Monday, June 28, 2010

IN Touch: Lack of context for anti-Israeli vitriol (update)

On June 8, I posted my most-recent addition to The Indianapolis Star’s IN Touch blog. My post was included in the June 13 print edition of The Indianapolis Star. Anyway, when I posted it here, I said, “I suspect (hope?) that there will be some interesting comments posted”. Well, sufficient time has now passed, that I thought it worth posting the comments (typos in originals) that my blog generated. I’d say that the comments below from Jim Smith help prove the point that I was making.

From jvertigo:

I too find it amazing that Israel is painted out to be the bad guy again. The Palestinians were dancing in the street over 9/11. How soon we forget. Israel had over 7,000 rocket attacks on its soil and not one little outcry from the liberals. The liberals and the Hollywood elite along with the media are the enemy of this nation. I challenge all thinking Americans to realize what the real story is here. Obama is anti Jewish like his preacher, he has sided with the muslims like his father and we are seeing the results. Wake up America!!

Me:

I agree with what you said until your third sentence. Frankly, I consider myself to be a liberal as to, I suspect, many Jews. Yes, many liberals in America and Europe have taken positions against Israel, but I certainly don't view them as the "enemy of this nation". That kind of hyperbole isn't helpful. Moreover, some may disagree with President Obama's approaches to dealing with Israel and the Middle East but to suggest that he is anti-Jewish is plain wrong.

Me again:

Sorry. I meant fourth sentence.

Jim Smith:

So Mike, I'm thinking by the tone of your article, you think its okay for the Palestinians to be put, kept and confined to the concentration camp called the Gaza Strip. You also must condone the strafing of schools and hospitals and residences by the Israeli F-16's. The bulldozing of houses....in which Rachel Corrie was killed...is okay too?

As for your one uninformed commenter....I've got news for you...the Jews RUN Hollywood. Do the names Speilberg, Katzenberg, Eisner, Weinstein, Chernin, Meyer, Moonves and Zucker mean anything?

And how Israel's right to exist has anything to do with a humanitarian flotilla of ships carrying food, medicine and supplies to the imprisoned Palestinians...I'll never know. Israel has a navy, army and air force....and nuclear weapons. The Palestinians are and have been in a prison camp for over 60 years. This is like comparing the US to Aruba. A super power vs. a third world concentration camp.

Mike, your humanitarian side is severely lacking.

You Mike, like the mainstream media which is controlled by the Zionists, talk around the subject as if anything the Israelis do is justified. And so far, no weapons, no terrorists and no bombs were found on any of the ships. Which means, they were doing exactly what they said they were doing...delivering aid to the Palestinians.

So I'm guessing you're for starving the Palestinians, keeping needed medical supplies from them and making sure their life is miserable.

And to top it all off, the Israelis release footage which show the passengers on the ships trying to defend themselves with anything they could....while the Israelis are shooting live ammo into the crowd. Of course some of the passengers took video and pictures but the Israelis confiscated all of that and none of it is being released. Perhaps it will show a different story than the propaganda presented to the public by the Zionist controlled media.

And lastly, I hate to break this news to you but the Israelis don't have exclusive rights to the word holocaust even though they've gotten tons of mileage out of it for the last 60+ years.....Hitler has nothing to do with the Palestinians so lets stay on point, shall we?

Me:

Jim:

I'm not going to take the time right now to address each point that you raise. However, I do want to note the way that you conjoin the terms Israeli and Jew. If you want to criticize Israel, that is fine; but what does criticism of Israel have to do with whether "Jews run Hollywood" or whether the mainstream media is "controlled by the Zionists"? Is your real complaint about Israeli policies or are you more focused on the perceived "power" of Jews? If you are unable to separate issues of Israel from those dealing with Jews, then whether your complaints are driven by concern for the Palestinians or animus for Jews becomes a question to be considered.

A few other quick points: Where did I say that anything that Israel did was acceptable? I don't recall writing those words for this post. In fact, I began my post with the note that people can debate the wisdom of Israel's actions and ended with a call to find a way forward to a two-state solution for peace. The thrust of my post was not one of right or wrong, but rather of the need for context.

Second, if the point of the flotilla was purely humanitarian, why did the organizers of the flotilla expressly claim that their goal was to break the blockade, why were they not satisfied to deliver the goods to Ashdod for inspection and delivery to Gaza (as the other aid ships did), why where they unwilling to deliver aid to Gilad Shalit, and why has Hamas refused to accept delivery of the aid?

Finally, with regard to your claim that "Hitler has nothing to do with the Palestinians", I'd suggest that you do a bit more historical research. You might start with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate and World War II.

Seth:

Michael,

While context is needed to understand the conflict, context is also needed in the blockade. We've now found out that its, as Isreal calls it, economic warfare....collective punishment of a group of people that the government disapproves of. The flotilla organizers knew that Middle Eastern spices would be confiscated by Isreal along with bottled water and other banned economic warfare items. Since no weapons were found, that is most likely the reason for "breaking the blockade".

Me:

Some weapons (though not rockets or bombs were found; but query how bullet proof vests, night-vision gear, and millions of Euros in cash is humanitarian).

As to the issue of economic blockade or collective punishment, don't forget that Hamas is the de facto (maybe even de jure) government in Gaza and Hamas, as the government of Gaza, has called for and made war against Israel. It is worth reading the Hamas Charter to know precisely what Israel is confronted with. What sort of methods would you permit Israel to use to defend itself against that war and to defeat Hamas?

