As surely as night follows day, B’nai Brith can be counted on to rubbish any politician who dares criticize po’ l’il Israel. The most recent recipient of abuse is Liberal MP Pat O’Brien, who said Israel’s wall denies basic rights to the Palestinians and further reduces the West Bank and Gaza Strip to concentration camps.
Anyone with access to British or translated Israeli and Arabic reports knows that O’Brien is right. The wall will illegally annex Palestinian land containing approximately 303,000 Jewish colonists and 384,918 native Palestinians, who now find themselves cut off from their farmland. These involuntary “Israelis” will not receive residential status or full citizenship, unlike the Jewish colonists who occupy Palestinian land.
This land grab will also give Israel greater control over vital aquifers, even though 80 percent of all water in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is already diverted from Palestinians to Israelis. The intolerable living conditions Israel has deliberately imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza Strip fits the meaning of concentration camp, according to the American Heritage Dictionary:
“1. A camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes prisoners of war are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions.
“2. A place or situation characterized by extremely harsh conditions.”
B’nai Brith, though, cannot allow such truths to go unchallenged, because its job is to defend the official image of Israel and zionism. Since this image is grounded in a false history, B’nai Brith cannot risk engaging in rational argument. Therefore it resorts to disreputable tactics like ad hominem insults, begging the question, scaremongering and Israel-as-victim propaganda.
Its press releases betray the organization’s intellectual vacuity. Each one conforms to a general pattern:
–¢ B’nai Brith Canada condemns/ has voiced its strong opposition to/ expressed shock and anger/ has slammed [something or someone];
–¢ National President Rochelle Wilner waxes sanctimonious or accusatory; and
–¢ Executive Vice-President Frank Dimant chimes in with his two cents’ worth.
Remarkably, these utterances find their way into print, as in this Feb. 18 excerpt from the Ottawa Citizen:
“B’nai Brith was offended by Mr. O’Brien’s evocation of the Holocaust concentration camps of Nazi Germany to make his point.
” ‘Not only is Mr. O’Brien abysmally ignorant of the facts regarding the fence, but he has attacked it in a manner that is extremely offensive and painful to Canadian Jews, particularly those who survived the evil of Nazi Germany,’ said Ms. Wilner.
“The fence is being constructed to save the lives of Jews, Muslims and Christians from the ‘campaign of terror’ being waged from inside the West Bank and Gaza, added Ms. Wilner.”
Dredging up “the evil of Nazi Germany” is a common propaganda tactic to de-legitimize critics of Israel, but in this case Wilner’s comments are inflammatory and libelous. O’Brien made no reference to Nazi Germany or the Jewish holocaust. That assertion comes from Wilner, and the reporter lazily attributed it to O’Brien.
Citizen bureau chief Bob Fife refused to explain why the paper would allow B’nai Brith to run off at the mouth, but not contact O’Brien for a response.
The only party who appears to be “abysmally ignorant of the facts” is Wilner, as shown by her assertion that the fence [sic] is being constructed to save the lives of Jews, Muslims and Christians. Yes, I can just see the throngs of Muslim Palestinians cheering as they watch their olive trees being uprooted and their livelihood destroyed to make way for this life-saving edifice.
Wilner’s statement is so ludicrous that it beggars the imagination. How can she possibly expect anyone to take her or B’nai Brith seriously when she deliberately denies what is obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature? Believe it or not, such unabashed prevarication has been seen before, and here the Nazi parallel is apt.
On Nov. 10, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht–”when Nazi thugs looted Jewish shops, burned synagogues, destroyed Jewish property and arrested innocent Jews–”Louis Lochner was one of several foreign correspondents called to a press conference to hear a statement from Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels:
“Suddenly,” said Lochner, “he entered with quick nervous steps, invited us to stand in a semicircle about him, and then delivered a declaration to the effect that ‘all the accounts that have come to your ears about alleged looting and destruction of Jewish property are a stinking lie ( sind erstunken und erlogen). Not a hair of a Jew was disturbed ( den Juden ist kein Haar gekrummt worden).’
“We all looked at one another in amazement. In all our journalistic careers no one among us had experienced anything like it.
“Only three minutes from the Wilhelmplatz, on which the Propaganda Ministry was located, was Berlin’s famous shopping street, the Leipziger Strasse, at the end of which was Wertheim’s internationally known department store, its great show windows broken, its celebrated displays a pile of rubble. Yet Goebbels dared tell us that what we had seen with our own eyes was a ‘stinking lie.’
“After a few paralyzing moments we had recovered sufficiently from this shock to want to press Dr. Goebbels with questions. He had disappeared. He had cleverly used the moment of our consternation to eliminate any possibility of our asking him questions.”*
Lochner goes on to say that as a foreign correspondent he had to report Goebbels’s absurdities faithfully without criticism lest he lose his post, but just before the press conference he and others had already filed their own eyewitness accounts of the brutality and destruction. Thus, the truthful reporting of these denials had the opposite effect of what Goebbels expected.
Who, then, is really guilty of offending Canadian Jews and evoking the evil of Nazi Germany–”O’Brien for telling the truth about an atrocity, or Wilner for uttering absurd denials?
You tell me.
* The Goebbels Diaries 1942–”1943, ed., trans. and intro’d by Louis P. Lochner (New York: Doubleday, 1948) pp. 16-17.