Sunday, March 29, 2009

"... where they enjoy exactly the same rights as Jews"

Guess what I hate most in the picture below:

No, it's not Olmert. Well, yes, it's also him. He started two pointless wars killing 2,500 people, mostly noncombatants, and destroying productive infrastructure in a clear drive to collectively punish the Palestinians.

But Olmert will go, and discrimination against Arabs won't. While both Hebrew and Arabic are official languages in Israel, the "officialness" of the former is not equal to that of the latter. That's why the words, "Prime Minister's Office" are displayed in Hebrew but not in Arabic. To add insult to injury, they're translated into English, a foreign language. The right of English speakers to know where Olmert speaks from is put above the right of Israeli Arabs to feel part of the country.

Israeli Jews have the chutzpah to suggest Israeli Arabs should take loyalty oaths, and to decry their disaffection with the country. How about Israel being loyal to the people who were living there before Tel Aviv was founded, and giving them the treatment Canada gives to the Québécois, or that Belgium accords to the Flemish.

The claim that Arabs enjoy the same rights as Jews in Israel is pure nonsense. They have rights with the same names, but with a very different status.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Demolishing equality

Two recent stories in the Jerusalem Post relate to a phenomenon unique to Israel among developed democracies: the systematic demolition of houses carried out by the State for a variety of reasons.

On Mar 18, 2009, the JPost reported:

Supreme Court okays destroying terrorist's home

In a ruling that could end the five-year freeze on the practice of home demolitions, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday afternoon that the house of the Israeli Arab terrorist whose July, 2008 bulldozer rampage claimed three lives could be demolished.

Justice Edmond Levy wrote in the ruling that "considerations regarding the damage that will be done to the family do not stand against the chance that such an action will deter others from joining the bloody trail."

The practice of inflicting harm on someone because of another person's actions is one form of collective punishment. It is immoral under any reasonable standard. However, evil actions can sometimes be rationalized —never justified— if they can be shown to serve some practical objective.

In this case, however, no such rationale can be invoked. Note that Justice Levy speaks of the chance (not the certainty) that destroying the home where the deranged Palestinian's extended family lives will have a deterrent effect. We know that a lot of people will suffer greatly from the demolition, Levy essentially says; but we do it all the same because we believe it might stop other potential killers of innocent civilians. Is that so?

No it isn't. The article goes on to recall that:

In the early years of the second intifada, demolition of terrorists' houses was a common practice, but the 2005 findings of the Shani Commission concluded the practice did not serve any deterrent purpose. Public pressure to renew the practice mounted after the Merkaz Harav terror attack, which was also carried out by a Jerusalem resident.

In fact, the Shani Committee's findings had led the Sharon government to suspend the practice:

Israel’s defense minister ordered a halt yesterday to the controversial policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen after an internal army review concluded it has not deterred attackers but has inflamed hatred.

Rather than listening to the voice of security experts, Justice Levy prefers to indulge in the demagoguery of authorizing a home demolition to give an outlet to the people's rage at a form of homicide they don't know how to deal with. That he cites a deterrent effect against the military's own assessment is not precisely the kind of independence of the judiciary that best serves human rights.

Meanwhile, in an alternative universe, a.k.a. the West Bank—

... Israeli settlers have continued to grab privately-owned Palestinian land to build houses, in this case in the settlement of Ofra. The case was brought to Israel's High Court by human-rights groups. On Mar 22, 2009, the Jpost reported:

Barak: I won't demolish Ofra houses now

A day before a High Court of Justice hearing on what Palestinians argue are houses in Ofra built on Palestinian land, Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed the court Sunday that he would not execute the demolition orders against the houses at this time.


"[N]o unique policy should be determined regarding these buildings alone," as they have similar status to a number of other structures in the community.

This last sentence seems to refer to the fact that the whole settlement of Ofra, and not just the 9 houses currently under dispute, were built on private Palestinian land, as the Israeli government acknowledged last year.

