Tuesday, June 8, 2010

IN Touch: Lack of context for anti-Israeli vitriol (and bonus material)

My fifteenth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online (actually, it went live yesterday, but Blogger was down so I couldn’t post this entry). As I keep saying when I post these entries, I'm going to keep re-posting my IN Touch entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.

One can debate the wisdom of Israel’s actions in boarding the “Free Gaza” vessels that set out with the express intent of breaching Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.  To be serious, however, that debate must acknowledge context, including: Israel’s right to defend itself, Hamas’ continued holding of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit without access to the Red Cross, the continued rocket fire from Gaza, the Hamas Charter that calls for the destruction of Israel, Hezbollah’s calls for the death of all Jews, not just Israelis, the theft by Hamas of aid intended for the civilian population of Gaza and refusal to take delivery of the aid unloaded and inspected by Israel, and the use of the Hamas-run television programs akin to Sesame Street designed to indoctrinate children into the belief that martyrdom and killing Jews is something to which they should aspire.

The timing and vitriol of some of the anti-Israeli responses has been nothing less than stunning and may represent something far deeper, far more pernicious, than anger at Israel over treatment of Gaza or a naval raid. Witness for example, the anger expressed by Mina Khoury in a letter to the editor published on June 4: “It is time the world opens its eyes to the Holocaust being inflicted on the Palestinians.” To compare the events in Gaza to the Holocaust is not merely wrong; it is evil. This odious comparison is invoked for only one reason: to defame, demonize, and delegitimize Israel.

Moreover, given the stunning amount of media coverage and public discussion over this issue, one would think that thousands, if not millions, of civilians had been killed. Yet barely a word is uttered as actual millions are dying in Congo.  Where is the world’s outrage in the face of North Korea’s act of aggression against South Korea that resulted in 46 deaths? Where are the aid flotillas attempting to breach the beaches in Myanmar or North Korea to deliver supplies to those impoverished and oppressed peoples?

Like America, Israel finds itself in uncharted waters, vilified by radical forces and facing murderous aggression from terrorists who proclaim a wish for “martyrdom” and a hatred for the West. The real task now concerns finding a road forward to a two-state solution which satisfies Israel’s need for security and the Palestinian need for dignity. Mr. Khoury’s diatribe provides no illumination.

I suspect (hope?) that there will be some interesting comments posted. Stop by the IN Touch site and join in the “conversation”.

In addition, to posting the foregoing, I thought that it would be worthwhile to post Mina Khoury’s letter to the editor that I referenced as well as some of the comments and follow-ups to that letter. They are both interesting and instructive.

First, Mina Khoury’s initial letter (followed by some selected comments posted in response; unfortunately [fortunately?] it appears as if some of the more inflammatory comments have been removed by the Star’s editors):

Israel's leaders have once again proved to the world their terrorist state of mind by massacring civilians and injuring dozens whose mission was peaceful and humanitarian. They yet again defied international law by committing this crime of terror in international waters.

How much longer with the world stand still watching Israel taking other countries and international entities as well as the United States for granted and continue to ignore the suffering they are causing to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank? Americans fund these actions with $8 million a day.

It is time the world opens its eyes to the Holocaust being inflicted on the Palestinians.

Comments (typos in originals):

From Paladin007:

A well written letter with legitimate concerns and questions.

Interesting how the Zionist propaganda machine has turned this into sympathy for the biggest terrorist organization on the planet.

And not surprising that the hayseeds in Indiana buy into the propaganda and misinformation so wilingly. But then most of them sit on the sidelines and cheer the "war on terror" when the real terrorists sit in DC and Tel Aviv.

My response (both to Khoury and to Paladin007):

Query to those engaged in this discussion who do not support Israel: In his post, Khoury states: "It is time the world opens its eyes to the Holocaust being inflicted on the Palestinians". Please define "Holocaust" and then provide concrete examples to support a claim that a "Holocaust is being inflicted on the Palestinians."

Similarly, for those who claim that Israel is the "biggest terrorist organization" on the planet, please provide a definition of "terrorism" and concrete examples of acts of Israeli terrorism, including all planes hijacked by Israelis, all cruise ships hijacked by Israelis (and all disabled Americans thrown overboard on hijacked cruise ships), all Olympic games attacked by Israelis, all public buses bombed by Israelis, all roadside bombs detonated by Israelis, all pizza parlors, discos, and bus stations targeted by Israeli suicide bombers, and all government facilities or high rise office towers into which Israelis have flown hijacked airliners.

