Israel’s Losing Narrative

The Israel government still has most U.S. politicians and pundits under its thumb, but the Zionist narrative excusing the latest slaughter of Palestinians is losing the hearts and minds of millions of others around the world, notes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

For reasons unknown I have ended up on the list-serve of the American Jewish Congress. This means I receive messages sent out by its executive director, David Harris. Sometimes I even read them.

On July 18, I got just such a missive explaining that “too many in the international community fail to grasp the stark realities” Israel faces and its “severely limited policy options.” To set everyone straight Harris wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe (also dated July 18), a copy of which came along with his mailing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presses his case for the military offensive against Gaza in a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Israeli government photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presses his case for the military offensive against Gaza in a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Israeli government photo)

Since the horror in Gaza continues unabated and Harris’s letter can be taken as representative of the American Zionist point of view, I decided that it was appropriate for me to deconstruct his op-ed for my own blog and list-serve. One should note that a similar contesting of Israeli rationalizations, dealing with somewhat different points, appears in a July 25 online article, entitled “Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza – Debunked,” from the Nation magazine.

Before looking at the op-ed we should note that Mr. Harris lives in a very tightly defined world. It is a world defined by a set of unquestioned assumptions that are prescribed by a thoroughly assimilated ideology. That ideology is, of cours, Zionism, the a priori assumption of which is the right of Israel to exist as a Zionist state, that is an exclusively Jewish state.

Unfortunately, there are many negative consequences coming from this assumption and one major one is this: you cannot create a state for one group alone in the midst of a large population of other, non-group people, without creating a discriminatory environment. Statehood requires the institutionalizing of that environment through laws that create superior and inferior populations based on who is or is not in the favored group that the state is designed to serve. This will almost inevitably lead to segregation, extreme economic disparities and, quite possibly, ethnic cleansing.

This is exactly the result of putting the claim of Israel’s right to exist as a Zionist state into practice. The flip-side of this process is a piece of reality (not another assumption) that is nonetheless not allowed for in Mr. Harris’s world, and that is the discriminated population’s legitimate right to resist.

David Harris’s Op-Ed

Here are the main points put forth the Boston Globe Op-ed:

–Harris starts by laying all blame for the ongoing death and destruction in Gaza on Hamas. He calls the present round of fighting, “the latest Hamas-triggered war.” Is this accurate?

Actually the accusation is based on the unsubstantiated assertion of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s that Hamas ordered the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers from an illegal settlement in June. This event was the trigger – the foreground context – for the present confrontation. No independent credible evidence has been offered for Netanyahu’s accusation. Nonetheless, what followed was widespread arrests on the West Bank by Israel, carried out in a near-random fashion, as well as increased pressure on Gaza. Hamas responded to both these actions with renewed rocket attacks. The confrontation escalated from there.

The background to all of this is also worth noting. It was put best by the      astute and honest Jewish critic, M. J. Rosenberg. While condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza, he notes that “It is Israel which has kept Gaza under blockade since 2006 when it decided it would not accept the result of a free and fair election that put Hamas in power. A blockade is an act of war and Israel has, by that definition, been at war with Gaza for almost a decade, a war it waged through its incessant punishment of innocent civilians. Did Netanyahu think Hamas would simply accept that forever?” None of these facts are mentioned in Mr. Harris’s op-ed.

–Harris goes on to lament that “the hope for an early end [to the present fighting] was dashed when an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire proposal was accepted by Israel, but was met by Hamas by a barrage of rockets aimed at the Jewish state.” How accurate is this? It certainly is not the whole story.

The military dictatorship that now passes for a government in Egypt is an ally of Israel. What was put forth as a ceasefire offer was a plan conjured up by Egypt in consultation with Israel, and possibly the U.S., and then presented to Hamas as a take-it-or-leave-it affair.

Hamas was never consulted, nor were there any benefits for Hamas and the people of Gaza in the offer other than a temporary halt in the slaughter being carried out by Israel.

Here is what the renowned Amira Hass, one of the few objective Israeli reporters, put it: the offer “is not meant to bring progress and change to the people of Gaza, but to marginalize them [Hamas] as a political movement.”

Hamas itself had offered a ceasefire plan on July 14. It offered a ten-year truce in exchange for the lifting of the eight-year-old blockade – the one that constitutes an Israeli act of war and has turned Gaza into a huge open-air prison.

