24 March 2006

Soft lies - are they misdemeanors or crimes?

Many people these days express their preference of the implacable hate of Hamas to the double-tongued preaching of the previous crowd. Their reasoning is fairly straightforward: yes, Hamas is an outspoken enemy, but it may be possible to do business with them in some unspecified future. If they change their tune, recognize Israel, etc.

I tend to believe this approach, no matter whether it is a realistic one or not. After all, miracles happen, especially in out miracle-infested area, and who knows...

The same logic could be applied quite successfully to a different subject - that of the war of words that puts our small place here in the center of the known Universe, as far as the war of words is concerned, of course (I know pretty well the real importance of the area in general and the country in question in particular and don't deceive myself). Shortly - that frightful stink that people raise about the whole I/P issue.

I, personally, vastly prefer a direct no nonsense approach of our outspoken enemies to a soft-treading "stealth" skulking about of our half-friends. In my opinion, they are much more dangerous in their self-righteous hypocrisy than any of our enemies. Give me Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech any time, instead of anything like this article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft. Which article is so full of half-truths and subtle (or not so subtle) twisting of the said truth that it makes me sick. Just a few examples:

"The whole world is against us," says an endlessly popular Israeli song...

No such song, I have even consulted with my children to make sure.

Update: It appears (thanks again, Rahel) that there is a song with the words "The whole world is against us", so it is not a direct lie, after all - just a half truth. It is not "endlessly popular", far from it.

It's very hard to recall the esteem and goodwill in which Israel once basked...

Wow! I am afraid I do not recall that time. Neither do my parents. Was it before the "Zionism=racism" UN resolution or after? Or does Mr. Wheatcroft mean these shipments of flowers of 48, 67, 73... from USSR and our neighbor's ?

It might be a columnist recalling the early 1960s, when progressive young friends (mine too) would go from London to spend the summer on a kibbutz in that heroic land.

Yeah. Some of my best friends are..., indeed. Just to establish your credentials, Mr. Wheatcroft?

In the age of Jenin, and now Jericho, of "targeted killings" and F-16s blasting refugee camps, that turn in Israel's reputation might seem natural enough.

Not so subtle now, what? So it is now the age of Jenin and Jericho. Not the age of Chechnya. Or Darfour. Or Nigeria. Or Aids... By the way it is not F-16s, Mr. Wheatcroft, that would be too expensive. It is Cobras and Apaches. And blasting is mostly confined to cars with some known terrorists (freedom fighters for you). Ever given a thought what could really happen if a few F16s get unleashed on a refugee camp? Or a city? Have you seen the remains of Grozny? No, I doubt it, Grozny is in Chechnya, after all, and it is not important at all in your private universe.

It is really very hard to explain to anyone under the age of 50 just how popular Israel once was, notably among European social democrats and our own Labour party.

Give it a try once, will you? It may be good clean fun once you start. And it was good of you to remind the Suez "trauma" - care to describe it and to mention the culprits? I know that it will be inconvenient to confess that the "popularity" Mr. Wheatcroft is waxing lyrical about was confined to a rather thin slice of Brits of the leftish persuasion - mostly the same ones that cry "wolf" these days each time Israel is mentioned. The ones whose opinion is mostly so much hot air - then and now.

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages," Moshe Dayan briskly admitted about the creation of his country: "There is not one single place that did not have a former Arab population."

I would not bother to check the source, it is up to the author. However, two remarks: a) the late general was known to utter generalizations and stupidities galore and b) I and my family reside in a place that did not have any former Arab population, and so do many of my friends. Besides, using a doubtful quote from a doubtful source instead of serious historic research is puerile. As is quoting the late Israel Shahak. Too bad.

Update: I was brought under some (friendly) pressure to put here the real words of Moshe Dayan. Here they are. So, just some twisting of the original text, how do you like it?

And now - back to the beginning of that rather unfortunate piece:

With the bizarre, not to say unique, events in Jericho last week - surely the first case of a jailbreak intended to keep the prisoners inside - Israel has again shown an impressive indifference to outside opinion.

And what, pray, does that "outside opinion" has to do with the killers having to carry their sentence, with observers running away and jailers being put on notice by PFLP? Especially in view of the general goings-on in the Jericho prison? Should Israel apply to UN in a case like this? Or, maybe, to the Arab League? But anyway: please stay impressed by our indifference to your opinion.

I shall stay impressed by your crafty weave of half-truths and half-lies that makes you quite a tad more dangerous than my dear friend Mahmoud A. At least in his case I know precisely who I am dealing with.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com