In the case of the current litigation, moreover,

[Human-rights group] Yesh Din attorney Michael Sfard said Sunday that in the first hearing held on the houses last June, the IDF's representative had said in the name of the defense minister that the houses were in face illegally built on Palestinian land, and must therefore be destroyed.

"The construction of the houses and their occupation are illegal," wrote the state's representative, attorney Avi Licht. "The construction was carried out in violation of stop-work and demolition orders."

On what grounds does, then, Barak back out from his own ministry's former position? See:

A letter was sent Sunday from the State Attorney's Office to the Court explaining the defense minister's position, which stated that "because these buildings were populated many months ago, and because they are located inside and not on the margins of the settlement, this issue should be considered with a comprehensive view of the entire settlement of Ofra."

In other words, the settlers will be left alone because they're already inhabiting the houses built on the land they stole, and who knows, they might suffer PTSD if they are evicted. Quite a contrast with the Arab residents of Jerusalem whose house will be demolished regardless of how long they've been living there.

The Jewish criminals are treated with kid's gloves, while fully innocent Arabs are mercilessly left homeless because of another Arab's crime.

This whole affair is very representative of the Israeli way of conducting business. In the case of the East Jerusalem home, the Army's recomendations not to demolish Arab homes are overruled by the High Court's decision to authorize the demolition. In the case of the Ofra Jewish houses, the High Court's possible orders to demolish them have been overruled in advance by the Defense Minister's decision not to carry them out. This good cop-bad cop tandem work is presented to the world as evidence that Arabs can fight for their rights against the Israeli state. However, we must judge from the end result: they always lose.

House demolitions is yet another area in which Jewishness trumps equality before the law in the perverse context of Israeli justice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rooting for bad things to happen

A recent article in the Jerusalem Post discusses the drop in immigration from Former Soviet Union (FSU) countries to Israel, and a new scheme to revert it. I looks like despite Israel's booming economy, aliya (immigration) from Russia and other FSU countries has decreased from some 10,000 in 2004 to just 5,700 in 2008, and the government is implementing a package of incentives to entice new olim (immigrants).

But according to Jewish Agency spokesman Alex Selsky, the "incentives," or, euphemisms aside, the money these olim will get is not the only factor that will attract them to the country:

There were currently no plans to expand the program, Selsky said, but he insisted there was cause for optimism that the drop in aliya could be reversed.

The region's unusually severe recession, coupled with at least 260 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in 2008 and the financial incentives on offer from the Israeli government, might be enough to engender a new wave of immigration, he said.

"Times of crisis contain in them opportunities that the government must find and actualize," said Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo, calling the new program a "historic step" meant to "create a new wave of aliya from the FSU for the first time since the 1990s."

Let us see if I get this straight. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries that contain Jews are in a deep crisis. Also, antisemitic incidents are up. But far from these factors troubling Israeli officials, they celebrate them as "cause for optimism" and an "opportunity" to attract new olim.

In other words, they are optimistic that enough FSU citizens will be harassed or suffer material hardship that they will be forced to emigrate to Israel, where they will be received with open arms as cannonfodder for future wars.

If you're a Jew around the world, take notice: Israel's government is rooting for you to be attacked or lose your job, so that you'll learn the lesson that the Diaspora is not worth it. A most immoral approach, but one which in the end lays waste to the notion that Zionist ideals or the realization of their national aspirations are the reasons why Jews emigrate to Israel.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Selective antisemitism

When the Israeli tennis team visited Sweden for a Davis Cup match last weekend, anti-Zionist and pro-Hamas demonstrations took place in several cities, with the most important ones being held in Malmö, where the match was played. As could be expected, the Hasbara troupe came out full swing denouncing the demostrators, the Muslim community of Sweden and, while at it, Swedes at large as rabid antisemites. Fortunately for the umpires, Israel won the match, or they would have faced charges of Judeophobia as well.

In all fairness, it must be acknowledged that the demonstrators were not as polite as they could have been:

While these images are distressing, I can see the half-full glass: they prove beyond reasonable doubt that uniformed personel in an armored minibus can survive stone-throwing without placing human shields in front of the vehicle to deter the attack. You wouldn't have known that watching the behavior of the most moral army in the world (1:22):

This is not to minimize the Swedish demonstrators' violence, which was appalling. But was it antisemitic?