This ceasefire offer was not mentioned by Mr. Harris in his op-ed even though he must certainly be aware of it. Nor did the Western media that covered the one-sided Egyptian ceasefire offer pay much attention to the Hamas proposal, even though it would have given Israel a long-term respite from rocket attacks. Nor did anyone seem to remember that Hamas had made a similar offer back in 2008. Both then and now the Hamas offers were, to borrow words from Mr. Harris, “met by a barrage of rockets,” albeit ones fired from Israeli jets and tanks.

–Harris asserts that the present “reality” causes Israeli leaders to conclude that what they face in Gaza is “an adversary determined to at all costs to wage war, won’t change its outlook, [and] seeks to maximize murder and mayhem, and that this adversary must therefore be answered with a strong, unambiguous response.”

This is a rather bizarre assertion. From the Palestinian perspective (to which Mr. Harris will give no credence), this is an exact description of Israeli attitudes and policies. Could Mr. Harris be projecting the behavior of those he champions onto those he despises?

–Mr. Harris goes on: “It is important to remember that it [the present ‘murder and mayhem’] did not have to be this way.” What does he mean? He proceeds to lay out a “what might have been” story that goes as follows:

“In 2005 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew all settlers and soldiers from Gaza, giving this narrow strip of land its first chance in history to exercise sovereignty. That could have become the springboard for a new start, perhaps the beginning of a Singapore on the Mediterranean. But within two years Hamas seized power. Rather than Gaza’s construction the goal became Israel’s destruction.”

Does Harris really believe this? It certainly has no relation to how Palestinians experienced the event. From their perspective his story is at best a decontextualized invention. What he does not tell us is that Ariel Sharon was (according to David Ben-Gurion) a consistent liar and (according to major human rights organizations) a serial war criminal. His motives for pulling out the settlers out of Gaza had nothing to do with the future prosperity of the Palestinians, whom he despised and wished ultimately to be killed or expelled, and it certainly did not offer Gaza “sovereignty.”

The withdrawal of the settlers signaled two strategies on Sharon’s part: a concentration of Israeli settlement efforts on the West Bank, and creating the conditions for the blockade that now makes Gaza nothing short of a ghetto-like prison camp. It should be kept in mind – if possible even in Mr. Harris’s mind – that the strangulation of Gaza began before the election of Hamas to power in 2008.

–Finally, David Harris concludes his op-ed by insisting that Israel is a democratic society that plays by civilized rules while its adversaries are uncivilized, undemocratic and play by no such rules. He tells us that “this can be difficult for some outside the region to grasp. It runs so contrary to how we live our daily lives, much less how, when necessary, we wage war as democratic nations.”

Again, Harris has slipped into invention and fantasy. Israel is a full democratic society only for its Jewish citizens. For non-Jews it is not a democracy, but rather akin to an apartheid society. And, as to the waging of war, democratic nations wage war in barbaric fashion and do not hesitate to act as terrorists, too.

Hamas and the other Palestinian fighting groups, even at their most bloody, are pale reflections of the armies that have slaughtered millions of Vietnamese, Iraqis and Afghans and those that destroyed the peaceful society that once lived in Palestine.

David Harris’s Shrinking World

In truth, David Harris lives in a peculiarly narrow world. And, it is significant that Israeli behavior is causing the number of people who share that world to decline. Unfortunately, their number still includes some very powerful people, as witnessed by the U.S. Senate’s most recent unanimous vote to support Israel’s barbarism in Gaza.

Then again, most of these senators only precariously held to the Zionist cause through a process of political bribery. The truth is that outside Israel, Washington, D.C., and various other Zionist strongholds, David Harris’s worldview is crumbling.

And, as the numbers of those who share his viewpoint shrinks, other counter-groups, such as the boycott Israel movement, grow in number. Sooner or later a tipping point will be reached and then things will change and probably do so rapidly. On that day what will David Harris do? Blame it all on anti-Semitism? Take residence at the top of Masada? Or grudgingly seek to make his peace with the Palestinians?

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

18 comments for “Israel’s Losing Narrative

  1. Morton Kurzweil
    August 4, 2014 at 12:09

    He said, she said, accusations and interpretations, inventions and suppositions do not change the history of Islam or the constant internecine tribal warfare, the murders of Caliphs, the destruction of mosques and tombs of revered Shiite saints by Sunni patriots or Sunni demolition of Shiite holy sights. The destruction of Buddhist, Jewish, and Catholic monuments are justified by fundamentalist interpretations of the Qur’an.
    I suggest that Lawrence Davidson read the Qur’an before he justifies the acts of seventh century insanity.

