Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do the Jews Have a Right to Free Speech?


1) Last year,  a group of students at UC Irvine shouted down a speech by an Israeli ambassador. Today, the students are facing charges:
More than 50 protesters — some with masking tape plastered over their mouths — rallied in front of the Orange County district attorney's office Tuesday, objecting to subpoenas and a grand jury investigation that could lead to criminal charges against 11 students who disrupted a speech by the Israeli ambassador last year.The district attorney's office declined to comment. The office has one year after the event to file charges. . . "These students aren't criminals, they shouldn't have their lives ruined by criminal charges at this point," said Carol Sobel, an attorney who has worked with the 11 students who were disciplined and represents the other six students who were subpoenaed. "And we should all move forward." The Feb. 8, 2010, incident sparked a debate about free speech at the campus after a group of students disrupted a speech by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Oren was shouted down repeatedly and supporters cheered as students were escorted away by police.
2) On September 9, 2002, a group of students at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada prevented the former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from giving a scheduled speech at the university. Two months later, a Jewish student club Hillel was banned from campus for distributing flyers aimed at recruiting for the Israeli Defense Force.

3) The University of Aix-en-Provence cancelled a conference of Mediterranean writers in the summer of 2010 after a group of protesters decried the participation of an Israeli writer at the conference. 

4) In 2009, protesters boycott Toronto Film Festival for screening a film by an Israeli film-maker:
The protest of Israel began Aug. 27 when Canadian filmmaker John Greyson released a public letter stating he would withdraw his film from the 10-day festival, which opens Thursday, to protest Israel’s “brutal” military assault on Gaza earlier this year. On Thursday Sept. 3, writer Naomi Klein and others joined Mr. Greyson’s protest and issued ” The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation.”
5) Students at Arizona State University in the United States of America (a country that is constantly waging wars in different parts of the globe)  demonstrate their conviction that only American soldiers are allowed to kill, maim, and torture:

Arizona State University students protested the visit of Nadav Weinberg, an Israeli soldier who came to speak to students about his experiences serving in Israel's army.  The protesters voiced their opposition to the Israeli army through a silent protest. Shortly after Weinberg began speaking protestors took off their jackets to unveil their red shirts that had the names, ages and dates of innocent civilians whose lives were taken by Israeli troops. Protestors covered their mouths with red tape to express solidarity with the victims. One sign held up by a protestor in the back of the room read: "Giving Voice to Civilians Silenced by IDF Policy."
 6) An Israeli chess player gets kicked out of a chess tournament in Los Angeles just for being from Israel:
The Israeli chess player Anatoly Bykhovsky has been deleted from lists of competitions in Los Angeles as it has arrived from "the terrorist state". . . The Israeli grand master Anatoly Bykhovsky has been surprised and shaken, when it have discharged of tournament which starts within the next few days in Los Angeles. The newspaper "Ediot Ahronot" informs that Bykhovsky has registered in tournament, but in the beginning of week has received enough gruff reply from its organizer - heads of city club Mika Bighamiana. The letter said that Anatoly do not suppose to participation as "we do not allow to participate to players from the terrorist states in our tournament".


What all these people have in common is their firm belief that Israeli Jews should not be entitled to same rights (namely, the right to free speech) as everybody else. It is especially curious that protesters who do all they can to shut up Jews then claim freedom of speech in their defense.


P.S. International Holocaust Remembrance Day, created in 2005 by a UN General Assembly resolution, coincides with the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by Soviet forces on January 27, 1945.  

43 comments:

Liese4 said...

Our girl scout troop and homeschool group did a project for the Holocaust museum in Houston (where I'm from.) The exhibit will be millions of butterflies, I think it's scheduled to go up in 2012, last I checked. It's not much, but a small gift of remembrance for each of the souls lost.

Patrick said...

Of course Jews have the right to free speech.

And people have the right to assemble and protest anything that they have views on.

If one engages in controversial activities, they shouldn't be surprised that people come out to shout them down.

You want to fix it, do it through security measures and good planning. Make the speech a ticketed event - if the protesters want to spend their money to get in, so be it.

As long as the protesters don't cross the line from civil disobedience to criminal activity (See the G8 Protests) then there's no problem.

Of course, those on the left think it's okay that people who support 'their' cause are allowed to be criminals. It's only the opposition that is subject to the rules.

BTW: Ann Coulter (I'm sure she's one of your favourites) was subjected to cancellations in Canada due to protesters. It's not unique to Jews or any other culture or ideology.

