As Israel’s 60th birthday celebration approaches, those who want to destroy her are redoubling their efforts to delegitimize her, both by rewriting history and by feeding the irrational hatred that is fast becoming part of the common consciousness of ‘humanity’.
Karin Laub and the Associated Press do their part — along with the tens of thousands of Syrian and Hezbollah missiles which are today aimed at all parts of Israel, paid for and controlled by Teheran — to make possible again the mass murder of the Jewish people that was so rudely suspended in 1945.
AP Explains to you why Israel shouldn’t exist
By Barry Rubin
If I would choose one article in the Western media that I have read over many decades as the worst piece of anti-Israel propaganda of all, it might well be Karin Laub’s April 26, 2008 piece, “Palestinian plight is flip side of Israel’s independence joy.”
Why? Because many articles have slandered Israel on various points or told falsehoods ranging from the disgusting to the humorous or been based on assumptions that were at odds with the truth. But in this case, the article encapsulates the way in which much of the world has turned from admiration to loathing of Israel, and the way in which Israel’s destruction — which in other contexts would be seen as genocidal — has been justified.
Sound exaggerated? No doubt, reading the above two paragraphs would shock the author who, I believe, had no conscious intention of perpetuating such a verbal atrocity. It is, once again, the unchallenged myths that are blithely assumed, that do so much damage.
Let me explain, first briefly and then at length. Israel is the only country in the world which is regularly slated for extermination and it is certainly the one most reviled. Without entering into a discussion of why such extraordinary double standards are maintained, the core issue is that Israel is allegedly an illegitimate country because it is founded on the theft of other’s property and the suffering of other people.
This is the modern equivalent of the blood libel, which held that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood for the Passover matzoh. But if that myth is too exotic for people, remember that its “secular” equivalent was responsible for even more anti-Semitic persecution. That was the idea that any Jewish prosperity was based on the blood-sucking of Christian peasants or of society at large.
In this case, Israel is said to have murdered, ethnically cleansed and otherwise persecuted the Palestinians. Therefore, nothing it does can be good, no achievement of itself counts, and it has no right to self-defense. Obviously, such claims are often greatly diluted but nonetheless rest on this basis.
The Laub article is a systematic restatement of this thesis. To begin with, it is extraordinarily long for an AP article, 1,724 words. If this isn’t a record for an AP dispatch, it must be up near the top. Obviously, this is a message that the AP editors are especially eager to convey: that everything Israel has is at Palestinian expense.
That this is a lie can be explained on many levels but at least two must be presented here. First, why is this measure applied only to Israel, and certainly only to Israel on an existential basis? It is well-known, certainly, that Germany has taken responsibility for Nazi crimes, and also there are applications for reimbursement of Jewish property seized in eastern Europe during the Nazi period.
Yet most countries are founded on expropriation, often of Jewish property. For example, Oxford University, where recently debates were conducted calling for Israel’s destruction, was started on property stolen from Jews expelled in 1290. Far more recently, many Arab states received a huge infusion of capital from the expropriation of Jewish property after Israel’s creation. Does France’s or Britain’s or Belgium’s independence day require discussion of colonial depredations? We don’t read articles that Japan’s independence day is blighted by Chinese or Korean suffering, though the Japanese did engage in mass murder of those people. What about the fact that every country in the Western Hemisphere is based on the suffering of the indigenous natives? Or even in the case of Russia, given Czarist and Soviet behavior? In no case, however, is far worse behavior said to have poisoned any other country’s very existence.
But perhaps even more important is the question of where true responsibility for Palestinian suffering lies. Here is how Laub’s article begins:
JALAZOUN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank – Mohammed Shaikha was 9 when the carefree rhythm of his village childhood, going to third grade, picking olives, playing hide-and-seek , was abruptly cut short. Uprooted during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation, he’s now a wrinkled old man. He has spent a lifetime in this cramped refugee camp, and Israel’s 60th independence day, to be celebrated with fanfare on May 8, fills him with pain.
For 60 years, Israel has been sitting on my heart. It kicked me out of my home, my nation, and deprived me of many things,” he said. And each Israeli birthday makes it harder for 70-year-old Shaikha and his elderly gin rummy partners in the camp’s coffee house to cling to dreams of going back to Beit Nabala, one village among hundreds leveled to make way for the influx of Jewish immigrants into the newborn Jewish state.
Well, let us ask the following questions: How did Shaikha leave his “carefree” utopia of Palestine? Most likely because his parents decided to get out of the way while, they expected, the Jews were exterminated by Arab armies. He was in fact “kicked out” by an Arab decision to reject partition — in which case at worst he would be living as an Arab citizen of Israel and at best, depending on where he lived, be a citizen of Palestine celebrating its own sixtieth birthday.
Consider a worst-case alternative history:
Mohammaed Shaikha sat in his nice house and recalled how in 1948 his family left its village and moved a few miles into a village in the new state of Palestine. “It was rough for a while,” he said. “But with the compensation money we got for making peace and aid from Arab states I was able to build a very nice life for myself.”
