Monday, 23 June 2003

The New Thought Police

The campaign to criminalize criticism of Israel

Last week, after Israeli targeted Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi – and, instead, got a woman passer-by and a three year-old child, while 27 others were injured. – George W. Bush came out with some very mild criticism of Israel:

"I am troubled by the recent Israeli helicopter gunship attacks. I regret the loss of innocent life. I also don't believe that the attacks help Israeli security."

From the hysterical reaction, one might have thought that he had uttered a blood libel, or suddenly taken to wearing a kaffiyeh. Such a commotion! House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), reportedly strode into the Oval Office and threatened to push a resolution through Congress offering unconditional support to Sharon and implicitly rebuking the President.

God forbid the President of the United States should mourn the death of a three-year-old child whom the Israelis say was inadvertently killed. That this troubles him troubles DeLay – and that is more than a little troubling. I mean, what are we talking about here: aren't we supposed to be against the taking of innocent life? And why, pray tell, shouldn't an American President forbidden say out loud what he really thinks about the immoral and self-destructive behavior of a foreign government, albeit one that is ostensibly our faithful ally?

We hear constantly about the supposed rise of anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe: this is not neo-Nazi activity, or the "old" anti-Semitism of the Protocols, but the "new anti-Semitism," which boils down to criticism of Israel and its supporters.

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