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Why Does Israel Get So Much More Left-Wing Criticism than France?

Sasha Volokh is right to point out that not all left-wing criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic or otherwise biased, even in cases where the critics attack Israel while ignoring other government that are guilty of similar offenses to a much greater extent. As Sasha puts it:

For instance, one might think that only Israelis are sane, basically rights-respecting, and receptive to basic Western values — so that one can appeal to Israelis' basic principles in arguing that they're acting wrongly. Or one could believe that only Israel — and not Sudan or China — has a healthy enough democratic culture that this sort of treatment will change its policies. In other words, far from being an anti-Semitic policy, the boycott could be an act of deep respect for Israel, essentially saying: "Only you guys aren't savages; we think you might actually listen."

But I am skeptical that this distinction really does account for the vastly disproportionate focus on real and imagined Israeli offenses in many left-wing quarters. The problem is that even other liberal democracies don't get even a fraction of the criticism that Israel gets when they enact comparable policies.

Consider the case of France, which doesn't get so much as a tiny fraction of the hostility directed at Israel, even though most of the accusations typically made against Israel could just as easily be leveled at the French government. The French comparison is far from the only example of anti-Israel double standards. But it has the virtue of highlighting that double standard with unusual clarity because the main arguments used to defend the double standard in other cases simply don't apply to France. The French surely accept "basic Western values," and have a "healthy democratic culture" at least as much as the Israelis do. Let's consider the bill of indictment that left-wingers could make against France were they so inclined:

I. Human Rights Violations.

The French state's likely complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide (see here and here) by itself dwarfs all the human rights offenses that can reasonably be charged against the Israelis. France's draconian anti-terrorism laws infringe on civil liberties as much or more than Israel's do, and much more than those of the US. Yet even utterly bogus claims of Israeli "genocide" get more attention than France's role in Rwanda.

II. "Imperialist" Occupation.

For those who believe that occupation is the greatest of all evils, there is the fact that French troops have repeatedly occupied various African nations over the last 40 years in order to prop up regimes that support French economic and political interests or help overthrow those that don't. This, despite the reality that the security threat these governments pose to France is negligible compared to that posed to Israel by its Arab neighbors. When it comes to the traditional left-wing bete noir of "imperialism," the Israelis are pikers compared to the French.

III. Mistreatment of Muslim minorities.

Finally, France's treatment of its large Muslim minority leaves - to put it mildly - a great deal to be desired, and is hardly better than Israel's treatment of its own Muslim Arab minority (which, I agree, includes a great deal of unjustified discrimination). France's restrictive labor policies have led to 14% unemployment among the country's mostly Muslim immigrant population, with much higher rates than that among the young. The government has also forbidden Muslim students to wear veils and other religious symbols in public schools - a restriction on Muslim religious expression that goes far beyond anything done by the Israelis.

I do not claim that all these French policies are completely indefensible (except for the Rwanda case). To the contrary, there are at least minimally plausible arguments for all of them. For example, I have some sympathy for French arguments that the regimes their troops prop up in Africa are often less bad than the likely alternatives.

But similar arguments can be used to defend the parallel Israeli policies; If French-supported African dictators may be better than their rivals, there is at least an equally strong case that the Palestinians are better off under Israeli occupation then left to the tender mercies of Hamas and Fatah (the realistic alternatives). Despite their many (often legitimate) grievances against the Israeli government, Israeli Arabs almost uniformly reject proposals to transfer their villages and towns to Palestinian rule. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza has not noticeably improved the lot of Gaza's Arabs, and may well have worsened it.

It is, I think, still possible to make a left-wing case that, overall, Israeli policies are, say, 10% worse than French policies. Perhaps even 50% worse. I don't agree with such claims, but they are not wildly implausible. However, it is utterly impossible for a fair-minded observer with typical left-wing values to conclude that Israel is 100 or 1000 times worse than France. Yet the ratio of left-wing criticism of Israel to left-wing criticism of France is far closer to 100-1 or 1000-1 than 1.5-1.

Perhaps the difference is due to ignorance. Many of those who spend lots of time and energy attacking Israel may simply be unaware of comparable French policies. Perhaps it is due to the far greater media coverage of Israel. But that only begs the question of why so many left-wing intellectuals and activists spend so much more time and effort learning about Israeli shortcomings than French ones, and why a mostly left-liberal media does the same.

Not even the alleged left-wing bias towards "underdogs" and against "the powerful" can explain the disjunction. France is much larger and more powerful than Israel (with about 10 times Israel's population and GDP), and France's enemies are weaker than Israel's are. From any objective viewpoint, France's policies are far more important than Israel's and deserve far greater attention. Perhaps not ten times more, but certainly not 100 times less.

Is anti-Semitism the only cause of the disproportion between left-wing criticism of Israel and those of France? Almost certainly not. Perhaps it is not even the most important cause. But the other likely causes - bias against a nation perceived as more of a US ally than France, sympathy for France's (pre-Sarkozy) anti-American rhetorical stance, an implicit belief that Jews should be held to "higher standards," etc. - are only marginally more defensible.

UPDATE: In case it wasn't clear enough in the original post, I am NOT analogizing France's treatment of its Muslim citizens with Israel's treatment of West Bank or Gaza Palestinians. I am analogizing that French policy with Israel's treatment of its Arab citizens.

However, I AM analogizing the condition of West Bank Palestinians to the condition of Africans living under dictators propped up by French occupying troops. Thus, claims to the effect that "France treats its Muslims better than Israel treats West Bank Palestinians" do not undermine my argument in any way. Defenders of the double standard between Israel and France must instead show that the condition of the West Bankers is overall worse than that of Africans living under dictators installed or propped up by the French military.

As I noted in my original post, both the French and Israeli military occupations can be supported on the grounds that the available alternatives (Hamas, Fatah, various repressive African rulers) are worse. Thus, I'm not necessarily condemning either. I do, however, insist that both be judged by the same standards.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Why Does Israel Get So Much More Left-Wing Criticism than France?
  2. On pro-Jewish anti-Zionism:
  3. Boycotting the British UCU Boycott of Israel:
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
You might want to add to the list of offenses for which France has received surprisingly little criticism the war crimes that France committed in Indochina and Algeria. In the latter case, I had a friend who was a medic in the French army in Algeria. He not only described to me individual incidents of atrocities that he witnessed but told me that he and other medics were ordered not to treat Algerian wounded. (Of course, behaviour on the other side was not wonderful either, I gather. But two such wrongs do not make a right.)
7.10.2007 3:56am
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
To toss another shrimp on the barbie, I have very rarely heard France's atomic weapons criticized as a threat to world peace, but I hear that about Israel's weapons fairly frequently. Its my understanding that France has an active testing regime, which does not seem to draw much international ire. I shudder to think what would happen if Israel decided to test fire a nuclear weapon.
7.10.2007 4:23am
Evelyn Blaine (mail):
Just a factual point:

France's last nuclear test was on 27 January 1996, shortly before committing to the CTBT.

Israel may have tested a nuclear weapon once, perhaps in conjunction with South Africa, on 22 September 1979, but the specifics of this incident remain quite mysterious. See here .
7.10.2007 5:16am
sashal (mail):
what, France is a new Clinton?
Current misbehavior of some could be excused by past behavior of others?
Sasha Volokh was absolutely correct.
Not all critics of Israel are anti-Semites, but all anti-Semites are critics of Israel
7.10.2007 8:06am
dxbeckerRochesterMI (mail):
I fear I must dissent from these remarks in one regard. I fully believe that a vicious, virulent anti-semitism lies at the heart of much of the criticism of Israel (and the Iraq war, of which Israel is a primary beneficiary.) The anti-Israeli venom is hateful and often promulgated by highly educated individuals; it is not believeable that ignorance of France's policies is the reason. In the west, a fair amount also comes from the heart of the old Europe anti-semitic countries, the UK, France and Germany. The left has always hated Jews, and the success of Israel and the fact of the Iraq war has given it an oportunity to express that hatred.
7.10.2007 8:15am
Justin (mail):
Here, parody becomes reality. Not sure if Ilya knows any liberals well, but one of the great cult liberal movies is the Battle of Algiers (which is, btw, an absolutely fabulous movie). Historic French is not some sort of lovefest of liberals. The idea that liberals just love all things French is a fiction that I previously thought only resided in the head of DB and Jonah Goldberg.

But though I tend to support Israel (aside from its recent invasion into Lebanon, which I was opposed to) and focus my outrage on....other injustices, do you *REALLY* need to ask why liberals aren't out marching against African occupation?