Patrick said...

Also to consider - it's up to the individual/group to determine if the cause is worth a fight.

Recall - the NFL threatened to move the Super Bowl out of Arizona if they didn't officially recognize MLK Day. Guess what, Arizona acquiesced.

There are many MLB players threatening not to participate in the 2011 All Star game if Arizona doesn't repeal it's immigration law.

Protests and boycotts are powerful tools in a capitalist democracy to instigate change. You can always choose to ignore the boycotts and protests, and go on your merry way, suffering the consequences.

Anonymous said...

If the only goal of the protest is to shut somebody up, how can these protesters later claim in their defense their right to free speech?

el said...

Thank you, Clarissa. Just recently (a week or 2 ago) I read in big Israeli newspaper about this (found in English what I read previously in Hebrew):

http://vikno.eu/eng/sport/sport/the-chess-player-have-written-down-in-terrorists.html

I think it should be in the post too.

Patrick, how are 3 & 4 controversial activities? How come we are the only "outcasts" among Mediterranean countries? Do you really believe our not democratic neighbors care more about human rights than we Israelis do? Seems the opposite to me, but apparently writers from totalitarian, corrupt Egypt are A-OK, while somebody from Israel deserves only scorn. Can't you see that those Pro-Palestinian activists don't care about human rights, unless Israel can be somehow delegitimized in the process, that's it's pure politics?

Clarissa said...

Thank you for the link, el! I have added this egregious case to the post. I can't believe I hadn't even heard about it. It's a chess tournament, for Pete's sake. Unbelievable.

Clarissa said...

If somebody tells me this is not anti-semitism pure and simple, they are delusional.

Patrick said...

Frankly, none of the activities are 'controversial'. The 'controversy' of which I speak is the general acceptance that anything Israel does is okay.

I suspect that there is a large contingent of people who will label any opposition to Israeli actions as anti-Semitic.

Protesters don't have access or influence with the politicians or military - so they exact it upon the artists and public figures associated with the country. It's then up to those artists and public figures to motivate positive change at home or to stand by their governments' actions.

Pen said...

Since when is Israel a terrorist state? It's one of the US' allies.

What's really disgusting about all of this is that the issue is not only freedom of speech, but also freedom of worship, which is also in the Bill of Rights. It's sad to think that even after over three hundred years, people are still so narrow-minded.

Clarissa said...

As well as the right to play chess, apparently.

Patrick said...

Pen,
You're making the assumption that being a US Ally automatically makes you a 'good guy'. There are significant populations in the world that would dispute that the US itself is a 'good guy'.

Among those formerly supported by the US (among others - openly or otherwise)
Norieaga (Panama)
Hussein (Iraq)
The Shah (Iran)
Batista (Cuba)
Pinchot (Chile)
Baby Doc (Haiti)
That's just off the top of my head. The Western World's (it's a little unfair to single out the US here) track record of supporting dictatorships and oppressive regimes is unflattering, to say the least.

The opposition that Arab peninsula has to the actions of Israel are as justified as the opposition Israel has to the actions of Lebanon and Syria. How can we, thousands of miles away, arbitrarily decide that one is more right than the other.

Pen said...

Legally, he could probably press charges. He has been unfairly wronged by false accusations. While I don't know if a charge of slander might be applicable (because it was a private note), the International Chess Association should be able to fix that problem.

And Patrick, the mere existence of Israel has always been a controversy. The day it was declared a recognized country, six others declared war. That doesn't mean that everything it does is right, but you'd be mistaken in stating that everything the United States does is right, either. Many of these protesters don't understand the dynamic of life that exists within Israel, because they've never experienced it themselves.

To be frank, they're acting just they did when our own soldiers came home from Korea and Vietnam. In such a place of conflict--and yes, I consider Israel, a nation that has been at war from its birth, a place of conflict--there's a certain attitude of survivalism that no one who hasn't lived through it can ever really understand.

Pen said...

That wasn't my point. The note stated that Israel was a terrorist nation. Legally (in the United States, where the chess tournament was taking place), it isn't. I never made the assumption that it was the "good guy," either morally or ethically.

And yes, I'm aware that the United States has supported harmful dictatorships in the past. I may be a student, but to assume that I made my last comment without being aware of that is just insulting.

Patrick said...

Pen - I know nothing about you, and wasn't making any sort of moral or intellectual judgment of you. I was not intending to insult you in any way.

