JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: DEMOCRACY AND THE TYRANNY OF A MAJORITY – ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS – USING UGLY NAME-CALLING TO SILENCE LEGITIMATE CRITICISM OF UNFAIRNESS   5 comments

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN MIDDLE EAST MONITOR

 

“Jews are being used as human shields in the war of words over anti-Semitism”

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190726-jews-are-being-used-as-human-shields-in-the-war-of-words-over-anti-semitism/

 

In the photo at the top of this article, a woman holds a sign saying, “Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism.”

That should not even need saying. It is simply a truism. A platitude. Not much different in its analytical content than saying the sun will rise tomorrow.

But it does need saying. Very much so.

Why?

Because we have a vigorous and well-financed group claiming otherwise, and doing so incessantly.

The group has its own reasons for saying so, but those reasons have absolutely nothing to do with human rights or prejudice or fairness or even decency.

It is a well understood principle that when you make enough noise about anything, it has an effect.

It is accepted in advertising and in political propaganda, a branch of the same persuasive art as advertising, that “if you throw enough crap at the wall, some of it will stick.”

That unpleasant reality is just part of our human condition. Fanatical or unscrupulous people will always seek to exploit it. Always.

There is a close-to-exact historical parallel for this controversy of labelling people as anti-Semitic because they criticize Israel, one which I think clarifies things considerably.

Was criticizing the old Soviet Union evidence of hatred for Russians, what has today become known as Russophobia?

Of course, it was not.

There was a great deal to criticize about the Soviet Union, about the way it treated people, its own and others, about its readiness to use brute force to reinforce its position, about its respect for human rights and freedom.

And exactly the same is true today of Israel. Almost down to the last detail, just all on a smaller scale of millions rather than tens of millions.

Israel is a state, not a religion or an ethnicity, not a museum exhibit about events from another continent three-quarters of a century ago. It is a place where millions of people try to live their lives, try to have families, try to become educated, try to get ahead, try to build hopes for the future.

More than one kind of people. Millions of another kind of people.

And those millions are absolutely blunted in their basic human drives.

All states are capable of wrongdoing, of abusing others, of misuse of force, of ignoring human rights and even humanity. Such is the nature of states if viewed as tools for a purpose, as they frequently are.

Democracy or claims of democracy are no defense because a majority of people determined to be unfair can, in fact, prevail indefinitely.

Efforts are made in many democratic states to prevent an ill-intentioned “tyranny of a majority” with Bills or Charters of Rights, documents which define basic rights for all and with legal force to redress injustice through the courts.

But Israel has no such minority-protecting document, nor can it ever expect to have one, given the unusual nature of its founding principles.

If a majority of the residents in a state want to be unfair in some way, the state gives them the machinery to enforce the unfairness in perpetuity. This is precisely what we see in Israel.

It is nothing new. We’ve seen it in many historical examples, from the Soviet Union to Nationalist South Africa and to the old American Confederacy.

Those just happen to be examples of what contemporary Israel represents. I’m sure it is not comfortable to be told so, but who ever claimed that truth is always comfortable? Indeed, we know to a certainty that it often is not.

And right-minded people, people who love human liberty and justice, people who uphold classical Western liberal principles, must speak up in such situations, even though it automatically condemns them to be called names and insulted.

 

 

 

 

Posted July 26, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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