Are The Israelis Serious? That depends, and The Time May Be Now

 ISRAEL-MAP

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people
forget that certain other sets of people are human.”
—Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012, Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said: “The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. . . As for the rights of Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today, no decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”

If the question is, “Is the Israeli government and its supporters serious about addressing the issues that cause them their biggest public relations problems,” the answer is no. Instead of changing its behavior, Israel’s response to criticism is a simple one: Deny wrongdoing, play the role of victim, punish those who resist, and attack and destroy the credibility of those who criticize it. There will be no give-and-take, there will be only take, and take, and take again until the Jewish State has it all.

Several years ago, The Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank founded in 2004 by Gidi Grinstein and others, published a 93-page report titled: “Building a Political Firewall against Israel’s Delegitimization”. A primer in designing and carrying out a propaganda campaign (called “public relations” in the report), it is a very revealing document. You will find it either at the following url, or by copying the report’s title and Googling it.
http://reut-institute.org/data/uploads/PDFVer/20100310%20Delegitimacy%20Eng.pdf

The report focuses on identifying Israel’s critics in “the resistance network” (those people and organizations that are critical of Israel’s policies and behavior), and building a political firewall against them. The report presents a detailed plan for improving Israel’s public relations (propaganda) program and its delivery. The message is a simple one: (1) Deny all charges, seek out, disarm and if necessary, silence the opposition through intimidation and shaming. (2) Work with liberal elites around the world to influence NGOs, governments and other influential bodies to delegitimize Israel’s adversaries. (3) Support scholarly seminars and institutes that discuss criticism of Israel as evidence of growing antisemitism, write opinion pieces that insinuate or blatantly charge that criticism of Israel supports antisemitism, support sympathetic politicians, lobby and, when needed, intimidate.

Following are several examples, beginning with …

The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA). YIISA billed itself as “dedicated to the scholarly research of the manifestations of antisemitism globally, as well as other forms of prejudice.” Beginning this past August 23rd, it hosted a three-day conference titled “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity”. The Plenary Session addressed the subject “Radical Islam and Genocidal Antisemitism”. There were five presenters, one of whom was Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Fighel, of The International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT), who spoke on the subject “The Jihad Flotilla to Gaza: Provocative – Antisemitic – Not Humanitarian”. Other presenters were Professor Menachem Milson, Hebrew University and Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) who spoke on “Arab and Islamic Antisemitism Today”; Rifat Bali, Research Associate, Alberto Benveniste Center for Sephardic Studies and Culture, Paris: “Conspiracy Theories, Antisemitism and Jews in Turkey Today”; and Professor Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland who spoke on the topic “Nazi Propaganda to the Arab World and Its After-Effects In Postwar Militant Islam”.

There wasn’t a single presentation from an Arab or Palestinian point of view. Incredible? Not if your purpose is propaganda. As Stephen Lendman said in his article on August 31st in The Palestine Chronicle, “What’s needed is debunking the relationship between legitimate Israeli criticism and anti-Semitism and notion of a serious anti-Jewish crisis when none, in fact, exists.”

Articles in well known publications. On Friday, August 20th, an article by Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, appeared in The Japan Times titled “Hostility Against Jews Increasing in Sweden”, it cites recent incidents of violence against Jews and Jewish property and links them with hatred of Israel. “[A]ttempts to draw a distinction between hatred of Jews and hatred of Israel [are] never particularly convincing. Israel is a specifically Jewish project, and to join the campaign of delegitimization against the Jewish state is to join a campaign of delegitimization against much of world Jewry, the vast majority of which either lives in Israel or regards it as a central component of Jewish identity” (emphasis mine). Citing news items, he spins them to blur a distinction between ugly neo-Nazi violence and criticism of Israel, which he labels “hatred of Israel”.

Another article, by Daniel Schwammenthal, an editor with The Wall Street Journal, is “The Mufti of Berlin: Arab-Nazi collaboration is a taboo topic in the West”, published in Wall Street Journal on September 24, 2009. Republished in Pamela Geller’s right-wing blog “Atlas Shrugs,” it included a color photograph of “Hezbollah terrorists” in camouflage uniforms giving Nazi-style salutes. Toward the end of the article, Mr. Schwammenthal writes “Muslim Judeophobia is not – as is commonly claimed — a reaction to the Mideast conflict, but one of its main ‘root causes’ It has been fuelling Arab rejection of a Jewish state long before Israel’s creation.” Another of his articles, published in the online magazine Philocentrism on February 14th 2009, is “Europe Reimports Jew Hatred”, under the heading: “The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid”.

