The Tyranny of Deceit: A Response to ‘Israel Apartheid Week’
by MARK SILVERBERG
March 6, 2013
In the aftermath of World War II, with the hideous revelation that two-thirds of European Jews had been systematically exterminated by the Nazis, anti-Semitism became unfashionable. But that is no longer the case. As the memory of the Holocaust fades into history, as we continue to transfer petro-wealth to our enemies; as Europe morphs into Eurabia; as Islamists take control over the UN and an increasing number of Middle East and North African countries, and as our universities become hotbeds for virulent anti-Israel teachings and rhetoric - logic fades, facts become confused with fictions, distinctions between democracies and tyrannies become irrelevant, history becomes unimportant, and anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism become indistinguishable.
Natan Sharansky uses what he terms "the 3D test" to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism, and he identifies the three categories as de-legitimization, demonization and the double standard. Taking these three factors into account, one can discern that the new anti-Semitism manifests itself in many different forms and in many different forums - through divestment campaigns, international boycotts of Israeli products and entertainers (as Norway has done recently), boycotts of Israeli academics by European universities, holding Israel to standards no other nations in the world are required to meet - not nearly, and through "Israel Apartheid Week" on Canadian and American college campuses where Israel is assigned the role of "Jew" among the nations of the world to be singled-out, cursed, harassed and defamed.
As Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post: "Google ‘Israel and Apartheid', you will see that the two are linked in cyberspace despite the fact that Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of Israel's population, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews, and even sit in the Knesset." Israel's Ambassador to Greece is an Israeli Arab. In May 2004, Salim Jubran, an Israeli Arab was appointed to the Supreme Court of Israel. Arabic is an official language in Israel and is posted on all road signs. In 1948, there was only one Arab high school in Israel. Today there are hundreds. The fact that these anti-Israeli boycott campaigners on our campuses attack Israel as an apartheid state not only demonstrates their ignorance of what apartheid was in South Africa*, but raises the issue of why they do not propose boycotts of states that truly merit international disgust and censure.
These protests aren't just against Israel. They are also against the Jewish People. Israel's Operation Cast Lead at the close of 2008 - a legitimate act of self-defense by any and all international standards - evoked universal resentment and hatred. Around the world, synagogues and Jewish graves were desecrated and anti-Semitic chants were shouted at protests. In April 2009, a swastika was found painted on a Jewish fraternity house at the University of Florida and on American campuses, and comparisons continue to be made between Israelis and Nazis, and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz.
In all this, it is quite clear that distinctions between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are increasingly blurred. Taken in its totality, Israel not only has no right to defend itself in response to terrorist attacks, but it has no right to exist - which suggests that missile attacks on Israel's civilian population are not only justified, but desirable.
The lies perpetrated by otherwise respectable international religious, educational and political bodies against the only democracy in the Middle East are most notable in the double standards that are applied to Israel as opposed to states that have slaughtered their own peoples for decades with absolute immunity from international censure.
It is true, of course, that criticizing Israel does not make one an anti-Semite any more than criticizing the government of France makes one anti-French. But it's one thing to criticize France, and something else to declare the French nation illegitimate and to advocate its destruction. Martin Luther King, Jr. once referred to Israel as "one of great outposts of democracy in the world," with an "incontestable right to exist," but that is no longer the case.
Funny how these campus activists never seem to mention the Syrian de jure occupation of Lebanon, or Saudi funding of global jihad, or the treatment of Saudi women, or the crushing of all democratic dissent in Egypt and Iran. They have no difficulty bemoaning capital punishment in the United States, but say nothing when the Palestinians routinely execute suspected Israeli collaborators including the mothers of young children, or when Hamas throws Fatah supporters to their deaths off 15-story buildings.
It is shameful that pro-Palestinian professors and students on American and European campuses pretend that the only reason for the problems in the Middle East is because of Israeli obstinacy as if it is the fault of the Israelis and not the rejectionist Arab world. Not only has every Israeli concession and every act of goodwill and compassion not changed the way Israel is portrayed - but each concession, each accommodation, each withdrawal first from Lebanon, then from Gaza has only fed the furious hatred that Islam and the international community feels for it.
