Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Keeping Israel in perspective

Posted by sanityinjection on January 21, 2009

With the Gaza violence finally coming to an end, at least for the time being, Israel’s public image is not in great shape. Even those who understand Israel’s need to defend themselves against Hamas rocket attacks cannot help but be dismayed by the level of devastation in Gaza, much of it suffered by ordinary Palestinians who may or may not have anything to do with Hamas.

You can bet that we will be hearing with renewed fervor the drumbeat of those who call Israel a racist state that persecutes Arabs and violates their human rights. With this in mind, I offer for consideration the recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court allowing Arab parties to stand in Israel’s upcoming elections.

The Israeli election authority had moved to ban Israeli Arab parties from taking part in the elections. These are Arab politicians who live in and are citizens of Israel proper, not the West Bank or Gaza. The Israeli parliament has long had a handful of Arab legislators.

The reason for the ban was that the Arab parties, which openly sympathize with the Palestinians, had supported terrorism by traveling to Arab nations such as Lebanon and meeting with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The ban was only on the parties themselves, and not on any individual politicians. However, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the ban by a unanimous vote.

What is the significance of this? Just that if you are an Arab living in Israel, while you may face social discrimination from the Jewish majority, your freedom of speech and due process rights are protected under Israeli law. You have the right to vote and to run for office.

In the vast majority of Arab countries, on the other hand, even Arabs do not enjoy these rights. In no country do they enjoy all of them. And God help you if you’re a non-Arab, or a non-Muslim in say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

In short, if we are going to talk about human rights in the Middle East, Israel is not immune from criticism, but it is hardly the place any rational person would single out as their primary target. Israel treats even its minorities better than Arab countries treat their own people.

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14 Responses to “Keeping Israel in perspective”

  1. Zanjabila said

    Excuse me, what do you know about how Israel treats its “minorities”? Israel’s “minorities” happen to be the indigenous population.

    I wouldn’t call ethnic cleansing, genocide, dehumanising and brutal occupation “nice” treatment, personally. Nor would I call incinerating 400 children with white phosphorous “nice”.

  2. Yaakov ( Yaakub) Sullivan said

    As a proud Moslim American ( former Catholic) gay I am outraged. We don’t need isreali democracy. We in our community had a wanderful party with nude salsa dancing and collected $18000 for our community in Gaza. My husband is from Gaza and we also adopted 2 boys from a refugee camp. We hope to help Gaza as much as we can.

  3. sanityinjection said

    Zanjabila – Your comment is an excellent illustration of what I’m talking about. You throw around words like genocide with no understanding of what they mean and no proof. I’m not sure what you think you were responding to, but it clearly wasn’t my post, as I never once used the word “nice”. Nor did you refute any of the points I made about human rights in Middle Eastern countries.

    Tell me, where is your invective toward Arab countries that have kept Palestinian refugees locked in squalid camps and segregated from their Arab brethren, prolonging their suffering in order to keep the Palestinian “right of return” cause alive? Your moral outrage is irrationally selective.

  4. Zanjabila said

    You throw around words like genocide with no understanding of what they mean and no proof.

    I use the term “genocide” in accordance with the word’s international legal definition.

    To be specific, the 1948 United Nations Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

    …any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    – Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Prevention_and_Punishment_of_the_Crime_of_Genocide

    Your moral outrage is irrationally selective.

    Irrationally selective?

    Name one Arab country whose soldiers systematically kill Palestinian children.

  5. sanityinjection said

    Zanjabila, your ignorance is staggering. In September 1970, the Kingdom of Jordan killed thousands of Palestinians in what came to be known as “Black September”. Jordan’s motivation in doing so was exactly the same as Israel’s today: They were combatting a violent terrorist organization (the PLO) which was destabilizing their country.

    As for your charges of genocide, they are ludicrous. Israel has never attempted to wipe out the Arab people. Arab residents in Israel enjoy full property, political, and legal rights. On the othe rhand, the Arabs have attempted on several occasions to exterminate the Jewish people, specifically 1948, 1967, and 1973, during which times the popular rallying cry was “sweep the Jews into the sea”. Go to any Arab country and you can witness a protest in which the people enthusiastically shout, “Death to Israel! Death to the Jews!”

