|Subj:||Three Opinions On The Cause of Day911|
|Date:||11/17/01 12:20:45 PM Pacific Standard Time|
Right To The Point News Review Vol. 1:
In the days immediately following the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, Israel-first journalists and the mainstream media tried to convince the American public that the attacks had nothing to do with Israel. They said they were the result of hatred for American wealth, power, immorality and freedom. But despite their efforts, that didn't wash. Too many respected, though less mainstream, journalists were presenting a different explanation and pointing to old articles warning that American policies and actions in the Middle East could lead to catastrophe. And interviews with Mid-Easterners and Bin Laden himself enunciated clearly what the true reasons behind the attacks were:
1) American support (especially military) of Israel, which was stealing and destroying the land and lives of Palestinians
2) U.S. sanctions against Iraq, which were killing millions of people
3) the stationing of troops on their land, and other forms of meddling.
And so Israeli and American Jewish articles began crooning a different tune; now they said that yes, the attacks *were* mostly about Israel and U.S. support of Israel -- but they said this doesn't mean our policies are wrong and should be changed. Just the opposite. What it meant was that Israel and America are both hated by the Arab world because they are so much alike--that's why they're such good friends... because they have so much in common. It's a familiar theme that we've been hearing for years. And it's not at all true.
Here are three recent articles that talk about some of the important differences between Israel and America. Read what they say, and see how wrong one journalist was when he wrote the day after the attacks that Americans are all Israelis now - like it or not. At least for now, Americans and Israelis are still "as different as night and day."
America and Israel As different as night and day
Adib F. Farha, The Daily Star
One of the basic tenets of modern, effective advertising and of successful public relations is that people identify with those who are "like us." The message carries significantly more weight when the recipient can identify with parallels to his own situation. With this in mind, Israelis and their supporters are keen on projecting theocratic and oppressive Israel as "the only American-type democracy in the Middle East," as Alan Dershowitz wrote in The Jerusalem Post last Friday. This line has great appeal to the American reader, who cherishes democracy and is naturally inclined to empathize with people who uphold similar principles to his, share similar suffering as his own, and with whom he can, therefore, identify.
Yet, as a matter of fact, the similarities between Israel and the US are few. Other than the fact that Israel too holds democratic elections, other similarities are hard to find. The US is a secular state that has no "state religion" and in which all citizens are equal under the law. Israel, by comparison, is a "Jewish state" that, by inference, sets its Jewish citizens on a higher plateau than their Christian and Muslim counterparts.
The US respects human rights while Israel practices state-sponsored terrorism. The US is an open society that has always welcomed immigrants from the world over, irrespective of their race or creed, and given them a chance to lead better lives. Israel, on the other hand, offers its citizenship automatically to any Jew, regardless of his birth place, if he chooses to move to Israel under its "right of return" laws, while it denies it to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were themselves or whose parents were born in Israel and whose property was illegally confiscated by immigrants to the newly-founded state.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the introduction of new extraordinary legislation in the US to deal with an extraordinary threat, pro-Israeli commentators are having a hay day identifying additional alleged similarities with the US. Dershowitz, for example, sees no difference between the Israeli policy of "targeted assassinations" and President George Bush's directive to target Osama bin Laden. Pro-Israeli commentators were quick to capitalize on Bush's directive to show Americans how they are "like them." But while bin Laden has implicitly admitted his responsibility for the terrorist attacks in the US when he called for renewed similar acts of terror, the victims of Israel's "targeted killings" are fighting for their universally-acknowledged right of self-determination.
Yes, terrorism is terrorism, as Israel repeatedly declares, and it should be condemned and punished irrespective of the motives. But it is preposterous to equate freedom fighters with terrorists. The level-headed US Secretary of State Colin Powell made that distinction unequivocally in a statement to congress a couple of weeks ago.
