This post was originally going to be yet another article about media bias against Israel, but as I began compiling links it dawned on me (my brain is on a go-slow through internet-overload) that this media bias is but a reflection of a general irrational hatred of Israel that is prevalent in many European countries.
This hostility centers around several aspects concerning Israel and comes to the boil whenever Israel acts to defend itself against the vicious terrorists determined to destroy it.
The most conspicuous complaint about Israel’s self-defence is the accusation of disproportionate response” which (as I’ve written previously) arouses particular ire amongst Israel’s allies as well as its enemies:
Dismissing that accusation we have The Doctrine of Proportionality by Shoshana Bryen at the Gatestone Institute:
An Israeli journalist called Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system “unsportsmanlike.” He wondered what FIFA would say “if Germany, with its superior economy and industry, were to replace Manuel Neuer with a bionic goalkeeper… capable of calculating where each Argentine ball will come from, the exact position to stand in and amount of force needed to block it… On the modern battlefield (Israel) is a bionic Germany.”
Even among Israel’s friends – and some Israelis – a “yes, but…” response is common. “Yes” Hamas started it; “Yes” Hamas puts military infrastructure in civilian neighborhoods; “Yes” Israel is entitled to self-defense, “Yes” the Israelis warn Palestinians. “But” more than 240 Palestinians have been killed to date and only one Israeli has died directly from rocket fire.
Isn’t that the definition of “disproportionate?” No. It isn’t.
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about firepower returned being equal in sophistication or lethality to firepower received. Proportionality weighs the military necessity of an action against the suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, investigated allegations of war crimes during 2003 invasion of Iraq, and in 2006 published an open letter containing his findings. Included was this section on proportionality:
“Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime…. even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality).”
These talking points are extremely useful when countering such arguments in the media.
Another common argument against Israel – and this is against its very existence rather than its actions – is the “Shrinking Palestine” argument. Jews Down Under tell us how to counter the “Shrinking Palestine Maps Lie”:
A timely piece posted with the permission of Edgar Davidson from the Blog of the same name. Please check it out.
One of the most pernicious and common lies propagated by anti-Israeli activists is the so-called ‘shrinking maps’ of Palestine (see bottom of this article). As with most anti-Israel propaganda (like “Israelis are baby-killers” whereas in fact Israel does everything to avoid any civilian casualties while Palestinians specifically target young children; and “Israel is an apartheid state” whereas Israel is the only country in the Middle East to provide full rights for all religious groups while the Palestinian Authority allows no Jews at all) the claims are a perfect inversion of reality.
The map demonstrates the extent to which it is Israel that has been shrinking since 1973, in its desperate but increasingly futile hope to trade ‘land for peace’:
Now compare that factual reality with the propaganda maps that lie (see also Elder of Ziyon on this):
These maps are based on the completely false premise that, prior to 1947 there was an Arab state of Palestine. In fact the Palestine that was promised to the Jews as part of the Balfour declaration was the British mandate territory that includes what later become the state of Jordan (my map above top left). There was not – and never has been – an Arab state of Palestine even though, between 1948 and 1967 there was no ‘occupied territories’ of the West Bank or Gaza since these areas were then under the full control of Jordan and Egypt respectively. The Palestinian Arabs living there during that period never called for an independent state of their own.
Read the whole article to get an idea of how history is turned on its head and reversed in order to paint Israel in the worst possible light.
Of course as expected, in the light of Israel’s temerity in refusing to commit national suicide, anti-Israel demonstrations have been taking place around the world, and they have taken a very nasty antisemitic turn (again, as expected).
The worst protests have been taking place in France and they resemble nothing as much as a classic pogrom:
Footage has emerged of anti-Israel protesters rioting in Paris as they fought running battles with French riot police Saturday.
The violence came as far-left and Islamist extremists defied a ban on protests over the conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza, after a previous anti-Israel rally turned ugly when hundreds of extremists marched through a Jewish neighborhood shouting anti-Semitic slogans and attacked a synagogue. Dozens of Jewish youth mobilized to fight back and managed to hold off the attackers until police arrived.
French authorities responded to the violence by banning further demonstrations in a bid to calm tensions, despite fierce criticism and accusations of stifling free speech. French President Francois Hollande defended the move, and threatened that “those who want at any cost to protest will be held accountable.”
Also on Saturday, anti-Israel rioters once again attacked a synagogue in Paris’s Sarcelles neighborhood, hurling a molotov cocktail in a failed attempt to set it alight. The firebomb caused light damage to the building, but attackers did not manage to break into the synagogue after Jewish youths mobilized to protect it, some of them wielding iron bars and other makeshift weapons to fight-off the assault.
It’s gratifying to note that the French government have both condemned the violence and banned such demonstrations:
“It is unacceptable to target synagogues or shops simply because they are managed by Jews,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters during a visit to Sarcelles, which is also home to large non-Jewish immigrant populations.
“Nothing can justify anti-Semitism, noting can justify that kind of violence. This will be fought and sanctioned,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has denounced a “new form of anti-Semitism” on the Internet that he said was spreading among youth in working-class neighborhoods.
In Germany the protests took a neo-Nazi slant when cries of “Gas the Jews” were heard at some demonstrations. The linked article gives details about anti-semitic protests in other countries too, such as the Netherlands and Morocco. The New York Times too has an article about the rise of European antisemitism in the wake of the IDF incursion into Gaza.