Sasha had it right. And I do think there may be a serious issue about squeaky wheels getting grease and the infatada (which deserves to be condemned, but condemning a bunch of terrorists who hate you anyway is such a useless act, no?). But this hardly seems like a serious approach to the argument.

I have a lot of friends who are anti-Israel, or at least used to in college and law school, and when I lived in Europe. And while their anti-Israel passion sometimes was - irritating (as was there desire to talk about it when I just wanted to drink), I never felt any of them were anti-semetic, either towards me or towards Jews in general. Their complaints didn't seen obscene or imaginary, just incomplete. It was nice when people could disagree on an issue without their motives immediately questioned.
7.10.2007 8:21am
Justin (mail):
dx,

Do you know any liberals? Do you know anyone from "old Europe?" Anyone at all?
7.10.2007 8:22am
Justin (mail):
Patrick, while I completely support Israel's right to have nuclear weapons, do you really need to ask yourself why Israel having it might appear to a reasonable person to be more of a problem than France?

Do you think the US having nuclear weapons is as great as a threat to world peace as Israel? as Pakistan? as Iran?
7.10.2007 8:24am
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Thank you for the first factual correction.
7.10.2007 8:24am
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
>>
Patrick, while I completely support Israel's right to have nuclear weapons, do you really need to ask yourself why Israel having it might appear to a reasonable person to be more of a problem than France?
>>

Tell me why you think a reasonable person would think that Israel having nuclear weapons is uniquely a problem. The answer I would expect to hear, from someone who believes that Israel having nuclear weapons is uniquely a problem, is that Israel is likely to use nuclear weapons against its (real or perceived) enemies as a first strike, and that France is not.

I disagree that a person who believes this is reasonable, given Israel's history of extraordinary restraint relative to its military capability. If they wanted to inflict tremendous damage on any target in the region they could, without recourse to nuclear weapons.

I suppose an alternative theory is that Israel would escalate a conventional conflict which they were losing into an atomic one. This also strikes me as unreasonable, given that no state exists in the region which has the capability of defeating Israel in a conventional conflict.

There is the "rogue Israeli commander" scenario. I think the "Israeli military officers are uniquely prone to sudden and inexplicable acts of nuclear terrorism", a necessary prerequisite for this explanation to fly, is unreasonable.

I suppose another person might suggest that "the Jews" having the bomb uniquely inflames Islamic terrorists and states, which would not feel the need to pursue the bomb absent the Israelis having it. This also does not strike me as a reasonable explanation. Nukes are even more attractive when your enemy doesn't have them than when he does, and even if they weren't the US having nukes gives folks plenty of reason to want them even if the Israelis were only armed with conventional weapons.

Am I missing a reasonable explanation here?
7.10.2007 8:40am
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
The devil is always in the details.

I'd love to see those critical of Israel's policies propose a solution compatible with their human rights ideals which does not also create a hostile state on Israel's border.

For example, according to the detractors, how *should* Israel deal with the rockets flying from Gaza? How *should* it deal with the rockets flying from Lebanon? How would these detractors react if rockets were flying into their own hometowns?
7.10.2007 8:43am
J_A:
The main difference between the treatment by France of its Muslim minority and the treatment of Israel of the Palestinians (not of the Israeli Arabs), is that the French Muslims are mostly citizens (or legal residents) in France, whereas Israel is an occupation army and the Palestinians are actually citizens of no actual state (even those of Gaza).

It might be that because of historical or social reasons the French labor laws, or its fanatical secularism in areas such as education, may have a disproportionate impact on the Muslim minority, but the system was not designed to favor non-Muslims and disfavor Muslims. Hence their situation is more akin to Israeli Arabs, which are also citizens, though it might be that, like in France, they are victims of the majority's racism of suffer disproportionately under facially neutral laws (I am far more familiar with France that with Israel).

Though I can accept that French Muslims are as well or as badly treated as Israeli Arabs, I don't think anyone can validly affirm that Palestinians in the West Bank have the same treatment by Israel than Israeli Arabs. When that happens, I think most of the criticism against Israel will disappear.

With respect to things like the Indochina wars (which happened before most of us were born) and the Algeria war (which is also more than 40 years old), they were criticized quite severely in their time, both inside France as well as internationally. The Algeria war was the proximate cause for the constitutional changes in France that created what is called the 5th Republic. However, the Algeria War ended officially in 1962. Should we keep harping on it after 45 years? Are we seriously saying that Israel cannot be criticized for what is happening today unless we devote equal time to criticize events taht happened 50 years ago? what about what the Germans dis in the 40s? That was bad too. Why stop there? shouldn't we also talk about Israel and American conquest of the west? or the Spanish conquest of America? The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is relevant and can be criticized (both with respect to the Israeli and the Palestinian actions) because it's happening now and because what happens there impacts significantly what happens in the rest of the world. Regretfully the Indochina or Algerian Wars are only relevant nowadays for history buffs like myself.

BTW, until very recently, the Algeria War was the last publicly acknowledged use of torture (by both sides, the French and the independentists) and till recently was the frame for most debates on the usefulness or not of torture. Regretfully, we have recently shifted that frame from Algeria in the 50s to America fifty years later.
7.10.2007 8:46am
PEG (mail) (www):
The answer to your question is simple: France is perceived as a left wing nation, while Israel is not.
7.10.2007 9:01am
otto (mail):
The real difference is that Israel is a racist settler state which is actively pursuing racist colonisation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a policy driven by intense ethnic chauvinism. Indeed the Palestinian Arabs have suffered about a hundred years of Jewish colonisation and ethnic cleansing (into which category I would also put efforts to force the Israeli arabs outside Israel, in the same way that South Africa tried to push the blacks into 'independent' Bantustans).
The fact that the "Why does Israel get criticised so much" post does not mention the word settlements is rather telling - it is the settlements which are the main reason why Israel is criticised.
7.10.2007 9:04am
advisory opinion:
"In the west, a fair amount also comes from the heart of the old Europe anti-semitic countries, the UK, France and Germany."

Don't forget Norway. Ther casual anti-Semitism one encounters there from even well heeled, well-to-do ostensibly cosmopolitan types is shocking. That said, maybe I just move in the wrong circles . . .
7.10.2007 9:12am
advisory opinion:
"Historic French is not some sort of lovefest of liberals. The idea that liberals just love all things French is a fiction . . ."

Who said it was, Justin? Somin's point is that there's a jarring discrepancy between condemnations of the two. It's relative comparison. You don't have to assert a love fest to make that point. So ditch the herring . . .
7.10.2007 9:16am
Jeff Boghosian (mail):
I think most of us, including myself, don't know a whole lot about the foreign policies of these various countries. As a liberal, lately I've been criticizing the U.S., Israel, and Burma, but not because those are the worst offenders - with the exception of Burma. Is it partly explained by the constant stream of news on Israel and it's neighbors, and depending on where one gets their news, often one sided?

I can't speak for all liberals, but for me, the idea of taking someone's land is one of the worst actions a country can take. I think it's worse that killing people. I guess I assume there will always be people attacking one another, but to have any chance of peace and stability, the first rule is no country should be allowed to take land and settle civilians on it (temporary forced no-man lands may be sometimes required). As far as I can tell, that's the difference between my position and the Right's position. Do people on the Right think it's okay to settle civilians on land gained through war (even if the other country attacks you first), and settle civilians on it? Is it sometimes justifiable? Sincere question here.

"Israeli Arabs almost uniformly reject proposals to transfer their villages and towns to Palestinian rule."

I don't think the article really supports that. Only one palestinean is quoted in support, the rest is from Sharon. Does anyone have anything else to support that? That would significantly change my view of Israel's policies.
7.10.2007 9:18am
Bretzky (mail):
otto:


...it is the settlements which are the main reason why Israel is criticised.


Almost. I think the settlements are the single biggest reason why Israel is criticized in the Arab world; but, I don't really think they register in the Western consciousness. I think that most Western leftists despise Israel because of its very close association with the United States.

The comparison of Israel to France is, in my opinion, a stretch, to say the least. However, accepting it for discussion, I think the reason that France does not get as much criticism as Israel is because its not seen as an American puppet by Western leftists. Western leftists believe that Israel gets away with nothing that the United States doesn't allow and they see Israel as a willing accomplice in American imperial dominance of the Third World.
7.10.2007 9:21am
advisory opinion:
"Do people on the Right think it's okay to settle civilians on land gained through war (even if the other country attacks you first), and settle civilians on it? Is it sometimes justifiable? Sincere question here."

It isn't? There's not much outrage for Sudetenland Germans who were expelled post-WWII. Or for East Prussia. Or for China's border provinces absorbed during the Qing conquest of Western Eurasia (Xinjiang, etc.). History is replete with such instances. There's probably even a good argument for it: legitimacy given to land gained from a defensive war tends to deter aggression, since it raises the potential costs to the aggressor.

