The divide between pointed commentary and bigoted effluvium is, like everything else in the media, defined by political interests. The intrinsic merit, or demerit, of a comment is virtually irrelevant compared with the political clout of the party on the receiving end of the comment.
Radio shlock-jock Don Imus got punted from his morning show on NBC because he grossly insulted the black members of Rutgers women’s basketball team.
What Imus said was gratuitous, ignorant and does not bear repeating, but the fact that he lost his radio show over it, despite abject public contrition, says less about Imus’s unfitness to host a radio show than the political power that blacks and women have won over the last 40 years.
I do not defend Imus’s comment–nobody can–but the fact is he should not have been on the air in the first place, since he got away with a far worse act of bigotry three years ago. On Nov. 12, 2004, one of his regular guests Sid Rosenberg referred to Palestinians as “stinking animals.”
“They ought to drop the bomb right there, kill ’em all right now,” he said. A week later, Imus featured a mock interview with Gen. George Patton, which was replete with gratuitous, defamatory images of Arabs, such as calling a dead Iraqi resistance fighter “a booby-trapped raghead cadaver.”
Such conduct violates the Federal Communication Commission’s standards on profane or indecent speech, which includes: “personally reviling epithets naturally tending to provoke violent resentment or denoting language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance. Like indecency, profane speech is prohibited on broadcast radio and television between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.”
Despite demands for censure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Palestine Media Watch, Imus was not fired and NBC was not fined. So, here’s what we have: Imus is fired–as was his executive producer Bernard McGuirk–because of an ad hominem racial slur, but neither was fired because of an ad hominem racial slur mixed with advocacy for mass murder.
The lesson to be learned here is that bigotry against Arabs, even incitement to murder, is treated as defensible commentary. In contrast, defensible commentary against Israel and zionism is treated as bigotry, and this brings me to the other side of the divide.
On April 5, Belgian graphic journalist Ben Heine submitted the third in a series of political diaries to www.dailykos.com. In fact, he had been specifically requested to crosspost to the site.
This third diary was an authorized reprint of “Zionism and the creation of Israel” by Palestinian aid worker Ahlam Akram along with two of Heine’s cartoons. Within minutes after the diary went up, dailykos and Heine were deluged with hundreds of hate e-mails from zionist webthugs like littlegreenfootballs. At the centre of this case was one of the cartoons (Click here to see the cartoon, which includes a face made up of equal parts Adolf Hitler and Moldova-born Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman.
As Heine wrote on his blog: “I chose to use the striking portrait of Avigdor Lieberman to illustrate this precise part of Ahlam Akram’s article: ‘When Avigdor Lieberman publicly calls for “Transfer,” which means total expulsion of all non-Jewish people including Israeli citizens with non Jewish origins; what does that means if not ethnic cleansing?”
Facts and logic aside, the idea of conflating a picture of Hitler with Lieberman–”or any Jew–”was enough to send the zionist thought police into attack mode. In response, dailykos deleted the diary alleging copyright violation–”there was none–”and closed Heine’s dailykos account. So much for defence of free speech from the lily-livered left.
Unlike the Imus case, which was wholly indefensible had nothing to do with freedom of speech, Heine can cite truth and fair comment in his defence. Granted, the cartoon is sharp, provocative and guaranteed to offend zionists, but offensive speech is protected if it can be shown that its publication has a socially redeeming purpose.
In this case, that purpose is depicting the DNA (Demonstrable Nazi Affiliation) that lies at the core of the zionist state and is responsible for the slow torturous genocide of Palestinian Arabs. One can understand that zionists would get bent out of shape over Heine’s satire, but for dailykos to cave in is truly dispiriting, especially since corroborating evidence from zionist sources about Israel’s DNA is overwhelming.
Purging the inhabitants
We are all taught that a key platform of the Nazi Party was to rid Germany of Jews, to make it Judenrein: “None but members of the nation may be citizens of the State. None but those of German blood may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation.” (Adolf Hitler, Feb. 24, 1920).
Here’s what Joseph Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund, had to say about making Israel [sic] ” Arabrein“: “The only solution is Eretz Israel [Greater Israel], or at least Western Eretz Israel [all the land west of Jordan River], without Arabs. There is no room compromise on this point … We must not leave a single village, not a single tribe.” (Sept. 29, 1967)
Hitler on Jews: “His is no master people; he is an exploiter: the Jews are a people of robbers. He has never founded any civilization, though he has destroyed civilizations by the hundred…everything he has stolen. Foreign people, foreign workmen build him his temples, it is foreigners who create and work for him, it is foreigners who shed their blood for him.” (July 28, 1922)
Israeli president Moshe Katsav on Arabs: “There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies–”not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.” (May 10, 2001)
Fascist parallels admitted
On July 29, 2005, former Israeli education minister Shulamit Aloni made a direct connection between the application of Israeli terrorism in the Occupied Territories and fascism:
“I can show you Mussolini’s books about fascism. If you read them you’ll reach the unequivocal conclusion that ministers in the current Israeli government are walking on the same path. I want to note that National Union Knesset Member Benny Elon recently said that settlers intend to embitter the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank until they emigrate from here. I see testament to that in the existence of an IDF unit comprising radical religious soldiers, who are no different than animals in their daily behavior.”
In “Letter of Resignation from the Jewish People,” Bertell Ollman, a professor at New York University, challenged Jews to face up to similarities between Nazism and zionism:
“If Zionism is indeed a particularly virulent form of nationalism and, increasingly, of racism and if Israel is acting toward its captive minority in ways that resemble more and more how the Nazis treated their Jews, then we must also say so. For obvious reasons, the Zionists are very sensitive about being compared to the Nazis (not so sensitive that it has restrained them in their actions but enough to bellow "unfair" and to charge "anti-Semitism" when it happens). Yet, the facts on the ground, when not obscured by one or another Zionist rationalization, show that the Zionists are the worst anti-Semites in the world today, oppressing a Semitic people as no nation has done since the Nazis….What, if anything, has such Zionism got to do with traditional Jewish values?”
Indeed! Lieberman’s hatred of Arabs is indistinguishable from Hitler’s hatred of Jews. It is so overt that it offends other members of Israel’s government, such as when he urged total war against the Palestinian resistance: ” ‘At 8 a.m. we’ll bomb all the commercial centres… at noon we’ll bomb their gas stations… at two we’ll bomb their banks,’ To this, Shimon Peres said: ‘And at 6 p.m. you’ll receive an invitation to the international tribunal in The Hague.’ ” ( Independent, March 7, 2002)
On May 5, 2006, Lieberman actually advocated the execution of any Arab politician who even spoke to the Hamas government of Palestine. For this–”among other things–”he is denounced as a fascist and neo-Nazi within Israel, yet Heine was censored for depicting this fact in a cartoon!
By any intelligent, objective standard Heine’s cartoon is based in fact, and is therefore defensible as fair comment in a free society, but we do not live in such a society, do we? Great Truths about Israel and zionism cannot be uttered without great cost, especially when that truth concerns their DNA.
The more that Israel and its agents try to censor informed dissent the more they draw attention to the intellectual bankruptcy of their own argument and rally support for their critics. Already, Heine has received copious supportfor his cartoon, even from expat Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon.
Finally, to put this debacle into perspective, I was reminded the other night at a philosopher’s cafÃ© about the views of John Stuart Mill on the subject of censorship. His 1869 essay On Liberty might well stand as the definitive defence of the free press and a condemnation of the cowardice of censorship in all forms:
“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation…. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity to exchange error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livlier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
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