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Israel's victimhood

by shergald Wed Oct 6th, 2010 at 10:40:38 AM EST

Latest UN map of the West Bank including Jerusalem.

Gideon Levy, the liberal Haaretz columnist, speaking in NYC about Israel's subjugation of the Palestinian people, recently said:

Israel is `the only occupier in history that's completely convinced of its own present ongoing victimhood'

The results of this victimhood (read PR campaign) can be seen in the above map of what's left of the West Bank and East Jerusalem after more than 40 years of colonization.

Ahmed Moor, who attended the Levy NYC talk, reported that,

Levy talked about Israel's rightward lurch over the decades... Early on in his career, Levy wrote about the death of a newborn Palestinian after the infant's mother was forced to trek around three checkpoints on foot to reach a hospital. The Israeli left was outraged and the case resulted in a scandal for the army. At the time, the story demonstrated a moral dimension to Israeli political life....

By contrast, if that happened today, no one in Israel would register the fact. Just the opposite: Levy recalled the horrifying experience of watching Israelis and their children cheer the phosphorous and sulfur deaths of Gazans in 2008/2009 on a hilltop overlooking the Strip.

Along with this rightward lurch, Israelis have been fed a narrative which depicts them as victims, such that today, 'they're completely tone deaf and insular without much hope of awakening to the misery they've wrought (Levy).'

As to the reality of Israel's victimhood, B'Tselem recently reported death and casualty statistics on the past 10 years of the Second Intifada which, as we might recall, was ignited by Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

27 Sept. '10: 10 years to the second Intifada - summary of data

Casualties in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (29.9.2000 to 26.9.2010)
Israeli security forces killed 6371 Palestinians, of whom 1317 were minors. At least 2996 of the fatalities did not participate in the hostilities when killed. 2193 were killed while participating in the hostilities. For 694, B'Tselem does not know whether they participated in the hostilities or not. An additional 248 were Palestinian police killed in Gaza during operation Cast Lead, and 240 were targets of assassinations.

Palestinians killed 1083 Israelis in Israel and the Occupied Territories. 741 of the fatalities were civilians, of whom 124 were minors, and 342 were members of the security forces.

B'Tselem Executive Director Jessica Montell: "Palestinian and Israeli Civilians have paid a terrible price due to the conflict. At the close of the decade, we hope to start a new chapter, in which both sides do all they can to adhere to their obligations and protect civilians from the impact of hostilities."

The PR campaign about Israel's victimhood has not only distorted thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the West, especially in America, but in Israel as well.

European Tribune - Comments - Israel's victimhood
The PR campaign about Israel's victimhood has not only distorted thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the West, especially in America, but in Israel as well.

In Israel above all, I suspect. In Europe at least, the theme is pretty frayed and threadbare. People seem more broadly aware of Palestinian victimhood than they used to be, while the psychodrama of the threat to Israel doesn't go over as it did, twenty years ago, say, with the schoolchildren in gas masks at the time of the first Gulf War.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 6th, 2010 at 10:54:44 AM EST
It begins in Israel with schoolbooks and teachings that somehow lead many Israeli children, when they become adults, to see "Arabs (Palestinians)" as inferior. How else could denying pregnant Palestinian women free access to hospitals take place?

by shergald on Wed Oct 6th, 2010 at 10:59:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PS: Israeli propaganda services are well aware of the ignorance of Europe in the past and are attempting to resolve the problem. One advocate of Israeli victimhood, the ADL, for example, now has offices in several major European cities, and as in America, will let people know how criticism of Israel stimulates anti-Semitism.

by shergald on Wed Oct 6th, 2010 at 11:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an old recipe for authoritarian movements and regimes. The best way to make a group of humans follow their leaders blindly and support whatever criminal policies they pursue is to make them feel they are vitims or potential victims and threatened by other (real or imaginary) groups.

It is the core strategy of the French Front National, who tells the old white people they are victims of anti-white racism. It is also at the core of Sarkozy's strategy.

When we look at the map in your diary, one is lead to wonder if there is any chance for a two-states solution to succeed even with a different Israeli government.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 7th, 2010 at 08:48:52 AM EST
I posted this documentary the other day, about Israel's efforts to cast itself as the victim of terrorism. As Netanyahu was quoted as saying, 9/11 was the best thing that could have happened to Israel.

Part I

Part II

by shergald on Thu Oct 7th, 2010 at 12:15:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think most of us are well aware of what's happening in Israel and in the occupied territories. As afew told you, there is less pro-Israel government bias in the European media. I am not saying that reporting is perfectly balanced, but the Palestinian point of view is reported and many European media correspondents are usually doing their job properly (for example, Charles Enderlin is respected and popular).

What I think most of us are looking for is not denunciation of things we already know or condemnation of policies many of us find criminal, but information on what people on the ground or elsewhere are doing to bring change about (like your flotilla diaries) or analysis which could help us understand what are the possible ways out of the current situation and what scenarios are likely to happen.  

