Beyond Chutzpah

Lunatic Cotler Strikes Again!

By a correspondent

Together with a friend, the MP Irwin Cotler rose in parliament yesterday to table a petition denouncing “the escalating state-backed anti-Semitism in Venezuela”.[1]

One wonders if it had anything to do with April Fool’s Day because the only incident they mention specifically was “the firebombing of a synagogue in Caracas.”

Though the incident did spark a chorus of condemnation blaming the Venezuelan government, the rabbi’s bodyguard has since admitted planning the robbery with the help of one of the synagogue’s security guards after the rabbi denied him a loan.[2]

When Caracas’ biggest mosque was subsequently robbed, the Associated Press failed to suggest the sort of grand conspiracies that get Mr. Cotler’s juices flowing, noting that it was “located in downtown Caracas, where a scant police presence makes robberies and murders relatively common.”[3]

Either Mr. Cotler is ignorant of basic facts or his parliamentary statements were a conscious fraud aimed at stoking the myth of growing anti-Semitism in an effort to deflect attention from Israel’s many crimes.

References:


Who would ever have thought that a cow could write the alphabet?

By: Phyllis Chesler

Who would ever have believed that Jews would be in such danger again? That Israel and Zionism would become such dirty words in the world, despised by western intellectuals and Islamist mobs alike?

Who would ever have predicted that the United Nations would remain ineffective in all things except one: the legitimization of Jew-hatred? And that so many members of international human rights organizations and the mainstream western media would join Muslim leaders to accuse Israel of running an apartheid Nazi state bent on genocide?

Who would ever have thought that the Islamic jihad against Jews, which long preceded the establishment of the state of Israel, would still be going strong – a jihad that began during Muhammad’s reign when he slaughtered the Jewish tribes of Arabia?

Who would ever have suggested that the largest refugee story in the Middle East – 750,000-800,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries – would be forgotten and replaced with a Palestinian-only persecution narrative that would seize the imagination of the world? That Israel, which absorbed its refugees at its own expense, would be demonized and that Palestinian leaders, including terrorists who devote themselves to the destruction of Israel, would be glamorized as righteous and noble victims?

Who would ever have dreamed that Israel would be condemned for trying to defend its civilians? Or that Israel would reap hatred for exercising restraint in its treatment of Palestinian civilians? Or that Israel’s terrorist enemies would be praised for hiding behind their own women and children or would themselves be counted as civilians (even as they fire rockets at Israel) because they craftily choose to dress as such?

Who would ever have imagined that such Big Lies would be championed by western intellectuals, academics, journalists, students – not a few of them Jews and even Israelis?

Orwell would laugh. Or cry.

When the intifada of 2000 broke over Israel’s head, I could no longer keep silent. After 2001, I knew we were now all Israelis. By 2002, I had embarked upon a book about the new anti-Semitism.

What is new about this anti-Semitism? The old, mad virus never entirely disappeared, but now anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism. Now, the very existence of the Jewish state is being used as the justification to attack Jews everywhere.

The Arab world continues to accuse Jews and Israelis of spreading cancer and AIDS, of poisoning Palestinians, of perpetrating apartheid and genocide against the Palestinians. The reality, of course, is that Islam is the largest practitioner of apartheid in the world.

Demonizing Israelis as “worse than the Nazis” allows Europeans to resume wallowing in the Jew-hatred that has defined their history while it provides them the illusion that by doing so they render themselves safe from fundamentalist Muslim hostility. It is also a way of scapegoating Jews and Israel for the crimes of European racism and colonialism.

Neat trick.

Sixty years ago, would anyone have been pessimistic enough to fear that Jews would once again be physically menaced and verbally attacked, or that synagogues, community centers, cemeteries and schools would become targets in countries all over the world? That Jewish students would be attacked on campuses and at pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the West?

I know I never foresaw that pro-Israel sentiment and general truth-telling about the Middle East would be marginalized, censored and mocked – and that those who held such views would not only be discouraged or even disallowed to share them, but that in many cases those who wish to speak positively about Israel on campus would require armed protection.

When I started research for my book about anti-Semitism in 2001-2002, I had to dig for examples. That has changed. Now, the surreal level of both Jew- and Israel-hatred, its global reach, its sickening synchronicity, is being well documented by many organizations, each with a variety of interpretations. Every day I receive dozens of articles on this subject.

What’s different about the new anti-Semitism is that Israel, Jews, and Judaism are being condemned by those who view themselves as politically correct anti-racists and multicultural relativists. They condemn Israel for being too nationalistic while they praise the so-called national liberation movements of tyrants. They condemn Judaism (and Christianity) as misogynistic but give a free pass to Islam. They refuse to criticize an imperialistic, intolerant, slave-holding religion in whose name terrorists are blowing up civilians around the world, especially if the perpetrators live in areas formerly colonized by the West and their skin color ranges from olive to black.

Jewish skin color ranges from white to olive to black, but his does not seem to matter.

From early 2004 I have been saying in the pages of The Jewish Press that we are potentially looking at another Holocaust. This level of hatred and demonization never ends without the mass murder of Jews. Anything is possible. The surreal can become real in an instant.

In many ways Jews today face a graver threat than they did in the 1930s because much of the world, rather than just one or two nations, is now involved in the demonization of Israel.

So what must be done?

We must understand that anti-Semitism is an illness – a madness – something evil that is not caused by Jews. We may not be able to appease those who are afflicted with it any more than we can please Hamas or al Qaeda, but we must defend ourselves against it – in every way possible.

But we also must shed our illusions – permanently. We cannot expect that conditions will always improve, or that one country or another will always be a safe haven for Jews.

Our ancestors suffered in exile for nearly two thousand years, and while we are privileged to live in a time when our homeland has been restored to us, it was foolish to have thought that Jew-hatred would suddenly become extinct or that Israel would not remain under permanent siege.

As Jews, as Israelis, as members of a nation holy unto God, we must understand, and never forget, that ours is an eternal struggle.

Dr. Phyllis Chesler, an Emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network, is the author of many works including “Women and Madness” (1972) and “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003). This essay is based on a speech she gave earlier this month at Temple Judea in Doylestown, Pa.

Dr. Chesler can be contacted through her website, www.phyllis-chesler.com.


John Dugard on Israel, South Africa and Apartheid

While international law tolerates military occupation, it does not approve it, specifically one that has continued for over 40 years as in the case of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Furthermore, during that time, Israel has introduced two other elements—colonialism and apartheid. Although there are many similarities between apartheid as it was applied in South Africa and Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the systems are not identical. There are features of the Israeli regime in the occupied territory that were unknown to South Africans. This year’s Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture was delivered by Professor John Dugard.

You can view the video online here.

John Dugard:

Thank you very much for your invitation to speak today. I am very honored. It’s a great occasion for The Jerusalem Fund, and I’m really pleased to be part of this memorial lecture. As Samar told you, I’ve just recently been to Gaza, but I can’t speak freely about my visit to Gaza. I was part of a mission established by the League of Arab States to investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Gaza. We visited at the end of February for a week, and we’re still writing the report. So at this stage, I cannot really comment on our findings. You will appreciate that any attempt to attach responsibility to Israel is a sensitive issue and is bound to result in considerable criticism. So, we want to do a very careful job in preparing our report.

But what I can say is that I have been visiting Gaza twice a year since 2001, and I have on previous occasions witnessed evidence of horrendous bombings and killings and house destructions. But the most recent attack surpassed all the others. There were more killings—1,434 deaths of which 288 were children, 121 women—and it’s estimated that of the 1,400 over 900 were civilians. Of course, the Israeli government disputes this, but I think this is largely because the Israeli government tends to view anyone over the age of 16 as a potential terrorist. And certainly, the Israelis view policemen as militants whereas in fact policemen are, under international law, classified as civilians. And one must remember that the opening salvo, which was very much like an attack on Pearl Harbor, was an attack directed at a police parade in which fifteen new recruits were killed. It’s not only the number of deaths but also the manner of killing. We spoke to a number of eyewitnesses who spoke about the way in which their parents, children had been shot in cold blood between their eyes by a member of the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] at fairly short range. I find it very difficult to believe some of these stories, but they have now been confirmed by members of the IDF. You may have read that at a military academy in Israel there was an open discussion about the conduct of the war, and many members of the IDF spoke with some horror about the way in which their fellow soldiers had behaved.

Also, some of the weaponry used was bound to cause unnecessary suffering. There was the use of white soft phosphorous which Israel has conceded it used and the use of flechettes. Both these weapons when used in densely populated areas do cause tremendous suffering. And then, there was the destruction of property that we witnessed. What was extraordinary was the number of minarets of the mosques that had been shot out. It was quite clear that members of the IDF were simply having fun targeting minarets because they serve no security purpose. And then, there was the case of the Al-Wafa Hospital which in bold letters has “HOSPITAL” on the front, and there was a shell that had gone right through the letter “H.” So, it was quite clear that they were deliberately targeting a hospital. And then, there was the Islamic University which was partially destroyed. Allegedly, its laboratories were being used to manufacture armed weapons. And then, there was the American School, which was hardly a Hamas target, which had been flattened. And then, of course, factories and businesses had been destroyed. Again, one couldn’t easily describe them as Hamas targets. So, the destruction of property and the killings were really very distressing. But as I say, we are dealing with issues of accountability and responsibility, and we would have to wait until our report is completed.

Let me just say on the subject that I’ve been really disappointed about the international response to the conflict in Gaza. The secretary general of the United Nations has initiated a limited inquiry into the bombing of U.N. property, but it goes no further. The secretary general of the United Nations did visit Gaza. I think he was the first one ever to have visited Gaza, but he carefully refrained from speaking to any of the victims or visiting any of the destroyed property other than U. N. premises. This created quite an impression, poor impression, in Gaza itself. There has been a request from 16 distinguished international lawyers and peace activists to create a proper independent inquiry commission. An approach has been made to the Security Council, but that doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. The Human Rights Council has mandated the establishment of a commission of inquiry, but the Human Rights Council is having difficulty persuading people to join that commission. So, it seems that the commission established by the League of Arab States may well be the only independent commission of inquiry to examine this situation.

Today, I’m not going to talk about Gaza. I’m going to talk about occupation and apartheid. The mere comparison with apartheid is a very sensitive issue. I appreciate that. I should just mention this connection, it’s a subject that is likely to be raised in the Durban Review Conference in Geneva later this month or I think it’s the middle of April. There’s also a study being made of the comparisons by the South African Human Sciences Research Council, and that study group will publish its report on the subject, a fairly lengthy report running to about 300 pages, in London in May and in South Africa in June. So, this is a very topical issue even though it is regarded as offensive in certain quarters.

I will be speaking about occupation and apartheid. Let me begin with the subject of occupation. The Palestinian territory is clearly occupied territory. There’s no question about this as far as the international community is concerned in respect to the West Bank. Israel has argued that since 2005 when it withdrew its settlers and its military force from Gaza itself that it has seized to be an occupied territory, but the International Committee of the Red Cross and I think the whole of the international community, with the possible exception of the United States, rejects this argument. They take the view that Gaza is effectively occupied by Israel because Israel has control of its land borders, its sea space, its air space and it conducts military incursions fairly regularly into the territory. I think the United States’ position, announced by [former U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice, was that it was a quite hostile entity. One doesn’t quite know what that means. But one hopes that the [U.S. President Barack] Obama administration will make it clear that it regards Gaza and the West Bank as occupied territory.

Military occupation is a regime that is tolerated by international law. It’s not approved. In terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention which regulates the conduct of the occupying power, the occupying power is obliged to care for the welfare of the occupied people and, in particular, to ensure that medical facilities and educational facilities are respected and fostered. But, of course, we all know that Israel just ignores this obligation because in Palestine the international donor community is largely responsible for the welfare of the Palestinian people. It’s quite clear that international law does not contemplate a lengthy period of occupation, a prolonged occupation in this case running to over 40 years. The Israeli government tends to take the view that the longer the occupation, the less the obligations. But I think the general accepted view is that the exact opposite applies.

