Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The idiot's tale

BBC is happy to inform its readers that

"The Israeli authorities have prevented a senior UN human rights official from entering the country, accusing him of being seriously biased against it. [--]

Last week Mr Falk, the special human rights rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, described the Israeli blockade of Gaza as a massive violation of international humanitarian law.
"Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease," he said in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council.

We have seen the extent of Palestinian humanitarian crisis, here.

But even without the independent evidence, Falk's own words are a study in self-contradiction: If Israel allows "enough food and fuel... to stave off mass famine and disease", there is no danger of a humanitarian crisis, is there? If you need some idea of what a humanitarian crisis looks like, I suggest you look at this, or this, or this.

How biased is Prof. Falk? NYT Isabel Kershner explains:

He has compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi atrocities and has called for more serious examination of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks. Pointing to discrepancies between the official version of events and other versions, he recently wrote that “only willful ignorance can maintain that the 9/11 narrative should be treated as a closed book”

In his capacity as a United Nations investigator, Mr. Falk issued a statement this month describing Israel’s embargo on Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, as a crime against humanity, while making only cursory reference to Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers. Israeli officials expressed outrage.

When his appointment was announced by the Human Rights Council last spring, the Israeli representative said it was “impossible to believe that out of a list of 184 potential candidates,” the members had made “the best possible choice for the post.” (H/T: Z-blog)


" Israel is guilty of 99 war crimes. Why not a hundred? one asks. Well, maybe Falk didn't want to overreach. In the meantime, the Palestinians are the most victimized people on earth." (Marty Peretz, at TNR)

It’s very simple. Bertrand Russell explained how public opinion tends to grant the oppressed a superior virtue. As though the oppressed have to deserve their freedom and rights, beyond their state of oppression. When, however, you deal with an oppressed entity like the Palestinians, with their unfortunate choices in favour of extreme and mindless violence as a way of solving problems, how can you, in good conscience, extol their superior virtue? So, in order to maintain the necessary moral imbalance between oppressor and oppressed, you show that, bad as Palestinians are, they are still superior to their enemy. How do you get about achieving that optical illusion? By stretching and exponentially amplifying any Israeli defensive or pre-emptive security measures, and couching it in Nazi terminology. Bad as Palestinians are, Israelis are much much worse, by orders of magnitude. Israelis are from the planet of Kruelty.

The “Special Rapporteur" can be quite Shakespearean in his choice of language, as can be glimpsed from the statement I highlighted in red, above. So inebriated he is with his own sanctimonious verbosity, that he fails to notice the ultimate in unintentional self-irony:

“It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

I'm pleased that Israel has finally decided to act with greater vigour and discard its pusillanimous tendency to welcome into its home any type of defamer out to destroy its reputation and the well-being of its people. It seems incredible that the UN would expect Israel to cooperate with someone like Falk.


At 10:51 AM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

I sincerely believe that bickering over who is worse, Israelis or Palestinians, bickering over whose language is more offensive to the other's sense of righteousness and forbidding entry to Richard Falk who says things no more critical of Israel than his predecessor serves to reinforce the misconception that Israel has become in fact like the nazis. Falk didn't mean that literally and Israelis know that. It most certainly is a very offensive comparison, but deconstructing language like that doesn't move anything forward. It is a game, in this instance, for Israel to avoid dealing with the realities.

Barenboim, unlike politicians who live in cubicles, sees Israel as it could be and must be to survive. He said,

"Two peoples are fighting over one and the same land. No matter how strong Israel becomes, there will always be insecurity and fear. The conflict is eating away at itself and at the Jewish soul, and it has been allowed to do so. We wanted to own land that had never belonged to Jews and built settlements there. The Palestinians see this as imperialistic provocation, and rightly so. Their resistance is absolutely understandable—not the means they use to this end, not the violence nor the wanton inhumanity—but their "no."

We Israelis must finally find the courage to not react to this violence, the courage to stand by our history. The Palestinians cannot expect that we should have been able to take care of anyone besides ourselves after the Holocaust; we had to survive. Now that we have done so, we must both look forward collectively. The Israeli Prime Minister who can do this has not yet been born."

from ELPAIS.com

Let the critics in. Israel has more than earned the land. They built a great nation. By not seeing how the world could see Israel's desire to maintain the "purity" of the Jewish people by excluding the Palestinians from Israel, Israel is asking for the very comparison that is so noxious to them.

At 1:08 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does Marcia Miner get these false ideas of current events and history from? She is profoundly ignorant about both. And her moral compass is sadly misdirected.

