Friday, March 2, 2012

Holding Israel Accountable Is Not Anti-Semitic

If you are a "Type A" person who skims through articles just to get the main points, then here are the 3 main points of this article. You can read them and move on:

1. Attacking anybody because of their religious beliefs is wrong. That includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, etc.   Freedom of religion is intertwined with freedom of consciousness, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression.   However, countries that commit war crimes, or crimes against humanity, must not be allowed to get away with it by cowering behind a religious shroud, and dismissing legitimate critics as 'antisemitic' or racist.

2. Every government and every army in the world is fair game for political discourse including harsh criticism and verbal expressions of disgust. Israel is no exception. Hate means "to dislike intensely or passionately."  Sure, we all hate seeing Palestinian school kids getting scorched and killed by white phosphorus. But expressing that is no hate crime.

3. Legitimate criticism of Israeli atrocities is frequently dismissed as anti-semitic. This overused "crying wolf" strategy is tragically wrong because it  causes genuine anti-semitism to be taken with a grain of salt. Blurring the line between Jew-hating skinheads and non-violent concerned citizens is a reckless public relations strategy, but Israel can be counted on to use the ad-hominum "anti-semitic" label to deflect legitimate critics who point to verifiable atrocities.

Did you like Operation Cast Lead ?

Over a thousand Palestinian women and children were casualties in Israel's ethnic cleansing incident called Operation Cast Lead. When I saw Israel unleashing white phosphorus bombs on Palestinian schools and population centers I had to ask myself: "Do I support this, or am I against this? Where will I stand?" Everybody with a conscience needs to take a hard look at  Israeli occupation and aggression and ask themselves the same questions.

I know right from wrong, and what I saw during Operation Cast Lead was wrong. Using white phosphorus bombs on population centers and schools? Wrong. Dropping "get out of town" leaflets on 1.5 million people locked in behind the Apartheid Wall with no exit? Wrong and cruel. Blowing up  buildings packed with women and children because there might be a "terrorist" inside. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The whole thing was wrong before it even started. Israel is a sophisticated military power with nukes, and Gaza is 1.5 million people packed into a sardine can with no military to defend it.  Nothing but the crudest hand-made weapons and obsolete technology. No helicopters, no jets, no air-strike capability, no artillery to repel the invaders, no UN Peacekeepers, nothing.

The situation before Cast Lead was so desperate that food and medicine had to be smuggled in through underground tunnels. Clean drinking water was a luxury.  After cast Lead the siege of Gaza has gotten much worse. The situation went from bleak and inhumane to impossible. On top of everything else Israel has restricted concrete for rebuilding, and emergency medicine convoys. The only good news: The Goldstone Report came in,  the BDS campaign is gaining steam, and people around the world are waking up and starting to speak out.

When you can't attack the message, attack the messenger

Calling someone antisemitic is a "vicious attack" according to Congressman Dr. Ron Paul. The respected former flight surgeon appeared on Larry King Live to debate Yemen and airport security. He never said one word about Jewish people, but he was slammed as being 'antisemitic' by talking-head Ben Stein.

Dingleberries like Ben Stein make themselves look like idiots when they call someone anti-semitic.  Does he lack the brainpower needed to form a more intelligent answer?  Ron Paul had simply raised the point that we need to look at "the motives" of people, like the fact that we are invading and occupying Muslim countries . Dr. Paul had not said one word about Israel, Jews, Judaism, Zionism, Rabbis, Bar Mitzvas, Apartheid Wall, or any topic that remotely would justify Stein's knee-jerk use of the word anti-semitic.

This kind of absurd and reflexive overuse of the word anti-semitic has become far too common, and it is reaching a level that now causes many people to take  all claims of anti-semitism with a grain of salt. You can only "cry wolf" so many times before people ignore you. My advice to people like Ben Stein is this: If you have nothing constructive to say and you are down to playing the 'anti-semitic' card, just shut your pie-hole and let someone else talk.  At least you won't look like an moron, and you won't cause people to yawn and roll their eyes when genuine and legitimate antisemitism is revealed.

Let's hold Israel accountable for their atrocities against Palestinians

My advice to writers and bloggers everywhere is this: Power up your moral compass and start asking the tough questions about Israeli aggression and war-crimes. It's not taboo, and it's morally right. Like all governments, the Israeli government has moral and humanitarian obligations. When Israel acts immorally or commits war-crimes, it should expect heavy handed condemnation from the rest of the world, just like America got when it's renditions, and it's worldwide torture camp network were revealed. If you hate what you see, go ahead and say it. It's OK to hate atrocities.

If you are a writer, don't muzzle yourself  just because someone might call you antisemitic. They will. Just correctly label it as a "viscous attack" like Dr. Ron Paul did. Speaking up for the oppressed is morally right, and exposing the truth is a beautiful thing.

If you need to get up to speed on the issues start by reading a summary of the U.N.'s Goldstone Report.  After you get familiar with the Goldstone Report, read about the Gaza Siege. Study how Israel rounded up and imprisoned Gaza's democratically elected government and thousands of other Palestinians including young children. Ask why Israel refuses U.N. nuclear inspections. Investigate Israel's history of killing unarmed kids and pregnant women. Ask why Israel refuses to define it's borders, and keeps building 'settlements' on top of demolished Palestinian houses.

Proper expressions of hate

With all the talk of hate-crimes these days people are asking themselves "What can I say? Am I supposed to pretend I don't hate anything?"   Hate is a perfectly normal human emotion. Oppressive actions taken by governments and their armies can easily trigger feelings of anger and hatred in normal people.

I hate lots of things about my own Canadian government: Afghan War-crimes, helping NATO destroy Libya, spending healthcare money to build battleships. I boiled-over with hatred of my government when Canada shipped Marc Emery into America's prison-industrial complex just because he mailed some pot seeds. 

I hate America's wars, America's subservience to Israel, America bailing out Wall Street criminals while Main Street families became jobless and homeless. I feel sorry for my many American friends.

Up here in Canada, no matter how screwed up things get, we can usually point south and say "at least it's not as bad as the USA."  That applies to the economy, worker's rights, drug testing policies, health care , and a very long list of issues.

If you hate what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, go ahead and say so. Don't be intimidated by blowhards like Ben Stein.