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Beast of the Month - September 2006

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Beast of the Month - September 2006 Amir
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 29, 2007
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Beast of the Month - September 2006
      Amir Peretz, Israeli Defense Minister

      "I yam an anti-Christ... "
      John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the

      On July 28, 2006, Mel Gibson was arrested for drunk driving in
      Malibu. While in an intoxicated state, he went into an anti-Semitic
      tirade in front of one of the deputies, who was Jewish: "Fucking
      Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
      (Cleverly, when he noticed a female sergeant, he asked, "What do you
      think you're looking at, sugar tits?")

      The Konformist won't spend too much energy defending Mr. Gibson
      here. After all, that's the job of his buddy Sean Hannity.
      (Honestly, does anyone believe that Hannity - or either David
      Horowitz or Dennis Prager, for that matter - would have defended,
      say, Michael Moore if he unleashed an anti-Semitic rant during a
      drunk-driving arrest? No disrespect to Mr. Moore in this
      theoretical example, as he has no history of either Jew-hatred or
      alcoholism - though he may one day be charged with getting pushy at
      a HomeTown Buffet line.) And, to his credit, Mel won't even defend
      himself, declaring his comments "despicable" in a public apology.
      (Of course, he has yet apologize for this 2004 quote from Reader's
      Digest about the Nazi Holocaust, which seems to minimize the horrors
      of the infamous genocide: "Atrocities happened. War is horrible.
      The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of
      them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their

      Still, folks, a little bit of perspective here. What a former
      mullet-haired buddy-cop action star turned kinky S&M gay-porn snuff
      film posing as a Passion play director says one night while blasted
      in Malibu really doesn't have much intellectual weight to it, as no
      doubt Gibson would admit. Compare that to these: "It is virtually
      impossible to distinguish the Hezbollah dead from the truly civilian
      dead, just as it is virtually impossible to distinguish the
      Hezbollah living from the civilian living, especially in the south.
      The 'civilian' death figures reported by Lebanese authorities
      include large numbers of Hezbollah fighters, collaborators,
      facilitators and active supporters. They also include civilians who
      were warned to leave, but chose to remain, sometimes with their
      children, to serve as human shields. The deaths of
      these 'civilians' are the responsibility of Hezbollah and the
      Lebanese government, which has done very little to protect its
      civilians... We must stop viewing Lebanon as a victim and begin to
      see it as a collaborator with terrorism."

      These are the words of Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter
      Professor of Law at Harvard, last month on August 7, presumably when
      he wasn't drunk. This apologist tract was in regards to the little
      issue of civilian casualties caused by Israel's cute little war
      waged recently against Lebanon. Previously, Dershowitz, who until 9-
      11 was best known for representing high-profile figures such as
      Claus von Bulow, Leona Helmsley, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson, argued
      that in the name of fighting terrorism, torture by the US government
      should be allowed via so-called "torture warrants" approved by a
      court. So, thanks to him, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Daniel
      Pipes can all now advocate legalizing torture and cite that even far-
      left liberal Alan Dershowitz agrees. (Unsurprisingly, in his days
      of defending celebrities and civil liberties, he was a constant
      punch-line for criticism and parody in the US media, both of which
      have disappeared as he instead defends torture and mass murder.)
      Perhaps there is another explanation for the Dershowitz flip-flops
      on basic human rights, but the belief that he is an Israeli
      chauvinist who harbors racist contempt for people of other Middle
      East nations sure does explain it pretty succinctly.

      That said, The Konformist will spend even less time bashing
      Dershowitz than we did Mad Max. After all, our editorial staff
      still remembers fondly Al's monthly column on legal matters in
      Penthouse, and you have to give him credit for having someone as
      sexy and intelligent as Natalie Portman for a research assistant
      during her college years. Besides, Dershowitz is merely a small
      pawn in a much bigger machine. (Still, if you want to read a good
      debunking of Alan's recent work, we highly recommend the writings of
      Norman Finkelstein, most notably his book Beyond Chutzpah.)