So, Israel is in occupation. But over the past 40 years, we’ve seen the addition of two other elements. That is colonialism and apartheid. And this tends to aggravate the status of the Palestinian territory. I don’t think there’s any question about colonialism in the Palestinian territory, particularly in the West Bank since settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005. We have nearly half a million Jewish settlers in the West Bank. This number is growing despite promises by successive Israeli governments that they will stop settlements. It’s interesting that constructions are taking place in some 88 of the 149 settlements in the West Bank. The growth rate in the settlements is 4.5 [percent] compared with 1.5 [percent] in Israel itself. It’s important not only to look at settlements but also at territory in the West Bank that is set aside for military purposes and as nature reserves. And someone can say that roughly 38 percent of the West Bank is off limits to Palestinians. So, there is a form of colonialism in the West Bank, and colonialism is not tolerated by international law. It’s clearly unlawful. Not only do settlements constitute a form of colonialism, but they also violate the Geneva Convention. So, that’s a clear illegality on the part of Israel.

The other element that has been introduced is that of apartheid. And it’s important to stress that apartheid is not only illegal in South Africa itself but it’s also been declared to be unlawful in international law. In 1973, there was a convention on apartheid adopted by the United Nations. Briefly, this convention provides that the infliction on members of a racial group of serious bodily or mental harm, inhumane or degrading treatment, the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of a racial group and so on by denying to such a group basic human rights and freedoms when such acts are committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them. So, [there] is a definition, a general definition of apartheid. This definition has now been transferred to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the crime of apartheid is seen as a species of crime against humanity. So, it’s quite clear that apartheid is unlawful under international law. Israel, of course, argues that its policies do not constitute apartheid. It claims that there’s no racial discrimination in its practices or policies. It argues that the purpose of its occupation is simply to maintain law and order pending a peace settlement. It’s not to maintain domination of one group over another.

I think it’s important to stress that there are major differences between apartheid as it was applied in South Africa and the policies and practices in the occupied territories. The systems are clearly not identical. But there are many similar features. I would just like to speak about what I regard as the three dominant features of apartheid in South Africa and examine the extent to which they apply in the Palestinian territory. First of all, there was what was known as “grand apartheid”; that was territorial separation. Then, there was what was incorrectly described as “petty apartheid,” which was racial discrimination. And then thirdly, there were the security laws.

Well, how does Israel feature in respect of “grand apartheid”? Are there Bantustans in the West Bank? And I think the answer to this question is yes. We do see territorial fragmentation of the kind that the South African government promoted in terms of its Bantustan policy. We see, first of all, a very clear separation being made between the West Bank and Gaza. But within the West Bank itself, we see a separation to essentially three or more territories and some additional enclaves with a center, north and south. And it’s quite clear that the Israeli government would like to see the Palestinian Authority as a kind of Bantustan puppet regime. So, there are similarities of that kind.

Then one comes to so-called “petty apartheid”—discrimination. There’s abundant evidence of such discrimination. There are, of course, separate roads for settlers and for Palestinians. And let me hasten to add that in South Africa we never had separate roads for black and white. There’s the discrimination in the Seam Zone. That is the area between the Green Line and the Wall. Israeli nationals are free to enter the Seam Zone, but Palestinians require permits and they are seldom granted permits.

Then, there’s the whole question of building rights. As you know, under Israeli law, houses may not be built by Palestinians in East Jerusalem or in Area C of the West Bank—and that constitutes most of the West Bank—without permits. And permits are not granted in most cases, an overwhelming majority of cases, with the result that there’s tremendous demolition of houses for so-called administrative reasons. And we see that happening at present in Jerusalem. So, these are housing demolition practice policy, which is also similar to that which occurred in South Africa.

Fourthly, there is freedom of movement. In South Africa, we had a past law system which required all blacks to carry documents and to justify their existence wherever they happen to be. And they were prevented from entering urban areas without special permission. So, serious restrictions were placed on freedom of movement. But I think it’s true to say that even more serious restrictions are imposed upon Palestinians. We have over 600 checkpoints within the West Bank itself. It’s rather strange that Israel argues that it has built a so-called security barrier to keep suicide bombers out of Israel but then, in addition, it erects these checkpoints. And I tend to take the view that the sole purpose of the checkpoints is to discriminate and to humiliate.

Fifthly, there’s the subject of family reunification. Again, this is a blatantly discriminatory practice. As you know, Palestinians living in Israel are not allowed to bring their spouses to Israel if they are from the Occupied Palestinian Territory and members of the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are not allowed to bring in foreign spouses either. So, we do have a discriminatory system.

The third feature of apartheid was its security apparatus. In order to maintain white control, the South African authorities introduced Draconian security laws, which resulted in the detention and prosecution of a large number of political activists. But, of course, the same thing happens in Israel. We now have some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. And there are very serious allegations of torture of detainees and prisoners.

So what is the major difference? The major difference I see between South Africa’s apartheid system and what prevails in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is that the South African apartheid regime was more honest. We had a rigid legal system which prescribed in great detail how discrimination was to occur and how it was to be implemented. There was an obsession with detail and legality in much the same way that Nazi Germany discriminated. It was open but at the same time it was honest. In the case of Israel, it is concealed. There’s a lovely story told by Shulamit Aloni, a former minister of education in Israel, of an occasion in which she confronted a member of the IDF who was arresting a Palestinian for driving on a settler road and for confiscating [his identification] card. She said to him, “But how is he to know that this is a road for the exclusive use of settlers? There is no notice to that effect.” And he said, “Of course Palestinians know or they should know.” He said, “What do you want us to do? Do you want us to put up signs saying Palestinians only, settlers only and then everyone will say that we are an apartheid state like South Africa?” And so, there is this concealment of discrimination. So, there are differences.

I suppose you’re going to ask me the question, which regime was worse? I find it difficult to answer this question as a white South African because, although I lived in South Africa throughout the apartheid period, I was obviously not subject to the discriminatory laws that were leveled and aimed at blacks. But what is interesting is that every black South African that I’ve spoken to who has visited the Palestinian territory has been horrified and has said without hesitation that the system that applies in Palestine is worse. And there are a number of reasons for this.

I think, first of all, one can say there are features of the Israeli regime in the occupied territory that were unknown to South Africans. We never had a wall separating black and white. I know it’s called the apartheid Wall, but that’s really a misnomer because there was no wall of that kind in South Africa. And as I’ve said, there were no separate roads. These are novel features of Israel’s apartheid regime.

Secondly, the enforcement of the regime is much stricter. We have repeated military incursions into the West Bank, let alone Gaza. Gaza tends to attract most of the attention, but there are regular raids carried out by the IDF into the West Bank and arrests are made and Palestinians are shot and killed. And what is interesting is that in South Africa, political activists were tried by the regular criminal courts of the land in open proceedings. Whereas in Israel, Palestinians are tried by military courts which have emergency rules and regulations inherited from the British, but they are not proper courts.

I think perhaps the most important distinguishing feature is that there are no positive features about Israel’s apartheid. The South African apartheid regime did attempt to pacify the black majority by providing it with material benefits. And so schools were built; universities were built; hospitals and clinics were built by the apartheid regime. Special factories were built in the black areas in order to encourage workers to work in the African areas. So, there was a very positive side, although it was a materialistic side, to the apartheid order. Whereas in the case of Israel’s apartheid, Israel makes virtually no contribution to the welfare of the Palestinian people. It leaves it all to the donor community. Of course, this also raises the question, which is debated vigorously in Palestine, about whether it is wise for the donor community to bail Israel out. Whether it would not be wiser just to withdraw and let the whole world see how nasty the Israelis are in Palestine. But that’s a separate question.

Let me just conclude by making some comments on the response of the international community because this is another area of great difference. You’ll recall that the apartheid regime was vilified internationally in the United States, in the West and throughout the world. States subjected the apartheid regime to sanctions. The United Nations was active. It also imposed limited sanctions on South Africa. The international community took the view that apartheid was an illegal regime and everything should be done to get rid of it. Whereas we know that in the case of Israel, although there are serious and manifest violations of international law, no action is taken by western states or by the international community. We all know the reason. I might suppose in the States you would say ultimately the strength of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and the evangelical lobby, but I think, in the West, generally it’s feelings of Holocaust guilt, as if the Palestinians were responsible for the Holocaust rather than the Europeans. And so, we see a double standard being applied in respect of Israel. And I think this has serious implications for the future. One can understand the comments made by [Sudanese] President [Omar] al-Bashir, “Fine for me to be subjected to an arrest warrant but what about Gaza?” And this is a plea one hears in the developing world repeatedly. You ask us to take action against Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma for human rights violations. And I believe that action should be taken against these states. But the developing world said, “Why do you ask us to take action against these states when you yourself are engaged in the protection of Israel?”

It’s very difficult to know what’s going to happen in this situation. I’m fairly disappointed about the United Nations. The General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have very little powers. The secretary general of the United Nations is timid, shall we say. The Security Council is hampered by the veto, and the Quartet, whose very origin is suspect, is clearly under the control of the United States. In 2004, the International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion holding the Wall as illegal. That has simply been ignored by the Security Council and the secretary general, the Quartet. There are demands for another advisory opinion on the question of the consequences of prolonged occupation coupled with apartheid and colonialism. But again, such an opinion, even if given, is likely to be ignored.

But I think there are some hopeful signs in respect of movements in civil society. We do see the question of action against Israel over Palestine being raised on university campuses, in church and in trade unions. I do tend to get the view, get the impression that public opinion is beginning to shift even though government policies remain much the same.

Well, let me end there and answer any questions that you may wish to raise.

Professor John Dugard is former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and visiting distinguished professor of law at Duke University.


In excruciating scene reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, Canadian Prime Minister Subjects Himself to Circumcision; auctions off his foreskin to raise funds for Israeli army; Irwin Cotler said to be highest bidder.

By Tamsyn Burgmann

THORNHILL, Ont. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper passionately vowed Thursday night that his government would always stand behind Israel, at the same time denouncing what he called “a rising global tide of anti-Semitism.”

Harper’s speech to members of the Jewish community in this Toronto suburb came amid planned court action by a British MP who was banned from entering Canada for apparent links to Hamas.

Donning a blue skullcap, Harper reaffirmed his government’s support for the state of Israel at a grand opening ceremony for a new Chabad Lubavitch centre, an organization dedicated to the welfare of Jewish people worldwide.

“Of the dangers that confront us in the world, anti-Semitism should be confronted in its own right for the moral evil that it is,” Harper said as the crowd rose to a standing ovation.

“I say this not just to Jews, but to gentiles everywhere. It is important to remember that history teaches us that those who aim to destroy the Jewish people – to destroy the nation of Israel – that kind of spirit will not be quenched by that objective.

“They will be a threat to us all, and that is why they must be opposed.”

Harper, who was joined by MP Peter Kent, who represents the area, said the Conservatives have been taking continual leadership on the issue. He noted that Kent has spoken out against recent anti-Semitic incidents on some university campuses.

At Toronto’s York University, for instance, anti-Israel slogans were shouted at Jewish students.

“The bottom line is this,” Harper said. “Whether at home or abroad, I hope and I know you can have not a shadow of a doubt that my government will remain a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism and an unyielding defender of religious freedom and a staunch ally of the state of Israel.”

Harper’s speech didn’t mention his government’s refusal to allow British MP George Galloway from entering Canada.

The federal government has said Galloway violated sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that state anyone can be barred from Canada for engaging in terrorism or being a member of a group that engaged in terrorism.

That charge is apparently based on the fact that Galloway delivered humanitarian goods to war-torn Gaza and gave $45,000 to the Hamas government, which is a banned terrorist organization in Canada.

Galloway’s lawyers are challenging the entry ban and are considering a civil action.

Yitzchok Grossbaum, who attended the ceremony, called Harper’s speech “unbelievable.”

“We’re shocked at the words the Prime Minister used today,” he said. “You could see he really meant it.”

Two prominent Jewish organizations, B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Jewish Congress, have applauded banning Galloway from entering the country.


ADL’s Foxman shrieks “Holocaust denial!”

Cut to pieces: the family drinking tea in a courtyard




Palestinian brothers: used as human shields in Gaza




Under attack: medics die trying to help casualties




Finkelstein on the Nazi holocaust

By Atticus Mullikin




Methodical Expose of Lunatic Irwin Cotler

By CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Canadian Parliamentarian and Former Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, released a petition on December 9, 2008, entitled “The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: A Responsibility to Prevent Petition.”[1] The 79-page document calls “upon the State Parties to the Genocide Convention, the United Nations Secretary-General and the international community to fulfill their obligation to prevent genocide and to hold Iran to account for its genocidal incitement.”[2]

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has undertaken a study of Mr Cotler’s petition which has received the endorsement of several scholars and jurists, notably Louise Arbour, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: A Responsibility to Prevent Petition” is a one-sided campaign to demonize and ostracize Iran. The petition and Mr. Cotler’s self-appointed diplomatic offensive will undermine efforts at dialog in the Middle East, and will only serve to radicalize and polarize people’s sentiments. The Petition’s oversimplification of complex geopolitical problems muddies the issues and will discourage reasoned debate. In light of its poor referencing, its utilization of questionable sources, its reliance on non-literal translations, its manipulation of statements and its factual distortions, this petition is neither serious nor balanced.