As for Israeli Arabs rejecting said proposals, see Memri,
7.10.2007 9:31am
Justin (mail):
Jeff,

I hope you can understand in the broader scheme of things that Israel did not take anyone's land. They were given land by a third party, and then won a war that they did not start and held onto land in self defense. I think its difficult to argue that their need for self defense is purely imaginary.

Patrick,

When both Israel and its (legitimately dangerous) enemies think that Israel is in a war for survival, the risk of them using nuclear weapons is much greater than France or the US using nuclear weapons. I don't think that's Israel's fault (as I noted, I support Israel's right to have nuclear weapons), but I think its obvious why the concern is much greater.

As a general aside, does anyone know the relative percent of posts in the Volokh Conspiracy that relate to substantive issues in the Israel-Palestine debate vis a vis ones that discuss whether opponents of Israel are just bad people? Would it be silly to ask why the VC treats Israel so different than other issues in that regard?
7.10.2007 9:37am
advisory opinion:
Soz, that should read Central Eurasia.
7.10.2007 9:39am
Karl:
Could the distinction be at related to the fact that Israel is considered a strong ally of the US and that as far as I know we provide them with some level of financial support?
7.10.2007 9:43am
MDJD2B (mail):

I don't think anyone can validly affirm that Palestinians in the West Bank have the same treatment by Israel than Israeli Arabs. When that happens, I think most of the criticism against Israel will disappear.


Policies of a nation should be judged in the context of what alternatives are available. A few years ago, the criticism would have read "Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza."

But Israel pulled out of Gaza unilaterally, and pulled its settlements out. Do the results suggest that it would be reasonable for Israel to pull out of the West Bank?

If you were running Israel today, what would you do?
7.10.2007 9:48am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Who said it was, Justin? Somin's point is that there's a jarring discrepancy between condemnations of the two. It's relative comparison.

The entire piece asks the question "why don't liberals condemn France, because years ago they did some bad stuff"? The discrepancy that you cite simply does not exist --- France is not doing to anyone what Israel is doing to Palestinians. The author may as well be asking 'why don't liberals criticize the Mayans' whose human rights records was worse than that of Israel or France.
7.10.2007 9:55am
Jeek:
However, the Algeria War ended officially in 1962. Should we keep harping on it after 45 years? Are we seriously saying that Israel cannot be criticized for what is happening today unless we devote equal time to criticize events taht happened 50 years ago? what about what the Germans dis in the 40s? That was bad too. Why stop there? shouldn't we also talk about Israel and American conquest of the west? or the Spanish conquest of America?

All of these things ARE still harped on by the Left.
7.10.2007 9:57am
Jeek:
Do people on the Right think it's okay to settle civilians on land gained through war (even if the other country attacks you first), and settle civilians on it? Is it sometimes justifiable? Sincere question here.

Not even if, but only if. There is nothing inherently wrong with the idea that an aggressor should be punished with the loss of national territory, especially if that prevents the aggressor from future acts of aggression.
7.10.2007 10:04am
Justin (mail):
Patrick, btw, your argument rests on a confidence in Israel's continued military dominance over the region. Given their lack of demographic dominance, I think over the long term such confidence is misplaced. Oddly, I see that as a reason to support Israel having nuclear weapons (as a deterrent threat), whereas under your own argument, Israel has no need for nuclear weapons - and thus having it seems far less justified.
7.10.2007 10:05am
Jeff Boghosian (mail):
Advisory opinion:

thanks for the link, I appreciate it. Though regarding history, there are lots of things that have been done, but that's no reason to support/allow them.

Advisory opinion, Jeek:

Taking land from the aggressor usually punishes the people displaced and not the leader who initiated the war, no? There was no talk of giving Kuwait part of Iraq, or the U.S. part of Afghanistan.

Justin:

I understand the need for self-defense, and that explains many of Israel's actions. But some things are not explained and leaves me wondering what their true motives are (ie civilian outposts, settlements surely don't make those civilians safer).
7.10.2007 10:26am
SeaDrive:
"Hey, they're worse that me" has never been a very successful or exculpatory arguement.
7.10.2007 10:36am
J_A:
MDJD2B asks me what would I do if I was running Israel today. Let me then give my two cents:

There are only two possible end results to the conflict: either Israel annexes the Palestinian land and gives the Palestinians Israeli citizenship, or it gets completely out of the Palestian land and palestine becomes an independent country.

For forty years Israel (seems to) have tried for a middle ground: land without people. Hence the settleemnts, the annexation of East Jerusalem, etc. But land without people, even if it might have been possible 40 years ago it is no longer so. Israel could not do today something akin to the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, first because there is no longer a country, like Germany, that had lost a war and had therefore to accept this population reshuffle as part of the peace settlement (Jordan, where most people assume -or wish- the palestians would have to go, "lost" the last war with israel decades ago).

Annexing the Palestinian land, and giving the Palestinians the Israeli citizenship (like the USSR did when, after 1945 annexed half of Poland) is probably even more out of the question, because it will make Jews a minority in their own homeland.

Hence, I see no other option than to actively disentangle Israel from Palestine. What about security, you would ask.

Obviously the current status quo does not provide security, because it is in itself the source for the grievances that generate the violence. Might peace bring security? I don't know. It might. Peace with egypt brought security in that border, peace with Jordan did so too. Peace with Lebanon not that much. It might be a gamble, but it might pay off, and if it doesn't, then, and only then, a new war might be needed, one in which Israel will probably be able to count with far more moral support than it can count on now with the continuos occupation.

So yes, if I was running Israel I would take active actions to break the status quo, and would put a clear, visible - and REACHABLE- goal of an independent and viable Palestinian state as a carrot, and start from there.

It might pay off, it might not, but just remaining as we are now will bring neither peace nor security. The alternative to a clear peace process is forty more years of violence and suffering that is festering the region and the souls of all those involved, Palestians and Israelis alike.
7.10.2007 10:48am
Bretzky (mail):
Jeff Boghosian:


I understand the need for self-defense, and that explains many of Israel's actions. But some things are not explained and leaves me wondering what their true motives are (ie civilian outposts, settlements surely don't make those civilians safer).


Excuse me for cutting into the conversation with Justin; but, I believe Israel has, over the years, repeatedly stated what the real reason for the settlements is: "colonization."

I put colonization in quotes because I did not want it to be perceived as pejorative. Israel, and in particular, the religious right in Israel, has repeatedly stated that the West Bank (or, as they refer to it, Judea and Samaria) is a vital part of historical Israel and is, by all rights, Jewish land.

The Palestinians, of course, claim that the Zionists are trying to wipe out a thousand years of history by re-populating the area with Jewish settlers. It's basically a battle between two historical claims to the same land.
7.10.2007 10:51am
JosephSlater (mail):
I basically like France and Israel -- not a blanket endorsement of everything the countries have done, but in general. So hey, I'm consistent!
7.10.2007 11:03am
Justin (mail):
Bretzky, I disagree with your analysis to the degree that you are discussing Israel as a single entity, or even as a majority of political support. Without endorsing everything he says, you could read Michael Walzer's "Four Wars" theory in a number of places (principally, his magazine "Dissent").
7.10.2007 11:08am
Jeek:
Taking land from the aggressor usually punishes the people displaced and not the leader who initiated the war, no? There was no talk of giving Kuwait part of Iraq, or the U.S. part of Afghanistan.

Both the leader and the people should be punished.

Territorial transfers would always be "situational" - they may or may not make sense depending on the circumstances. Yet why should they be ruled out in cases where they do make sense?
7.10.2007 11:16am
whackjobbbb:
It's a pretty simple calculus. Socialists everywhere (including France) hate the United States, and always have. When France was a (mostly) reliable ally in the Cold War, and particularly when Israel and France were allied against Egypt's interests in the Suez back in the 50's, there was no opportunity for a schism into which the Left's hate could flow, especially with the Soviets doing their thing with their jews. Now, with the end of the Cold War and with French elitists bemoaning their loss of empire (due to those cursed jews again?), the schisms have opened wide, in many places, and anti-semitism is never far below the surface with the Euros, particularly not in fascist-wannabe France. So the Left's hate rises again, and is focussed on the forever enemy, the United States, and its ally Israel, with France now free to join the party against however many jews escaped the Vichy roundups.

