Rank Hypocrisy 

by David A. Harris 

When Israel isn't involved, suddenly pro-Palestinian forces are silent.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised any longer, but I still can’t help it. In a recent edition of The New York Times, after seeing 25 column inches on page A4 devoted to an article entitled "Israel Rebukes 2 in Attack on U.N. Complex," I read a short news item two pages later. It wasn’t quite eight lines long, the fourth of five items under "World Briefing."

Here are the first two (of three) sentences:

"A human rights group criticized Jordan on Monday for stripping the citizenship of nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years. Concerned about increasing numbers of Palestinians, who make up nearly half the population, Jordan began in 2004 revoking the citizenship from Palestinians who do not have Israeli permits to reside in the West Bank."

Apart from the scanty news coverage of what is, after all, an important story -- thousands of people losing their citizenship as a country seeks to tilt its delicate demographic balance -- there is, of course, another issue.

Apart from the group that blew the whistle on this years-old policy, where is the outcry?

When Israel is accused, however unjustly, of any alleged misdeed against the Palestinians, the din is immediate and deafening. But when fellow Arabs are shown to be inflicting real damage on the Palestinians, there's hardly a peep.

Since the story surfaced nearly a week ago, I've looked in vain for editorials, columns, op-ed pieces, or letters-to-the-editor on the citizenship policy. Couldn't find a thing.

I checked on the usual addresses that profess to care about the Palestinian fate -- the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Non-Aligned Movement, among others -- and found nothing.

I looked at the usually loquacious individuals and groups for whom the Palestinian issue is the alpha and omega of human rights questions -- the first and last example of refugees ever produced by conflict -- and met a blank slate.

Silence from the mayor of Malmo. Silence from the London School of Economics Student Union. Silence from the British trade unionists who want to boycott Israel. Silence from the Norwegian academics who wish to shun their Israeli counterparts. Silence from those who seek to remove Israeli products from Trader Joe's and Carrefour supermarkets. Silence from the media outlets that can be counted on to slam Israel for every perceived violation of Palestinian rights. Well, you get the point.

In other words, when Israel takes action to defend itself, pro-Palestinian forces around the world are ready to mobilize at a moment's notice with emergency sessions, self-righteous indignation, heated resolutions, angry protests, boycotts, letter-writing campaigns, and over-the-top ads.

Yet, these very same forces are AWOL if Israel is not involved. They simply can't be bothered. Suddenly, their self-described anguish over the Palestinian plight evaporates. And, of course, this isn't the first such instance.

Here are two other examples.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein ordered Iraqi forces to occupy Kuwait, claiming it was a province of his country. After the Iraqi military was ousted, Kuwaiti officials ordered the expulsion of 3-400,000 Palestinians who had been living in the country, in some cases for decades. The Palestinians were accused of having served as a fifth column for Iraq. Out they went.

Stop to think about it. An entire community was labeled subversive and kicked out en masse. That's a pretty heavy-duty step by a government that offered no judicial recourse, no right of appeal, and no compassion for the broken lives.

Where is the moral outrage? Why the telling silence?

Where were pro-Palestinian forces at the time? Again, missing in action. They couldn't pin the blame directly on Israel -- although indirectly they blame everything that happens to the Palestinians on Israel's very being -- so the fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing Kuwait didn't cause them sleepless nights.

Or how about the situation of Palestinians living in Lebanon? According to UNRWA, there are over 400,000 Palestinians registered with the UN agency. Most have been there for decades. In line with UNRWA policy, there is no mandate to resettle these Palestinians or future generations. Rather, they are deliberately kept as "refugees," unlike any other such population in the world.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese government has adopted resolutions and decrees over the years effectively aimed at the Palestinians in the country. "Foreigners," meaning Palestinians, are restricted from working in over 70 different professions in Lebanon, including medicine, dentistry, law and accounting.

Moreover, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon cannot today purchase property, and those who bought land before 2001 are barred from passing it on to their children. Only Lebanese citizens have the right to form non-governmental organizations. Palestinian refugees must do so through others since they are not accorded the chance to acquire Lebanese nationality.

Pretty draconian stuff. Yet, once again, where is the moral outrage of those who claim concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people? Why the telling silence?

Oh yes, I had forgotten. It's not Israel placing the stiff restrictions on Palestinian professional activity, land purchases, or the formation of civic associations, so it doesn't pass muster as a cause worth pursuing.

If this isn't a case of rank hypocrisy and transparent double standards, then what is?

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I somehow understand this, its difficult to say that Israel has done something wrong. Thats why starts this pointing to other places where are also things wrong. Like it would by miracle make Israel violations more minimal, as they have been. Three monkeys syndrome, see no evil, hear no evil.....
Did you understand the contents of the article, Mika? Obviously

You response just demonstrates a variant of the "Three monkeys syndrome, see no evil, hear no evil...." That is "Only see one evil, only hear one evil, only say one evil". And that is the point that author is making.
We handle those other issues in other forums. While someones try to glue all the world problems to Israel/Palestine area.