It is neither CJPME’s goal nor its desire to write a defence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s oftentimes inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric. But CJPME, in keeping with its objective of facilitating an informed and accurate debate regarding the problems of the region, and its conviction to hold all parties of the Middle East to the same standard, wishes to expose the misrepresentations which make Mr Cotler’s text a simple exercise in fear mongering.

The disingenuous partiality of the petition in approaching complex geopolitical problems reflects on the author’s lack of academic rigour and – regrettably – honesty. CJPME calls on the petition’s signatories to review the information presented in this document, and strongly urges them to reconsider their signature. By lending their names to the petition, they give credibility to the sophomoric arguments of the “Petition” to the detriment of their own hard-earned reputation.

Contents:




1  Introduction

There are three important areas of shoddy scholarship in Mr. Cotler’s petition. First, the petition references and supports its arguments with many unconventional and questionable sources. Secondly, the petition takes a very flippant and non-rigorous approach to the translation of statements used to support its arguments. This is very surprising given the gravity of the petition’s accusation of genocidal intent. Thirdly, the petition repeatedly misrepresents the context for the Middle East rhetoric that it cites. Each of these areas at issue is explored in depth below (with examples), followed by a final section touching on some serious additional issues with the petition.




2  Issue: Questionable Sourcing

Mr Cotler’s petition is 79 pages long (including appendices), and contains 70 different references to support its argumentation. Typically, in a work expected to command the attention of legal and academic scholars around the world, great care would be used in sourcing one’s arguments. Primary sources would be used almost exclusively; and only publications and authors of the highest calibre – preferably academic – would be used as sources. Finally, a rigorous work would prefer impartial or disinterested sources as much as possible.

This is not the case with Mr Cotler’s petition. Many of the references used to build Mr Cotler’s case fall into one of three categories:

  1. Supporting references which are non-primary sources
  2. Supporting references taken from highly partial sources
  3. Supporting references taken from sources of questionable scholarship.



2.1  Sourcing from non-primary sources


Primary sources are sources which have not been interpreted by another person. Primary sources are typically the account of an eyewitness or original “recorder” of an event, e.g. transcripts, letters, interviews, news footage, etc. While primary sources are not always available, rigorous research and analysis should favour primary sources, or the information closest to a primary source. Thus, for example, while Mr Cotler may not have the complete transcript of a speech which is central to his argumentation, one would nevertheless expect that Mr Cotler would seek the closest thing to it, e.g. the best contemporary news article on the speech, presumably written by someone who was present, and spoke the language. At a minimum, one would expect Mr Cotler to only use sources which could be traced to a primary source. This is not the case.


2.1.1  Examples: Choosing non-primary sources over primary sources

Example:
On page 15, Mr Cotler uses an article entitled “Hamas calls for Genocide” authored by David G. Littman in FrontPage Magazine, a far-right publication. Mr Cotler uses a quote attributed to an Iranian leader in the article, which is itself referenced in Littman’s piece as being quoted by Patrick Devenny (another contributor to FrontPage Magazine), who is in turn quoting the Daily Telegraph, January 1, 2000 (no mention of or reference to the exact article). Cotler does not give any information on how the primary source (the Daily Telegraph article) can be located. Cotler is essentially quoting someone, quoting someone else, who is quoting an unspecified article published in 2000.

Example:
In some cases, Mr Cotler does not indicate the primary source of his references even when these are official documents by organizations such as the UN, relying instead on obscure, partisan sources. This makes it extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to verify either the source, its context, or the related translation which Mr Cotler is leveraging. On page 14, Mr Cotler references a UN document which he has accessed through the little-known Prevent Genocide International’s rudimentary website. If Mr Cotler wishes to cite a UN document he should reference the document from its original source, the UN.

On page 16, Mr Cotler references two articles from the French paper Le Monde but uses two obscure websites as his sources for them. On the same page, he references a speech made at the UN but does not use an official UN site as a source.


2.1.2  Example: Sourcing from non-traceable sources

As discussed in section 2.1.1, Mr Cotler often makes use of secondary sources without providing any information on the primary source. Sometime the primary source is traceable with information found on the secondary source which Cotler provides. But when such information is not available it becomes impossible to authenticate the content and context of the original source, and one has to wonder whether Mr Cotler has even verified the original. On page 16, for example, Mr Cotler quotes a discussion with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad apparently published in the respected French daily Le Monde, and reproduced on a news website called Voltairenet.org. There is no way of finding the original piece since no title, author, date, page or web-link is provided.



2.2  Sourcing from highly partial sources and advocacy groups


When sourcing information, objective research prefers sources which are impartial to the topic under study. While impartial sources are not always available, at a minimum, one would expect the serious researcher to consult multiple – ideally contrasting – opinions on the topic to elicit a comprehensive perspective. Mr Cotler does not take this approach in his petition. Instead, he gives almost exclusive voice to publications and analyses known to have a very strong interest in the topic of study.

Furthermore, Mr Cotler’s petition frequently sources texts advanced by advocacy organizations. While many advocacy groups perform reputable and important research on topics central to their mandate, every advocacy group (and its material) is unique, as determined by its mission and constituency.

Thus, in the context of Mr Cotler’s petition, the material produced by an advocacy group seeking to improve global understanding of Iran would be viewed much differently than an advocacy organization seeking to promote the interests of Israel. Similarly, material produced by an Iranian advocacy group scandalized by the comments of its leaders would be viewed much differently than a group advocating on behalf of Israel.

Also, Mr Cotler tends to quote advocacy groups which have a strong agenda of either: 1) placing Iran and Islamists in the worst possible light, or 2) positioning Israel as a threatened or victimized state. This does not give an impartial tone to Mr Cotler’s research work, nor does it help his reader or signatory formulate an objective viewpoint.


2.2.1  Example: Sourcing from strident proponents of Israel

Mr Cotler repeatedly uses the Anti Defamation League (ADL), an interest group publicly known for equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism,[3] as a source for translations of statements made in Farsi. The primary source of the statements cannot be found in this manner since the League only provides vague information on when the statements were made, and does not provide any references to the original statement. No verification of their translation can be made in this way. He references the Anti Defamation League six times.

Other ardent proponents of Israel which Mr Cotler uses as sources include the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors Arab and Persian media for anything perceived as anti-Israel, FrontPage Magazine, a far-right magazine, and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, committed to winning the “war of ideas” for Israel.


2.2.2  Example: Sourcing from highly partial sources

Twenty times, Mr Cotler uses the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) as a source for translations. The co-founder and president of MEMRI is an Israeli named Yigal Carmon who spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence. The organization finds inflammatory or hateful statements made in the Muslim world, translates them and then disseminates them widely – quite often misrepresenting the context for the material translated.[4] As one American-Islamic pundit described it, “MEMRI’s intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible.”[5] It does not do the same for similarly insidious statements made by Israeli politicians in Hebrew. At one time MEMRI described itself as supporting liberal democracy, civil society, and the free market, and emphasized “the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel,” though the words about Zionism have now been deleted from its website.[6]


2.2.3  Example: Sourcing from far-right groups

In the FrontPage Magazine piece referenced on page 15, Mr Cotler uses an article entitled “Hamas calls for Genocide” authored by David G. Littman. Mr Cotler uses the same reference twice in his petition (pages 15 & 35). The magazine is the online publication of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (formerly the Center for the Study of Popular Culture) which was founded in 1988 “to establish a conservative presence in Hollywood.”[7] It has published articles condemning the Democratic Party, the environmental movement, affirmative action, reparations for slavery, anti-war groups and the United Nations.


2.2.4  Example: Sourcing from Israel-based advocacy groups

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), a source used three times by Mr Cotler, “seeks to present Israel’s case and to highlight the challenges of Islamic extremism and global anti-Semitism.”[8] The JCPA says “We understand that the survival of the Jewish people and the State of Israel are dependent on winning the war of ideas. The JCPA is committed to this struggle.”[9]


2.2.5  Example: Sourcing from opinion pieces and editorials

Mr Cotler apparently sees nothing questionable about lifting a translated statement from an opinion piece written by a staunch supporter of Israel in an Israeli newspaper without providing a reference to the original. For example, on page 17 of his petition Mr Cotler provides a translation which is “black and filthy microbe,” from the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper. The source is in fact an opinion piece written by Joshua Teitelbaum, a Visiting Senior Fellow at – conincidentally – the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, that argues that the accuracy of the translations is not important because the meaning is still there. He does not explain how he can be sure of the meaning if the translations are not accurate — i.e. not literal translations.




3  Issue: Use of suspect translations

Given that Mr Cotler’s petition seeks to present an interpretation of the words and intents of the Iranian leadership spoken in Farsi, translations of comments and speeches play a central role in his argumentation. A credible research work which relies almost entirely on statements made in another language (a language which the author does not speak), would typically employ some of the following:

  1. Use of a professional translator from Farsi to English, with access to the original Farsi transcripts of the texts being used, and/or
  2. Inclusion of the original Farsi with every English translation being used, and/or
  3. An examination of variations in translation (e.g. literal translations vs. approximations) of the texts under study. The author would typically seek out the opinions of professionals and native speakers of Farsi, and then would have presented the most plausible of the translations.

In addition to the standard interpretive practices mentioned above, a credible advocate would take pains to understand and explain any quotes in their exact context, to avoid misrepresenting the intent or focus of such statements, translated or otherwise.

Mr Cotler appears to have disregarded academic rigour and the importance of context. Unfortunately, many of the translations used to support Mr Cotler’s arguments are:

  1. Known to be of questionable origin,
  2. Presented out of context, so as to misrepresent the intent of the speaker,
  3. Falsely identifying Israel itself as the focus of the hostility,
  4. Already proven to be inaccurate and thus speciously used.

Each of these assertions is explored below, with examples provided.



3.1  Questionable sourcing of translations


Mr Cotler has clear preferences when choosing the translations to argue his central hypothesis of a genocidal Iran. He does not mention any difficulties or disagreements among the English translations of statements made by Iranian leaders. This is partly because Mr Cotler obtains most of his translations from highly partisan sources and advocacy groups.


3.1.1  Example: Questionable sourcing of translations

Mr Cotler uses the opinion piece written by Joshua Teitelbaum, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and published in the Jerusalem Post, as a reference six times. Yet Mr Teitelbaum argues that it is not important if the translations are not literal ones because the genocidal intention is somehow still there. “Scholars continue to soft-pedal the Iranian President’s words,” Mr Teitelbaum writes. “Those who seek to excuse Iranian leaders should not remain unchallenged when they use the tools of scholarship as a smokescreen to obfuscate these extreme and deliberate calls for the destruction of Israel.”[10]



3.2  Concealing the context for a translated statement


If Mr Cotler is to convince the reader that Iranian leaders seek the genocide of ethnic Jews, he has the responsibility of providing their statements in context, and not ignoring context which would lead to a much different interpretation. If the timing, intent, audience or context of a comment is pertinent to interpretation, Mr Cotler should provide it. Lamentably, in many of the cases that CJPME examined, Mr Cotler failed to inform the reader of important context regarding the quotes and translations used.


3.2.1  Example: Ignoring the context of active hostilities

On page 18, Mr Cotler claims that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has called Israelis “cattle,” and alleges that this is evidence of dehumanizing process which precedes genocide. The quote Mr Cotler provides is “g) ‘like cattle, nay, more misguided’”. He does not provide the full quotation which is from a speech given by President Ahmadinejad at the height of Israel’s war on Lebanon, on August 1st, 2006:

Look, they are destroying homes with the people inside. They are burning fields. Neither children nor adults are safe from them. With laser-guided bombs, they attack shelters of defenceless women and children leaving them in a pool of their blood. They have no boundaries, limits, or taboos when it comes to killing human beings. Who are they? Where did they come from? Are they human beings? They are like cattle, nay, more misguided.[11]

Clearly, Mr Ahmadinejad is venting his fury about the war in Lebanon, not constructing a careful argument for genocide.


