Attacking the Critics: Israel's Latest Global Strategy

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

  • Mr. Mazel does not regret his actions.

    Mr. Mazel does not regret his actions.

Written by Kyle Lambert

Anyone who seriously follows politics, whether on a local, national, or global scale, is bound to be outraged from time to time. Leftists, conservatives, and communists alike can all agree on one thing, that the world is far from perfect. Hell, even Martinites know what it means to be a little pissed off, just ask them about Jean Chretien or Sheila Copps. Yet, despite all of this, most of us can find a way to look past certain problems. I know that if I didn’t, my head would explode and all my ranting and raving would drive away just about everyone that puts up with me in the first place.

However, from time to time I run into an issue which I find very difficult to leave be. Yesterday I read a story about an Israeli diplomat vandalizing a piece of artwork in Sweden because he believed it romanticized Palestinian suicide bombers. His government, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was very quick to justify the actions. Now, I could possibly understand an argument that the diplomat in question was so upset he couldn’t control himself. But what I cannot fathom understanding are the following comments made by an Israeli statesman. The man compared a current anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe to that of 1930’s Germany. He stated that anti-semitism in Europe, not from individuals but from entire states, was reaching “near Holocaust levels” (Globe and Mail, Jan 19, 2004). While the Israeli government may not have grasp on reality, they certainly seem to have mastered the English 101 skill of hyperbole.

Yet, I think the comments in question go even further than an over-reaction. The Israeli government is using a tragic historical event, and the sympathy that it brings, to further their own cause on the international stage. Their diplomat to Sweden vandalizes a piece of artwork (made by an Israeli citizen!) and instead of handling the situation accordingly, they attack with the same xenophobia which they accuse Europe of having. To state that the holocaust is near in Europe is disgraceful. The deaths of 6 million Jews are being used by their descendants for self-gain and nothing more. The so-called anti-semitism in Europe is not that at all. However, what many around the world are starting to understand is that Israel has been brutally suppressing the people of Palestine for decades. While I could not ever justify the killing of innocent civilians, the people of Palestine are desperate. The desperation comes largely thanks to Israel’s own vision of Lebensraum, a term used by the Nazis to describe a need for living space for Germans. A very similar principle is now used by Israel to justify expansion of settlements into Palestine. And while the newly-erected “security fence” is said to exist for security reasons, let us not be fooled, it exists to hold Palestinians into an even smaller living space than they previously had.

Israel is losing support it previously enjoyed from most of the developed world. At a 2002 UN Conference, only an American veto stopped a resolution that would have called Israel a violator of Palestinian Human Rights, placing the American’s greatest Middle East ally on the same level as Indonesia and Zimbabwe. So what is the Israeli response: attack the accusers. Instead of changing their own policies to stop the violence that inhibits their country and entire region, it is easier to simply accuse detractors of anti-semitism. That way, a person in a state such as Germany is placed in a no-win situation. Either you are racist or you agree with Israel’s brutal policies toward Palestine. The Bush Administration and its media sheep follow the same principle when calling critics “anti-American”.

So how do we deal with such a scenario? My suggestion would be to keep on detracting and keep on criticizing. The comments made by Israel’s politicians are based largely out of fear; fear that their once-supported actions in Palestine are no longer acceptable to the rest of the world. If true change is going to happen, Western countries must continue with their position that Israel’s actions are not acceptable. This will only happen if the grass-roots sentiment (that’s us folks!) is strong and loud enough that it cannot ever be ignored. I may not be able to worry about every issue in the world, but this is one which I feel cannot go be forgotten.

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