    No amount of dissimulation on your part can alter these facts.
    You do the Palestinian cause a disservice when you substitute inflammatory rhetoric and propaganda for an honest advocacy of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.

  6. Zanjabila said

    You spout Zionist myth, no less.

    Arab residents in Israel enjoy full property, political, and legal rights.

    Fact: Jews in “the Jewish state” have more than twenty legal privileges over Palestinians by virtue of their ethnicity.

    http://www.adalah.org/eng/backgroundlegalsystem.php

    the Kingdom of Jordan killed thousands of Palestinians

    Did you read the question? How many Palestinian children did the Jordanian army shoot at close range in the last twelve months?

    As for your charges of genocide, they are ludicrous.

    Are you going to engage in intelligent discussion or just fight me off with empty insults?

    Influential rabbis call for the total annihilation of the Palestinians:

    “All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts.” This was the religious opinion issued one week ago by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank.

    Rosen’s article, which created a lot of noise in Israel, included the text of the ruling in the Torah: “Annihilate the Amalekites from the beginning to the end. Kill them and wrest them from their possessions. Show them no mercy. Kill continuously, one after the other. Leave no child, plant, or tree. Kill their beasts, from camels to donkeys.”

    Rosen does not hesitate to define the “Amalekites of this age” as the Palestinians.

    The true outrage is that most of those authorised to issue Jewish religious opinions support the view of Rabbi Rosen, as confirmed by Haaretz newspaper.

  7. sanityinjection said

    Oh, boy, where do I start?

    First of all, that Adalah website you linked is not talking about legal rights of Israeli Arab citizens. It’s talking about immigration preferences for Jews and official status of Jewish organizations. The fact that these issues are confused with issues of human and civil rights just goes to show how little experience Arabs have with either. You have yet to confront my point that the poorest Arab citizen of Israel enjoys rights that wealthy Arab sheiks do not enjoy in their own countries. You can’t admit the truth of this, because it would destroy your simplistic, Manichaean, black-or-white, “our side good” vs. “their side evil” worldview. The very sort of worldview, incidentally, that breeds genocide in the first place.

    Further, your equation of the Israeli action in Gaza with genocide is ridiculous. If Israel wanted to annihilate the population of Gaza, they could easily have done so a hundred times over by now. It’s certainly true that their have been civilian acasualties. And you know as well as I do (though I doubt you’ll admit it) that Hamas and other militant groups routinely use brainwashed children to attack soldiers (sometimes armed with nothing more than stones and rocks) and then cry crocodile tears when the children they themselves have eagerly pushed into harm’s way end up with bullets in them.

    The one area where you actually have something resembling a point is your quotation from Rabbi Rosen. Yes, there are religious fanatics in Israel who do call for the annihilation of the Palestinians. If you want to call that advocating genocide, I won’t argue with you. And that’s reprehensible. However, it is in no way different from what is preached at almost every mosque in the Arab world about the Jews. The difference is that the State of Israel has never accepted or espoused such views, whereas Arab governments and Palestinian groups have and do.

    I didn’t hear the Arabs wringing their hands about genocide during the 1940s when the Mufti of Jerusalem cheered on Hitler’s death camps. Zanjabila, you simply cannot attain the moral high ground by posturing in the absence of truth and in denial of over half a century of historical fact.

  8. Zanjabila said

    Let’s try again, “Sanityinjection.”

    Arab residents in Israel enjoy full property, political, and legal rights.

    Are you talking about theoretical rights or rights in practice? On both grounds your claim falls down. How about the legal right to have the state prosecute soldiers or illegal settlers who murder your children by shooting them? Where is that “full legal right”? How about the right to life and security? How about the right to build a home? Jews are ensured that right. Palestinians are not only denied that right; the Jewish State for the Jews also demolishes Palestinian homes at whim and without warning. What kind of right is that? What kind of society?

    I’ve seen “Breaking the Silence” testimony about whether the destruction wreaked upon the Palestinian population at whim is a case of rotten apples or military orders from the Israeli high command.

    It is the latter.