3.2.2  Example: Ignoring the context of the word “Zionism”

While more discussion on Zionism/Israel is provided below, it is important to note that in Mr Cotler’s discourse, the two are presented as one and the same. Any Iranian criticism of Zionism is automatically subsumed into Mr Cotler’s discussion of Iranian intentions against Israel and/or Jews, and Iranian references to Zionism/Zionist are translated to Israel/Israeli or Judaism/Jew. To the reader unfamiliar with the sensitivities of the Middle East, this goes unnoticed, but one must assume that Mr Cotler, given his familiarity with Middle East rhetoric, is aware that he misleads his reader.

It is also surprising that Mr Cotler would equate any anti-Zionist remarks attributed to Iranian leaders as being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic when Mr Cotler even uses the anti-Zionist website, volatairenet.org, as a source in his petition. The website volatairenet.org which Cotler references on page 16 states that it is opposed to racism, anti-Semitism, apartheid and Zionism.[12]

Mr Cotler gives great importance to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged statement to “wipe Israel off the map.” This alleged statement has been badly mistranslated in the mainstream media (see 3.4 below), but it has also been removed from its context in the petition. Mr Cotler writes that “When President Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’, he was speaking to thousands of students at a conference entitled the ‘World Without Zionism’,” An astute person might have wondered then why the conference had not been called the “World Without Israel” if this were indeed the message delivered there.



3.3  Falsely identifying Israel as the focus in translations


In the rhetoric around the Middle East, it is important to distinguish key terms. Mr Cotler has conveniently ignored key distinctions in his petition’s discourse, distinctions which are nonetheless respected by the individuals he is quoting and translating. Some of the distinctions lost in Mr Cotler’s discussion are the following:

  1. Distinction between Zionism and Israel. Zionism[1] is anathema to most non-Jews in the Middle East, as it represents a threatening colonial and/or expansionist intent in the region. While many in the Middle East accept the inevitability of Israel as a state, they are still highly intimidated by notions of Zionism, and Israel’s decades-long occupation of lands unallocated to it by the United Nations only serves to justify this fear. Thus, when Mr Cotler quotes an Iranian leader calling for an end to a Zionist regime (i.e. expansionist) and fails to call it out as such, he is being conspicuously misleading to his reader.
  2. Distinction between Zionist and Jewish/Israeli. Not all Zionists are Jews and not all Jews are Zionists, as evidenced by the plethora of Jewish anti-Zionist organizations (e.g. Independent Jewish Voices in Canada.) Nevertheless, Mr Cotler tends to equate anything said about Zionists to something said against Jews or Israelis. As President Ahmadinejad told the BBC in July, 2008, “creating an objection against the Zionists doesn’t mean that there are objections against the Jewish.”[13] Jews live in Iran and are represented in its parliament.

The important distinctions mentioned above are disregarded in Mr Cotler’s discussion involving translated texts, especially in Mr Cotler’s discussion of translated metaphors.


3.3.1  Example: Falsely positioning metaphors against Zionism/Zionists

On page 17 of his petition Mr Cotler writes that as in Nazi Germany and in Rwanda, Jews and Israelis are being labelled with “biological euphemisms” as a part of the “genocide-fostering process.” Nevertheless, of the nine derogatory “biological euphemisms” which he goes on to list as examples of labels used in Iran to dehumanize “Israelis and Jews” none but one refer directly to either. Others either refer to the state of Israel or the “Zionist regime.” While the rhetoric of Iranian leaders can be excessive, inappropriate and provocative it does not amount to a concerted effort to dehumanize Jews for the purpose of genocide.

The first of nine examples he provides is “a) ‘filthy germ’ and ‘savage beast’” and the source he provides is an article in Ha’aretz, an Israeli newspaper, in which the terms are quoted but not in their context — meaning the full phrases of the statements are not available. The article alleges that: “Ahmadinejad’s remarks were broadcast on Iranian television on Wednesday, in which he called Israel a “filthy germ” and “savage beast” established by Western states in their bid to dominate Middle East nations.”14 However, the Joshua Teitelbaum article in the Jerusalem Post that Mr Cotler cites does provide the derogatory “biological euphemism” within the phrase it was said, which is: “In the Middle East, they [the global powers] have created a black and filthy microbe called the Zionist regime, so they could use it to attack the peoples of the region, and by using this excuse, they want to advance their schemes for the Middle East.”

Mr Cotler writes that it is Israelis and Jews which have been labelled with dehumanizing euphemisms, yet, in its entirety, the statement makes clear that it is the Zionist regime which is being referred to as a “black and filthy microbe.” The statement is clearly a hyperbolic rant against the military operations and occupations of the Israeli government and not a “genocide-fostering process” of dehumanization.


3.3.2  Example: Falsely positioning calls to action against Zionism/Zionists

As we have seen, Mr Cotler often uses quotes by placing them out of context or manipulating the way they are presented. For example on page 33 Cotler writes “President Ahmadinejad has repeated this call for genocide many other times as well.” He then lists examples of these apparent calls for genocide. In none of these examples is Israel even mentioned; there are only references to the ending of the Zionist regime in Israel. When Israeli politicians call for regime change in Gaza no one would conclude they are advocating genocide.

Any statement by Iranian leaders, it seems, regardless of the content or context, demonstrates to Mr Cotler a genocidal intent.



3.4  Retaining translations known to be inaccurate


Fortunately, Mr Cotler is not the first scholar to explore the content and intent of Iranian statements regarding Israel and/or Zionism. As a result, Mr Cotler is often reworking or repositioning the research, translations and conclusions of others. In fact, as with any academic pursuit, the dialog on these topics expands and corrects as the body of knowledge is studied and analyzed. Thus, it is quite surprising that Mr Cotler chooses to ignore the collective analysis and conclusions of the academic community that preceded him, especially as it relates to translations. Nevertheless, Mr Cotler ignores academic consensus on certain texts, in order, it seems, to provide a much more inflammatory conclusion than would otherwise be possible to reach.

A segment of a speech made by President Ahmadinejad was mistranslated in much of the Western media as a call to “wipe Israel off the map.” The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) provides the literal translation of the speech in which President Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying that the “Imam [Khomeini] said: ‘This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.’”[15] Given the importance he gives to Mr Ahmadinejad’s statement, and since he uses MEMRI as a source in his paper a total of 20 times, shouldn’t Mr Cotler be familiar with this transcript?

Mr Joshua Teitelbaum, the Visiting Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, whose article Mr Cotler paraphrases and cites 6 times in his own paper[2], gives the translation as being: “In an address to the ‘World without Zionism’ Conference held in Teheran on October 26, 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: ‘Our dear Imam [Khomeini] ordered that this Jerusalem-occupying regime [Israel] must be erased from the page of time. This was a very wise statement.’”[16] The brackets in the quote were added by Mr. Teitelbaum who chooses not to explain how “Jerusalem-occupying regime” equates with Israel, the physical and geographical entity.

It seems odd that Mr Cotler, surely aware of the more accurate and complete translation, would elect to only use a shortened, non-literal version when even Mr Teitelbaum explicitly acknowledges in his article, which Cotler cites six times, that:

Juan Cole of the University of Michigan argues that Ahmadinejad was not calling for the destruction of Israel, saying, “Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian.” The British Guardian’s Jonathan Steele argued that Ahmadinejad was simply remarking that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” Steele continues: “He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The ‘page of time’ phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon.”[17]

Mr Cotler does not trouble himself with the literal translation, the statement’s context, or even who or what the statement is about.




4  Issue: Misrepresenting the context of Middle East rhetoric

The Middle East has been a volatile part of the world through much of modern history. The comments made by Iranian or other Middle Eastern leaders reflect the realities and concerns that affect the region as a whole. Mr Cotler may wish to present his arguments against Iran in a vacuum, hoping the reader will assume that Iranians were born with animosity against Israel, but this is not the case. Peoples of the region are scandalized by decades of Western colonialism, intervention and double-standards, and the rhetoric of their leaders reflects this. A serious analytical work would incorporate this and other forms of context into its discussion.

Mr Cotler, unfortunately, ignores all such context, be it wars, occupations, or other factors. More specifically, Mr Cotler’s petition ignores contextual realities in four important areas:

  1. The reality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian Territories, as context to comments
    made by Iranian leaders.
  2. Historical realities, i.e. contemporaneous context to comments made by Iranian leaders.
  3. The military dominance of Israel in the region, and its impact on Iranian and other leaders.
  4. The geographic realities (i.e. relative proximities and distances) and the influence that such realities must have while interpreting Iranian rhetoric.

Each of these contextual omissions in Mr Cotler’s discourse is explored with examples below.



4.1  Ignoring the context of the Israeli aggression in the Middle East


The single most disruptive event in modern Middle Eastern history was the partition of Palestine by the United Nations in 1947, and the subsequent establishment of Israel in 1948. This created at least 700,000 Palestinian refugees, who are now dispersed throughout the Middle East. In 1967, Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. It ignored UN Security Council Resolution 242 obligating it to withdraw from these territories and the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza have been living under this occupation since 1967. Over the years, in order to crush the Palestinian leadership struggling for an end to occupation Israel has attacked Jordan and invaded Lebanon.

On page 43, Mr Cotler writes that “The Iranian genocidal narrative has found expression in the training, arming, financing, recruiting, and instigating of terrorist movements [Hezbollah and Hamas] whose objective is itself genocidal, whose ideology is anti-Semitic, whose instrumentality is trans-national terror, and whose reach is global.”

It is deceptive of Mr Cotler to attempt to portray Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies of Iran bent on genocide and terrorism. He disregards how and why these two groups came into being: both being formed to oppose local Israeli occupations. Israel has also caused the deaths of an overwhelmingly larger number of people than Israelis killed by either Hezbollah or Hamas.1819 Therefore, one cannot accept Cotler’s assertion that both are merely Iranian proxies with genocidal objectives.


4.1.1  Example: The context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza

Zionism refers to a political movement which is perceived as expansionist and colonial in character by non-Jews in the Middle East, in no small part due to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, its annexation of Jerusalem and its colonization of Palestinian and Syrian lands by armed and fanatical Jewish colonists.

At no point does Mr Cotler ever speak to the Israeli occupation or any of the Israeli actions to which Iranian leaders refer to. According to Cotler, since no historical context enters his analysis, terms such as “occupying Zionist regime” are synonymous with the whole physical Israeli state and not with the clear political implication such a term should truly connote.

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 meant that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled of what is now modern Israel and lost their homes. This refugee problem has still not been resolved. Israel has been occupying Christian and Muslim Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza for over forty-years and no solution (whether in the form of two independent states or one bi-national state) has yet been reached. Israel continues this occupation and its colonization of occupied lands[20] in contravention of International Law and UN resolutions. Human rights organizations, including Israeli ones, have thoroughly documented the violations of international humanitarian law carried out by Israeli Security Forces which include extrajudicial assassinations, torture, house demolitions as punishment, collective punishment and detentions without charge or trial.[21][22][23][24][25] These are all legitimate concerns for the region. Mr Cotler provides no frame of context in which Arab countries and Iran may have reasons to show an aversion to the Israeli regime occupying Palestinian lands. If he had, it would emasculate his argument that referring to Israel as an “occupying regime” is only a way of delegitimizing it as a preamble to a genocidal nuclear strike.


4.1.2  Example: The context of hostility between Israel and Hezbollah

Hezbollah was created in reaction to Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Its primary objective was to end Israel’s military occupation of Lebanon which began in 1982 and only ended in 2000. Issues remain unresolved between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon has a territorial claim over the Shebaa Farms which Israel occupies, and Lebanese prisoners remain in Israeli jails. Mr Cotler would have the reader believe that there is no context to the existence of Hezbollah, and that it does not have any legitimate grievances with Israel.



4.2  Ignoring the historical realities


Whether on a yearly, monthly or daily basis, violence regularly flares up in the Middle East, and comments are made in the midst of virtually ongoing conflicts, wars, occupations, and military strikes. If a particularly provocative comment were made by an Iranian leader at a specific historic juncture, the reader should be made aware of this context. Mr Cotler, however, does not inform the reader of this context.