When Israel and its supporters put out information like this it is called “objective”; when their critics write opinion pieces or report on events, it is called “delegitimization”. The code word for a critic in Israel-speak is “delegitimizer.”

The Reut Institute Report

The Reut Institute’s report advises the Israeli Government to focus on what it calls the resistance network, defined as “A network of countries, organizations, movements, and individuals – which includes … Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and additional Palestinian factions – that reject the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and Israel’s existence, on the basis of Islamic or Arab / Palestinian nationalist ideology.” “These groups,” the report continues, “operate with the political or military logic of ‘resistance’ in order to precipitate Israel’s destruction and replace it with an Arab / Palestinian / Islamic state.” The report then identifies what the Reut Institute calls The Convergence Phenomenon, which it defines as “The coalescence of unaffiliated movements and organizations around an outstanding issue relating to Israel in order to delegitimize Israel.” Delegitimization, a code word for all efforts to question either Israel or Zionism), demonizes Israel, and applies double standards to it relative to other nations who may have even worse human rights records. Demonization refers to any act that presents Israel as being “systematically, purposefully, and extensively cruel and inhumane, thus denying the moral legitimacy of its existence.”

Examples include associating Israeli behavior with Nazism or apartheid “and other accusations of blatant acts of evil.” Even the mention of questionable behavior, to say nothing at all about reprehensible acts, will generate a firestorm of angry denial, sabotage, deflection and attack. Never listen, deny and attack.

A political firewall is another word for denial – blatant, belligerent, well-defended denial. A firewall’s job is to keep out whatever you or I do not want to hear. In everyday language, it’s called “stonewalling”. I dealt with it frequently in my years in the mental health field. Behind denial is fear of being forced to change. When who and what I am is bound up in what I believe, that fear can be terrifying. So I devote my energies to denying, telling people who confront me to back off and attacking them when they don’t.

It is a very unpleasant situation to be in, as anyone who has experienced it well knows. Frequently it works. If I can present myself as fragile and explosive, maybe people will leave me alone. I especially do not want to hear about my behavior hurting others, and will blame it on them whenever the subject comes up. When I read the Reut Institute’s report and read those articles and YIISA’s conference schedule, it is all right there in plain view – blatant denial of the reality as Palestinians and others experience it every day, and have for sixty-two years.

One of the best examples of this denial is Irwin Collar’s article, “Identifying the New Anti-Semitism”, published in Aish.com (http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892472.html), and originally published by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in November 2002. “What we are witnessing today”, he begins, “which has been developing incrementally, almost imperceptibly, and sometimes indulgently, for some 30 years now — is a new, virulent, globalizing and even lethal anti-Jewishness reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War. This new anti-Jewishness overlaps with classical anti-Semitism, but is distinguishable from it. Anchored in the ‘Zionism is Racism’ resolution, but going beyond it, the new anti-Jewishness almost requires a new vocabulary to define it. It can best be defined as the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon, national particularity and peoplehood anywhere, whenever that national particularity and peoplehood happens to be Jewish (my italics). In its more benign form (if it can be called benign), it finds particular expression in the singling out of Israel and the Jewish people for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena — where United Nations human rights bodies are used as the mask or protective cover for this anti-Jewishness (e.g. The 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban).”

Denial, married to conspiracy theory, is the ultimate denial tactic. I saw this over 40 years ago at a Veteran’s hospital in Minnesota where a film was shown of a severely inebriated alcoholic veteran during his Intake examination. He mumbled, made no sense, and was a mess. Three weeks later they brought him into the same room and filmed him as he watched the film of his Intake. “Who the Hell is that?” he asked; “My God is he drunk!” “That’s you, Hank.” “Like Hell! That ain’t me! No way!” Then he accused the staff of conspiring against him. In his eyes, he was innocent. Through the lenses of denial, he didn’t even recognize himself.

The Elephant in the Living Room

“Behind every act in Israel’s identity politics stretches, like a long black shadow, the idea of an eternal people and race,” writes Shlomo Sand in his book The Invention of the Jewish People. It is “the elephant in the living room”, the subject Israel protects and doesn’t want anyone to talk about. What is it? It is Israel’s founding political philosophy, Zionism. It is impossible to discuss the issue of Israel’s denial response without talking about Zionism, because Israel itself sees them as inseparable: attack the one and you attack the other.

