[personal profile] tangaroa posting in [community profile] liberal
  • The American Civil Liberties has released an over-100 page document titled "Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity" which says that Muslims' civil rights are being violated by being unable to fulfill their religious duty to give to charity because the U.S. government has frozen the assets of a handful of "charities" that were caught sending money to banned terrorist organizations. It is a ridiculous premise, but there it is with the ACLU's name on it.

    The ACLU's primary grievance, above any concerns about the legal process, is that fake "charities" that send donors' money to terrorists are being shut down. The first page of the report declares the innocence of the al-Qaeda front organizations Benevolence International and Global Relief Foundation and of the Muslim Brotherhood front Holy Land Foundation (formerly the Occupied Land Fund). The report also passingly mentions the closure of two front organizations for the Tamil Tigers which the ACLU describes as having only "provided humanitarian aid". The report attempts to delegitimize the government's efforts to stop funding of terrorism by pretending that it does not exist.

    The ACLU gained the content of the report through interviews with "Muslims directly affected by the U.S. government's policies regarding Muslim charities and Muslim charitable donors" (as said by the ACLU, as the U.S. government has no policies on Muslims in particular); in other words, the guilty. The acknowledgements section of the report further thanks the Council on American-Islamic Relations (the former Islamic Association for Palestine) and the Muslim American Society, both fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood. The use of such sources explains why the report identifies Islam as synonymous with and best represented by those who support terrorism. It does not explain why ACLU officials were dumb enough to put their names on it.

  • Amnesty International has issued a report titled "22 Days of Death and Destruction" which accuses Israel of widespread war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Again, the premise is ridiculous. Israel took unprecedented care to avoid civilian casualties in this war, regularly informing the residents near target areas to evacuate ahead of attacks and canceling attacks if it looked like too many civilians would be hurt. This resulted in the Gaza conflict being the least damaging to civilians of any modern urban war that I am aware of.

    Amnesty's report condemns Israel for such normal acts of war as closing areas to civilian access, destroying buildings to eliminate potential defensive positions and clear a line of fire, using smoke bombs, using regular bombs and artillery, and mistakes made under inaccurate intelligence and the fog of war, all of which are routine in war and well within international law. In essence, Amnesty redefines the basic horrors of war as "war crimes" and faults Israel for them even though Israel was dragged into the war against the will of its dovish Progressive-Labour government, as the government of Gaza rejected all attempts by Israel and the Arab League to return to a ceasefire and continued bombarding Israeli cities through months of attempted diplomacy.

    A big sign of dishonesty in the Amnesty report is that it cites the known-fake casualty count from the Palestinian Commission on Human Rights which lists one of Hamas's regular armed units as "civilians" because Hamas officially calls them a "police" force. A significant proportion of PCHR's list of noncombatants have since been publicly confirmed as combatants by Hamas which publishes statements praising their military heroics on its websites. Given Amnesty's use of a source they know to be false and the general unreliability of Palestinian interviews that the rest of the report relies on, it must be questioned whether all of the facts listed in the report are actually facts.

    There likely are some legitimate grievances in the report that Israeli authorities should investigate, but like the ACLU's report on Muslim charities, the legitimate grievances are not the main issue. The point of the Amnesty report is to define any Israeli military action as a war crime. Even worse for Amnesty's reputation is an appendix which repeats the standard Palestinian misinterpretations of international law, most invented within the past ten years. This is a wholesale copy-and-paste of anti-Israel war propaganda that is republished under Amnesty's name. Among them is the lie that closing a border with a foreign country, as Israel did temporarily when the border crossings themselves came under attack, is "collective punishment". This shows us that Amnesty would have condemned Israel for "war crimes" for literally doing nothing at all.

  • Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting has published a report titled Smearcasting: How Islamophobes spread fear, bigotry, and misinformation". Within FAIR's list of "Islamophobia's dirty dozen", alongside bigoted thugs and neandertals like Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, and Michael Savage, is Steven Emerson whose Investigative Project on Terrorism publishes documents describing the activities of terrorist organizations within the United States, many of them primary source documents written by the terrorist organizations themselves. What makes Emerson "Islamophobic" to FAIR is that he was wrong in early speculation about the first World Trade Center attack and the explosion of TWA flight 800, and that he said the Oklahoma City bombing of 1996 -- which reminded every American over the age of 20 of the 1982 barracks bombings in Beirut -- was a "Middle Eastern" style attack.

    Also on FAIR's list is David Horowitz but not for any of the idiotic things he has said. Horowitz is listed for accurately identifying the Muslim Student Association as a Muslim Brotherhood front organization and for identifying "wearing green" and "Arab Keffiyehs" -- of which certain styles of these are symbols of terrorist organizations -- as signs of support for terrorism. There is not enough information on the specifics of the incident to know if Horowitz was right or wrong on that last point, but FAIR and the source it cites gives no consideration to the fact that terrorist groups do use the checkered kaffiyeh and the colour green as their symbols and that people in the U.S. have used these symbols to express their support for terrorism. Horowitz is condemned as an Islamophobe just for knowing about terrorist organizations, not even for opposing them.

