On The Frontlines

Recently, an op-ed article appeared in Kennesaw State University’s student newspaper, The Sentinal. It can be found here: https://clubs.kennesaw.edu/sentinel/2012/04/10/israel-a-beacon-of-humanity-or-propaganda/. It is a screed condemning the Jewish students on campus of essentially disseminating propaganda at the behest of the State of Israel, which the author suggests, has a “horrendous human rights record.” My initial response can be found in the comments below the article under Sean DeGan. However, after some students published refutations, the author replied to these with the following. My refutation follows:

Marshall Watson | April 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Reply

The article written by Birbrager and Kahn, while an admirable defense of Hillel, fails to refute the facts are presented in my article. Rather than proclaim I ‘fabricated events, misled and distorted,’ perhaps they could have offered authoritative refutations of the information I published.

I do not deny Hillel attempts to facilitate cross cultural understanding, however ineffective and useless, kickball, barbecues, and capture the flag may be. I do take issue, however, with the organizations complicity in planning and hosting an event that offers a terribly maliced interpretation of reality. Israel Fest, while seemingly benevolent, offered a skewed view of the nation’s humanitarian and refugee resettlement efforts. I, for lack of a better word, marshalled evidence originating both in fact and interpretation from Israeli sources which are offered in the comments section of my previously published article for all to scrutinize. While I have offered serious peer reviewed Israeli scholarly research, the authors of the above articles merely accuse me of lying without refuting my work.

I did not offer a false history and it is incredibly irresponsible to take a position and deny an opposing argument on the grounds that you don’t particularly like it. Rather than oppose my stance on a fundamental basis, offer an authoritative refutation. I will concede provided the sources are credible.

I did not deny altogether that Israel is an ally to some nations in times of humanitarian crisis, but what I do believe is that such a view does not do justice to Israel’s quite terrible human rights record. Assisting in Haitian earthquake relief does not somehow make up for the imposition of military rule over much of the West Bank, nor the routine use of force against peaceful protesters, often times Israeli citizens themselves.

I do not deny Israel allows some measure of political participation to Arab minorities but you would be remiss to assume the role of Arab political parties is secure. In both 2003 and 2009 Israel banned both Ta’al and Balad’s participation in the political process based on trumped up claims that the parties were supporting terror.

One might notice a trend in both of these letters in which the authors choose to deflect the issue, which demonstrates a lack of authoritative knowledge to refute my article. The information offered is based on an ideological inability to see fault in Israel. While admirably patriotic, this is academically abhorrent. The choice to cry foul by pointing a figure at neighbouring states abuses of Palestinian rights does not in any way excuse Israeli abuses. I did not write an article about Jordan or Syria or Lebanon, I wrote about Israel- and to assert that all responsibility lied in the hands of Arab regimes is pathetic at best. The tired accusation of a 60 odd year effort to destroy Israel is also academically irresponsible, as the picture is much more nuanced. For a more accurate understanding of the First Arab-Israeli War and the conflict in general, read a number of publications authored by Simha Flapan, Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and John Quigley. Each of these authors, while differing in focus, offer a serious and measured approached to the false portrayal of an innocent Israeli David defending itself against the terrible Arab Goliath.

As for my accounts of Arab Refugees and their relationship with Israel, the readers and authors of these articles may want to delve into the works of Ella Shohat, Aviva Halamish, Aziza Khazzoum, Yehouda Shenhav, and Michael Fischbach before accusing me of fabricating what is actually their well respected historical analysis of Mizrahi history.

Finally, the assertion that a resolution of the conflict is also in the hands of the Arabs rests in a biased view that the Palestinians have continuously refused ‘generous offers’ from Israeli leaders. Even former Defense Minister Shlomo Ben Ami’s Scar’s of War, Wounds of Peace: the Arab-Israeli Tragedy unwittingly recognizes the failure of peace talks cannot attributed to the Palestinians.

Fast forward to the recent past, the Arab states came together to offer a peace proposal in the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted in 2003 and re-adopted in 2007, which the Israeli government categorically rejected.

This is not to say, from my point of view, that Israel deserves all the blame; but implying that we must look to the Arab world instead of criticize Israel is unacceptable. Both Israel and the Arab world deserve much scrutiny for their behaviour, but in a nation that has historically given unequivocal support for Israel, we must not let the relationship go unquestioned.

But as Doron Lubinsky, the authoritative voice of Georgia Tech suggests, peace is surely up to the Arabs, not the ever-conciliatory Israelis. As the Palestine paper revealed when they were released, the Palestinian leadership was willing to concede quite serious issues to the Israelis against the wishes of most Palestinians, but of course the blinders we wear prevent us from acknowledging such facts, don’t they Doron?

Again, the entire point of my article was to offer a perspective often ignored in America because it is important to see the point of view of the other, unfortunately many tend to only see what the want to see and deny the facts that don’t support their argument.

If anything here is found to be ‘fabricated,’ please refute it and offer your source.

If you are looking for a refutation of the information that you provided in your original article Mr. Watson, I will refer you back to the comments section, where I gave a definitive account of the situations that you so seamlessly gloss over. But Here I will take issue with the current screed where you find yourself congratulating yourself for your mastery of the “nuanced” cultural and political situation of the Middle-east. First, a point of argumentative clarity must be assayed.

