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How to Tell When Defending Israel Is Actually Racist

Society & Culture  (tags: racism, Arabs, Arabs and Muslims in America, Israel, Israeli oppression, zionism, apartheid, Israeli illegal occupation, media, news, violence, usa, world, americans, crime, ethics, corruption, HumanRights )

- 138 days ago -
Many of the people who defend Israel are consciously racist (clearly), but others dehumanize Arabs and Muslims by reproducing unexamined assumptions about Israels moral or civilizational superiority


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fly bird (26)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 4:10 am
How to tell when defending Israel is actually racist

Those empathetic to Palestinians toil in unhappy corners of the internet, fending off trolls eager to dazzle with age-old vitriol. But decorated professionals recite the same discourses throughout corporate media, the veneer of respectability making them even more grotesque. Anti-Arab racism underlies defense of Israel. The racism isn’t marginal, either; it’s the lingua franca of American punditry.

Many of the people who defend Israel are consciously racist (clearly), but others dehumanize Arabs and Muslims by reproducing unexamined assumptions about Israel’s moral or civilizational superiority. Anyway, I’m less concerned with intent than with consequences. Anti-Arab racism is normalized to the point of common sense, largely because defending Israel requires dehumanization of Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians (and often Muslims more generally).

Because we spend so much time debating when (or if) criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, we rarely get around to assessing how pro-Israel narratives exhibit anti-Arab racism. It seems important to rectify this problem. The following list is my humble contribution to the effort:
◦Falsely accusing Palestinians of anti-Semitism when they condemn Israel (or Zionism).
Why does this rise to the level of racism rather than merely being dishonest or mendacious? Because it attributes anti-colonial sentiment to cultural barbarity. It validates the settler’s political fetish. It obliges Palestinians to abandon their sensibilities for the sake of their oppressor’s comfort. And it can open Arabs and Muslims to punishment.
◦Yelling about “Hamas” to deflect from (or justify) Israeli war crimes.
“Hamas” is the world’s biggest red herring. (Every foreign leader the USA wants to depose is tied for second.) “Hamas” is distinct from the political party that goes by the name of Hamas. The version with scare-quotes is an evil apologue deployed to embody Palestinian barbarity. Zionists (and their stenographers in corporate media) only need to accuse a person of being “Hamas”—children, the disabled, the elderly, the unborn, the already-dead, it doesn’t matter—in order to justify an act of murder, no matter how stunning or vicious. This kind of rhetoric shows the impossibility of being human under Israeli rule. Palestine has no civic structure; it has no voluntary association. The nation is a mass of unwanted bodies. Palestinians cannot organize. They cannot affiliate. They cannot fraternize. They exist only to die. The mere possibility of social life is enough for Israel to pursue their destruction. In any case, based on the historical and legislative record, support of Likud, Labor, Hatnuah, Shas, Tkuma, and Yisrael Beiteinu is an objectively more violent affiliation. By analyzing a hypocritical discourse that mystifies settler colonization, I will be asked to clarify that I don’t in fact support “Hamas.” I’d rather hear the Zionist inquisitors clarify that they don’t support any of the Israeli parties currently orchestrating genocide.
◦Proposing “solutions” based on what Israelis will or won’t accept.
Or, saying that certain things are “impossible” or “unrealistic”: the right of return, equality, binationalism, and so forth. Colonizers like to present unilateral decisions as cooperative. And it’s always racist. The native is made to shoulder the inconveniences of pragmatism. The settler’s comfort is a given.
◦Validating or ignoring the histories that led to Gaza in the first place.
The Gaza Strip isn’t an historical accident. It’s filled with refugees unable to visit their ancestral villages. Israel constricts the territory from land, sea, and air. The disparities of power between Israel the Gaza Strip are enormous. Gaza is the result of ethnic cleansing, a brutal experiment in warehousing human surplus, but Israel’s apologists treat its residents as an undistinguished mass of existential terror. Palestinians lack agency until it’s time to justify another Israeli massacre, at which point they’re suddenly capable of spectacular conspiracies.
◦Assuming that Israel has a divine or universal mandate to shoot and kill.
The assumption has religious undertones. The God of this religion is “security,” a privilege unavailable to the people whose safety is actually threatened.
◦Assigning blame to “both sides.”
Only one side colonizes. Only one side demolishes homes, crops, schools, and hospitals. Only one side determines citizenship and belonging. Only one side travels freely. Only one side dominates the airwaves. Only one side has a nuclear arsenal. Only one side ethnically cleanses. Conflating the work of survival with the violence of colonization not only bastardizes history; it also desecrates basic moral reasoning.
◦Deflecting condemnation of Israel with appeals to “dialogue” (or using “dialogue” as a form of cooptation).

