According to my fellow Huffington Post blogger and editor of OLAM Magazine David Suissa, oppression of Arab people by Arab dictators justifies Israel's brutal occupation of the Palestinians.
I have read, and re-read his piece and can honestly say that it is one of the most ridiculous exercises in moral deflection and intellectual dishonesty I have seen in quite some time.
Suissa argues that Because Israel supports basic democratic freedoms and equality, no one should pay any attention to its occupation of Palestinian territory. He writes:
While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression, while gays have been tortured and writers jailed and women humiliated and dissidents killed, the world -- yes, the world -- has obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As if Palestinians -- the same coddled victims on whom the world has spent billions and who have rejected one peace offer after another -- were the only victims in the Middle East......
Imagine if, instead of putting Israel under their critical and hypocritical microscope, the world's Israel bashers had taken Israel's imperfect democratic experiment and said to the Arab world: Why don't you try to emulate the Jews?
It's hard to know where to start with an argument like this - but I'll give it my best shot.
I would like to preface my critique of Suissa's piece with an explanation as to why I choose to focus on Israeli crimes rather than those of other governments. And it isn't because I hate myself or am an 'Israel basher'.
As a Jew, an American tax payer and a British citizen, I have some influence over what happens in Israel. Whether I like it or not, I have a connection to the country that uses its Jewish identity to garner moral and economic support around the world. Therefore I am concerned with what it does in my name and with my money. While dictatorships around the world appall me, I have little connection to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Speaking out about their crimes may make me feel better, but it doesn't have much effect in the scheme of things. But as a Jewish writer, my opinion on Israel counts. I will no doubt receive a customary email from AIPAC and tons of emails from my fellow Jews who believe I'm a self loathing anti semite. But I don't really care - the stakes for me are not particularly high, while it is literally life and death for the Palestinians.
The truth is that I would much rather live in Israel than in Iran or Saudi Arabia. I believe the country's commitment to equality and democracy are admirable and good.
That does not mean I have to accept its atrocious treatment of the Palestinians, whose land they have stolen and people they have killed in over 60 years of occupation and war.
Suissa flippantly suggests that it is the Palestinians who have rejected Israel's generous peace offerings. This is an outrageous lie that has been proven again, and again and again by anyone faintly interested in the truth. The Palestinian Papers provide fascinating insight into the conflict and negotiations behind the scenes. What is made abundantly clear is that Israel has blocked serious proposals made by the Palestinians and has shown little interest in a just settlement.
Israel has systematically colonized Palestinian territory, using self defense (illegal under international law) as pretext. It has killed many, many times more Palestinians that Palestinians have killed Israelis and continues to build illegally regardless of international condemnation. You just have to look at historical maps of the Israeli occupation to see how much land they have stolen over time and how ridiculous it is to defend their actions.
You can watch all of the above on television. The Israelis do it openly, caring little for international opinion, knowing that in the US, its main financial contributor and enabler, the images will be coupled with analysis that has nothing to do with the reality. CNN, MSNBC and Fox will show you footage of war, razed villages and dead Palestinian children, all the while telling their audiences that the Palestinians brought it on themselves.
Suissa has no doubt conditioned himself to ignore the biting truth about his beloved Israel, preferring to aim his moral outrage where there is no chance of repercussion.
It is easy to point the finger at someone else. It is harder to look in the mirror.
If Suissa truly loves Israel, he should be willing to look at its faults and do his best to help correct them, not cheer lead the increasingly brutal state whose actions are completely unjustifiable.