The Occupation: Attention Must Be Paid

Photo from ActiveStills

Moshe Yaroni, writing in Zeek, offers an extremely eloquent answer to the question “Why is there so much attention on Israel’s human rights abuses when there are so many other worse offenders, including Iran and any number of Arab states?”

This is a tired argument. Few states enjoy such close cooperation in the diplomatic, industrial, political and economic arenas with the United States than Israel. None of these countries have the kinds of human rights violations allegations made against it that Israel does due to a forty three year long occupation, one that has only grown harsher and more complex in its severity since the peace process first began in the early 1990s.

Israel is welcomed into the family of Western democracies, by the US and Europe, and therefore enjoys many benefits that Arab states and Iran and other states do not. Israel’s recent admission to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is the latest example. These benefits should carry with it raised expectations—Israel is supposed to behave better than Iran or Saudi Arabia.

The occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza are very serious issues. They are sources of immiseration and exploitation, with enormous global consequences. It is a fallacy to suggest that these issues, which involve American governmental and corporate support to a much greater degree than many other issues, cannot be protested simply because there are worse problems in other places.

Finally, few human rights issues around the world affect Americans to the extent that the Occupation does. Not only do they complicate American diplomatic and military efforts in the Middle East (even Dennis Ross, who wrote, with David Makovsky, the strongest argument against what they called “linkage” recently admitted this) but Israel is a close ally on many levels and is a focal point for the faiths of a majority of religious Americans. There is every reason for Americans to focus on this conflict.

10 thoughts on “The Occupation: Attention Must Be Paid

  1. David Moody

    I do not think it unreasonable to hold Israel’s government to a higher standard. More is expected of those who are (or claim to be) special.

  2. Shirin

    Very good response indeed, to what is in fact a spurious argument. On what basis do these people claim that Israel’s human rights record is not as bad as any other country in the region, and worse than many? Iran’s human rights record is worse? Really? In what way? What exactly does Iran do in the way of human rights violations that Israel does not do and then some? What violations do you find in Arab states that Israel has not also committed? What statistics can they cite that make Israel look better than anyone else?

    It is also important to point out that Israel’s terrible human rights record did not begin in 1967 by any stretch of the imagination. Let us ignore the pre-state period, and start with the 1948 ethnic cleansing of at least three quarters of a million Palestinians (and that is only the ones who registered with the UN as refugees, and does not count the displaced who took other options, and who, if counted, would bring the number to at least one million), then we can talk about the violations of the human rights of the small number of Palestinians who were not ethnically cleansed, some of which violations continue to this day. And let us not forget that between 1948 and 1967 Israel regularly violated the rights of Palestinians living in the as yet unconquered West Bank and Gaza. The fact is that Israel’s lousy human rights record began with the establishment of the State, and even before that.

    And finally, it is beyond ludicrous for a state that has the audacity to brand itself as a “light unto the nations” to whine and snivel that it is unfair when it is held to a higher standard than others. If you are going to swagger around boasting that you are superior to others, do not complain when more is expected of you than of them.

  3. Miriam

    It is great to see such an important piece in Zeek, and thank you, Brant, for calling it to our attention. We are very lucky to have you as a resource. As a Jew, Yaroni takes a risk to speak the truth about Israel/Palestine that many Jews are either too afraid or too committed to their myth to speak out. This, coupled with the fact that our US tax dollars help fund the occupation, should be enough reason to make everyone re-think the mythologizing that American Jews do with Israel.

  4. Shirley Gould

    I’m having a hard time changing my view of Israel after more then eighty years of a different viewpoint. I find the previous comment unworthy of attention. Such exaggerated descriptions do not reflect reason, especially when the writer will not disclose a real name.

    1. Shirin

      Shirley, specifically which of my descriptions are, in your view, exaggerated? Can you provide fact-based counter arguments to any of them?

      And on what basis do you say I “will not” disclose a real name? On what basis do you suggest that Shirin is not my real name?

    2. Eric Selinger

      Yes, it’s very hard to change one’s mind after 80 years, or even (in my own case) after merely half that.

      On the other hand, I don’t think that this difficulty reflects anything particularly noble or worthy in either of us. It’s just human nature, which bristles at criticism and is loathe to change, even under the best of circumstances.

      I think it’s to Brant’s credit that his views have changed, and are continuing to change, right before our eyes–not because I always agree with him, but because I find that sort of openness both admirable and unusual.

  5. ian sassoon

    Perhaps the Palestinians should teach their children to compromise instead of how to take great pride and joy by blowing themselves up next to innocent children. I think you should write a peace discussing the Palestinian’s records on human rights, how they place snipers in schools, strap bombs to women to cause terror, and use hospitals and mosques as munitions storages.

    1. Eric Greenberg

      Perhaps the Israelis should teach their children to compromise instead of how to take great pride and joy by killing innocent Palestinian children as a ridiculous overreaction to justify the Zionist narrative. I think you should read a peace discussing the Israel’s records on human rights, how they use snipers against school children, shoot protesting woman, to cause terror, and use hospitals and mosques as target practice.

      See I can use hyperbole too.

      Maybe if you started to view Palestinians as human beings and not inhuman caricatures, you’d be able to recognize Israel’s sins against them are real and not just information you prefer to ignore.

    2. Shirin

      The Palestinians HAVE compromised. They have agreed to relinquish their claims on 78% of their homeland in exchange for freedom in the 22% that was left after 1948. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be enough for Irael.

  6. Israel Gershon

    Moshe Yaroni’s words are sincere and measured. Though I don’t necessarily agree with his point of view, I do appreciate the way he expresses it. Unfortunately some of the comments posted here in this blog are loaded with vicious propaganda and rhetoric that only contributes to the violence we should be trying to end.

    Stop the demonization of Israel, and when you demand that Israelis be honest, be sure you demand the same of the Palestinians and their supporters. Seek peace, not hatred.


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