History shows that socialists of nearly any stripe will never get along with "those money-grubbing hook-nosed jews", you understand, and it's always just a matter of time before they get around to acting on their natural instincts in that regard. Perhaps the Cold War was a long interlude where those instincts were repressed, but they're rising again it appears.
7.10.2007 11:17am
Money:
To me, the difference boils down to two things:

First, we provide Israel with an unprecedented level of financial support. That alone is enough to distinguish it from France. Criticism of that is also, to some extent, criticism of American policy, which we all agree we probably have more of a right to do, because we are citizens and have a better chance to change it.

And Second, the fact that there is no large group of people in this country basically blindly defending France and its perfection, like people do with Israel. That means others have to step in and dispute these points, which leads to more criticism in general.
7.10.2007 11:19am
Henri Le Compte (mail):
I haven't seen anyone here bring this up, so I guess it falls to me: asking the Left to criticize France is like asking Brittney Spears to criticize Madonna. You are asking them to attack their own ego-ideal.

For the American Left, Europe in general-- but France in particular--is the locus of all good, "progressive" government. Why do you think our press paid so much attention recently to the election of Sarkozy? For the press, it was like watching a relative that you much admire do something vulgar and utterly stupid.

France is the country who was willing to stick its thumb in the US's eye, over and over. It is the country that has been in bed with Arab dictators from the days of Nassar. It is the country that looks with distain on vulgar Americans with their hotdogs and pickups. It is the home of "sophistication," culture, and style. I have never met a person of the Left who hasn't harbored a desire to one day move to Paris. In the eyes of the Left, France has everything that the US so sorely lacks.

As for Israel, well... nobody ever held a fashion show in Tel Aviv did they? The Left is not interested in re-examining its attitude toward Israel. They hate Israel in large part because of who its friends are (Bush, the US military). They hate Israel because Noam Chomsky says to. They hate Israel because they believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fits into a bourgeois v. working man paradigm. They hate Israel because there is nothing about Israel they see as worth craving or emulating. Except perhaps the kibbutzim, which Israel has more or less discarded (to their eternal shame).

As a poster said above-- They like France because it is a left-wing nation. And its corollary-- they hate Israel because it is a right wing nation (as in a nation with a strong religious order, and a strong military). And the Left has always been willing to over look the failings of its friends (see: the USSR, China, Cuba for examples).
7.10.2007 11:25am
whackjobbbb:
No, Money, the US gives an "unprecedented level of financial support" to other nations, including many in the Mideast, notably Egypt, which has received at least $50B over the last generation or so. We don't hear anybody "blindly defending" Israel any more than we hear anybody "blindly defending" Egypt or any other of our aid recipients.
7.10.2007 11:25am
Bretzky (mail):
Justin:

I'm looking at it from the standpoint of the Israeli governments that have existed since about 1977. Since then Israel has had roughly 23 years of Likud (pro-settler) government and roughly 8 years of Labor (not pro-settler) government. (The numbers overrun the 30 year time period due to imprecise dates.)

Israel has been governed about 75% of the past 30 years by pro-settler governments. That's a strong endorsement of the policy by the Israeli population. How many of these people vote this way from an annexationist perspective is probably less than half; but, it is a significant bloc of the Israeli population.

Yes, one can not say that "Israel" is pro-annexationist; but, it's governments have largely been. Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu, and Sharon all advocated autonomy for the Palestinian people but Israeli sovereignty over the land.
7.10.2007 11:27am
Ventrue Capital (mail):
I believe PEG nailed it (pun not intended).
7.10.2007 11:29am
alkali (mail) (www):
Is anti-Semitism the only cause of the disproportion between left-wing criticism of Israel and those of France? Almost certainly not. Perhaps it is not even the most important cause.

This misses the elephant in the room. There are obvious reasons why Americans talk about Israel more than France or New Zealand or Ecuador: we provide significant financial and military assistance to Israel, and as a result we are hated by people who are avowed enemies of Israel and/or sympathize with the Palestinians.

That our assistance to Israel exposes us to that conflict doesn't necessarily entail that we should stop assisting Israel -- I certainly don't think that -- but it is obviously the most salient difference between France and Israel from an American point of view. It is unclear what value there could be to any comparative analysis that doesn't squarely take that fact into account up front.

Putting it another way, if the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Algerians mad at the US for some purported reason having to do with America's relationship with France, no doubt there'd be a lot more talk about France and a lot less about Israel. Absent that, the comparison doesn't even begin to make sense.
7.10.2007 11:40am
whackjobbbb:
Oh we're aware of the water issue, Revonna, particularly as regards the Golan. So are all parties in that region, and you are correct, water is security. All parties are aware of this, I'd say. Check the current border disputes in the region, and "water" is well-represented among them, as we might well expect.
7.10.2007 11:40am
Goober (mail):
I take Prof. Somin to be asking a rhetorical question, rather than to be genuinely puzzled why Israel invites more criticism than France. But to take them in order:

1. Genocide. French complicity in the Rwandan genocide seems to be somewhat overstated in the links provided above. The French don't seem to be innocent, exactly, in that affair---nor do we Americans---but it certainly doesn't look like they actually have "direct responsibility for the 1994 genocide," as reported in the Guardian article.

2. Imperialism. Many European nations were colonial powers in Africa, and European liberals rightly feel guilty about that history. However, having been a colonial power in the past and maintaining a military presence for peacekeeping purposes (whether or not it benefits French economic interests) in the present isn't particularly unusual for a modern state. Whether or not you agree with criticism of Israel on anti-imperialist grounds (I, for example, don't), to pretend not to understand how Israel presents a special case (hint, hint: a group largely European Jews relocating a population of native Arabs) is willful blindness and not worthy of serious argument.

3. Mistreatment of Muslim minorities. This seems to be the area where Somin makes his strongest point. It's also the area where people just care the least. I think a lot of American-style liberals should object (and I think a lot do) to the French government's moves against the wearing of veils. But among leftists generally there are many---and I would suspect without knowing that many Europeans are in this boat---secularists who think suppressing public expressions of religiosity are a proper move.

In short, Prof. Somin makes an interesting point that is persuasive only so long as one pretends to ignore the nature of most criticism of Israel. Further, a lot of the criticisms Prof. Somin thinks should be made of France in fact are currently being made by liberals who, for instance, think that Muslims should be allowed to wear religious symbols in public. Now, I don't doubt that criticisms of Israel get a lot more exposure and are certainly made with more frequency. But to wonder at the comparative frequency of the two criticisms is unreasonable quibbling.
7.10.2007 11:44am
Hoosier:
Revonna may be on to something. Taking those "Holocaust Jews" and giving them part of Palestine was wrong, and the guys who came up with the idea should be blamed. As should the guys who planned on giving it the Jews in the aftermath of WWI. These wars produced massive border-and-population shifts that we'll need to undo.

But where to start?

I say, let's do it chronoligically.

Let's start with the territories taken from Sweden through the Peace of Westphalia. I think this is the only fair way to start. We can then try to get the map of the world back to its pre-international confilcts starting place. (I'm not *crazy*: I know this will take a few years.)

So everyone has to go back to where their people were in 1598.

OK--Let's get going! There's a lot of work to be done!
7.10.2007 11:57am
Hoosier:
Sorry--I should clarify that I'm not making this argument due to my ethno-linguistic heritage, or heritable loyalties. Or at the behest the Sweden-Lobby that Walt and Mearsheimer have decried.

I'm neither Swedish nor Lutheran.
7.10.2007 12:00pm
Ilya Somin:
The entire piece asks the question "why don't liberals condemn France, because years ago they did some bad stuff"? The discrepancy that you cite simply does not exist --- France is not doing to anyone what Israel is doing to Palestinians. The author may as well be asking 'why don't liberals criticize the Mayans' whose human rights records was worse than that of Israel or France.

Actually, the post looks at French policies RIGHT NOW, or in the case of Rwanda very recent ones.
7.10.2007 12:01pm
Ilya Somin:
This misses the elephant in the room. There are obvious reasons why Americans talk about Israel more than France or New Zealand or Ecuador: we provide significant financial and military assistance to Israel, and as a result we are hated by people who are avowed enemies of Israel and/or sympathize with the Palestinians.

Actually, the US also has major military and economic links with France as well, for example through NATO. Moreover, the disproportionate focus on Israel is not limted to US commentary and long predates 9/11.
7.10.2007 12:03pm
Hoosier:
We also provide major foreign aid to Egypt, which for a long time was #2 on our foreign-aid list.

Strangely, this doesn't seem to register much protest. Despite Egypts rather poor civil rights record.
7.10.2007 12:07pm
Ilya Somin:
First, we provide Israel with an unprecedented level of financial support. That alone is enough to distinguish it from France. Criticism of that is also, to some extent, criticism of American policy, which we all agree we probably have more of a right to do, because we are citizens and have a better chance to change it.