Blockades, whether ecomic or military, have a long history. Does the US engage in collective punishment of Cuba or North Korea? More on point, does virtually the entire Arabic world engage in collective punishment against Isreal for refusing to trade with Israel and refusing to do business with businesses (and some countries) that do business with Israel? Did you know that the US had to pass a statute to prevent US companies from succumbing to pressure from Arab countries to disclose whether those companies do business with Israel in order to do business with the Arab country or company?

Moreover, if the blockade is legal (and there is plenty to argue both ways on that), then the intent to break the blockade is technically an act of war. It is also worth noting that if Gaza was occupied (as many still claim, ignoring that Israel left Gaza), then no blockade would be necessary as Israel would be the de fact occupying power. But it isn't.

Finally, don't forget that Hamas still has not allowed the aid from the flotilla to be brought into Gaza (or that Israel continues to transport an enormous amount of aid into Gaza and allow a large number of Palestinians to leave Gaza for medical treatment in Israel). Can you imagine Hamas allowing Israelis to seek medical aid in Gaza or even the West Bank?

Also, don't forget that though the flotilla organizers may claim to have known what would and would not be allowed in, they also made express statements about their desire to reach Gaza or die trying and many told Al-Jazeera and other sources of their desire to become shaheeds (martyrs) in the flotilla. Before emarking, they sang songs gloryfing a Medieval Muslim massacre of Jews in the Arabian Peninsula. Not exactly humanitarian, either.

The fact that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are not in favor of a complete lifting of the blockade should also be telling.

But thank you for keeping your comments related to Israel and the context of the blockade, rather than veering into the type of criticism that others (like Jim, above) have gone for.

Jim Smith:

Yes, Mikey, heaven forbid ANYONE would criticize Israel. Especially while they continue to perform genocide on the Palestinians and hold the entire Middle East under nuclear blackmail.

And I understand you don't wish to address the points I raised as your only purpose here is to defend the Zionist terror machine.

Me:

You have some issues, don't you Jim?

First, I'd like you to identify, with specificity, preicsely what genocidal actions Israel has taken. How many Palestinians have been killed, not in combat, but solely because of their race, religion, or nationality? Now, compare and contrast that to other incidents of genocide (remember Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, for example?).

Next, I'd like you to point to a single instance of Israel threatening to use nuclear weapons against a neighbor. Compare and contrast that to the repeated calls from Iran and others for Israel to be wiped of the map or pushed into the sea.

Finally, my "only purpose here is to defend the Zionist terror machine"? Really? I guess you haven't read most of my posts which have focused on domestic issues. And I guess that you didn't actually read my post above where I talk about the need to find solutions with security and dignity for a peaceful resolution.

No, Jim, I'd say that your anti-Semitism has eaten your soul and poisoned you to reasoned discussion and debate.

Jim Smith:

*LOL*

Playing the anti-semite, holocuast denier card is all you have left isn't it? Just like the Zionist media, when you can't defend Israel's terrorist, inhumane treatment of others, you resort to name calling and hurling racial accusations.

The sad part is that you don't recognize the Jews are being used by the Zionists to accomplish their reign of terror in the name of Israel. People like you play right into the propaganda and offer it up to the masses as if its fact. If you aren't aware of the nuclear blackmail by the Israelis then you watch and read too much MSM and are guided and influenced by it. Just because the Zionist controlled media doesn't report it doesn't mean it hasn't happened. Matter of fact, I don't think the MSM even wants to admit...officially...that Israel has nukes. And you won't find any Zionists admitting that either.

And of course you know nothing about the demonstrations in Israel by the many people who disagree with the treatment of the Palestinians by their own government.

Me:

You have a profound ability to read into someone else's statements things that aren't there. Where did I call you a Holocaust denier?

And what have I offered up as if it was a fact? Have I said something that you can prove to be untrue?

Your constant whining about the "Zionist controlled media" is all the evidence that most people really need to see you for what you are.

As to demonstrations in Israel, that it one of the great things about a truly open democratic country. People can, and do, voice dissenting opinions. They run in open, contested elections, and get elected into a Parliament where they can give voice to all sides in political debate. Were you aware that Israeli Arabs have representation in the Israeli Knesset and on the Israeli Supreme Court?

Finally, while you want to keep harping on these alleged "Zionist" (or is that Israeli?) terror, you still have refused to answer the questions that I've put to you. I understand that you believe that the "Zionist controlled media" is keeping the truth from us, but why don't you share with us that great truth that you've learned on your own to prove your case.

Seth:

Cuba and N Korea still trade with countries other than the United States and are able to bring in supplies but yes, we are using collective punishment. And in both cases, embargoes are shown not to work. It strengthens the subjected governments. Bring prosperity to people through trade and the cries for freedom will (slowly) grow.

Not too many people are calling for a complete dismantling of the embargo...Israel has a right to defend itself. But using such repressive policies are counterproductive and are killing many innocent civilians (while creating great propaganda tools). They also just lost an important embargo ally that was able to control the southern border.

The Arab world not trading with Israel does not constitute collective punishment until they form a navy (and air force) and block all traffic and trade to Israel.

Jim - While you bring up some subjects for debate, your focus on Zionists and Jews makes one believe your argument is more about Judaism than humanitarian.

I elected not to respond further at this point; I anticipate that a “response” to some of the remaining issues will find its way to this blog or IN Touch in the near future.

Anyway, the points that I was trying to make with regard both to context and the vitriol of those opposed to Israel was certainly in full display with Jim Smith’s comments, don’t you think?

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