4.2.1  Example: Ignoring the context of all-out war

Mr Cotler likes to quote statements without giving the context in which they were said. In example, on page 27, Cotler quotes Iranian leaders attempting to “demonize” and “dehumanize” Jews. He writes:

Thus, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls Israelis “bloodthirsty barbarians”, he is not only demonizing and dehumanizing them, but he is also characterizing them as threats to humanity as a whole. His comments that Israelis have “no boundaries, limits, or taboos when it comes to killing human beings”, that Israel is “fighting a war against humanity”, [...] need to be understood in this context. (p. 27)

The context which Mr Cotler does not mention, however, is that all of these comments were made during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, at which time Israel bombed civilian areas, killing more than 1,000 Lebanese. Given the background, these statements seem more like extreme expressions of outrage than signs of Iranian officials making it clear that “their complaint is not simply a political/diplomatic one with the State of Israel. It is an existential one, targeted at the Jews and Israelis personally,” as Cotler concludes. (p. 27)



4.3  Ignoring the military realities


The Petition takes it as a given that the Israel of 2009 faces a grave existential threat. Israel is positioned as a beleaguered underdog in a hostile region, fighting for its mere survival. While it is more dramatic to position the Petition’s “threat of genocide” arguments in such a context, such an assumption does not reflect reality. In fact, rather than being an underdog fighting desperate defensive wars, Israel is better seen as a militaristic, well-armed, well-trained, and belligerent regional player. Israel’s bellicosity is expressed in a number of ways, and once clarified, makes the Petition’s arguments seem outlandish.


4.3.1  Example: Israel as the region’s only nuclear power

Cotler strives to create the impression that Israel is facing an existential threat from a formidable enemy. At no point does Cotler mention the fact that Israel has a nuclear and chemical arsenal. Describing Iran as being an existential threat to a nuclear Israel which has full US backing is somewhat startling. Furthermore, Iran is fully aware that the use of a nuclear weapon on Israel or any other country would be an act of national suicide. The world’s response, especially of nuclear countries such as France, the United Kingdom and the United States, would probably be swift and devastating.

Nuclear proliferation presents a major threat to Middle East security and stability. Canada is staunchly opposed to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, as elsewhere, and espouses the long-term goal of total nuclear disarmament. Israel is the sixth nation in the world to have acquired nuclear weapons capacity. It remains the only state in the Middle East to have such capabilities. Israel has been pursuing a deliberate policy of ambiguity towards its nuclear arsenal in order to avoid the political costs of being declared a nuclear state. As a non-signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, its nuclear activities are not subject to international inspection. Israel’s nuclear arsenal poses a tremendous threat to regional stability and global security. Cotler should therefore call upon Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) instead of singling out Iran (and making not the slightest mention of Israel’s responsibility for introducing nuclear weapons into the region.)

Israel’s nuclear status hampers efforts to negotiate with neighbouring states for a nuclear-free region. States in the Middle East are much less likely to allow for stricter export and customs controls and intelligence cooperation with key NPT states and institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency if Israel is not held to the same nuclear standards.


4.3.2  Example: Israeli leaders have made provocative threats

Cotler’s line of argument that remarks made by Iranian leaders are proof of genocidal intentions omits similar comments made by Israeli leaders. Israeli politicians and religious leaders have made similarly menacing and inflammatory remarks, ranging from Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, threatening a Holocaust on Gaza,[26] to Deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, threatening to attack Iran.[27] Israel carried out a major military exercise in June, 2008, which “appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”[28] Important figures in Israel openly discuss “nuking” Iran, as did notable Israeli historian Benny Morris in a widely published op-ed.[29] On the other hand, Iran has stated that it has no intention of attacking Israel;[30] though there is no mention of this in Mr Cotler’s paper.


4.3.3  Example: Israel as regional superpower

As mentioned above, Israel is the sole nuclear power of the region and enjoys US backing at the political and diplomatic levels, as well as militarily and financially. Its arsenal of advanced conventional weaponry (often based on US technology) would allow it to respond to any attacks from the region quickly and with devastating results.


4.3.4  Example: Israel as military occupant of non-Israeli lands

Israel has maintained the longest military occupation in modern history. Since 1967 it occupies the West Bank and Gaza as well as parts of Syria and Lebanon. The occupation of the Palestinian territories has been maintained through gross violations of international humanitarian law as described in section 4.1.1.


4.3.5  Example: Israel as the aggressor in the Middle East

With the exception of the 1973 War, Israel’s wars against its neighbours were started by Israel itself. Israel’s conduct during these wars has earned it the condemnation of the international community for its disregard of the principles of proportionality and necessity which govern the use of force. Israel’s disregard for civilians in conflict is exemplified in its deliberate and total destruction of the Syrian city of Quneitra in 1974, its destruction of Lebanon in 1982 and again in 2006, its collective punishment of the population of Gaza, its destruction of Gaza in 2008-2009, and its targeting of UN facilities during its war on Gaza. Veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, sums up the civilian cost of Israel’s wars since 1982 in a January, 2009, article entitled “Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask”:

Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?[31]


4.3.6  Example: Palestinians face the real existential threat

Palestinians face an existential threat as their culture and heritage is being lost through decades of occupation and the Israeli refusal to recognize their right to an independent state. The following pose an acute existential threat to the Palestinians:

  1. Millions of refugees in diaspora, forbidden to return to their homes by Israel
  2. Palestinian territory separated into bantustans, prevented from developing in unison
  3. Palestinians in Israel being prevented from being taught Arab history
  4. Attempted banning of Arab political parties in Israel
  5. Laws to block emigration of spouses of Palestinians
  6. Palestinians prevented from having their own state
  7. Permit and residency laws in the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem



4.4  Ignoring the geographic realities


When brought into the discussion, the geography of Iran and the Middle East is also an important element in evaluating the seriousness of the Petition’s claims. While it is convenient to suggest parallels between past genocides and that foretold by the Petition, the simple geographic differences and obstacles are staggering. The Petition fails to bring any of these considerations to the attention of the reader.


4.4.1  Example: The lack of necessary proximity between Israel and Iran

Mr Cotler repeatedly draws comparisons to past atrocities, but fails to mention obvious differences such as that Iranians and Jews do not live in a same country where Jews would be a weak minority, such as the Tutsis were in Rwanda or the Jews in Germany and then Europe. In fact Tehran and Tel Aviv are separated by about 1,600 km.


4.4.2  Example: A nuclear attack on Israel would kill millions of Palestinians

If Iran did have genocidal ambitions for the Jews of Israel it would be impossible for it to launch a nuclear attack on Israel without killing millions of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs—those who live inside Israel and those who live in the adjacent occupied territories. Since the speeches by President Ahmadinejad and “anti-Israeli” events Mr Cotler discusses often protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its killing of civilians, it seems it would be somewhat at odds with Iran’s rhetoric to then turn into dust those very same Arabs whose condition Iranian leaders deplore. And this does not mention the parallel danger of fatally damaging and contaminating neighbouring Arab lands and populations.




5  Issue: Other elements of shoddy scholarship

With a Petition which makes such serious allegations as the one submitted by Mr Cotler, one would expect the scholarship and logic to be bulletproof and fully defensible. Unfortunately, the Petition incorporates a number of additional examples and arguments which, when examined more closely and in context, actually take away from the Petition’s arguments.



5.1  Unsupported assertions to build the genocide case


Mr Cotler, on page 44, of his petition writes: “One of the most notorious terrorist attacks organized by Iran occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On July 18, 1994, Argentina suffered the most devastating terrorist attack in its history when the Jewish-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) community centre was bombed. 85 persons were murdered and 300 were wounded.” Mr Cotler provides no references for this bold assertion that Iran had somewhat masterminded or carried out this attack.

Instead, he continues by writing that “After a serious and extensive investigation, Argentinean prosecutors concluded that the bombing was masterminded by Iran—that it was conceived, planned, and ordered by the ‘highest echelons in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’.” Immodestly, Mr Cotler submits his own writing, an Op-ed which appeared in Canada’s National Post as a source for this information, and a second article from the New York Times. Mr Cotler’s inability to read in a critical manner is perhaps most tellingly revealed by the second source in which it is written that “No one has been convicted of carrying out the attack despite a lengthy investigation marked by accusations of judicial misconduct and a government cover-up [...].”[32] How then has Mr Cotler just assured the reader that “a serious and extensive investigation” had taken place?

In fact, former Argentinean President Néstor Kirchner has called the investigation a “national disgrace,”[33] and the president at the time of the attack, Carlos Saúl Menem, has been accused “of having deliberately undermined the official inquiry into the attack.”[34] In 2004, members of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police were standing trial for having allegedly played a role in the bombing, though they were eventually cleared, and in 2005 the judge in charge of the inquiry, Juan José Galeano, was fired for having “been involved in bribing a key witness during his investigation.”[35] It is difficult not to conclude that Mr Cotler is deliberately being misleading.

In his own piece “Iran: Guilty as Charged,” Mr Cotler writes: “Argentinean Special Prosecutors have found that senior Iranian government officials [...] are responsible for the July, 2004 bombing of the Jewish Cultural Centre in Argentina (AMIA). [...]In 2004, as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I told a meeting of the Organization of American States’ ministers of justice to make this case a priority.”[36] The fact that Mr Cotler makes no mention of the irregularities of the investigation and that he speaks with such certainty on the matter when he does not even get the date of the bombing right in his own article (July 18, 1994), suggests he is a man with an agenda, and something nearing a vendetta.



5.2  Unsupported logical leaps


In his petition, Mr Cotler attempts to portray the Iranians as bloodthirsty and murderous. He cites alleged Iranian responsibility or complicity in the attack on the AMIA and a 1992 political assassination of “three leading members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and one of their supporters in Berlin,” (p. 45) as evidence that “By outsourcing its actions to movements that share its intentions, Iran seeks to deflect attention away from the murder it seeks while continuing to advance its genocidal goals. Accordingly, it should not be surprising that Jews and Israelis are among the most frequent – though not by any means the exclusive – targets of this regime.” (p. 43)

Mr Cotler’s logic in this statement is very unclear: how does an alleged indirect Iranian involvement in an act against Kurds support his thesis for a genocidal intent against Jews?

Following Cotler’s line of reasoning, Israel would certainly be guilty of the same “outsourcing” and “genocidal goal” for its responsibility in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon. In this incident, the Israeli Armed Forces surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps outside Beirut and allowed in their Phalangist allies to kill and rape unarmed civilians. Israel’s Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon, was found personally responsible by Israel’s own Kahan Commission. He still went on to become Prime Minister of the country. The UN General Assembly called the massacres “an act of genocide.”[37] Yet even this example does not fully parallel Cotler’s logical leap, as the Phalangists were killing Palestinians and not some unrelated group, e.g. Armenians, or Druze.



5.3  Single-minded demonization of Iran


Overall, the Petition seems to want to demonize anything Iranian, drifting far and wide from the genocide arguments to find something bad to say about Iran. While one may certainly accuse the current regime in Iran as being highly autocratic, it is quite another thing to accuse it of seeking to perpetrate genocide.

Section E of Mr Cotler’s petition deals with domestic human rights abuses in Iran. The section discusses violations of human rights in Iran looking as far back as the beginning of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Puzzlingly absent from his indictment are the human rights violations which took place prior to the revolution, under the rule of the Western-backed Shah of Iran.

There is no question that human rights violations are rampant in Iran. The problem is, once again, the one-sidedness of Mr Cotler’s narrative. For example, he writes that “Iran is also the world ‘leader’ in executing children. Since January 2005, Iran has executed at least 26 juvenile offenders.” He may be right, but it would be interesting to contrast that figure with the staggering 955 Palestinian minors killed by Israel between September 29, 2000, and November 30, 2008 (which does not even take into account the minors killed by Israel outside of Israel and the Occupied Territories).[38] One does not excuse the other. But it is difficult to not arrive at the conclusion that Mr Cotler is guilty of unrelentingly singling out and demonizing one nation.

Human rights violations undoubtedly take place in Iran. They also most definitely take place in Israel. The same violations against women in Iran described by Mr Cotler in his petition take place in Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States. The United States is itself responsible for abuses at Guantanamo Bay and other secret prisons. Yet Mr Cotler does not explain why human rights abuses in Iran deserve more of the international community’s condemnation than do those of Israel. He most certainly does not clarify how taking action on Iran would benefit the Iranian people as he claims on page 55 of the Petition. Innocent Iraqis most certainly did not fare better when the international community imposed sanctions on the country and isolated it in order to punish its leaders. It is difficult to believe that action against the Iranian regime would not also harm the Iranian people. And this, for what purpose?




