bull-dozing countless homes in Quebec in order to make way for American settlers coming up from New Hampshire and Vermont. The process involves restricting freedom of movement amongst all residents of Quebec…while cutting off the primary means by which the Canadian civilians can provide themselves with food, potable water, medicine, and other vital supplies. Moreover, it includes the commonplace bombing of Canadian schools, hospitals, and vital infrastructure…not to mention the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent Canadian civilians (often women and children) in order to assert the New England presence. This is, of course, all carried out in the name of “New England security”.
(Stay with me. Here’s where it gets interesting.)
In a move of desperation, some civilians of Quebec lob crude rockets into Vermont and New Hampshire: a meager retaliatory effort pursued for lack of better recourse. From time to time, one of these crude rockets kills a small handful of New England residents living close to the boarder. Each time that happens, in response, the U.S. government “bombs the shit out of” Quebec, massacring dozens, if not hundreds, of Canadian civilians. (The rationalization for this colossally disproportionate response: New England security.)
In a continued act of desperation, some people in Quebec lob more rockets into New Hampshire and Vermont—again: the only means at their disposal to retaliate (short of throwing rocks at New England tanks). Any other resistance has proven futile.
The vicious cycle continues—orders of magnitude more Canadians killed for each New Englander killed. Perpetual suffering of EVERY Canadian in Quebec, day in and day out…as the entire province is blockaded (denied vital medical supplies and food)…thereby becoming the world’s largest open-air prison.
The chronic suffering of the Canadians is dismissed as a necessary means to the divinely-ordained end: making all of Quebec part of New England.
In the name of this divine New Englander cause, the Canadians endure daily oppression, persecution, and eviction—even as New Englanders complain about the occasional, isolated deaths of Vermont and New Hampshire residents from the crude Canadian rockets.
This horrific fiasco persists, year after year, decade after decade, even as more New England expansionists continue to bull-doze homes, stealing yet more land in Quebec…and thus essentially rendering Quebec a militarily-occupied Canadian ghetto.
How does Bill Maher’s analogy look now?
More to the point: Should the rest of the world condemn the Quebec residents for lobbing home-made rockets over the boarder at Vermont…or condemn the U.S. government for its onslaught of Quebec? The onus would be on which party to cease and desist?
Another hypothetical to mull over:
Imagine how the U.S. citizenry would react if a (hypothetically) superior Canadian military force did all the above to everyone in New England. One wonders if starving people in Coos county would be limited to throwing stones…even after their families were slaughtered by Canadian attacks. Suddenly, it seems to matter exactly WHO’S home is getting bull-dozed.
We Americans should be especially aware of the atrocities associated with the slaughter (and forced expulsion) of indigenous populations (for the glory of our own tribe). Are such acts more acceptable when perpetrated in the name of Providence? Shame on those of us who would be so obnoxious as to endorse such behavior anywhere in the world–by anyone, at any time, for any reason. Presumably, we are more civilized. Hopefully Bill Maher agrees.
ETHNIC CLEANSING UNDER ANY OTHER NAME:
Pretense is propaganda’s best friend. The racist breeding project commonly known as “Birthright Israel” is little other than a program of indoctrination with a benign-sounding title. Often obfuscated is the fact that it is oriented around a clarion call for racial purity and the aggrandizement of a particular race. Any agenda that is based on paeans to racial purity—Jewish or otherwise—should raise huge red flags for all descent humans. The most elementary moral intuition tells us: If it is wrong for goyim to do it, it’s wrong for Jews to do it. (It seems outlandish that any reasonable person would find such a maxim to be problematic.)
Jewish scholar and humanist Shlomo Sand has written on this topic in The Invention of the Jewish People. (Jewish scholar and humanist Ilan Pappe has also addressed the issue in his The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.) Regarding the RZ-funded Birthright movement, the best piece I’ve encountered is Kiera Feldman’s “The Romance of Birthright Israel” in the July 4/11 Nation magazine.
Others have important things to say on the matter: Daniel Levy, a senior fellow of the Middle East Task Force (at the New America Foundation) and Nadia Hijab of The Palestinian Policy Network shed much insight on the matter. (Also see the bibliography of my essay, “RZ: A Primer”.)
Michael Ignatieff of Slate.com put it succinctly in a September 2011 book review: “To call others wicked is to give us a moral privilege we may not deserve and a moral permission we are likely to misuse. The language of good and evil only seems to create moral clarity: It actually creates moral entitlement. Moral clarity mobilizes: Who does not want to enlist on the side of good against absolute evil? But clarity also anaesthetizes. If I am on the side of good, they on the side of evil, what am I not permitted to do?”
