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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fisking a piece by a self-hating Israeli

A long-time reader was nice enough to forward a recent article by Ruth Tenne which appeared in 'The Palestine Chronicle' entitled "Britain's Arms Trade With Israel".  He (my reader) received it from a Muslim friend of his who sent it along with the following laconic introduction:

"it is an article from Israeli born Jew - some truth"

Truer words were never written. 

It is, indeed, a piece penned by an Israeli-born Jew... and in amongst the ax-grinding and obvious self-hatred there is a string of unrelated truths (however detached from the point of the thesis).

You can feel free to go read the whole thing if you like.  I'm not hiding anything by not presenting it here... I just didn't want to go to the trouble of getting permission to republish it on my site.  However, I couldn't resist offering my response in a forum that would invite measured feedback from a wide range of opinions.

So here is what I had to say:

The crux of the article seems to be comprised of unfounded alarm that Israel continues to inexplicably want to defend itself... and that countries in the West seem willing to continue helping it to do so. 

Totally absent from the article is even a hint of why Israel might require such an impressive array of arms.  And equally absent is any compelling LEGAL reason why Israel - as a sovereign country - should not be allowed to maintain whatever level of military readiness it deems necessary.

The author spends a lot of time and effort quoting UN Resolutions.  IMHO this is not a very convincing way to begin an argument since a quick stock-taking of all UN Resolutions seems to suggest that the institution was created with the sole purpose of issuing resolutions critical of a tiny country called Israel.

The author  also quotes 'Janes' regarding Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal as though their contention settles the matter once and for all.  This is quite cute as Janes is no more 'in the know' about Israel's actual capabilities than anyone else outside Israel's government.  The Janes reference is an attempt to sidestep the inconvenient fact that Israel's unconventional arsenal is all supposition that has never been officially corroborated. 

She also brings up the fact that "all Arab states [are] signatories" to the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty, as a demonstration that Israel is in the wrong.  The fact that "all Arab states [are] signatories" to the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty is like you or I promising not to grow wings and fly.  The simple fact is that it is easy for a country to promise not to proliferate nuclear technology or arms when, without extensive external assistance, none of them could hope to manufacture a marketable conventional weapons system, much less nuclear arms. 

Iran, being the sole exception to this rule, has actually proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the moment any Arab (OK nit-pickers, Muslim) country in the middle east gets nuclear know-how they will immediately thumb their nose at any and all international treaties/agreements ever conceived.

Other than that, the whole article is laughable from the standpoint of intellectual honesty and academic accuracy.  It is full of phrases that would not be allowed in any scholarly reference material. 

Some obvious examples:

"...the recent earth-scorching bombardment of Lebanon (summer 2006..." 

Um, I'm sorry, are there bombs available somewhere that I don't know about that somehow don't scorch the earth when they explode?  I know... I'm being facetious, but seriously, not even the harshest critics of Israel in the Lebanon war have accused her of carrying out a scorched earth policy.  If they had followed such a doctrine there would have been no need for a ground offensive at all!

"...the British Foreign Office's refusal to acknowledge and act upon the numerous reports by the UN , official bodies and peace organizations in Israel and the international community which routinely record the human rights abuses and the near collapse of the Palestinian economy..."

This is a good one as it not only tosses the generic hand grenade of 'human rights abuses' (without providing specifics) but also seems to blame the collapse of the Palestinian economy solely on Israel without assigning any culpability to the PA leadership's devastating decisions on how best to wage 'armed resistance' via a succession of Intifadas.

"The heavy bombardment of Lebanon in July- August 2006 and the continued onslaught on Gaza made British MPs aware of Israel's increasing threat to the region."

A classic straw man statement, not to mention that the bombardment of Israel from Lebanon and from Gaza (both of which are responsible for Israel's response) don't seem to be of concern to the author, and are somehow not considered threatening or destabilizing influences on the region.

"Saferworld -an independent think -tank against arms trade - recently proclaimed that "the violence in the Middle East is now alarming and the Government must now stop all arms sale to Israel""

Another fallacious argument since there is no demonstrated cause & effect between "arms sales to Israel" and "violence in the middle east".  On the contrary, most of the violence in the middle east is perpetrated by Arab actors... as often against other Arabs as against Israelis.

"...it seems that the British Government is not prepared to take any steps for ending Israel's escalating arsenal which has been used with impunity against the Palestinians and Lebanon."

'Impunity' is a deliberately prejudicial word which suggests not only a lack of legitimate motive, but also a complete disregard for consequences.  On the contrary, Israel has shown extreme restraint on both of the fronts mentioned, and only resorted to armed conflict when openly attacked from those areas.

"Being an Israeli-born citizen I may not be considered as an apparent supporter for imposing arms trade embargo and sanctions against my own country. Yet , I believe that the lack of any consorted action by Western governments to end the 40 -year long occupation of Palestinian land calls for exercising a tangible pressure on the Israeli state."