Stanley Cohen, a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics, has written on political violence, crimes of the state, and human rights. He grew up in South Africa, and spent the years 1980-98 in Israel, where he was director of the Institute of Criminology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He has worked with human rights organizations dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is on the board of the International Council on Human Rights. In this interview with Argentina's Pagina 12, he addresses the issue of denial as it relates to peace negotiations and reconciliation. -WPR

* You describe the denial mechanism as part of the human condition. How does it function in peace processes?
It is fundamental in the process of self-justification. Let's take the case of the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians-the one I know best, since I lived in Israel for 18 years. The dominant party at the table, the Israelis, deny that the other party, the Palestinians, have been victims of Israeli actions. They deny it because they cannot perceive of themselves as the perpetrators of injustices, since this would weaken the image they have of themselves-the image they project to the world and want -to impose at the negotiation table. Thus, Israel continues systematically to deny everything. Currently, it denies the torture of Palestinians or it uses self-defense as a justification to explain why it opens fire on civilians. This denial even extends to the past. It is still impossible today to state in Israel that many Palestinians and Arabs were thrown out of their homes in 1948. It's a part of history that's been excluded, that no one wants to see.
* It doesn't seem to be a mechanism used exclusively by the Israelis.
Of course not. Today, the Turks continue to deny that between 1915 and 1917 they massacred nearly a million and a half Armenians. In France the great myth of the Resistance described a historic reality-that there were people who fought against the Nazi occupation-but it also covered up something unbearable: that there were also those who collaborated. The case of Israel is especially interesting because it's an open society. Information circulates, there is freedom in teaching, and there is a political opposition. However, at the same time, the mechanism of collective denial functions to astonishing extremes, such as the well-known statement by Prime Minister Golda Meir on the violations of Arabs' human rights. Turning things around, Golda Meir accused the victims of forcing those poor Israeli young men to commit horrible acts.
* This gives the impression that such a radical denial must impede any possibility for negotiation.
I don't want to overrate the importance of these mechanisms in the resolution of conflicts. We've seen extraordinary cases of peacemaking, even when the denial mechanism continues to be present. An example is South Africa-a case I know well since I was born and grew up there. For someone who lived there until the 1980s, the change from a system like apartheid to such a different social order without bloodshed, with great traumas, is truly astonishing. How did it happen? To some degree, it was outside influence: the impact of economic sanctions. To some degree, it was the existence of two exceptional leaders, Nelson Mandela and De Klerk. And to some degree, it was the creation of a mechanism like the Truth [and Reconciliation] Commission. And despite all of this, one of the formulas that was used to move things forward during the transition was that the apartheid system was a good idea that had gone bad. In other words, a clear denial. So I don't say that overcoming denial is indispensable for achieving peace. There's no perfect recipe. But I do think it's an obstacle to change.
* How can these denial mechanisms be overcome?
Outside mediators are often fundamental. Another very important mechanism is the truth commission, which provides a symbolic place in which the past can be addressed. And here an important distinction must be made. It's not a matter of knowing the facts because- especially when we are speaking of high-level leaders-those who give the orders have all the information. However, there's a literal denial that consists of saying that there are no missing persons, or what is denied is the meaning of the information. In other words, the information is admitted, but it is said that they were kidnapped by the guerrillas, that they escaped, that they are the result of excesses and not a systematic, deliberated plan. This is more complicated in the overall society, as we can see in Argentina or Chile in the case of missing persons. It is something that has been greatly debated. Was it possible in Nazi Germany to be unaware of what was happening? I think that here the denial mechanism operated with its full paradoxical force: The Germans, the Argentines, the Chileans knew-and they didn't know. It's similar to what happens in a family when the father sexually abuses a daughter over a long period of time. The mother didn't know? It's usually the case that she knew...or didn't want to know.
So Jordan stripping them of their citizenship is OK?

Obviously, were there no Israel then everyone in what now is Israel and the West Bank would most probably be living in "the bliss" that is Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza.

You are correct Basil. Implicitly you merely say:

  1. People care about what Jews do or do not do and demand that Jews behave with civility towards others.
  2. People DO NOT care about what people other than Jews who live in the Muddle East do to others.

Is that not an example of the author is writing about?
Mika wrote: "We handle those other issues in other forums."

The author's article is about those other forums NOT HANDLING (just ignoring) other issues.

Mika went on: "While someones try to glue all the world problems to Israel/Palestine area".

Yep, that is what many here do.
"The author's article is about those other forums NOT HANDLING (just ignoring) other issues."

++++ So much blinds today in the world.

"Yep, that is what many here do."

++++ Sorry, but it was you who brought this up in here.
Yes Mika. I brought this up here because I think that it is VERY relevant here..

His theme is
"When Israel isn't involved, suddenly pro-Palestinian forces are silent" [about the the abuse of Palestinians by people other than Israelis].

Why is that so?

Why is it that this discussion has only focused on Israelis, other than Basil simply and trivially dismissing the relevance of the other local and relevant players by mentioning that they are not democratic?

It seems to me obvious from all this that:
the world would not care about "The Palestinians" if their dispute was with anyone other than Jews.

I really hope that someone here (or anywhere) can prove that I am wrong about that. Mere words are not enough. The proof is (the obvious lack of) action.
A response to beginning with this has disappeared:

Paul RETI replied to the discussion 'Rank Hypocrisy by David A. Harris' This response from you Basil is pure emotion. My understanding is that Jordan, Lebanon and Syria are all geographically a part of the Middle East, and were and are active participants in the Muddle East politics and conflict. You illustrate clearly…
A response to beginning with this has disappeared:

Paul RETI replied to the discussion 'Rank Hypocrisy by David A. Harris' I note Basil that none of your responses to this article directly addressed the topic of this article which is His theme is lament about rank hypocrisy and transparent double standards illustrated by examples "When Israel isn't involved, suddenly…



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