    Why are still whingeing on about my use of the word genocide? I’ve already addressed that. The UN formulated the above-quoted international legal definition for the word following the genocide of Jews by the Nazi government of Germany. The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians certainly falls within those parameters. How about the sound bombs deliberately inflicted on the children of Palestine? The well-documented trauma suffered by Palestinian children in the unlawfully-occupied territories? Does that not qualify as “causing serious mental harm to members of the group”, in your eyes?

    In the first half of 2004, 66 children were killed in the Gaza Strip. Mostly shot. Why?

    Wake up! You are either a card-carrying member of the zionist race or a fellow member of the Human Race! Make up your mind.

  9. Zanjabila said

    my comment disappeared … spammed?

  10. sanityinjection said

    Zanjabila – I’ve retrieved your comment from the spam folder – sometimes comments with links get put in there by mistake, not anything I can control.

    I have never claimed that there haven’t been crimes committed against Palestinian civilians by Israel. However, you keep ignoring the fact that there are Arabs who live inside Israel “proper” in peace and freedom. If Israel were pursuing a policy of genocide as you claim, those people would be the first targets, not the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Only by pretending that Israeli Arabs do not exist can you maintain your posturing – that is why I keep saying you are not confronting reality.

    Further, when you use phrases like “the Zionist race or a fellow member of the human race”, you further undermine your claim to the moral high ground. Only those who promote violence and hatred seek to dehumanize those who disagree with their views.

  11. Zanjabila said

    Zionist soldiers in Gaza and the West Bank have behaved like psychotic cowards. They brutally murder women, children and civilians. While eating chocolate.

    How can you “dehumanize” such people? They are already dehuman.

    No wonder the few human Israeli soldiers end up joining “Breaking the Silence”. Or committing suicide.

    I am a Muslim, by God’s grace. Theft of land, rape, harassment, persecution, murder of children really are wrong. To Muslims. To all humans unblinded by nationalistic ideology. To all humans with a heart.

  12. sanityinjection said

    Then I guess the institutionalized marital rape and punishment of rape victims as adulteresses common in many Muslim countries must really keep you up at night, huh? Somehow I doubt it. Once again you reveal your selective morality – everything done by your political opponents is evil, but the same actions done by your ethnic kin or co-religionists are excused or more often ignored. If you wonder why the world doesn’t take your complaints seriously, that’s why.

  13. sanityinjection said

    For Zanjabila, and anyone else still following this discussion, I offer the following:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=6803693

    Clearly, the death of these Palestinian girls is a tragedy. Everyone agrees that Dr. Aboul-Aish and his family were not militants. And yet if Hamas militants are using his home (with or without his consent) to attack Israeli soldiers, are they not supposed to defend themselves?

    The IDF (Israeli army) claims that Dr. Aboul-Aish was personally contacted by Israeli officers several times to urge him to evacuate his family. If that is true, one must again ask what more the IDF is expected to do if the civilians refuse to leave the battle area.

    In every war, there are civilian casualties, and it is always sad and ugly. We should mourn for the loss of these Palestinian girls and other innocent victims of the Gaza fighting. But, in our grief, we should not be swayed into a disproportionate view of the conflict as a whole. There are other girls, both Jewish and Arab, in Israel who have been killed by Palestinian rockets and suicide bombings in which civilians were deliberately, rather than accidentally, targeted. That is a distinction which must not be swamped by the rhetoric of partisans.

  14. sanityinjection said

    Update – Here is a follow-up story on Dr. Abu el-Aish:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=7644225

    The story raises question as to whether the IDF did warn the family to evacuate or not. Hard to tell where the truth is here: the IDF could be lying to cover their asses, or Abu el-Aish could be lying because he was afraid of reprisals against his family by Palestinians if he had evacuated.

    Who could blame Dr. Abu el-Aish if this tragedy left him with feelings of hatred and wanting revenge against Israelis? Instead, he has turned his tragedy into a powerful argument for peace and coexistence: if he can forgive and desire to live in peace with Israelis, whose suffering (Israeli or Palestinian) is so great that they should refuse to do the same? This is truly remarkable and worthy of our admiration.

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