Creating people's geographies
July 29/30 2006 CounterpunchIn a characteristic op-ed, titled “Arithmetic of Pain”, that would surprise neither his supporters nor his critics, published by the Wall Street Journal on 19 July 2006, Alan Dershowitz sinks to new lows of depravity and inhumanity in his long-standing hate-mongering and truth-twisting anti-Arab, pro-Israel crusade.
One need not go beyond the first paragraph to be hit by a dose of Dershowitz’s typically one-sided, see-no-evil/hear-no-evil attitude when he tackles Israel-related subjects and issues. This eternally unbalanced pro-Israel disposition on his part does Israel no good, for it shows him to be a fundamentalist who has no time for truth and facts. His extremism therefore diminishes greatly the value of any “support” he may providing to Israel.
Dershowitz’s first sentence gives his game away: “There is no democracy in the world that should tolerate missiles being fired at its cities without taking every reasonable step to stop the attacks.” Anyone remotely familiar with Dershowitz’s writings would know that he considers only Israel to be a Middle-Eastern democracy. This erroneous view is shared and perpetrated by most of the corporate Western media, and a distressingly large percentage of the American public. However, Lebanon also, is a Middle-Eastern democracy, and an older one than Israel at that. And since Dershowitz’s statements must apply to all democracies for them to have any useful validity, the Lebanese would be, should be, and are indeed equally justified when they decide to no longer “tolerate (Israeli) missiles fired at” their country.
Likewise, Palestine is another Middle-Eastern democracy, certified as such by no less than former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose authority on these matters, through his work at the Carter Center, which certifies dozens of international elections, is well established. Aren’t Palestinians therefore equally justified in “taking every reasonable step to stop (Israeli) attacks against their cities”?
Alan Dershowitz, intelligent though he may be otherwise, is incapable of entertaining such logical thoughts. It is said that the mark of a civilized mind consists in its ability to entertain two opposing ideas simultaneously. When it comes to Israel, Dershowitz is incapable of entertaining two supporting ideas simultaneously, if such a consideration would make them equally valid for both Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Being a good propagandist, Dershowitz sets the stage early in favor of Israel by defining its actions, and its actions alone, a priori as “reasonable.” Thus, you already know that the rest of his piece will be dedicated to reinforcing that assertion: only Israel is reasonable; the Palestinians and Lebanese never are.
Dershowitz writes therefore: “The big question raised by Israel’s military actions in Lebanon is what is ‘reasonable.’ The answer, according to the laws of war, is that it is reasonable to attack military targets, so long as every effort is made to reduce civilian casualties. If the objectives cannot be achieved without some civilian casualties, these must be “proportional” to the civilian casualties that would be prevented by the military action.”
Thus, Dershowitz implies that Israel’s assault on Lebanon, which has killed close to 500 innocent civilians, compared with 18 Israeli civilians killed by Hizbollah’s response, is not only “reasonable”, but “proportional.” This is a typical racist argument, which states that when you kill one of ours, and we kill 20 of yours, our action is by definition reasonable and proportional. In other words, racists do not assign equal value to the lives of “others” compared to theirs. The U.S., of course, is equally steeped in this racist mind-set, with many Americans continuing to perpetrate Jimmy Carter’s assertion that there was “equal and mutual destruction” between American and Vietnam. The numbers involved speak to the racism and inhumanity that such a statement represents: Americans killed: 52,000; Vietnamese killed: over 2.5 million! “Equal and mutual” in Jimmy Carter’s racist vocabulary become “Reasonable and Proportional” when Dershowitz applies the terms to Israel’s actions.
One need not go beyond the third paragraph of his piece to confirm Alan Dershowitz for the propagandist and liar-on-behalf-of-Israel that he is, since he offers the reader an outright lie. He writes: ” democratic nations (…) deliberately locate their military bases away from civilian population centers. Israel has its air force, nuclear facilities and large army bases in locations as remote as anything can be in that country.” Therefore, he adds: “It is possible for an enemy to attack Israeli military targets without inflicting “collateral damage” on its civilian population.” In reality, Israel does no such thing, i.e. all of its military installations, like ammunition factories for example, are not “located… as remotely as anything can be in the country.” Some, as Jonathan Cook confirms in one of his recent articles entitled “Five Myths”, are located quite close to the city where Cook lives.
Indeed, neither does the U.S. locate its military factories “as remotely as anything can be” from its population centers. However, stating that Israel locates its military installations away from civilian centers, enables Dershowitz to state that all attacks from the Arab side that result in civilian casualties are consequently –and by definition again–not reasonable, since the Arabs could have restricted their attacks to military facilities that are away from population centers. This sets the stage for Dershowitz and Israeli apologists to paint all Arab attacks against Israel as “terrorist” in nature. Furthermore, since these “cowardly Arabs” hide amongst the population, when “reasonable” Israel attacks them, it cannot avoid “collateral damage” no matter how disproportional its actions may be. At any rate, Dershowitz cannot even countenance that Israel could ever engage in unreasonable or disproportional actions.
