can’t see the forest

Propaganda 101: Jerusalem Post on UN High Commissioner Visit

This morning I came across a lovely editorial from The Jerusalem Post. It describes distorts the commentary of Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who recently made a five-day tour of Israel and Palestine. If you follow the link, you might notice to the right side of the article a banner ad attempting to interest you in an Israeli Air Force General-guided tour of the Jordan River, where you can “witness the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies” and receive “briefings by Mossad officials.” It’s all part of the Christian Zionist Mission, and it takes place in March of 2007—so reserve your place among the cheerleaders of state-sponsored murder and destruction right away.

Arbour ultimately decided simply that Israel should be held responsible for its own policies and actions in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. But our keenly interpretative editorialist observes:

Sderot’s outraged citizenry had no patience for her [Arbour’s] skewed sanctimony. She was angrily shouted down and had to be whisked away from folks whose anguished cries gave voice to the charge that both she and the organization she represents “are against us.”

Arbour should have realized that there are very raw emotions and grievances on the Israeli side.

But the impact didn’t seem to deter her from the UN’s routine resort to the devil’s arithmetic – morality by body count. The side that sustains more fatalities is judged as more aggrieved.

Such were Arbour’s calculations during her Post interview. She did berate the shelling of Israeli civilians, and she lent lip service to Israel’s right to protect its population, but she averred that Israel is at fault even if civilians are accidentally killed during Israeli strikes.
“There is very little distinction,” she intoned, “between recklessness and intent.”

The bottom line is that if terrorists – be they in Lebanon or Gaza – target Israelis deliberately from crowded townships, whose inhabitants are conscripted as human shields, then Israel has no right to preempt such attacks, lest the human shields come in harm’s way.

The tragic irony is that this logic runs directly counter to that of the UN’s own charter. One wonders whether Arbour has read that charter or agrees with it, given that the charter’s logic – that peace must be maintained by identifying, punishing, and defending against aggression – is inescapable.

Hmmm. Let’s go over a few of these points.

First, in speaking of morality by body count, the impression is given that the mean old United Nations reduces the complexity of such situations as this to tally cards. But in her previous interview with The Post, Arbour clearly stated:

“I left Gaza with the sense that the right of its people to their physical integrity—their right to life—was particularly imperiled…”

and added that human rights should not be dependent upon peace. Even so, she also called on Palestinian authorities to contain the fire of Qassam rockets and other desperate acts of retaliation against the world’s longest-running illegal occupation.

Second, to the charge that “Israel has no right to preempt,” let it be serenely pointed out that Israel could have preempted these attacks, for one example among many, by expediently accepting Sadat’s reasonable U.S. and Iran-backed peace treaty of 1971, thirty-five years ago. Indeed, at any time, Israel could preempt much of the constant calamity and chaos by deciding to rethink its own existence as an ethnocentric state on robbed territory. Allowing Palestinians freedom of movement and access to essential resources like food and water—since they were never Israel’s to take away—could turn out to be highly preemptive.

But most charming is the author’s astute observation that “peace must be maintained by identifying, punishing, and defending against aggression.” It’s “inescapable.” Indeed. So let’s identify aggression. Let’s take the examination a wee bit further back than the last rocket attack—something of which the Israeli propagandists are seemingly incapable. In fact, why don’t we go all the way back to 1948, to the declaration of the Jewish State of Israel on multicultural territory. Let’s stop along the timeline to review the seizure of the Golan Heights, of the West Bank, of Gaza and the Sinai, carefully noting the hundreds of thousands of refugees created. Why not revisit the five US-backed invasions of Lebanon over the past thirty years, and the sporadically weakened but effectually perpetual occupation of the Palestinian territories, not forgetting to note the early 1970s comment of Moshe Dayan in opining to the Israeli cabinet that they should tell the Palestinians that there is no solution for them, that they will live like dogs, and that whoever will leave, will leave.

Well, the editorialist answers my proposal before it’s even made:

Aggressors must be fought and self-defense is a fundamental right. The only way that Israel can be seen as an agressor in this conflict is if our very existence is a form of aggression.

Pre-cisely. And not because you’re Jewish, but because your state exists on territory you stole from others while no one would stand in the way of such crimes. Because your philosophy has always been, and continues to be, U.S.-backed might makes right, period. Not all Israeli citizens agree with this philosophy, but the dissenting voices are increasingly marginalized.

Also not to be missed in The Post’s self-evincing commentary is this gem:

It should not be surprising that aggressors try to confuse the issue of responsibility by conflating attacker and defender into a morally homogenous “cycle of violence.” But the fact is that there is no predetermined or senseless “cycle of violence.”

This terminology is part and parcel of Arab propaganda which the UN promotes. Its raison d’etre is to undermine Israel’s moral position.

Paragraph 1: thank you for adequately and succinctly summing up the chief modus operandi of Israeli-American news reporting. However, the “cycle of violence” is both predetermined and senseless—predetermined because of Israel’s unquenchable thirst for imposition and expansion, and senseless because of Israel’s refusal even to admit, and much less to rectify, its own arrogance.

Paragraph 2: the UN Charter binds that organization to undermine the position of any world power which displays such indignant, arrogant contempt for international law. Not all states rely on the Old Testament to dictate policy, or on U.S. tax dollars to fund hegemonist expansion and destruction, and U.S. diplomats to routinely, perfunctorily veto any UN attempts to hold offenders responsible for criminal acts. U.S. diplomats are generally old hands at that tactic, having employed it in their own defense numerous times in recent memory.

That Israel has a right to exist because of the horrors of the Holocaust is an almost plausible proposition. But this Arab propagandist says: that Israel has the right to exist on terms which subject indigenous peoples to another kind of holocaust is most certainly not plausible, regardless of its status as the implicit official line among Israeli officials. But, in Israel as in nowhere else, the naked truth is often stranger than even the most surreal fiction. And certainly it is in this case more deadly, for disenfranchised Israeli onlookers and especially for the displaced and disparaged Palestinians and Lebanese.


4 Responses

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  1. peoplesgeography said, on 11/27/06 at 2:11 am

    Friends of Curt here I’d say would happily place a wager,
    That as he soon returns to university as a English Lit. major,
    His intellectual range will to them –and all–delight,
    And may to his desired disciplinary destination he successfully alight.

    Angels will be allowed to weep, however, and I to sigh,
    That Curt’s talents will not elsewhere, at least formally, apply,
    With good writing like this, his keen perception displayed,
    Political insights and analysis articulately made.

    How easily would any faculty by his ability be won,
    And wish that Curtis Lindsay were their favorite son.

    ;) Fluffy verse aside, thanks for an excellent piece.

  2. Curtis said, on 11/28/06 at 5:56 am

    That’s rather impressive. Peoples’ Poesie!.
    Truly I have never been so enshrined in verse and I shall have to wander around the house in a fog of self-adulation this morning. Where are my fuzzy slippers? ;-?

    Thanks, how very thoughtful!

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