She describe Israeli reaction to monstrous calumnies and slanders as bickering. She misrepresents Israel's reasons for refusing entry to Falk. She claims that Falk "didn't really mean it literally" when he compares Israel to the Nazis, even though it is clear that he does. Then she accuses Israel of playing games when it confronts this evil-mouthed enemy of truth and justice.

She approvingly qoutes Barenboim saying that Jews have never lived or owned land in East Jerusalem or the West Bank. But this is a falsehood. Thousands of Jews lived there until 1948, when they were murdered and driven out, and their property confiscated. Palestinians are not entitled to ethnically cleanse Jews, or to establish a Judenrein Palestinian state, as she claims.

She finally quotes from a notorious Spanish vehicle of antisemitic lies and insults, El Pais, claiming that Jews want to maintain the purity of the Jewish people by excluding the Palestinians from Israel - even though there are 1.5 million Arabs within the 1967 borders today. And she justifies the Palestinians who are trying to exclude Jews from their state!

Her chutzpah is breathtaking.

At 6:44 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

El Pais may be antisemitic, I don't know about them. I quoted what Baranboim said when interviewed by that newspaper. Baranboim is not antisemitic. He's an Israeli citizen, a great conductor and a great humanitarian and I agree with him. And it takes no chutzpah to agree that Palestinians and Israelis must move forward together.

Re; Falk and bickering over who is worse or whose language is more offensive is hardly "montrous calumnies." It's bickering. I say let Falk in. Saying it is "clear" that he means the Israelis are like nazis is whistling in the dark. He said he didn't mean it literally, you say he did. What's your source for that? I take people at their word until proven otherswise.

Nothing is solved as Baranboim says as long as both claim the same land.

Who's right? If anyone knew it would be resolved, wouldn't it be?

At 7:31 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Commenter Petra on Z-word blog linked to this article by Falk:


in which he says:

“Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.

The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy.”

But why even bother to read the entire tirade? The title says it all:

"Slouching toward a
Palestinian Holocaust"


BTW, Falk holds a very high position of responsibility in the UN, owing his selection very much to EU member states, the very EU that in 2004, called attention to the lack of a common definition of anti-Semitism.

Consequently, a working definition was written collaboratively by a small group of non-governmental organizations which specifically pointed out what constitutes antisemitism. Among other items, the following:

“*Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

*Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

*Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or

*Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

By the EU's standards, then, Falk's pronouncements qualify as antisemitic speech.

At 11:18 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

The Zword is a blog. Are they as reliable a source as B'Tselem, a human rights organization in Israel who used the same phrase "collective punishment" as Richard Falk used. Isn't "collective punishment" what the nazi's did to Jews? Should any country condone collective punishment when we know it has led to extermination in the past. Should we ignore collective punishment and justify it. Should we ignore it even though we can't imagine Israelis ever exterminating millions of people. I don't believe anyone should. Punishing 1.5 million people is wrong.

Let Dick Falk in. He doesn't plan to hurt anyone.

Even Salmon Rushdie said "Let the Cat in" when he heard Cat Stevens had been turned away at the airport from entering the U.S. And Cat had supported the fatwa against Rushdie.

At 1:06 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daniel Barenboim is an ill-bred and ill-mannered man, who has never served in Israel's army and has gone out of his way to show disrespect for Tzahal's soldiers. Where his contemporaries have risked and often sacrificed their lives so that the nation of Israel may live, he has chosen to evade service and refused to share in the dangers and discomforts that his fellow-citizens face.

He is also an anti-humanitarian who has deliberately and calculatingly shown disrespect to and inflicted hurt on the most victimized group of people on earth, the survivors of the Holocaust. His duplicitous manipulation of the Israeli Philharmonic, causing it to play, without forewarning, the very same music that accompanied so many Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers, is spit in the face of every Jew who lost family and friends to the German killers.

At 8:14 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Commenter Miner first claimed that:

"He said he didn't mean it literally... I take people at their word until proven otherswise." Which I took to mean that, having found the analogy egregious, Ms. Miner could only assume Falk did not really mean what he said.

When provided with a direct quote in which he reiterates that indeed this is exactly what he meant, she then went on to justify the analogy.

"Isn't "collective punishment" what the nazi's did to Jews? Should any country condone collective punishment when we know it has led to extermination in the past."

Apparently, it was no longer egregious but quite correct!

Perhaps before rushing to opine about the matter, Ms. Miner ought to decide what her opinion actually is.

