There was a time several years ago when the State of Israel was the darling of the left. In resent times, all that has changed. Now Israel is demonized regularly by left-wing journalists, organized labour groups and leaders of other so-called progressive organizations.
As often happens in our polarized world, it is not enough, apparently, to criticize policies of those with whom one disagrees. That’s sissy stuff. Now, one is expected to make over-the-top claims and denouncements as we try to stigmatize our enemies—I chose the term “enemies” on purpose. We no longer have “adversaries” with whom we can occasionally agree; now we have “enemies” with whom we must have no truck or trade. And, of course, civility is strictly for pantywaists and the uncommitted.
The move to discredit and demonize Israel’s every action is a disturbing one because it so often distorts or ignores the facts on the ground. Disturbing also is the rhetoric, which often borders on anti-Semitism. Too many times, one cannot distinguish whether one is dealing with a real concern for the welfare of the Palestinians or with abhorrent, old-fashioned bigotry.
All of which leads me to recent comments by public figures who should know better: U.S. journalist Helen Thomas and NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies.
The veteran White House Press Corps reporter, Helen Thomas, recently retired after she made the controversial remark that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine.” Thomas said that Jews should “go home” to Poland and Germany. This she said to a rabbi with a video camera at a White House event to mark Jewish heritage month. Thomas, of course, has a Lebanese background and has probably held such views all along—now the public finally knows of her, apparent, disdain for the Jews in Israel.
New Democratic Party Deputy Leader and House Leader Libby Davies made her views on Israel’s right to exist crystal-clear when she said earlier this month that occupation of Palestinian lands started in 1948, which, of course, is the year the State of Israel was formed. She also made halting statements in support of the global anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
There was a lot of bafflegab surrounding her statements on the subject of the BDS campaign, but she did say “I’m very excited that its grown so much…,” and “I support what is going on… .” She also said there has to be “some kind of settlement” whether “negotiated” or “imposed” on Israel. [See Davies on the David Katz video here and decide for yourselves.]
“Imposed” on Israel? By whom I wonder?
It is clear to me that Libby Davies understood very well what she was saying and the implication of her words. Surly a deputy leader and the house leader of the NDP has enough general knowledge not to misunderstand the simple question that was put to her. If she did not know this subject well enough to make an accurate comment, then NDP leader Jack Layton has an incompetent deputy and house leader.
Davies equivocates in the apology on her website:
“My reference to the year 1948 as the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory was a serious and completely inadvertent error; I apologize for this and regret any confusion it has caused.”
But, frankly, I don’t believe she made an “inadvertent error” as she claims. She’s not the sharpest knife in the NDP drawer, obviously, but it’s unlikely she’s that poorly informed.
On second thought, maybe she that fatuous.
Back in June 2008, Libby Davies delivered, in Canada’s House of Commons, a Parliamentary Petition signed by a mere 500 or so Canadians demanding a new 9/11 investigation. The petition read by Libby Davies said, in part, that “the 9/11 Commission Report is a fraudulent document…,” and “that elements within the U.S. government were complicit in the murder of thousands of people… .”
Need I say more? Well, perhaps I should.
Clever people, including this writer, sometimes say pretty dumb things. But when dull or obtuse people reach high office, their words too often are mindlessly accepted as clever. And that’s dangerous for any democracy.