Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sometimes apologists for war crimes...

...present themselves as civilized.

By now, no one seriously believes that the Israeli Defence Forces are not engaged in a war against a captive civilian population in Gaza. Here's the pro-Israel Thomas Friedman in today's New York Times on the Israel-Lebanon war and today's assault on Gaza:

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future. [emphases added]

Inflicting civilian casualties for military objectives is a war crime by definition. But saying so carries a risk. The "anti-Semite" canard is by now old, tired and discredited, but that won't stop certain commentators on the Right from pulling it out of the dumpster and waving it in the air when it suits them. At this point, it's all they've got to defend the indefensible.

Of course, they are getting a little cleverer about it these days. They won't come right out and
call you an anti-Semite: that's actionable, after all. Instead, folks like Jay Currie begin with this kind of thing:

Meanwhile, poor Dr. Dawg, in order to keep socialist street cred, is featuring dead Gaza babies wrapped in Hezbollah flags. Can we say “photo op”, of course we can.

(And who is creating the photo-op? Can we say "Israel?" Of course we can. The suggestion appears to be that the Gazans should just shut up and not tell anyone what's happening to them, but join instead the enforced media blackout that Israel has imposed upon foreign journalists.)

And then Jay goes dumpster-diving:

Hamas, the Aryan Nation and Dr. Dawg have spotted the problem: the problem is the Jews.

For Hamas, its supporters and the Aryan Nation, the Jewish Problem has a solution. A final solution as it were. Dr. Dawg is more nuanced but, by his own logic, tends to support the enemies of the Jews despite imagining himself a resolute enemy of anti-Semitism.

My anti-anti-Semitic street cred is intact: years of taking on Holocaust-deniers on Usenet, organizing against the Heritage Front in Ottawa, numerous posts on my own blog, an outright ban on anti-Semitic comments. Jay knows all this. But he can't resist a rhetorical re-statement of the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" line. If I oppose Israel's attack on Gaza, with its monstrous civilian death toll, then (in his binary thinking) I'm palling around with terrorists. And Aryan Nations for good measure.

The crux of all this, of course, is that for Jay, "Israel" = "the Jews," its one-fifth Arab population and banned Arab parties, and all non-Israeli Jews in the rest of the world, presumably included.

One can't accuse him of subtlety in this respect. He dispenses with the usual rhetorical disclaimer, "
Israel is not immune from criticism, and one can and should be able to engage in such criticism without being branded anti-Semitic," employed by more skilled propagandists before they proceed to accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic. If Jay's ludicrous implied equation held water, even Jewish critics of Israel, including Israeli citizens, are right up there with Hamas, Aryan Nations--and, of course, moi.

This from the fellow who has been none-too-shy for some time now about hopping into bed with assorted Canadian neo-nazi punks and misfits in a united front against Human Rights Commissions. The irony and hypocrisy here are thick enough, dare I say it, to cut with a scimitar.

[H/t commenter beluga2]

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