Years ago many of us wondered how things that were obviously "beyond
belief" could be made to seem normal by the intellectual culture
Deborah Lipstadt, in a book entitled Beyond Belief, which
dealt with the Holocaust and its treatment in the West, showed how easily
the media could do this by pushing horrendous reports to the back pages,
by ignoring other reports, and by episodic treatment without editorial
support or indignation.
In a monstrous historical irony, we can see today that neither the Israelis
nor the West in general have learned any lesson from the Holocaust,
except on how to make acceptable and normalize policies that are "beyond
belief" but which they now pursue.
Here are the heirs and survivors of a people that had been subjected
to the truest Holocaust in modern times, virtually modelling themselves
their former killers, edging closer and closer to a "final solution"
problem posed by "grasshoppers" (Shamir), "cockroachs"
walking on two legs" (Begin), and "lice" (Ben-Eliezer)
in the Occupied
Territories, as they resist being pushed off of their land by a "chosen
people" seeking what the Nazis called "Lebensraum."
They now have as head of state a man who even an Israeli inquiry had
to recognize as heavily responsible for the murder of between 800 and
unarmed Palestinians, mainly women and children, at Sabra and Shatila
This was ten to thirty times the number of victims attributable to Carlos
the Jackal over his entire terrorist career--and his 80-odd victims
mainly women and children--and 20 to 50 times the deaths in the Racak
massacre that precipitated NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. But this leader,
who would have been a perfect Waffen SS commander, is treated as a respectable
political figure, even as he organizes policies of force consistent
with his murderous terrorist record. There is an alleged "Butcher
of Baghdad" and "Butcher of the Balkans," but no "Butcher
of Tel Aviv," by sheer political bias.
In normalization, a mass murderer can never be "evil" or a
"terrorist" or a proper subject for a war crimes tribunal,
as long as he serves Western ends.
It has also been a feature of Western coverage of events in the Middle
East that Israel itself never terrorizes or commits murder, it responds
to terror and retaliates to the provocations and violence of others.
This conclusion is independent of evidence, but follows as a rule of
Although facts show a spiraling process of violence breeding more violence,
the Israelis retaliate, the Palestinians don't--they terrorize.
RULE 2, which permits normalization of escalating Israeli force
against the Palestinian civil society, rests on this primary word usage:
side terrorizes, the other retaliates.
Recently there was a huge outcry in Israel and among U.S. officials
and media at Israel's interception of a shipment of arms allegedly to
be acquired by the Palestinians.
Now an unbiased observer watching this struggle might ask: Why should
the Israelis get huge arms shipments from the United States, even in
the midst of Intifada 2, without any questions being raised, but a shipment
to the Palestinians be an outrage and provocation?
This displays ignorance on the part of the questioner, who does not
realize that ONLY THE ISRAELIS HAVE A "SECURITY" PROBLEM.
Of course, the Palestinians are not very secure, and in fact have been
unable to defend themselves against the missiles, helicopter gunships,
and armed incursions of the overwhelmingly superior Israeli army.
But nevertheless the Palestinians do not have a "security"
problem, by rule of affiliation and prejudice, and evidenced by the
fact that U.S. officials and media NEVER use the word security in reference
to the Palestinians.
It follows that anything the Israeli army does to Palestinians is defensible
because it is by definition "retaliation" and in the service
of "security." Palestinian attempts to defend themselves,
as by acquiring arms, threaten "terrorism" and the "security"
of the only people to whom the word is applicable.
RULE 3: only the Israelis have a "security" problem,
and only the Israelis are entitled to acquire arms to protect themselves.
Because only the Israelis suffer unjustly--and any Palestinian suffering
results from responses to Palestinian terrorism--only the Israelis have
a reasonable cause for anger and may understandably vote into office
a world class terrorist commander like Sharon, and support policies
force against mainly unarmed people.
Whereas the Serbs were allegedly "willing executioners" for
allowing their "dictator" to ethnically cleanse people within
his own country, the Israelis
command only sympathy for their being "fed up" with the violent
their victims in the Occupied Territories.
They are "reluctant executioners."
RULE 4: as Israel only retaliates, the Israeli people are understandably
angry and not to be condemned for the killings and immiseration inflicted
on the Palestinians by their democratically elected leaders.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits dispossession and settlement
by the "belligerent occupying power," and any such mistreatment
of "protected persons" (here Palestinians) is counted as a
A UN Special Report of November 13, 2000, stated that under the Oslo
Accords (1993) "Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land and construction
of settlements and bypass roads for Jewish settlers has accelerated
dramatically in breach of Security Council Resolution 242 and provisions
of the Oslo agreements..."
However, the Clinton administration approved these violations, vetoing
any possible international action protecting the "protected persons,"
so that this ethnic cleansing could proceed without impediment.
RULE 5: as a favored U.S. client state, international law does
not apply to Israel's actions and it may ethnically cleanse as it sees
Although the U.S. and NATO war against Serbia was allegedly based on
Serbia's "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo Albanians, a German
Foreign Office report just before the commencement of the bombing declared
that "the actions of the security forces [were] not directed against
the Kosovo Albanians as an ethnically defined group, but against the
military opponent and its actual or alleged supporters."