The above is sufficient to cast at least a reasonable doubt on Dershowitz’s assertions and statements that justify Israel’s every crime, including the obvious and numerous war-crimes that it has been committing in Lebanon and in Palestine. By the way, dropping leaflets inviting populations to abandon their houses, villages, towns and region, before Israel bombs and razes these places to the ground, is not the sign of a “civilized” nation either, as the Dershowitzes of the world proclaim. Emptying a whole region of its inhabitants, as Israel is attempting to do in South Lebanon Lebanon, creating close to one million refugees (out of a total population of less than 4 million) is defined under international law and the Geneva Conventions as a “war crime.” Another word for it is “Ethnic Cleansing,” which was one of the charges for which Slobodan Milocevic was being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court before his untimely death, while the West, including the USA, cheered the court on.
Alan Dershowitz is one of the most prominent Arab haters, Islamophobes, and unconditional war-mongering cheer-leaders of Israel’s criminal actions. On this basis alone, he cannot be described as a “true” friend of Israel. From their cushy offices and comfortable homes in the US, the Dershowitzes of the world will gladly and readily fight the Arabs to the last drop of Israeli blood. All the gains that these cynical apologists seem to have achieved for Israel, are short-term and ephemeral for a simple reason: they are not based on reason and humanity, but on racism and hate. Also, when Alan Dershowitz is faced with the need to discuss an issue that involves Israel, he first checks his logical and moral brains at the door, not to mention his heart. This brings to mind one of Albert Einstein’s famous quips when he said there were only two things about which he was sure — the infinity of the universe, and the infinity of human stupidity. Then he backtracked and said he couldn’t be sure about the universe. He might as well have been speaking about Dershowitz’s heart.
Israel has been committing unending and ever escalating violence against its Arab neighbors for decades. That the Arabs have always had to react, and that the Palestinian and Lebanese people have taken it into their hands to create an effective resistance to Israel’s huge war machine, ought to surprise no one. Yes, I know: in popular mythology propagated by Israel’s propaganda machine, it’s always Israel that “responds” to the provocation of Arab “terrorists”, and it’s Israel that has had to fend off unprovoked Arab attacks against it. This cannot be further from the truth. But to see the truth you need the eyes of a humanist, not those of a racist or those of a self-serving usurper and military occupier of someone else’s ancestral homeland.
American and Israeli propagandists never miss a chance to repeat that Arabs only understand the language of power. In reality, it’s Israel –and America– that only understands the language of violence. Israel’s first reaction to any difficulty is to use extreme force and to cause death and destruction. Demonstrably, diplomacy is never its preferred modus operandi. Far from being “the continuation of diplomacy through other means”, war is for Israel “the replacement of diplomacy by all means.” Israel could have decided to live in peace with its neighbors, were it not for its expansionist, neocolonial policies in search of ever more “lebensraum.” Now it wants to solve its problems by “eliminating” Hamas, Hizbollah, and preferably all Palestinians (there are direct quotes from Israeli ministers advocating the eradication of “all” Palestinians”, children included, because “all are guilty.”) In the past week, a large number of columnists writing in Israeli newspapers have called on Tsahal to level all villages in South Lebanon “on the heads of their inhabitants if necessary.” As reported by the BBC, one if Israel’s ministers, “Eli Yishai of the Shas party, said that after warnings had been given, ‘we must not enter villages where Hezbollah terrorists are hiding before we have turned them into sand boxes.”
The last time someone put in motion the process to bring about such a final solution, it was Jews who were at the receiving end of a terrible genocide. Now that Israelis have acquired enormous power, including more than 300 atomic war-heads, they have succumbed to hubris, forgetting that according to the rules of Greek Mythology, Hubris is inevitably and inexorably followed by Nemesis.
Finally, Dershowitz is one of the greatest practitioners of Orwellian double-speak: for him, “Occupation does not cause terrorism, but terrorism seems to cause occupation.” To borrow the title of Norman Finkelstein’s recent book, the man has truly moved “beyond chutzpah.” And beyond the pale. This is one brazen and cynical up-ender of historical truth and of logical thought, for whom war is peace, and lie is truth. Such Orwellian misstatements are the truth-twisting arrows that fill Alan Dershowitz’s immoral quiver. Those who applaud Dershowitz and cheer him on as he continues to spill his venomous dribble on both Arabs and reasonable Jews, would do well to wake up and turn their heads and minds away from such an out-and-out lying, war-mongering, Israel-hurting racist.
Violence is never the answer. Nor is racism. Nor is hate. Alan Dershowitz is a proponent of all three. Israelis and sympathetic Jews must finally realize that Dershowitz and other uncritical apologists of Israel are neither doing them nor the world any favors.
Quite the opposite is true.
Rachard Itani can be reached at: [email protected]