Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great comments, #1

Sometimes you read comments on blogs and online papers that you wish you had authored. I've decided to periodically report the most juicy ones, if only so that their authors will know that they haven't gone unnoticed.

Let's start with a comment the other day on Haaretz. But first a little context. A few weeks ago the Palestinian Authority freed five Hamas terrorists, or suspected terrorists, that had been imprisoned several months before. Right after their release, Israeli soldiers invaded the Hebron building where they were staying, went into the wrong apartment and killed a 65-year-old man, Amr Qawasme, apparently in his sleep. After the regrettable mistake, they proceeded to go down to the floor below, where the men they sought were in fact staying, and captured them.

The IDF published a report:

According to the IDF, one of the soldiers in the mission fired on Qawasme "following a suspicious movement that caused the soldier to feel that his life was threatened."

An investigation into the incident found that while this soldier fired "in accordance with IDF rules of engagement," a second soldier who followed the first one's lead and also began firing at Qawasme had acted "unprofessionally", and was thus discharged from his IDF service.

At least it can be said that the incident embarrassed a few Zionists before they could put their acts together. In the comments, the expectable knee-jerk reactions were immediately displayed:

65. What was the supposed "civilian" doing hosting a houseful of Hamas?

* Jasper - Milwaukee
* 20.01.11
* 17:26

Common sense would say there could be trouble.

This gentleman and others who subscribed to the same thesis apparently have some trouble making out the difference between a building and an apartment. The notion that the senior citizen was housing terrorists, however, immediately became a staple of the Zionist commentariat all over the blogosphere.

Another, more reflexive type of comment was:

57. IDF discharges soldier involved in Hamas raid which left Palestinian civilian dead

* Avi
* 20.01.11
* 12:42

Why don't you all give it a rest. When the US kills 40+ civilians in Afghanistan I don't see you complaining

Now there's a problematic aspect to this argument in that it makes an analogy between two situations that can't be compared. Israel controls virtually all movement within the West Bank and has an extensive network of informers that allow it to gather intelligence as to where any person is located at any given time, which is hardly the case with the coalition forces in Afghanistan. Moreover, the situation in the WB is not one of war in the same sense that the situation in Afghanistan is. In 2010, more than 700 coalition troops, including 500 US ones, were killed in Afghanistan. By comparison, Israeli soldiers are only killed in accidents and friendly fire. The Hamas terrorists were not an imminent threat and the operation in which they were captured was not the "messy war" situation in which collateral damage arises. War, as conducted by Israel in the West Bank, is anything but messy. The Israelis had all the elements to perform a pinpoint, if entirely illegal, operation. If they didn't, it was not because of messiness, but because of carelessness and utter disrespect for any life not Jewish.

Oh, yes, but I was going to quote a great comment. Here it is:

55. Hamas Just Completed Their Investigation of Suicide Bombers

* Doug
* 20.01.11
* 11:36

from 10 years ago. They have concluded that they only activated the bombs after there was suspicious movement by an Israeli, and that the bomber followed Hamas rules of engagement. However, one of the bombers acted unprofessionally and would have been dismissed had he not died in the bombing.

Cute, eh?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Close encounters of a nasty kind

Israel provides free medical care to Palestinians. Every year, [fill in with number] Palestinians are treated in Israeli hospitals, getting world-class attention, which proves Israel is no cruel occupier.You will have heard this Zionist claim a fairly large number of times.

For some reason, certain people seem to believe that you can't be bad unless you're absolutely bad. Unfortunately, they don't apply the same reasoning to the Palestinians, who are incurable Jew-haters even though they sent firefighters to help control a recent fire in Israel, or to the Cuban leaders, who are irrationally evil even after they offered to send some 1,600 medics, field hospitals and 83 tons of medical supplies to ease the humanitarian disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in the US.

But a recent JPost story provides a new angle to analyze Israel's kindness towards its occupied people (an obligation under international law, by the way) at its hospitals. Reports the daily:

Specialist helps Palestinian talk after 8 month silence

The ability to speak – lost eight months ago by a 21- year-old Palestinian allegedly from the emotional trauma of an encounter with security forces – has been restored by a clinical communications specialist at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center.

The humanitarian gesture was that of Pnina Erenthal, who has much experience in treating psychogenic aphonia.(...)

She finally found him and volunteered to treat his condition at Kaplan; approval for his entrance was granted by the authorities.(...)

Erenthal said she “took the weak voice and helped him build it into sentences and texts. The first thing he said was about the trauma he had suffered,” but she did not provide details.(...)

