Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Eve Garrard post at Norm's

Two wrongs don't make a right of course, nor is that the argument. Nor is it the argument that Israel does right, or is in the right, or is an ideal to aspire to. But if you prefer to construe it as a full blown apologia, no doubt you will. And if you do, this is the way it goes. Here's how Eve Garrard goes about it.

Fintan O'Toole thinks that Israel regards itself as 'exempt from the demands of common humanity' (via Z Word Blog). Iain Banks thinks that 'simple human decency' means nothing to Israel (see this normblog post).

Two well-known writers, very anxious to tell the world that Israel lacks humanity. Israel's not like the rest of us, the rest of the human family. Compared to other nations, it's inhuman. It doesn't recognize what everyone else knows about, the simple requirements of being decently human. It ought to recognize these things, it isn't hard to do so, since they're so simple; and most other people do, since they're part of common humanity.

Leave aside the sinister provenance of that claim, and let's just consider it on its own.

Turkey has killed between 30,000 and 40,000 Kurds in the last 30 years; it occupies North Cyprus; it blockades Armenia and denies its own historical genocide. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Sri Lanka, at the same time that Israel was fighting in Gaza (around 1300 dead) killed about 25,000 of its own civilians in the course of repressing an insurgency. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Sudan has killed something in the order of 200,000 people in Darfur, with countless rapes and tortures alongside. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Iran rapes and tortures and murders its own dissidents who ask for democracy; it hangs young gays, it oppresses women. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Yemen is blockading South Yemen, it lets no food, medicine or water through; unlike Israel, which lets around 15,000 tons of supplies into Gaza every week. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Egypt is considering a law to strip their citizenship from any Egyptian who marries an Israeli; it persecutes Copts; it blockades Gaza. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Russia kills 25,000 to 50,000 Chechens, and almost completely razes the capital city of Grozny; its soldiers inflict hideous tortures on their prisoners before killing them; investigative journalists are murdered. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

And she goes working through China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Congo, and of course none of those places lack simple human decency or are exempt from the demands of common humanity. Nor indeed is the UK or the USA with its troops here and there. All these places, including we ourselves, make mistakes, sometimes grievous mistakes, but none of these places - none of us - lack simple human decency or are exempt from the demands of common humanity.

She ends:

...every point I've made in this post has been made before, by many others, many many times: forcefully, cogently, analytically; both passionately and dispassionately; with humour and with despair. It hasn't made the slightest difference to the likes of Banks and O'Toole. Nor to the many others shouting or whispering at us, in the teeth of the evidence, that Gaza is the new Warsaw Ghetto, and that Israel is really Nazi Germany come again - and so it's fine to hate Israel, it's to your credit to hate it, it shows the world that you have simple human decency.

Why is this? And where will it lead?

You tell the only Jewish nation in the world that it is the only one that lacks simple decency and is exempt from the demands of common humanity and demand it be the only nation subject to a cultural boycott, and well, I think I do know where it's leading. It's already some way down the road I recognise by instinct.

But we needn't worry about that. It's hard to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. It's what people like us are concentrating on. We are good people. We want to do good. We are all good people.

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