Zionism, a movement that began in the second half of the 19th century, became a nationalist movement that sought the creation of a specifically Jewish nation for Jews from around the world. After two thousand years, the story line goes, Jews would stop suffering as outsiders in countries where they were persecuted and have their own national homeland. What they would do is go to Palestine, “given” to them by the British government in 1917 (the Balfour Declaration), cleanse it of its Arab population so that they could say that it was “a land without people” for “a people without a land.” Refer again to Ambassador Prosor’s remarks to the UN General Assembly, “As for the rights of Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today, no decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”

For the “others”, the non-Jewish citizens of the Jewish State, they have second class citizenship, with diminished privileges (“The Distinction: Identity Politics in Israel”, Chapter 5 of Shlomo Sand’s groundbreaking book). What this has created is an abusive system based on discrimination and persecution of non-Jews (home invasions, restrictions on building permits, indiscriminate arrests and jailing of adults and children, child abuse, beatings, confiscation of land, “in-your-face” establishment of towns and other settlements in Occupied Territories, and blocking of all attempts by Palestinians to establish peace. I don’t believe that I have ever encountered such deliberate, persistent and blatant torture of a people over so long a period of time. “Ugly” far too bland a word to use for what has happened and continues to happen.

What effect has this had on Israeli society and culture? As I type this on Saturday, July 12 2014, Israel is exploding with hatred of and violence against Palestinians within its borders, and in the Occupied Territories and Gaza. This is not surprising. For years rabid right-wing Rabbis have taught that non-Jews (goyim) are on this earth for the sole purpose of serving the Jews, and killing a non-Jewish baby is acceptable behavior. A few days ago, a 17 year old young man walking to his morning prayers was attacked, beaten, forced to drink gasoline, and burned to death in a lynching.

Happily, this is producing a firestorm of public outcry for something to be done, for action to be taken by the U.S. government and others, to demand a stop to this brutality and a call for radical cultural change for Israel. One of Israel’s leading newspapers, Haaretz on July 9th headlined the following: “Jewish Hate of Arabs Proves: Israel Must Undergo Cultural Revolution. Without a revolution based on humanist values, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state.” (To read the entire article, go to Haaretz, or click on the following link: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39025.htm )

“Who were these killers?Abu Khdeir’s murderers are not “Jewish extremists.” They are the descendants and builders of a culture of hate and vengeance that is nurtured and fertilized by the guides of “the Jewish state”: Those for whom every Arab is a bitter enemy, simply because they are Arab; those who were silent at the Beitar Jerusalem games when the team’s fans shouted “death to Arabs” at Arab players; those who call for cleansing the state of its Arab minority, or at least to drive them out of the homes and cities of the Jews.

No less responsible for the murder are those who did not halt, with an iron hand, violence by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians, and who failed to investigate complaints “due to lack of public interest.” The term “Jewish extremists” actually seems more appropriate for the small Jewish minority that is still horrified by these acts of violence and murder. But they too recognize, unfortunately, that they belong to a vengeful, vindictive Jewish tribe whose license to perpetrate horrors is based on the horrors that were done to it.”

The article ends with this: “Prosecuting the murderers is no longer sufficient. There must be a cultural revolution in Israel. Its political leaders and military officers must recognize this injustice and right it. They must begin raising the next generation, at least, on humanist values, and foster a tolerant public discourse. Without these, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state.”
Finally, someone is talking sense!

Peace

The secret to stopping the violence and improving Israel’s security needs is to treat Palestinians the same way as Jews are treated, with dignity and respect. There is no other way.

Perhaps we can, at last, begin.

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About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at www.geogepolleyauthor.com.
This entry was posted in Gaza, Gaza Strip, Israel, Justice, Palestinian people, Peace, Zionism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Are The Israelis Serious? That depends, and The Time May Be Now

  1. Jack bender says:

    Hello George….I don’t know who wrote this piece ,but in many respects he is right…Israel has no intention of ever giving Arabs a state in greater Israel Judea or Samaria ..that’s a given..any talk is just that ..the simple reason is self preservation..in the caldron of death that is the Muslim /Arab world,there can be no peace no matter what..they know of no treaty or peace deal..they mean nothing .the Arabs still brag how Mohamed double crossed the Jews they have even at war with everyone since700including themselves …Israel in order to survive will need to put aside the light to all nations torch..and fight ..and fight..and fight to live likely for the next 100yrs….sad but true..the sad part is that good folks such as yourself are alienated ..also the monster of radical Jew hatred is let out in the world both from the fascist right and the uber left ….

    • gwpj says:

      I wrote this piece, Jack, over several months. The situation at hand in Israel is something that it has created itself by its racist policies toward the Palestinian people within Israel, the Occupied Territories and Gaza. It strikes me as a suicidal rush toward a modern Masada plunge of self-destruction. Nearly everyone is cognisant of the fact that, as you say so well, that Israel has no intention of ever giving Arabs a state in “greater Israel Judea and Samaria”, the world be damned. Who put themselves into what you call “the cauldron of death that is the Muslim / Arab world”? The founders of the Jewish State of Israel did. How were they received by their Arab neighbors? As an invading force that was taking their land (land that belonged to Palestine’s Arab population). Has Israel attempted to make peace with her neighbors since then? Not to my knowledge, the single exception being Egypt under Anwar Sadat.