In contrast, the Israelis have been demolishing Palestinian homes, pushing
out Palestinians to make way for settlements, and killing them for many
years, very clearly to "redeem the land" for the "chosen
In other words, this hasn't been any civil war--i.e., an armed conflict
over the control of territory by indigenous groups--it has been a deliberate
long- term ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population by a foreign
But once again, the West implicitly accepts the Shamir-Begin-Sharon
view that we are dealing here with grasshoppers and cockroachs, so that
just as such creatures don't need "security," the policy of
ethnic cleansing is also tolerated and given de facto support by the
The United States insisted on bombing Serbia for its alleged ethnic
cleansing, although Serbia had allowed 1,400 international monitors
Kosovo (and killings had fallen off despite U.S. support and encouragement
of the KLA), but it regularly vetoes any proposal for international
monitoring of Israel's treatment of the "protected persons"
in the Occupied
RULE 6: Israel's long-term ethnic cleansing, now pursued with
increasing savagery, cannot be subject to "international community"
constraint, by rule of superpower affiliation and favor.
Freedom to ethnically cleanse also depends heavily on a mass media that
not only uses words properly--the ethnic cleansing state never "ethnically
cleanses," and only "retaliates"--it depends on the massive
suppression of evidence.
For example, the media's focus on suicide bombers and Israeli civilian
victims goes hand-in-hand with the downplaying of the much larger number
of Palestinian victims and failure to humanize them (for details, see
"Israel's Approved Ethnic Cleansing," Part 3, Z Magazine,
There is almost zero attention to Israeli law violations-- the Geneva
Convention that is violated daily by Israel is unmentioned; the December
2001 conference in Switzerland organized by the Swiss Foreign Ministry
to discuss the application of the Geneva Convention in the Israel-Palestinian
conflict was completely blacked out by the New York Times and other
The U.S. government and Israel opposed the holding of this conference,
and they vote virtually alone in the UN when there are appeals to Israel
to adhere to the Geneva Convention.
For example, a UN General Assembly vote reaffirming the applicability
of the Geneva Convention to Israeli-occupied territories on December
11, 2001, was approved by 145 to four, the four in opposition being
Israel, the United States, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia.
The media blackout of the Swiss-organized conference, and the General
Assembly votes that show U. S. and Israeli isolation on this issue,
demonstrate once again the subservience of the media to a U.S.-Israel
Perhaps most important, although an Amira Hass in Ha'aretz in Israel
has regularly described the daily abuses and humiliations of the Palestinians
by the Israeli army and settlers, which have grown over the years, these
almost never show up in the U.S. mainstream media.
If they were properly reported, the U.S. citizenry would see the absolutely
striking similarity in the behavior of Israel toward the Palestinians
to the Nazi behavior toward the German Jews in the late 1930s, described
in painful detail by Victor Klemperer in his book I Will Bear
Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941.
This would not do for the U.S. media, as it, plus evidence of the economic
crushing of a people, would not only explain Palestinian desperation,
it would produce anger and sympathy for the victims.
RULE 7: the suppression of evidence of Nazi-like practices
in demolitions/expropriations on behalf of the chosen people, physical
abuse and harassment of the grasshoppers, systematic violations of UN
and Security Council resolutions and the Geneva Conventions, and the
international isolation of Israel and the United States in supporting
Israel's ethnic cleansing, is required for the implementation of U.S.
policy support for anything Israel does.
The U.S. mainstream media meet this requirement.
The New Humanitarian David Rieff claims that human rights "has
taken hold not just as a rhetorical but as an operating principle in
all major Western capitals," and fellow New Humanitarian Michael
Ignatieff says that "fifty years of human rights" have affected
our "moral instincts...strengthening the presumption of intervention
when massacre and deportation become state policy."
Naturally these men never discuss Israel and Palestine, where human
rights have been stomped on for years, with the active support of the
same governments (United States and Britain) that have proclaimed the
dawn of the new human rights era.
In fact, their support for Israel's human rights violations has never
been stronger than today, with a blank check now given terrorist commander
Sharon to escalate his wholesale terrorist operations, and with much
discussion now taking place in Israel about the desirability of mass
expulsions and transfer of the population-in-the-way.
We are perhaps about to witness a new and more brutal phase of ethnic
cleansing that may help advance a "final solution" to the
Ignatieff, who had claimed with great indignation that "Milosevic
decided to solve an 'internal problem' by exporting an entire nation
to his impoverished neighbors" (a brazen misrepresentation of the
circumstances of the Kosovo flight and expulsions), remains completely
silent as Israelis ethnically cleanse and openly debate "exporting
an entire nation," but with the tacit approval of his humanitarian
leaders in Washington.
It should be no surprise that Ignatieff is both a New York Times favorite
and the Carr Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University's John
Kennedy School of Government.
in Z Magazine
S. Herman is Professor Emeritus at the Wharton School, University of
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