The author's nationality is not even remotely relevant to the positions she has taken.  It is simply a blatant attempt to claim some special knowledge or background by virtue of her birthplace which is not demonstrated anywhere in the narrative.  It is telling, though, that she refers to the "40 -year long occupation of Palestinian land" since it was from Jordan (a country that has officially relinquished all legal claims) that the land was captured, not from the Palestinians. 

No matter where one stands on the issue of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, they technically have no legal claim to land captured from another country.  They were not a party to the conflict in 1967 and had no collective legal status (a status since granted partly by Israel) until years after the war was over.

The article is nothing more than a laundry list of arms sales by the UK to Israel intermixed with petulant fussing over the UK's frustrating (to the author, anyway) reluctance to conduct an economic boycott or arms embargo of the Jewish State. 

While the list of arms sales indicates a willingness on the part of the UK and other western states to continue to do business with (and thereby refrain from weakening) Israel, there is nothing whatsoever presented by the author to support the idea that cessation of such economic relations would in any way directly help the Palestinians... except perhaps in determining the outcome of a future military conflict between Israel and her neighbors.

The entire piece is simply an angry rant designed to resonate with readers who already hold a predisposition towards wanting to see a weakened and vulnerable Israel.  There can be no other reason for a desire to deny a sovereign state the ability to defend itself.

In short, when the author states, "the escalating arming of Israel has become a burning issue", the real truth is that it is only a 'burning issue' to those who want desperately to see Israel burn.

Posted by David Bogner on January 31, 2007 | Permalink

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What the heck are you doing refuting an article on the Palestine Chronicle?

It's not a reputable publication that deserves reply, regardless of how nicely formatted their web site is.

This is the same site that declared, after the 9/11 bombings, that they were done by the Japanese in retaliation for Hiroshima, and then that the Jews secretly did it. This the the site that promulgated and continues to promulgate the lies about Jenin, the Gaza beach, and so on, ad infinitum.

In other words, the PC is a mouthpiece of Palestinian propaganda.

So why are you replying to it?

It serves only one good purpose: every once in a while when I am upset at the left and the way Haaretz writes about Jews, I go to the PC to remind myself just who our real enemies are.

Yehuda

Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Jan 31, 2007 1:17:40 PM

:::notices shreds of article's author on the floor:::

Cleanup in aisle 28, please.

Well done, Mr. B. :)

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jan 31, 2007 1:48:35 PM

Two thumbs up Trep. The case has been stated.

Posted by: Rami | Jan 31, 2007 4:35:40 PM

Unfortunately Trep, the world does listen and accept her opinions as further reasons to validate their actions, no matter absurd it is. And as for Palestinian propaganda, it seems to work quite well - don't ya think?

Posted by: jaime | Jan 31, 2007 5:28:44 PM

**** "This is a good one as it not only tosses the generic hand grenade of 'human rights abuses' (without providing specifics) but also seems to blame the collapse of the Palestinian economy solely on Israel without assigning any culpability to the PA leadership's devastating decisions on how best to wage 'armed resistance' via a succession of Intifadas." ***

You left out .... "AND put hundreds of millions of aid money into their private Swill bank accounts".

Posted by: Scott Fleming | Jan 31, 2007 7:11:40 PM

Hi David,

I tend to agree with Yehuda B. on this one and not just because he is a "gaming guru!"

Stay "noggin, dude!" and keep plenty of fresh socks!

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Feb 1, 2007 12:05:21 AM

I have nothing but pity for these individuals, who are unable to react to events around them in any way but by internalizing hatred. Fortunately, Israel itself is better equipped to deal with the reality of life.

Posted by: Irina | Feb 1, 2007 7:20:32 AM

Yehuda Berlinger... I was fisking the author more than the site or the source, but point taken.

tnspr569... Nice of you to say but the unedited version was much more destructive (for all concerned... including me. :-) )

Rami... Thanks for the tip-off.

jaime... Quite.

Scott Fleming... I'm assuming you meant Swiss and not Swill... but there is probably a Freudian thing in there somewhere. :-)

Maksim-Smelchak... Yes sir. :-)

Irina... I hope you're right about that last bit.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 1, 2007 5:48:43 PM

Ruth Tenne... An odious character if there ever was one. I am not sure that the impact of her rant deserves this (excellent by itself) post, but in this case the post is more important than its target, so that's fine.

One remark, however: this "self-hating Israeli" branding. It became so abused that it lost the last shred of meaning lately. Ms Tenne may be feeble-minded or hysterical or totally misguided or brainwashed etc. Or even all of the above, but I do not think that the "self-hatred" bullet is able to hit a target anymore.

Posted by: SnoopyTheGoon | Feb 5, 2007 11:02:21 AM

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