Ignatieff was reviewing Alan Wolff’s new book, which has an important message about politics: It “is not a morality play. Our world is not divided into the forces of light and the forces of darkness, the good and the evil, the righteous and the damned, the saved and the sinners. In a world understood politically, all motives are mixed; all intentions are impure, and the teams on the field of international politics do not reliably divide into good guys and bad.”
Upon impartial scrutiny, we find that the resolution of moral dilemmas is rarely a matter of “taking sides”. After all, the problem with conflicts between A and B is that they are predicated on the false choice between package deals, “A or B: pick one.” Problems between humans are complex (though not necessarily complicated), and generally don’t boil down to such a simple-minded, Manichean diagnosis. But self-righteousness is tempting and seductive. We must always remind ourselves: false pride is the primary saboteur of just resolutions.
Those like Netanyau have rendered themselves incapable of seeing any issue pertaining to their own tribe (god’s chosen group) in any terms other than US vs. THEM (which, in their eyes, is synonymous with GOOD vs. EVIL). Alas, before addressing any purported iniquity in others, we must address the iniquity in ourselves. Jesus said as much about motes in others’ eyes while there are planks in our own—a reason people like Ben may want to check out the Gospels instead of referring to that ridiculous compilation of pseudo-history and horrible ideas known as the Pentateuch.
So long as we allow RZ operations to dictate the terms of discussion, Reality will be veiled in radical right-wing propaganda. Notorious RZ propaganda factories include AIPAC, the “Foreign Policy Initiative” (i.e. the re-named PNAC), the (absurdly-named) “Emergency Committee For Israel”, the “Washington Institute For Near East Policy”, and—of course—the “Heritage Foundation”. The Likud Party (especially considering members like Ben Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, and Danny Danon) is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. (Indeed, it has done far more damage than Al Qaeda ever did—caused far more suffering that Al Qaeda ever could…yet Al Qaeda, not the Likud Party, is the American archetype for “terrorism”. What, then, does “terrorism” even mean?) RZ propaganda-meisters like David Meir-Levi, David Horowitz, Alan Dershowitz, and Daniel Pipes are just as culpable. Public officials like Dov Hikind and Eric Cantor are little other than supporters of terrorism, and should be treated as such. Rectitude demands nothing less.
One must ask: What are these people so afraid of? Their flagrant racism and tribal chauvinism seems pathological. We well know that racism is often a symptom of ignorance and insecurity. Tribal chauvinism is a function of false pride. False pride is often a symptom of repressed shame. So, one can’t help but wonder: What are these people ashamed of? Psycho-analysis is beyond the scope of this essay, but hypotheses are in order.
The tragedy is that the U.S. doesn’t deem it “terrorism” unless it’s terrorism against the U.S. or a U.S. client state. If it’s terrorism against subalterns, then it’s called “national security”. IN this worldview, there are people who MATTER, and people who DON’T matter. Whether or not we deem aggression “terrorism” depends on which sort of people incur harm. The Likud Party isn’t engaging in terrorism simply because their reprehensible conduct is directed toward a population that doesn’t count. If the IG did to Canadians what it does to the Palestinians, the acts would instantly be categorized as acts of terrorism. (It is also key to recognize, the Canadians—like any other human beings—would react in precisely the same way that the Palestinians do if they incurred analogous assaults on their freedom.)
As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stated, “We don’t want to de-legitimize Israel. We want to legitimize ourselves.” The Palestinians are not seeking to wage war against “Israel”, but rather to move forward toward their own freedom. They aren’t against “Israel”, they’re against being oppressed and killed.
Alas, the Israeli security apparatus’ paranoia has no place for goyim requesting human rights. For them, Israeli security is the only security that matters, and Jewish suffering is the only suffering that registers. This vile cocktail of racism and paranoia leads the IDF toward violence—and the IG to expect nothing but “terrorism” from the innocent civilians that it perpetually bombards with ordinance, violently evicts from their homes, brutally occupies, relentlessly oppresses, and viciously persecutes.
Everyone in the illegal settlements must be treated as a de facto criminal. To have participated in the settler movement is to have willfully participated in criminal—not to mention reprehensible—activity. Every one of the settlers who stole land within the ’67 boarders of Palestine needs to be promptly evicted…and forced to pay reparations to the displaced. The most elementary principles of justice demand this. Until the Judean settler movement is treated as a despicable movement that it is, justice can’t possible be served. The IG must be held to account for its egregious intransigence and unconscionable policies just as any other institution must be held to account should it do the same.
