Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ira Chernus and "Myths"

The last time we heard from Professor Ira Chernus, he was complaining about how even J Street just doesn't understand that there is no threat to Israel except the ones in the collective heads of Jews around the world. This time he is back to tell us pretty much the same thing, except this time skewing some news reports to try and back up his claims.

He begins by discussing the latest round of rocket fire and the bombing and the stabbings, of which we are all familiar. He then quotes a Ha'aretz article that says that Israel may have started this particular round of firing in and out of Gaza:
"Hamas does not seem to want large-scale clashes yet. The organization actually has good reasons to believe that Israel is the one heating up the southern front. It began with a bombardment a few weeks ago that disrupted the transfer of a large amount of money from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, continued with the interrogation of engineer and Hamas member Dirar Abu Sisi in Israel, and ended with last week's bombing of a Hamas training base in which two Hamas militants were killed."
What? Hold on for a second. Let me highlight this one sentence for you:
"continued with the interrogation of engineer and Hamas member Dirar Abu Sisi in Israel"
Hamas member? Engineer? Are we talking about the same Dirar Abu Sisi? This guy?:

Remember how when the Huffington Post originally covered that story everyone was screaming about those evil Jews kidnapping an innocent family man? And now all of the sudden here is Professor Chernus, freely admitting that he is a member of Hamas and therefore an enemy of Israel. In fact there are reports that he may even know where Gild Shalit is. Any time the Huffington Post editors would like to inform their audience about these latest developments, that would be just fantastic.

As for the rockets, they were also being fired at Israel back on March 6th, and February 24th, not counting shots fired at IDF units across the border. Yet this is left out of Prof Chernus' narrative, probably because he wants us to look at a very narrow window of time so that we blame Israel for the continuing back and forth and not the terrorist groups that operate unhindered in Gaza. And given that the whole point of his article is that people believe "myths," the fact that he is trying to replace them with myths of his own strikes me as rather hypocritical.

Returning to the quote mentioned above, though he might be able to make the case that the rocket attacks from Gaza are caused by Israel's actions, that is less so with the Itamar stabbings and the bomb attack in Jerusalem. Chernus' source freely states that Hamas was probably not involved with the bombing, so there goes one excuse. But of course all of this is getting away from the point that he is trying to make, that of "myths:"
"We can't expect them to change their ways voluntarily in the foreseeable future. The myth of Israel's insecurity will continue to be the official story in the U.S. mass media and thus the foundation of U.S. discourse and policy about Israel -- unless proponents of peace and Palestinian independence, who are such persuasive critics of Israel's actions, start training their verbal guns directly on that myth."
As usual, there is a logic leap here. Even though in this particular case Israel may have provoked Hamas into responding (and even that claim is somewhat tenuous), that does not mean that Hamas does not intend to do Israel harm. Heck, leave Hamas out of it, Hezbollah still very much threatens Israel from their home in Lebanon. Egypt's government has fallen, and it may turn into another Iran. Syria's government is on the ropes too. Even though Professor Chernus may be correct that all of these security issues are just "myths," the evidence provided in his article does not provide sufficient evidence to defend that claim. Iran has not gone away. Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have not gone away. Denying this only makes Professor Chernus argument weaker, not stronger:
"Otherwise most Americans, no matter how much they know about Israeli violence and oppression, will forgive most of it as unfortunate but necessary measures for national security. If we protect our national security at all costs, by any means necessary, they'll think, why shouldn't the Israelis do the same?"
Yeah. That's a good point. America just bombed Libya for no reason at all, really. Not because Libya posed a clear and present danger to America or its interests. As much as anti-Zionists like to claim that Israel just straight up and invades its neighbors for no reason at all, they have never pulled something like NATO has done in Libya. And as pro-Israel posters like to say, the ugly truth is that no other nation would tolerate from their enemies what Israel has tolerated from the Palestinians. Furthermore, Prof Chernus in no way attacks this argument or answers the question, aside from simply saying "it's not true!!!" See?
"We can take one big step toward a more sane and humane U.S. policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict -- a policy that might some day actually lead toward peace -- by reading the mass media carefully and demanding that they give us real journalism, not just the old familiar myth disguised as news."
I see that Prof Chernus is another member of the "it's true because I say it is" camp. I will say it one last time: The evidence presented in his article is not sufficient to defend the point he is trying to make. I do think it is interesting that he brings up the mass media and claims that they are not "real journalism." Now why would the American media be telling us myths instead of the truth? Hmmm...

1 comment:

  1. If its all a conspiracy to warp people's minds to favor Israel, how would Dr. Chernus explain the deep-seated popular anti-Semitism in the Arab World? In other words, if the Jews control everything, how come the Arabs can see the truth?

    That is something he doesn't account for. Reality can be very inconvenient for Israel bashers' version of events.


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