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 7th, 2010 at 02:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daniel Levy appeared in NYC talking about Israel's victimology, and B'Tselem issued a report on the death and causuality statistics for the past 10 years since the start of the Second Intifada.

For me, those events are important and keep reminding us about where this conflict is. You may know these things, but others might not. Silent we cannot be, and that applies to all human rights injustices around the world.

by shergald on Thu Oct 7th, 2010 at 04:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I do agree with you that if we heard more about day to day life in the Palestinian territories or even in Israel as it affects Palestinian citizens it would be useful as well. On that level, the injustices do become repetitive, however.

by shergald on Thu Oct 7th, 2010 at 04:37:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, here's a good story right in your backyard:

Israeli mayors' visit runs aground in Spain, Netherlands
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 1 October 2010
By permission.

The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) canceled a 19 September visit by Israeli mayors because the delegation included leaders of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, igniting a firestorm in the Dutch parliament centered at foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen.

The visit of thirty Israeli mayors to the Netherlands was organized by the Israeli branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The aim of the trip was to learn more about public policies and the Dutch system of local, regional and national authorities.

While preparing for the visit, the JDC contacted the embassy of the Netherlands in Tel Aviv which requested that the JDC submit a list of participants. On the list appeared the names of mayors of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank: Beit Aryeh, Har Adar, Kiryat Arba, Oranit, Beit El, Efrat and Elkana. The Israeli news site Ynet reported that when the Union of Local Authorities in Israel requested that VNG assist in organizing the tour, it did not mention that mayors from settlements would be participating ("Holland calls off settlement heads' visit," 19 September 2010).

According to Ynet, the head of the Council of Efrat, Oded Revivi, said that the mayors' visit was originally planned for Spain. However, the tour was called off following the deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla at end of May. "The Spanish said we were not welcome there, so we moved to Holland and asked to meet with Holland's ambassador to Israel. When they asked for the list we realized we had run aground," said Revivi. The JDC has facilitated similar trips to Denmark, France and China.

VNG clarified its position in a press release, stating that it held strong ties with both the Israeli and the Palestinian Associations of Municipalities. However, the VNG did not want to contribute to the organization of the visit, stressing its neutrality: "The trip is politically sensitive," explained VNG's spokesman Arjen Konijnenberg to Dutch magazine Binnenlands Bestuur ("VNG weigert Israëli uit neutraliteit," 20 September 2010).

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) warmly saluted the decision taken by VNG. The BNC emphasized that there are more than 150 settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, housing 475,000 settlers who occupy more than forty percent of the West Bank ("BNC welcomes cancellation of visit by settlement mayors to Netherlands," 23 September 2010).

After VNG's decision to call off the visit of the Israeli mayors of settlements, foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen came under fire from right-wing parliamentarians.

The largest party in the Netherlands, the right-wing Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) pressed Verhagen on how he would restore friendly relations with Israel. The right-wing Christian Democrats (CDA) also exerted pressure while Geert Wilders, the leader of the second-largest party, the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), asked Verhagen to do everything that lies within his power to make sure the planned visit could take place as soon as possible. However, Verhagen reiterated that Israeli settlements are in violation of international law.

The VNG is standing firm in support of human rights and international law, much as it did during the South Africa anti-apartheid movement when the Dutch government was unwilling to hold the apartheid regime to account. Municipalities responded to the call of solidarity organizations, social movements and concerned citizens to take a stand against apartheid and the activities of municipalities were especially directed towards consumer boycott campaigns. Amsterdam declared itself to be an "anti-apartheid city," supporting the ANC representative for the Netherlands. In 1993, VNG became the host of the national platform of the Dutch municipalities against apartheid.

The VNG's principled position today is once again paving the way for politicians like Verhagen, known for his sympathies to Israel, to follow.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.


by shergald on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 09:01:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So this is going in the 21st century world of global democracy, under observant free press, the free world presumably informed. What else could be so covered?

It is like not a big point that people live without any freedom and rights on their own land. How much difference is here from those WWII ghettos?

by das monde on Fri Oct 8th, 2010 at 09:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would write the Israeli Embassy in your country and ask these questions again and include mention of the loyalty oath requirement about to be passed by the Knesset and the Apartheid configuration of state of Israel-Palestine that is being formulated.

Did you say fascism? That is being talked about too.

by shergald on Fri Oct 8th, 2010 at 02:09:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They give quite a demonstration of arbitrary power, oppressing at will and getting away with it. The international community looks quite intimidated.

I won't be surprised if this model would be copied. Wait, isn't Iraq something similar already?

by das monde on Fri Oct 8th, 2010 at 11:26:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Watch the dark master Bill Cristol spin:
Now we know who constitutes the real Israel lobby: the American public. Especially the Republican-leaning part of it.

Consider the results of a new poll, a survey of 1000 likely voters done October 3 to 5 by McLaughlin and Associates for the Emergency Committee for Israel .... [with links] ...