  2. Judgment
    August 4, 2014 at 01:12

    Actually if they want a Jewish State it is their INTERNAL decision, but they cannot demand other nations to recognize is as such. In our case it would be unconstitutional to support a specific religion. This approach to their demand will nullify their intent described in your article.

  3. August 2, 2014 at 16:43

    You keep stating how a large numbers of Palestinians are being killed. Look at Syria where 150,000 people have died. If Isreal was not making a concious effert to not kill Palestinians there would now be 20,000 or 30,000 or more dead. Isreal is not like the Arabs who kill tens of thousands of there own people. So be careful what you complain about.

  4. Larry Gilman
    July 30, 2014 at 17:38

    Well said, Mr. Davidson. Thank you.

  5. Johnny Anderson
    July 30, 2014 at 12:20

    According to Major General Smedley D. Butler, in his book “War is a racket”, so has ALL wars started with a False-Flag Operation.

    That mean that triggering event with the three jewish kids being kidnapped and murdered is a False Flag Operation with 99% probability (it might be the first war that ever started without one), especially suspicious is that no evidence of perpetrator was presented by Israel.

  6. nmb
    July 30, 2014 at 07:09

    Israeli propaganda and the label of “anti-Semitism”

  7. Joe Tedesky
    July 29, 2014 at 11:10

    Rather than Israel use concrete to build roads for everyone to use, instead Israel builds huge walls. Israel also erects houses where they should not be building houses. Talk about the use of concrete!

    Let’s face it we could go on like this forever. In fact this has been going on like it seems forever. Israel being the strongest holds all the cards to settling this mess. I think it is long overdue for the finale.

    • rosemerry
      July 29, 2014 at 17:16

      I notice the comments from people like Harris are monotonously the same. They ignore all the pretexts, truce-braking, lies, attacks by Israel and blame Hamas for all damage done (ie the “terrifying” rockets sending Israelis scurrying to their shelters with no harm done because the USA has provided the “Iron Dome”, while “precision” bombs kill hundreds of Palestinians and land on hospitals, schools, mosques, playgrounds, beaches where Hamas has hidden its wicked weapons.

  8. Eudoro A. Olguin, P. E.
    July 29, 2014 at 09:27

    Gentlemen, Intelligent people should feel offended by the biased media reporting on the middle east Palestinian genocide going on.
    Let”s come down to basics and analyze the actual facts :
    According to the psychopath of Natanyahu, Hamas has lobbied 2,000 rockets to Israel, killing just two or three Israelis. This is his excuse of Israel to kill thousands of Palestinians trapped in Gaza, destroying their basic infrastructure, under siege for more than 8 years, attacking and murdering them with the latest arms supplied by our government, subservient to the Jewish Washington lobby. Don’t we have any morals and conscience that we keep quiet when innocent people are being.
    Please let’s use our heads and call a spade a spade and call the Israelis what they are: Criminals and Murderers.

    • TQ
      August 1, 2014 at 17:46

      you don’t know anything, you just like other you watch too much FOX news.
      This is NOT an excuse to kill children and mothers, Palestrina’s did not kill the Jews in Europe, Hitler did. how do you feel if someone kicked out of your home and bomb you with your family.

      You should read more history before you open your mouth. I can’t accept the killing of any child or any human.

  9. Anthony Shaker
    July 29, 2014 at 08:07

    Israel has now sealed its own fate. As the Achille’s heel of the “West”–i.e., the US, UK, France who finance its colonization and who have armed it with nuclear weapons–it has brought both itself and its handlers to the edge of an abyss.

    Europe’s original sin, we forget, is both the murder of Jews and the creation and empowerment of Zionism’s parasitic growth in the land of Palestine. Israel’s is the murder of an entire people. It parades itself as a “Jewish state,” but it has been implanted in a foreign soil owned and inhabited by another people, who incidentally refuse to vanish into the sunset.

    The clinically insane may dispute this understanding to their heart’s delight, but its veracity can be gleaned not only historically, but by Israel’s own behavior and gennocidal policies. From from the very outset, every leader of this borderless racial colony has shared in the belief that seizing the whole of Palestine alone will not be enough. Both the Left and the Right envision a “Greater Israel” (eretz Israel) in some form or other–the heart of the Middle East, not just the present-day entity called “Israel”–merely as a home base. This is because they are bent on subjugating the entire region, as preposterously and foolishly ambitious as this may sound to any sane person. And they do not flinch from using Takfiri terrorist proxies (including ISIL, now IS) inside Syria and elsewhere, as the mounting evidence indicates.

