Thursday, January 21, 2010

Israel Saves Lives in Haiti, Huffington Posters Upset

Since the earthquake in Haiti, Israel is one of only two nations to have set up a field hospital there, and their rescue teams are working hard to aid the Haitian survivors. Many American news services have covered the life-saving work that the IDF is doing, feel free to read the stories for yourself.
The Huffington Post completely ignored all of those stories, until today, when some finally appeared in a blog post by Hank Asher along with many other international rescue services. Before we get to the comments on the fully moderated thread, though, I want to take a moment. This article is a unique opportunity because it is about Israel doing something utterly, truly good. Not just something that they should be doing anyway (like settlement freezes) but something that any person, anywhere would agree is a good thing.

The response of the Huffington Post community, therefore, is very informative. I should point out that most of the comments are praising either Israel or the aid workers in general. But there were commentators from the anti-Zionist crowd (most notably Freenation, CigarGod, Wisdo, hemara, Rachel Brownlee and alysheba 3, as well as a few new faces) who showed up on the thread, twisting whatever they could to bash Israel, their posts dripping with cynicism. I love this thread, because it documents their hypocrisy quite clearly in three ways:

Example 1: Anti-Zionists claim that they have nothing against Israel as a nation, only with Israel's actions. If it were any other nation treating the Palestinians this way, the anti-Zionists claim, their reaction would be the same. It logically follows from this Israel is judged on a case by case basis: Israel does something wrong, it gets condemned. Israel does something good...it also gets condemned? Or certainly not praised: None of the anti-Zionists listed above had anything encouraging or positive to say at all.
And that is where the hypocrisy comes in: If the anti-Zionists were sincere in their claim that they have nothing against Israel as a nation, they would be praising it for its good works. But instead they leave no stone unturned in their search for something, anything that they could use to turn the story against Israel. This is especially prevalent in Wisdo's post here: He likes the fact that Haiti is getting aid, what he doesn't like is that Israel is the one helping, and therefore the one getting credit for it.
When one approaches a new situation with a mindset based not on cold facts, but on one's own preconceived notions, that is a prejudice. The mindset of the anti-Zionists are not motivated by what Israel is doing, but by their own prejudices. Please remember this the next time one of these posters claims that they only have a problem with what Israel does, not Israel itself. This thread was a perfect opportunity for them to show their true faces, and they did.

Example 2: In articles in which Israel is singled out, for instance war crimes accusations, pro-Israel posters point out that Israel is being unfairly marginalized, when there are in fact lots of nations who commit war crimes all the time. The response of the anti-Zionists is always the same: "Shut up! The topic of this thread is Israel. If you want to talk about Iran or Russia, then go to those threads. If you point out that Israel is being singled out, you're only trying to distract attention away from its crimes!"
Yet no sooner was this article posted then anti-Zionists immediately started complaining that writing about Israel was a snub against everyone else helping in Haiti. User tyruler complained that countless other nations were helping without "seeking indulgence or praise." Rachel Brownlee whined that the Cuban aid workers were not given appropriate attention either, though she is always the first to call for Israel to be singled out when the shoe is on the other foot. Clear hypocrisy.

Example 3: This is somewhat related to example 2, but the anti-Zionists like to accuse pro-Israel posters of changing the topic whenever they attempt to contextualize a situation. For instance, pointing out that Hamas used human shields is considered to be an attempt to change the topic away from "Israel's blatant killing of civilians." CigarGod is particularly fond of using this tactic.
The hypocrisy comes up when, in this article, the anti-Zionists started complaining about Gaza and Israel's blockade. The article is about Israel helping out in Haiti, the Israel-Palestinian conflict ostensibly should not be part of the discussion! But of course, this was an example of Israel doing something good. The anti-Zionists could find no ammunition on the thread itself, so they had to slander Israel on unrelated topics or accusing Israel of having ulterior motives.