Again, the disproportionate focus on Israel is far from limited to American leftists and extends abroad. Moreover, France also has many close links to the US, military, economic and political. In recent years, the US and France have cooperated on military interventions in Haiti, the Ivory Coast, and Afghanistan, for example.
7.10.2007 12:07pm
Goober (mail):
Yeah, I'm not sure I follow the line of logic that Israel attracts more attention because we give them military support. We give military support to a lot of places that no one pays any attention to. It sure seems like Israel attracts more criticism (and defense) because a lot of Americans think we have more dog in the fight, but foreign aid numbers don't appear to be correlative with this tendency.
7.10.2007 12:08pm
Ilya Somin:
Though I can accept that French Muslims are as well or as badly treated as Israeli Arabs, I don't think anyone can validly affirm that Palestinians in the West Bank have the same treatment by Israel than Israeli Arabs. When that happens, I think most of the criticism against Israel will disappear.

Perhaps not. But they certainly are treated no worse than Africans living under dictatorial regimes supported by French occupying troops. That is who I analogized the West Bank Palestinians too, while analogizing French Muslims to Israeli citizen Arabs.
7.10.2007 12:10pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
I'm growing disgusted at the fiction so many are indulging in, that we could destroy the Israeli state and everything will be just fine, that somehow it wouldn't result in a horiffic slaughter. It won't be fine. It will result in a genocide approaching 2/3ds the size of the Holocaust.

Everybody has a great facially neutral argument about why Israel needs to be destroyed. That's like arguing that we need a good lynching because it will cut down on crime - yep, it may be a facially neutral argument but it is a facially neutral argument very much in the service of a gross, racist attack.
7.10.2007 12:15pm
Goober (mail):
"Everybody has a great facially neutral argument about why Israel needs to be destroyed."

That's a "facially neutral argument" I have a hard time imagining, to put it lightly....
7.10.2007 12:19pm
Hoosier:
Al Maviva--

And even if Israel were to be driven into the sea, what chance do you think there would be of peace among the neighboring states? Peace between the neighboring states and Palestine? Among the Palestinians?

It's not just a fiction; it's a fantasy.
7.10.2007 12:19pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
Ilya Somin: "Actually, the post looks at French policies RIGHT NOW, or in the case of Rwanda very recent ones."

But, doesn't look directly at Israeli policies.

There does not seem to be any, other point to the post, other than to distract attention from the barbarity and stupidity of Israeli policy.

The point of criticizing barbarity and stupidity is to expose barbarity and stupidity for its destructive futility, and motivate an improvement in policy, not to arrive at some moral ranking of disparate national policies or to calibrate moral hyperbole by means of otherwise irrelevant comparisons.
7.10.2007 12:22pm
alkali (mail) (www):
Actually, the US also has major military and economic links with France as well, for example through NATO.

Of course we do. And if the Algerians were flying planes into buildings because they wanted us out of NATO, people would talk about that.

Moreover, the disproportionate focus on Israel is not limted to US commentary and long predates 9/11.

I thought db's post was focused on US commentary (cf. the last paragraph). I have no real basis to evaluate what, e.g., the Italian left has to say about Israel vs. France and I suspect db doesn't either.

In any event, there have been terrorist attacks against the US relating to its support for Israel going back to (at least) the 1973 Khartoum assassinations.

These points aside, the implicit claim here is really strange. Are you really contending that terrorism directed against the United States by reason of its support for Israel plays no significant role in increasing the level of discussion of Israel in American political commentary, and so it needn't be taken into account up front in a comparative analysis like this one?
7.10.2007 12:24pm
Hoosier:
alkali--

So, your point is that the /Palestinians/ are flying planes into our buildings?
7.10.2007 12:26pm
A Guest Of Wind:
You're right - nobody every criticizes the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, even though they never bathe. Israel should be so lucky. I would say more, but I don't want my Freedom Fries to get cold.
7.10.2007 12:31pm
Jeek:
the /Palestinians/ are flying planes into our buildings?

Nah, they're just dancing in the street, laughing and singing, when other people do.
7.10.2007 12:31pm
Hoosier:
Guest of Wind--

I don't think it was the Left that provided your material.
7.10.2007 12:34pm
alkali (mail) (www):
I wrote:

I thought db's post was focused on US commentary (cf. the last paragraph). I have no real basis to evaluate what, e.g., the Italian left has to say about Israel vs. France and I suspect db doesn't either.

Correction: meant to refer to I.S. here.

Hoosier: the point is that our support for Israel has consequences that our membership in (say) ANZUS doesn't. If radical Maori (or radical Finnish Maori sympathizers) started committing terrorist attacks against the US, we would have more reason to talk about New Zealand than we do now. It's just basic intellectual honesty to acknowledge that.
7.10.2007 12:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The real difference is that Israel is a racist settler state which is actively pursuing racist colonization (sic) in the West Bank …"

What races are you talking about? Both the inhabitants of Israel and the West Bank belong to the same race.
7.10.2007 1:13pm
Henry679 (mail):
Ah, more obsessing about Israel being treated shabbily by the press/elites/whomever. We just can't have enough of that, can we?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
7.10.2007 1:29pm
srg:
Henri Le Compte:

Actually, Israel has been largely socialist, not rightwing, from the beginning.
7.10.2007 1:29pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Jeff Boghosian:

"I can't speak for all liberals, but for me, the idea of taking someone's land is one of the worst actions a country can take."

"Do people on the Right think it's okay to settle civilians on land gained through war (even if the other country attacks you first), and settle civilians on it? Is it sometimes justifiable? Sincere question here."

Does this apply to the taking of East Prussia and giving it to Poland after WWII? How about the taking of Sudetenland from its occupants of more than 400 years? All in all, the Allies dispossessed about 16 million ethnic Germans from all over Europe from their land because Germany lost the war. Two million lost their lives in this great population transfer. Then the Allies sent 800,000 ethnic Germans to work as slave labor in the Soviet Union where some 40% perished.

Are you upset that China took Tibet? I must also assume that you supported Gulf War I because Iraq invaded Kuwait with the intention of annexing it.
7.10.2007 1:31pm
sjalterego (mail):
Well part, but not all, of the answer arises from the fact that Israel is "uniquely" interesting in general. Israel is a tiny country of small population, limited strategic importance to the U.S. and with no important natural resources. There are scores of countries that, based on "objective" criteria, should demand much more of our attention.

However, Israel is, as a result of Western Civilization's Judeo-Christian roots etc., firmly rooted in our imagination, in our collective unconscious. As such it receives disporportionate attention. It receives disproportionate news reporting; it receives disporportionate postive support; it receives disporportionate governmental financial and military assistance; it receives disproportionate criticism; and it it held to 'unfairly' disporportionate standards.

I don't think anybody can balance the excessive positive support Israel receives against the excessive negative criticism it receives to determine that —as compared to some mythical "normative" reporting received by all other nations of the world— that the excessive positive/negative outweighs the exceesive negative/positive resulting in a net positive or negative effect, as compared to other nations.

So, while supporters of Israel certainly should point to individual instances of unfair negative reporting on Israel and the unfair standards to which it is held, I don't think it is useful, possible or correct to assert that in aggregate Israel more negative criticism than is appropriate. Certainly not without acknowledging that Israel also receives more positive support that is "appropriate."
7.10.2007 1:43pm
Yankev (mail):
Nice to se Revonna unbanned to give us a breath of fetid air.
7.10.2007 1:47pm
TyWebb:
Zarkov,

I'm confused by your point. Listing grim realities of the world doesn't make much of a case for declining to critique them. Not saying I support or oppose any or all of the actions you've listed, I'm just pointing out it's an odd tactic.

Speaking of odd tactics, the reason I've stayed far, far away from the Israel-Palestine debate is that the debate is almost always focused on impeachment. M&W don't propose solutions for their understanding of America's national interest, much less do they have any idea how to reach a peaceful outcome in the conflict. They simply besmirch the reputation of those with a certain allegiance by pointing out their high level of influence.

Then, rather than make a real case of their own, pro-Israeli forces congeal to blow holes in the M&W book, or in "leftists" or "socialists" or anyone else that has attempted to impeach them. It's one big cross-examination where no one feels the need to put on a case in chief.

While I'm sure some would love to believe that all leftists are holocaust-denying America-haters, and others would like to believe that all pro-Israeli commentators are either blinded by their cultural and religious affiliations or simply begging for the Rapture to come along...the fact is, most reasonable people could probably agree on the following points.

1. History has shown that Jews are likely to be mistreated by a multitude of cultures, sometimes horrifically and severely.
2. Recent history has also shown that our current solution to Point 1 suffers from a multitude of defects that result in extreme violence and difficulties for Jews and Arabs.

