The Zionist Lobby Feigns Interest in Human Rights
by Aimée Smith
[Originally published in an MIT alternative newspaper, The Thistle.]
There are three strategies for doing human rights work. The first is based on a moral principle of looking first at the knowable consequences of your own actions and the actions of the society you contribute to by your work and fund through your taxes. The Thistle strives to live by this strategy. We focus on the crimes committed and/or funded by our government or communities. The second strategy balances pragmatism with morality and is a kind of blanket approach. Organizations like Amnesty International form networks that attempt to document abuses in all corners of the globe and in doing so, avoid political pressure as they expose information that others would rather be kept hidden. The last approach is one driven purely by pragmatism where an entity looks solely at the crimes taking place within a different country or community in order to demonize the people of that country or to deflect criticism from one's own country or community. A classic example of this last shameless strategy was George Bush suddenly pretending to care about the treatment of women under the Taliban in Afghanistan when he needed an excuse to invade Afghanistan, whereas just a few months earlier this same climate for women was not an issue as he negotiated with the Taliban for a natural gas pipeline project.
We see the same shameless claim for concern about human rights being used by the Zionist lobby in the US. In order to deflect criticism of the racist colonial nature of the state of Israel, "supporters of Israel" seek to deflect criticism to other countries in the region and sometimes even seek to demonize Arabs and Muslims as a class in order to somehow "justify" the genocidal campaign against Palestinians that has been ongoing since 1947.
MIT is a microcosm of the US political scene. We have organizations such as the Social Justice Cooperative who use a moral basis for their political work. We have an Amnesty International Chapter who uses the blanket approach. And we have MIT Students for Israel (MITSI) that seems to be driven by pure pragmatism in its zeal to promote the Zionist vision. Last Fall, MITSI hosted Right Wing extremist and Minister of Knesset Benny Elon who openly advocates the forced transfer of Palestinians out of all of historic Palestine and into Jordan. He justifies this by saying God gave the land to the Jews. Sadly, this view represents 46% of Israeli Jewish opinion, according to a poll carried out by Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, and equally sadly, Minister Elon received a warm welcome and applause from the audience in 10-250 as well as from his MITSI hosts.
One very enthusiastic MITSI member, Michelle Kaufman, wrote two columns for the Tech (MIT's pro-corporate student newspaper) that same fall. The first was very concerned about propaganda in Palestinian schools, but showed no interest in Israeli propaganda, or even US propaganda. The second asks us to turn our attention away from Israeli human rights abuses cited in the MIT/Harvard divestment petition and instead focus on human rights abuses in Arab countries. She seemed to have no concerns about the organization of which she was on the officers email list inviting an open proponent of ethnic cleansing to speak.
Kaufman must have been very concerned about human rights because she took the time to join the MIT chapter of amnesty international and become treasurer of the group. She took the lead in organizing the spring event that was to be on child soldiers in warfare and had other organizations co-sponsor the event with AI, including, you guessed it, MIT Students for Israel. One of the three guests was Rafael Israeli who was to speak about recruiting of Palestinian youth into militant struggle. The Amnesty chapter was alerted to the fact that Mr. Israeli is a member of the advisory council of the Ariel Center for Policy Research, an organization that is blatantly anti-Muslim and boasts a logo of historic Palestine in front of the Star of David - an image Benny Elon would surely appreciate. The following summary appears for a book on the ACPR website:
"the new fundamentalist Islam is more dangerous: It is found in many states throughout the world, and has a population of more than one billion Muslims who are widely distributed geographically. Fundamentalism is based on a totalistic religion, which has no commitment to modern society. Indeed it aspires to utterly destroy modern society. It is more threatening, in combination with states having extremist regimes, and has both the means and powerful motives for purchasing and obtaining unconventional weapons; its ideology is uncompromisingly murderous and nihilistic; and it is supported by millions of frustrated, poverty-stricken people who seek to restore the humiliating present to the magnificent past."
"...the new fundamentalist threat is so vital, so dangerous, so horrifying and so lacking in human feeling, that worldwide actions must be undertaken against it and against the regimes that support it, in the form of a total war of extinction. This is a war of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness, against the new Huns, the destroyers of modern civilization. If they are not overwhelmingly overcome, the 21st century will be bloodier than the 20th."