At 9:17 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The Zword is a blog. Are they as reliable a source as B'Tselem..."

How is this relevant?

Z-word was cited as the blog where I found the link to Falk's article, which appeared on TFF (http://www.transnational.org/Area_MiddleEast/2007/Falk_PalestineGenocide.html).

Is Ms. Miner disputing the authenticity of the article, with her odd critique?

At 10:42 AM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Ms CC: Rather than repeat myself, I refer you to the first paragraph where I addressed your criticism with my disclaimer.

I wrote that it is an offensive comparison, but Falk said that he did not mean it literally. He was not saying that Israel is the embodiment of the nazis. He referred to collective punishment as what the nazis did to the Jews. That is the anomaly.

To Anonymous

I am familiar with the emotion aroused by Baranboim's conducting music by Wagner in Israel. It must be incredibly painful to listen to Wagner for some people, but Wagner was not the enemy, nor is Baranboim. Israel is a democracy and it is absolutely intolerable for any democracy to censor music and censor free speech. When they do they must be challenged for doing so.

That is the crux of this matter for me.

At 11:08 AM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Here is a quote from the commenter Miner on another message board, where she is more explicit in her perorations:

"Barenbaum carries two passports; one is Israeli the other is Palestinian. He has been called an antisemite for playing Wagner (Hitler liked Wagner...how dumb is that to call a person an antisemite because they listen or play the same music Hitler liked)"

Please note the absence of any awareness of pain inflicted upon Holocaust survivors, only their dumbness.

At 1:40 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

CC-I doubt anyone who is familiar with the story is unaware of why people objected. The obvious doesn't always need to be stated.

Baranboim had changed a program that included Wagner the first time and obviously respected there could be Israelis who would object to an encore of a Wagner piece at a later concert. For that reason he asked the audience if they would like to hear Wagner as an encore, and was hit with a barrage of insults. Even survivors have no license to control the musical taste of others. Others did want to hear the Wagner.

"On July 7, 2001 at a concert in Israel Barenboim played an encore and when he "returned for a second encore, he asked the audience if they wanted to hear Wagner. “Despite what the Israel festival believes, there are people sitting in the audience for whom Wagner does not spark Nazi associations,” said Barenboim. “I respect those for whom these associations are oppressive. It will be democratic to play a Wagner encore for those who wish to hear it. I am turning to you now and asking whether I can play Wagner.”
A 30-minute debate followed, with some audience members shouting “fascist” at Barenboim. Dozens walked out, banging doors behind them, BUT THE GREAT MAJORITY STAYED, {my caps), and gave the performance an enthusiastic ovation. Barenboim took full responsibility for the action, saying, “If you’re angry, be angry with me, but please don’t be angry with the orchestra or the festival management.”


Thank you for your pursuit. It is always a pleasure. And yes I mean that.

At 1:51 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"As witnesses not of our intentions but of our conduct,we can be true or false, and the hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself." Hannah Arendt

At 3:57 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Having a battle of the quotes puts distance between those communicating don't you think?

We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose.

At 5:58 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I like this quote:

When someone mentioned the Islamic instruction that "Jews are descended from pigs and apes?"
commenter MM responded:

"Well, Jews are descended from apes just like everyone else despite the outcome of the Monkey Trial."

One wonders. With the kind of baggage she is schlepping around, and upon which stumbles repeatedly, what kind of communication is she after?

At 1:26 PM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

Of course, the baggage I carry is an accumulation of all my life's experiences as is everyone's baggage. We don't live in a stumble free world, do we? It is why our education should never cease.

The communication I am after is as it was prior to your criticism of me personally as a hypocrite via Arendt; however, this is your blog, and a fine one it is, or I wouldn't read it or participate even the few times I have. I do leave any residue from the past on the other side of the door to this blog before I enter. As a guest it would be rude to do otherwise. Shalom!

On the Charlie Rose forum I did make light of the comment you quoted. I am sorry I said that even though at the time it was a feeling I had in common with my closest friends who have come into my life from a variety of backgrounds and whom also refuse to take ignorant teachings by radicals as important. I felt taking it seriously gave the radicals credence and power they don't deserve.

I am not ignorant of what the terrorism of words led to in Germany. Since that quote has stayed with you for over 4 years, I do apologize. It was unwise of me to express such a light view, because I certainly believe that it is a terrible thing to teach even to one child.

At 2:02 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

It's good that you have finally realized the depth of the insult. I shall speak no more of this.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.



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