      Recently Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy posted an editorial stating that Israel needs a cultural revolution if it is to continue viability as a State. I agree 100 % with him. Without it, Israel will very likely destroy itself in violence as its Palestinian population react to escalating attacks from right-wing terrorist groups such as the one Mr. Levy commented on. All of this is very familiar to me, recalling vividly the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s when our Black citizens began to demand justice after decades of injustice, and angry Whites responded with violent rage. I recall the publication of “Black Rage” by psychiatrists William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the rage that exploded as a result, the the expressions of grief and rage in the faces of my Black colleagues in a California mental health clinic. When people tried to blame the blacks for their violent reaction to Dr. King’s murder, I did not, nor did Bobby Kennedy. So . . . blaming “the Arabs” for what Israel has wrought by her violence against its Palestinian Arab citizens and neighbors does nothing except excuse Israel’s behavior.

      By the way, I see very little ” radical Jew hatred” among Israel’s critics. I am, like Rabbi Rosen, afraid that Israel’s continued persecution of the Palestinian people will create such a hatred. Were I Jewish, which I am not, I would be enraged by that, and be one of Israel’s most vocal critics. As it is, what I see happening on Israel’s part, is an obsessive preoccupation on the long history of pogroms and victimhood. This, by itself, may project the past into the present and future as a self-fulfilling prophesy. And no one deserves that.

      Thank you for contributing your comments to this discussion, Jack.

  2. Jack bender says:

    George…well written ..one point please this caldron of death pouring over the levant and Africa is in no way Israel’s fault…the extreme Muslims in Africa have no intrest in Israel ..nor do the Sunnis and shites ,their war would happen if Israel were not there…as far as the foreseeable future ia afraid that Israel will have to take a chance on the future in order to survive today..what you can not understand is that Israel’s enemy’s will not cut them any slack at all…I only wish folks like yourself could cut Israel a bit …I guess it’s not to be…then again the world has never ever cut the Jews any …so we wil have to do the best we can with whatever we have……thanks for the courtesy of the reply

    • gwpj says:

      Jack, “cutting Israel some slack” is not what is needed, though I think I understand why you think it is. I have no hatred for Israel and none for Jews. I hold no prejudice against anyone. I do, however, strongly oppose one person or group abusing other persons or groups, and that is what Israel has been doing since Irgun, Haganah and other Jewish militias arrived in Palestine and began attacking the non-Jewish people that lived there. This MUST stop if Israel is to continue. I spent 41 years as a mental health professional working with abusive people. “Cutting them some slack”, which is what every one of them wanted, only made matters worse. Setting limits, sticking with those limits, and helping them to learn how to live lives that were happy and constructive were foundational. My response to those who called me names and told me I was an asshole was very simple: “If you continue to do what you are and have been doing to your (spouse, girlfriend, children, etc.), you will be in jail or dead. If you want to live, you have to change. Liking it has nothing to do with it. Change or suffer the consequences.”

      Below is a link to an article by David Theo Goldberg, titled “In Our Name”. Read it, and then get back to me, and we’ll talk some more. Here’s the link:
      http://truth-out.org/news/item/24972-in-our-collective-name

      Have a good day.

  3. Jack bender says:

    George…whew..lots of reading here…mr Goldberg is in the cadre of highly educated intellectual college professors poets writers and humanist rabbis who were raised in luxury by dotting liberal parents. Although they are Jewish ,the have no tribal connections nor consideration for their fellow Jews..they have some sort of an idea of a Jewish connection to a humanist Quaker view of life..in reality they are at the front of the final assimilation which in the next 100 yrs will see the extinction of the Jews in America..all that will be left will be museums..the same will happen in the rest of the diaspora…over time any Jews who wish to raise a Jewish famliy would have left for Israel…but I am digressing .back to our discussion ..for lack of a better term ,lets call the anti Israel folks ,the left….these people have put together a very clever set of mis information half truths out of context statements and reports and out right lies ..they in doing this turned the truth and history on its head.like good lawyers the obsvicated and petty fogged history to their version of the truth ..unfortunately well intentioned good hearted folks have bought into this libelous production..nowher in their narrative is mentioned the peace deals worked out with barak and Olmert where the Arabs got virtually everything they wanted..and still walked away and formed a intafada to boot….let me give you one simple truth that belies one of their biggest lie…there are over 1million Arabs living in Israel…there ..if the Israelis wanted to clear out Arabs in 48 as claimed how did they miss these Arabs under their direct control…they didnt in fact they told the Arabs not to leave then…of course the most outrageous actions of the ..left..is the complete denial of the simple truth that Hamas is a criminal undertaking holding their people hostage and instead of protecting their people in the tunnels they put them out hoping for their deaths in order for TV coverage…as they send thousands of rockets knowing full well of the retribution …if the left denies this truth…they are truly lost in their delusions…what is so sad about this, it’s going to get worse before it gets even worse………thank you for your courtesy

