to shut up your critics with a single word
By Robert Fisk
21 October 2002
Thank God, I often say, for the Israeli press. For where else will
you find the sort of courageous condemnation of Israel's cruel and
brutal treatment of the Palestinians? Where else can we read that
Moshe Ya'alon, Ariel Sharon's new chief of staff, described the
"Palestinian threat" as "like a cancer there
are all sorts of solutions to cancerous manifestations. For the
time being, I am applying chemotherapy."
Where else can we read that the Israeli Herut Party chairman, Michael
Kleiner, said that "for every victim of ours there must be
1,000 dead Palestinians". Where else can we read that Eitan
Ben Eliahu, the former Israeli Air Force commander, said that "eventually
we will have to thin out the number of Palestinians living in the
territories". Where else can we read that the new head of Mossad,
General Meir Dagan a close personal friend of Mr Sharon
believes in "liquidation units", that other Mossad men
regard him as a threat because "if Dagan brings his morality
to the Mossad, Israel could become a country in which no normal
Jew would want to live".
You will have to read all this in Ma'ariv, Ha'aretz or Yediot Ahronot
because in much of the Western world, a vicious campaign of slander
is being waged against any journalist or activist who dares to criticise
Israeli policies or those that shape them. The all-purpose slander
of "anti-Semitism" is now used with ever-increasing promiscuity
against anyone people who condemn the wickedness of Palestinian
suicide bombings every bit as much as they do the cruelty of Israel's
repeated killing of children in an attempt to shut them up.
Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer of the Middle East Forum now run
a website in the United States to denounce academics who are deemed
to have shown "hatred of Israel". One of the eight professors
already on this contemptible McCarthyite list it is grotesquely
called "Campus Watch" committed the unpardonable
sin of signing a petition in support of the Palestinian scholar
Edward Said. Pipes wants students to inform on professors who are
guilty of "campus anti-Semitism".
The University of North Carolina is being targeted apparently
because freshmen were required to read passages from the Koran
along with Harvard where, like students in many other US universities,
undergraduates are demanding that their colleges disinvest in companies
that sell weapons to Israel. In some cases, American universities
which happily disinvested in tobacco companies have
now taken the step of blocking all student access to their records
Lawrence Summers, the Jewish president of Harvard, has denounced
"profoundly anti-Israel views" in "progressive intellectual
communities", that are I enjoyed this academic sleight
of hand "advocating and taking actions that are anti-semitic
in their effect if not their intent". Mr Said himself has already
described all this as a campaign "to ask students and faculty
to inform against pro-Palestinian colleagues, intimidating the right
of free speech and seriously curtailing academic freedom".
Ted Honderich, a Canadian-born philosopher who teaches at University
College London, tells me that Oxfam has refused to accept L5,000
plus other royalties from his new book After the Terror following
a campaign against him in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail. Now
I happen to take issue with some of Professor Honderich's conclusions
and I think his book praised by the American-Jewish scholar
Noam Chomsky meanders. I especially don't like his assertion
that Palestinians, in trying to free themselves from occupation,
have a "moral right to terrorism". Blowing up children
in pizzerias and Professor Honderich's book is not an endorsement
of such atrocities is a crime against humanity. There is
no moral right to do this. But what in God's name is Oxfam doing
refusing Professor Honderich's money for its humanitarian work?
Who was behind this?
Our own John Pilger made a programme for Carlton Television called
Palestine Is Still The Issue. I have watched it three times. It
is accurate in every historical detail; indeed its historical adviser
was a left-wing Israeli academic. But Carlton's own chairman, Michael
Green in one of the most gutless statements in recent British
journalism announced that it was "a tragedy for Israel
so far as accuracy is concerned". Why Mr Green should want
to utter such trash is beyond me. But what does he mean by "tragedy"?
Is he comparing Pilger to a suicide bomber?
And so it goes on. It is left, of course, to the likes of Uri Avneri
in Israel to state that "the Sharon government is a giant laboratory
for the growing of the anti-Semitism virus". He rightly says
that by smearing those who detest the persecution of the Palestinians
as anti-Semites, "the sting is taken out of this word, giving
it something approaching respectability". But we can take comfort
that 28 brave academics have signed a petition condemning President
George Bush's build-up to war and Israel's support for it and warning
that the Israeli government may be contemplating crimes against
humanity on the Palestinians, including ethnic cleansing.
Have Mr Pipes and his chums put the names of these good men and
women on their hate list? You bet they haven't. Because all of them
are Israeli scholars at Israeli universities.
I wonder why we weren't told about this.