Naomi Klein, Howard Rotberg, and the fight for truth about Israel
Earlier this week, my colleague, Dag, quoted a Palestinian writer who is mightily disturbed that even those Jews who are, like him, politically to the left, may be under the impression that Jewish people have a right to exist as a somewhat compact national people in their own country, like say the Chinese, Pakistanis, or Saudis. In the writer's words:
Those on the "far left," who are [on] the brink of being classified as "self-hating Jews," including self-styled humanitarians such as Meretz MK Yossi Beilin, only serve to massage their own egos and consciences by portraying an image that they are fighting for peace. In reality, these people assign themselves to the same racist and exclusivist ideology that came into form long before the creation of the state of Israel.Well, it might sound a bit deranged, but he's right, inasmuch as racially-bound and competing communities must have been around since the first human community split into two, some hundreds of thousands of years ago, and racial and/or cultural boundaries have always since remained a part of human life.
But the question he's really asking, while trying to appear authoratative, is this: is a utopian vision of "one-world" with no national or racial boundaries, just one big government, under the hand of, say, Islamic theocrats and/or the technocratic left, more likely to foster peace and harmony (and avoid bloody civil wars) than something like the current inter-national system where nations have a right and a responsibility to defend certain boundaries, including if they so choose (as most nations or states do), racial or religious ones?
The answer is apparent to us here at Covenant Zone, for a number of reasons we frequently discuss and won't recapitulate now. We believe that the blood on the hands of the utopian "one world" or "communist international" left reached around a 100 million in the last century alone (more or less, depending on the individual's brand of leftism - and let's not forget that Hitler was an incipiently post-national leftist), and shows no signs of stopping now with the growing alliance of the left and fundamentalist or Orthodox Islam, not to mention the left's sympathy for various third-world tyrants in the "post-colonial" era.
The horrors of the Western left in supporting angry anti-Western rhetoric, like that Dag uncovered, was again on display in the Georgia Straight last week. The Vancouver weekly reprinted an article by Naomi Klein that originally appeared in Britain's leading leftist paper, the Guardian. It is perhaps not surprising, if heart breaking, that faced with "avant-garde" Palestinian rhetoric in the arenas of "progressive" global opinion elites, rhetoric that now claims even leftist Jews are vile racists if they continue to show any support for Israel's existence as a particular nation (the only serious guarantor of the lives of half the world's Jews), we find leftist Jews, whose very lucrative careers are dependent on one-world leftist "cosmopolitanism", swinging against Israel, as Naomi Klein does.
Klein claims that Israel today has a booming economy because it can sell the world all kinds of security and military hardware and software that is tested on Palestinian "guinea pigs", leading to the implied conclusion that Israel doesn't want to stop its conflict with the Palestinians, which is of course nonsense. The vast majority of Israelis would love to live in peace, as a mostly (not exclusively) Jewish island in a reasonably friendly Arab sea. It's just that many no longer think it likely. The Palestinians, through rejecting peace accords, and enforcing orthodox Islamic opinion, have clearly revealed that they will only accept a peace in which Israel no longer exists in a land Islam claims as its own. Yet despite this, Klein paints the Jews of Israel as profiting mightily from bloodshed, instead of doing what every responsible state must do: provide its people with security, as much security as is necessary given the realistic threats against it and within it.
All told in 2006, Israel exported $3.4 billion in defence products–well over $1 billion more than it received in U.S. military aid. That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world, overtaking Britain.As already noted, there is no secret why Israelis have had to become highly skilled in producing high quality military equipment: their much larger neighbours keep promising to wipe them off the map. Nonetheless, and even if Klein's figures are correct (and we doubt she would low-ball them), $3.4 billion in an economy whose 2006 GDP is estimated as $170.3 billion hardly justifies the portrayal of Israel as an economy built on war and blood, quite aside from the fact that spending on national security is uniquely associated with bloodshed only by nihilists who forget that any amount of peace and security must be defended, and who think that man's growing capacity to do evil must be equated with evil (as if, in a world with nuclear weapons and nuclear power, the outcome must be total devastation of the planet in nuclear war, not cheaper energy and all the social goods that go with it).
In fact, while Israel has the military or technological capacity to wipe out all the Palestinians, they do nothing of the sort. They are usually (with occasional modest and inevitable errors) the epitome of restraint when facing an enemy that vows to wipe one's people out and that increasingly allies with rogue states that will soon have the military technology to do so.