Borders have nothing to do with peace in the Middle East. It is the existence of Israel as a Jewish state that offends the Arabs and their supporters. It is the history of Jews in that land stretching back over 4,000 years that offends them which accounts for their threats against Israel when it declares its intention to make the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb national historic sites with the aim of restoring them and opening them to the world. The fact that all religions will have freedom of access to such sites is irrelevant to the Palestinians who have spent millions of U.S. and European dollars teaching their children that Jews came to the Land as usurpers less than a century ago, and that Abraham was a Muslim albeit the fact that he lived almost three thousand years before Islam was born!
Israel could grant its enemies ever possible concession (and has), but that would not bring peace. Nothing short of Israel's destruction will suffice.
Truth is - anti-Zionism becomes anti-Semitism when it reaches a certain pitch, and singling out Israel for condemnation and international sanction - out of all proportion to any other parties in the Middle East - is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is intellectually dishonest.
In May 2010, a Turkish Islamist charity with close ties to Turkey's ruling party sponsored a flotilla which it claimed was designed to "relieve suffering" in Gaza, but whose real intention was to support and supply Hamas and demonize Israel. Yet, these same "human rights" organizations are silent in the face of atrocities being committed in Syria today, and have offered nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.
So, why is all this passion, all this anger and rage, directed at this one country? Why not at Hezbollah which orchestrated the coup in Lebanon? Or at Saddam Hussein when he ruled as the "butcher of Baghdad"? Or at those who continue to persecute Christians in Egypt and Iran?
Let's call it what it is for those who arrogantly hold Israel to a standard of conduct to which no other nation in this world is held. Half a million men, women and children are slaughtered in Rwanda, and there is silence. The Chinese annihilate Tibetan culture, and there is silence. Tens of thousands of civilians are slaughtered in Chechnya, and there is silence. Egypt imprisons the leading democracy advocate in the Arab world after a phony trial, and imprisons U.S.-funded pro-democracy American workers in Egypt and not one single student group in America calls for divestiture from Egypt or rallies for the release of the imprisoned workers. Even Congress is incensed. But where are the student rallies?
Syria occupies Lebanon for a quarter century, chokes the life out of its democracy, assassinates its political leaders, effects a coup d'etat through its Hezbollah proxy, sends Islamic terrorists over its borders to kill Americans and Iraqis, and crushes whatever hope that country may have for a secure future, and not one single student organization on our campuses calls for divestiture from Syria.
Iran uses its paramilitary Basij thugs to beat up student demonstrators in the streets of Tehran and squeezes the life out of that county's embryonic democratic movement, and there is silence.
Saudi Arabia denies its women the most basic human rights, and bans any other religion from being practiced publicly on its soil, yet no student group in America calls for divestiture from Saudi Arabia.
These human rights violations and tragedies dwarf anything done by the Israelis, yet they fail to elicit the same degree of moral outrage that Israel evokes among its campus critics.
Two years ago, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Michael Oren was shouted down by Hamas supporters and radical Leftists, and forced to leave the podium at the University of California Irvine, but when the university pressed charges against the students, they argued that their right to free speech was being infringed. Apparently, Ambassador Oren is not entitled to that right as well.
In Jenin, in April 2002, Israel was painted as the world's pariah: "Nazis," "butchers," "conducting war crimes," "surrounding the infant Jesus with Israeli tanks," claims of 3,000 Palestinians being massacred, claims that Israelis poisoned the Palestinian water supply, and claims that Israel dumped Palestinian corpses into secret mass graves.
A bishop in Copenhagen compared former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to King Herod. Newspapers across Europe, especially the BBC, "substantiated" these lies with reports of grisly deeds by Israeli soldiers. Palestinians went on international media networks with the active complicity of those networks in accusing Israel of murdering Palestinians for their body parts - lies later reinforced by respectable European newspapers, and even by a member of the British House of Lords in February 2010.
The problem with all this is that no massacre occurred in Jenin! Less than a hundred armed terrorists were killed in Operation Defensive Shield, and almost as many Israeli soldiers were killed because they were ordered to go from house-to-house to avoid civilian casualties wherever possible. But that was of little consequence to those in the media and on our college campuses who condemned Israel for "unspeakable war crimes."
In Lebanon in 2006, Israel was condemned for violating Lebanese sovereignty with scant mention made of the hundreds of Hezbollah missiles falling onto Israel's civilian population centers, and its use of Lebanese civilians as human shields.