6  A Canadian approach to Iran and the Middle East

The position of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is unequivocal: human rights abuses and the killing of innocents is unacceptable no matter who the culprit is. CJPME believes that international law needs to be respected by all, that all parties in the Middle East should be held to the same standard, and that violence is not a solution. CJPME calls on its Canadian leaders to adopt similar principles when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the friction between Iran and Israel. Rather than seeking to polarize sentiments, CJPME would expect Mr Cotler, as a self-proclaimed “peace activist”, to be trying to encourage dialogue between peoples. Solving the Middle East’s problems will require world leaders to promote meticulous fairness, and to exhibit unwavering integrity and honesty. Given his petition, CJPME can only conclude that Mr. Cotler will be excluded from this esteemed company.

References:

  • 1. ^ “The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: The Responsibility to Prevent Petition.” http://www.irwincotler.parl.gc.ca/documents/081209_petition.pdf [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 2. ^ “Canadian Parliamentarian and Former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler Releases Responsibility to Prevent Petition to Hold Ahmadinejad’s Iran to Account for Its Genocidal Incitement.” http://www.irwincotler.parl.gc.ca/detail.asp?lang=e&type=news&sid=3057 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 3. ^ “Israel a guide for activists.” The Anti-Defamation League. http://www.adl.org/israel/advocacy/how_to_respond/anti_semitism_criticism.asp?xflag=1 [accessed 2/13/2009]
  • 4. ^ Whitaker, Brian. “Selective Memri.” The Guardian. August 12, 2002. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 5. ^ Ibid.
  • 6. ^ Ibid.
  • 7. ^ “About us”. David Horowitz Freedom Center. http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/FlexPage.aspx?area=aboutus [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 8. ^ “About JCPA.” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=84&FID=253&PID=369 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 9. ^ Ibid.
  • 10. ^ Teitelbaum, Joshua. “Analysis: Iran’s talk of destroying Israel must not get lost in translation.” The Jerusalem Post. June 22, 2008. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1213794295236&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 11. ^ “Transcript.” MEMRI. August 1, 2006. http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/1216.htm?auth=19b767b6b14939af5cb4a7b5474a8c18 [accessed 12/23/2008]
  • 12. ^ “A propos du réseau Voltaire.” Voltairenet.org. http://www.voltairenet.org/article1.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 13. ^ “Iran leader plays down war talk.” BBC. July 8, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7495869.stm [Accessed 2/10/2009]
  • 14. ^ “UN Chief: Ahmadinejad’s verbal attacks on Israel intolerable.” Ha’aretz. Febuary 21, 2008. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/956306.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 15. ^ “Special Dispatch – No. 1013.” MEMRI. October 28, 2005. http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP101305 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 16. ^ Teitelbaum, Joshua. “Analysis: Iran’s talk of destroying Israel must not get lost in translation.” The Jerusalem Post. June 22, 2008. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1213794295236&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 17. ^ Ibid.
  • 18. ^ “Israel accused over Lebanon war.” BBC. September 6, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6981557.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 19. ^ “Statistics.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 20. ^ “Land expropriation and settlements.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/english/Settlements/Index.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 21. ^ “Israel admits torture.” BBC. February 9, 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/637293.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 22. ^ “UN envoy condemns Israel’s extra-judicial assassinations.” UN News Center. August 25, 2003. http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=8060&Cr=middle&Cr1=east [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 23. ^ Kafala, Tarik. “Israel’s assassination policy.” BBC. August 1, 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1258187.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 24. ^ “House Demolitions as Punishment.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/english/Punitive_Demolitions/Statistics.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 25. ^ “Administrative detention.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/english/Administrative_Detention/Occupied_Territories.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 26. ^ McCarthy, Rory. “Israeli minister warns of Holocaust for Gaza if violence continues.” The Guardian. March 1, 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/01/israelandthepalestinians1 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 27. ^ “Israeli minister threatens Iran.” BBC. June 6, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7440472.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 28. ^ Gordon, Michael and Eric Schmitt. “U.S. says exercise by Israel seemed directed at Iran.” International Herald tribune. June 20, 2008. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/20/america/20iran.php [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 29. ^ Morris, Benny. “Using bombs to stave off war.” New York Times. July 18, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/18/opinion/18morris.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 30. ^ “Iran says it has no intention to attack Israel despite a call by its president to have it ‘wiped off the map’.” BBC. October 29, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4387852.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 31. ^ Fisk, Robert. “Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask.” The Independent. January 7, 2009. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-do-they-hate-the-west-so-much-we-will-ask-1230046.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 32. ^ “Argentina seeks arrest of Iran’s ex-leader.” New York Times. November 9, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/10/world/americas/10argentina.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 33. ^ Rohter, Larry. “Argentines criticize investigation of ’94 attack.” New York Times. July 19, 2004. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE2DB133AF93AA25754C0A9629C8B63 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 34. ^ Ibid.
  • 35. ^ “Argentine bomb probe judge sacked.” August 3, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4743927.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 36. ^ “Iran – Guilty as charged.” National Post. November 3, 2006. http://www.irwincotler.parl.gc.ca/print.asp?lang=e&sid=2032 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 37. ^ “37/123. The situation in the Middle East.” UN General Assembly. December 16, 1982. http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/2ee9468747556b2d85256cf60060d2a6/faabb796990cf95a852560d9005240cf!OpenDocument [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 38. ^ “Statistics.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]

Notes:

  • 1. ^ Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1998) defines Zionism in English as follows: “Among the Jews, a theory, plan, or movement for colonizing their own race in Palestine, the land of Zion, or, if that is impracticable, elsewhere, either for religious or nationalizing purposes.”
  • 2. ^ Mr. Teitelbaum’s paper makes a case very similar to Cotler’s “The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: A Responsibility to Prevent Petition.” In fact, a section of Teitelbaum’s paper quoted by Mr. Cotler is entitiled “Dehumanization as Prelude to Genocide: Israel as an Infection.” Mr. Cotler’s similar section is called “From delegitimization to dehumanization,” in which Cotler writes:

    [T]he next genocidal precursor is the dehumanization of Israelis and Jews through the use of epidemiological metaphors reminiscent of Nazi-like dehumanization of the Jews. [...] Thus, just as Jews were labelled as “vermin” by the Nazis and the Tutsi were labelled as “cockroaches” in Rwanda, so too have Israelis and Jews been dehumanized [...]. (p.17)

    In his section, Mr. Teitelbaum writes:

    A common motif of genocide incitement is the dehumanization of the target population. The Nazi weekly Der Stürmer portrayed Jews as parasites and locusts. In the early 1990s, Hutu propaganda in Rwanda against the Tutsis described them as “cockroaches.” [...] Similarly, President Ahmadinejad has called Israeli Jews “cattle,” “blood thirsty barbarians,” and “criminals.”


Fertile imagination

By Caroline Glick

In an interview with Teheran Times two weeks ago, Norman Finklestein, the notorious Hizbullah and Hamas supporter and all-purpose anti-Semite, called Israel a “vandal state,” and “insane state,” a “terrorist state,” and a “satanic state.”

Last week Finklestein was the keynote speaker at both Emory University and Fordham University during their weeklong annual anti-Israel hate festivals. Speaking to a cheering crowd at a packed auditorium on Emory’s Atlanta campus, Finklestein claimed that Israel conducted its recent Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for two reasons. These did not include Hamas’s deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians, Hamas’s alliance with Iran, its charter that calls for the physical eradication of the Jewish people, its illegal imprisonment of Israeli hostage Gilad Schalit, or its decision to renew its attacks against Israel after a six month period of relative restraint.

In Finklestein’s view, the first reason Israel launched Operation Cast Lead was because Hamas had begun expressing interest in peace. In his words, “Hamas were being too moderate, too reasonable. They wanted a diplomatic settlement to the conflict. To Israel, this is a recurring nightmare.”

The second reason that Finklestein alleged that Israel launched its offensive was because, well, Israel is just plain mean. As he put it, the operation was Israel’s way of “reminding the Arabs who were [sic.] in charge.” It was an attempt to “restore the Arab world’s fear of Israel.” Finklestein cited an unnamed “chief military analyst” to support his claim that Israel conducted a “massacre” in Gaza and did so with malice of forethought.

According to Emory’s student paper, for his libelous, wholly fallacious remarks, Finklestein received a prolonged standing ovation.

In 40 university campuses throughout the US and Canada as well as in Europe and South America, last week students marked what Palestinian terror apologists have dubbed “Israel Apartheid Week.” This was the seventh such week in the US, and the fifth in Canada.

In the lead up to this annual Israel vilification week, pro-Israel students were physically assaulted at San Francisco State University and at York University in Canada by their anti-Israel counterparts. In both cases, university officials opened disciplinary proceedings against the pro-Israel students.

At SFSU, two students were arrested by police for assaulting college Republicans who held an anti-Hamas rally. The two – from the campus’s Palestinian student club and its Socialist union – now insist not only that the charges against them be dropped, but that the university re-educate its students to ensure that they understand that criticizing Hamas and other genocidal terror groups is a form of prohibited hate-speech.

THE LIBELOUS assertion that Israel – the only free, pluralistic, liberal democracy in the Middle East – is analogous to apartheid South Africa first took hold at the 2001 UN-sponsored anti-Jewish diplomatic pogrom at Durban, South Africa. In the action plan approved by the various non-governmental organizations that participated in the conference, activists were called on to bring about the international demonization of Israel as a racist state, and of Zionism – the Jewish national liberation movement – as a form of racism.

When Israel Apartheid Week was launched the next year, many local Jewish student and community activists in the US and Canada demanded that university authorities ban the clearly bigoted event from their campuses. To their chagrin, university presidents and administrators would do no such thing. Claiming that doing so would restrict academic freedom, the propaganda war against the Jewish state went forward and grew. And, in its wake, the freedom of pro-Israel students on college campuses throughout the West has become increasingly constricted and threatened.

Both through formal speech codes barring criticism of anti-Israel propaganda and violence, and through academic and physical intimidation of pro-Israel students by an increasingly vocal and aggressive coalition of pro-Palestinian professors, Muslim and leftist students, Israel’s supporters on university campuses find themselves under assault. Today, seven years after the Durban Conference, Israel Apartheid Week has become a mainstay on the academic calendar, nearly as taken for granted as Homecoming Week and mid-terms.

The use of the term “apartheid” to describe Israel was a deliberate move on the part of Israel’s enemies. It was aimed at neutralizing the capacity of Israel’s supporters to defend the Jewish state and attack its enemies. Case in point is the campus debate which preceded Israel Apartheid Week at the University of Toronto. The student paper published two topical opinion pieces on the upcoming events. One asserted that Israel is an apartheid regime. The other argued that Israel isn’t an apartheid regime.

On the surface, this seems fair enough. But it is nothing of the sort. Israel is the only free country and free society in the region. Pinning its defenders down by confining discussion of the region to the pros and cons of a complete lie serves to only obfuscate the depravity of Israel’s enemies, not to enlighten the public about Israel.

While Israel provides the full rights of citizenship to its Arab minority, Jews are denied the rights of citizenship in every Arab League member state, and the Palestinians’ fundamental demand is that no Jew be permitted to live in a future Palestinian state.

Then too, while Israeli women enjoy full equality under the law, women and girls in the Arab and Muslim world are systematically subjugated and enslaved. Muslim men who wantonly murder their wives, sisters, mothers and daughters can expect to receive little to no punishment for their crimes. The same holds for men who abuse their female relations. For their part, women in the Muslim world have either no legal rights to citizenship and civil rights or those rights are severely limited.

Gays, blacks, migrant workers, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists are systematically persecuted for their sexual preferences, their skin color and their religious beliefs. Even dogs feel the wrath of these societies where, since they are considered “unclean,” children and adults alike routinely engage in their torture and killing.

But under the full protection of self-described liberal university professors, administrators and presidents, and due to the indifference of groups like the World Council of Churches, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization of Women, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, anti-Israel propagandists have been allowed to co-opt the language of liberty to advance the political fortunes of terrorists who aim to destroy liberty.

THE ACTIVE and passive support conferred on anti-Israel leftists and Muslims by these officials and groups has provided them with the ideological cover to take their activism to the next level: anti-Jewish violence aimed at intimidating states, universities, businesses and private organizations into cutting off all ties to Israel. Evidence of the success of this campaign is rife throughout Europe today.

In just one notable instance, for the past week Israeli tennis players, Amir Haddad and Andy Ram suffered the consequences of the Left’s collusion with these anti-Jewish groups in Sweden. Haddad and Ram competed in the Davis Cup tennis championships in Malmo, Sweden.