[The patient] said he was very excited by Erenthal’s initiative to restore his voice.

“I want to study industrial engineering and management in university, and now I hope I will be accepted. Thanks so much to Pnina – she is a dear woman – and to Kaplan Medical Center which arranged all the authorizations.”

So here we've got a caring Israeli doctor who helps restore a Palestinian's lost speech. OK. But notice how matter-of-factly the article mentions the reason the young man suffered from that condition in the first place. He was traumatized by an "encounter" with Israel's security forces (elsewhere we learn he was beaten by police after he was caught in Ashkelon, where he works, without a permit to be in Israel).

In the talkbacks, a reader moans:

3. This won't appear in Ha'aretz

* Author: Michael
* Country: Israel
* 01/11/2011 08:16

And you won't hear from Israel bashers like Ron in Fairfax, the Labrador Retriever, etc.

Leaving aside that it did appear in Haaretz, notice how oblivious the reader is to the fact that it was a (commendable) private citizen who took it upon herself to help out the young man, while it was the public forces of the State of Israel that traumatized him in an "encounter."

At most we can say that Israel still has individual persons who have the will and the scientific knowledge to correct the wrongs caused by the State with its security bodies.

Kudos to Dr. Pnina Erenthal for restoring a young Palestinian's speech. Shame on the Israeli police for beating him until they rendered him voiceless in the first place. Shame also on those who turn reality upside down by suggesting that it is a beautiful person's kindness what is representative of the State of Israel, and not the brutality daily exercised by its men in uniform.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

An awful lot of few bad apples

David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Congress, recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in which he concluded that, with all its shortcomings, Israel is a liberal cause and, all in all, a good country. This should come as no surprise to anyone as Mr. Harris gets paid to find that Israel is a good country, but the most interesting part was the lively debate that ensued in the talkback. Some of us explained why Israel is not so good a country, giving numerous counterexamples. Basically, we argued that a country with the level of racism tolerated in Israel does not belong in the liberal democratic family. We were met with a lot of denial from the Zionist commentariat.

One problem with brainwashed Zionists is that they are programmed to deny everything, when a smarter approach would be to concede a few points before challenging their adversaries' theses. So that when you confront them with incontestable evidence, they always display the same kneejerk, instinctive reactions. Over the time it becomes tiresome. So here I'm presenting a few preemptive rebuttals to their also prepackaged talking points. (My blogging consists mostly of preparing materials ready for copy-pasting so that I won't have to spend so much time writing responses when confronting the Zios on the web.)

1) It's a few bad apples.

This argument sometimes works for two reasons. First, people have short memories. After all, who among us could name the ethnic groups involved in the Rwandan genocide, and who killed who? (It was the Hutus killing the Tutsis.) When someone commits an act of racism in Israel, the reader of the story usually has already forgotten that last month, last week or the day before yesterday a similar act was carried out by other Israeli Jews. Second, there's a racist idea lingering in Western educated circles that the Jews are particularly moral or good, and if some behave bad they must necessarily be exceptions.

Looks like not, however. In the last few weeks, a stunning number of anti-Arab racist incidents took place in Israel, such as:

  • On 17 Oct 2010, rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a senior Sephardic religious figure and leader of the Shas party, declared that “Goyim (i.e. Gentiles) were born only to serve us (i.e. Jews). Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”
  • On 31 Oct 2010, a Jewish mob gathered outside of an Arab students' residence in Safed, chanted "death to the Arabs," hurled rocks and bottles at the building, shattering glass, and fired a shot at the building before dissassembling. If Jewish students had been thus treated elsewhere in the world, we would be talking of a Kristallnacht.
  • On 7 Dec 2010, a group of 50 state-paid rabbis signed a letter instructing Orthodox Jews not to rent or sell houses to non-Jews. The letter was later endorsed by some 250 other Jewish religious figures. In a move reminiscent of darker places and times, a hotline was opened for denouncing those Jews who did intend to rent out to Arabs.
  • On 12 Dec 2010, the rabbis of the Israeli Jewish city of Rosh Ha-Ayin, including the chief rabbi, declared a ban on hiring Arabs at stores which employ Jewish girls.
  • On 19 Dec 2010, a demonstration was held in Bat Yam, close to Tel Aviv, against the "assimilation of young Jewish women with Arabs living in the city or in nearby Jaffa." One of the organizers, Bentzi Gufstein, declared that "the public is tired of so many Arabs going out with Jewish girls." One of the protestors called out, "Any Jewish woman who goes with an Arab should be killed; any Jew who sells his home to an Arab should be killed."
  • On 20 Dec 2010, a group of five Arabs, including a Druze IDF veteran, were driven from an apartment in Tel Aviv after their landlady was threatened with the torching of her house if she continued to rent out to Arabs.
  • On 21 Dec 2010, a gang of Jewish youths was arrested in Jerusalem after carrying out a large number of attacks on Arabs. A girl aged 14 would lure Arab men to the Independence Park, where they were savagely attacked with stones and bottles and severely beaten. The teens confessed to nationalistic motives.
  • On 27 Dec 2010, the wives of 27 top rabbis signed another letter calling on Jewish girls to stay away from Arab men. Echoing the "they want to take our girls" theme so common in supremacist societies, the document went: "there are quite a few Arab workers who use Hebrew names. (...) Don't date them, don't work where they work and don't perform National Service with them."

