[My hometown paper the Vallejo Times-Herald has a columnist, Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, who is well-known in local circles for her Arab-bashing, Muslim-bashing rhetoric. Her column this week was so much over the top, that her editors apparently thought it best not to carry it on their website. Too bad. You'll have to extrapolate what she had to say from my response here.]
Having kept such a low profile during all the killing in
She's back at it, spewing her trade-marked anti-Arab, anti-Muslim invective, making all the wrong judgments, oblivious to the irony of the charges she tosses out left and right, mostly right.
Irony? Let's take her opening salvo last Tuesday, keyed to the President's message to Muslim leaders that their people will judge them by what they build and not by what they destroy. Might we apply the same standard to
What have they built? A wall three-stories high to pen in one people and blind the other to the reality of what happens on the other side. Then there are the settlements – the huge white cities that dominate every hill from Hebron to Ramallah; the subsidized housing on someone else's land for over 260,000 Israelis, the "new reality on the ground" that, as Bob Simon pointed out on "Sixty Minutes," undercuts the two-state solution.
And what have they destroyed? In just the last month, they've destroyed 1,300 lives, more than half of them women and children. In that time, they've destroyed mosques, hospitals, food storage facilities, olive groves, 20 United Nations schools, and countless homes. They've destroyed the already-frayed support for moderate Palestinian leaders like Mahmoud Abbas. They've crippled hope. Worst of all, they've dragged the good name of Jewish moral sensibility through the muck of senseless, often gratuitous violence, putting their faith not in their – our – God, but rather in their military prowess unleashed against an essentially defenseless civilian population. And that is a sin I think Jeremiah might have something to say about.
But there is a second irony in Rachel's latest that needs addressing. It is her contention that there is some is some "unrivaled" Muslim "propaganda machine…that uses every conceivable cynical means to its end…the destruction of
The irony in this second contention of Rachel's is that the "unrivaled" propaganda machine at work around the Israel-Palestine issue is the Israeli Hasbara, an operation I'm sure Rachel knows well.
Hasbara? It is the Hebrew word for "explanation," or, more liberally translated, "public advocacy." And it is the Hasbara that is the "unrivaled propaganda machine." Having proudly worked for the U.S. Information Service for three years, I am in awe of it. Rather than try to explain its scope and reach, I'd just recommend that you click on http://www.infoisrael.net/ or http://www.hasbara.us/ or just google "Hasbara." You'll get the picture.
This was the network that was activated in the midst of the
What's left? Sadly, just the name calling, the ad hominem, shoot-the-messenger invective against critics – Israeli and American – who support the legitimate interests of
Yes, it is. Rachel does it so well, sometimes subtly, as when she puts quotation marks around
And then there is CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in
Bottom line, the time for knee-jerk name calling is over. Too much blood has been spilled in our shared