In an article in Yediot Ahronot on Sunday, Ram wrote, “In my entire athletic career, I have never before experienced such hatred and such a mixing of sports with politics.”

In spite of repeated entreaties by Israel, Swedish authorities refused to move the games from Malmo to Stockholm. With its enormous Muslim population, in recent years Malmo has been the site of some of the worst Islamic violence against non-Muslims – and particularly Jews, women and girls – in the Western world.

Due to threats of violence against Ram and Haddad, Swedish authorities barred fans from attending their tennis matches. As they played their opening match in an empty stadium on Saturday, thousands of violent Muslims and leftists rioted against police and attempted to break down the barriers protecting the stadium with the stated aim of killing Ram and Haddad.

The protesters claim that their desire to murder Israeli tennis players is due to Operation Cast Lead. But this is pure propaganda. Their desire to murder Ram and Haddad stems not from Israel’s military actions to defend its citizens from murder, but from the protesters’ hatred of the Jewish state. And that hatred stems from the same source as their misogyny, their hatred of the US and their support for the likes of Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A 2005 Swedish government report indicated that in 2004, incidents of rape had increased 50 percent throughout the country. A Malmo police report noted that 68 percent of the rapists were minorities. As Islamic scholar Robert Spencer has noted, Islamic teaching views rape as a legitimate act against women and girls who behave in “non-Islamic” ways. In much of Scandinavia as well as in Muslim neighborhoods in France, women have begun wearing veils in order to protect themselves against roving gangs of Muslim young men.

The defilement of women and girls, like gay bashing, has nothing to do with IDF operations in Gaza. It has to do with the pathological nature of the cultures that condone and encourage the violence, and the Western governments and intellectuals who make excuses for it.

ALL OF THIS is hidden away from the public thanks to Western liberals’ willingness to accept the legitimacy of events like Israel Apartheid Week. Due to the complicity of leftist authorities, the international discourse about the Arab and Islamic world and the cultures they have produced is diverted to false allegations against Israel.

Any attempt to point out that Hamas is genocidal; that Iran stones women to death, and systematically executes homosexuals; that Saudi Arabia is the most repressive society on the planet; that Egypt permits and indeed encourages female genital mutilation; that Jordan does not prosecute fathers, sons, husbands and uncles who murder their female relatives; is attacked and delegitimized. Those who raise these issues are accused of hating Muslims and of being secret Zionist agents.

So too, Islamic violence in the West is swept under the rug. For example, to date, no mainstream US media organ has reported that in Buffalo, New York Muzzamil Hassan decapitated his wife Aasiya on February 12 after he stabbed her to death. Just a few years earlier that same mainstream media had embraced this murderer as a paragon of Islamic moderation after he established Bridges TV network, which was supposed to show the American public how moderate Islam is.

For some reason, the same media don’t consider it noteworthy that their moderate Muslim poster boy chopped off his wife’s head a week after she filed for divorce. Certainly, no connection can be drawn between her ritual slaughter and Islam.

Sunday was International Women’s Day. Throughout the West, feminists spent the day congratulating themselves for their great sacrifices for women’s rights.

Last Wednesday Saudi authorities arrested a woman for driving. Her arrest drew no protest from her Western sisters. Obviously, they were too busy defending Finklestein’s freedom to disseminate lies about Israeli women to ignorant college kids to care.


Finkelstein on Gaza (in Spanish)

By Ángel Ricardo Martínez

El autor de ‘La industria del Holocausto’ analiza para La Estrella los conflictos que asolan Medio Oriente y el papel que Israel y su ‘lobby’ en Washington juegan en su desarrollo y posible finalización

Norman Gary Finkelstein, hijo de supervivientes del Holocausto, es probablemente la voz más controversial de cuantas existen en el complejo universo del conflicto palestino-israelí. El recientemente fallecido Raul Hilberg —considerado ampliamente como la autoridad más grande sobre el Holocausto Nazi— aseguró de él que mostraba “coraje académico para hablar con la verdad aun cuando nadie lo apoye.. su lugar en la historia está asegurado, y estará entre los triunfadores a pesar del gran costo que le significará”.

Hilberg, que hasta su muerte mantuvo una admiración mutua con Finkelstein, conocía muy bien los “grandes costos” que ha tenido para Finkelstein el expresar sus demoledores puntos de vista: en 2007 le fue negada la cátedra de la Universidad de De Paul —decisión que muchos atribuyen a la influencia de grupos pro Israel y de su enemigo acérrimo Alan Dershowitz— y hace casi un año, en mayo de 2008, el Gobierno israelí le negó la entrada al país alegando que había tenido “contacto con elementos hostiles a Israel, incluyendo un alto oficial de Hezbolá en Líbano”. Finkelstein fue puesto en un vuelo de regreso a Amsterdam y tiene prohibida la entrada a Israel por 10 años.

Pero nada de eso parece detenerlo. En esta entrevista, Finkelstein —con su tono de voz calmado y su hablar pausado, como si escogiera cada palabra— plasma las ideas que lo han hecho tan controversial. Héroe para unos, traidor para otros: Finkelstein en estado puro.

LOS PADRES DEL SIONISMO SON COMÚNMENTE VISTOS COMO INOCENTES IDEALISTAS. ¿ESTÁ DE ACUERDO CON ESTA CONCEPCIÓN?

Se podría decir que desde la primera década del siglo XX había conocimiento de una población indígena en Palestina. Pero no había conciencia de que se estuviera cometiendo una injusticia, pues esta es una época de la historia en la que el ignorar los derechos de las poblaciones indígenas era considerado algo rutinario. Y, por supuesto, para los europeos el extenderse por el resto del mundo desahuciando y desplazando a las poblaciones. Así que podemos decir que había conciencia de un problema, pero no de una injusticia.

¿COMO LE HAN AFECTADO SU TRABAJO Y OPINIONES SOCIALMENTE, COMO JUDÍO Y COMO INTELECTUAL?

No podría decir que me han afectado socialmente, porque la comunidad en la que siempre he existido ha estado formada por personas que han compartido mis valores humanos básicos: principios de justicia, verdad, etc. Y esa comunidad ha sido constante a través de mi vida. Cuando estuve involucrado en el movimiento de los derechos civiles, o en las protestas contra la guerra de Vietnam, habían personas que no necesariamente compartían mis valores en cuanto a, por ejemplo, raza, y tenía contacto con ellos: digamos gente negra que estaba involucrada en el movimiento de los derechos civiles, y ahora árabes y musulmanes con los que tengo contacto frecuente. Pero en términos de la comunidad a la que pertenezco, se ha mantenido constante a través de mi vida, y es la gente que comparte mis valores.

¿SUS MAYORES INFLUENCIAS?

En cuanto a mi marco ético-moral, diría que mi madre, quien como mi padre, sufrieron el Holocausto nazi, y en términos políticos e intelectuales, mi mayor influencia es el profesor [Noam] Chomsky.

LE PROHIBIERON LA ENTRADA A ISRAEL. ¿POR QUÉ?

Probablemente es una trivialidad, solo para frustrarme, porque he sido muy crítico con Israel y me he reunido con algunos “enemigos oficiales” de Israel.

¿POR QUÉ SE LE NEGÓ LA CÁTEDRA EN LA UNIVERSIDAD DE DE PAUL?

Creo que no se me negó por mis opiniones políticas. Creo que fue por mi activismo político, que es muy distinto: en el ámbito académico uno puede decir lo que uno quiera, mientras se limite a conferencias y publicaciones académicas. Los problemas vienen cuando uno intenta llegar a un público general, cuando te conviertes en alguien activo políticamente.

¿QUÉ PAPEL JUEGA GENTE COMO ALAN DERSHOWITZ DE CARA A LA OPINIÓN PÚBLICA EN EEUU Y EL MUNDO?

Creo que él explota exitosamente sus credenciales para dar la impresión de expertisse y autoridad. Y realmente los usa con una gran efectividad. O al menos lo ha hecho hasta hace poco, usando su bona fide académica para influenciar la opinión pública. Ahora está adquiriendo una personalidad de bufón, pero hasta hace poco, como podía identificarse como un catedrático de la Escuela de Leyes de Harvard, la mayoría de las personas daban por sentado que sabía de lo que estaba hablando.

¿COMO INFLUYE EL “LOBBY ISRAELÍ” EN ESTADOS UNIDOS?

Tiene mucha influencia en moldear la opinión pública en EEUU. Ciertamente le pone una ‘tapa’ a las críticas legítimas que se le hacen a Israel. Es bastante despiadado en sus tácticas, está muy bien financiado y excelentemente organizado. Creo que juega un papel decisivo en influir en el apoyo estadounidense a la ocupación de territorio palestino, pero creo que no hace más que el papel de porrista en otros asuntos como la política de Estados Unidos hacia Irán, Irak u otros lugares.

QUIZÁS SU LIBRO MÁS FAMOSO ES “LA INDUSTRIA DEL HOLOCAUSTO”. ¿PODRÍA EXPLICARME QUÉ Y QUIÉNES SON ESTA INDUSTRIA?

La industria del Holocausto, como expuse en el libro, consiste en organizaciones, individuos e instituciones que han explotado el Holocausto nazi para fines políticos, principalmente para blindar a Israel de las críticas, y también económicos, principalmente para obtener de los Gobiernos europeos lo que se conoce como la “compensación del Holocausto”.

ISRAEL NO RECONOCE EL GENOCIDIO ARMENIO. ¿CUÁL ES EL SIGNIFICADO POLÍTICO DE ESTO?

El motivo es bastante obvio. Israel lleva años tratando de construir una buena relación con Turquía, y Turquía niega oficialmente el holocausto armenio (sic). Así que como deferencia a las sensibilidades oficiales turcas Israel también lo niega.

¿QUÉ TAN LEGÍTIMAS SON LAS ACUSACIONES ISRAELÍES CONTRA IRÁN?

Tenemos que distinguir entre miedos y realidades. Si uno lee la literatura nazi uno ve que había un miedo genuino de la conspiración judío-bolchevique. No existe ningún motivo para dudar que muchos nazis, incluido Hitler, creían que en efecto había una conspiración judeo-bolchevique para destruir Alemania. Hay una diferencia.

Realmente no podemos negar o afirmar la existencia de estos miedos.. en muchos casos son probablemente reales. La cuestión racional es si tienen alguna base. Y hasta donde sé, la preocupación principal de Irán es tomar su lugar como una potencia regional. Israel y EEUU quieren mantener su completo dominio del Medio Oriente, y eso no permite que emerjan otras potencias, sea el Egipto de [Gamal Abdel] Nasser en los 50, o Irán en la actualidad. Es el mismo deseo de controlar y dominar Oriente Medio, y esa parece ser la base racional del miedo israelí, el miedo de ser desplazado, junto con EEUU como la principal potencia de la región.

HABLEMOS DE LA 'AMENAZA NUCLEAR' IRANÍ. ¿CÓMO SE INTERPRETA QUE ISRAEL, QUE NO HA FIRMADO EL TRATADO DE NO PROLIFERACIÓN NUCLEAR (NPT), CRITIQUE A IRÁN, QUE SI LO HA HECHO, POR ENRIQUECER URANIO?

Es pura hipocresía. De existir un miedo real de una potencial arma nuclear iraní, la manera sencilla de resolver ese problema sería declarar a el Medio Oriente una zona libre de armas de destrucción masiva, como se ha hecho en América Latina. Entonces ambos países, Irán e Israel, se verían presionados a desarmarse.

SE HA DEMOSTRADO QUE LA ANP –APOYADA POR ISRAEL Y EEUU— INTENTÓ DAR UN GOLPE A HAMAS EN GAZA EN 2007. SIN EMBARGO, LA VERSIÓN QUE SE VE EN LOS MEDIOS ES QUE HAMAS DIO EL GOLPE. ¿POR QUÉ CREE QUE EL PÚBLICO EN GENERAL IGNORA ESTAS COSAS?

Funciona a través de la repetición. Si te la pasas diciendo lo mismo una y otra vez hasta que se pegue a la mente de las personas. Así tienes a todos los medios, en concierto, repitiendo que Hamas obtuvo el poder mediante un golpe en junio de 2007. Si te la pasas repitiéndolo, la gente empieza a creérselo.

¿CUÁLES FUERON LOS VERDADEROS MOTIVOS DE LA OPERACIÓN “PLOMO FUNDIDO”?

