JUNE 16 2010 08:18h
It’s been a bad month for Israel. Although the news about its commando raid on the Gaza flotilla, during which nine activists lost their lives, has died down in Croatia, this is not the case in other countries. Every day new groups are announcing their sponsorship of humanitarian aid flotillas – from Iran to Turkey to Ireland - and the latest, even a group of German Jews: "We want to break the Gaza occupation and end the occupation of the West Bank as well," Kate Katzenstein-Leiterer, a member of the executive committee of the European Jews for a Just Peace, which is organizing the mission, told the German news magazine, “Der Spiegel”. "We as Jews want to bring the Palestinians something other than bombs."
In addition to the flotillas, there have been other forms of protest as well. Sweden launched a weeklong protest boycott of Israeli ships, (opposed by Carl Bildt), and many musical artists and groups have also decided to stay away from Israel. The Pixies, an American rock band, recently cancelled a concert in Tel Aviv that had been ten years in the planning, followed by rapper-musician Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, and Elvis Costello, who explained his decision as a matter of “instinct and conscience”, adding that “one lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament....there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent.” It was strangely coincidental that, at about the same time in mid-May, Israeli authorities prohibited Noam Chomsky, the respected linguist and unrelenting critic of Israeli foreign policy, from entering the West Bank from Jordan. An Israeli official explained the occurrence as “a mishap.”
One of the most controversial of the flotilla raid reactions is the case of long-time political correspondent, Helen Thomas, now aged 89, the U.S. born daughter of Lebanese Christian immigrants. For those of us who have watched White House press conferences over many decades, we remember a distinctive woman who was always seated, in respect for her age, in the front row. Considered by all to be astute, professional, and uncompromising in her analyses of every imaginable foreign policy issue, her recent comments on Israel, led, however, to her immediate retirement. The occasion was Jewish Heritage Month, and a rabbi at the White House event was recording the views about Israel of various invitees for his website. When he asked Helen Thomas what she thought, she responded: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. “Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland’s.” The rabbi asked where the Jews living in Israel should go. “They could go home. Poland, Germany,” Thomas replied, “ . . . and America, and everywhere else.” Soon thereafter, her employers dropped her, stating they did not wish to work with her any longer and were „unable to condone her comments.“, in spite of her apology. In it, she expressed her regret for the comments, which she said did not accurately reflect her belief „that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. „
But have the same standards applied in the U.S. to statements about Muslims, Mexican-Americans, and African-Americans? U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett has, in the past, called for a ban of all immigrants from „terrorist countries“, State Senator Jake Knotts called Nikki Haley, a prospective Governor of South Carolina, and, by the way, a Christian Sikh, a „f…ing raghead“, former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has called on Palestinians to leave Israel, editor of “New Republic”, Marty Peretz, has called Palestine “an utter fiction”, and so on, and so on, without suffering any appreciable consequences. So while it is unjust to ask Israelis who have lived their entire lives in Israel to return to the lands in which their ancestors lived, (should Americans be forced to return to Europe after their ancestors took the land of the Native Americans?), it is disturbing to be reminded that it's permissible to defame and denigrate some, but not others. The response to Thomas' statements shows total media bias as one prejudice is immediately attacked, and rightly so, while others are allowed to run rampant.
We have the same problem in Croatia, and it must not be tolerated, because no matter what the „party line“ is, discrimination is discrimination, whether practiced against Hercegovinians. Romas, Israelis, Christians, Muslims, or, in a strange twist, Kerum voters, none of whom, according to a moronic pronouncement from disgraced commentator Damir Butkovic, „like the theatre.“