Klein concludes her outrageous diatribe thus:
Palestinians–whether living in the West Bank or what the Israeli politicians are already calling "Hamasistan"–are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs.There is, of course, no mention by Klein that much of what she says about Israel can be said about the Palestinians who massively prepare for war, though in somewhat less high-Tech forms, and who are thus rightly feared:
So, in a way, [Tom] Friedman is right: Israel has struck oil. But the oil isn't the imagination of its techie entrepreneurs. The oil is the war on terror, the state of constant fear that creates a bottomless global demand for devices that watch, listen, contain, and target "suspects". And fear, it turns out, is the ultimate renewable resource.
... Hamas was not using a random hit list. Every Hamas patrol carried with it a laptop containing a list of Fatah operatives in Gaza, and an identity number and a star appeared next to each name. A red star meant the operative was to be executed and a blue one meant he was to be shot in the legs - a special, cruel tactic developed by Hamas, in which the shot is fired from the back of the knee so that the kneecap is shattered when the bullet exits the other side. A black star signaled arrest, and no star meant that the Fatah member was to be beaten and released. Hamas patrols took the list with them to hospitals, where they searched for wounded Fatah officials, some of whom they beat up and some of whom they abducted.If Hamas will do that to fellow Palestinians, it's outrageous to claim that Israel shouldn't be afraid and that fair-minded people shouldn't see all the Israeli investment in security as an investment in saving lives. Of course, you might choose to disbelieve the above quote, because it appeared in a leftist Israeli paper, Haaretz, which buried the shocking details at the end of the story (hat tip: Boker tov, Boulder). However, you could find similar stories recently, though not given too much attention, in many news outlets. In any case, the stories of recent weeks are quickly downplayed by writers like Klein who belittle the coinage of "Hamasistan". Boker tov Boulder (Anne Lieberman), being in contrast a morally sound kind of Jew, writes:
Aside from assassinating Fatah officials, Hamas also killed innocent Palestinians, with the intention of deterring the large clans from confronting the organization. Thus it was that 10 days ago, after an hours-long gun battle that ended with Hamas overpowering the Bakr clan from the Shati refugee camp - known as a large, well-armed and dangerous family that supports Fatah - the Hamas military wing removed all the family members from their compound and lined them up against a wall. Militants selected a 14-year-old girl, two women aged 19 and 75, and two elderly men, and shot them to death in cold blood to send a message to all the armed clans of Gaza.
Politically, I'm about as anti-Palestinian-Arabs as you can get, yet I am shocked and appalled at the deafening silence from the world - yet again - in the face of the rampage by Hamas in Gaza. I am shocked and appalled that in our time people are labeled with numbers and stars, and then abused and killed. That there is not worldwide condemnation is astounding.Well, I don't expect Naomi Klein (a name presently receiving more than a million Google hits, btw) to be bad mouthing Hamas anytime soon. She seems to be preparing for the release of her new book - The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which will no doubt prove as lucrative in the capitalist marketplace as her previous efforts - by allying herself, intellectually, with those forces that are creating disasters to which capitalism, and by extension its Kleins, must respond.
Where are the pro-Palestinian activists now? Where are all those bleeding hearts who want Israel to see that the poor palestinians get a state, made up of Israeli concessions? It seems they have left it to us right-wing pro-Israel bloggers to raise a voice in defense of the Palestinian Arab population of Gaza. Ironic, isn't it? But I believe that no one anywhere should ever be treated like this. Not Jews, not Arabs, not any innocent population. Because it's wrong. Whatever the scale, wherever or whenever it happens. It was wrong when the Nazis did it and it's wrong now, when Hamas is doing it. And anyone who is silent in the face of this, is complicit.
I remember a period of years when Klein's book No Logo was everywhere. You couldn't walk into a Chapters Bookstore here in Vancouver and not see stacks of them on the front tables. By way of contrast, consider the fate of a much better writer and a visitor to Covenant Zone (we hope to see more of him), whose book has been
effectively banned by Chapters-Indigo (read chapters 2 and 12 of Howard Rotberg's new online book to learn why), a book retailing giant that the Canadian left denounce for its owners' supposed pro-Israel stance, a business which controls something like seventy percent of the Canadian retail book market and which can thus go far in rewarding or silencing Canadian authors.
