Tuesday, January 31, 2012

B'nai B'rith to Argentina: censor things we don't like

The following comic strip was published by the Argentinian daily Página/12:

Even if you have no Spanish, you'll identify the figure of Adolf Hitler in it, and you'll realize it purports to depict a concentration camp.

If you do have Spanish you'll agree that it isn't funny at all (partial translation in the blockquote that follows), and it plays on the suffering of concentration camp inmates, which expectedly will anger and offend Holocaust survivors.

Now is it antisemitic? Here's what the B'nai B'rith had to say about it:

B'nai B'rith Strongly Condemns Anti-Semitic Cartoon in Argentine Paper: Comic Strip Portrays Dance Party at Concentration Camp, Hitler Appearance

B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible an anti-Semitic cartoon strip, “FieSSta,” (the capitalized “SS” referring to the Nazis) by Gustavo Sala published in the Argentine paper Página 12 and calls on the country’s government to denounce the daily newspaper under the country’s anti-discrimination law.

The cartoon strip’s main character, DJ David Gueto (a caricature of the French DJ David Ghetta) plays music in a concentration camp. At first, the prisoners don’t want to dance because they feel there’s nothing to celebrate, saying: “do you know that they kill us in gas chambers and make soap with us?” Hitler then appears and convinces them to dance because “life is short.” Hitler then thanks the DJ, saying: “If they are relaxed, the soap will be better.”

B’nai B’rith expresses its deep outrage and revulsion toward this cartoon, its creator and the newspaper that chose to publish it.(...)

“This cartoon strip is beyond offensive—it is frightening. It epitomizes the blatant, ongoing anti-Semitism that still exists, in 2012, throughout the world,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.

Now I would say there's a very objectionable point about this comic strip: it repeats the canard that the Nazis made soap from their victims. This is an insult to German rationality, since making soap from corpses made no sense and would have been a waste of resources. While many Jews have disseminated the canard, historians (Jewish or not) have discarded it. Other than that, the strip correctly claims that the inmates were exterminated and that gas chambers were used to that effect. So where's the antisemitism? Is the Holocaust denied? Are the Jews stereotyped? No and no. Are the Jews ridiculed?

One might say yes, but actually we don't know who the prisoners are. They are not shown with a Star of David stitched to their shirts. The B'nai B'rith is indulging in a racism of its own by taking it for granted that the inmates in the strip are Jewish, thus forgetting that Gypsies and Soviet prisoners were also sent to the gas chambers. But let's suppose that the strip's author had Jews in mind. Yes it is offensive. Yes it is making fun of victims of genocide. But no stereotypes are used, and that is the smoking gun absent which talk of antisemitism is unreasonable.

Not content with calling antisemitism what really isn't, the B'nai B'rith proceeds to give its advice to the Argentinian government:

“We hope the Argentine government swiftly and strongly utilizes its anti-discrimination law to take the appropriate route to quell this and any further anti-Semitic behavior,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.

There does exist an anti-discrimination law in Argentina, but it doesn't cover this case. Let's see the relevant articles:

Article 1: Any person who arbitrarily prevents, obstructs, restricts or in any way diminishes the full exercise on an egalitarian basis of the fundamental rights and guaranties recognized in the Constitution will be obliged, at the damaged person’s request, to suspend the effects of the discriminatory action or stop performing it, and to repair the moral and material damage caused. To the effect of the present article discriminatory actions or omissions determined by such motives as race, religion, nationality, ideology, political or trade-unional opinion, gender, economic position, social condition or physical characteristics will be particularly considered.

Article 3: A prison term of 1 month to 3 years will be imposed on those who participate in an organization or disseminate propaganda based on ideas or theories of superiority of a race or group of people of a certain religion, ethnic origin or color, which are aimed at justifying or promoting racial or religious discrimination in any form. The same punishment will be meted on those who by any means encourage or incite to persecution or hate against a person of group of people because of their race, religion, nationality or political ideas.

Clearly, neither article says anything about callously mocking someone else's suffering, even if a specific group is singled out for ridicule.

So that the B'nai B'rith is not actually demanding for the law to be enforced; it's asking for censorship (disguised as anti-discrimination) to be used against things that they (or I, for that matter) don't like. The government, naturally, won't take the advice, and the myth of an antisemitic Argentina (Argentina, where the foreign minister is Jewish) will make the rounds of the Jewish press once again, maybe persuading 10 or 12 young Jews to emigrate to Israel. Which is very convenient for the cause of Zionism, even if absoloutely inconvenient for the causes of truth and intellectual honesty.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The thin-walled Israeli Jewish glass house

An article's title can convey either its subject or its thesis. Thus, the title of Shaul Rosenfeld's recent Ynet story "Israel's shameful Arabs" can be inerpreted as meaning "this article will deal only with those Israeli Arabs who are shameful" or "the thesis of this article is that Israeli Arabs are shameful." Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the former is meant (although you and I know that a story titled "The US's exploitative Jews" would not enjoy the same benefit of the doubt).