The same hypocrisy held true in the conclusions reached by the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead which accepted the lies of Hamas as fact, disregarded Israeli commission findings, denied Israel's right to defend itself, and condemned Israel for having conducted war crimes in Gaza. The Report made little mention of the 8,000 missiles fired at southern Israel, and minimized reports that Hamas had used civilians as human shields, and mosques, schools and houses in residential areas to conceal its weapons - not to mention the millions of leaflets dropped and cell phone calls made in Arabic by the Israeli military to provide warnings to Palestinians in targeted areas.
When the UN hosted the Third World Conference Against Racism in Durban, the nations of the world had an opportunity to address the hatred that afflicts hundreds of millions of people, but they only found time to dwell on Israel accusing it of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, and apartheid while the genocides in Bosnia and the Sudan were barely mentioned. In the name of "human rights" and "justice," these advocates and self-proclaimed "protectors of the Free World" decry any and every Israeli action and seek to punish it by conducting academic and cultural boycotts of Israel while Palestinian clerics call for the murder of Jews without eliciting any protest whatsoever.
The Saudi and Egyptian media report on Jewish conspiracies causing 9/11, and run TV programs on Ramadan alleging blood libels, but there is no outcry against them for an international boycott.
The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope for justice. Instead, these frameworks are used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel.
Today, even as Israel absorbs missiles fired indiscriminately at its civilian population by terrorists, one continues to hear the howls and hatred voiced about "The Wall" particularly those "innocent" suicide bombers who are being kept from their religious duty of self-detonating amid crowds of Jews.
In that regard, I was asked in a lecture to explain why Israel was "ghettoizing" the Palestinians by constructing a security fence in areas that served as transit points for terrorists entering the country. The questioner noted that, as a Jew, I should be more sensitive to the concept of a ghetto, and its dehumanizing effects on human beings. I responded that the security fence was neither built for reasons of discrimination nor motivated by racism, but as a deterrent to protect the lives of Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers and, in fact, it continues to accomplish its purpose.
But the suggestion that Israel may have had racist motivations in constructing the fence disturbed me because it is a recurring theme among major international bodies and on college campuses, so I asked the questioner why she had decided to sort Israel out for "special treatment?" After all, the security fence that Israel has constructed to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out of its country is not unlike the security fence constructed by the Saudis to keep the Yemeni jihadists out of their country; or the one that India has constructed along its borders with Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh for the same reason; or the one that the Thais have constructed to keep the Malaysian jihadists out of their country, or the one that the U.S. is constructing to keep Mexican illegals out of our country, although I couldn't recall the last time a Mexican self-detonated in Albuquerque, or fired missiles into Dallas or Houston.
Anti-Semitism has evolved from an irrational hatred or jealousy of Jews to an irrational hatred or jealousy of the Jewish State - Israel.
Why is it that we don't see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris or Madrid?
Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?
Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs by jihadists?
Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of the Islamic dictatorship in Sudan?
Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel?
Why is there no outcry by the Europeans against jihadism?
Why don't they defend Israel's right to exist?
Where are the flotillas heading to Syrian shores? Perhaps it's safer to be confronted by Western TV cameras in Gaza than AK47s in Syria.
And finally, why are the Europeans so obsessed with the two most stable democracies on earth (the United States and Israel), rather than with the world's worst dictatorships
So many stupid and irresponsible comments have been written about Israel, that there aren't any accusations left to level against her.
At the same time, the press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel; the indoctrination of children or the corruption of the Palestinian leadership, and the millions of dollars in international foreign aid that have been transferred into their private bank accounts, as was exposed by a former Palestinian leader in February 2010. And when reporting about victims, why is every Palestinian casualty reported as a tragedy while every Israeli victim is reported with disdain, if at all?
This obsession with Israel represents a callous disregard for fundamental justice, and anti-Semitism cloaked as righteous indignation. For example, with the start of Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting) in early September, Israeli forces manning West Bank check-points were instructed to avoid eating or smoking in front of Palestinians as a sign of respect, even as the Palestinians continue to use the Tomb of Joseph as a garbage dump and have urinated next to the Torah scrolls in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Further, on any given day, Israeli prisons are hosting Red Cross representatives, journalists, lawyers, prisoners' advocates, as well as family members of convicted Palestinian prisoners, while Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas on Israeli soil, was held in isolation for years until his release and denied any and all visitation rights from lawyers, family and even the International Red Cross in violation of his human rights and international law. So, where was the international outcry for Shalit?
And there's more. Israel is constantly confronted with the demand that it must return Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians and the Golan Heights to Syria - areas seized during the 1967 Six-Day War waged against it by the Arab world. Why then do we never hear that same argument being raised against other nations?
