Monday, May 12, 2008

Harper on Israel

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave this speech.

Of course, we know that Harper is quite unabashedly on the side of the most aggressive people in both Israel and the United States. When Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, Harper found Israel's response (a massive invasion of Lebanon which led to hundreds of thousands of refugees) to be measured and reasonable.

So we expect Harper to gloss over the indecencies in Israeli foreign and domestic policy and only tell us the good stuff. We are not disappointed. But Harper goes even further. He tells us something about people (like me) who criticize Israeli foreign policy.

Why does Harper think we criticize? Not because there is something to rationally be criticized. Of course not. Not because there's something wrong with occupying someone else's land for 40 years as a "buffer zone". Not because building settlements inside that occupied country, bulldozing the local houses away, is wrong or illegal. Not because controlling their access to water so the settlements have swimming pools while the locals barely have enough to drink is wrong. No, of course not. Harper knows why:
Make no mistake; look beyond the thinly-veiled rationalizations: because they hate Israel, just as they hate the Jewish people.

That's right. You make all the logical, rational statements you want about the occupation of Palestine, the mistreatment of Palestinians, about people like Rachel Corrie getting run over by bulldozers, about illegal and growing settlements, about Hamas being willing to declare peace with Israel.

None of that matters because you, sir, are an anti-Semite if you criticize Israel in any way.

It's a lot worse than that accusation of "knee-jerk anti-Americanism" that goes around whenever someone criticizes American foreign policy. The accusation of anti-Semitism is so much more effective because it carries with it the specter of the Holocaust, which Harper mentions. The sheer density of cruelty causes this to be considered the single worst act in the history of mankind.

What this does is to conflate two things: Hitler and anyone who questions Israel.

Clever and effective. No one wants to look like Hitler and so no one criticizes Israel. Let's see how this argument works ...

You: It's wrong to bulldoze Palestinian homes and olive orchards and build settlements that are only for Israeli settlers.

Me: Well, then, you must want to wipe out the entire Jewish population of the world, you raging anti-Semite! Q.E.D. You are Hitler. I win the argument.

See how easy it is?

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