From Shamanistic:

The last American president to stand up to Israel was John F. Kennedy. Shortly after he warned Irael about building nuclear weapons he was assasinated. The next president, Johnson, allowed Israel to bomb and torpedo a U.S. Navy ship and machine-gun the survivors, and then covered the whole thing up. Since then, every other president has gotten on his knees for Israel and done everything for them, at the expense of American interests. Israel has murdered numerous American citizens and nothing has ever been done about it.

Some people were probably hopeful that Obama would finally stand up for America against this evil regime, but he too is merely a puppet controlled from Tel Aviv.

So the answer is, Israel can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, because it controls the most powerful military in the world.

And another from Shamanistic:

If anyone doubts the power of propaganda just look at the last 5 posts in this thread. The typical yahoos in America are so easily manipulated by mass media that they will trip over themselves being the first to betray their own country to support some crappy little middle eastern parasitic state. They will ignore or even deny the ruthless attack on the USS Liberty and countless other Americans and the trillions of dollars extorted in blood and treasure from the citizens of the United States, selling out their own birthright to prop up some evil little despots who do nothing but laugh at them behind their backs.

What a bunch of rubes.

The day after printing Khoury’s letter, the Star printed the following letter from James F. Siener (selected comments follow):

Mina Khoury ("When will world recognize Israel's defiance?" June 4) wrote about the terrorist acts of Israel. There was a legal blockade. There were terrorists on board the ships (but without weapons). The terroristson board started the violence. Those are the facts.

It's been said that if all the Arab countries would disarm, there would be no more wars. If Israel disarms, there would be no more Israel.

Comments:

From Paladin007:

oh yes, poor poor Israel. The Zionist propaganda machine is in full swing now.

First, it was about the weapons...but none were found. Then it was about those nasty guys, al-CIAda. Yeah, thats right, the organization started, funded and armed by our own CIA. Then sadly, the Zionist terrorists had to admit there was no al-CIAda members aboard.

So now, a ship with no weapons and no "terrorists"...full of humanitarian aid for the enslaved Palestinians....is boarded and taken over by the real terrorists and the sheep here follow the media manipulation like the brainwashed idiots they are.

You Zionist terrorist lovers should read the Protocols of Zion....perhaps then you wouldn't be considered stupid, mindless goyim.

Also from Paladin007 (certain portions omitted for brevity and clarity):

The holocaust and all the other mainstream media talking points (distractions) which are repeated here display the depth of the manipulation of the masses. This has to do with delivering food and supplies and medicine to civilians in prison camp in Gaza. The fact that no weapons or "terrorists' were on board...which is the reason the Zionist's use to justify the killing of innocent people....isn't discussed. The crowd brings up WWII and Iran and everything else of except the incident.

And more from Paladin007:

All our newspapers will be of all possible complexions -- aristocratic, republican, revolutionary, even anarchical - for so long, of course, as the constitution exists .... Like the Indian idol "Vishnu" they will have a hundred hands, and every one of them will have a finger on any one of the public opinions as required. When a pulse quickens these hands will lead opinion in the direction of our aims, for an excited patient loses all power of judgment and easily yields to suggestion. Those FOOLS who will think they are repeating the opinion of a newspaper of their own camp will be repeating our opinion or any opinion that seems desirable for us. In the vain belief that they are following the organ of their party they will, in fact, follow the flag which we hang out for them.

- From the protocols of the elders of Zion...Protocol No. 12 - Control of the press.

To oldpinky [oldpink is a commenter who has challenged Paladin007] ......see the world fools? You can stand up and be counted now....among the manipulated, brainwashed goy.

And, as if the preceding weren’t enough, Paladin007 finally went off his/her rocker:

You're another stupid goyim....or maybe not. But I know you listen to the fathead, drug abuser all the time....considered a "friend of Israel"....so I wouldn't expect you to know anything other than what big mouth spouts....another example of the Zionist media machine in action.

and

And one more thing...you support Israel and the Zionists because your drug using blowhard tells you to. But I'm wondering how you square that with your unwavering support of the Bush crime family...who are known Nazis.