The article targets Israeli Arab lawmakers, whom Rosenfeld finds to act, well, shamefully. Ahmad Tibi, a member of Knesset best-known for having coined the catchphrase "Israeli is democratic and Jewish: democratic for the Jews, and Jewish for the Arabs," is slammed in the first place for having stated:

The shahid is honored throughout the history of nations. He is the one who blazed the trail for us. No value is more noble than martyrdom... Israelis are ignorant with regards to the term 'shahid' and misunderstand it. It refers to anyone who was killed by the occupation for the homeland or died for a national cause.

The shahid is a martyr, and it is well-known that all countries have martyrs whom they venerate. Since Tibi makes no mention of any particular martyr, we don't know if he's including terrorists among their numbers. "A national cause" may include killing civilians, but since he doesn't explicitly say so, he enjoys plausible deniability, which is all that counts in the eyes of Zionists.

I have a hard time understanding why Rosenfeld finds this outrageous. Israel honors the terrorist David Raziel, who masterminded the murder of scores of innocent Arabs with bombs in markets. As his admirer Meir Kahane described:

On July 6, 1938, time bombs were put in milk cans and placed in the Arab market place in Haifa by an Irgun member dressed as an Arab porter. In the explosion that followed, 21 Arabs were killed and 52 wounded.

Two days later, the Irgun threw a bomb into a crowd of Arabs waiting near the bus terminal near Jaffa Gate; three were killed and 19 injured. A week later, on a Friday, as Arabs left their mosque at the foot of David Street in the Old City, an electronically detonated mine went off killing 10 Arabs and wounding 30.

On July 25, 1938, a 30-kilogram explosive went off in the Arab marketplace in Haifa. Hidden in a barrel of sour pickles, it killed at least 35 Arabs and wounded 70 more. The Arabs were terrified; the Jews were hysterical. Raziel was content.

One month later, the Irgun switched to Jaffa, a nest of the worst gangs of Arab vipers in the country. An Irgun member, once again dressed as an Arab porter, placed a bomb in the Arab Dir-a-Salach marketplace. The official version listed 21 Arabs dead and 35 wounded. In reality many more went to Islamic heaven.

February 27, 1939, proved to be yet another "Black Day" for the Arabs as the Irgun, sensing the impending collapse of Arab terror in the face of Jewish vengeance, attacked three cities. In Haifa, two powerful explosions went off, one at the ticket window of the railroad station in East Haifa and the other at the Arab marketplace. At least 27 Arabs were killed. Half an hour later, in Jerusalem, three Arabs were killed and six wounded in an
Irgun explosion on David Street, while another died after being attacked on an Arab bus passing Mahane Yehuda.

Finally, in Tel Aviv attacks on Arabs near the power station in the north and in the Salama district in the south killed three more.

But Raziel has been thoroughly rejected by Zionists, hasn't he? Er no; let's read on:

David Raziel was a terrorist, a murderer who went against everything that was "Jewish." Today, one may visit a settlement due west of Jerusalem named Ramat Raziel and live on Raziel Street in East Talpiot in Jerusalem. One may hear talks on the glory of Raziel and see mementos of him at the Herut headquarters on King George Street in Tel Aviv and may look up paeans of praise of him from the speeches of Yitzhak Shamir, Menachem Begin and Moshe Arens.

So that Tibi honors the shahids, but we don't know exactly what people he's talking about. On the other hand, the Jews of Israel honor Raziel, whom we know to have been a monstrous Jewish terrorist who killed countless civilians. What's the problem?

Rosenfeld goes on to bash Hanin Zoabi, another Israeli Arab MK, along with other unnamed ones. He claims:

These Arab MKs also board various Gaza-bound ships or visit Hamas leaders or enlightened Arab rulers such as Gaddafi, may he rest in peace.

This is in line with the article's lede, which states "Arab parliamentarians endorse tyrants, terrorists while slamming 'undemocratic' Israel."

One has the right to slam an undemocratic country, even as one visits undemocratic leaders. It's called freedom of conscience. But if you think one doesn't enjoy that right, then you must be consistent. You must never have made friends with dictators.

And here's where file photos come in handy.

South Africa's prime minister John Vorster (second from right) is feted by Israel's prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (right) and Menachem Begin (left) and Moshe Dayan during his 1976 visit to Jerusalem. Photograph: Sa'ar Ya'acov
South Africa's prime minister John Vorster (second from right) is feted by Israel's prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (right) and Menachem Begin (left) and Moshe Dayan during his 1976 visit to Jerusalem. Photograph: Sa'ar Ya'acov

Yes, you got it right. Israel invited South African dictator John Vorster in the heyday of Apartheid.

Rosenfeld would have been better advised to take a legalistic approach, such as "visiting Lybia was illegal." But since he tries to slam Arab lawmakers citing moral considerations, his attempt fails miserably, because he's throwing rocks from a glass house, and a very thin-walled one at that.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walls and antisemitism

When you're slandered, it sometimes takes a time before you get vindicated. This is so because astute slanderers usually make claims that can't be checked, and not many people have enough logical training to understand that the burden of proof falls on the one making an assertion.