      A little bit of history: the last time The Konformist Beast of the
      Month profiled an Israeli leader, it was November 2000 for Ariel
      Sharon. In the nearly six years since then, we have done profiles
      on such fine folks as Osama bin Laden, the Hussein brothers, Abu
      Musab al-Zarqawi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So needless to say, two
      profiles in nearly ten years of BOTM history doesn't appear to make
      Israel-bashing a particular Konformist obsession, nor is it a one-
      sided affair. (And, incidentally, lots of our friends are Jewish.)

      And, for whatever the problems with the Israeli state, it must be
      given due credit for often promoting in the Middle East the best of
      Western values, particularly in having a legitimate democracy
      (something clearly lacking in the USA.) Unfortunately, it has also
      too often promoted the worst of all human values, namely genocide.

      According to Wikiquote, Golda Meir is claimed to have once said to
      Anwar Sadat, "We can forgive you for killing our sons, but we will
      never forgive you for making us kill yours." Somehow this perfectly
      represents the self-righteous indignation and whining of victimhood
      the leaders of Israel have regularly exhibited even while committing
      mass murder. And yes, there is indeed a major genocidal component
      to these war crimes. Here are some quotes cited in a recent article
      from Rense.com: Dan Gillerman, Israeli representative at UN,
      recently referred to Hezbollah as "ruthless, indiscriminate
      animals," former Israel chief of staff Rafael Eitan once compared
      Palestinians to "drugged cockroaches," Menahem Begin (who later won
      a Nobel peace prize) described the Palestinians as "two-legged
      beasts," and David Hacohen, one-time Israeli ambassador to Burma, in
      response to one of his vicious anti-Arab rants, replied, "But they
      are not human beings, they are not people, they are Arabs!" These
      statements, which put even Alan Dershowitz and a drunk Mel Gibson to
      shame, are inexcusable and represent a truly ugly element within the
      Israeli establishment.

      These sentiments go beyond Israeli leaders and Alan Dershowitz.
      During the 2004 Passion of the Christ hysteria, nearly all Jewish-
      American leaders were reading into the Gibson flick for any supposed
      hint of anti-Semitism even before it had been released (and whatever
      the psychological faults of Mel, the film was a lot more complex
      than its critics have smeared it as.) Yet in 2000, Rules of
      Engagement was released by Paramount Pictures, a film which argued
      it was okay for American soldiers to massacre 83 Yemeni
      demonstrators (including women and children) in a theoretical
      conflict, because, in the presentation of the film, the Yemeni crowd
      (including a young one-legged girl) were blood-thirsty American-
      hating Muslims loaded with weapons they were personally firing.
      Granted, Rules of Engagement didn't make $600 million worldwide, but
      it starred Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson and was directed by
      William Friedkin, so it wasn't an obscure film. While the film was
      rightfully condemned by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
      Committee as a work on the level of Birth of a Nation with its ugly
      racism, it is odd that the Jewish-American establishment did not
      join them in unity over this outrage. (To give credit, the Anti-
      Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and American Jewish
      Congress have all consistently condemned anti-Arab prejudice in the
      post-9/11 world.) This is not cherry-picking: in his 2001 book Reel
      Bad Arabs, Jack Shaheed surveyed over 900 appearances of Arabs in
      Hollywood films and found over 90 percent of the portrayals were
      completely negative. The overall stereotype presented by Hollywood,
      according to Shaheed? "Subhumans -- Arab Muslims are fanatics who
      believe in a different god, who don't value human life as much as we
      do, they are intent on destroying us (the west) with their oil or
      with their terrorism..." While Shaheed does not make this argument,
      that such a crude characterization of an entire race exists to this
      day in the film industry may have something to do with Jewish
      influence (or, if you prefer, control) over Hollywood and their
      apparent widespread prejudice against Arabs.

      With this as context, let's look at the Israel-Lebanon conflict that
      started on July 12 and has been in cease-fire since August 14, 33
      days later. The Konformist won't deny that Hezbollah militants
      share much (if not most) of the responsibility for instigating the
      battle by killing eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others,
      and perhaps more importantly, their indiscriminate usage of rocket
      attacks on civilian populations. The rocket attacks were indeed a
      war-crime, a fact not disputed by any human rights organizations.
      (And if you think the criticism was ambiguous, here is a quote from
      Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch: "Lobbing
      rockets blindly into civilian areas is without doubt a war crime.
      Nothing can justify this assault on the most fundamental standards
      for sparing civilians the hazards of war.")