I find that the defacto position in North America seems to be that Israel is always right, unless proven otherwise. To try and prove otherwise makes you a Nazi. Therefore, as a Nazi, your opinion doesn't matter, and Israel is always right.

I recognize that Israel (and by extension, the Middle East) has been in a state of conflict for all of living memory. This dates back to at least the colonial period, if not further. The Western world bears a lot of responsibility for the mess created there. I don't think we'll ever be able to fix it if we approach it in a purely black and white, right vs wrong perspective.

el said...

Patrick, the only relevant point here is that since Israel isn't declared a terrorist nation by USA + our player got this as legal justification, he and Israel can sue and demand at least a public apology. It even may be the right way of behavior. Otherwise, the other side will be emboldened to lead even worse campaign against the legitimacy of Israel's existence itself. Hard to believe any Arab country would let such insult from its friend country pass in silence. Clarissa, since I don't have vast political understanding, what do you think about right reaction or lack of it?

I feel insulted by the comparison with dictatorships. We're a real democracy, not less democratic than USA.

The Western world bears a lot of responsibility for the mess created there. I don't think we'll ever be able to fix it if we approach it in a purely black and white, right vs wrong perspective.

This attitude is both paternalistic and unrealistic since it implies the Western world is able to fix the situation, if only it approaches it right. Hello, the conflict is between us and Arabs about the land, not between side X and the West. Had Western world been able to make more land fall from the sky, then may be there would be no conflict. May be. Since I've been living in Israel since 13, I do think I see the situation closer. Even with more land the hate and the desire to have zero Jewish neighbors wouldn't disappear overnight. As more land is SF, the West can't do much until both sides are ready to end the conflict. The West isn't an adult dealing with 2 fighting kids, both conflicting peoples are "adults" just as much, you can't force them to do anything in their house, where you are the one indisputable guest according to both (and to reality).

Canukistani said...

Everyone has a right to free speech and to give their position but it must be constantly guarded. I don't know if you're aware but a law passed by the Arizona government effectively banning Hispanic studies has just gone into effect.

http://english.aljazeera.net/video/americas/2011/01/201112893020935982.html

Anonymous said...

These people protest wars and an occupation they feel are unjust. Many people in the world protest such. Americans in America protested the Nations' involvement in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Protesting the policies of a foreign Nation to the hearing of the representative of such a Nation should be legal.

Israel cannot be exempted from criticism when she does unjust things. One can disagree with Israel and hate her wars without hating Jews. One can hate the Israeli wars without hating Israel, not to talk of, Jews.

Lets be reasonable.

Clarissa said...

Yeah, let's. How is preventing a chess player from playing in a chess tournament reasonable exactly? How is preventing a writer from participating in a conference reasonable? I kind of got confused on that line of reasoning.

Anonymous said...

It might not be very reasonable to do all that and I will even call it frivolous. However those who will protest choose their methods. We might not agree with them but that still doesn't make them anti-semitic.

They feel Israel is terrorizing the region, and they object to any of her citizens participation in their programs.

Perhaps the idea was that these citizens will feel upset enough to demand a change in policy from their government so that they may enjoy the privilege of participating in international events and the goodwill of the worlds people. The very thing that Israel's neighbors demand from her.

Clarissa said...

If the person who wrote the last comment is American, then your gall is shocking. In case you are an American: it might be a very good idea for you to be very very quiet during conversations about countries that terrorize others. Or you'll make yourself look very silly.

Pen said...

"They feel Israel is terrorizing the region..."

-How is Israel terrorizing the US?

Kyle said...

"If the person who wrote the last comment is American, then your gall is shocking. In case you are an American: it might be a very good idea for you to be very very quiet during conversations about countries that terrorize others. Or you'll make yourself look very silly."

Wait, Anonymous can't criticize Israel's actions in the Middle East if s/he's American? Even if s/he's an American that disagrees with America's own actions in the Middle East?


It seems like the problem with a lot of the incidents in your post is that organizations are blaming citizens (a chess player, a writer, etc.) for the actions of their government, regardless of whether those citizens agree with their government's actions. Now you're saying that one commenter can't criticize Israel because s/he's from a country that also has a government doing things he disagrees with?