I know this is a gross oversimplification. Nevertheless, I'd feel a whole lot better about jumping into bed with one side or the other if someone could come up with some realistic solutions to continuing violence that stand up to real scrutiny, and aren't just designed to discredit the other side.
7.10.2007 1:52pm
Hattio (mail):
Ilya Somin insists in his updates that his post cannot be criticized by comparing the treatment of Palestinians to French Muslims, only by comparing the treatment of Palestinians to Africans living under dictatorships propped up by France, because that's the comparison he made. But, that brings up the question of whether his comparison is a fair one. Personally, I don't think either comparison is very accurate.
Those living in dictatorships propped up by France still have a country, a government, elections, control their own borders, electricity, water supply etc.
But the commentators who have commented on the unusually close relationship between Israel and the US, and the ire that relationship raises, are correct. The reason it gets so much more commentary is because of the extent of support and the perceived danger that support puts Americans in (I say perceived danger, because as the richest most powerful symbol of the "the West" I think we would raise just as much ire if we cut our support of Israel to zero).
Another reason that Israel gets criticism I think is because of the Judeo-Christian religion. Many evangelical churches believe that America will be Israel's only friend, and a world war involving Israel will signal the end times. This leads to much tourism of Israel, and a vocal (non-Jewish) support for Israel that doesn't seem to look at the facts. And let's face it, if the evangelical fundies like something, that's a good enough reason for a lot of folks on the left to oppose it.
7.10.2007 1:54pm
ejo:
it would be a breath of fresh air if one of the individuals who singles out Israel for criticism would just admit to being an anti-semite. all this bleating about being anti-zionist or pro-palestinian or anything but anti-semite gets a little old, even coming from distinguished academics. why not just admit the truth?
7.10.2007 2:16pm
Justin (mail):
ejo, do conservatives "admit" that they oppose affirmative action because they hate minorities, oppose welfare actions because they hate poor people, support the patriot act and our Iraq folly because they hate Muslims, oppose abortion rights because they hate women, and oppose stem-cell research because they hate people with diseases?
7.10.2007 2:22pm
ejo:
RLS is at least honest, which is more than can be said by most posters. RLS will excuse any atrocity committed against jews and excuse any depravity by those opposed to jews because, ultimately, it is the fault of the jews that people hate them. It is nice that no attempt is made to gussy up the attitude.
7.10.2007 2:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
TyWebb:

I bring up the massive population transfers in Europe because they took place about the same time that the modern state of Israel came into being. One of the persistent claims by some critics of Israel is that the Jews "stole" land from the Arabs and forced out approximately 600,000 Arabs who became (with their descendents) what we today call "The Palestinians." There is a historical debate as to how many Arabs were actually forced out and how many left on their own thinking they could return quickly once the new state of Israel got annihilated. Revisionist historians such as Benny Morris (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem) or Avi Shalim (The Iron Wall) have poured oil on the fire of the controversy with the MSM acting as if they and the other revisionists were the last word on the controversy. As a consequence spokesmen for the Palestinians have demanded a "right of return" meaning they get to return to Israel, take up residence and perhaps even reclaim their property. The "right of return" has been a sticking point in negotiations for decades and the Arabs know full well it's a deal killer.

If the Arabs have a "right of return," why don't the ethnic Germans have a similar right in Europe? After all they really were forced to leave in toto from their ancestral homelands, and two million died in the massive population transfers. Why do the Arabs get a right denied to other people who got displaced at about the same with the direct help of the US? Their case for return is a much stronger one than the Arabs have. It's another example of the double standard that gets applied to Israel.
7.10.2007 2:31pm
Justin (mail):
Having read through Ilya's CFR link, the comparison is absurd. The better comparison would be to the US anti-communist foreign policy of the 1970s and early 1980s, or to criticism of the UNITED STATES'S policies in the middle east (Iraq, perhaps, excluded, for obvious reasons). France is not seriously accused of occupying in and/or directly interfering with African lives, but only indirectly supporting certain despots over certain other despots.

Such actions, of course, deserve criticism. The other problem with Ilya's post is that they HAVE been subject to major criticm - perhaps Ilya is unfamiliar with the WTO riots in Seattle, but there are many on the left (myself included) who have either been actively or passively (the latter here) opposed to African exploitation. This description by leftist documentarian Hubert Sauper is, indeed, saddening:

"The idea of this film was born during my research on another documentary, KISANGANI DIARY that follows Rwandese refugees in the midst of the Congolese rebellion. In 1997, I witnessed for the first time the bizarre juxtaposition of two gigantic airplanes, both bursting with food. The first cargo jet brought 45 tons of yellow peas from America to feed the refugees in the nearby UN camps. The second plane took off for the European Union, weight with 50 tons of fresh fish.
I met the Russian pilots and we became "kamarads". But soon it turned out that the rescue planes with yellow peas also carried arms to the same destinations, so that the same refugees that were benefiting from the yellow peas could be shot at later during the nights.
In the mornings, my trembling camera saw in this stinking jungle destroyed camps and bodies."

Whether this gets your attention or not, whether it makes headlines or not, is a function of multiple things, as I mentioned in one of my earlier comments - but this seems like a puerile attempt at shutting down discussion rather than a real discussion about western influence in Africa's affairs.
7.10.2007 2:38pm
TyWebb:
Zarkov,

I get the Sudetenland comparison. I don't get the Tibet comparison--many
7.10.2007 2:59pm
TyWebb:
leftists believe Tibetans have a right of return as well. Same with the Kuwait invasion--as I recall, that war enjoyed broad support which only fell apart during Oil-for-Food. Same (at least for far leftists) for the U.S. annexation of northwest Mexico. I guess my point was that not all of your examples of annexation have a great deal in common. I do understand that we've got a "sticking point" that is largely unfair in terms of historic precedent, but there are plenty of misunderstood points in this debate, and I think referring to precedents that are only tangentially related muddies the waters.
7.10.2007 3:04pm
ejo:
nope-then again, maybe some do. when I hear the jew haters and mere anti-zionists use the exact same language and offer the exact same justifications, I tend to think the exact same mindset is being served up in a slightly less fetid package.
7.10.2007 3:05pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
Actually, the US also has major military and economic links with France as well, for example through NATO.

No it doesn't. France isn't a member of NATO and has not been one since the mid-1960s.
7.10.2007 3:24pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
I can't say I agree with the premise that:

Is anti-Semitism the only cause of the disproportion between left-wing criticism of Israel and those of France? Almost certainly not.


It almost certainly is the only cause. (Even among "Jewish" leftists, they have long since forsaked their faith.) All the arguments put forth by the Jew haters who hate Israel is lipstick on a pig.
7.10.2007 3:39pm
alkali (mail) (www):
France isn't a member of NATO and has not been one since the mid-1960s.

France left the NATO military command structure in 1966 but remained part of the political strucure. It rejoined the military command in 1993.
7.10.2007 3:43pm
Justin (mail):
"It almost certainly is the only cause. (Even among "Jewish" leftists, they have long since forsaked their faith.) All the arguments put forth by the Jew haters who hate Israel is lipstick on a pig."

Great....all those "Jew haters" are antisemetic, to boot.
7.10.2007 3:56pm
Justin (mail):
Errr, I misconstrued Bob from Ohio's points. I thought he was using Jew as an adjective rather than a subject. On second read, he's still making an absurd claim - antisemetic Jews! - but not a completely hypocritical one.
7.10.2007 3:58pm
ejo:
to complete a thought, if I indicated my opposition to affirmative action was intellectually limited and not based on hatred, but I happily lectured at a meeting of and made arguments similar to the KKK, I think I would be suspect. ditto abortion and a lecture at the he man woman hater's club. I see a happy convergence between the "intellectual" jew haters (anti-zionists) and the more honest anti-semites.
7.10.2007 4:01pm
Toby:
All this distance into the argument, and no one has brought up the 40th anniversary, occurring aproximately now, of the expulsion of Jews from Egypt, the explusion of Jews from Libya, of, well the expulsion of Jews and taking of their property occuring in every country in the Mideaset except one - where an awful lot of them ended up,
7.10.2007 4:19pm
Observer (mail):
Another post WWII population transfer that is analogous is what happened in the British Crown Colonly of India following its independence. Pakistan split off and, I believe, approximately 17 million people were displaced - Hindus being forced to move to India, Moslems being driven out of India into Pakistan. That's pretty much what happened to the British protectorate of Palestine - the land was divided between the Jews and the Moslems and populations were displaced. Several hundred thousand Moslems fled from Israel and over the next few years an approximately equal number of Jews were driven out of various Moslem countries in the middle east.