      But whoever started it, the state of Israel easily exceeded all
      legitimate levels of necessity and proportionality to proclaim "self-
      defense" as justification for their actions, the two qualifications
      for a self-defense argument against war-crime charges. To put it
      another way, let's answer a question asked by Bill Maher in a
      predictably glib comment: "Can you imagine what Bush would do if a
      terrorist organization took over Canada and was lobbing missiles
      into Montana, Maine and Illinois?" (Maher, who increasingly proves
      himself to be arguably the most overrated of media figures, is often
      praised for his supposed contempt for religion, but apparently his
      contempt doesn't also follow on Israel, whose entire existence is
      based on a silly fairy tale.) Well, Bill, let's ask that question
      another way: let's say anti-immigrant extremists (who are indeed
      represented in the US Congress via Tom Tancredo and others, just as
      Hezbollah has some representation in the Lebanese parliament) began
      launching rocket attacks against the state of Mexico. Would it then
      be okay for Mexico to attack New York and D.C. in response? (Or,
      for that matter, Maher's Beverly Hills mansion?) Of course, Maher
      is no doubt too drunk at the Playboy Mansion right now to answer
      that, but let's take it a step further. Besides the obvious picks
      of George Bush, Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin, is there any other
      recent international figure who defended activities which constitute
      as war crimes on the basis of self-defense against Islamic
      terrorists? Yes: his name was Slobodan Milosevic, whose opponent in
      Kosovo was the Kosovo Liberation Army, a terrorist group tied both
      to the international heroin market and Osama bin Laden's network.
      Despite waging war against a gang of drug dealers backed by Osama,
      he faced (until his death in March) trial over war crimes and
      genocide from the Hague International Criminal Tribunal. So why the
      Israeli double-standard?

      In any case, with all due respect to Shakira, stat sheets don't lie:

      * Lebanese death toll - 1,230 civilians (one third children under
      the age of ten) and approximately 100 Lebanese soldiers and
      Hezbollah militants; 4,051 wounded; 916,000 (or one fourth of
      Lebanon's population) displaced; overall cost of damage - $9.4
      billion, including clean up of a major oil spill from an Israeli
      strike on a Beirut power plant; total number of attacks - 4,500
      Israeli bombing raids.

      * Israeli death toll - 118 soldiers and 39 civilians; 860 wounded;
      300,000 displaced; overall cost of damage - $3 billion; total number
      of attacks - 3,970 Hezbollah rockets, 901 of them inside cities.

      These numbers reveal yet another lie of the Israeli propaganda
      machine: according to Benjamin Netanyahu (former Israeli prime
      minister) the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter
      is that terrorists intend to harm civilians whereas freedom fighters
      try to avoid it. (Incidentally, Netanyahu made this statement at a
      60th anniversary "celebration" of the King David Hotel bombing,
      a "freedom fighter" attack that killed 91 people.) In other words,
      to terrorists, civilian casualties are a success, while in
      legitimate warfare it is a failure. But as the stats reveal, in
      both number (1,230 v. 39 civilian deaths) and ratio (over twelve to
      one in favor of civilians deaths in Lebanon, while over three to one
      in favor of soldier deaths in Israel) Israel sure was failing a lot
      more than Hezbollah was succeeding.

      (And for the record, the original indictment of Slobodan Milosevic
      cited the deaths of 346 Kosovo Albanians, less than the death toll
      in Lebanon in July and August. Further, not all 346 deaths were
      caused by the Serb military, as many were committed by paramilitary
      forces loyal to Serbia. Despite this, and despite no evidence
      linking orders from Milosevic to any deaths, he was nonetheless
      charged with crimes against humanity on the basis of his status as
      Yugoslavia's head of state and his demagogic speeches which
      certainly inspired and gave sanction to the bloodshed.)

