Yup, that’s the low bar that’s been set by our government when it comes to debate about the policies of our closest ally.
…Our gathering is focused on the twin challenges of delegitimization and regional change. Despite the rhetoric, I don’t believe that increasing attacks on Israel’s right to exist and efforts to label its acts of self-defense “war-crimes” or even “crimes against humanity” are actually rooted in a belief in international law, or a principled evaluation of Israeli military operations.
What I believe is really driving most of these claims is a deep-seated and stubborn refusal to see Jews as a people. This conceptual failure – whether rooted in anti-Semitism (which it is) or ignorance (which it is) – leads to a refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, or to accept that it, like every state, has a fundamental right to self-defense.
Only Israel, the one and only Jewish state, is subjected to the humiliation of having its right to exist routinely questioned, and the right of its people to be free from violence openly rejected. Only Israel is the permanent whipping boy of the United Nations.
So we are faced with a paradox: While the anti-Semitism and discrimination Jews have historically faced (and in some places rightfully continue to fear) are based on the view of Jews as a people apart, the ongoing assault on Israel’s legitimacy is built upon the idea that the Jews are not a separate people at all, and are thus not entitled to self-determination.
And there are other contradictions worth considering: While Israel’s armed forces and economy have never been stronger, and the country has reestablished its deterrence with Hezbollah and Hamas, and suicide bombings have all but ceased, I would argue that in some more important ways, Israel has never been less secure. Moreover, I’d suggest that Israel may be least secure in exactly those areas we consider most invulnerable.
There’s just so much in that excerpt to take issue with. The first is the slight of hand in describing disagreement with Israeli government policies as per se delegitimization and anti-Semitism. When political disagreements regarding the Occupation are described in such a way there can be no reasonable debate about Israel or even our general policies in the Middle East.
When did any of the Flotilla activists say that Israel has “no right to exist?” They didn’t. Who said Israel has no right to self defense? No one. The question is not whether Israel has a right to self-defense- they do- but how they employ that right in certain situations. To state the obvious, the activists simply want an end to the Occupation and the blockade of Gaza, which they see as collective punishment. But once again, Ackerman is using the dishonest characterization that all pro-Palestinian activists share the same views as violent Islamic extremists, despite all the evidence to the contrary. If we use Ackerman’s flawed reasoning, we’d have to reach the conclusion that a sizeable minority of Jewish Israeli citizens don’t think Israel has a right to exist because they question Israel’s policies and practices with respect to the Palestinians. Just read any Haaretz editorial any day of the week. Is the entire editorial board a bunch of raving anti-Semites that want to see Israel “wiped off the map?” Hardly.
The second problem is that Ackerman admits that terrorism is next to nonexistent, the Israeli economy is booming, Israel’s military is the strongest in the region and external threats are largely under control. And yet still he claims that “Israel has never been less secure.” Ok, in light of that it’s time for some lay pop psychology- Ackerman’s analysis borders on delusional. It’s as though he needs perpetual conflict and the fear that accompanies it. He needs Israel to be the perpetual victim, no matter what the circumstance or the power imbalance between Israel and it’s neighbors. The problem with that, aside from the obvious, is that it doesn’t bode well for efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
It’s also important to note that the orchestrated effort by the U.S., the U.N. and Greece (among others) to successfully
bully prevent the flotilla from setting sail, demonstrates just how much power Israel truly has. Ackerman feels no need to mention the significance of Israel having the world’s superpower at its beck and call, willing to use our considerable power to keep scale perpetually tilted in favor of Israel.
It seems that many Israeli hardliners in both Israel and the U.S. have quite literally become addicted to Occupation. By wrapping every Israeli policy and action in the cloak of self-defense and every criticism described as delegitimization, they effectively recuse themselves from any accountability for anything. I simply don’t think they want to give that up.