I see little problem with American progressives criticizing Israel if they're also criticizing America's wars in the Middle East. I call it like I see it: I disagreed with Bush, I disagree with Netanyahu. Why do Bush's actions (among many other presidents including Obama) make my criticizing Netanyahu "silly"? It's my government, sure, but I voted for anti-war candidates and have campaigned for antiwar causes. And doesn't your own comment subject you to the same criticism (on a much smaller scale, of course) that you're throwing at the people in your post?

Clarissa said...

"Wait, Anonymous can't criticize Israel's actions in the Middle East if s/he's American? Even if s/he's an American that disagrees with America's own actions in the Middle East?"

-Why just the Middle East? How about the rest of the world that has suffered from the US terrorism? Nothing that Israel has done can possibly compare. And who said Anonymous disagrees with the US use of force against numerous other countries?

See also the following discussion: http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2010/06/who-do-they-think-they-are.html

The hypocrisy is daunting.

Kyle said...

Sure, I agree with you--America's done lots of horrible things in all parts of the world. And Americans should criticize those actions from their government, too. But that doesn't mean that my American citizenship makes me less qualified to criticize the Netanyahu government--especially if I already criticize my own. So, again, how does that work?

(Whether Anonymous supports those darker aspects of American foreign policy is for Anonymous to say. But that's a contradiction in Anonymous's worldview, not one caused by Anonymous's citizenship.)

Pen said...

If the anonymous person is stating that Americans feel that people from Israel are terrorizing the United States of America--which it appeared that they were--then I would like to ask a yet-unanswered question.

I repeat: how has Israel terrorized the United States? I want to see some facts here, not speculation.

Kyle said...

Pen: without defending anything in the post you're referring to, I believe the post meant that Americans believed that Israel was terrorizing the Middle East, not the US.

(At least, given the vague language of the post, I hope that's what the poster meant...)

Clarissa said...

Kyle: does it seem fair to you that Obama gets a Nobel Peace Prize while sending more troops to Afghanistan and dropping bombs on Yemen, while Netanyahu can't give a simple speech to people who invited him? Or have you signaled your outrage against Obama's Nobel Prize and his invasion of Yemen in any way? Why did I see no campus protests against that?

I'm just wondering why are so many Americans so critical of Israel where they have mostly never even been and which they often can't even find on a map, while their own country keeps perpetrating atrocities? What's the difference between such protesters who think they have a right to police Israelis through persecutions of chess players and writers AND the Pentagon who does the same by dropping bombs? It's all part of the same mentality, don't you think? The same mentality that believes Americans have the right to be arbiters of everything that happens everywhere.

Kyle said...

I'm with you on the Nobel Peace Prize and on Yemen. Obama looked like a fool accepting a peace prize while giving a speech justifying wars. At the very least, I hope that people feel outraged if (when?) Obama turns back on his promise to start withdrawing troops this summer, and I agree with you that these protests should have already happened given the monstrous acts that have already occurred during his administration.

I even agree with you that Israel received a disproportionate amount of criticism. (I give an explanation for why this happens, or at least why I care about the issue, below.) The world has bigger fish to fry. But you told a critic of Israel that he shouldn't participate in something (in this case, a discussion) because of his nationality. To me, that sounds a lot like telling a chess player that he can't play chess because of his nationality. Judge Anonymous's arguments according to the arguments, instead of diverting the situation to Anonymous's biography.


Additionally, I'm most people in the United States that are critical of Israel tend to be the ones who don't want the US to be the arbiters of everything, who think that the United States' interests (as well as the world's) are best served when the United States doesn't play the role of a global policeman.

I also think that one reason for the disproportionate criticism of Israel from the American left is that our own American government, through its massive funding of the Israeli military, is responsible for these atrocities. By criticizing Israel, I also mean to criticize my own government for devoting 1/5 of all our foreign aid (which can certainly go to better places) to the Israeli military, for giving tax breaks to donations for settlement builders, etc etc etc.

Clarissa said...

"most people in the United States that are critical of Israel tend to be the ones who don't want the US to be the arbiters of everything, who think that the United States' interests (as well as the world's) are best served when the United States doesn't play the role of a global policeman. "

-There is a huge contradiction here. You either want to be the arbiter of what's going on in a place you've never even visited or you don't. As soon as you begin to judge at such a huge distance, the desire to butt in and defeat "evil" will appear sooner or later.

As for the Anonymous, s/he hasn't been banned from the discussion or anything.

Kyle said...

Sorry--I had a typo!

I meant that third paragraph to start with, "Additionally, I think that most people..."