It is not a question of quality. I have just read Howard Rotberg's first, effectively banned in Canada, book (a novel which, by telling the story of a non-fiction author and his book, provides an excellent account of Israeli-Arab history and its misrepresentations by the Judeophobic opinion of the Western media and political elites who seem hell-bent on preparing the ground for the destruction of Israel in "the Second Holocaust") and highly recommend it. It is not high-brow literary experimentation; it is an accessible and excellent primer for anyone wanting to get their heads straight on why and how the state of Israel must be defended, packaged as an entertaining novel.
When Howard saw Naomi Klein's outrageous article in the Georgia Straight, Vancouver's long-established entertainment and news weekly that mixes leftist opinion (including somewhat pro-Hamas, i.e. somewhat pro-terrorist, articles) with pages mostly devoted to big colourful expensive ads for the latest products of consumer capitalism, he wrote an excellent reply. The Straight published a slightly abridged version of Howard's letter. One thing their editor didn't like was the explicit labelling of Klein as a Jewish anti-Semite. It is perhaps unfortunate that Judeophobia - i.e. resentment of the Jews for being too successful, or creative, and too resistant to competitive attack on such; for being first in discovering/receiving monotheism and all that has gone with that much-envied mark of firstness - is, in today's commonly accepted usage, still labeled "anti-Semitism" (a term which properly applies to a form of nineteenth-century European "scientific" racism and, as such, something Klein might reasonably deny).
But there can be little informed doubt that in this article Klein positions herself in a way that is inimicable to the security of millions of Jews who face a real existential threat against which they must responsibly defend. There is no doubt that Klein's case against Israel is that it is too successful in the inter-national marketplace, because it is too strong in defending itself. In other words, she ascribes to Israel the qualities the "anti-Semite" or Judeophobe (who generally wants the Jews to convert to his faith, or to disappear) traditionally ascribes to the Jew. It takes rhetorical humbug, and ignorance, to deny, as many do, that this kind of anti-Zionism is not also a form of antisemitism or Judeophobia.
So, with Howard's permission, I am pleased to provide the full text of his letter to the editor of the Georgia Straight:
So, Naomi Klein has come up with the original theory that Israel profits mightily from its situation of being surrounded by Arabs who want to destroy it. ("Israel thrives, Gaza suffers", June 21st regarding Israeli exports of anti-terrorism equipment and expertise)
No mention that Israel turned over Gaza to the Palestinians without any quid pro quo.
No mention that Israel is a leader in all aspects of high tech, with such inventions as the computer chip and cell phone technology, and a multitude of medical technology, having been pioneered in Israel. No mention that many large companies like Intel, Motorola, IBM, Microsoft, Alcatel and 3Com all have research and development facilities in Israel. Intel and Motorola also manufacture advanced products in Israel, and many other multinationals have purchased local companies, buying their patents and acquiring their human talent.
No mention that twenty percent of the country's workforce are university graduates, the highest proportion in the world after the U.S., compared with 17% in Canada, 12% in Britain and 8% in Italy. Israel has the world's highest percentage of engineers (135 per 10,000 people compared to 85 per 10,000 in the U.S.) and, with 28,000 physicians, by far the highest number of medical doctors per capita in the world. In addition, Israeli academics publish more scientific papers in international journals (110 for every 10,000 persons) than any other country in the world.
But Klein alleges that "the chaos in Gaza …doesn't threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv and may actually boost it." No mention of the dislocations to the Israeli economy of having to defend itself from periodic attacks, having to take reservists away from their occupations, having to periodically evacuate certain cities, as Iranian-backed terrorists lob missiles across the border. No mention of the threats from possible Iran nuclear weapons.
Why doesn't she mention any of this: Because to anti-Semites like Klein (even Jewish ones), the Israelis are the new Shylocks – driven like Shylock into a business Klein disapproves of, the Jew-Israelis are now making "profits" from the suffering (even the blood) of others. Thank you, Ms. Klein for yet another adaption of the anti-Semitic blood-libel, that Jews drink the blood of Christians/Muslims/whoever.
The "constant state of fear" which Klein alleges the Israelis to be profiting from, was the result of the actions of Islamists and their supporters in anti-Israel Europe. Israel has tried in various ways (the Oslo Process, unilateral disengagement from Gaza) to facilitate an independent Palestinian state, which is lot more than the Arabs ever did. Blaming the Jewish victims of terror for Shylock-like behaviour is despicable.
Klein's article first appeared in Britain's The Guardian. Britain is the world leader in appeasement of Islamist terrorism and intimidation. There is no need, however, for the Georgia Straight to be printing this kind of stuff in Canada. It sickens me.