A few years ago, those of us who opposed the Israeli Apartheid wall, or, if you want to be Orwellian, security fence were slandered as antisemites. The centerpiece of the argument was that many countries were building or had completed border fences, so why single out Israel? The fact that Israel's wall, and only Israel's, was slammed and denounced, had obviously everything to do with antisemites being unable to stomach assertive Jews who defended themselves rather than submissively accepting to be killed. For instance, an article in the Jewish Magazine analyzing the Presbyterian Church's divestement from Israel (which included a disgusting image of a cross partially hiding a swastika) claimed:

The Presbyterians say they have a problem with the Israelis building a security fence to protect themselves from attack. There is a long list of countries that built a security barrier between their own country and an enemy. [Long list follows.] The church is notably quiet about the construction of barriers in these countries. Is it because there is a double standard when an issue concerns Jews?

The smoking gun was the fact that rights organizations took the case to the UN, which referred it to the International Court of Justice, which in turn found the wall to be illegal. This had never been done before and meant that not only pundits and NGO's, but the whole world was antisemitic, further proving the need for Israel to exist and, en passant, grab ever more Palestinian land. When the UN acted on the ICJ's advisory opinion, a neocon site declared:


Hat-tip to the inimitable
The UN is setting up a bureaucracy to assist Arabs in the occupied territories of Israel to make claims against the Government of Israel for losses they assert were caused by the anti-terror security fence . (See other news stories HERE and HERE.)

Levin - tonight, on his syndicated radioshow - made the point that there are DOZENS of other security fences on disputed territories which have NEVER EVER been the subject of ANY UN attack.

We anti-Zio... sorry, antisemites, were quick to point out a small, a minimal, an insignificant difference between those "dozens of other fences" and Israel's: in the Israeli case, the wall/fence was built outside of its internationally recognized borders, so that it cut off populations inside the West Bank from each other and from the agricultural lands they tended to. One town, Qalqiliya, was completely surrounded by the fence, in an ironical reversal of the mediaeval practice of surrounding a city with a wall to defend it.

The Zionists ignored this difference and kept claiming that we were incurable antisemites. They said that we singled out Israel and we pointed out that Israel singled itself out by building a wall different from everyone else's: who was right? Of course, we were proving our claim, but Zionists didn't even when they had the obligation to. But as noted about, the public is not usually aware of the "burden of proof" rule.

So it would be great if we could convince the logically challenged. And how could we do it? Well, easy: if Israel changed its behavior and built a separatory barrier along its recognized borders (rather than beyond them), and we refrained from taking the case to the UN, it would mean we're not antisemites at all. We would be holding Israel to the same standards we use for other countries with similar barriers. If this were the case, the allegation of antisemitism (on this issue, at least) would be dead and buried.

Wait a minute, it's already happening. Israel is building a barrier along its Sinai border with Egypt. This fence's primary objective is to stop illegal migrants from getting into Israel. We antisemites masquerading as anti-Zionists should be up in arms against this fence, which foils one of our favorite plans: to flood Israel with non-Jews so that it will lose its Jewish identity, in a silent Holocaust. We should be asking for the ICJ to declare the fence illegal.

But since the fence is being built on Israel's side of the border, as it should, we're doing nothing of the like. Not that we like it, mind you; I, personally, hate all such barriers and am pleased that my country has erected none. But I won't take the case of this particular wall to the ICJ--because I'm not antisemitic; and if anyone did, the ICJ would not find it illegal, because it's also not antisemitic.

On keeping a blog like this

Over the last few months I've been discouraged to continue to keep this blog. The reason is simple. This is a blog devoted to expose bad-faith defenses of Israel. The problem is that such defenses have a sort of lack of genetic variety, or, to put it in a simpler way, they are always the same. The argument, for instance, that Gaza doesn't suffer from the Israeli blockade just because candy bars are allowed in or a roller coaster exists in the strip can be easily defeated, as I have, by pointing out that even in the Warsaw ghetto the Nazis allowed Jews such luxuries as a symphony orchestra, or paper to print posters. This doesn't deter the hasbarists, however, and they keep citing the same argument over and over.

The same goes for the endless denunciations of Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad's nonexistent threat to wipe out Israel. Even as the regime has repeatedly declared that Israel will collapse on its own, and that there's no need for Iran to intervene, the canard is tenaciously repeated.

Similar to all propaganda efforts, hasbara is not about making convincing cases based on sound logic, but about using any means available to defend Israel. This includes lies and false analogy, and if such devices are exposed it doesn't matter, because a lie becomes a perceived truth if it is repeated often enough.

I recently discovered, however, that one of my posts had forced a correction by CAMERA, the rabidly Zionist propaganda organization (more about this in an upcoming post). So that maybe keeping the blog does make a difference after all, and I've decided to start posting again.