Stephen Colbert, taunted Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. thus: “Before we go, I just want to say. I repudiate what Helen (Thomas) said. She is a friend, but I repudiate everything she said: ‘Go back to Poland. Go back to Germany.’ That’s ridiculous. Israel is for Israelis.”
“If anything the Palestinians should go back where they came from.” (Laughter and applause from the audience; Colbert continues more insistently and loudly, thus.)
“Do you agree? Do you agree, sir? It is time to get them back to wherever that was.”
Oren looks stunned, and only slowly recovers himself.1
Oren nailed, in very fine form indeed! Colbert exposed the double standard of Israeli propaganda wherein Palestinians are routinely exhorted to depart their ancestral homeland for another Arab state of which there are “so many,” but a similar prescription for the European colonizers of Palestine to return to their ancestral homes is considered viciously racist.
Colbert slices through the double standard using the original sin of Jewish ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, leaving the witless Israeli ambassador completely befuddled. Were this the 1950s, the ambassador would promptly retort that Zionism was all about “a land without a people and a people without a land.” Decades later Golda Meir would still insist “there are no Palestinians.” Later still, the admitted terrorist, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, would sneer that the Palestinians, now that Yasser Arafat and the PLO had made their existence undeniable, are “insects” – or was it “cockroaches.”
As time passed the Palestinians finally came into Israeli focus as “terrorists,” as Netanyahu (and all the other Yahoos here and in Israel) repeat endlessly. And at long last, oh so recently, Palestinians are now recognized as victims in the Apartheid state of Israel, as Jimmy Carter so acutely labeled it. It took half a century, but the truth is finally out to the point where a Colbert studio audience can applaud it.
So the Israelis are in a race against time. Can they complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine before their lies collapse completely? We in the US have a lot to say about that – if we dare. After all our tax dollars and military power are the only things that allow the Israeli state to continue as an apartheid entity.
So what is holding us back. Turn to Tony Judt’s NYT op-ed “Israel Without Clichés” (June 10), consisting of six questions, the last of which is:
No. 6: Criticism of Israel is/is not linked to anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews, and Israel is a Jewish state, so, of course, some criticism of it is malevolently motivated. …..But criticism of Israel, increasingly from non-Israeli Jews, is not predominantly motivated by anti-Semitism. The same is true of contemporary anti-Zionism …— today it presses territorial claims, religious exclusivity and political extremism. …..We should beware the excessive invocation of “anti-Semitism.” A younger generation in the United States, not to mention worldwide, is growing skeptical. ‘If criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is potentially ‘anti-Semitic,’ why take seriously other instances of the prejudice?’ they ask, and ‘What if the Holocaust has become just another excuse for Israeli bad behavior?’ “(Italics, JVW.)
With this we should cease to discuss anti-Semitism when it comes to criticism of Israel. It simply does not deserve any more attention. This is doubly true for progressives in the U.S. and elsewhere who have spent much of their lives fighting racism in its many forms and should simply take charges of anti-Semitism as gratuitous, a transparent and underhanded ploy to change the subject. It should be so labeled and dismissed. No more apologies. And no more resignations.
Apartheid Israel is now on the defensive, because of its siege of Gaza and the barbarous attack on the Gaza flotilla. Here details of legality, which can be endlessly argued, are not the point. Israel’s action on the open seas is simply morally and ethically repugnant, just as its attacks on the Gazans are. Slavery was once legal but it was never right. And Israel’s partisans love to tie up discussion on minutiae, which diverts attention from the major point just as a charge of “anti-Semitism” does.
With Israel on the defensive, those who oppose its apartheid policies and its baleful influence on U.S. foreign policy should press their advantage. Appropriate discussions now are those like Justin Raimondo has initiated in a recent piece. Raimondo provides a fine example of the outrage over Israeli atrocities which deserve uncompromising condemnation. And Colbert gives us a fine example of the ridicule, which the increasingly absurd lies of the Apartheid state deserve.
Are you anti-Israel?, the question arises. The answer should be an uequivocal yes, because decency demands it just as an anti-South Africa attitude was warranted when it was an Apartheid state as Israel is today. It is not simply that there are “some things wrong with Israel.” It is fundamentally flawed, founded on ethnic cleansing, which continues to this day, along with its Apartheid structure.
- Colbert Report, Formidable Opponent – Michael Oren. The earlier part of this piece is also a hoot. Colbert, debating with himself as his “Formidable Opponent” takes out charges of anti-Semitism with a barrage of well deserved ridicule. [↩]