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Failure of the American Jewry - Part I
by Dr. Habib Siddiqui
2010-08-10 08:05:07
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Voicing any fair criticism of Israel these days is hazardous. You are sure to be dumped as an anti-Semite. And this labeling is often so loosely used that it is unfair to all Arabs, and surely to some (so-called self-hating) Jews, who trace their bloodline to Abraham and Jacob, respectively. But who cares those facts? To many die-hard Zionists the single litmus test is: does the person support the state of Israel unquestioningly? Any slight criticism is not tolerated by these self-described guardians of the Jewish state, in spite of the fact that things are not that beautiful or glamorous under the dirty and rotten rug of Israel.

Peter Beinart, an Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York and a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, recently wrote an important article “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” in The New York Review of Books. He deplored the fact that the leading institutions of American Jewry discourage any broad discussion of the Palestine-Israel conflict and would rather check “their liberalism at Zionism’s door.” They are afraid to be critical of the conduct of the Israeli leaders. Such an attitude has only emboldened the Zionists in Israel to feel untouchable -- i.e., outside the reaches of international laws and obligations -- with their savage crimes against the Palestinian people.

As I have noted many times, there has not been a single honest peace broker in Israeli history since the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. Many of them are outright fascists and murderers. The current leaders of Israel are no exceptions to that general rule. A sampling of their views is sufficient to prove that the current Zionist leaders in Israel are intolerant and hateful of the Palestinian population. In his 1993 book, A Place among the Nations, Netanyahu not only rejects the idea of a Palestinian state, he denies that there is such a thing as a Palestinian. In fact, he repeatedly equates the Palestinian bid for statehood with Nazism. An Israel that withdraws from the West Bank, he has declared, would be a “ghetto-state” with “Auschwitz borders.” And the effort “to gouge Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] out of Israel” resembles Hitler’s bid to wrench the German-speaking “Sudeten district” from Czechoslovakia in 1938. It is unfair, Netanyahu insists, to ask Israel to concede more territory since it has already made vast, gut-wrenching concessions. What kind of concessions? It has abandoned its claim to Jordan, which by rights should be part of the Jewish state.

Has Netanyahu changed his views since coming back to power? No. And yet, President Obama had to cave into Jewish pressure to invite him back to the White House and use the Blair House. Netanyahu was even promoted as one who is ‘willing to take risks for peace’.

According to Beinart, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas’s immensely powerful spiritual leader, has called Arabs “vipers,” “snakes,” and “ants.” In 2005, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed dismantling settlements in the Gaza Strip, Yosef urged that “God strike him down.” The official Shas newspaper recently called President Obama “an Islamic extremist.” Just imagine what would have been the reaction in the Jewish controlled media if some leader or newspaper in Iran or some Hamas or Hizbollah leader had uttered such offensive words against a sitting American president! And yet, not a single Jewish leader has protested the official Shas view.

Beinart notes that Effi Eitam, a charismatic ex–cabinet minister and Israeli war hero, has proposed ethnically cleansing Palestinians from the West Bank. “We’ll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from [the] political system,” Eitam declared in 2006. In 2008, he merged his small Ahi Party into Netanyahu’s Likud. And for the 2009–2010 academic year, he is Netanyahu’s special emissary for overseas “campus engagement.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a notorious fascist who once shared Eitam’s views. In his youth, he briefly joined Meir Kahane’s now banned Kach Party, which also advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israeli soil. Now Lieberman’s position might be called “pre-expulsion.” He wants to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who won’t swear a loyalty oath to the Jewish state. He tried to prevent two Arab parties that opposed Israel’s 2008–2009 Gaza war from running candidates for the Knesset. He said Arab Knesset members who met with representatives of Hamas should be executed. He wants to jail Arabs who publicly mourn on Israeli Independence Day, and he hopes to permanently deny citizenship to Arabs from other countries who marry Arab citizens of Israel.

Hebrew University Professor Ze’ev Sternhell is an expert on fascism and a winner of the prestigious Israel Prize. Commenting on Lieberman and the leaders of Shas in a recent Op-Ed in Haaretz, he wrote, “The last time politicians holding views similar to theirs were in power in post–World War II Western Europe was in Franco’s Spain.” With their blessing, “a crude and multifaceted campaign is being waged against the foundations of the democratic and liberal order.” Sternhell should know. Beinart informs us that in September 2008, Sternhell was injured when a settler set off a pipe bomb at his house.

For the last several years, especially since the Bush Jr. days of 2001, we are continuously reminded about the greatness of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’ Uri Avnery, a human rights activist, unmasks Israel’s true character. In a July 17 posting in the Media Monitors Network, he wrote, “When I was first elected to the Knesset, I was appalled at what I found. I discovered that, with rare exceptions, the intellectual level of the debates was close to zero.” That was back in 1967, when the Knesset included members like Levy Eshkol and Pinchas Sapir, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin and Yohanan Bader, Meir Yaari and Yaakov Chazan, for whom today streets, highroads and neighborhoods are named. If you thought that in the last 43 years, the debates within the Knesset have improved, you are wrong. Avnery says, “In comparison to the present Knesset, that Knesset now looks like Plato’s Academy. What frightened me more than anything else was the readiness of members to enact irresponsible laws for the sake of fleeting popularity, especially at times of mass hysteria.”