In fact, it was the Palestinian and Arab leadership which — in contrast to every other refugee situation in modern history — insisted on keeping these people suffering and in refugee camps to use as political pawns. They, too, rejected every offer of peace and resettlement.
For example, if Yasir Arafat had negotiated a solution on the basis of the framework proposed at Camp David in 2000, Shaikha and the other refugees would have shared out over $20 billion in compensation and a Palestinian state might be celebrating its seventh birthday. The PLO refused — a policy pursued since 1993 by the Palestinian Authority — to move people out of refugee camps. They must be kept there as tools with which to blame Israel and also to continue the fires of hatred and violence burning.
A hint of the truth is inadvertently given in the article — though not explained — by a Palestinian ideologue:
Anthropologist Sharif Kaananeh urges his fellow Palestinians to take the long view and learn from Jewish history: “If they waited 2,000 years to claim this country, we can wait 200 years.”
During those 2,000 years, however, Jews whenever possible built up their own lives and acted peacefully and productively. In Kaananeh’s version, he is willing to keep Shaikha and his descendants in refugee camps for 200 years. And why not, since the media will blame their suffering on Israel and provide it as a reason why Israel should disappear, or make endless concessions or be denied full support despite the assault on itself.
By the way, this is what the author prettifies as “perseverance” as if it were something admirable. Don’t make a peaceful compromise; keep fighting and spilling blood unless or until you achieve total victory. In any other situation, this would be decried as a foolish, bloodthirsty, and fanatical world view.
If the Palestinians want to make this their strategy they certainly should not be allowed to blame this on Israel. The true nakba (catastrophe) was not Israel’s creation but the Arab failure to create Palestine and their continuation of conflict to this day. But only Israel is branded, in effect, as a war criminal nation. In this light, the hateful and vicious attacks on it make sense.
Yet why don’t we see the following headline: “Israeli plight a flip side of Palestinian celebration,” or substitute “Israeli plight is flip side of [insert name of any Arab state name or Iran]” or “Israeli [or Jewish] plight is flip side of [insert name of any European state]”?
This could be followed with interviews of displaced Jews (living in poverty since they never left post-World War II refugee camps in Europe or the transit camps built in Israel to house Jewish refugees from the Arab world. Or interviews with Israelis who were maimed or whose families were murdered in wars or terrorist attacks?
For, indeed, Israeli misery is built on the support of terrorism and hatred by Arab states, the incitement to murder and appeals for genocide among Palestinian groups.
Even in direct Palestinian terms, the irony doesn’t stop. The same week as this article was written, it was reported (by Reuters) that while Arab states have promised $717.1 million in aid to the Palestinians, only $153.2 million, that is a bit more than 20 percent, was actually delivered. If Palestinians are not well-off perhaps this is what one must examine, or at least acknowledge.
How about this, from Laub’s article: “The 1948 war had largely separated Israelis and Palestinians, except for some 150,000 Palestinians who stayed put and became Israeli citizens.” No mention of the fact that those Israeli Palestinians have prospered.
And this: “The symbols of occupation, settlements, army bases, roadblocks, are visible across the West Bank.” No mention of the fact that Israel has withdrawn from large parts of the West Bank, and in all the populated areas (except a section of Hebron) Palestinians have had self-government, with massive international aid for 14 years!
And this: “Palestinians under Yasser Arafat took to bombings and hijackings to make the world notice their existence…” So the sole purpose of terrorism was as a misguided public relations’ campaign so the world would take pity on Palestinian suffering, not an attempt to destroy Israel [or just to kill Jews — ed.].
Or this, “Few refugees can realistically expect to go home again, because Israelis fear being swamped by a mass repatriation.” That makes the Palestinian predicament especially harsh, said Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which helps the Palestinian refugees.” While at least a motive is given for Israel’s refusal (though not that the problem here is not just that a massive influx of Palestinians might overwhelm social services but that the “returnees” goal would be turning Israel into a Palestinian Arab nationalist or Islamist state through violence), no other alternative is presented, not even resettlement in an independent Palestine.
That last point was, after all, the whole idea of the 1990s’ peace process. But the reporter collaborates with the Palestinian line: the only two choices are suffering or total victory, wiping out all other options.
I could literally write a book on the misstatements and misleading basis of this article. But it can be summarized as follows:
This is the Palestinian narrative adopted by a large sector of the American media, as well as academia: It is a zero-sum game in which either Israel must be eliminated or poor Palestinians suffer.
That the continued conflict — and their own suffering — is due to Palestinian actions or that it could be resolved by the kind of compromises Israel has long been advocating (and Palestinians rejecting) and taking risks to bring about is not mentioned. Equally, the perspective that Palestinian radical leadership (by both Fatah and Hamas) and doctrine must be eliminated as the source of Israeli suffering is understated or ignored.
The real victim here is both Israelis and Palestinians. The real cause of the suffering is Arab state intransigence and the kind of Palestinian leadership, strategy, goals, ideology, and behavior that this and so many media stories extol.
Remember that the poisonous forest of hatred and violence grow from the acorns of articles like this.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA and other GLORIA Center publications or to order books, visit http://www.gloriacenter.org.