Dead Syrians and settlement construction

Where would you have to go to read that the Russian and Chinese veto of a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the bloody violence in Syria was “the same” as a US veto of a condemnation of Israeli settlement construction cast in February 2011 ?

“America was simply providing diplomatic cover for a systematic violation of human and civil rights by its regional ally. So there is something hollow about condemning Russia and China for doing the same.”

Welcome to the world of +972, a left-wing Israel-Palestine blog that “wants to sound the alarm on a Jewish state it believes is destroying itself.” Israelis don’t take much notice of the English-language publication, but outside of Israel, there is of course a large market for everything that is “critical” of the Jewish state. To amplify this criticism a bit, the German Heinrich Böll Stiftung supports +972 in the context of the foundation’s “differentiated and pluralistic agenda” in Israel, and since one of +972 co-founders has been awarded a scholarship by the British Council, he is currently busy “criticizing” Israel in London.

Of course, “criticizing” Israel also often means “criticizing” US support for Israel, and that’s what Noam Sheizaf is presumably hoping to do when he equates the Russian and Chinese veto – widely expected to embolden Assad to intensify his brutal crackdown on the Syrian opposition – with the US veto that prevented the umpteenth condemnation of Israeli settlement construction.

The US veto that Sheizaf decries as “providing diplomatic cover for a systematic violation of human and civil rights” was cast almost exactly a year ago, and it’s worthwhile to re-read the AP report from back then, because it ends by noting:

“Several countries took themselves off the list of co-sponsors of the final draft [of the resolution condemning Israel] including Syria, which didn’t think the resolution was strong enough, and Libya which wants a single state for Israelis and Palestinians.”

No doubt the principled stand of Assad’s Syria and Gaddafi’s Libya was appreciated back then by many of Israel’s “critics”.

Sheizaf of course knows full well that the settlement construction that the international community enthusiastically wanted to condemn yet another time has long been restricted to the major settlement blocs which every peace proposal has envisaged as part of Israel, in exchange for land swaps. It is also well-known that the built-up areas of the settlements “gobble up” less than 2 percent of the pre-1967 West Bank territories, including East Jerusalem.

Yet, Sheizaf still thinks that a veto preventing a condemnation of Israeli settlement construction is somehow comparable to a veto that prevents serious pressure on a tyrant who has been busy for months killing, imprisoning and torturing his own people. At the same time, Sheizaf himself points out:

“Estimates put the total number of casualties since the protests [in Syria] began at around 7,000, possibly more. This is not a civil war – it’s mass murder.”

But apparently, in the world of +972, stopping this mass murder is not really more important than condemning the construction of a few additional buildings in an already built-up neighborhood – in both cases, Israel’s “critics” will see “a systematic violation of human and civil rights.”

While I don’t have any illusions about a post-Assad regime being in any way less hostile towards Israel, I still wish the Syrians that the UN and all the activists that are so eager to fight for human rights when Israel is accused of violating them — even if it is just by building — would be as energetic and engaged when it comes to murderous atrocities that can’t be blamed on the Jewish state.


Over at +972, Noam Sheizaf doubles down with a post on “American veto history: Protecting occupation, apartheid.” He refers to my post here as a “strange blog post, which in the usual spirit of right-wing propaganda, accuses me of opposing the UNSC resolution on Syria myself.”

In response, I have submitted a comment that has not yet been approved, where I write:

As the author of “this strange blog post”, I would like to know on what basis you justify your claims that I accuse you “of opposing the UNSC resolution on Syria myself.”

I don’t-because I don’t think that you oppose the resolution. I simply point out the undeniable fact that your post suggests an entirely inappropriate equivalency between the US veto against the umpteenth attempt to condemn Israeli construction in settlement blocks and the Russian/Chinese veto that is widely seen as a “license to kill” for Assad.

One additional point re. my supposed “right-wing” inclinations: So far, I haven’t even once (in my 30+ year life as a voter) voted for a party to the right of Labor. I’m not sure what I will vote in the next election, but writings like you publish here simply tell me that this is not the left I used to support.

A left that ignores all relevant context in order to argue that the US is really not much better as Russia and China is not a left I want to be part of.

4 responses to “Dead Syrians and settlement construction

  1. ‘Mass murder’? If Israel killed as many Syrians as Syria does in a single day the ‘anti-Zionist’ factions would be screaming about genocide and ‘Israel becoming a Nazi state’. More so then they do now, anyways.

  2. Pingback: American veto history: Protecting occupation, apartheid | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

  3. When Israel considered imposing reporting requirements on NGO’s that receive foreign government financing, the Left was screaming bloody murder about “Fascism”, “Nazism”, and “Itbach al Yahud”. The Muslim Caliphate of Egypt seek the arrest of 19 foreigners – not a peep.

    The Left believes that Muslims are subhuman and can’t be expected to behave properly. “Palestinians” are somehow victims and have no agency – “Muslim mothers have no choice but to strap suicide vests to their children”. “Muslims have no choice but to shoot missiles into Jewish cities”. “Muslims had no choice but to ally with the Nazis”. “Muslims had no choice but to ally with the Soviets”. <<—- How many times have you heard Liberals say this. The key words are "no choice". Leftists believe Muslims are subhuman and incapable of choosing between right and wrong.

    Paul Berman explained that the Leftists have no material explanation of WHY the "Palestinians" (and Muslims in general) are so wicked. So they came up with this bizarre invented story that the much-coddled, pacified, welfare parasites are somehow "victims" of Zionism and the "West".

    • David, I agree with the substance of your point – i.e. that the views of leftists/progressives about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims often reflect the racism of lower expectations, but I also strongly believe that if we criticize others for racism, we have to be sure not to become guilty of it ourselves. Therefore, I consider it entirely unacceptable to call Palestinians and Muslims “in general” “wicked” or “welfare parasites.”

      As Hillel said: That which is hateful to you, do not unto another.

      While I do not shy away from documenting and writing about the pervasive Jew hatred in the Arab and Muslim world, I think it is one thing to criticize a society for what they actually do, and quite another to condem a whole group as “wicked” or “parasites”.

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