    This, of course, is a recipe for catastrophe, but not just for the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, etc., and not just for Israelis. Such depravity risks the future prosperity of the Jewish people.

    This is the scale and depth of the Zionist yoke. Its significance should not be ignored by our politicians. Religious or not, Zionists after WWII have trapped Jews in a new self-destructive, extremely politicized “religion” of self-worship and have embraced the dark, undefined future it entails. Rising from their historical obscurity, modern Jews quickly fell victim to the Anglo-American Zionist worldview of the cosmos. This worldview is based on a Zionist interpretation of the “Old Testament” and other intellectual forgeries, central to which is the myth of God’s Chosen People–a childish notion that has become the hallmark of Jewish racists and self-worshippers everywhere.

    Our leaders have an obligation to end these malignant beliefs, articles of faith that have been circulating for far too long.

    Today, the Jews of Israel have but one option: Renounce the Zionist myth and the very idea of a “Jewish homeland.” Short of that, I can assure you, there will not be neither peace, much less a Jewish presence anywhere near Palestine–with or without Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

  10. Susan
    July 29, 2014 at 07:30

    Last night C-Span hosted the following segment – will anyone be countering their propaganda??
    America is occupied.

    National Leadership Assembly for Israel

    Members of Congress and the Obama administration and other dignitaries spoke at the National Leadership Assembly for Israel, a gathering of the nation’s largest Jewish organizations and communities

  11. Hillary
    July 29, 2014 at 03:51

    The problem is that Jewish mythology is taken as factual by .
    All over the entire Western world, religious followers are fanatically dedicated to the idea that the words of their prophets and “holy men” are divinely given. Yet, the West also considers itself to be the world’s foremost region of learning, science, and reason.
    All this even after Dr. Israel Finkelstein a leading Israeli archaeologist explained in his book “The Bible Unearthed “ that Judaism is based upon mythology and that most of the evidence points to the bible being written in somewhere around the 7th century BC virtually as propaganda to show the glory of the Judean king Josiah and his “ imaginary” empire when most of the findings indicate most of Judah was a weak “empire” for much of the time and hardly rates a mention amongst the more powerful Egyptian and Assyrian empires and their more reliable writings. There was no Exodus , no “walls of Jerico” etc etc
    An insatiable belief in the “Bible” is the main reason Israel is being ALLOWED to carry out such its present atrocities without intervention.

  12. JWalters
    July 28, 2014 at 20:10

    Thank you for this excellent, truthful analysis, and especially for being willing to examine fundamental assumptions.

    A clear alternate narrative, that includes many facts ommitted from the official Israeli narrative, is here

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 29, 2014 at 10:59

      Interesting link you provided here. I am not going back to read all the references. Thanks for your input.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 29, 2014 at 11:01

        Correction; I am now going back to read. The references….darn typos.

  13. July 28, 2014 at 17:53

    Israel was a concept before it became a State and today is a State like no other.
    In fact it is the only Country in the World that does not define its borders in its Constitution and is now ready to expand its territory through the use of any means.
    The conspiracy is not a theory.
    The next World War is already a done deal behind the backs of all people which will be forced to fight for their own Countries in their obligation as citizens.

    This War will be inevitable and come by surprise.
    It will be the excuse to completely abolish the concept of Equality and all human rights associated with it, celebrating the rise of one “chosen people” so to weave Religions with their plot.

    The only possibility to counter this global threat is for Humankind to drop all its borders and to become like One single Country.
    Beyond any possible excuse of Religion or other, the Conflict must be defined from the beginning only pro or against Equality (and not Western versus Eastern block).

    The strategy of this conspiracy is “Divide and Conquer” and the solution begins with a new concept of Equality that is defined by a new discovery:

    To recognize Wavevolution is to also recognize a sort of Equality which is neither financial nor Equality between man and woman but it is instead the Respect of a newly found common origin reflected in a new system of values sculptured in a new set of rules.

    • N Dalton
      July 29, 2014 at 05:16

      Israel is the only Country in the World to expand its territory through the use of brutal force . . as they have currently demonstrated and while the world is watching in disgusting disbelief.

      There was every indication that it was Israel`s intention `to annex` the Gaza Strip for years,just as it has been with the West Bank and East Jerusalem where for years they have been using every opportunity provided by the ` Jew-nited States` diversions tactics – to built yet another 30,000 new settlement homes.

      What is really insulting,is that the EU-countries are standing idle by while watching the brutal killings of innocent Palestinians – quite obviously enjoying pure satisfaction by the senseless slaughter of human beings.

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