A humanist doesn’t care especially for the well-being of the Palestinians any more than he cares especially for the well-being of Israeli Jews. Why? Because a humanist is concerned with the well-being of all humans (qua humans). Therefore, a humanist is pro-Israeli for the same reason he is pro-Palestinian. By the same token, a humanist is pro-Palestinian for the same reason he is pro-Israeli. He is both pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israeli for the same reason he is pro-Canadian and pro-Russian and pro-Mung and pro-Brasilian.
Ethnic neutrality is the basis for humanist—yet is anathema to the racist. The false choice between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian must come to an end. Until every one of us can start saying, “I am a pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian activist”, there will be an intractable impasse—and pointlessly protracted conflict.
Like being pro-black people and pro-Asian people, Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israeli are corollaries of being pro-human. That anyone would see an incompatibility between these two positions—which are really just two aspects of the same position—reveals a racist bent that must be exposed. Until we approach the mid-east conflicts from a HUMANE point of view, a genuinely humanitarian Zionism can’t be realized. Until we stop treating certain people as if they are more important than certain other people, the appalling conduct of RZ will be allowed to persist.
A NOTE ON THE MISATTRIBUTION OF ANTI-SEMITISM:
Those who criticize RZ are often accused of being Anti-Semitic. Indeed, some who criticize the IG ARE, in fact, anti-Semitic. But it does not follow from that fact that to properly indict RZ policies is tantamount to racism. Such a perverse accusation, then, is not only disingenuous, but often a matter of projection. (For more on this point, see my On The Mis-attribution of Anti-Semitism).
RZ ideologues are renown for resorting to this underhanded tactic, from Mort Zuckerman to Norman Podhoretz to David Horowtiz. The list of culprits is long: Bernard Harrison, Jonah Goldberg, Eric Cantor, Joe Lieberman, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Bill Kristol, etc. All these people have two things in common: smug racism veiled as moral outrage…and a capacity to accommodate monumental degrees of cognitive dissonance. (Anyone associated with the Likud Party or AIPAC also partakes in this despicable rhetorical charade, as they have no other recourse but to level ad hominem attacks on anyone who undermines their agenda.) Adolescent invective is the refuge of those striving to rationalize a blatantly groundless position.
The shameless, flagrant racism exhibited by supporters of RZ can only be veiled by means of misdirection: blame those who criticize RZ of being the “real” racists…as if criticism of racism were itself a form of racism. As Eliot Spitzer stated in a 10/24/11 article for Slate.com, “What [Bill] Kristol and [his Emergency Committee For Israel] are doing is the oldest and cheapest game played by those who have nothing to say that actually responds to the real issues. They try to change the topic. And in this case, they don’t just try to change the topic, they do so in a way that attributes venomous and heinous views to those with whom they disagree.”
Neocons are renown for grasping at straws in most debates, resorting to fatuous ad hominem attacks in place of sound arguments for their (untenable) positions—simply because they don’t actually have a case to make. How else to dismiss their interlocutors? Sophomoric name-calling is the last bastion of he who has nothing left to support his vitriol. “Criticize the IG? You must be anti-Semitic. End of discussion.” One can imagine a KKK Grand Wizard throwing up his arms: “Criticizing the Klan, are ya? Well, then, you’re just racist against WASPS. So I win the debate.” End of discussion.
Of course, RZ employs contentious, underhanded accusations against humanists and other human rights activists in order to divert attention from its own, demonstrable, racism: anti-goyimism / Jewish supremacy. After all, X-Supremacy is ipso facto racism regardless of whether X = Black, Aryan, Hebrew, Mongol, or Martian. If it’s wrong when X = blue, then it’s wrong when X = red, orange, green, or lavender.
When one correctly points out that Netanyahu is perhaps the biggest terrorist on the planet, it’s has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with the fact that he is the head of the Likud Party, an organization that mercilessly, relentlessly, systematically terrorizes hundreds of thousands of civilians. He is the biggest terrorist for two reasons:
· He is the most powerful terrorist in the world at the present time.
· One would be hard-pressed to find a terrorist anywhere in the world who has caused more death and suffering, for a longer time, of more innocent people, than the right-wing of the IG.
At no point does ethnic consideration enter into this assessment. In fact, the only movement that DOES make ethnicity a factor in its equation is RZ itself. The irony here is staggering, when one listens to what is said.