It’s not dialogue if one side has access to policymakers and corporate media and the other side gets punished merely for asserting its existence. Nor is it dialogue whenever one side handpicks a stable of native informants to represent the other side. Amid colonial violence, “dialogue” is usually a rhetorical device to implicate Palestinians as irrationally recalcitrant in contrast to the modern, open-minded Israelis.

Let’s recap. When does defending Israel cross the line into racism (directly or implicitly)? The moment anybody defends Israel, of course.

Chrissie R (9)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 8:04 am
This article is ridiculously bigoted and racist.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 8:59 am
Israeli army says the killing of Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar was ‘just an accident’.
June 6, 2018

Jonathan Ofir

“Israeli soldiers did not fire directly at Razan al-Najjar, a Palestinian medic who was killed on Friday during protests on the Gaza border, a preliminary military investigation found”, Yaniv Kubovich reports for Haaretz.

The probe is not concluded, it is only in its early stages. Yet they can already tell us about this unequivocal finding. It was an accident. From Haaretz:

“The probe was based primarily on interviews with soldiers who were on the scene. As part of the inquiry, which the military said hasn’t concluded yet, the military examined who opened fire during the event and how much ammunition was used. The investigation found the soldiers opened fire at other demonstrators, and not directly at Najjar.”

Here is the tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces.
Now, why should we not believe this? The “most moral army in the world” said it, that couldn’t possibly be wrong, right?

Well you don’t have to go far back in time to understand why Israeli army investigations have a huge credibility problem.

The case of the Samir Awad

This week, in the case of the 2013 killing of 16-year-old Samir Awad of Budrus when he posed absolutely no danger (8 bullets in the back, including one to the head), the state prosecution decided to drop the charges earlier this week, charges that had been watered down to “negligence”.

As John Brown notes in the detailed account (Hebrew, Haaretz ), the investigation proved to be full of lies. First the force claimed to not have used live fire at all, but only means for dispersing stone-throwing demonstrations. Except that stones were not even thrown there. After it became clear that the boy died of his wounds, the version was changed into them shooting non-lethal warning shots and that Samir merely fell and died of his fall. When it was revealed from the autopsy that Samir had died from a bullet to the head, the version was changed into one wherein Samir supposedly posed a lethal threat to the lives of the soldiers. In the end, the forensic examination was so sloppy, that it could not be determined which of two soldiers fired the lethal shot.

It took a whole lot of effort to get to indictment, with the help of B’Tselem, and it ended only with a charge of “negligence”, but even that was dropped. The defense’s threat to open up the can of worms regarding many other cases was apparently too serious a threat for the state.

Israeli legal human rights organization Yesh Din said in a statement issued in response:

“The prosecutor’s announcement of the cancellation of the indictments against the two soldiers involved in the killing of the youth Samir Awad constitutes another example of the impunity enjoyed by soldiers who wound Palestinians.”

“The bottom line is that the military system protects soldiers who violate the law and wound Palestinians, while leaving Palestinians defenseless.”

Gaby Lasky, a lawyer who represents the Awad family, commented:

“[The decision to withdraw the charges was] another case of whitewashing the killing of Palestinians. A teenager was shot in the head with his back to the soldiers on his way to the village where he lives. There are no legal orders that permit shooting at the upper body under such circumstances, in which there is no danger to the lives of the soldiers or other people and no danger whatsoever. If there are rules of engagement that permit such shooting, then those rules themselves are illegal.”

“Falling off a bike”

In the case of the December 2017 shooting in the head of 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi (Ahed’s cousin), who miraculously survived, an Israeli general seriously claimed that Mohammed’s injury was simply due to his falling off his bike.