Whether they are Jews or gentiles, Lebanese civilians who took shelter in UN barracks in Qana in south Lebanon during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1996 or Israeli civilians in a Jerusalem pizza parlor, mass killers of innocent civilians should be condemned. But Israel is trying to equate Palestinians who are fighting the Israeli war machine, which destroys their homes, occupies their villages, and bombards the offices of their nascent government, with wanton terrorists like Osama Bin Laden who target Christians and Jews indiscriminately. With its effective propaganda tactics and its twisted attempts to depict its ongoing war against its own civilians with America's war on terrorism, the "we are like you" line has great appeal in the West.
Commentators like Dershowitz try to justify the use of "moderate physical pressure," which he admits is "a euphemism for non-lethal torture," by alluding to the fact that the FBI is "seeking authority to use torture to learn of imminent terrorist threats." But even if such authority is granted, does that make it correct for Israel to torture and kill people on the basis of suspicion and absent conviction in a court of law? The premise that one is innocent until proven guilty has always been an axiom of American justice that it has practiced without fail. It is unlikely that torture will be legalized in the US. Nevertheless, Israeli supporters were quick to jump on the opportunity to highlight another alleged example to prove that "we are like you."
Dershowitz's article concludes that, "The United States and Israel have been the primary victims of terrorism." But what of the thousands of innocent Arabs who fell victims to Israeli state-sponsored terrorism before and after the founding of the State of Israel and who still die with its bullets every single day? What of the civilians killed by Israeli gangs in Deir Yassin and by Israeli warplanes in Bahr al-Bakar and in Qana, to name but a few examples? What of killing UN mediator Count Bernadot and blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem by an Israeli gang led by Ishac Shamir, who was later elected as Israel's prime minister?
Ignoring the glaring differences between America, a nation that is a champion of human rights, egalitarian, secular, and a defender of freedoms on the one hand and Israel's atrocious record of human rights abuses, discrimination, sectarianism, and its daily trampling of the freedoms of its Arab constituency on the other hand, Dershowitz writes that, "it is wrong for the US to demand more of Israel than it asks of itself." His faulty argument is an extension of the tireless attempts to draw fictitious parallels between Israel and the US to gain American empathy. Israel and the US are as different as night and day when it comes to fundamental principles of democracy, human rights, and justice. It is time that Americans and the rest of the world realize that.
Adib F. Farha wrote this commentary for The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can Washington See It? - Editorial
The Jordan Times (Amman)
Wednesday, November 7, 2001
Isn't it time that American public opinion faces the fact that the US shares no more values with Israel than it shares with most Arab countries.
Israel cannot be considered a democracy--Its political, judicial and economic systems hinge on sidelining, marginalising, and denying the rights of 20 per cent of the country's population -- the Arab Israelis.
Israel cannot be considered a law-abiding country. It has defied dozens of UN resolutions, it upholds the principle of land acquisition through the use of force, it practices and defends military occupation and political assassinations.
Israel is a theocracy, a state built on the belief that religion and nationality should coincide.
It was never affinity that prompted and cemented the alliance between Israel and the US -- it was a matter of interests.
And now it is becoming increasingly obvious, especially, after all the changes that Sept. 11 brought about, that America's interests do not coincide with the interests of Israel, or, we should rather say, with the interests of the government of hardliner Ariel Sharon.
President George W. Bush started his office with a policy of "wait-and-see" towards the Middle East conflict--America should pull back and let the parties sort out their problems, he thought.
He soon realised that the world's only superpower has simply too many interests at stake to afford to sit on the sidelines in any world crisis, let alone in the Middle East. This realisation, according to various accounts, came long before Sept. 11.
Now, the US is back in the middle. And its vision for the future of the Middle East no longer matches with that of Israel. Not that American policy changed. It was Israeli policies that became too extreme and rejectionist.
Washington sees two independent sovereign states, but Sharon doesn't. Washington envisages that the capital of each state is going to be in Jerusalem. But Sharon doesn't.
Washington still believes that any settlement should be based on UN Security Council Resolution 242. But this Israeli government doesn't.
Sharon just pulled Israeli and American views apart. And he is taking advantage of the US-led war against terror to discredit US policies and impose his own terms.