What the survey shows is this: The American people strongly support the state of Israel, and want their elected representatives to do so as well. An astounding 93 percent of those polled say the United States should be concerned about the security of the state of Israel. A majority--54 percent--say the U.S. should be "very concerned" about Israel's security. Virtually the same number care that their elected representatives be pro-Israel. When asked, "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate whom you perceive as pro-Israel?," 53 percent say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate they saw as pro-Israel, 24 percent less likely. Even more striking, the same number--53 percent--say they could not vote for a candidate if he were anti-Israel, even if that candidate agreed with them on most other issues.

So it's not only that the American public is pro-Israel by more than two to one. It's also that being anti-Israel is an actual disqualifier for a majority of American voters.

This is a pro-Israel nation. Which parts of it are most reliably pro-Israel?

Consider the results to the already-quoted Question 30 in the poll: "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate whom you perceive as pro-Israel?" Among those intending to vote Republican this fall, 69 percent would be more likely to vote for a candidate who was pro-Israel, 15 percent would be less likely--a margin of 54 percent. On the other hand, among Democratic voters, the pro-Israel margin is only 7 percent--40 percent of Democratic voters are more likely to vote for a pro-Israel candidate, 33 percent are less likely. Conservatives (and Tea Party sympathizers) mirror Republicans; their pro-Israel margins are also over 50 percent. The margin among self-described liberals is only 5 percent. And while Fox News fans are very pro-Israel, by 73 percent to 16 percent, devotees of the New York Times are actually negative on Israel, by 30 percent to 35 percent.

The bottom line: The public is strongly pro-Israel. But the public consists basically of two groups. The GOP/conservative/Fox News-viewing part of the public is overwhelmingly pro-Israel. The Democratic/liberal/New York Times-reading part of America is... comme-ci, comme-ca...

Yeah, we know. Nice stereotyping and all that...
by das monde on Sat Oct 9th, 2010 at 01:17:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is easy to get results like these in the US if a poll stays away from specifics, like approval or disapproval of the siege of Gaza, occupation, colonizing the West Bank, shared Jerusalem, the loyalty oath, settlement building freeze, and so on. I believe that past polls had at least 70% of Americans supporting two states.

by shergald on Sat Oct 9th, 2010 at 08:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, Americans are on the receiving end of countless, uninvited polls these days. I've had the opportunity to agree to answer one or two just to see what they would ask.  The questions are often asked in such a way as to be very misleading or are obviously designed to elicit a specific response. I have been unable to provide a reasonable response in several cases and just hung up the phone. One person has to ask him/herself why is this poll being conducted and by whom?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Oct 10th, 2010 at 11:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last sentence should read: One has to ask him/herself...

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Oct 10th, 2010 at 11:01:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ultimate irony is that Israelis consider themselves victims today to a higher degree than ever before and feel less sympathy for the Palestinians than previously (as refered by Levy), while they have never been victims to a lesser degree than today. I blame this on the morally corrupting and corrosive effects of the occupation.

Back in the days when people in general considered Israel the victim of the bully neighbours (until 1973+ basically), Israelis saw themselves less as victims than they do today, when the situation is the reverse. Irony indeed.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 02:40:41 PM EST
The Israeli propaganda effort has been one of the most successful in history. Take a look at the documentary I post above. Israel, a military occupier and colonizer of the Palestinians, a defenseless people, after 9/11 became terrorists intent on pushing Israel into the sea.

U don't know of another propaganda effort that has been more successful in twisting the truth, reversing it, than the Israeli one.

by shergald on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 03:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't know... the history of slavery and racism in the US comes pretty close.

And on our side of the Pond, we have nitwits like Tory Bliar saying that he's proud of the British Empire. The Belgians seem to be in flat denial of their empire too.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 03:39:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can have the high ground on your side of the pond, but on this side, I've never heard of a serious rebellion by Black people from slavery through the Jim Crow era that was somehow twisted by the government into a public danger for whites.

by shergald on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 04:04:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, no, I was thinking more of the two well-known facts that slavery was only in the South and that slavery ended after the Civil War.

The trouble is that neither of those facts are actually true. The industrial corporations of the North were great employers of indentured labour some way into the 20th century. Mostly convict labour rather than chattel slavery, but under Jim Crow that came almost to the same thing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 04:58:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I was thinking more of the two well-known facts that slavery was only in the South and that slavery ended after the Civil War."

I don't believe that there was any propaganda effort to support or coverup these ideas. But most people accept that slavery was outlawed in nonslave states, when it was being perpetuated in the south, and that slavery did end after the Civil War, replaced eventually by Jim Crow segregation laws in the south and de facto (social) segregation in the north, something we still have everywhere. Still I don't know of any propaganda efforts by the federal or state governments to cover any of this up. And that was the point.

by shergald on Mon Oct 11th, 2010 at 05:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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