Saturday, March 01, 2008

America fiddles while the world burns

Israel's deputy defence minister yesterday warned his country was close to launching a huge military operation in Gaza and said Palestinians would bring on themselves a "bigger shoah," using the Hebrew word usually reserved for the Holocaust. News Item - Guardian
David Seaton's News Links
"Relativizing" the Holocaust, comparing it to any other event, diminishing its uniqueness, is considered by Jews and many others as a grave insult to Hitler's Jewish victims and a proof of antisemitism. In what light are we supposed to read the Israeli defense minister statement threatening the Palestinians of Gaza with a Holocaust? Does he mean that since he already has the Palestinians in a concentration camp, that he is now preparing to exterminate them? Is he relativizing the Holocaust?

However that may be, his language is perfectly outrageous.

If I say that, am I "relativizing the holocaust"?

Meanwhile the candidates to the US presidency are lining up to swear eternal loyalty to Israel.

I think that there will be no meaningful debate on Israel, or much of anything else, till after the presidential elections. The elections drain all the vitality from the news cycle. Strangely enough, they put all serious political discussion into the deep freeze. The candidates and their handlers craft positions and try to avoid being shot down. The world burns, but the US elections come first. DS


Anonymous said...

Two points: First, that Guardian piece; they mistranslated the comment (perhaps deliberately, given its views on Israel). "Shoa" means catastrophe; "HaShoa" refers to the Holocaust. Second, the Israelis left Gaza, and haven't had a moment's peace from that area since. Please advise what YOU think they should do - vacate the West Bank (I would eliminate the settlements, by the way), and get shelled from there?

stunted said...

I would like to read what ANONYMOUS would have the Israelis do to change the current dynamic in the Israeli-Palestinian situation. S/he should also notify Claude Lanzmann that his documentary on the Holocaust should be titled "HaShoa" instead of "Shoa." I think Anonymous is deliberately clouding the tenor of the Israeli minister's remarks, which clearly call for massive destruction, with a semantical footnote. Getting accurate, precise translations of statements is of primordial importance in diplomacy, but the minister's language is clearly inflammatory regardless of the meaning one confers on the word Shoah and has nothing to do with diplomacy. Or, to reverse the question, what would ANONYMOUS have the Palestinians do as the walls keep cutting them off, as the water goes rancid, as the hospitals run out of supplies? How many moments of peace have the Palestinians had? One can be critical of Israel without being her enemy.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Anonymous is deliberately clouding the tenor of the Israeli minister's remarks, which clearly call for massive destruction, with a semantical footnote.

The technical name for this is "Hasbara". And the comment was here very soon after I posted to my blog.

Anonymous said...

I am asked "what would ANONYMOUS have the Palestinians do as the walls keep cutting them off, as the water goes rancid, as the hospitals run out of supplies?" None of that happened until after the continued shelling by Hamas. So I ask again, what would you have the Israelis do? Just live with the shelling? I should also say that it is possible to hate the occupation of the West Bank and still recognize that Hamas and others of its ilk would be actively seeking Israel's destruction no matter what Israel did.

Anonymous said...

Many readers of news articles have wondered about facts and opinions attributed to unspecified, unidentified, or other nebulous sources such as "a government spokesman", "a concerned citizen", and "anonymous", among others. I, for one, have come to the point at which I automatically distrust everything I see, hear, and read that is so attributed.
As to the post, Mr Seaton makes his position clear.
Our presidential election is a sad cartoon of importance.
Dead women, children, and non-combatants are an obscenity that Israel can never be forgiven for, no matter what the provocation.
John Gall

Anonymous said...

I use "Anonymous" because I couldn't seem to figure out how else to sign in; it's not to hide. My name for posts is Winston. As for innocents being killed in war - and therefore "Israel can never be forgiven" - please offer ONE single example of ANY conflict in which civilians haven't been killed. Will you "ever" forgive the US for the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been killed? Please, somebody, give me a concrete answer to the question I originally asked: You're the Israeli government, and your citizens are being shelled daily, from an area from which you withdrew. What do you do?

Diane Mason said...

Anonymous Hasbarista:

What would I do? I would have the government of Israel simply declare: "The state of Israel has no territorial demands in the Occupied Territories, beyond those freely agreed to in negotiation with the Palestinians".

With just 22 words, Israel would cut the legs out from under Hamas by showing that the occupation will end through negotiation rather than violence; restore its ruined reputation among its former friends; empower those Palestinians who want a two state solution but are consistently undermined by endless Israeli expansion; and instantly transform its relationship with the Sunni Arab regimes.

But Israel can't do it. Because Israel still wants to keep land that doesn't belong to it, and even those Israelis who know that the settlements are killing them don't know how to get out. Israel hangs on to its handful of cookies, even though it knows its hand will be stuck in the jar unless it lets them go.

So Israel will keep on hammering away at the escalating "security" symptoms that arise out of the occupation, as if they are the crux of the problem, rather than admit that the cure - a two state solution that enjoys near-universal international support and has been offered by the entire Arab world since the Beirut declaration of 2002 - is beyond Israel's ability to deliver.

Anonymous said...

Diane, I totally agree that's what the Israelis should do. I totally disagree that doing that will have any effect whatever on Hamas, or reduce their barrage by one missile. I wish it were otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous (Winston),
No, I will never forgive the U.S. for its role in the murder of non-combatants. As for the answer to your question, Diane Mason has very thoroughly answered you, and I agree with her position. Had I written my version, I would have been much more virulent toward Israel for their actions.
John Gall

Winston said...

Probably no one is checking comments on this post anymore, but I wonder if jeg43 is equally unforgiving of the Palestinians who just killed innocent civilians in Jerusalem. I would bet a lot that the level of outrage isn't nearly the same.