Wednesday, August 11, 2010

red herrings for Israel

I have a friend with whom I debate several issues. He is a strong defender of Israel, but I say that meaning a defense in the traditional knee-jerk sense - he defends each and every thing that Israel does without thinking. In other words, he is the kind of American that the Israel lobby treasures.

The best defense of Israel, I believe, is that taken by many protesting Israelis and the Israeli NGO's that oppose the settlement project, demanding Israel adhere to its own laws and withdraw from the illegal settlements.

What I want to illustrate here is the manner in which my friend defends Israel, fishing up a whole host of red herrings that would make AIPAC proud, because it's their method as well. The points he mentions are informative because they indicate the wall of noise that is faced by anyone wishing to make the case against the settlements.

To make my defense, I recommended to my friend a reading of one of the strongest indictments of the settlement project available online, B'Tselem's summary of its 2002 report, Land Grab. This report only speaks of government policies toward settlements and not of the many other aspects of Israeli behavior toward the Palestinians that violate human rights. For the purpose of my argument, that Israel is violating not just international law, but it's own laws, Land Grab couldn't be more pertinent. If you haven't read it - by all means, do so!

Instead of reading it, my friend provided the following points that he considers telling arguments.

  • Israel and Islam, the latter which denies the tight of the former to exist
  • Centuries of occupation
  • Judaism was there before Islam
  • Atrocities by Hamas and Hezbollah countered by force from Israel
  • Arbitrary boundary decisions by British occupiers
  • A fruitless war effort by Egypt that backfired
  • Isolation of Palestinians by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon.
  • Undercover aid by Iraq and Iran(who denies the Holocaust)
  • Corrupt leaders such as Arafat who reneged on treaty promises and embezzled billions
  • Persecution of Christians by Islamic rulers

Do you see any relevance to the settlement project in this list? There isn't any. But, like anti-aircraft fire thrown up to bring down an enemy bomber, the hope is that at least one will score a hit. Confusion of the issue is the goal, so that the clear wrong of the settlements will be lost in a jungle of emotion-laden confusion.

If you are an American making a case against the settlements, as I am, be prepared for the flak. The United States Congress has fallen for it, don't you fall for it too.

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