Saturday May 25, 2013
Israel: The Spin is Coming off the RoseBy Daniel Johnson Salem-News.com
American voices are growing more openly critical of Israel as U.S. taxpayer money is swallowed by the Jewish state.
(CALGARY, Alberta) - Until recently, says Alan Sabrosky in a current story, the old anti-Semitism was about bigotry and intolerance and justifiably condemned. The new anti-Semitism is about any criticism of Israel and its actions, no matter how legitimate and justifiable the criticism.
This latter is where I was until I started working with Salem-News. I’d always been a standard issue supporter of Israel, but that was because my view was formed by the contents of the standard media. Here at S-N, I’ve encountered some “discouraging words” and I’ve become aware that there are two sides to this tragic geopolitical horror show.
What’s changed in the world since the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) was founded in 1913 is the Internet. Until recently they were able to contain the global flow of information. Now more varied information is more readily available to allow citizens of the U.S. to consider different perspectives on where their billions of taxpayer dollars are going and actually judge rationally whether they are doing good or harm.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, in yesterday’s New York Times blog, reported on a meeting between President Obama and sixteen Jewish leaders from fourteen organizations and many high-ranking administration officials. Initially the meeting was to be kept, typically, a secret, but minds were changed and participants were allowed to speak publicly.
One participant, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, argued that the only time diplomatic progress occurred in the Middle East was when there was “no light” between the positions of Israel and the U.S.
“But Mr. Obama pushed back, citing the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
“He said, ‘I disagree,’ ‘’ said Marla Gilson, director of the Washington action office of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization. “He said, ‘For eight years, there was no light between the United States and Israel, and nothing got accomplished.’
This story is interesting for two reasons. The first is that the Israeli position is not uncritically accepted. The second is that most of the comments, while not directly critical of Israel, are starting to ask and present previously disallowed questions and points-of-view. Here are a few of them.
E. Nowak: “Last I heard, Iran and Israel were foreign nations. They are not US states.”
Donald H. : “Is there a point where President Obama is going to meet with Palestinian American leaders or they just too unimportant in this whole thing?”
DC: “Can someone please explain to me why we need to guarantee Israel’s security? They are doing just fine on their own, with the region’s most powerful military and its only nuclear weapons. … Oh by the way, our unwavering support of Israel has earned us the hatred of the world’s billion Muslims. Just not seeing the benefit to the U.S. in this relationship.”
Nick: “Israel has proven that if it were up to them, they would occupy all of what was the British Mandate of Palestine and expel everyone, except those of the Jewish faith. The far right in Israel is just as radical as the mullahs who run Iran. There were a number of times where Israel could have lived peacefully in the Middle East. However, by building settlements on land designated for Palestinians, attacking their neighbors (Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt) has shown that Israel thinks they can do anything they want and are hiding behind a UN mandate and the history of the Jewish people.”
Steve, Philadelphia: “Why does [Obama] feel compelled to assuage American Jews about Israel? Are they Americans or Israelis? I’m of German descent but I wouldn’t think of interfering in international relations between the U.S. and Germany. These people need to decide whether they offer fealty to the U.S. or to Israel. If their allegiance is to Israel, they need to leave here. I wonder how many of them have served in American armed forces. I also wonder how many have served in Israel’s armed forces. The answer to that will show where their loyalties lie. I’m outraged that the U.S. President feels the need to have a private meeting with (supposed) Americans to discuss AMERICAN policy toward a foreign country.” [Note: Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, volunteered for Israel during the first Gulf War]
Louis Anthes: “If Israel is a sovereign nation, then why does it get so much military assistance from the U.S., and why does it get direct aid, without restrictions or accountability?”
mkg: “If Israelis feel unsafe despite the fact that they are a nuclear power with hundreds of warheads, they have the largest army in the Middle East, and they are the largest recipient of aid from the US, they probably will never feel safe. Perhaps they should pursue policies that are more sustainable.”
H. Hilborn: “If we are serious about the settlements it is time to cut off the money that ultimately finances them.”
Z.G. : “Funny, and here I am, thinking Obama is too soft on Israel. I wonder when he’s going to meet with me to assuage my concerns. The first thing I would like him to explain to me is why he requested $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel in FY2010 budget (an increase of $225 million compared to FY2009). At a time when our economy is in shambles and our national debt is at record levels, why exactly are we borrowing more money from China to give billions to Israel every year? I’m sorry if this sounds too harsh, but can’t the Israelis accrue their own debt from China?”
If it looks like I have chosen only the comments critical of Israel, it’s because that’s what I’ve done. The pro-Israeli comments to this blog are standard issue and can be, and have been, read anywhere else. What I’ve tried to show above is what happens when the Israelis and their lobby lose control of the spin.
Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class—a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves—writing and trying to make the world a better place
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