Friday, January 6, 2012

Stephen Robert Slinks Onto the Huffington Post

Stephen Robert is the latest brand-new blogger to join the Huffington Post, because their quote of anti-Israel writers just wasn't up to snuff in the new year. He's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and his most famous contribution to this discussion so far is an article for The Nation called "Apartheid on Steroids," which as you might expect is a multi-page anti-Israel screed. However, he doesn't call for Israel's destruction, making him positively moderate by Huffington Post standards.

His latest article is notable not because of its one-sided nature (that's practically a given at this point) but because of its rather notable dishonesty. He begins by talking very gravely about Naama, the 8 year old Israel girl who was in the news for being the victim of abuse by Orthodox men. However, all of this hand wringing ends up sounding like crocodile tears because after only a couple of paragraphs it becomes clear that his article is a bait and switch: He pretends to care about Naama but the only thing he really cares about is lambasting Israel for mistreating Palestinians:
"But what about the Naamas in the West Bank? Hardly a day passes when Palestinian kids are not attacked with rocks or worse by extremist Jewish settlers on the occupied West Bank."
Is that really true? "Israel abuses Palestinian kids daily" is a claim we hear a lot on the talkback threads, but no one has yet actually provided proof to back this up. But don't expect any links from Mr. Robert to defend his rather strong accusations, not a single link appears in the entire article. That includes such claims as this two sentences later:
"In Hebron, a twelve-year-old Arab boy was blinded by a vial of acid thrown from the Jewish settlement sitting atop the Arab market."
 Again, that's quite the claim. But the only actual evidence I could find of settlers using acid was one story about some using it against a police officer, not an Arab. And a search for an Arab child being blinded by acid in Hebron only takes us back to (wait for it) "Apartheid on Steroids," Mr. Roberts' earlier column. Now maybe he considers himself to be enough of a source to repeat his earlier claim, but you'd think this would be in a news report somewhere. I'm not saying it didn't happen, I'm saying I'm not going to believe him without proof.

The lying and exaggeration continues with this bit:
"These children are born into lives of hopelessness and desperation. Denied freedom of movement, proper education and medical care, they suffer not from a frightening incident, but from lives stunted by an imbroglio not of their creation; citizens of nowhere." 
Of course nowhere in this article will you find any kind of responsibility placed on anyone other than the Israeli government. Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Authority, nowhere to be found in the world that Mr. Robert is trying to paint for his audience. The Israeli government only "subjugates" (his word) the Palestinians because they like it, not because the Palestinians have ever done anything to an Israeli citizen. If you think I am exaggerating, I'll show you further down the page. Right now, let's take a look at what might be some Jew bating (emphasis mine):
"The Israeli government does little to stop the harassment of Palestinians by the Jewish settlers. Israeli leaders turn away as Arab kids are stoned, yet erupt in pious platitudes when Jewish children are humiliated. When will Israeli and American Jewish leaders see that all these events are connected?"
Huh? I thought Israel was a foreign country. I thought Zionism had nothing to do with Judaism. So why is it the responsibility of American Jews to get involved with this situation? I mean, maybe if Mr. Robert had explained the connection between American Jews and Israel he could have made his point a little better but as it stands the bold section is just sitting there. Why must American Jewish leaders change what happens in Israel? Are American Muslim leaders obligated to do the same?

No time to think about such things, though, as he has an attack on Israel's character to provide!
"Societies that imprison their neighbors inevitably become more chauvinistic and less democratic. Occupying the land of 4 million Palestinians for over forty years predictably empowers Israel's least democratic elements....The subjugation of Palestinians and the intolerance of ultra-orthodox Jews are not disparate phenomena. Demanding that women sit in the back of buses is tied to diminishing human rights in the West Bank."
Mm, nice try. See, he started off okay with claiming that "the occupation" damages Israel's nature. That's not a particularly controversial view. But then he tried to connect it with the Haredim's behavior and, it doesn't work. If he had paid attention to what was going on in Israel while he was there, he would see that most Israelis are not Haredim and that Israel is the most liberal society in terms of women's rights in the region, if not the world. There is no connection between what an extremist faction even among the Haredi do and Israeli foreign policy. Unless he thinks that all Israelis are the same, which he doesn't...right?

Which is ultimately what bothers me about his aforementioned crocodile tears for Naama. I can't help but wonder if he saw Naama's suffering and didn't think "wow that's terrible" but instead thought "how can I use this to stick to Israel?" Let's just say that Israel's government does what Mr. Robert suggests and stops defending itself against the Palestinians. And imagine that same little girl is knifed to death by a group of Palestinian thugs. Or shot to death while riding in a car. Or blow up while waiting for a bus. Will Mr. Robert march back onto the Huffington Post and declare "NAAMA IS EVERYONE," like he did this time around?

What do you think?

I may have to amend my earlier statement that Mr. Robert is not that extreme, since his big solution to this problem is to destroy the state of Israel, making him either naive or bullish:
"If Israel does not extend its promise of equal citizenship to the non-Jews under its domain (as is the current trend), it will betray that promise of equality to its Jewish citizens as well.... If we do not, Israel will never be a place where its citizens can claim to be truly moral -- or claim to be secure. Israel expresses concern about efforts to de-legitimatize it in world opinion; it must be careful not to validate this effort."
It sounds like in your mind, Stephen, it's already validated. Secondly, what "promise?" When did Israel promise "equal citizenship" to Palestinians? And I know we are talking about Palestinians because in the world of Mr. Robert's article there are no such things as Arabs who are citizens of Israel. Israel has never said that Palestinians can be come citizens and it is positively delusional to think that doing so is some kind of requirement to be "truly moral." If being "truly moral" means a lot of little girls like Naama end up dead, Mr. Robert can take that self-righteous attitude back to the Nation. Or maybe Electronic Intifada. I'm sure they'd love him there.


  1. I posted a comment three times requesting verification of the acid story. It only got through when I didn't add anything besides a request for a link.

    When I tried to point out that no such story was covered by any media outlet in the world including the "Hebron" section of Ma'an News, that did not get through moderation.
    So basically, business as usual.

  2. To extrapolate the worst actions &/or behaviors of a few, to all within a society, is purely bigoted notion. This is commonly done by antiIsrael/antiZionist detractors who love to demonize Israel with a stroke of a brush. Is there any other Country or State that receives such reckless slander? Double standards are not only directed to Israel, to the Jewish people (leadership) as well, albeit an insurmountable standard. If one can't destroy Israel with force or sanctions, then one will try to destroy her supporters, AIPAC. But some of Israels detractors expose themselves for who they really are when they feel the urge to go further then that. They need to point out their perceived view of Jewish control of the media in particular. Next, Jewish leaders, not speaking out against Israel, like the "good Jews" Norm Finklestein, Chomsky, Halper, etc... The anti Semites see Jew's as fifth column in America. As long as Israel is around, any U.S. future war, even in concert with NATO, will be blamed on the Jews, by those haters. Their wish is to disenfranchise Jews, from any powerfully perceived position. This would include, any Government office position, media position, or military position. Basically introducing the initial Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany.


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