What started last month, when Sharon compared Washington's Middle East policies to European powers' policies of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler, was just the beginning. Afterwards, Sharon repeatedly brushed off the US. When Washington asks Israel to withdraw troops from Palestinian areas, Sharon says the US does not really mean it, they are just trying to protect their international coalition against terror. If US officials talk to Arab leaders, Sharon retorts that Washington is just after its short-term plan of getting Ben Laden. When Bush affirms the Palestinians' right to an independent state, Sharon downplays his statement by insinuating that America is just after keeping the Arabs quiet.
No one has ever undermined Washington's foreign policy as much as this hawkish, arrogant, army general.
Weighing the Costs
October 23, 2001
by Joe Sobran
One reason the Middle East has always baffled me is that we hear such contradictory things about the state of Israel. Israel's defenders make it sound like heaven; its detractors make it sound like hell. On the one hand, its citizens, including Arabs, enjoy liberties denied by most states in the region; on the other hand, it deals harshly and cruelly with non-Jews, especially in the occupied territories.
A Christian has to be particularly disturbed by the recent killings of innocent Christians, including children, in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ. The exact circumstances are unclear, because our news media don't report much on the plight of Christians in the region; but it's hard to believe these violent deaths were unavoidable. Were they inflicted by weapons supplied by the United States?
The question is not whether Israel is heaven or hell; it's neither. It's a deeply troubled country, and the real question, for Americans, is whether the fate of the United States should be tied to it.
It's understandable that the Israelis should want U.S. support; but what is the cost to Americans? There is the monetary cost, in billions of tax dollars per year; there is the hatred of this country that is exacerbated, if not wholly caused, by the U.S.-Israel alliance; and that hatred has now cost thousands of American lives, with the toll rising.
It would be one thing if Israel's American advocates frankly admitted the costs and argued that America has nevertheless gained more than it has lost by the alliance. But they don't. They talk as if the alliance has been all profit to this country, with no downside. They contend that the 9/11 attacks had little or nothing to do with the U.S.-Israel alliance.
Some of Israel's advocates are even arguing, as former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu does, that Arabs hate Israel because of the United States, and not vice versa! Even by the standards of political propaganda, which assumes the stupidity of the masses, this is absurd. If it were true, the Israelis would end their ties to the United States in a flash.
A decade ago, Patrick Buchanan was accused of anti-Semitism for referring to Israel's "amen corner in this country." But nobody denied that such an Amen Corner exists, including many journalists, Christian as well as Jewish, who constantly urge the U.S. to go to war against Israel's enemies -- especially, at the moment, Iraq.
To acknowledge this is to incur the charge of raising "the canard of dual loyalty." Now it would be grossly unfair to accuse all American Jews of giving their chief loyalty to Israel. But that some Jews do it is beyond question. What is the pro-Israel lobby in this country seeking, if not at least the partial sacrifice of American interests to Israeli interests? That's what lobbies are for sacrificing general interests to particular interests. Farmers' lobbies do it, labor unions do it, big corporations do it. They always pretend that what is good for the narrow interest is good for everyone, just as the pro-Israel lobby always argues that what is good for Israel is good for America.
The pro-Israel lobby never acknowledges that there may be sharp divergences between the two countries' interests. Having read its literature for many years, I can't recall a single case when Israel's advocates have said "Policy X would be to Israel's advantage, but it would hurt the United States, so it should be avoided." Even "dual" loyalty would sometimes put U.S. interests first.
Worse than the pro-Israel lobby itself are the American politicians who constantly pander to it. They act on the assumption that Jewish voters and campaign donors place Israeli interests above American interests. And as long as they act on this assumption without putting it into words, nobody comments on the "anti-Semitic" implications of their behaving as if the "canard" were solid fact.
Even when the Israelis kill American sailors or steal American military secrets, these fine Americans never express outrage or demand investigations. Nothing could better illustrate the sagacity of George Washington's warnings against the "foreign corruption" to which republics are susceptible.
Israel has become so dependent on American aid that even to ask for candor about the interests at stake is to risk the charge of being "anti-Israel" -- as if seeking the unvarnished truth amounted to declaring war on Israel. Israel's defenders imply that Israel depends not only on America, but on false propaganda. Don't they ever listen to themselves?
Copyright 2001, may be reproduced only in full.
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