Monday, October 22, 2012

What's Wrong With the Church Letter?

The Huffington Post continued its pattern of broadcasting at least four anti-Israel articles and blog posts over the weekend while people who have lives are not around, thus giving plenty of red meat for the hate brigade that they depend upon for clicks. One of the most prominent examples, posted on Saturday, was an article by James Zogby whining about how Jewish people have opinions about things. Yes, really. Unfortunately he also has to lie through his teeth in order to do so.

He begins by declaring his devotion to human rights (meanwhile it has been months since he wrote about Syria), and then goes back to the same "church letter" that the anti-Israel blogosphere has been desperately trying to make hay about for a week, while nobody else apparently cares.

Dr. Zogby spins the letter as usual, quoting selectively from it, but the short version is that it condemns the Palestinians in a weak sauced way. Here's where Dr. Zogby slips and lies however:
"But they went on to note how the daily lives of Palestinians are marked by the "killing of civilians, home demolitions [...] forced displacement and restrictions of Palestinian movement.""
And here's what the letter actually says:
"We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others." 
Do you notice the difference? Dr. Zogby is saying these things happen in the "daily lives" of Palestinians, something even this incredibly biased church letter doesn't go that far. Does Dr. Zogby have any facts to back his claim that "killing of civilians" happen every day? Of course he doesn't, so it's easier just to spin the words of other people who are just as dishonest and partisan as he has.

And here is another problem with the letter: Israel's actions against the Palestinians, even ones that I disagree with, are labeled as "human rights violations," but take a look at how they describe Palestinian actions:
"Through this direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society."
The bias here is clear. According to these church writers, rockets are from Gaza and suicide bombings are:
1) In the past, in the case of suicide bombings.
2) Not human rights violations.
3) Not threatening to lead the region away from peace.
4) Not war crimes or against international law.
5) Morally equivalent to Israeli actions.
6) Not America's problem, unlike Israel.
7) The only things that Palestinians do wrong.

Dr. Zogby apparently forgot that it's what you don't say that matters, almost as much as what you do say. This single paragraph is all that Dr. Zogby and his fellow anti-Zionists have to try and prove the letter isn't an obvious partisan attack on Israel, and it isn't going to work.

Before we continue with the rest of Dr. Zogby's article, I'm going to a minute and explain exactly what the problem is with this church letter, because apparently the Huffington Post won't let anyone who doesn't mirror Zogby's opinion onto their site.

Very simply the problem with the church letter is that it is one-sided and claims the only way to fix the problems of the Middle East is to punish Israel. This obviously isn't true, but because it is what people like James Zogby and MJ Rosenberg want to hear, they will defend this letter to their last dying breath.

Here's the main point of the letter, just to show you that I'm not strawmanning:
"More broadly, we urge Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance."
You may have noticed that "Israel and the Palestinians" did not appear, only "Israel." And it goes on like that for paragraph after paragraph, "Israel" this and "Israel" that. If this letter was not a one-sided partisan attack on Israel, it would call for Congress to examine our aid to both Israel and the Palestinians to ensure that it isn't being used incorrectly and so on and so forth. America provides material and support for Palestinian police that torture people for being gay, but apparently that doesn't both the signatures of this letter. I mean, they are Presbyterians.

America gives aid to a lot of countries every year, a lot of whom are not exactly on the up and up when it comes to human rights. And America has never made aid conditional on human rights violations, only on whether those countries continue to act in America's best interests, and sometimes not even then.

That's why this letter is perceived as an attack on Israel, because that's obviously what it is. If the Christians (and James Zogby) actually cared about human rights the letter wouldn't mention Israel at all: they would ask Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the governments of all the countries we support that are contrary to human rights. But they don't, they only care about Israel and under the European Union's definition of anti-Semitism, singling out Israel for no apparent reason more than qualifies. And considering Dr. Zogby described it as "extraordinarily balanced," the whole thing takes on the veneer of a farce.

Now that that is out of the way, we can tackle the rest of Dr. Zogby's article. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

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