Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Israel-North Korea Comparison

In the HP's latest series of blog posts attacking Israel's policies and existence, we've got this beauty by John Feffer about how similar Israel and North Korea are. Let's go through the particularly ridiculous parts together, shall we?

" But the two countries often behave as if they are exceptions to all other rules as well. For instance, they both share an antipathy toward human rights organizations that attempt to hold them to international standards. Witness the recent attacks by Israel (and its hard-right supporters) of Human Rights Watch because of reports critical of Israel's human rights record. North Korea also routinely rejects human rights inquiries as a challenge to its sovereignty. (For a proposal on a better strategy to engage North Korea on human rights issues, check out my latest piece Starting Where North Korea Is.)"
So what's the difference here? Israel lets in NGOs to examine its records, and has plenty of its own human rights organizations. It's only when the NGO is blatantly biased against Israel that Israel fights back, and people with Human Rights Watch itself have admitted there is bias. That's just a little bit different than North Korea who just doesn't let any NGOs in to see what's going on.

"And yet one country is an official rogue and the other country only plays one on Arab TV. The difference in designation owes much to U.S. policy. One of the perks of world domination is the chance to make like Adam in Genesis and name all the animals. North Korea, according to Washington, is beyond the pale. Israel, however, is "one of us": firmly ensconced in the Judeo-Christian tradition, accorded honorary European status, and even considered worthy of membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)."
Well, this isn't so remarkable. Israel has been the US's most trusted ally for years and the two countries share a lot. North Korea fought a war against the US and is a Communist country. Is it any surprise that the US likes one and not the other?

Feffer quotes another guy, Green, and does not challenge his statement, so I'm including it below
"he[Green] writes, "Israel occupies swathes of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, and exerts physical and bureaucratic control over these regions, without granting any political representation to the inhabitants. By governing de facto, without giving voice to those governed, Israel cannot be described as a democracy: not technically and not in spirit.""
 Now, what other countries do we know that are exerting "physical and bureaucratic control" over regions without granting political representation to the inhabitants? The US in Iraq and Afghanistan, for one. But either way, not granting the vote to occupied territories has nothing to do with whether or not a country is a democracy or not. There is nothing in "international law" that makes such a condition a requirement to democracy.

"So, why does Israel merit this exceptional treatment? Certainly, the country has a supportive constituency in the United States, although this "Israel lobby" doesn't have the magical powers that some would ascribe to it. The United States supplies Israel with $2-3 billion annually in military aid for geopolitical reasons, to have a friend in the region. But we also send over $1 billion every year to Egypt for the same reason. Heck, we used to send arms to Saddam Hussein, and it wasn't because of an "Iraq lobby" pulling the strings.
Of greater salience is the overlap in the exceptionalist traditions of Israel and the United States -- the notions of "chosen people," the "redemption" of the land by settling it -- which I've written about here before."

Of course Mr. Feffer has to come up with another reason that the US supports Israel so much besides the fact that Israel is a fellow Western democracy, because he just "disproved" Israel was a democracy in the past paragraph. So he has to come up with this notion of "exceptionalism" , even though the US is treating Israel the same as any other democratic ally who is under constant attack from deadly enemies. The US, more than Mr. Feffer, knows that it would do if it was placed in Israel's situation and therefore (up until recently) thinks that Israel's doing a good job considering the situation and wants to help. I haven't heard any US rhetoric about being a "chosen people", but we'll have to take Mr. Feffer's word on that.

Feffer ends with a prediction that the US-Israel relationship is coming to an end and Israel will soon have to go alone. We'll see, won't we, Mr. Feffer? But your article fails to convince that there is any similarities between Israel and NK beyond the fact that they don't always play by the rules and are islands among a group of dissimilar countries. But it doesn't matter, the headline alone achieves what the HP wants, another suggestion that Israel is an illegitimate state that should be fought rather than worked with. 

1 comment:

  1. What is funny is many of the same Lefties admire NK as a model socialist state. If they were consistent, they'd treat Israel the same as NK. But they don't.

    Just don't call them on their hypocrisy.