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Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Polite Society' is paving the way to Israel's destruction

Bret Stephens just misses hitting the nail on the head in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. The road to Tehran's Holocaust denial conference was paved by people who were too polite to speak out. And if we all continue to be polite, Ahmadinadinnerjacket will God forbid destroy Israel with nuclear weapons.
Moral denunciation is what reasonable people do--what they must do--when a regime that avows the future extermination of six million Jews in Israel denies the past extermination of six million Jews in Europe. But let's be frank: Global polite society has been blazing its own merry trail toward this occasion for decades.

The Australian Financial Review is not the Journal of Historical Review, the Holocaust-denying "scholarly" vehicle of some of the Tehran conferees. But in 2002 the AFR thought it fit to print the following by Joseph Wakim, at one point the country's multicultural affairs commissioner: "Sharon's war is not a war," he wrote. "Genocide would be a more accurate description." In Ireland Tom McGurk, a columnist in the very mainstream Sunday Business Post, noted that "the scenes at Jenin last week looked uncannily like the attack on the Warsaw Jewish ghetto in 1944." Jose Saramago, Portugal's Nobel Laureate in Literature, observed after a visit to Ramallah that the Israeli incursion into the city "is a crime that may be compared to Auschwitz."

Never mind that the total number of Jews "dealt with" in the Warsaw ghetto, according to Nazi commandant J├╝rgen Stroop, was 56,065, whereas the number of Palestinians killed in Jenin was no more than 60. Never mind that at the time Mr. Saramago visited Ramallah a total of about 1,500 Palestinians had been killed in the Intifada, whereas Jews were murdered at Auschwitz at a rate of about 2,000 a day. Let's concede that, for the sake of moral truth, strained comparisons may still serve useful rhetorical purposes. (Jews and Israelis also often make inapt Holocaust and Nazi comparisons.) Let's concede, too, that the comments cited above amount to criticisms of Israeli policy, nothing more.
But Stephens misses the point. Those criticisms have nothing to do with 'Israeli policy' and his concession is a mistake. Couching those criticisms as criticisms of 'Israeli policy' provides the chattering classes - particularly in Europe - with the 'polite' cover they need to continue to criticize Israel as no other country in the world is criticized. And that is what must be stopped.

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