      Add to this the following facts: the considerable destruction of
      Lebanon's infrastructure (including the international airport, sea
      ports, many roads, all bridges on the Beirut-Damascus international
      highway and on other major roads, water and sewage treatment plants,
      electrical facilities and many factories, including those that
      produced milk); the destruction of up to 90% of some towns, villages
      and suburbs in Lebanon (with 130,000 housing units destroyed or
      damaged in the attacks, according to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad
      Saniora); an Israeli bombing of a UN camp (killing four UN
      peacekeepers) described as an "apparently deliberate targeting by
      Israeli Defense Forces" by Kofi Annan; and Israel dropping of
      leaflets in Southern Lebanon, warning an open-ended curfew
      punishable by air-bombings of any vehicles on roads, which
      effectively shut down attempts by the International Red Cross and
      other relief agencies to bring desperately needed food, water and
      medical supplies to people cut off from the world due to the bombing
      of bridges. This last action, incidentally, proves the lie of
      Dershowitz that dropping warning leaflets frees Israel of
      culpability for its following actions. As Jacob Kellenberger (head
      of the International Red Cross) pointed out while blasting Israel's
      violation of the Geneva Convention: "By letting down leaflets, you
      cannot get rid of your responsibilities under international
      humanitarian law."

      Two other facts scream out against Israeli lies. One, according to
      Matthew Kalman in the SF Chronicle, a senior Israeli officer had
      nifty PowerPoint presentations (on an off-the-record basis) more
      than a year ago for "diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting
      out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail." In
      other words, the Lebanon campaign was not in response to Hezbollah
      actions, but a planned military attack looking for any excuse to be
      launched. Two, Israel began bombing Christian areas of Lebanon in
      early August. This shows their attacks on Lebanon were not "forced"
      by Hezbollah hiding in civilian areas, as the Christian heartland is
      not a Hezbollah military base, and (perhaps more important
      propaganda-wise) frames the debate a little differently than "Brave
      Noble Israel vs. Evil Arab Muslims." (As offensive as it may be,
      it's clear that thanks to propaganda, Americans don't cry over
      Islamic deaths as they do over poor, innocent Christians.) Combine
      all the evidence, and it's clear Israel's war against Lebanon was a
      premeditated plot to destroy a sovereign neighbor.

      Who is to blame for this illegally-waged war? Certainly, much of it
      goes to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who replaced Ariel
      Sharon after he fell into a coma after a massive stroke.
      Ironically, Sharon (who remains in a coma) had a political epiphany
      before his incapacitation, breaking away from the hawkish Likud
      Party and forming the new center-right Kadima party coalition.
      Without defending Sharon's deservedly notorious history, perhaps it
      would take a ruthless killer like him to push a workable peace
      process in the Middle East without being bashed by the right as
      weak. With Sharon gone, Olmert, his Kadima replacement, has clearly
      proved he lacked the credibility and respect to wage peace.
      Meanwhile, there is Benjamin Netanyahu again, current head of the
      Likud. When not celebrating Israel's own history of terrorism (oh,
      excuse us, "freedom fighting") he has long pushed for war-policies
      to the right of Sharon.

      Still, with all due respect to Olmert, Netanyahu and even Sharon,
      perhaps the most symbolic blame for this mess belongs to Amir
      Peretz, The Konformist Beast of the Month. For one, Peretz is
      Defense Minister, making him Israel's answer to Donald Rumsfeld (and
      apparently about as competent at waging wars.) Perhaps more
      important, Peretz is the head of the Labor Party, the supposed left-
      wing party of the Israel spectrum. In fact, Peretz had previously
      been a leader in the Peace Now movement, a profound attempt by
      Israeli peace activists to change the frame of debate in the
      increasing warlike nation. Peretz, who campaigned in 2005 on the
      promise that "within two years of taking office I will have
      eradicated child poverty in Israel," instead has betrayed the left
      and peace activists with his militancy. They now have no credible
      representation in the Knesset.

      The good news, if there is any, is that the war against Lebanon was
      a bust. Whatever the faults of the Israeli state, the Israeli
      people (like those of all nations) are a complex group, and soon
      became revolted at a bloody war waged in their name that wasn't even
      succeeding at its supposed goal. In fact, all the Lebanon war has
      done besides destroy hundreds of thousands of lives is give
      Hezbollah more political capital. After all, despite Hezbollah's
      flaws, its scrappy defense in the face of a ridiculously overpowered
      opponent reminds some people of, well, Zionist freedom fighters who
      fought the British Empire for a homeland. Political payback seem to
      be in the future for all involved in this mess, and that includes
      Olmert, Bibi and Peretz.

