Bashing Israel: A Beginner’s Guide

Bashing Israel: A Beginner’s Guide

By Robert Liebman, Times of Israel blog, May 5, 2014 – slighted amended and photographs added, July 25, 2018

If you want to criticise Israel in terms so extreme as to definitely impress your friends and neighbors, you can amass an impressive intellectual arsenal by boning up on Middle East history.

Or you can save yourself considerable time and energy by learning a dozen or so emotive buzz words. Simply utter them and you win the argument as if by magic.

For example, after the Six Day War, the left condemned Israel for being fascistic, militaristic, colonialistic and imperialistic.

Never mind that such accusations more accurately described Israel’s enemies. These loaded words were the product of the heady hysterical Black Power and flower-power era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the radical left switched from supporting to detesting Israel.  It was more important to be right-on than right. It still is.

Fascist” has an even older pedigree. When leftists engage in a political arguments, odds are high that they will dub their opponent a “fascist” even – indeed, especially – if their adversary is also left of center. And many leftists still attribute shamanistic power to the word, expecting it to deliver an intellectual knock-out punch. Of course, overuse – as George Orwell noted decades ago – has rendered the term meaningless.

Oppressed” gets regular outings. The Palestinians are oppressed; someone must be oppressing them; that someone is easy to identify, especially if you are determined to demonize Israel regardless of the facts.

Mohammed Amin al-Husseini

Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem with friend.

Is it possible that the Palestinians are oppressed by themselves, and in particular by their leaders? When, in order to have their own state, the Palestinians simply had to say “Yes,” they were led by Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (in 1947-48), the Mufti of Jerusalem and ally of Hitler, and Yasser Arafat (Camp David 2000). Both men declined the offer. If the Palestinians had accepted the United Nations partition plan of 1947-8, they would now have more than 60 years of statehood behind them.

The Left makes no accusations against the Palestinians or their short-sighted leaders. Blaming the Victim is a no-no for the left, even if the victim is blatantly culpable.

Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat

At Camp David in 2000, Arafat maintained an All or Nothing position, and he got what he asked for. Nothing. The left bought his explanation that he was offered only bantustans; a now-impressive array of books and articles, clearly establish that Arafat had been offered a viable state – and much more.  The left nevertheless maintains the bantustan fiction.

When accusations of fascistic colonialism failed to bring down the state of Israel, the  radical left resorted to new heavier linguistic armament: Israel was an apartheid, racist state engaging in ethnic cleansing, even genocide.

Do these terms have any relationship to reality?

Unfortunately, they do. If you want to see apartheid or racism in action, go to any number of Arab countries – assuming they will let you in. And if they do admit you, how will they treat you, especially if you are a Jew but also if you are a Christian? Or a woman? Or gay?

And ethnic cleansing would have gotten a good workout had Israel come in second in any of its major wars.

Israel is undeniably powerful militarily and technologically. If it really went in for ethnic cleansing and racism, how do you explain the large number of Arabs who are citizens of Israel—and want to remain that way even if a Palestinian state were to be established next door?

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aims to bring Israel to its knees economically. If you are an activist lefty, how do you get the architects, bus drivers, car mechanics or zookeepers in your country to join the boycott? Simple: accuse them of being complicit with Israel.

And you can be complicit in wrongdoing even be merely visiting the country, as was alleged against a teacher and her class at an American university: “Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have claimed that the travel class makes Vassar complicit in supporting Israel and perpetuating oppressive policies and actions against Palestinians,” according to a report in

The SJP inserted the obligatory reference to oppression in its accusation of complicity, thereby using two buzz words in one go.

A Reuters dispatch noted that “Richard Falk, the outgoing United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told a news conference as recently as last week that Israeli policies bore ‘unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.’” That’s a hat-trick for veteran Israel-basher Falk.

The anti-Israel left regurgitates other manipulative terms on an ad hoc basis. Thus, when Israel engages in military activity, its actions are invariably disproportionate, amounting to war crimes or violations of human rights. Israel’s enemies are, and can never be, guilty of any of these charges.

All of these evils perpetrated by Israel point to the one and only satisfactory solution, a single unitary state that is Arab-dominated and also secular and democratic.

Of the many short phrases that come to mind at the thought of a secular democratic binational state, I invoke movie producer Sam Goldwyn: “in two words, im possible.”###


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