Legitimate debate is one thing. But reflexive bias against Israel means even basic security efforts to defend innocent civilians are criticized as violations of human rights.
In 1947, when excusing Soviet totalitarianism had become quite the rage in fashionable progressive circles, George Orwell eviscerated a British politician who consistently defended totalitarians but nevertheless denied that he was a defender of totalitarianism. “But of course he does,” Orwell wrote. “What else could he say? A pickpocket does not go to the races with a label ‘pickpocket’ on his coat lapel, and a propagandist does not describe himself as a propagandist.”
Orwell’s point holds true for today’s debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His pickpocket metaphor seems particularly applicable to those critics of Israel who can always be counted upon to decide that Israel has behaved miserably in defending herself, regardless of the suffering of Israeli civilians that their government is seeking to prevent and regardless of the actions of those who have caused that suffering.
These are individuals who nonetheless stoutly deny that they are in any way biased against Israel.
In fact, these critics view the very pointing out of what looks very much like anti-Israel bias as an affront.
Those who point out the critics’ seeming inability to ever locate a justification for Israeli actions, let alone a legitimate Israeli interest in self-defense, are dismissed as part of the “pro-Israel lobby,” who simply cannot tolerate anyone who has “the temerity to criticize Israel.” And as for the suggestion that they harbor any bias against Israel, very much like Orwell’s defenders of totalitarianism, they deny it, adamantly.
To be sure, there ought to be ample room for legitimate debate about Israeli policies. But there does appear to be a determination in certain quarters to hew to an anti-Israeli line on every issue, without exception.
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