31 May 2007

On Pro's and Anti's in the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Today I received an email from the Canada-Israel Committee informing me of the latest anti-Israel action undertaken by the academic community, a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions by the Union of College and Universities in the UK. There have been a number of such condemnations of Israel by academics, and no such recriminations against the Palestinians. If there were balanced, fair, and proper denunciations of particular policies or actions by both sides, the claim of anti-Israel or anti-Semitic bias would lose considerable legitimacy. But that balance does not truly exist. It is overwhelmingly Israel that is denounced, in blanket terms, such as these boycotts, and the Palestinian extremists such as Hamas, often see their deliberate crimes against Israeli citizens receive no condemnation or criticism at all from the academic community. I don't know whether it is because these academics hold Israel to a higher standard because they believe Israel should be held to a higher standard--which amounts to racism against Palestinians--or because they are simply repulsed by everything that Israel does vis-a-vis the Palestinians, which is simply anti-Semitism.

I've often found that there is almost a de facto position of being pro-Palestine built in to being pro-Israel, unless one is on the extreme fringe and believes in the "Greater Israel" concept that outright excludes conceding any territory to the Palestinians. Maybe it's just me, but my pro-Israel stance includes the two-state solution, the continued stringent application of the rule of law by Israel's judiciary to prevent and punish excessive military actions against Palestinians where civilians are put at risk, and looking forward to the day when the security fence is no longer necessary and divisive of two neighbours who live side-by-side in peace and prosperity.

It is unfortunate that, for some people, being pro-Palestine includes a default position of being anti-Israel. Whether referring insidiously to the "occupation," the "apartheid wall," or "Zionist oppression," these people are blinded by their desire to see peace without accountability and responsibility being established by the Palestinian leadership. They want Israel to immediately unilaterally concede all territories that Israel occupied, not merely "territories" in the wake of comprehensive negotiations with a Palestinian leadership that has gained internal and external legitimacy, reined in terrorists and rejectionists, and is ready to move forward towards a lasting and just settlement. For those people, humiliating Israel appears to trump all other rational considerations, including even the truth, as this quote from a letter written in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald, exemplifies:
The Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Ter­ritories stand in violation of vir­tually every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and include extra-judicial assassination, torture, daily humiliation, de­nial of health care, demolition of thousands of homes and expro­priation of property for the cre­ation of illegal Jewish settle­ments.

Reality is far different from what this letter-writer states. The claims are so absurd that one could very easily go out and provide any number of links that utterly rebuke this pack of filthy lies. However, it is this type of deliberate misinformation that is relied upon by the pro-Palestine/anti-Israel crowd, and it is deeply insidious and harmful to any peace process. How can one expect to be part of the solution when they make such statements that serve only to incite hatred of Israel and falsely-based sympathy for the Palestinians? They simply cannot. Both sides have to make concessions that will be painful, yet to this point, only Israel has demonstrated that it is willing to do that in the name of peace.

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