Kyle said...

"You either want to be the arbiter of what's going on in a place you've never even visited or you don't."

That's pretty absolutist. I don't think expressing an opinion about something makes me the arbiter of it. In fact, if my opinion is that the United States should take a more neutral approach to the conflict, that opinion means that I don't think the US should be the arbiter. Have you been to Afghanistan? Do you think your opinion that we should pull out troops makes you desiring to be the arbiter of Afghanistan? At what point have you strayed too far from your frequent refrain (and one that I've agreed with you on when you've said it), "It's just my opinion"?

I didn't mean to imply that you banned Anonymous, but I did say that you suggested he not express an opinion because of his nationality. I like your blog because you're deliberately provocative, Clarissa. Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with a post on an issue, I like your willingness to engage in arguments. I don't think arguments on certain issues should (normatively, though certainly also not through banning) be restricted because of an individual's nationality.

profacero said...

Aren't some of the incidences on the list about the Israel boycott, though? http://www.bricup.org.uk/

It's about Palestinian rights although it's called antisemitic by some and impratical / unfair by others. The model is the ZA boycott (Mandela, Tutu).

Anonymous said...

I am an American and NIgerian. I was 16 when Bush invaded Iraq. I protested with some of my high school mates. People made fun of us. I am even more critical of my country because her actions follow me all over the world. While I understand that some wars are just, I am also aware that American foreign policies all over the world leave an awful legacy for me. Her interventions in Latin America and the Middle East are burdens that we must carry.

I have never been to Israel, but I hope to visit one day. I have never been to the West bank or Gaza and I hope to go one day. However, I followed the news of the wars, I saw all the pictures. I am attached to the region for personal reasons, so I do know what is going on.

However, I was not aware that there was a special requirement that I live in Israel before I can use my reason to judge her actions.

I like Obama, but the Nobel Prize committee was foolish to have offered him that without any signs that he was especially committed to World peace.

In short, I still stand by my first point.
Whether or not Israel is right or wrong is not the issue. The question here is thus: Am I automatically anti semitic if I criticize Israel or protest against her peacefully like some of those students now facing charges?"

Clarissa said...

"Am I automatically anti semitic if I criticize Israel or protest against her peacefully like some of those students now facing charges?"

-No, you are not. And if you don't see that this is not what this post is about, I don't know what I can do here.

I'll try again but something tells me I will not be heard.

The students in question screamed somebody down to shut them up. And then claimed their right to free speech in self-defense. Apparently, for them only certain kinds of spEech deserve freedom of speech protection. In my view, that's hypocritical and wrong. Either everybody has the right to speak or nobody.

Somebody in this thread offered the example of Ann Coulter. I find that this horse of a person is a hateful freak. But I'd defend her right to speak her empty mind freely with everything I've got.

You can't force people to shut up and then claim freedom of speech. That's just ridiculous.

Kyle said...

"The students in question screamed somebody down to shut them up. And then claimed their right to free speech in self-defense. Apparently, for them only certain kinds of speech deserve freedom of speech protection. In my view, that's hypocritical and wrong. Either everybody has the right to speak or nobody."

I buy that; I'm with you completely on the substance of your post. My only concern was regarding your comment that one can't speak credibly on a certain issue if they're of a certain nationality. That said, the incidents in your post are horrible acts that stifle discourse, and, worse, are counterproductive given the goals of the so-called "activists."

Anonymous said...

Since Israel is surrounded by not-so-friendly nations, it has become necessary for them to do whatever it takes for their survival. This is the real fact. And they have been doing it very efficiently since 6 decades.
And since some superpower nations are not able to bring down their (Israelis') spirit to fight for their motherland, they are protesting them indirectly.
They should remember that once Israel decides, they can create a lot of pain in their enemies backsides.
Hail Israel !!

Tom Carter said...

Clarissa, I'm sure you know my opinion on issues like this.

Most of this reflects the anti-Israel (and yes, anti-semitic) attitude that infects modern American liberalism. That means that these ideas are drummed into students in most universities. Sadly, in the view of people like this freedom of speech means that if you don't agree with them, you should be shouted down, threatened, and if possible run out of town.

"...only American soldiers are allowed to kill, maim, and torture...." If that reflects your opinion, Clarissa, I'm very disappointed, not only because you're wrong but because your knowledge is so limited.

Clarissa said...