The difference is that the Israelis welecomed the Jewish refugees from the Arab world and Iran (who, together with their descendants, comprise a majority of the Jewish population of Israel) and the Arab world turned their back on the Arab refugees, sequestering them into "refugee" camps.
7.10.2007 4:31pm
law clerk (mail):
Indeed, throughout the 1950s, several hundred thousand Jews were expelled from the 22 or so Arab nations in the Middle East without compensation for the property and thriving businesses they left behind. If the descendants of the Arabs expelled in 1948 from Israel have a right of return, so should the Middle Eastern Jews.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
7.10.2007 4:40pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Otto,

Hmm "racist colonization in the West Bank"? What you really mean is that although Israel accepts the presence of Arabs within Israel, Judea and Samaria and Gaza are supposed to be judenrein, in spite of the fact that some parts of these areas, such as Hebron, have had long-standing Jewish populations. There is no room for Jews in the (failed) "Palestinian State", nor for Christian Arabs, whose claim is if anything better than that of the Muslim Arabs, many of whom are relative newcomers. Have you missed the news that Hamas is busily cleansing the areas that it controls of Christians?
7.10.2007 4:43pm
law clerk (mail):
It seems that most posters here assume that Israel is a predominantly "right wing country" while France is a predominantly "left wing country." In fact, Israel is quite left wing in many respects. To take one example, Isreal has socialized medicine of the sort idealized in Michael Moore's recent movie. And notwithstanding the tendency to vote for "pro settlement" governments during the last few decades, a significant majority of Israelis have consistently supported the creation of an independent Palestinian state for many years.
7.10.2007 4:50pm
Spartacus (www):
M. Le Compte wrote: "nobody ever held a fashion show in Tel Aviv did they?"

Try http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/13407/
7.10.2007 4:51pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Jeff Boghosian,

Here are are some relevant links including reports on a survey conducted by a Nasserist Arab newspaper:
MEMRI

MEMRI

Daniel Pipes.
7.10.2007 4:58pm
Justin (mail):
Bill,

Without judging on the substance (I haven't read them, and don't plan on so doing), in a completely positive and non-normative sense, let me tell you that your citations will be far more convincing to those who don't already agree with you if they are not from MEMRI and Daniel Pipes (or, at least, don't make it obvious that this is your source even before so clicking).
7.10.2007 5:01pm
LM (mail):
Ilya Somin,

Many of us know what it is to be hated for being Jewish, but if you're not careful you may find yourself hated for being David Bernstein!
7.10.2007 5:01pm
whackjobbbb:

France left the NATO military command structure in 1966 but remained part of the political strucure.


There's a great story about this. Seems at this time De Gaulle ordered all American forces and servicemen out of France... lock, stock and barrel. Well, ol' LBJ was just FURIOUS when his SoS informed him of this (forget the SoS' name right now). So LBJ sits there fuming, and then without looking up, LBJ glowers to the SoS "Ask him about the graves." The SoS sputters and LBJ says "Tell him that the POTUS wants to know whether France wants us to remove the graves." So the SoS gets together with the pompous De Gaulle and delivers the message, and De Gaulle goes white and... no response.

This is the French, it's just how it is I guess.
7.10.2007 5:20pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Justin,

I think that if you look at those, you'll find that they cite sources that would be regarded as objective or even hostile to Israel. The problem is that anti-Israeli sources, which is just about every source that isn't pro-, don't want to talk about this.

Also, while it is true that Daniel Pipes has a reputation as an advocate of Israel, that shouldn't be true of MEMRI. Most of MEMRI's output is simply translation of material from the original languages. I've never seen any claim that their translations are inaccurate, and they do translate material that is hostile to Israel, including Israeli self-criticism. If MEMRI has a reputation as biased toward Israel, that can only be because accurately translating material from the Arabic and Persian press shows them in a bad light. That is a fact about the Arabic and Persian press, not about MEMRI.
7.10.2007 5:28pm
Justin (mail):
Just to re-inforce my earlier argument, I think you lost me and every other person who wasn't already 100% behind you when you made this particular claim: " The problem is that anti-Israeli sources, which is just about every source that isn't pro-."
7.10.2007 5:30pm
Michael B (mail):
In the Palestinian Authority's (PA) elections that took place in January 2005, a significant percentage of Arab Jerusalemites stayed away from the polls out of concern that voting in them might jeopardize their status as residents of Israel. For example, the Associated Press quoted one Rabi Mimi, a 28-year-old truck driver, who expressed strong support for Mahmoud Abbas but said he had no plans to vote: "I can't vote. I'm afraid I'll get into trouble. I don't want to take any chances." Asked if he would vote, a taxi driver responded with indignation, "Are you kidding? To bring a corrupt [Palestinian] Authority here. This is just what we are missing."

[...]

Palestinians living in the West who visit the Palestinian Authority are vividly aware of its drawbacks compared to Israel. "There is a difference between the Israeli and the PA occupation," wrote Daoud Abu Naim, a medical researcher in Philadelphia, while visiting family in Shuafat:
The Israelis whom I met with over the years have been diverse. Some have been insensitive to our needs, and some have not been. On the other hand, the Arafat/Rajoub regime is more than simply "corrupt." It is exclusively interested in setting up a dictatorship in which Palestinian citizens will have no civil liberties whatsoever.
Rewadah Edais, a high school student who lives most of the year in San Francisco and visits Jerusalem regularly, added, "The Israelis took our land, but when it comes to governing, they know what they're doing." Daniel Pipes, linked above

And this theme is repeated over and over in Israel's history; Israeli Arabs - roughly 22% of Israel's population and fully vested as citizens - have, for example, voiced their support for the barrier being raised in the West Bank, they have voted with their feet repeatedly, indicating they prefer Israeli administration and Israel's form of governance, including the relative comity and stability it provides, over the option of living in Arafatistan. Repeatedly this has been the case.
7.10.2007 5:31pm
Justin (mail):
Hm. Those anecdotes seem completely irrelevant. Good thing I didn't bother to read the full links.
7.10.2007 5:40pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
This isn't a survey, but for a further bit of evidence of the attitude of Israeli Arabs, have a look at this,
by an Israeli Arab about his grandfather, also an Israeli Arab.
7.10.2007 5:42pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Justin,

Hunh? Recognizing that there is very little by way of neutral sources on Israel lost you? And now you say these anecdotes are irrelevant while admitting you haven't actually read the articles? The problem here is not my sources or citations, it is your blatant prejudice.
7.10.2007 5:52pm
Michael B (mail):
No, you didn't read, nor did you form an "argument" Justin. Another anecdote:

Though most Israeli Arabs are not as pro-Israel as this letter suggests, it is worth noting that some are:

Israel Arabs ask to be drafted to serve IDF in response to Nasrallah Aaron Lerner Date: 10 August, 2006

Ziad Muadi of the ITIM news service reports today on the MSN website ... that a group of young Arabs, headed by Fuad Nasser, wrote a letter to Minister of Defense Amir Peretz asking to be drafted to serve in the IDF in response to Nasrallah's call for the Arabs of Haifa to leave the city.

"We are proud of Israel, and its just struggle," the letter reads, "and are prepared to carry out any mission that the IDF gives us."
7.10.2007 5:56pm
whackjobbbb:
Yeah, it's hard to take seriously anybody that dismisses MEMRI. That's a pretty straight outfit, it's just that they expose the filth that some don't want to be exposed.
7.10.2007 5:57pm
Michael B (mail):
Beyond the anecdotal, a set of extensive articles by Ben Dror Yemini. They in fact are extensive and should be bookmarked for those interested, in reading, and comprehending what they have to say:

And the World is Silent, Part 2, Part 3

And the World is Lying

And The World Pays

Israeli Arabs in the Trap of Self-Delusion
7.10.2007 6:12pm
LM (mail):

Those living in dictatorships propped up by France still have a country, a government, elections, control their own borders, electricity, water supply etc.

"Those" whose families include any of the 100,000's lost to genocide might question the value of the accoutrements of their nationhood.
7.10.2007 6:29pm
Justin (mail):
I'm still not sure how any of the posts - whether anecdotal are not - are relevant to the argument that people who target Israel for criticism are doing it despite there being a plethora of equally useful/similar examples to criticize.

If you all want to scroll up a bit, I've already announced that I'm generally pro-Israel, so saying that Israel does not act as bad as some of its critics claim is something that seems irrelevant to any of my points.
7.10.2007 6:29pm
Ken Arromdee:
Those living in dictatorships propped up by France still have a country, a government, elections, control their own borders, electricity, water supply etc.