I chimed in again, with a revised version of my prior query (to which I’d received no response):

I posted the following query in response to Paladin007's comments to another LttE. No response so far:

For those who claim that Israel is the "biggest terrorist organization" on the planet, please provide a definition of "terrorism" and concrete examples of acts of Israeli terrorism, including all planes hijacked by Israelis, all cruise ships hijacked by Israelis (and all disabled Americans thrown overboard on hijacked cruise ships), all Olympic games attacked by Israelis, all public buses bombed by Israelis, all roadside bombs detonated by Israelis, all pizza parlors, discos, and bus stations targeted by Israeli suicide bombers, and all government facilities or high rise office towers into which Israelis have flown hijacked airliners.

(Oh, I dare those spouting hate and calling people names to post under their real name instead of hiding behind a pseudonym.)

Paladin007 is back (this time responding to another commenter):

You should be on the evening news spouting this disinformation like all the rest of the prostitutes. First you say the Israelis were using rubber bullets...now you say the passengers on the ships attacked them. Its seems if they were dangerous terrorists they would've had guns of their own...and taken care of the pirates before they even got on board.

You still haven't addressed the nine people killed....over 50 injured...and nothing but humanitarian aid for Gaza found on the ships. No terrorists, no weapons, no bombs....just food and supplies and medicine.

Guess the protocols scared you since you haven't commented on those.

And then, Paladin007 responded to me (but didn’t answer my queries):

Your questions are cute but they've got nothing to do with the issue of the humanitarian ships being attacked by the terrorists from Israel.

None of you can address that, you just follow the talking points of the controlled media like parrots. Mindless, manipulated and brainwashed.

Posting under a real name has no relevance to anything other than your misguided attempt to be credible. I could post under any name....what difference does it make? Just because you use what appears to be a real name doesn't give your comments any more meaning or substance. Your real name could be Able Foxman for all we know. Its still irrelevant.

Finally, in response to another poster who had taken Paladin007’s challenge to read “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, I wrote:

You do realize that "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" is a Czarist era forgery based upon even earlier works, don't you? Of course, that hasn't stopped Hamas from actually including a reference to "The Protocols" in the Hamas Charter as a basis for Jihad against Jews. Nor did that stop state-run Egyptian television from producing a 41-part miniseries based on "The Protocols" that was shown in Egypt and elsewhere throughout the Middle East during Ramadan several years ago.

For that matter, Hamas TV has aired claims of the blood libel (that Jews murder [insert chosen victim; in the Middle Ages it was Christians, now it is Muslims] and use their blood to bake Passover matzoh).

Yet in the world of people like Paladin007, it is Israel that is wrong. Of course, if he refuses to recognize that "The Protocols" is a forgery, then what should one expect of the rest of his reasoning.

Then, on Sunday, the Star printed another pro-Israel letter, this one from Dr. Allon Friedman:

What is missing from The Star's May 31-June 2 articles describing the Gaza flotilla affair is a description of the integral role that Turkey and Islamism played. The Turkish IHH, the organizer of the flotilla, has well-known links to violent jihadist movements worldwide, including Hamas. In fact, in 1999 the then-secular Turkish government actually banned the IHH from contributing to Turkish earthquake relief because of its radical ideology.

Furthermore, al-Jazeera reported flotilla members singing about the Koranic-era slaughter and expulsion of Jews. At a Turkish press conference, a number of activists wrote their own wills and, according to Turkish media, three of the four Turks killed were eager to die while participating in violent jihad.

With this in mind, the flotilla mission can only be understood as a classic jihadist martyrdom operation against the infidel Jewish state, one disguised as a humanitarian mission and actively aided, abetted and embraced by the Turkish government. Many secular Turks have for years warned that Turkey's current government is Islamist to its core and that its nod to secularism is merely a sham. The flotilla affair appears to have proven this beyond a doubt.

So far, Dr. Friedman’s post hasn’t generated any harsh response (and Paladin007 is missing in action).