So that if indeed the perpetrators of such acts of hate can be described as a few bad apples, it's certainly an awful lot of few bad apples.

2)  Like any other democracy, Israel has its problems.

It is true that Israel has its problems and other democracies also have their problems, but it is wrong to convey the idea that both sets of problems are remotely comparable. As I commented on The Huffington Post:

Harris makes two comparison­s. First, he compares Israel with other surroundin­g countries, and concludes that Israel is far better. No problem with that.

But then he compares Israel to "every democratic­, liberal and peace-seek­ing country" that he knows, and says that Israel is imperfect to the same extent that those other countries are. That is nonsense.

Take, for instance, Britain. In Britain you don't see 36 State-paid Anglican bishops signing a letter calling on Anglicans not to rent out apartments to Jews. You don't see an MP stating that intermarri­age between Anglican women and Jewish men is dangerous for the women. You don't see the Housing Minister stating that the Jewish and Anglican population­s should not mix. You don't see Anglicans hurling bottles and bricks at a building where Jewish students live while chanting "death to the Jews."

If anything remotely close to that were allowed in Britain, the country would be expelled from the EU and NATO and the US would sever ties with it. In Israel, on the other hand, such racism is allowed and encouraged by the government (please note that it's a Likud MK who's proposing a Knesset meeting to prevent intermarri­age).

Israel has a problem of totalitarian supremacism entrenched in political parties that form part of the governing coalition. Nowhere else in the developed democratic world can anything similar be found.

3) It's not racism -- Judaism isn't a race.

This argument takes advantage of the public's insufficient awareness of what the word "race" means, as we have explained elsewhere. But Israeli politicians are not afraid of calling it racism. As the Jerusalem Post reported:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday spoke out strongly against a letter signed by 27 rabbis' wives, which called on Jewish women not to date Arab men. He also had harsh words for a petition signed by municipal rabbis calling on Jews not to rent property to non-Jews.

Both letters, Barak said, are "part of a wave of racism, which threatens to carry Israeli society away to dark and dangerous places."

Anyone describing the latest events in Israel as anything less than racism is, thus, just one more instance of being more Catholic than the Israeli pope.

4) The haters have been roundly condemned by the society, and they're already being sought by the police.

If only.

No one is saying Israeli Jews are not aware of the image problem created by the racism that pervades their society, and of the need to do something about it. It's called damage control. Thus we have the lame condemnations made by politicians and journalists, but which never end up in those who incite to hate being arrested. Actions speak louder than words, especially when it's state-paid rabbis who promote hate. At the very least, they could be dropped from the payroll. Yet, according to the Jerusalem Post, "No legal or disciplinary action has been taken against the nearly 50 municipal rabbis who recently issued an edict against renting or selling real-estate to non-Jews in Israel." As The Guardian's Mya Guarnieri aptly put it when kicking ass on a rabidly Zionist site:

Again, as I said in the comments section of CIF, you seem to be confused between words and action. Everyone can condemn all they want but that doesn’t mean anything if the state doesn’t lift a finger.

This, of course, may have to do with a large proportion of the constituency (a staggering 44% of Israeli Jews) supporting the rabbis' ban on rentals to Arabs.

5) It's just freedom of expression being exercised.

When everything else has failed, Israeli Jewish racism will be explained away as an instance, or many instances in this case, of free speech being exercised.

Of course, there's an asymmetry in the freedom accorded by Zionists to people who want to speak. If it's a rabbi saying that Gentiles were born to serve the Jews -- yes; if it's a British Foreign Office employee saying "fucking Jews, fucking Israelis" -- no.

It would be good for them to remember that Israel does not grant unlimited freedom of speech to its population, and that there are laws against incitement to hate that could very well be applied to the rabbis who sign weird letters if the country were the democratic paragon it's purported to be.