After World War II, Poland annexed 10% of historic Germany (East Prussia); Morocco controls the Western Sahara; Armenia has controlled 15% of neighboring Azerbaijan since 1994; Turkey has controlled half of Cyprus since its 1974 invasion; Russia has controlled the Kurile Islands off northern Japan since the end of World War II, and China has occupied Tibet since 1950. So, where is the international outcry demanding that these countries return lands they seized in war? Why is it that only Israel's control over the West Bank merits international censure? One can only imagine the outrage in Britain were Israeli politicians and civilians to start routinely telling the British "what you need to do" about the Falkland Islands.
And what of the demand that the Palestinians be allowed a "right of return" to Israel proper or at least fair compensation for having been displaced as a result of Israel's War of Independence in 1948? Some 850,000 Jews left behind $300 billion in assets when they were forced to flee for their lives from Arab and Persian countries after the birth of the state of Israel. So why are similar demands not being made of the Syrians, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Iraqis, the Yemenis, and the Egyptians who displaced (or more specifically expelled) their Jews? I don't recall any demands being made of any nation for compensation or allowing a right of return to any refugees displaced after any wars in modern times - except of course for those being made of Israel.
Czechoslovakia expelled its Sudetenland Germans from their homes after World War II; the Poles expelled millions of Germans from East Prussia and absorbed that territory into Poland in 1945; thousands of Turkish Cypriots were displaced by Greek military forces in the 1960s and early 70s while Turkish forces displaced thousands of Greek Cypriots from Northern Cyprus after their 1974-1976 war; 450,000 ethnic Chinese were expelled from Vietnam between 1978-1979; the Bangladeshis expelled over three million Hindus in 1974; 250,000 Georgians were displaced from Abkhazia between 1993 and 1998, not to mention more than 500,000 ethnic Russians in Chechnya who were displaced during the First Chechen War in 1994-1996, and more than 800,000 Kosovar Albanians were expelled from Kosovo during the Kosovo War in 1998-1999. Somehow, I must have missed offers of a right of return or any compensation package being offered to these millions upon millions of persons displaced by wars - except in the case of Israel.
Then there's the issue relating to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza. Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British premier Tony Blair, entered Gaza aboard a protest boat and told Ynet News in Israel that Gaza was "the largest concentration camp in the world today" and a "humanitarian crisis on the scale of Darfur." She was later photographed at a seemingly well-stocked grocery store in the so-called "concentration camp."
So, let's consider how these Israeli "monsters" have behaved. Hamas has declared its intention to destroy Israel and murder every Jew residing there, and has fired over 8,000 missiles at southern Israel. In return, Israel is providing 70% of Gaza's electrical power and, each week sends tons of food, fuel and humanitarian aid to an enemy whose entire rationale for existence is the extermination or subjugation of every Jew in Israel.
During World War II, the Allies firebombed Dresden, obliterated German cities, and dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Talk about "proportional response!" Israel feeds its enemies!
And finally, Israel has been condemned for retaliating against Hamas and Hezbollah for their missile attacks on Israel's southern and northern civilian populations because, it is said, Israel is (and this is a direct quote from Human Rights Watch) "endangering non-combatants, using disproportionate force, and committing crimes against humanity." If Israel fired missiles into Gaza City, Sidon or Tyre, the world would be enraged, the UN Security Council would be called into Special Session, The U.S. and EU would be threatening Jerusalem, and the media would be having a field-day.
So why is it that when the Palestinians and the Lebanese fire missiles at Israeli civilians as their primary target, it is barely mentioned in the media, but when Israel retaliates against those missile sites in targeted bombings, it's considered "disproportionate force" - all which leads to the real issue lurking behind the scenes here - our enemies' tactical use of human shields. Why is criticism never leveled at Hamas or Hezbollah who regularly use children as human shields to protect their leaders, and schools, private homes and mosques to protect their weapons?
In all the condemnation being heaped on Israel by the media and the Goldstone Report for Israel's retaliatory strikes in Gaza, and before that in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War (and indeed any future conflict should a regional war erupt over Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons), no one ever asks how any democracy can expect to win a war without "endangering civilians" especially when the enemy uses human shields as a tactical weapon to insulate itself from military strikes? Are we not handing our enemies an enormous tactical advantage? How can any free nation ever hope to win a future war against enemies who use human shields if it is condemned for "endangering civilians"?
