When the Biden White House got the FBI to investigate who really killed the American Palestinian Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, many reacted with caustic and perplexed outrage. A bosom ally won’t give Israel the benefit of the doubt. If anything they under-reacted; not just indelicate distrust and a busy body president are involved – the insult is not half the plot.
In fact Biden’s conduct is obscenely opposite. On the one hand he makes drama out of a lone victim possibly killed by an Israeli combatant; it contrasts with Biden sitting on his hands when he could get a wanted terrorist extradited for the murder of fifteen Jews in a pizza joint.
The double standard again? Its fall from grace is long overdue; invariably it serves to hinder more than help. Here it obscures the import of Biden’s contrary and insulting intervention. The correct and mature reaction to such double dealing would be déjà vu, connecting it to a social and political creed honoured all the way back to Captain Alfred Dreyfus and his conviction in 1894 on a trumped-up count of espionage.
The Dreyfus episode conveyed to the far corners of Europe the creed that a Jew can’t ever be innocent. The discovery that France’s legal system had wronged a Jewish officer had little force and effect on society. Anti-Semites held on to their conviction that Dreyfus belonged to a race of traitors.
In her magnum opus, “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, Hannah Arendt makes the point that Dreyfus never was acquitted in accordance with the law. Even in 1908, nine years after his official pardon, he was attacked in the street. A Paris court acquitted the assailant and, to make which side it supported still clearer, dissented from an earlier decision to clear Dreyfus of all charges. “Even stranger,” writes Arendt, “neither the 1st nor the 2nd World War was able to bury the Dreyfus affair in oblivion.”
In our 21st century the old credo, ‘Jews can’t ever be innocent’ is alive and well. Now it’s a fellow traveller, a globe-trotting ghost present every time investigators rake ‘Palestine’ for Israeli crimes against humanity. In laptops the guilty verdict has been saved for when it is needed.
So robust and timeless a creed must be ingrained. Suppose you were told that a globetrotter for Amnesty International wouldn’t allow Israel not to commit a crime. Would you (a) laugh or (b) nod? The reaction is on record. Lack of evidence of a massacre in Jenin, said the globetrotter, is proof that Israel perpetrated one. Professor Derrick Pounder was talking to the media about his preliminary findings from autopsies he carried out in Jenin Hospital.
“What was striking is what was absent. There were very few bodies in the hospital. There were also none who were seriously injured, only the walking wounded. Thus we have to ask: Where are the bodies and where are the seriously injured?”
Anti-Zionists, like a toddler having a gooey treat snatched away, were exceedingly vexed. Their vitriolic newsgroup of choice, the Independent,ran a scoop story that was a hater’s dream. The front page headline alone could make one’s hair stand on end. Thick, large and dark black, it rivalled headlines for 9/11 – a crime that could tip the globe off its axis. On April 16 2002, newspapers in the Independent stable broke news of the massacre under the title, “Silence of the Dead.”
“A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up has finally been exposed,” wrote the reporter, Phil Reeves. He was right there, treading a “nuclear wasteland” of what had been the Jenin refugee camp, assailed by the “sweet and ghastly reek of rotting bodies.” His own words stank like a septic wound as Reeves harangued military Jews in the manner of a mobster working up the mob for a pogrom. “It was impossible not to remember (Israel’s) lies and propaganda” he wrote, ironically anticipating that his own lies and propaganda would soon be laid bare.
Hollywood could not have bettered the script and cast for ‘Massacre in Jenin.’ Turned out the ghastly reek was contrived by means of animal carcasses. The phantasmal credits were shared by a complicit cast of UN officials and Palestinian Arab leaders. A sensational news cycle did a full circle in 24 hours: scoop, fame for reporter, indelicate retraction, and jobless oblivion for the blood libeller. This author’s documentation and networking played no small part making the libeller pay the price.
In a small way it made history. Never, to my knowledge, had mainstream media owned up to a blood libel. The ending though was quite unlike Hollywood. The world in a hurry to move on to the next Zionist crime, scanned a wistful apology tucked away inside the paper. Reeves owned up. The report, he said, was “highly personalized.” (Meaning, ‘Driven by personal feelings about Jews.’)
“It was clear that the debate over the awful events in Jenin four months ago is still dominated by whether there was a massacre, even though it has long been obvious that one did not occur.” (Meaning, ‘Israel is guilty by definition, therefore I had to produce a crime for them, which is no more than my job entailed.)