La razón principal de la operación fue la de recuperar lo que Israel llama su “capacidad de disuasión”. Luego de la derrota que sufrió en verano de 2006 en el Líbano, Israel necesitaba probarle al mundo árabe que aún es capaz de provocar el caos y la muerte, y que los árabes no debían salirse de la línea. Eso fue lo que intentó hacer al demoler Gaza.

La otra gran razón fue que Hamas se estaba volviendo muy moderado, muy razonable. Estaba dispuesto a arreglar el conflicto en las fronteras de junio del 67, lo que yo llamo una “ofensiva de paz”. Israel temía que la presión internacional le pudiera obligar a negociar un acuerdo con Hamas.

SE HA SUGERIDO QUE ESTA OPERACIÓN PUDO SER UN “ENSAYO” PARA UN POSIBLE ATAQUE A HEZBOLÁ EN LÍBANO. ¿CREE QUE ESTO PUEDE SUCEDER EN EL FUTURO?

No creo, porque realmente no hubo una guerra en Gaza, fue una masacre. Fue totalmente inclinada de un solo lado. No es una guerra cuando tienes una relación de muertes de 100 a 1, y con 33% de los muertos siendo niños. Nada de lo que hicieron en Gaza es relevante para un ataque a Hezbolá —que es un enemigo de un orden muy superior—, excepto transmitir el mensaje al pueblo libanés de que “si se meten en nuestro camino, los convertiremos en un descampado, tal como hicimos con Gaza”.

HENRY SIEGMAN, EX DIRECTOR DEL CONSEJO JUDÍO AMERICANO (AJC), DIJO RECIENTEMENTE QUE HAMAS NO ES MÁS TERRORISTA QUE LOS GRUPOS SIONISTAS QUE LUCHARON POR EL ESTADO JUDÍO. ¿QUÉ PIENSA?

Creo que la comparación es un poco inexacta, porque Hamas es una organización social, no solo un grupo terrorista. El Irgún y los otros nunca tuvieron intenciones de ser organizaciones sociales, fundar escuelas, financiar diferentes iniciativas de apoyo a la pobreza; eran estrictamente grupos terroristas. Hamas es una organización con una amplia base política y social, así que creo que la comparación es injusta con Hamas.

¿CREE QUE MAHMUD ABBÁS (PRESIDENTE DE LA ANP) ES EL GRAN PERDEDOR DE TODO ESTO?

Depende de como calculamos al perdedor. Los mayores perdedores son las 1300 personas que están muertas. Esas que, al contrario de usted y yo, ya no pueden sentir, pensar o soñar: se fueron. Y eso incluye a 400 niños, muchos de los cuales fueron quemados vivos. Así que, desde un punto de vista humano o moral, esos son seguramente los grandes perdedores.

Los segundos perdedores son aquellos que están heridos, aquellos cuya propiedad fue destruida, cuyas casas fueron demolidas, aquellos que frecuentaban las mezquitas, hospitales y escuelas que fueron destruidas. Esos, a mi juicio, son los segundos grandes perdedores.

Si lo calculamos estrictamente en términos políticos, sí, creo que el señor Abbás es el gran perdedor.

LA SITUACIÓN FUE COMPARADA CON EL LEVANTAMIENTO EN EL GUETTO DE VARSOVIA DE 1943. ¿QUÉ LE PARECE?

En muchos aspectos es acertado, pero ninguna analogía es exacta. Hay características cruciales de lo que sucede en Gaza que también sucedieron en el Guetto de Varsovia: se crea un guetto y se mata a la población de hambre, las personas encarceladas en el guetto —que sufren de falta de comida y medicinas— inician una resistencia principalmente simbólica, como lo fue la resistencia judía en Varsovia. La resistencia de Hamas, los cohetes —que son poco más que fuegos artificiales— son principalmente simbólicos. Y esta resistencia simbólica fue aplastada en ambas ocasiones con gran brutalidad e inhumanidad.

QUIERO PROFUNDIZAR EN EL ASPECTO MORAL DE ESTA OPERACIÓN. TITUS NORTH, PROFESOR DE CIENCIAS POLÍTICAS DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DE PITTSBURGH, DIJO QUE “UN ESTADO FUNDADO POR SUPERVIVIENTES DEL HOLOCAUSTO DEBERÍA SER UN FARO DE MORALIDAD, NO SU HOYO NEGRO”. ¿QUÉ PIENSA AL RESPECTO?

Nadie tiene la responsabilidad u obligación de aplicarse a sí mismo un alto estándar de moralidad. El problema no es que Israel no es un faro de moralidad. El problema es que Israel es un Estado satánico, ha caído muy por debajo de los mínimos estándares de moralidad. Ese es el problema. Nadie quiere ni espera que Israel sea un faro de moralidad. El problema es que se comporta como si hubiera sido incubado en las entrañas del infierno.

LA PERIODISTA ISRAELÍ AMIRA HASS ME COMENTÓ RECIENTEMENTE QUE LA DISCONEXIÓN DE GAZA DE CISJORDANIA ES UNA ESTRATEGIA ISRAELÍ QUE VIENE DE HACE TIEMPO. ¿ESTÁ DE ACUERDO?

Ellos siempre han intentado resolver el conflicto incorporando Gaza con Egipto y partes de Cisjordania con Jordania. Por lo tanto, siempre ha estado ahí como una estrategia a largo plazo.

¿CÓMO HA AFECTADO Y AFECTARÁ ESTA OFENSIVA A LA IMAGEN ISRAELÍ A NIVEL MUNDIAL? Y SI LO HA HECHO, ¿CUÁLES CREE USTED QUE SERÁN LAS CONSECUENCIAS?

Creo que la masacre de Gaza marcó un punto de inflexión, como la masacre de Sharpeville lo hizo en Sudáfrica. Sharpeville no fue tan grave como la masacre de Soweto, pero fue el primer paso para cambiar de manera significativa la opinión mundial, y creo que la masacre de Gaza será recordada de la misma manera.

¿POR QUÉ ISRAEL GOZA DE TANTA IMPUNIDAD?

Básicamente por tres razones. Una, la más obvia, es la impunidad política por el apoyo incondicional de EEUU. Por otro lado, disfruta de una impunidad moral por su explotación del Holocausto nazi. Por último, esta explotación ha sido y es organizada muy eficientemente por el lobby israelí en EEUU.

¿CÓMO HA PERJUDICADO ESTE CONFLICTO A LA IMAGEN DE LA ONU?

No mucho más que la total impunidad de la que goza EEUU en la ONU. No podría decir que Israel ha perjudicado más a la ONU que Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, también es verdad que este es el conflicto de mayor duración en el que la ONU tiene responsabilidad. Lleva desde 1947, y la ONU ha sido incapaz de hacer nada por la intransigencia israelí y la impunidad especial otorgada por el mundo debido al Holocausto nazi, y por el veto estadounidense a las resoluciones del Consejo de Seguridad.

¿TIENE ALGUNA ESPERANZA EN BARACK OBAMA?

No existen motivos racionales para suponer que las políticas de Obama hacia la región serán distintas de las políticas de sus antecesores.

¿FAVORECE USTED LA SOLUCIÓN DE DOS ESTADOS?

Yo no favorezco nada. Esto no es un tema personal, de lo que yo sienta o lo que sienta cualquier persona en la calle.

La solución de dos Estados es un arreglo que ha sido apoyado abrumadoramente por la comunidad internacional y, según la ley internacional, los Estados miembros de la ONU están obligados a acatar la voluntad de las más altas instituciones políticas y judiciales del mundo.

¿CÓMO SE ASIMILA LA IMAGEN DE EHUD OLMERT HABLANDO, EN AQUELLA FAMOSA ENTREVISTA, DE RETIRARSE A LAS FRONTERAS DEL 67 Y AHORA ESTO?

Bueno, él realmente nunca dijo ‘regresar a las fronteras de junio de 1967’. Olmert no hablaba acerca de Jerusalén Oriental ni hablaba de desmantelar los asentamientos. Él hablaba principalmente de algo parecido a la que Ehud Barak ofreció en Camp David en julio de 2000. Así que no debemos tener ilusiones acerca de lo que Olmert dijo aquella vez. El nunca habló de regresar a las fronteras del 67, dijo ‘aproximadamente’, que fue lo que dijo también Barak.

El resto es procedimiento estándar operacional. La masacre de Gaza fue llevada a cabo por personas como Ehud Barak que, por naturaleza y disposición, son dados a cometer masacres. Es un general israelí.

EL PRESIDENTE DE SIRIA, BASHAR AL ASSAD, DIJO RECIENTEMENTE QUE PARA ÉL LA INICIATIVA ÁRABE DE PAZ DE 2002 ESTABA MUERTA. ¿QUÉ OPINA AL RESPECTO?

Ahora mismo no hace ninguna diferencia porque Israel y Estados Unidos se oponen a ella. Está muerta. Si Israel y EEUU deciden apoyarla, todo indica que será revivida. Y la Liga Árabe no es el obstáculo: el obstáculo es Israel, apoyado por EEUU.


Winds of change: This is a NY TIMES columnist writing!

By Roger Cohen

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan, but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain. It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon.

Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.”

Hallelujah.

Precisely the same thing could be said of Hamas in Gaza. It is a political phenomenon, part of the national fabric there.

One difference is that Hezbollah is in the Lebanese national unity government, whereas Hamas won the free and fair January 2006 elections to the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority, only to discover Middle Eastern democracy is only democracy if it produces the right result.

The United States should follow the British example. It should initiate diplomatic contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah. The Obama administration should also look carefully at how to reach moderate Hamas elements and engineer a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

A rapprochement between the two wings of the Palestinian movement was briefly achieved at Mecca in 2007. The best form of payback from America’s expensive and authoritarian allies — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan — would be help in reconciling Gaza Palestinians loyal to Hamas with West Bank Palestinians loyal to the more moderate Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas.

Resolve is not the most conspicuous characteristic of those three allies. But Obama must push them to help. As long as Palestinians are divided, peace efforts will flounder.

With respect to Hamas, the West has bound itself to three conditions for any contact: Hamas must recognize Israel, forswear terrorism and accept previous Palestinian commitments. This was reiterated by Clinton on her first Mideast swing.

The 1988 Hamas Charter is vile, but I think it’s wrong to get hung up on the prior recognition of Israel issue. Perhaps Hamas is sincere in its calls for Israel’s disappearance — although it has offered a decades-long truce — but then it’s also possible that Israel in reality has no desire to see a Palestinian state.

One view of Israel’s continued expansion of settlements, Gaza blockade, West Bank walling-in and wanton recourse to high-tech force would be that it’s designed precisely to bludgeon, undermine and humiliate the Palestinian people until their dreams of statehood and dignity evaporate.

The argument over recognition is in the end a form of evasion designed to perpetuate the conflict.

Israel, from the time of Ben Gurion, built its state by creating facts on the ground, not through semantics. Many of its leaders, including Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, have been on wondrous political odysseys from absolutist rejection of division of the land to acceptance of a two-state solution. Yet they try to paint Hamas as irrevocably absolutist. Why should Arabs be any less pragmatic than Jews?

Of course it’s desirable that Hamas recognize Israel before negotiations. But is it essential? No. What is essential is that it renounces violence, in tandem with Israel, and the inculcation of hatred that feeds the violence.

Speaking of violence, it’s worth recalling what Israel did in Gaza in response to sporadic Hamas rockets. It killed upward of 1,300 people, many of them women and children; caused damage estimated at $1.9 billion; and destroyed thousands of Gaza homes. It continues a radicalizing blockade on 1.5 million people squeezed into a narrow strip of land.

At this vast human, material and moral price, Israel achieved almost nothing beyond damage to its image throughout the world. Israel has the right to hit back when attacked, but any response should be proportional and governed by sober political calculation. The Gaza war was a travesty; I have never previously felt so shamed by Israel’s actions.

No wonder Hamas and Hezbollah are seen throughout the Arab world as legitimate resistance movements.

It’s time to look at them again and adopt the new British view that contact can encourage Hezbollah “to move away from violence and play a constructive, democratic and peaceful role.”

The British step is a breakthrough. By contrast, Clinton’s invitation to Iran is of little significance.

There are two schools within the Obama administration on Iran: the incremental and the bold. The former favors little steps like inviting Iran to help with Afghanistan; the latter realizes that nothing will shift until Obama convinces Tehran that he’s changing strategy rather than tactics.

That requires Obama to tell Iran, as a start, that he does not seek regime change and recognizes the country’s critical role as a regional power. Carrots and sticks — the current approach — will lead to the same dead end as Hamas and Hezbollah denial.