Saturday, April 27, 2002
Today isn't much different. Mallick natters on about some shopping trip she took in Europe recently, and manages to quote (as if fresh) the exact same line from Absolutely Fabulous that she quoted the last time she wrote about retail stores.
And then Mallick laments the fact that the skyscraper that was recently hit by an airplane in Milan did not fall down:
I watched the Pirelli Tower in Milan burn after a small plane flew into it, and regretted that after everyone fled, the ugliest landmark in an already ugly city was managing to stay upright. That cinderblock-and-glass factory in the air looked cardboardy enough to collapse. But the Milanese don't get that lucky. Come friendly bombs, indeed.
No doubt this "witticism" was well received by Mallick's long-suffering husband, or some other Mallick-clones at a cocktail party. But in print, the wish that a terrible accident that claimed several lives would have caused far more damage, just to salve Mallick's sense of aesthetics, seems obscenely self-indulgent...even for Mallick. This is almost at the Elizabeth Wurtzel level of self-absorption.
There is a volume of evidence indicating that Sampson and several Western expatriates were arrested and tortured into confessing, to deflect blame from anti-Western islamic extremists within Saudi Arabia. Of course, the Saudi Ambassador to Canada has offered extremely believable denials.
The Canadian government is doing what it can. Here's the contact info for the Saudi Embassy in Canada if you want to urge them to commute Sampson's sentence and free the poor guy:
Consulate of Saudi Arabia, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
99 Bank Street, Suite 260
Ottawa, Ontario K1p 6B9, Canada
Telephone: (613) 237-4104
Fax: (613) 237-7350
Remember, these crazy bastards have this guy's life in their hands, so no matter what you really feel, be polite and courteous. Pretend to respect the assholes. Just for now.
Is it possible to criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic? It's a question for the sandbox and six-year-olds. The answer? Yes...[but]...
Do you find it easy to call Israel a "terrorist state" and find it difficult to talk about terrorist suicides? Do you talk of Jenin as the site of a "massacre" but withhold that term from any description of the suicide-terror campaign?
If you have done these things, you may not be anti-Semitic -- but you do have a problem setting up the moral context for a discussion of the Middle East.
The real conundrum for those agonizing over their criticism of Israel and whether this might be construed as anti-Semitism is a question that, so far as I can tell, no one wants to ask: Is it possible to be anti-American and not criticize Israel? [emphasis in original]
Professional anti-Americans really don't have much field of manoeuvre when it comes to Israel. America is Israel's sponsor, its friend and ally, so obviously Israel cannot be right, ever.
If Israel is under the protection of the imperialist, globalist, capitalist hegemon, why then -- pass me the old res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself -- Israel must always be wrong. The Israeli side of the current agony in the Middle East is, unfortunately for Israel (and for any serious discussion of the problem), being forced to carry the burden of a considerable store of anti-Americanism.
It hasn't been easy to be full-throttle anti-American since Sept. 11. The jingoism of the anti-capitalists has been muted. The silence has been purely tactical. In some circles -- this is a sea change -- anti-Americanism isn't even polite.
But Israel is a wonderful proxy for the anti-American crowd. Israel would "behave" if only America would tell it. Mr. Sharon would rein in the army if only George W. Bush, who holds the leash on Mr. Sharon, would pull it. So here is the real dilemma for those who sense discomfort in criticizing Israel and worry out loud whether their criticism might be, or might feed, the great ugliness of anti-Semitism.
It is that their position on Israel is pre-determined by their commitment, their vocation, of anti-Americanism. They are prejudiced against Israel by the logic of their movement. They are, as it were, pro-Palestinian by default. They take sides and wake up to find themselves sharing parts of the landscape with some very scary people who really are anti-Semitic.
[A few paragraphs spewing on the French...]
Is it possible to criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic? Of course it is. Sometimes, it is necessary to criticize Israel. But not from habit or ideological reflex. Because then it's remarkably similar to an ancient and pernicious prejudice. And that quarantine on anti-Semitism that the world thought it had laid down forever is closer to breach.
I think his points are reasonably persuasive. Criticism of Israel isn't prima facie evidence of anti-semitism. But unless you think Israel is a uniquely horrible country -- the single worst violator of human rights on the planet. (or, put differently, that the plight of the Palestinians is worse than that suffered by any other people on earth, bar none) -- then you've got to wonder about why Israel is placed under the moral microscope so much more intensely than any other place. And we're talking orders of magnitude here, where nearly one-third of all Security Council time is devoted to slamming Israel.
In fact, after the Durban conference I wrote to a well-known Globe and Mail columnist -- whom I won't identify, except to say that his name sounds like what you're doin' when you encounter a superior officer in the Army -- who wholeheartedly supported the stance taken at the Conference on Racism. I asked precisely the question above, followed by "if Israel isn't in a category of its own, then oughtn't we be curious about why it is singled out so much?" Since his response was in a personal email, I don't feel comfortable posting it. But it essentially said that, No, Israel isn't the single worst violator of human rights. I don't why so much attention is focussed on Israel. Such things do happen, partly for good and partly for bad reasons. Hypocrisy may be involved, but human nature isn't perfect.
This from a guy who prides himself on seeing past misleading surface images to reveal the underlying truth beneath. Go figure.