Major General Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), claimed on a Facebook post that Mohammed was not hit by a bullet, but rather fell from his bicycle. Mordechai is the highest direct authority of the Israeli occupation, and he wrote this on the COGAT official Arabic Facebook page. “A culture of lies and incitement continues for young people and adults in the Tamimi family”, he wrote. The post was plastered with a red stamp saying “fake news” in Arabic. This ran against forensic evidence, of which there was no lack of. The army had simply managed to extract a “confession” from Mohammed, obtained under the usual criminal duress. There is no shame here.

Assumption of innocence

Israelis seem to love this assumption of innocence when it regards soldiers. The myth of the “most moral army in the world” is so addictive, that there is a reflexive proneness to believe anything that may confirm it, and to assume this innocence in advance. As I had mentioned two days ago, this assumption even comes from prominent Haaretz journalists, as in the actual case of Razan al-Najar. Asaf Ronel of Haaretz simply assumed that “it’s unlikely that a sniper deliberately killed Razan al-Najjar” – with absolutely no evidence to back it. Such assumptions are so common in Israel that they are hardly noticed anymore.

It is extremely rare that Israeli military cases involving killings actually get to indictment, and it usually requires an actual close-up filming of the event (with the shooter and the victim) to qualify it for some sort of indictment (as in the Azarya case), or sometimes extreme legal pressure from organizations and also international pressure, as in the case of the killing of British photographer and human rights activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza, 2004 (see on that in the link above re. Azarya).

Should we thus take the army by the word, and assume that the soldiers simply killed Razan al-Najjar by accident? That would be an extremely irresponsible thing to do. The army proclamation of innocence is meant for those who are already Hasbara-junkies, those who already believe the “most moral army” in advance. Because Israeli soldiers “are not murderers”.

H/t Hala Gabriel, Nasser Butt

Colleen L (3)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 1:39 pm
Thanks Fly

fly bird (26)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 3:46 am
Charged with killing Palestinian teen, two soldiers to walk free.
June 4, 2018

Israeli soldiers shot 16-year-old Samir Awad eight times in the back, killing him. After a two-year delay, they were finally indicted. Now, five years after the killing, the prosecution is dropping the charges against them.

Indictments against two former Israeli soldiers charged with killing an unarmed Palestinian teenager will be dropped, the state prosecutor announced Monday.

The two former soldiers, whose names are under gag order, had been charged for the “reckless and negligent use of a firearm” that killed 16-year-old Samir Awad near the village of Budrus in 2013. Awad was shot in the back eight times by soldiers who had been lying in ambush near a hole in Israel’s separation barrier. He was not armed, nor did he pose a threat to anyone. He was running away when he was killed.

The army claimed Awad was attempting to damage part of the separation barrier when the soldiers opened fire.

The case has been ongoing since 2015, when Israeli authorities — after a more than two-year delay — finally indicted the two soldiers.

Why, after three years of legal proceedings, did the prosecutor decide to drop the charges?

During a hearing in the Ramle Magistrate’s Court in early May, the prosecutor admitted the case against the soldiers had been “badly damaged.” The defense had argued that prosecuting the two soldiers for illegally killing Samir would constitute “selective enforcement” of the law. To prove their point, they demanded that the state reveal statistical data regarding criminal investigations and prosecutions of other soldiers who have killed Palestinians, as well as the case materials themselves. Israeli authorities did not want to provide those files, on which the outcome of the case likely depended.

Israel’s civilian and military justice systems rarely prosecute Israeli soldiers for killing Palestinian civilians. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, between 2011 and 2016, just 3.4 percent of investigations into attacks on Palestinians opened by the army’s Criminal Investigation’s Department ended in indictments.

“The prosecutor’s announcement of the cancellation of the indictments against the two soldiers involved in the killing of the youth Samir Awad constitutes another example of the impunity enjoyed by soldiers who wound Palestinians,” Yesh Din said in a statement issued in response.

“The bottom line is that the military system protects soldiers who violate the law and wound Palestinians, while leaving Palestinians defenseless,” the statement continued.

It took Israeli authorities more than two years to indict the soldiers who shot Samir — only after Ahmad Awad, Samir’s father, sued, with the help of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, to force the Military Advocate General to either file an indictment or close the investigation.

By the time authorities finally reached a decision to prosecute, the two soldiers were no longer under the jurisdiction of the military justice system. They were being tried for a crime they committed during their military service by civilian prosecutors in a civilian court unequipped to adjudicate military matters. After the prosecution’s announcement, they will walk free.
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