Stymied Israel-haters soon forgot their near miss and moved on. But woe betides a Jew being the agent of frustration, preventing haters living up to the credo, ‘Israel can’t ever be innocent.’ The sky fell down on Judge Richard Goldstone when he did precisely that.
The UN Human Rights Council gave him a crack team of experts to lead and go fact-finding, to make Israel into an international criminal. Problems piled up beforehand, before even the day of departure to go fact-finding. Goldstone’s already mutinous crew couched their UN mandate ominously. They “placed the civilian population ….at the centre of concerns regarding the violations of international law.”
The civilian population could never be Israel; since when did the Human Rights Council start worrying about civilian Jews. So, already Israel was being set up for being guilty of targeting Palestinian Arab civilians. Second, fact-finding for what purpose? The mandate already told investigators that international law had been violated. So, the mandate was to connect the violations to Israel. The Goldstone crew duly stuck to it and delivered the required verdict.
Israel was guilty on two counts: targeting civilians and disproportionate force. The connectivity of the two is important. Attacks that are disproportionate are attacks on ‘civilians’ as nominated by a crooked rule of thumb. In such manner a verdict that Israel targeted civilians was guaranteed.
Then Goldstone went and changed his mind and all hell broke loose. It took him a year and a half, but very publicly, in the Washington Post he retracted everything. “Civilians,” he wrote, “were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” To everyone it came as a shock, to some a shock and a blow. They would not admit that Goldstone had changed his mind. Goldstone, on the other hand, could not have made himself clearer:
“I had hoped,” he said, “that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of even-handedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.” (Washington Post, 1 April, 2011)
The credo, however, withstood the shock, as it had done after the hoax massacre. Amnesty would not settle for anything less than a crime. In Jenin its globe trotter wandered around looking for the corpses that Israel “hid.” Now a respected Jewish lawyer had gone and spoilt the plot. He particularly upset the resident expert at the UN Human Rights Council. Professor John Dugard took the position Amnesty had taken in Jenin: Israel can’t ever be innocent.
“He (Goldstone) could not possibly have meant that Israel did not “intentionally target civilians as a matter of policy” in the legal sense of intention. That Israel’s assault was conducted in an indiscriminate manner with full knowledge that its consequences would be the killing and wounding of civilians is a matter of public record fully substantiated by the Goldstone report and other, equally credible findings.” (The New Statesman, 6 April 2011)
The statement is interesting. Dugard is angry with captain Goldstone for saying that Israel was not guilty. Israel had not targeted civilians. Goldstone, he insists, could not possibly have meant that. Israel has to be guilty. And Dugard hits upon the oddest reason – Israel is guilty in the “legal sense.” It targeted civilians, in the “legal sense.” He could be speaking nonsense; Dugard won’t elaborate what that means. The burden of proof, in his law volumes, only requires that Israel can’t ever be innocent. Forget burden of proof, he thinks, look at the public record. For sure look – Eh, what is the public record, and where can it be found, “fully substantiated?” Retorts Dugard, ‘Where? Where else than in the report Goldstone signed, sealed and delivered. Ha, but captain Goldstone had second thoughts: no proof that Israel had done the deed. In plain English the verdict, said the captain of the crew, was mistaken. He retracts completely.
He can do what he likes, retorts Dugard. The captain did not sign the report alone. There were other signatories, not to mention “other, equally credible findings.”
The credo, ‘Israel can’t ever be innocent,’ seems to reduce the brains of a professor to pulp. Dugard the law professor is piqued into making a statement that would amuse his undergrad class. A report of an unsubstantiated crime, rubbished by a Jewish legal brain, must be treated as credible evidence of wrongdoing. Did not Amnesty declare similarly? Corpses not found are credible proof of a Jewish crime.
“In all of mankind’s history, there has never been more damage done than by people who ‘thought they were doing the right thing’.” Who said that? Lucy said it, when her pal Charlie Brown admits he took away small Linus’s blanket comforter. With that remark “Peanuts” cartoon strip creator, Charley Schulz, hit upon the dodgy ideologue and bigot that employs human rights for an excuse never to let Israel be innocent.
Steve Apfel is an authority on anti-Zionism and a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction. His blog, ‘Balaam’s curse,’ is followed in 15 countries on 5 continents