Of course, among the hate-Israel crowd, there was more to see than just that. Most of the comments accused Israel of being motivated only by a desire for good PR, though there were more than a few blatant attacks on Mr. Asher and the article itself. Apparently anything that portrays Israel in a good light is "propaganda." Naturally, there were a couple attacks on Israel itself, to the point of demonization. But you can read it all for yourself below.

Londoncall
Do you mean they are not making a song and dance about it? [Accusing Israel of exploitation.] Dozens of companies and charities around the world have sent aid, including Arab countries. Look it up.

hemara
Maybe things would be different if Israel didn't have a major image problem after the Gaza Massacre. [Two pronged demonization: Israel is only doing this for the PR, and they committed a "massacre" in Gaza.]

pesfb
// If you want your money to go whose on the ground working, send it to.... www.IsraAID.org.il - they are there working 24/7.\\
Oh, that at least explains why they are not busy in Gaza. [See what I mean?]

pefsb
Yeah,Hank is quite the good fellow. Considers himself an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist. I guess that's one interpretation one could draw from his behavior:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Asher
Nor is he a self-promoter, shopping his account nearly word for word around to different outlets:
http://southflorida.bizjournals.com/southflorida/blog/giving_guide/2010/01/hank_asher_haiti_in_his_own_words_pictures.html
[Ad hominem attack on the author.]

Frisbeetarian
There is blatant contradiction in what he states. He mentions that "Israel Rocks" because it is extending a lending hand in this humanitarian disaster. But does "Israel Rock" when it comes to the treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza? Another humanitarian tragedy. How can Israel rock, under the same humanitarian premise, for extending help to Haitians and devastating a million lives in Gaza?

Frisbeetarian
Im also glad that help is being sent out. But does he really have to point out, several times, that the Israeli team is doing a good job? Doesnt this highlighting render his article prone to being labeled as a piece of propaganda. Im glad that Israel is helping, but we shouldnt go as far and pronounce it benevolent in this field -humanitarianism- where it obviously is causing misery to a million lives elsewhere. I deemed it necessary to comment on that, because Israel is not the benevolent nation this article makes it out to be. [Israel is benevolent to people who are hurt. They are not particularly benevolent to people who want to destroy them. Just like every other nation in the world.] Yes, because it is an oportunity to discuss something which rarely gets discussed, and that is the destructive and criminal role the U.S has had on Haiti. It not only engaged in invading it, but also thieved away at its resources. You can be glad that the U.S is helping out, but you also have to point out at the blatant hypocrisy in this dilemma, same applies to the Israeli example.
Im all for the help they are providing, but please let us not distort the truth in the process.

YesMeeToo
Good point! I say it again: "When you boast about your good deeds, you are no longer there to help! You are there to help yourself"
Also, the thing with "Why Arabs are not helping?" I think they should hire some people to write stories and blogs about what they are doing! It is irrelevant at this point.
It is great that Isreal is helping but why they have to take a whole media crew with them to tape it. [They didn't.] Just do the good deed...

tyruler
Mr. Asher is giddy. He says, "Israel rocks!?"
Why the self-congratulatory advertisement when countless other nations are also doing remarkable, selfless work without seeking the indulgence of praise or saying their country rocks. This is esp. true when one thinks about the double standards about the human earthquake Israel unleashed against its neigbhors in Gaza without the slighest human remorse for aid or help. In fact it does the opposite in blocking and limiting the UN World Food Programme to deliver medical supplies and food to 200 trucks for a population of 2 million.
This is just a hollow public relations on your part.
 
Rachel Brownlee
After watching news reports from around the world that all seem to be concentrating on Israels aid effort in Haiti I'd say it's a concerted effort to rehab israels international image. [Concerted effort by whom?]

Londoncall
What a lot of twaddle. He's not the first, and they are not doing the most - this is a highly subjective piece of trumpet blowing by one person. Cuban doctors were there already, as were Medecins sans Frontiere, Save the Children and the UN - many of their people were killed in the earthquake. Look around and you will see thousands of people from all over the world doing their best in Haiti. And the point about Israel it is the hypocrisy, which is obvious to anyone with their eyes open. [Israel helping people is hypocrisy.]
[response
Rachel Brownlee
Agreed, why no coverage of the Cubans who were first to respond.