It is this absence of balance, this flagrant unforgivable deceit, not the criticisms of Israel that are most troubling.
For those who argue that their right to "fair criticism" is being infringed, let them understand what "fair criticism" is not. It is not "fair criticism" to portray Israel's presence on the West Bank as an illegal occupation (which it is not, according to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338), yet never utter a word of objection about Chinese, Serbian, Syrian, Turkish or Russian ethnic cleansing.
It is not "fair criticism" to place the blame for Middle East violence at Israel's doorstep while ignoring 14 centuries of Sunni-Shiite hatred, the damage done to Arab society through decades of misrule by dictators and despots, the Koranic-inspired hatred of a Jewish state existing in the midst of the Islamic umma, and the immense risks that Israel took in withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 not to mention the sacrifices that it continues to make in its quest for peace with the Palestinians.
It is not "fair criticism" to accuse Israel of apartheid when it is the Arab world that preaches "Death to the Jews," spreads anti-Semitic hatred from its mosques, teaches "martyrdom" in its schools and summer camps, demands that any Palestinian state established on the West Bank be Judenrein (Jew-free), and dances in the streets when jihadists succeed in murdering Israelis in their homes (as in the case of the Fogel family), pizza parlors, marketplaces, during their Passover Seders, and most notably in celebration of the 9/11 attacks.
Demanding that good German Aryans boycott Jewish shops in Nazi Germany in 1935 is no different in its essence from demanding that good Western universities boycott the Jewish state today. Injustice in any language is still injustice. It's all part of the same poison that feeds on the fabric of human decency. If a 5-year-old child can understand that slaughtering innocent people is wrong, then why can't these campus student organizations, religious establishments like the United Methodist Church, the UN, the international media, the Europeans, and the academics on American and British college campuses see it and voice their dissent?
If we cannot tell the difference between a democratic Israel and an apartheid South Africa, or a jihadist from a peacemaker, then we are all parties to the greatest moral failure of our time - the inability to distinguish between those who defend basic moral values and respect the sanctity of a single human life, and those who are the enemies of such values by justifying the murder of the innocent in the name of some religious or ideological cause.
We have every right to expect more from those who teach our children on the campuses of America or who preach to the faithful from their pews. Their positions of authority do not entitle them to foster anti-Semitism in the name of "justice" and "moral decency." Until there is universal condemnation of the discriminatory double-standards applied to Israel, claims by self-righteous international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the UN General Assembly, UNRWA, the UN Human Rights Commission, the European Union and the International Court of Justice are more than meaningless. They are offensive and deceitful.
Israel's willingness to make peace has made it into a target by an international community that blames Israel for Muslim violence around the world. As their thinking goes, if Israel would just do whatever it takes to make peace, then Muslim violence would stop not just in Israel, but in Burgas, Paris, London, Malmo, Brussels, Mumbai, Bangkok, Manchester, Basra, Marseilles, Lyons and Kabul. Anyone with any understanding of world events knows that this is pure, unadulterated garbage. All of this can be summarized as follows - the most dangerous threat posed to the Western world is its inability or unwillingness to stand together against those who seek to destroy our way of life.
If we do not, as a collective, take a firm stand against these defamations; if we do not stand behind Israeli democracy in its just and moral struggle against expanding jihadism; if we do not prevent this widening witch-hunt, the international arrest warrants for Israeli diplomats, the indictments against Israelis for war crimes in the Hague, the erosion in the UN, and the incitement against Israel; if we sit quietly and allow this insidious evil to flourish in our midst, then the legitimacy of the Free World's own struggle against jihadism will most assuredly be undermined.
*Footnote: Mitchell Bard notes that under apartheid in South Africa, whites and nonwhites lived in separate regions of the country. Nonwhites were prohibited from running businesses or professional practices in the white areas without permits. Nonwhites had separate amenities (i.e. beaches, buses, schools, benches, drinking fountains, restrooms). Nonwhites received inferior education, medical care, and other public services. Though they were the overwhelming majority of the population, nonwhites could not vote or become citizens.
Mark Silverberg is a foreign policy analyst for the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel). He is a former member of the Canadian Justice Department, a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office) based in Vancouver, a member of Hadassah's National Academic Advisory Board and a Contributing Editor for Family Security Matters, Intellectual Conservative and Israel National News (Arutz Sheva). He also served as a Consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada. His book "The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad" and his articles have been archived under www. marksilverberg .com.