In a recent Knesset debate, Haneen Zoabi of the Arab nationalist Balad faction tried to explain why she had joined the Gaza aid flotilla that had been attacked by the Israeli navy. According to Avnery, “MK Anastasia Michaeli, a member of the Lieberman party, jumped from her seat and rushed to the rostrum, letting out blood-curdling shrieks, waving her arms, in order to remove Haneen Zoabi by force. Other members rose from their seats to help Michaeli. Near the speaker, a threatening crowd of Knesset members gathered. Only with great difficulty did the ushers succeed in saving Zoabi from bodily harm… As far as I could make out, not a single Jewish member raised a finger to defend Zoabi during the tumult.”
That is not the end of the Knesset mobster-like behavior! Recently, the Knesset decided by a large majority to adopt a proposal, supported by Likud and Kadima members, to strip Haneen Zoabi of her parliamentary privileges. Even before, Interior Minister Eli Yishai had asked the Legal Advisor to the Government for approval of his plan to strip Zoabi of her Israeli citizenship on the grounds of treason. One of the Knesset members shouted at her: “You have no place in the Israeli Knesset! You have no right to hold an Israeli identity card!” According to Avnery, “The proud parents of these initiatives, which enjoy massive support from Likud, Kadima, Lieberman’s party and all the religious factions, do not hide their intention to expel all the Arabs from parliament and establish at long last a pure Jewish Knesset. The latest decisions of the Knesset are but parts of a prolonged campaign, which gives birth almost every week to new initiatives from publicity-hungry members, who know that the more racist and anti-democratic their bills are, the more popular they will be with their electorate… There seems to be no limit to this parliamentary irresponsibility. All red lines have been crossed long ago. This does not concern only the parliamentary representation of more than 20% of Israel’s citizens, but there is a growing tendency towards depriving all Arab citizens of their citizenship altogether.”

A call for boycott is a democratic means of expression. Not so, if you are in Israel. Recently, the Knesset gave the first reading to a bill to impose heavy penalties on any Israeli who advocates a boycott on Israel, in general, and on economic enterprises, universities and other Israeli institutions, including settlements, in particular. Any such institution will be entitled to an indemnity of $5000 from every supporter of the boycott.

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Satya2010-08-11 22:45:47
I just came across two excellent articles on the same theme. These two are quite revealing. Interested readers may like to read the MMN site for these: Uri Avnery's article on Elders of Anti-Zion: http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/77149 and Allan Brownfeld's http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/77198

Jack2010-08-11 19:51:34

There are serious human rights issues in Iran and the fact that women are mutliated, made to have no voice, brutally beat into submission, Christian persecution and imprisonment (yea,even of wandering hikers), it is a stone Mr. Siddiqui ought to caste first as his own nation. Anti-semitism is on the rise, and this article is sheer testiment and evidence of that fact.

Satya Priya2010-08-11 22:16:26
To Jack's point that anti-Semitism is on the rise, if true, the blame rests with the Zionists themselves. The NYRB article that Dr Siddiqui referred above was written by a Jew, Peter Beinart. If he is complaining about Jewish and Zionist failure from what he sees in Israel and the leadership in the USA, it would be foolish of making such charges of anti-semitism on the reviewer.

Emanuel Paparella2010-08-10 14:43:33
As already observed, Dr. Siddiqui likes to portray himself as the voice of reason and impartiality, but he has persuaded precious few tha such is the case, he will become much more credible when he begins taking a hard look at both sides of the coin or the issue and begins pointing out the flaws of the worldview of Islamic culture and how to correct those as well as those of the West. Till he manages to achieve that modicum of impartiality he will continue to be under the shadow of sheer bias. This critique applies as well to the young Iranian journalist who has interviewed half the world and yet finds nothing wrong with the present theocracy in Iran, and whose opinion frequently appears in Ovi nowadays (the last one on Avicenna jut out two days ago).

Emanuel Paparella2010-08-10 14:52:40
P.S. I was referring above to Mr. Kourosh Ziabari. I am afraid that the ability to be objective and impartial and unbiased is something that the Eastern Asian world can still learn a thing or two from the Western world beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers. To ignore that lesson is to cease to be impartial.

Satya2010-08-10 16:48:20
Emanuel's haughty racism is all over in his statement: objective and impartial and unbiased is something that the Eastern Asian world can still learn a thing or two from the Western world beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers.
To these kind of chauvinists everything starts with Greece and the West, as if ancient civilizations like Babylon, Iran, Egypt, China and India, amongst many others, have nothing to gain from.
Why does Emanuel refuge to see the things the way they are? Why is he so condoning or approving of Zionist inhumanity that kills and maims, destroys and occupies illegally?

Emanuel Paparella2010-08-10 20:35:52
Thanks for proving my point which remains despite the fact that you have gratuitously put words in my mouth which I never uttered...If you have to put words in my mouth, how about these Mr. Satya: what is good for the goose is good for the gander. In your statement I see the goose (the West)and its fault, but I fail to see the gander and its fault; and therefore you too like Dr. Siddiqui and Mr. Ziabari remain under a suspicion of sheer bias.

We certainly can learn from each other but for that learning to occur it needs to be based on an honest assessment and comparison of cultures, not on chauvinism that projects its own shadow on the other.

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