"My only concern was regarding your comment that one can't speak credibly on a certain issue if they're of a certain nationality. "

-Kyle, but isn't this precisely what those who are in favor of boycotting anybody from Israel are suggesting? I think it stands to reason to turn the tables on them and let them see how it feels to be on the receiving end of that attitude.

""...only American soldiers are allowed to kill, maim, and torture...." If that reflects your opinion, Clarissa, I'm very disappointed, not only because you're wrong but because your knowledge is so limited."

-I'm not the one who is suggesting that soldiers be banned from campuses. My point is that I fail to see how Israeli soldiers are in any way "worse" than American soldiers. If being a soldier is indefensible (which is not my position at all), then it shouldn't matter which country this soldier is from, right?

Kyle said...

"But isn't this precisely what those who are in favor of boycotting anybody from Israel are suggesting? I think it stands to reason to turn the tables on them and let them see how it feels to be on the receiving end of that attitude."


That's been my point. Like I said, I agree with the substance of your post. But writing a post against groups that exclude members because of their nationality, while suggesting that a commenter shouldn't participate in your discussion because of his/her nationality, is simply inconsistent. (And, as a very fond reader, I'd say it's unlike your normal spirit of engaging all ideas.) Fighting fire with fire doesn't seem to be the answer. (Fittingly, it's the fighting-fire-with-fire mentality that perpetuates the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, too.)

profacero said...

What the Bill of Rights protects from is arrest for speaking.

Tom Carter said...

profacero, that's incorrect. The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech...." The mere existence of such a law is unconstitutional.

Originally the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, not the states. After the first century of the Constitution's existence, the Supreme Court in a series of decisions began to "incorporate against the states" (make them apply to states) various parts of the Bill of Rights. The Freedom of Speech part of the First Amendment was incorporated against the states in 1925. The most recent was the Second Amendment in 2010.

The Bill of Rights applies to government, not private individuals or organizations. For example, you have no constitutional freedom of speech in my house or in a private company or a private club. You generally don't have it in universities unless they are public, government-run institutions (just receiving government funds generally isn't enough).

profacero said...

@Tom Carter, yes. My shorthand there wasn't very good. My point goes more along with Patrick's first couple of ones: this is a protest strategy. "Freedom of speech" in the B of R is about legality, not civility, or political strategy, or policy on private property, etc.

So, to continue explaining my comments: my mention of the proposed Israel boycott. There are lots of international efforts and also efforts by Israelis to figure out how to protest what Israel (with US backing) does and has done in Gaza etc. A lot of them are controversial for reasons already given in this post and thread, but they are efforts to make a statement.

I'm an American Jew and I don't like our foreign policy or Israel's. Where I live, not liking US foreign policy gets me called "self-hating" but I realize that not liking Israel's can get me called that, too. I disagree with this and I find it to be strange logic.

I'd also say there's a lot more anti-Arab sentiment floating around than anti-Israeli sentiment. Where I live, it's the Islamic Center that gets firebombed, not the Jewish Community Center. The US bombs Arab countries, not Israel. And there was that inane piece in the NYT by Roger Cohen, "Inside the Arab Mind" ... a REALLY typical US attitude ... so I just don't know.

I think the US generally is paternalistic and condescending toward Israel, and also still feeling guilty because of having turned away Jewish refugees from WWII. There *is* a lot of antisemitism here and there has been more, and I think a lot of the support for Israel's more bloodthirsty activities has to do with (a) compensation for this, and (b) desire to keep Israel as a kind of client state / beachhead.

Tom Carter said...

profacero, I don't see U.S. policy toward Israel as paternalistic and condescending at all. I think our stance toward Israel is based on three sound principles: Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, will be destroyed, along with many of its people, without our continued support; we have a moral responsibility to prevent a future genocide that is a clear probability unless we actively support it; and we share a common heritage with Israel that cannot be ignored and merits our continuing concern.

I don't think there will ever be a real solution to the Arab-Israeli problem. Israel would support a two-state solution, but the Arabs have proven many times over that they won't. Given that no other solution makes sense, the problem will continue until the Arab/Muslim world modernizes (not likely any time soon) or Israel is destroyed, mainly because some future U.S. administration betrays them.

A final point: Is criticism of Israel ipso facto anti-semitic? No, not always, but yes, sometimes. It depends on the motivations of the people involved. The U.S. government often opposes and criticizes Israel's actions, and that's the right thing to do. But ultimately, we have to support them because of the catastrophe that would result if we abandoned them.