As an avid tennis fan, I follow all Argentinian players on the circuit, and I clearly recall Sergio Roitman and Gastón Etlis, who are both Jewish, playing in Sweden as recently as 2008, unmolested by any demonstrator.

The Swedish Hamasniks, if Judeophobic at all, seem thus to practice a very selective form of antisemitism; an antisemitism that does not target all Jews, but only those people, Jewish or not, who can be thought to represent or defend the State of Israel — i.e., what outside the Hasbara circuit is known as anti-Zionism. There's a difference, and while the Hasbara pundits seem not to notice it, I'm sure Roitman and Etlis do.

Israel will be facing Spain in the next round. My wife being Spanish, I'll of course be rooting for Israel, so as to avenge her making fun of me when Spain beat Argentina in last year's Davis Cup finals. I don't join the boycott, mind you; I only reject the ludicrous notion that it's antisemitic rather than anti-Zionist.

Now if Israel does get to play against Argentina, then I'll root for Argentina. It may take longer or shorter, but an antisemite's Judeophobia eventually shows.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"They should stop using [fill in with Israeli invention]"

My computer runs on an AMD microprocessor. I don't know if it's worse or better than Intel, but at the time I bought it AMD-based PCs were slightly cheaper than Intel-based ones, and a few bucks more or less do make a difference for us free-lance language professionals.

It now turns out it was a lucky choice. For, according to my Zionist friends, had I bought a computer with an Intel micro, I wouldn't be able to criticize Israel. Why? Because Intel chips were developed at a Haifa facility, and, how could I use an Israeli invention for anti-Zionist purposes?

And that's by no means the only restriction I face. According to my Zio-friends, if I ever get colon cancer, I won't be allowed to use an Israeli-developed colonoscopy device consisting of a microcamera that navigates up your rectum -- unless, that is, I agree to start a pro-Zionist blog and scrap the present one. Likewise, I won't be permitted to drive a hydrogen-powered car (which is based on another Israeli invention) when they become available in Argentina, although the prohibition could be reconsidered if I agree to write at least 10 letters to the editor on the use of human shields by Hamas.

Because, you know, it's not ethical to use the creations of a group of people at the very same time that you trash said group.

The question arises, though: does Israel live up to that standard?

In the first place, they should ban public performances of Wagnerian music. Wait a minute; they're already doing that, you'll say. Yes, but they're cheating. They don't play Wagner but they do play Dvořák, Mahler, Bruckner, Strauss, Elgar, Frank or Berg -- all of them composers influenced by Wagner, and who extensively used his orchestration procedures.

They should use asbestos to build their schools, since the link between asbestos and lung cancer was discovered by the Nazis. I know, I know, they do use asbestos when they build schools for Arabs; but I mean they should use it in schools for Jews.

The Israelis should refrain from using archival information recorded on magnetophonic tape, since the the world's first practical tape recorder, the K1, was first demonstrated in Germany in 1935 -- regrettably for the Israelis, just in time to be considered a Nazi Germany invention.

If I can't use an Intel chip, the Israelis shouldn't have developed it in the first place, since it's part of a computer, and the first functional computer, the Z3, was invented in Nazi Germany (for all their technical ability, they were terrible at naming their inventions, mind you).

No Israeli should use methadone, another Nazi invention, as an inexpensive pain killer.

The Israeli Air Force should never, ever, use jet fighters! It is very well known that the first operational jet fighter was the Messerschmitt Me 262 -- again, developed by the Nazis. Not to mention stealth planes -- the Nazi Horten Ho 229 was the first such aircraft.

And, among countless other inventions, Israelis should of course refrain from using guided missiles, since the first such device was the V2, developed by card-carrying Nazi Wernher von Braun using a 60,000-strong slave force (partly Jewish) who mostly died from overwork at the production facilities in Peenemünde.

So here's my proposal for the Israelis: they don't use any more missiles against the Palestinians. And I promise to stick to AMD for the rest of my life.