People living under a dictatorship have their electricity, water supply, borders, etc. controlled by someone else. That's what it means to have a dictatorship, after all. In this case, the "someone else" is France.
7.10.2007 6:38pm
Robert Lutton:
To EJO and Co....

Ilya is right and you are wrong. Most people and certainly most leftists who are opposed to the policies of Israel are not anti semitic.

As a matter of fact I would say that most anti semites are SUPPORTERS and admirers of Israel. Certainly our current leaders like Cheney and Bush are fevered supporters of the state of Israel at the same time that they personally dislike Jews and think that they are going to rot in Hell.

Reactionaries in this country are the bedrock of real anti semitism just like they are the bedrock of racial hatred towards other minorities. The fact that they like israel should be cold comfort.
7.10.2007 7:30pm
jvarisco (www):
If France was still (50 years later) occupying countries, I imagine it would be criticized too. The fact is that in 2007 - when the rest of the civilized world has granted former colonies independence - Israel continues to deny sovereignty to the Palestinians.
7.10.2007 7:38pm
LM (mail):
Robert Lutton:

I am left-leaning and very strongly opposed to Bush and Cheney, based of their ideology, their policies and their incompetence. But where do you get the idea that they are anti-Semitic, "that they personally dislike Jews?" That's an ugly, incendiary accusation, and you should back it up. Please provide evidence or a retraction.
7.10.2007 7:48pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
It is merely and only that criticizing Israel is fashionable... and most of the people doing the criticising are doing so because they have a moral backbone made of jello.

Hatred and bigotry has never gone out of fashion... only the targets of hatred and bigotry have. You can understand the average liberal professor a lot better, if you imagine him as a latter-day Bull Conner with a different group to attack, yet less direct power to do so.
7.10.2007 7:48pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Hence the divestment movements against Isreal but not France or any actual dictatorship... unlike Conner, they can't keep the Jews out, but they can keep their influence out.
7.10.2007 7:51pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
add 'out (of their schools)" to the above
7.10.2007 7:52pm
Michael B (mail):
"I'm still not sure how any of the posts - whether anecdotal are not - are relevant to the argument that people who target Israel for criticism are doing it despite there being a plethora of equally useful/similar examples to criticize." Justin

The anecdotes and more detailed and lengthier essays serve to inform the general debate, the broader context, relevant to the veridical quality of some prominent aspects of the debate. They weren't originally or primarily directed toward your comments. The veridical quality of prominent aspects of the debate is obviously relevant since to target Israel, or any other country, for criticism surely takes on a different cast depending upon whether the criticism is well informed, temperate and responsibly argued - or otherwise. That is perforce and obviously relevant, unless one wishes to conduct the debate in purely abstract/theoretical terms.
7.10.2007 8:12pm
Justin (mail):
Michael, the connection seems tenuous at best. If a question over the motives of people require a full, in-depth presentation over every argument that group might make, we would need several Wikipedias to contain all the "relevant" detail.

And you may want to lay off the adjectives, you erudite little fella.
7.10.2007 8:30pm
Michael B (mail):
Justin, does this suggest I'm off your holiday gift list?

But far from erudite I'm a humble sort, though I'm extravagant that way for varied and sundry reasons, all of which I'll keep to myself. As to the other, I'm seeking to inform only some prominent aspects of this debate, not all of them and not all debates. But why take note of my offerings rather than the offerings of others, such as the following, which also was not directly related to the subject matter, at least so as you've taken it upon yourself to define it? Interesting choices you seem inclined to make.

"... Israel continues to deny sovereignty to the Palestinians." jvarisco

Hardly. Those Arab refugees, aka Palestinians (the only multi-generational refugees on the fact of the planet), have denied themselves sovereignty, the devolutions in Gaza recently serve to underscore what has been a decades long phenomenon, since the 1920's and 30's. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, c. 2000, Hizbollah moved in with more armaments, more initiatives against Lebanon's peoples and government, working as a proxy militia for Shi'ia Iran and Sunni Syria, firing rockets and morters into Israeli civilian populations, etc. When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 we only recently witnessed the deteriorations afforded by Sunni Hamas, in part working as a proxy for both Iran and Syria and Saudi and Egyptian players. When Israel earlier withdrew from prominent quarters in nothern Samaria, it too became a haven for jihadists, both local, anti-Israel jihadists and some international, al-Qaeda types as well.

Such real-world, recent historical accounts represent the "sovereignty" those Arab refugees and the wider Arab and Persian Muslim overlords in Iran, Syria and elsewhere have been seeking. It reflects the sovereignty sought, that has played itself out, repeatedly and only with little more than tactical and strategic variations, since the 20's and 30's. If that changes, it won't be because such strategems are appeased or imagined to be something they are not.

Big Lies (pdf) is one source only that serves to highlight some critical aspects of that history
7.10.2007 9:12pm
Ilya Somin:
Those living in dictatorships propped up by France still have a country, a government, elections, control their own borders, electricity, water supply etc.

Really? Most of these countries are ruled by dictators with no free elections, and much worse water, electricity supply, etc., than the West Bank. And it is the dictator (often influenced by French interests), not the people, who control the borders and the government. Yes, they still have a "country" in some sense (though I see little value in that). But the Palestinians could have had the same thing (and more) had they accepted Israel's Camp David offer.
7.10.2007 9:21pm
Ilya Somin:
France is not seriously accused of occupying in and/or directly interfering with African lives, but only indirectly supporting certain despots over certain other despots.

If the deployment of troops to prop up "certain despots" and crush their enemies is not "direct interference" or occupation, I don't know what is.
7.10.2007 9:26pm
Ilya Somin:
No it doesn't. France isn't a member of NATO and has not been one since the mid-1960s.

Check your facts. France is a member of NATO, and French troops participate in NATO military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan right now. In 1966, France did withdraw from NATO's unified military command (though not hte alliance itself). SInce then, however, French forces have been reintegrated into the NATO force structure, and France is a key member of the alliance.
7.10.2007 9:29pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
Exactly, Professor, if they have electricity and a water supply at all.
7.10.2007 9:57pm
serns:
I think maybe the Left (yup, I'm that) got supporting France 'cause the Right attacked it, and y'know it takes a while to get out of that mindset and back to giving it the "you won't let them wear their spiritual gear to school like we get to here" kind of scrutiny.
7.11.2007 12:54am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

antisemetic Jews!


Justin, have you ever heard of the phrase "self hating Jews"? It is quite possible for a person born Jewish to hate Jews. Trotsky, Karl Marx are historic examples.
7.11.2007 1:45am
Leroidavid (mail):
jvarisco:

If France was still (50 years later) occupying countries, I imagine it would be criticized too. The fact is that in 2007 - when the rest of the civilized world has granted former colonies independence - Israel continues to deny sovereignty to the Palestinians.

===> That's not true: in 2007, France has colonies all around the world, and nobody criticizes France.

1) Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon is a French colony in North America.

2) Martinique and Guadeloupe are French colonies in Central America.

3) Guyana is a French colony in South America.

4) La Reunion is a French colony in Africa.

5) Wallis-and-Futuna, New-Caledonia and Polynesia are French colonies in Oceania.

France is a colonialist state.

But it's not important to criticize the French settlers living in French colonies around the Earth. What is important is to criticize the Jews living on the land of the Jews.
7.11.2007 2:44am
ejo:
cheney and bush hate jews? I'm not sure of that-maybe they do. however, the caricature of the christian from the post is straight out of the left wing playbook and usually from someone who has never even met a conservative christian. If you were israel, would you rather rely on a christian, no matter their motive, or a group of university professors for long term support?
7.11.2007 1:01pm
Goober (mail):
Bob from Ohio, I believe what everyone was snickering at was your suggestion that every Jew who is a leftist is an antisemite. Yes, we have heard of self-loathing Jews (I would have reached to Woody Allen as the touchstone instead of Marx, but hey). No, that wasn't what we found laughable about your earlier comment.
7.11.2007 2:39pm
Michael B (mail):
It's strikingly odd, perhaps even perverse, to suggest President Bush is anti-Semitic when there's no evidence I'm aware of to support such a charge and in fact when no evidence is offered. By contrast, Sunday School teacher Jimmy Carter has a long and storied history, one which strongly suggests anti-Judaic and/or anti-Semitic interests and programs. I've always been resistant to applying the anti-Semitic label to Carter (and in general am resistant to applying it too readily), but that resistance is beginning to erode in the case of Carter, at least to some degree.

Jimmy Carter's War Against the Jews (pdf) is one detailed account of that ledger. Primary initiatives within Carter's latest published volume, "Palestine, Peace not Apartheid" (which very title reflects a malign and distorted image), additionally reflects such an accounting.
7.11.2007 3:12pm