Yesterday's National Post contained an article from professor Alan Dershowitz criticizing "[T]he hard left's compulsive need to single out Israel for what is often undeserved condemnation (which is) damaging to the anti-war movement, and wounding other progressive causes such as feminism." To make his point Dershowitz cites the recent Amnesty International report Israel and the Occupied Territories Conflict, occupation and Patriarchy: Women carry the burden. In it he makes a damning case against AI, exposing inexcusable accusations and conclusions.
For example, in Section 6: Occupation, conflict and patriarchy: Increased pressures and violence against women we are told:
"Palestinian women and human rights organizations, community and social workers, counsellors, physicians and other professionals, are concerned that violence against women in the family has increased in the past four and a half years, as the deterioration of the security and economic situation has exacerbated existing problems of gender inequality and control of women in Palestinian society. Women’s rights advocates note that during the first intifada (1987 to 1993), the increased level of violence which Palestinians were subjected to by the Israeli army was accompanied by an increase in violence and threats of violence against women within Palestinian society and in the home, and that the same trend has developed since the outbreak of the current intifada in 2000.
The increased militarization of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in the past four and a half years has raised the threshold of violence to an unprecedented level..."
Dershowitz decided to investigate this claim. From the article:
“On August 23, 2005, I spoke with Donatella Rovera, who is AI's researcher on Israel and the Occupied Territories and asked her to provide the data on which she had based her conclusion that violence against women had escalated to an "unprecedented level" during the occupation, and especially during its most militarized phase. I also asked her whether AI had compared violence against women in th eoccupied West Bank and Gaza with violence against women in unoccupied Arab-Muslim areas that have comparable populations, such as Jordan. Rovera acknowledge that AI could provide no such comparative data and confirmed that the report was based on anecdotal information, primarily from Palestinian NGO's (non-governmental organizations)."
This, in itself, is indefensible methodology on AI's part. Without a basis of comparison how in the world can anyone determine if the level of violence against women is "unprecedented?" How can we even know that is is worse than before the occupation? But more importantly, since we do not have comparisons with the levels of abuse of Arab women by Arab men from comparable countries like Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, AI is engaging, at best, in nothing more than guess work, and at worst, in actual propoganda.
Dershowitz correctly cites a counter report from NGO Monitor: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL EXPLOITS "WOMEN'S RIGHTS" in which we are told:
"Rather than a significant examination of the status of women, the document (Women carry the burden), which relies on biased sources and lacks credibility, exploits this issue in the political campaign against Israel. The authors patronizingly deny Palestinian society the maturity to act responsibly, instead blaming Israeli policies for these failures."
Dershowitz goes on to cite a few more examples of hard leftists who are willing to connect almost any tragedy to Israel. Again from his article:
"Even Crawford, Tex., vigil-keeper Cindy Sheehan could not resist the temptation to blame terrorism on Israel: "You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." The fact that 9/11 preceded Iraq and Palestinian terrorism began years before there was any occupation does not seem to matter to those determined to blame the Jewish state for the world's ills. Nor could London's Mayor Ken Livingstone resist the temptation to compare the terrorists who attacked the London transportation system with Israeli soldiers who seek to prevent terrorism."
I looked up this quote and found it in this article in the Scotsman. Livingston is quoted in telling Channel 4 News:
"Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves."
So Livingston, like Amnesty International, at least understands why the Palestinian men are so violent, and have good reason to be.
In his final example Dershowitzh cites what must be one of the most outrageous statements on this subject by a member of the hard-left:
"And then there's Alexander Cockburn, a columnist for The Nation (side note, I checked the web site, and Cockburn is still a contributing columnist for this magazine), who claims that he lacks sufficient "exterior evidence to determine" whether the claims that Israel perptrated both Sept. 11 and the anthrax attacks that followed "are true or not."
Wanting to know the context of Dershowitz's claim I did a check to see if Cockburn has recanted of this view, and what I found was not encouraging. At this web site Cockburn tells us under the heading That Israeli Spy Ring:
"Insinuating laxity in recycling anti-Semitic myth, a letter by David Sobel in last week’s edition of the paper takes exception to my citation of various stories disobliging to Israel that are sloshing around on the Internet. The letter says I should have stigmatized the story of an Israeli spy ring as having been discredited.
Alas for the letter writer, these allegations are soundly based. I sent Sobel’s note to Justin Raimondo, who has been running useful material on the issue on his Antiwar.com site. Justin tells me the story has been considerably updated by John Sugg (www.atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2002-03-20/fishwrapper.html). Antiwar.com has posted the entire 60-page DEA task force report on more than 180 incidents involving Israeli "art students" sneaking around government offices and photographing defense facilities (www.antiwar.com/orig/dea1.html ). And Raimondo’s latest column on the subject, "The Truth, At Last," pretty much sums up all the new info (www.antiwar.com/justin/j032202.html )."
I then went to the referenced site and found this:
"In the gray, matter-of-fact bureaucratese so typical of a government document, the leaked "Israeli Art Student Papers" – posted on Antiwar.com yesterday – confirm what we have been saying in this space all along: that an underground apparatus of Israeli covert agents, centered in the southwestern US but extending nationwide, carried out extensive operations in the months prior to 9/11. Their targets were US government offices, including not only the Drug Enforcement Administration (as previously reported), but the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Protective Service, the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a host of state and federal courthouses and other buildings, as well as military bases. There is no longer any doubt about whether the spy ring existed. Now we are left with the nagging question: what was its purpose?
"...It is, in short, about complicity: some degree of Israeli complicity with Atta and his fellow monsters. At the very least, the mechanics of what is obviously a covert operation directed by Israel imply a certain degree of foreknowledge. At worst, the details of this complex and by-no-means completely uncovered spy ring may wind up pointing to active (albeit one-sided) Israeli collusion with the mass murderers of 9/11. While the first conclusion is a virtual certainty, the second is, admittedly, speculation. What’s scary is that such theorizing is not without a certain basis in fact."
Such paranoid ravings would be laughable if they were not so dangerous. I must admit, until Dershowitz's article I had not thought too much about the attacks of many in the liberal media against Israel. At most I considered it to be biased reporting typical of the media siding with what it perceives to be "the little guy." But this is something much worse.
These are but the tips of a very large and ugly iceberg of bigory. International conferences on feminsism, apartheid, slavery and environmentalism have been unable to agree on anything other than condemnation of Israel. If real peace is to be achieved-and if human rights movements are to retain credibility-this obsessive focus by the hard left on Israel must end. There is no indication that, even as the Jewish state takes painful steps toward peace, these unjustified attacks are diminishing."
Dershowitz is right of course. But what really troubles me in all of this is how did this happen, and how did it get so bad so quickly? During the course of the last century or so of progressivism, Jews have served as leaders and thinkers that have helped to guide the movement for civil rights, women's rights, and many other liberal causes. How could the Palestinian movement have created such a rift between today's modern leftists and a democratic Jewish nation? We are only beginning to notice the rift now, and I do not see much evidence of it even 20 years ago.