    • gwpj says:

      Jack, the only thing I have to say to you is this: I have never personally known a Palestinian man or woman that has said they were treated with respect and kindness in Israel, and never, ever, discriminated against. Their testimony has been of lives filled with discrimination, contempt shown towards them, inconvenience, denial of access to building homes, home invasions, and too many other indignities to list. What I get from you is complete denial.

      I hear a deep-seated fear coming from you, Jack, that the Jewish people will be assimilated and disappear as a people if they don’t have their own country. That does happens. An old friend’s daughter married a Jewish man. My adopted daughter’s birth father was Jewish, her mother Scandinavian. It’s a kind of thing that happens, and has happened, throughout history. I am both French and English on both sides of my family. Such is life. I see no problem with it, but you do. To me, people are people, and all, every single one, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. In spite of what you say in your reply, the policy of Israel’s government has, from the beginning, been one of making their Arab citizens feel as unwelcome as possible. Perhaps then, one day, they will have the good sense to pack up and leave. That kind of policy is starkly abusive, and leads only to tragedy and conflict. I’ve seen it in the U.S., in Mexico where I lived for a short time many years ago, and in every other country n the world. I reject this kind of policy because it is a ruinous one that benefits no one.

      The best to you in your life, Jack Bender, and I do sincerely mean that.

      George

  4. Jack bender says:

    George…thank you so much ..I can see that you are a fair minded caring human being…I lived in Israel from 48 thru 70..have visited back and forth since then …arrived right after serving I with the US army throughout eruope,participating in the liberation of dachau ..maybe that’s why I am so concerned with the Jewish people’s survival…funny thing you mentioned a lack of respect the Palestinians feel…Israelis treat nobody with kindness or respect..it’s not in their DNA ..with the exception of the care I have seen given to Palestinians in the Israeli hospitals..even I who served in three Israeli/Arab wars..48.52.67…busted my back helping to build the finest k9 corp in the world the OKETZ..bee sting…I still never really got any respect…I love em anyway…the Arab personality is completely oppisite and I can see how they are offended..however I have seen great friendships between Israelis and the Druze and Bedouin develop in the army…but you are right about the tratment of the Palestinians ..the pressures of the 65 yr fight between the people’s has caused a tremendous conflict of personality s and concepts of power ..the Arabs have a very proud and sensitive sense of being..saving their pride is paramount..not good if you are ruled by folks with a different faith and sense of values..add the dangers of terrorism which sends the Israelis temper on edge,makes conflict and turmoil sure…in truth the only real answer ,unfair as it is..is to the Arabs to leave Palestine altogether…there is just no way for the two people’s to live together or even close to each other…just how this could be accomplished without even more bloodshed is beyond me….so it goes on….never to be solved ,certainly not in the short time I have…..so thanks for your kindness …ss

    • gwpj says:

      Thank you, Jack. The Israelis need to learn to treat others with kindness, eh, even if they don’t want to. 1970 was 44 years ago (hard to believe that, but true). Things have steadily deteriorated between these two peoples since then.

      I’ve thought all along that you and I are both older gents (I am 80); turns out that I was wrong, and that you are a bit my senior. Nice talking with another old codger from where I live in Japan and where you live (if my guess is correct) in Chicago.

  5. Jack bender says:

    And thank you George …two alter cockers (old geezers)…it’s hard to believe all these years …where have they gone…yep in Chicago…how in the world did your self in Japan?…hope you get to 100…me,heck I’ve been playing with house money forever ..been real lucky…all the best my friend …thanks again for the conversation……

    • gwpj says:

      How did I get to Japan, Jack? My wife is from here. After 29 years in the U.S., she wanted to return when I retired. So when I retired at the end of 2007, we came to Sapporo, found a condo to buy, bought it, and moved in the first of April, 2008. Nice place, this. Nice knowing you, Mr. B.

  6. Jack bender says:

    Same here….I now have a pal in ….stay well..you and yours

  7. Jack bender says:

    I meant a pal in Japan…..

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