Britain too is not immune from these anti-Semitic protests against Israel, as Stand for Peace explains how Neo-Nazis took center stage at London anti-Israel protests:
Prominent Holocaust deniers took centre stage during recent anti-Israel demonstrations in London, where participants included such prominent neo-Nazis as James Thring and Lady Michèle Renouf, as well as members of the far-Right Neturei Karta sect. The protest was organised by a variety of far-Left and extreme Islamist organisations, including War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, Islamic Forum of Europe, British Muslim Initiative, Palestinian Forum in Britain and Friends of Al Aqsa [click links to read Stand for Peace’s profiles of these groups]
(I mentioned this protest which Richard Millett documented in my post last week)
The international media have been fanning the flames, even if unwittingly (though I’m pretty sure it is very witting indeed), of this new antisemitism masquerading as anti-Israel sentiment. Just read the latest articles on CAMERA, Honest Reporting, BBC Watch and CiF Watch to get an idea. (Warning: may induce severe depression or blood-pressure problems).
Now that we’ve waded through all the nasty stuff it is refreshing to come upon a wonderful article, written by Brendan O’Neill (a non-Jew) in Spiked who remarks “There’s something very ugly in this rage against Israel“:
Why are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It’s extraordinary. France can invade Mali and there won’t be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won’t give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won’t be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding ‘Hands off Pakistan’. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, the second Israeli politicians say they’re at war again with Hamas, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone ‘MURDERED BY ISRAEL’, and generally scream about Israeli ‘bloodletting’. (When the West bombs another country, it’s ‘war’; when Israel does it, it’s ‘bloodletting’.)
Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there’s such a double standard in relation to Israeli militarism, why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth.
But during this latest Israeli assault on Gaza, we haven’t only seen these double standards come back into play – we have also witnessed anti-Israel sentiment becoming more visceral, more emotional, more unhinged and even more prejudiced than it has ever been, to such an extent that, sadly, it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.
So in the latest rage against Israel, it isn’t only the Israeli state or military that have come in for some loud flak from so-called radicals – so have the Israeli people, and even the Jews.
How has this happened? How has opposing Israeli militarism gone from being one facet of a broader anti-imperialist position, as it was in the 1980s, to being the main, and sometimes only, focus of those who claim to be anti-war? Why does being opposed to Israel so often and so casually tip over into expressions of disgust with the Israeli people and with the Jews more broadly? It’s because, today, rage with Israel is not actually a considered political position. It is not a thought-through take on a conflict zone in the Middle East and how that conflict zone might relate to realpolitik or global shifts in power. Rather, it has become an outlet for the expression of a general feeling of fury and exhaustion with everything – with Western society, modernity, nationalism, militarism, humanity. Israel has been turned into a conduit for the expression of Western self-loathing, Western colonial guilt, Western self-doubt. It has been elevated into the most explicit expression of what are now considered to be the outdated Western values of militaristic self-preservation and progressive nationhood, and it is railed against and beaten down for embodying those values. It is held responsible, not simply for repressing the Palestinian desire for statehood, but for continuing to pursue virtues that we sensible folk in the rest of the West have apparently outgrown and for consequently being the source of war and terrorism not only in the Middle East but pretty much everywhere. A poll of Europeans discovered that most now consider Israel to be the key source of global instability.
This is where we can see what the new anti-Zionism shares in common with the old anti-Semitism: both are about finding one thing in the world, whether it’s a wicked state or a warped people, against which the rest of us might rage and pin the blame for every political problem on Earth.
The article is brilliant. There’s so much more there. Go and read it all.
Another non-Jew who is an indefatigable defendant of Israel is Pat Condell who spares no words in his snarky video “No peace in the Middle East? Blame Israel”:
To conclude on a slightly more optimistic note, Daniel Pipes questions whether indeed millions are protesting Israel’s actions:
- There are no “millions” involved. Far from it. Using RT’s own numbers, we find them significantly smaller: 17 participants; more than 10,000; 1,300; dozens; 4,000; and 150 demonstrators.
- The protests are hardly worldwide. RT lists them as having taken place in the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, and Australia.
Further research finds additional protests having occurred in Chile, Iceland, Belgium, Austria, Poland, *Tunisia, Greece, *Turkey, *Lebanon, Israel, *Egypt, *Jordan, South Africa, *Indonesia, and Japan. (* means Muslim-majority countries)
Aggregating all these numbers, one finds that:
- RT’s estimate that 6 demonstrations included a total of about 15,500 participants would mean that there were an average of some 2,600 protesters in each.
- Demonstrations have taken part in 23 countries of which 6, or about 25 percent, have Muslim-majority populations.
I’m not sure whether Pipes’ argument is substantive or merely statistical. If he is correct, then it is simply the anti-Israel media (surprise) that is magnifying the numbers to create more anti-Israel feeling.
As to what the solution is, I’m not sure there is one or if there ever will be one. Antisemitism is almost as old as the world itself. Start from the Bible when Abraham was thrown into the furnace, continue on through Laban, slavery in Egypt and on to the present day.
Antisemitism is like a virus that mutates with every season or era, and thus no vaccine will ever be able to cure it. We just have to protest and act against it as much as possible and then to learn to live with it and protect ourselves against it.