Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mya Guarnieri Shrinks Heads

Mya Guarnieri has long been a staple of the anti-Zionist blogger brigade on the Huffington Post. She usually just covers stories and extrapolates on them with tirades about how awful Israel's latest activities are. In her latest work, though, she plunges forward into previously unknown territory, attempting to play the psychiatrist and the doomsayer at the same time. Claiming that Israel is headed toward a destruction that only listening to them can stop has been an anti-Zionist motto for a long time as well, and Guarnieri pushes it even further with her piece.

She begins by talking about a story in which an IDF soldier is being indicted for a war crime conducted during Cast Lead and how it made her happy. But of course her satisfaction lasted all of five seconds, and most revealing are these comments:
"Finally, a discussion of the Israeli army's culture of impunity, I thought. Or perhaps some reflections on a state that behaves as though neither the international community nor its own Supreme Court exist."
Personally, I don't think Guarnieri actually believes that this is true. Hyperbole has long been a technique of hers and I think that she is just pushing it as far as it can go. But if she is serious, this claim shows a serious disconnect with the reality of Israel's behavior. If Israel really did have a culture of impunity, there would be no investigation into Cast Lead at all. Most armies don't investigate themselves to this extent. I can't remember the last time America did without serious pressure from the inside.

I don't think I need to extrapolate any further about Israel's attempts to satisfy outside demands on their behavior, to the point where even many Israelis think they are too concerned about their image. I guess I just wanted to highlight this comment as the kind of stunning ignorance that Guarnieri attempts to sell to her audience with a straight face. Assuming, of course, she isn't being her usually melodramatic self.

So Guarnieri talks about her disappointment when Amos Harel talked further about fallout from Cast Lead. He said that the "real problem" is "that it is impossible to fight terrorist organizations embedded in a civilian population without civilian casualties." Harel also said that "the international community has evinced zero understanding for the impossible environment in which the IDF operates." Here is how Guarnieri reacted to those two true statements:

"Rather than a call for accountability, the article was an exercise in Israeli victimhood.

The siege mentality. It's dangerous line of thinking that dismisses others' suffering and, simultaneously, breeds a culture of impunity. We're under attack, the thinking goes, so we must use any means necessary to defend ourselves--from violently boarding the Freedom Flotilla to the brutally executed Operation Cast Lead to the ongoing siege on Gaza."
 Give me a break. Harel did not say anything that wasn't true. Hamas did embed with the civilian population, which made it impossible to fight them without hurting civilians. And the international community doesn't appear to care about the difficulties of fighting in that kind of situation, they just are happy to condemn Israel. Even more telling, when the US encounters the same problem in Afghanistan, the UN looks the other way while civilians and Taliban alike are blown up with Predator drones. Guarnieri knows that Harel was right, which is why she doesn't even try to counter what he says. Instead she moans and groans and cries and rings her hands the way she always does when Israel does anything except apologize for existing.

Pointing out that Hamas forced Israel into a no-win scenario does not indicate a "siege mentality" nor does it mean that Israel as a whole is taking on the "any means necessary" mentality: This is what I mean when I talk about Guarnieri playing psychiatrist. Wasn't she the one reporting about protests during Cast Lead? Or are the facts conforming to fit the theory again?

Not to play the psychiatrist on her, but while I was reading this I couldn't help but wonder what would provoke Guarnieri to make such logic leaps. Perhaps she holds the worldview that Israel is always wrong and if they even attempt to defend themselves they are remorseless cold-blooded monsters who hate the Palestinians. I'm definitely seeing a black and white point of view coming from this article: An honest critic of Israel would admit that Harel was right and that Hamas embedded themselves, and would critique Israel for not being careful enough. Guarnieri, on the other hand, is flipping out just because Israel dared to tell the truth about the situation rather than fall all over themselves apologizing. Isn't it a reporters job to focus on the truth first and pontificate later? Maybe Guarnieri should consider a career change.

She continues:
"But Israel must do more than overhaul its policies regarding Gaza. It must look inside itself and acknowledge that the roots of the culture of impunity, now proving to be a threat to Israel's well-being, run deep. The first seeds were sown in 1948, with the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Arabs. It sprouted with the settlements, which threaten both the establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state and the prospect of peace. And the military occupation looms over Israeli society."
Wow so the Arab dispossession in 1948 and the occupation came out of nowhere? There was nothing that might have caused them? No intervening historical events that preceded them? Why should Israel listen to you when you tell them what it must do, Ms. Guarnieri, when you don't even know your own country's history?

At this point Ms. Guarnieri talks about how for Israeli soldiers accused of a crime there is less than a 6% rate of indictment and 89% conviction rate for those indicted. Of course she gives us these statistics in a vacuum so there is no way for her audience to know how that compares with other armies in a democracy. She seems to imply, though, that every Israeli soldier accused is guilty and therefore anything less than a full conviction is a miscarriage of justice. It is likely that many of those cases did not have enough evidence for an indictment, since it is hard to gain specific evidence against specific individuals during a time of war. But I think Ms. Guarnieri would rather write it off as "culture of impunity" and call it a day. Much easier than stopping and thinking about it.

Her last paragraph is really informative but I think it deserves it's own post. Look for it tomorrow.


  1. There is no culture of impunity in Israel. If Ms. Guarnieri wants to find one, she could discuss how the Israeli army high brass are NOT held accountable for stupid decisions that endanger Israeli soldiers lives. I bet we won't ever see her deal with that topic because it would prove the opposite of what she asserts - Israel rank and file soldiers are hemmed in by highly restrictive engagement regulations that prevent them from executing their responsibilities properly. Not that Left can see the other side of the picture. They can't.

  2. Sorry, but I don't understand why Israel allows enemies -- like Guarnieri and Shabi -- to remain in its country.