Tuesday, September 28th | 22 Tishri 5782

March 27, 2020 10:38 am

Hope Is Nice, but After Coronavirus, Demonization of Israel Is Unlikely to Change

avatar by Gerald Steinberg / JNS.org


Two Israeli emergency workers — one Muslim, one Jewish — taking a prayer break during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo via Daniel Carmon/Twitter.

JNS.orgIsraeli President Reuven Rivlin recently tried to provide some optimism amid the gloom and doom of the corona epidemic. Noting the cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), he tweeted: “I just spoke to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Our ability to work together in times of crisis is also a testament to our ability to work together in the future for the good of us all.”

This peaceful scenario is worthy of the Jewish prophets, particularly Isaiah and Micah.

Unfortunately, the reality now, as it was then, is quite different. In contrast to Rivlin’s optimism, the Palestinians and their allies are currently moving at full speed to continue their campaign of demonization against Israel.

Most notably, Palestinians, in coordination with an army of NGOs, are pressing the effort in the International Criminal Court(ICC)  to take the false “war crime” accusations to the next stage — a pseudo-investigation of Israel.

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Over the past week, a number of these groups have submitted briefs (many of which go beyond the absurd in stretching historical truth) to prop up ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s weak attempt to justify this travesty. The NGO list includes Al Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), which work very closely with the PA in this campaign and are funded by European governments.

Among their Israeli allies, the Israeli left-wing group B’Tselem wrote a report accompanied by a media campaign (also enabled by European funders). As usual, B’Tselem blamed Israel exclusively for the conflict, erasing the long history of Palestinian rejectionism and terror, and even accused Israel of exploiting the Holocaust in rejecting the ICC prosecutor’s arguments.

Breaking the Silence, Gisha, and other NGOs continued to blame Israel for not doing enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus among Palestinians, repeating their one-line agenda — “occupation, occupation, occupation” — even in Gaza, where the “occupation” ended almost 15 years ago.

In parallel, and also flying in the face of Rivlin’s optimism, is the continuation of the discriminatory BDS movement, which is trying to exploit its latest “achievement” in the form of a UN Human Rights Council (HRC) blacklist of selected businesses falsely accused of violating international law.

Human Rights Watch lobbied HRC Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to join this nasty form of warfare, and is pressing this dubious success while the coronavirus pandemic rages. HRW head Ken Roth’s Twitter feed contains frequent propaganda, and Omar Shakir, who was hired by Roth to lead the BDS attack, finds gullible allies, like a student reporter for the Harvard Crimson, to repeat his lies. (Shakir left Israel a few months ago after his visa was not renewed.)

Sarah Leah Whitson, another veteran Israel-hater, continued along the same path in the face of the coronavirus. “Such a tiny taste. Missing a tablespoon of blood,” she tweeted. (This was Whitson’s response to Mairav Zonszein, who wrote, “6 million Jewish Israelis will now get a taste of what around the same number of Palestinians living under occupation have experienced for over half a century”).

After almost 20 years as one of Roth’s top warriors in the war to demonize Israel, Whitson recently left and joined the Quincy Institute — a new political “think tank” funded by billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch.

The ongoing demonization and political war against Israel, continuing unabated despite the global coronavirus disaster, is an important reality check for all of us. While hoping for a better future of beating swords (or keyboards) into plowshares is an important part of human nature and Jewish tradition, blind faith can also have dangerous consequences.

Gerald M. Steinberg is a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of the Institute for NGO Research. This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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