There’s a pretty decent op-ed today in the New York Times today…it makes several points which have been missing from the right/centrist/left discourse on Israel in the last few years, and more specifically in the aftermath of Israel’s unprovoked attack on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara. Though I don’t agree with all the points, I do see value in highlighting this:
Israel is a state like any other, long-established and internationally recognized. The bad behavior of its governments does not “delegitimize” it, any more than the bad behavior of the rulers of North Korea, Sudan — or, indeed, the United States — “delegitimizes” them.
Indeed, I would proceed from a necessarily Moebius perspective of that statement: neither country has legitimacy to begin with.
What has really been missing from this discourse, especially from more progressive circles, is a frank assessment of one’s own status as rogue-nation-citizen. As an example: it really is difficult to understand Elvis Costello’s logic, as he boycotts shows in Israel, after having just finished an eastern seaboard tour in the US, a country with two simultaneous occupations. If there’s a difference in the profiles of the respective occupations in terms of the misery they cause the populations that suffer under them, then the US would surely–with its five to eight hundred civilian kills per year in Afghanistan alone–put that of Israel to shame. And the role Costello’s country played in our military adventuring goes without saying.
This phenomenon of unexamined opprobrium continues with the sudden coronation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as some kind of Pro-Palestinian hero. Erdogan’s dealings with his own “Palestinian” problem, the PKK Kurds in Iraq—who he bombed just weeks before, and immediately after, the incident—have always been easily ignored by the international community, and especially the Arab world. Turkey is a US ally and the Kurds serve no propaganda purposes for surrounding repressive states.
The idea of Erdogan riding a ship into a pre-arranged press spectacle at the outer ring of Israel’s territorial waters is as nauseating as Iran and Turkey’s propaganda mills generating story after story about Israel’s connection to the PKK; the PKK using the rumors of connection to Israel as a propaganda ploy; and the Turkish Islamic movement riding anti-Israeli fervor into the halls of power. The list of repressive states manipulating the issue is as long and depressingly oval as one can imagine; Egypt recently effectively outlawed Israeli-Jewish/Egyptian marriages–even as its leader-for-life Mubarrak has engineered extra aid grants from the US, free from linkage to human rights progress. The money will line the coffers of his successor son and grandson so long as they carry on the tradition of helping Israel and the US carry out their machinations in the region.
In this sea of turds, singling Israel out for special condemnation is increasingly revealed as a failed and immoral strategy. What it has done, and obviously successfully, is to lend a veneer of normalcy and baseline legitimacy to state actors that are as reprehensible and murderous as Israel could ever hope to be.
In this case, then, the only solution is to boycott one’s own country. Divest from America. Stop supporting your own murderous nation first, many good things will thus flow from there.