I could go on and on (as the letters and comments do). If you’re interested, The Indianapolis Star designated and reliably anti-Israel columnist, Dan Carpenter, wrote a screed in which he said: “In Israel's rendition, it is a black-and-white battle against genocidal terrorism with no credence given to the humanitarian bona fides of the legions of activists, Israeli as well as foreign, lending their voices to the voiceless.” Of course this completely ignores (a) the fact that Israel has been supplying enormous amounts of aid to Gaza, none of which would be necessary if Hamas would simply agree to stop trying to kill Israelis and (b) that people like Carpenter, not to mention the UN and a billion or so Muslims around the world are already “lending” their voices to the people of Gaza. Anyway, Carpenter’s column generated quite a few comments including the following comments that I found particularly instructive with regard to the nature of the debate and the anti-Israel crowd.

From walksupright (certain portions omitted for brevity and clarity):

That's billions of OUR TAX DOLLARS annually to prop up the rogue Zionist apartheid state, Fuddsy.

That's our "blood and treasure" your pals are costing us - not just the direct costs in terms of questionless blank-check - and in fact illegal under US law, in terms of the arms shipments - but in the TRILLIONS in higher energy (oil) cost, military expenses to fight the endless "war on terror" that your pals have sucked us into, and the BLOOD OF AMERICANS. From the USS Liberty to the USS Cole to 9-11 to Afghanistan to Iraq...

Why don't YOU put YOUR money where your mouth is, Fuddsy -

EMIGRATE TO ISRAEL, ENLIST IN THEIR MILITARY, and leave America to AMERICANS.

We don't need traitorous shills like you, Elmer Stooge. Bye bye.

From Telexkrash:

Israel is occupying Palestinian land!! If someone was occupying American land we would be fighting back too. Is it really that hard to put yourself in their situation. They are fighting for their own freedom, liberties, justice and equality. Do they use terroristic tactics sometimes -- yes they do. We also used terroristic approaches when we fought for our own independence against the English. Is it because Palestinians want to eradicate Jews -- No. It's because they want sovereignty. They want their f*cking land back. They want Israel to stop making new settlements on their land.

Today, two more (pro-Israel) letters to the editor were printed (from Josh Hasten and Jeffrey Adler). And yet more interesting comments followed.

From someguy555:

Simply stated: Your military boarded a ship in international waters. Had they boarded in the territorial waters near Palestine (which you blockade and thus control) or Israel, the crew of the ship would be in the wrong. Because your military boarded them in international waters, what they really committed was an act of piracy.

It's a lie to say that a ship filled with medical supplies and building materials is an "attack on Israel." You people live in a universe of blind-paranoia--as much as I support the right of the Jewish people to a homeland, I am disgusted by what they've done with that blessing. Here's a thought: STOP PROVOKING THEM BY BUILDING NEW SETTLEMENTS.

People I've seen spouting this "Ships filled with medical supplies are a violent attack on Israel!" rhetoric also seem to spout the manifest destiny/divine right to build new settlements on Palestinian land drivel, too. Want rocket attacks to end? DISMANTLE ALL SETTLEMENTS, and don't build more.

From bobindy:

The Palestinians have just as much a right to exist on their homelands as the country that bullied them off of their territorial history in 1949. The Israelies are holding an entire culture, one as old as their own, hostage and, despite what Mike Pensive says, are, indeed, subjected to inhumane hardships. If it were you and your family and your culture and your history and your desparateness, would you not also try to fight back? Okay, maybe you wouldn't.

Whew.

While Paladin007 and Shamanistic have been the principal commentators opposed to Israel in these particular comment threads, I suspect that if one were to review the comments posted to similar articles or letters in the past or to similar articles or letters in other publications, you would find that the opinions expressed are consistent with much of anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) rhetoric being openly expressed.

I include these comments for three purposes: To demonstrate the degree of hostility toward Israel (and Jews) currently being expressed, to demonstrate how this hostility is being mainstreamed (i.e., those who espouse these views are less likely to keep them private; witness Helen Thomas’ statements that went viral over this past weekend), and to show how readily these views confuse/conflate Jews and Zionism/Israel, thus, putting into sharp focus the reality of the “I’m not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist” claim.

I also note one further thing that gives me a great deal of concern: Most of the anti-Zionist sentiment is being expressed by the political left. I usually think of myself as being firmly on the left, maybe even a progressive. More importantly, I’d speculate that a large percentage of American Jews would place themselves on the political left, too. Yet the one issue on which the left appears to be pushing away a segment of their strongest supporters is on the issue of Israel. That worries me.

I’m in the process of writing at length on the whole Gaza flotilla incident. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to finish that in the next day or four.

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