What's So Bad About Israel? --Counterpunch--and comments
Mohammad J Alam
alam.m at neu.edu
Tue Jul 9 20:29:25 MDT 2002
"It's hard to say what's so bad about Israel, and its defenders--having
nothing better to use--have seized on this. Some do so soberly, like
Harpers publisher John R. MacArthur, who thinks Israel comes off no worse
than the Russians in Chechnya, and much better than the Americans in
Vietnam (Toronto Globe and Mail, May 13th, 2002). Others do so defiantly.
True, Israel has taken the land of harmless people, killed innocent
civilians, tortured prisoners, bulldozed houses, destroyed crops, yada yada
yada. Who cares? What else is new?
I completely sympathize with this point of view. The appetite for
world-class atrocity may be adolescent, but it belongs to an adolescence
that many of us never outgrow. The facts are disappointing. Even compared
with post-Nazi monsters like Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein, the Israelis have
killed very few people; their tortures and oppression are boring. How could
these mediocre crimes compete for our attention with whatever else is on
They couldn't; in fact they are designed not to do so. Yet Israel is a
growing evil whose end is not in sight. Its outlines have become clearer as
times have changed."
Neumann has written at least two earlier pieces which take about as radical
a position as it gets when it comes to criticizing Israel. At my school the
one philosophy professor who is active in politics thinks he has done
justice a great favor by 'admitting' that "both sides" are at fault, and is
a proponent of the "just war theory". Another philosophy professor I had
privately told me he agreed with a decidedly anti-Zionist article I had
written in the school paper. But in general terms it seems that practically
none of American academia is signing onto the academic boycott of Israel
that was initiated in Europe; though my father recently signed and
circulated it it's not even clear what real-term implications it will
Even the god-damn tank footage didn't make the news here. CNN and NYTimes
are too busy 'mourning' Israeli victims of violence; what offends me about
this farce is not that I feel no Israelis have suffered, and not just that
the Palestinian suffering is thrown out, but that the one-sided
*invocation* of Israeli suffering has, built into it, a direct, implied
negation of Palestinian humanity.
The whole process reminds me of the black workers at auto factories in the
60's. They were thrown onto the most dangerous parts of the assembly line
and were maimed and killed in accidents by the thousands, and called this
process 'niggermation'. The US media is like the proverbial
'sand-niggermation' in this conflict: a machine that apparently sends
Palestinian children flying in front of Israeli bullets in "crossfires" and
has pregnant women losing their children in "accidental" delays.
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