      Meanwhile, back in the USA, the neo-con movement was not-so-secretly
      hoping this battle would spark another world war. The only question
      seemed to be if it was World War III or World War IV (with the Cold
      War completing the 20th century trilogy boxed set.) This debate
      became so confusing that Sean Hannity even once accidentally
      referred to it as World War V. In fact, they were so gleeful about
      it, you'd almost swear they were hoping for a world war in the
      belief that such an atrocity would be to their political advantage.
      Unfortunately for the neocons and the GOP, things didn't turn out as
      they hoped, and now it appears likely they face a November election
      riding on their record of Katrina failures, illegal torture and
      eavesdropping, and widespread political corruption.

      In any case, we salute Amir Peretz as Beast of the Month.
      Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Amir!!!


      "Arab Americans Denounce Paramount's Racist Film 'Rules of
      Engagement.'" The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee 11
      April 2000 <http://www.adc.org/index.php?id=1889&type=100>.

      Dasgupta, Punyapriya. "Zionist Racism Exposed Again." Rense.com 23
      August 2006 <http://www.rense.com/general73/arabs.htm>.

      Davies, Nicolas J. S. "Israel in Lebanon and the 'War on Terror' --
      The Limits of Self-Defense." Online Journal 27 July 2006

      Dershowitz, Alan. "'Civilian Casualty'? It Depends." Los Angeles
      Times 22 July 2006.

      Dershowitz, Alan. "Lebanon Is Not a Victim." Huffington Post 7
      August 2006 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-dershowitz/lebanon-

      Dershowitz, Alan. The Case for Israel. Hoboken: Wiley, 2003.

      Dershowitz, Alan. "Want to torture? Get a warrant." San Francisco
      Chronicle 22 January 2002.

      Fickling, David. "Amnesty Report Accuses Israel of War Crimes."
      Guardian Unlimited 23 August 2006

      Finkelstein, Norman G. Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-
      Semitism and the Abuse of History. Berkeley: University of
      California Press, 2005.

      Hamzah, Weedah. "Israeli Raids North of Beirut Shock Christian
      Residents." Monsters and Critics 4 August 2006

      Harrington, Patrick. "Reel Bad Arabs." Third Way

      "Israel/Lebanon: Hezbollah Must End Attacks on Civilians." Human
      Rights Watch 5 August 2006

      Kalman, Matthew. "Israel Set War Plan More Than a Year Ago." San
      Francisco Chronicle 21 July 2006 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-

      "Lahoud: Israel Is Waging 'War of Starvation'." Jerusalem Post 4
      August 2006 <http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?

      Maher, Bill. "The World IS Mel Gibson." Huffington Post 2 August
      2006 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/the-world-is-mel-

      "Mideast War, by the Numbers." Guardian Unlimited 18 August 2006

      Monbiot, George. "Israel's Attack Was Premeditated." UK Guardian 8
      August 2006.

      Parker, Ned and Farrell, Stephen. "British Anger at Terror
      Celebration." London Times 20 July 2006

      "Right-Wing Media Divided: Is U.S. Now in World War III, IV, or V?"
      Media Matters 14 July 2006

      Segev, Tom. "The Spirit of the King David Hotel." Haaretz 23 July
      2006 <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?

      Shaheen, Jack G. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.
      Northampton: Interlink Publishing Group, 2001.

      Uygur, Cenk. "Alan Dershowitz Argues It's Okay to Kill Israeli
      Civilians." Huffington Post 8 August 2006

      Uygur, Cenk. "Bill Kristol Is a Maniac." Huffington Post 16 July
      2006 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/bill-kristol-is-a-

      Watson, Paul Joseph. "Burning Babies Are Child's Play To Israel's
      Ethnic Cleansers." Prison Planet 25 July 2006

      Williams, Ian. "Did Israel Attack the U.N. 'Accidentally on
      Purpose'?" AlterNet 27 July 2006

      The Konformist
      Robert Sterling
      Post Office Box 24825
      Los Angeles, California 90024-0825

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