CigarGod
Way to go, Hank.
Slam the Red Cross and the UN and the hundreds of millions raised and donated by millions of people around the world. [Mr. Asher was a bit out of line with his comments about the Red Cross, but it *was* legitimate criticism...]

Richard Pearce
What courtb doesn't mention is that if the Israelis followed what is becoming their standard procedure towards injured and sick Gazans, amongst the standard medical questions would be 'What can you tell us about your neighbors and friends?', 'Are you willing to spy ont person x and y?'. [An unsubstantiated slander.] And the irony of building a hospital on the outskirts of your killing fields, while blowing up or crushing the ambulances that would be used to get people there [another lie], then complaining that very few people came to your hospital, is a bit much.
[If this guy's name sounds familiar, it's because he also trolls Yaacov Lozowick's blog.]

Wisdo
Israelaid is the greatest huh?
Lets all talk about how israel is helping people out, after all thats the important thing here. How great Israel is.
Sigh, hasbara (Israeli propaganda) is so blatantly obvious I dont know why they even try - you guys should hire a PR firm from outside of Israel perhaps?
Im not criticising the actual aid being given of course, more power to the people giving of themselves no matter who they are. But by pointing out WHO they are, it becomes an issue of vanity. Giving to charity is great, but telling everyone all about it and drawing attention to yourself is lame. [Of course, Israel isn't the one who is telling people about this. Hank Asher is not Israeli. But Wisdo ignores this in favor of taking any opportunity he can to bash Israel.]

Richard Pearce
So, you really expect everyone to believe he [Hank Asher] has no connection to the 'Rebrand Israel' campaign?

Richard Pearce 
I wonder, if some writer were to do a piece talking about the 30 tonnes of aid Iran is sending, praising how safe the Iranian Army of Basiji were making him feel, would anyone not consider it a puffpiece? [If you look at the links above, you will see that Israel has done far more than just send boxes of aid. This comment is more revealing about Mr. Pearce than it is about his audience.]

nyckid
How much humanitarian aid reached Gaza? [Off topic.]

hemara
More to the point why is Israel collectively punishing the Gazans at all?
It's illegal under international law - their crime was to democratically elect Hamas.
If there as no blockade the economy wouldn't have collapsed and made 80% of the population dependant on food aid.

Frisbeetarian
It freaked out because Isreal has a history of murdering U.N personnel. See 06 war in Lebanon. [Not as off topic as it seems, because it's part of a thread. But it's still slander.]

Wisdo
Of course they have no problem letting their people get the only treatment available to them in Israel. Hospitals in gaza get bombed unfortunately, with white Phospherous [I have never seen a report of a hospital being hit with WP]. Any field hospitals Israel might set up are not much use if your army has a policy of making Civilians die slowly from their wounds rather than allowing ambulances evacuate them.

Freenation
breakdown by countries:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jan/14/haiti-quake-aid-pledges-country-donations#data
there is no need for counting who did what...whoever is contributing should be appreciated...no politics please..thank you everyone... [This seems legitimate, but consider the source. Besides, Israel did much more than just give money.]
[response]
grn1
this is not politics it is propaganda

Richard Pearce
A nice puff piece for the Israeli government. (I've seen other ones where it was claimed that Israel was the first to get people on the ground, but of course they weren't)
Yes, the Israeli government does do a very good job of publicising its humanitarian efforts, and indeed, there is nothing to complain about the Israeli dedication to humanitarianism, as long as you don't look too close to their home.
BTW, remember that the Brazilians, who were only mentioned in passing, were putting their soldiers lives on the line for the Haitian people long before the earthquake. 1200 of them were already there when the quake hit, and they have poured in aid.

Wisdo
"...the Israelis Rock"
not a puff piece? [Would an article talking about how awesome the Palestinians are would have elicited this response?]

grn1
[To a pro-Israel poster] Ok then help your neighbors heroes

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