    The list also includes Daniel Pipes who has said bigoted things against Islam in general, but let us examine the case FAIR cites. FAIR puts Pipes on the list for warning of the increasing "stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims, ... that this will present true dangers to American Jews." The ellipsis in FAIR's quote cuts out the key middle phrase "because they are so much led by an Islamist leadership", Islamist being one of the words that academics have attempted to coin to refer to the extremist strain within Islam that seeks to establish a worldwide theocracy through conquest. In this case, Pipes was speaking against the threat of Muslims being led by a right-wing leadership into supporting terrorism. FAIR either doctored the quote to make it sound worse or used an already doctored quote and failed to perform adequate research to confirm the quote's accuracy.

    FAIR's report includes many valid incidents of people smearing Islam, but in the points mentioned here FAIR describes any opposition to terrorism as bigotry against Islam in general. This echoes the theme of the extreme Islamic right wing that terrorism is the only true form of Islam and that those Muslims who do not support terrorism are apostates. There is no sign of involvement by the far right in making FAIR's report, but it carries the theme as well as if they had written it.

  • The organization Human Rights Watch went on a fund-raising trip to Saudi Arabia, among the world's areas with the least respect for human rights, to promote itself as an anti-Israel organization. Israel has a fair to good human rights record with very active human rights organizations and a government and court system that have historically run liberal to left-wing, but the Saudi government is at war with Israel and Saudi businessmen have lots of money. Money talks, and Human Rights Watch says what its financiers want them to. Human Rights Watch has a history of lying about Israel to smear the country, and it is a safe assumption that HRW will continue to consider smearing Israel with lies as more important than uncovering and solving human rights issues that actually exist.

  • Greek public television hosted a six-hour telethon, sponsored by ten Greek labour unions led by the Technical Chamber of Greece, to raise donations to rebuild a Christian hospital destroyed in the Gaza war. Jean Cohen of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency found a problem with that: the one Christian hospital in Gaza was undamaged by the war. The unions don't know where the raised money went beyond the Foreign Ministry which is not telling. Cohen reports that the people of Greece got to see a "six-hour telethon loaded with Israel bashing" supported by their government and trades unions.

What we see here is a pattern of framing and falsehoods made to support the furthest far-right elements of the Middle East but coming from extremely well-regarded sources: the ACLU, Amnesty, FAIR, and prominent labour unions and human rights groups. There is one more source of such framing that must be mentioned due to this source's even greater prestige, influence, and reputation. His name is Barack Obama.

During his historic speech in Cairo on June 4, President Obama got basic Middle East history badly wrong by saying this:

it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.

I can easily deny this because it is not true. Firstly and importantly, there is no "Palestinian people" unless of course one means the Jews. Obama is referring to an anti-Semitic terrorist organization called the Palestine Liberation Organization which, from its name and its many, many, many statements on the subject, is intended to "liberate" the Jewish homeland of Israel -- which non-Jews have called Palestine from Roman times to independence, and modern anti-Semites continue to call it that -- by removing its Jewish population.

So from where comes the notion of a Palestinian people? Arab League policy after Israel's war of independence was that Arab refugees were to be kept separate from the rest of the Arab nation and were not to be resettled until they returned victorious in the final conquest of the Jews. This remains the policy today throughout the Arab League. The refugees were Arabs like anyone else, but they were treated differently for being "Palestinian", and they were called "Palestinian" often enough and for long enough that they came to believe it. Then the PLO was given command of the refugee camps to train the people in what it meant to be "Palestinian". This Palestinian identity did not fully infiltrate into what are now considered to be "Palestinian" population centers, such as the West Bank's Arab cities, until the mid-1980s. The West Bank's Arabs until then were Jordanian or were simply Arabs without citizenship in any state, except for a few who acquired Israeli citizenship.

And from where comes the notion of a Palestinian desire for a homeland? This is simply the old Jewish grievance which Westerners have projected onto the Palestinians because it would provide a moral justification for Palestinian aggression and would also justify Western hatred for the Jews if the Jews are seen to be acting in a hypocritical manner. The fact that the lack of a homeland is not a grievance of the Palestinians has not stopped this simple,understandable, and completely wrong interpretation from gaining widespread acceptance, even in Israel. What the Palestinians want in a state is primarily two things. One is to permanently confirm the ethnic cleansing of 1948 in which Jews were expelled from another third of the land of Israel after having already been removed from the East Bank. The more strategic goal of a Palestinian state is to obtain the benefits of state sovereignty and control over people and resources so that no one can legally stop them from raising an army to invade Israel and kill all the Jews as soon as they are powerful enough to do so. The Palestinians have never sought anything less than the extermination of Jewish life in Israel. It is in this vein that Palestinian leaders' statements about the potential for peace with Israel have described it as a temporary measure, as a "soldier's rest" or with an analogy to Mohammed's hudna with the tribe of Koraish when he invaded them two years into a ten-year cease-fire, never as peace as Westerners would understand it.

The one line from Obama's speech shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a misunderstanding which will undoubtedly affect the foreign policy of the United States (and may already have). The fact that this glaring error reached the U.S. President's speechwriter, was not noticed by the President himself, and has since seen no opposition in the press suggests that propaganda supporting the far right wing of the Arab and Islamic world has already penetrated the Western mind to a significant degree.


Liberal thought and opinion

January 2013

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