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Ron Radosh

Naomi Klein and “The Nation” Have Gone Too Far

January 12th, 2009 - 3:01 pm

Unlike Israel’s opponents who believe the myth that Israel is an apartheid state, Klein acknowledges that the analogy has holes. She does not care. She simply argues that acting as if it is, and using the tactics of boycott against them, can work. She also writes, however,  that Israel is close enough to being guilty of apartheid.  To prove it, she quotes Ronnie Kasrils, whom she identifies only as a “prominent South African politician.”  Kasrils, she writes, says that the segregation he saw in Gaza and the West Bank in 2007 was actually “worse than apartheid.” Kasrils, she neglects to inform her readers,  is not only the former chief of the government’s intelligence apparatus, but is a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

A lifelong Stalinist , Kasrils epitomizes the most backward thinking of the groups that composed the  African National Congress coalition in the days of apartheid. He is a man who has called Israelis “baby killers” who use “methods reminiscent of the Nazis.” The late Helen Suzman, who died a week ago, condemned Kasrils for engaging in “hate speech.” If one reads Kasrils’ history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, his condemnation of Israel goes back to the years of Israel’s very formation, which he blamed on Israel’s position as a pawn of Western imperialism.  To cite Kasrils for proof that Israel is an apartheid  state is the equivalent of quoting Pat Buchanan for proof that World War II wasn’t necessary.

Klein realizes that others may argue she is unfairly singling out Israel. After all, in her eyes, the United States itself is just as bad, having invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps because she knows that no one is going to boycott the United States, for the time being, she urges that the movement concentrate on taking on Israel. It is a small state, she notes, and a successful boycott could well destroy it. What bothers her is that Israel’s economy is growing, its GNP increasing, and its trade and investments soaring.

She ends her article on a particularly nasty note. She knows, she writes, that “many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks.” Klein is referring to what is well known: that scores of the major conveniences we use today were all developed in Israel- one of the reasons their economy is flourishing, and foreign investors are pouring money into Israel’s version of Silicon Valley. She ends by quoting one British businessman, the director of a British telecom firm. It seems this man is ending all business with Israel, strictly on business grounds. His reason: “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients,” intimating that his firm does business with Arab states.

So this British businessman, like those who did business with the Nazis after Hitler came to power, sees his act as purely commercial. Klein does not object. “Cold business calculation,” she writes, will lead firms to pull out of Israel. She hopes others will follow, so that “justice” will come to Palestine.

Naomi Klein reveals where the heart of the American Left lies: with anti-Semites,  radical Islamists, and the enemies of democracy.   She stands with those who use commerce as an excuse to sell their souls. They, like the businessman she cites, may not hate Israel like she does. Helping destroy them is simply a practical business matter. She’ll take aid to destroy Israel from whatever quarter it comes from.

Her article is, indeed, a disgrace to the once proud liberal tradition of The Nation. I can countenance- although I may disagree-with those who like Aaron David Miller, argue that Israel should be shown “tough love” from its American allies. These people put their emphasis on the wrong target, thinking that if Israel alone makes compromises, peace can occur. But they are well-meaning, and hope that Israel remains standing. Klein, and The Nation, now openly seek its destruction.

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