Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, July 27, 2014


America's Stupidest Foreign Policy Voice, Huckleberry Closetcase, has opened his mewling, drawling pie-hole again to say stupid things about foreign policy.  In this case, he is accusing the UN of Antisemitism.  Similarly, my Facebook feed is full of friends whose defense of Israel is often couched in terms of Antisemitism being at the root of anger over Israeli actions in Gaza.  Or that any outrage over Israel's actions is the same as support for Hamas.

Any statement that begins "I'm not X, but..." usually means you're "X".  So I'll try and avoid the "I'm not antisemitic, but..." formulation. outrage over what Israel is doing in Gaza is not motivated by hatred of the Jews or the state of Israel.  It does not call into question Israel's right to exist or defend itself.

But it is rooted in the same place that had me condemning American force used to level Fallujah.  When we used incredibly destructive weapons - including white phosphorus - on a civilian population, I thought that was criminal.  It was at the root of my desire to leave Iraq and even my concern and outrage over the way we went into Iraq.  As a student of mine once said, "Shock and awe was shockingly awful."

There may be a tactical reason for Israel is kill over a thousand Palestinians.  Although they have not seemed able to stop the short term rocket attacks that is their stated tactical goal.  Strategically, they have zero chance of destroying Hamas through the use of force and in fact they likely strengthen Hamas with every Palestinian killed.

But it is not antisemitic to say that Israel has lost its moral voice in its dealings with Gaza.  This is a statement about Netanyahu's policies and the need for the Right wing in Israel to "be tough and send a message" which is a factor it has in common with the American Right.  But bombing schools and hospitals and residential neighborhoods - even if they hide Hamas' rockets - calls into question the moral claims of self-defense.  Especially since the Hamas attacks have been so ineffectual.

Israel has dealt with a mosquito infestation by carpet bombing the neighborhood.

If the true goal was to get Hamas to stop lobbing rockets into Israel, a negotiated settlement would be the likeliest way to accomplish that.  Launching wholesale attacks into one of the most densely populated places on earth won't accomplish anything more that creating more recruits for Hamas.

And to point this out is not antisemitism.  And what's more, throwing about that term to defend Israel's actions only weakens the term.  Yes, the Arab protesters who attack synagogues are antisemitic.  But those that protest outside the Israeli embassy are not necessarily.

If criticism of Israel is the same as criticism of Judaism, then Israel must behave in a way that does honor to Judaism.  This is the logic of Jefferson's efforts to separate church from state.  If the church and state are linked then the crimes of the state will stick to the church, or the synagogue in this case.

Israel was created as a homeland for one of the world's most bullied people.  But the state of Israel has now adopted the logic of the bully.  That's not good for Israel.  And if criticism of Israel is attacked on the basis of religion, then that is not good for Judaism.

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