Your original article advanced unsubstantiated and puerile rhetoric—you did not even name the Knesset bill that you then claimed was racist—that the likes of even the revisionist historians that you above cite, without quotes, would find duplicitous at best. I have never read any of Avi Shlaim’s or Benny Morris’s tracts and thought that one could argue the positions that you so emphatically argue. Being so thoroughly libertine with the facts, even the revisionist historians would laugh you out of the lecture hall. You are correct about their analysis of the situation circa 1948, but your analysis comes nothing close to that of the measured and real “nuance” that is required to carry this scholarly banter to the general public. Instead, your proclamations about “horrendous human rights record(s)” are buttressed by cracking columns and dramatic incantations to the gods of racial harmony. Your original essay was not cited properly and is, in fact, an intellectual disaster, thus rendering Mr. Birbrager and the KSU Hillel’s annunciations of human rights advances in the state of Israel real and unchallenged. It is a point of elementary logic that the positive proposition be supplied with evidence, KSU Hillel did so. Despite your attempts to refute them with your rather pathetic interpretation of the events from 1948 onward, the remain as they are, facts. Thus, what you require of Perry and Kahn here, should also, and even more so, be required of your original essay, a detailed and cited refutation. This is all tangential logical dicing though, as we wouldn’t want correct reasoning to get in the way of you attempting to save yourself from your own disastrous positions.

I am not sure what “a terribly maliced interpretation of reality” is, as the use of noun to modify a noun is not generally accepted as good grammar, revealing that your writing skills are as advanced as your historical acuity. In your response to the responses you cite, of all sources, HRW, which was just as biased an interpretation of the law as you advance, surly that “facts” have met the man.

Further, your conjuring of the history of the Yemenite Jews, and the associated citations provided are interesting, as in one it cheerfully proclaims that “it was not just the Arabs” that stole property. This is not an analytical severity of mind that constitutes supportive documentation of your original blanket claim. Also, to further the field of argument, I refer you here to the status of supposed Demolitions of Arab towns accounted of in the HRW report: http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=16455, apparently a pro-Palestinian source is more balanced than its western counterpart in giving the fact that Israel has a Judicial system that rules in favor of Arabs in a great number of cases. The facts that you present are not facts, they are ongoing issues. You would have us believe that it has all been settled and accounted for. Nice try.

The revelation that you find it problematic that Israel is a Jewish state is telling, as it reveals your incandescent hatred of the idea that a culture is allowed a right to self-determination, which you so emphatically support in the case of the Palestinians, but deny to the Jews. This is disgusting. Your eroticism with Palestinian rights is only expressed when it denies rights to a Jewish state.

The suggestion that my critique of your “majority Arab” declaration is duplicitous is, again, an example of your lack of analytical refinement. I will cede that the region was a majority Arab Muslim before the partition plan, but this does not mitigate the fact that that Israel, when declared independent, was a majority Jewish. You can blame this on the British or the Ottomans; take your pick, but not the Israelis. And the fact that it is now a majority Jewish is because Israel happened to win wars that sought their total elimination. Regardless of any historical grievances and prayers to the gods of diversity, what was once a majority Arab is now a majority Jewish because the Arabs lost three xenophobic wars of annihilation. Doron stands strong.

The Koch party was a radical Jewish party that was also banned from the Knesset, so we could just as easily say that Jewish representation is not as secure as we thought, couldn’t we Marshal?

The Arab peace initiative was a delayed counter proposal to the Camp David proposal which would have implemented a Palestinian state on 95% of the West bank and all of Gaza. Arafat walked away from the talks, as it did not provide a “right of return.” Which means it didn’t provide for Israel to commit national suicide, one Saudi official calling Arafat’s actions “a crime against the Palestinian people.” The Arab peace initiative called for the same thing. You point out with great vigor that it is irrelevant to mention the fact that the Arab states treat the Palestinian “refugees” as not even citizens, but this fact is at the heart of the debate, since those refugees are banned by law to integrate into the wider Arab society, and as refugee status is a biological marker that only Palestinians are granted, the numbers of them keep growing and the conflict is continued.

The occupation of the west bank is as justified as things can be. Israeli civilians were directly targeted by terrorists emanating from the region during the intifada and military reprisals should be expected, the fact that Israel is stronger should not be taken as evidence that Israel is wrong. Jordan controlled the area that is now called the west bank pre-1967, and did, in fact, engage in ethnic cleansing of Jews from the territory; Israel has not, and gave them a chance at Statehood in 2001, as referenced above. Many times the Palestinian authorities can be quoted as desiring a state Judenrein; as what happened at Gush Katif in Gaza, they demand all Jews out. A minority of Jews living in ancient Jewish cities in the west bank is as much an impediment to peace as the minority of Arabs, a significantly greater minority, living in Israel proper. The problem is that any final status of a Palestinian state will require evictions of Jews from their homes because their safety, absent military forces, is certainly in danger. They would be subjected to horrible treatment at the hands of a radical Islamized Palestinian majority, as is the case of the Egyptian Copts, the Iraqi Christians, the list is endless.

That Israel is not perfect, I will concede. That Israel has a “horrendous human rights record” I will debate with great vigor. Considering the circumstances, the term “problematic” might have been a more judicious description. “Horrendous human rights records” are those of Israel’s neighbors. This is a fact that no amount of continued chants from the likes of you and others will mitigate. Given the totality of references that you provide, I am curios if you have ever heard of Ephraim Karsh, and his analysis of things; or Michael Oren, or Alan Dershowitz, or Paul Eidelburg. Also, given the range of sources provided, I cannot account of your bias against Israel in any intellectual terms. Something more percolates to the surface here, do you notice it?

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One response to “On The Frontlines”

  1. Lawrence says :

    I read the article and posted a comment which I highly doubt will be posted:

    I packed out laughing as I read this. I did not know that Kennesaw educates comedians. Each sentence made me pack out laughing with the total absurdity of every line. It reminds me of Goebbels “If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it is the truth.”

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