Neither Israeli nor his ACPR colleagues have any concerns about publishing and promoting a book that calls for a larger genocidal project than the has ever been seen. Israeli has written a book himself entitled "Arabs in Israel: Friends or Foes?" (imagine a book called "Native Americans in America: Friends or Foes?") and contributed to another in progress called "The Strategic Threat of Islam." Clearly, Israeli is not a man interested in morality of any kind.
These revelations were enough to convince the local Amnesty chapter to uninvite Israeli. MITSI agreed to host him at a time just after the Amnesty event.
A second speaker for the Amnesty event on child soldiers was Charles Jacobs, a man who co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Group and simultaneously is founder and president of the David Project, a group that advocates for a "fair" understanding of the Middle East and works to combat the increasing "Defamation of Israel." The David Project includes on its speaker bureau Richard Landes, the man who enthusiastically introduced pro-ethnic cleansing Minister Elon at MIT last fall. The American Anti-Slavery Group also has been both controversial in its purchasing of slaves that serve to fund the militants warring with the Muslim government. Further, the group has been unusually efficacious at changing US policy in a matter of months to listing Sudan as a terrorist nation and barring all trade with the country. This divestment campaign launched by Mr. Jacobs is probably the fastest in US history. Again, the speaker clearly has an agenda when he talks about human rights, and it isn't one of self-improvement. Nevertheless, Amnesty went ahead with this speaker and the 3rd originally scheduled speaker, Amnesty International member, Adotei Akwei. Josh Rubenstein, director of the Regional Amnesty International, was comfortable with this decision.
Unfortunately, the event seemed to turn as would be predicted from Jacobs background. One Muslim student, Fareeha Iqbal shared her experience of the event:
"Dr. Jacobs' talk expressed blatantly racist and anti-Islamic views. In fact, I have never seen Islamophobia exuded so blatantly at a public forum at MIT, nor such racist views aired at a panel discussion on human rights.
"Dr. Jacobs' topic was child slavery in Sudan and he started off by speaking about the Arab Muslims in Sudan's north conducting their interpretation of a jihad against the Black Christians in the south. He then offered a theory on why the situation wasn't receiving sufficient international attention. It was because a white race wasn't the perpetrator of this crime. The West tends to get more agitated about a human rights issue, he argued, when they feel that they are somehow responsible for it."
"White people, he continued, tend to be more concerned in general about human rights abuses than others. Waving his arm around the room, he said, 'see, most of you at this event are white people.'"
"After this Dr. Jacobs forgot about Sudan entirely and set into the Muslim world with gusto. He named a few Islamic countries and began elaborating on human rights abuses there. Now, ever since that ill-fated day two years ago, I (and many other Muslims) have been trying to come to terms with the bitter reality that it is becoming increasingly acceptable to publicly make negative, sweeping statements about Islam. According to Dr. Jacobs, however, it has become 'taboo' in the West to criticize Islam and the Muslims. Well, he sure smashed his imagined taboos to bits. The way he went on, it was clear he believed that human rights abuses occur only in Muslim countries - he didn't cite the example of a single non-Muslim country. At about this point I got so disgusted that I had to walk out, along with another Muslim student...I suppose Dr. Jacobs thought that being non-white, we were just bored of all this human rights talk."
If Mr. Jacob's had only known that a good number of the people at the event were waiting for the even more blatant racism of Rafael Israeli for the event immediately following, it would have explained at least some of the melanin shortage in the room. The rest of the preponderance of palor can likely be explained by a combination of Mr. Jacob's own racist reputation preceding him and the systematic societal white privilege that skews the demographics to over-representation of whites at Universities such as MIT. People of color have been leading the charge for human rights in this country since the very beginning, which brings up to the last strategy for human rights advocacy, one that is based both in advocacy and morality, and that is struggle for liberation against an oppressor. Zionists will try to convince us that the European Jews are actually the oppressed group in Palestine, because as the website of the ACPR shows, Israel (colored white on their map) is a tiny country surrounded by all of these Arab countries (colored brown,) and as we learned on NPR June 2, the "Arab world" is "dominating" the world in a different way than the G-8, in numbers. But we at the Thistle believe that domination done via colonization, terror-induced ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and ethnic-based exclusionary laws can never be compared to others simply existing or choosing to having many children.