Friday, January 11, 2019

Hatem Bazian's Conspiracy Theories on Israel

UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, a Palestinian who came to the US as a rabble rousing student activist at San Francisco State University and hung around to become a rabble-rousing professor at UC Berkeley, has penned his latest diatribe against Israel, which is loaded with conspiracies and wild accusations.

Bazian accuses the Zionist government of Israel of being involved in everything from supporting right-wing dictatorships in Guatemala to collaborating with neo-Nazis. About the only thing he left out is accusing Israel of harvesting organs for the worldwide transplant black market.

Without trying to delve into each accusation to refute them, it would have been helpful if Bazian (who is supposed to be an academic) had provided documentation and sourcing for his accusations. Not even a hyperlink can be found. Of course, he could always find his own peer review in the likes of Rashid Khalidi (at Columbia), Juan Cole (at University of Michigan), Mark LeVine (at UC Irvine), and Norman Finkelstein (nowhere) to name a few.

Some choice excerpts:

"Critically, Israel and the Zionist leaders are deeply connected to extreme rightwing and in some cases neo-Nazi groups across Europe, the US, and Latin America which undermines any claims of countering anti-Semitism by a state that is emboldening and providing legitimacy to groups, movements, and individuals that belong in the dustbin of history."

Seriously? Netanyahu and Zionists hooking up with neo-Nazis? Why that would be akin to when Hitler hooked up with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al Husseini. Having allies like Matteo Salvini, Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro, and Marine LePen is far preferable to having allies like Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway, Linda Sarsour, Louis Farrakhan, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, and the mullahs of Iran.

"Zionism, as a political ideology, and Israel, as the state beholden to the exclusivist nationalist strand of Zionism (not religious Zionism), forged a military garrison state, replicated Western racist norms and viewed itself as a European outpost facing “the barbarians” at the gates of civilization. Israel was born and nurtured within a rightwing, militaristic and exclusivist Eurocentric epistemic."

Political ideology? I give you Islam, which forms the basis of the legal code of most all Muslim majority nations to one extent or another. Military garrison state? Perfectly reasonable when you are surrounded not only by hostile Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza but some 300 million Arabs in neighboring countries who would obliterate you if they could. The reason they cannot is because Israel is too strong militarily. "Barbarians" at the gates of civilization Well, if the shoe fits, wear it.

"The well-established suffering of the Jews in various parts of Europe was used as a rationale to partner and become wedded with Britain’s colonial plans in the Muslim world, which included from the beginning the idea of dispossessing the indigenous Palestinian population." 

Indigenous? Three thousand years ago, Jerusalem was the capital of....Israel. Even though Jews were dispersed by the Romans, some Jews have always remained in the Holy Land. One can hardly claim that Muslims are indigenous to present day Israel since Islam is only 1400 years old and arrived in present-day Israel through expansion. How can Palestinians claim to be indigenous when the very term was coined by the Romans when they drove the Jews out? Contrary to Palestinian narrative, Israel's Jews are not exclusively European Ashkhenazi who arrived during the early years of Zionism (late 19th century) and continued to the post WW II emigration from Europe. By various estimates, some 500,000-850,000 Jews were driven out of Arab lands where they had lived for centuries after the (re) creation of Israel in 1948. Most settled in Israel and rebuilt their lives rather than languishing in refugee camps for 70+ years-like you-know-who.

Bazian goes on to accuse Israel of providing support to various right-wing governments around the world including in Latin America. How much of this is true and to what extent I have no idea. The US also provided support to many of these regimes in the name of fighting the Cold War. But if the US and Israel sided with right-wing, anti-Communist regimes in Latin America, we were opposed by countries like the USSR and Cuba who provided support to left-wing forces like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. As we speak, Daniel Ortega is back in power in that country and worse than ever. Angola? I seem to recall that the Cubans under Fidel Castro actually sent troops to fight in Angola. Iran? I would not defend the Shah, but look what replaced him. Where is Bazian's criticism of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors? For that matter why have Israel and Saudi Arabia come closer together in recent years? Because the Saudis fear Iran more than they hate Israel. Geo-politics and matters of national survival sometimes make for strange bedfellows. I am a huge critic of Saudi Arabia. I was also a critic of the former Soviet Union, but I seem to recall we were allies with Stalin during WW II because we were fighting a common enemy (Hitlerian Germany) who was a more immediate and existential threat. In short, Bazian can whine all he wants about the questionable alliances Israel has made over the years, but he ignores the questionable alliances of the Palestinians just as he ignores the evil on the other side of the fence in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

But there is more:

"The current debates and attacks on Palestine activists on the basis of anti-Semitism are self-serving and intended to defend the indefensible in Israel and Zionist conduct toward the Palestinians. If the claims made by the ADL, AJC, ZOA, JCRC, and Jewish Federations across the country are that they are fighting and countering anti-Semitism, then the evidence of this intent should be a clear and definitive condemnation of Israel’s and Netanyahu’s actions that legitimize the new crop of neo-Nazi and ultranationalist politicians. The lack of any sustained criticism by major Jewish organizations of Trump and the use of anti-Semitic tropes in the most recent midterm elections is a failure of moral leadership on the anti-Semitism front. Failure to condemn Trump and rightwing politicians on a regular and consistent basis can only mean an agreement with the approach and decisions taken by Israel and its leadership.

Naturally, Bazian has to throw Trump in there because Trump is a supporter of Israel (which refutes charges of anti-semitism against the President). As far as the Jewish organizations Bazian singles out above, the ADL is hardly a supporter of Trump. On the few occasions they have even mentioned Islamic anti-semitism, they are virulently attacked by the Bazians' and the CAIRs of the world. My own experience dealing with anti-semitism at UC Irvine over the years shows me that groups like ADL and the (Orange Country) Jewish Federation have ignored or downplayed anti-semitism on campus from the pro-Palestinian forces. Only the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has truly stepped up tho the plate, in my view. From my own experiences and personal observations, anti-semitism is part and parcel of the pro-Palestinian movement on campus-even if some misguided Jews choose to take sides against Israel.

"I disagree with the J Street on some issues, however, Jeremy Ben-Ami’s view on this matter is very accurate and reflects the increasing alarm among a sizable segment of the American Jewish community."

The only thing I can see in J Street that Bazian would disagree with is their motto, "Pro-Israel, pro-Peace", which is a joke. J Street sides with the Palestinian side every time on every issue related to the conflict.

"By standing with the likes of Orban and Salvini, the Israeli government is ignoring the deep concerns of European Jewish leaders and forgetting the historical lesson that any government which targets minorities and undermines liberal democracy is ultimately a threat to the Jewish people.”

What really bugs Bazian about Salvini and Orban is that they are taking the lead in Europe in trying to stop the mass invasion of Muslims into their countries with all the attendant problems of terror, crime, murders and rapes that have accompanied this migration. That also includes attacks against European Jews by many of these Muslim newcomers who have brought their age-old hatreds with them. None of these issues are addressed or even mentioned by Bazian. Bazian accuses Israel of targeting minorities while ignoring the fact that Arabs and Muslims enjoy more rights in Israel than any neighboring Islamic country-not to mention women and gays. He ignores the fact that in virtually every Muslim majority nation, non-Muslims are not only discriminated against but persecuted. And he lectures us on democracy and threats to the Jewish people?

When it comes to Israel, Bazian has only one vision-its extinction. By his own faulty reasoning, we would conclude that the US should not have won WW II because the Soviet Union was an ally. This kind of reasoning is not worthy of someone who calls himself a professor-even at UC Berkeley.

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