French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told France Inter radio recently:
What really hurts me, and this shocks us, is that before there used to be a great peace movement in Israel. There was a left that made itself heard and a real desire for peace. It seems to me, and I hope that I am completely wrong, that this desire has completely vanished, as though people no longer believe in it.
[T]he only time America has been able to advance [Arab-Israeli] peace … has been when the parties felt enough pain for different reasons that they invited our diplomacy. … Today, the Arabs, Israel and the Palestinians are clearly not feeling enough pain to do anything hard for peace with each other. … If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it.
The anxiety of the diaspora Jews has ceded not to tranquility but to another anxiety. … The annihilation psychosis has not disappeared but taken new form. … I worry when Israel makes a fetish of its exceptional status.
The Mission found numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects. … In some cases the Mission additionally concluded that the attack was also launched with the intention of spreading terror among the civilian population. … [T]he Mission found that the following [acts] were committed by Israeli forces in Gaza: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment … and extensive destruction of property.
In the summer of 1992, Ehud Olmert, then [Israeli] minister of health, tried to address the issue of organ shortage by launching a big campaign aimed at having the Israeli public register for postmortal organ donation. … While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open. …
We know that Israel has a great need for organs. … We also know that young Palestinian men disappeared, that they were brought back after five days, at night, under tremendous secrecy, stitched back together after having been cut from abdomen to chin.
It’s time to bring clarity to this macabre business.
Although these charges are at varying levels of severity, they all focus on Israeli society as a whole (including its civilian army) and are not just “criticisms of Israeli policy.” Note also that all these charges come from the “civilized” Western world. Indeed, Friedman, Cohen, and Goldstone are Jewish — and Kouchner is of Jewish descent! (For one of myriad examples of how Israel is characterized in the non-Western world, try this.)
And all this, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg if you add in all the obsessive United Nations resolutions, the boycott movements, the campus hate fests, and so on. At the time of writing, to take some random examples, an Israeli army officer who has been speaking out against the Goldstone report is reported to be “limiting his activities to the United States” because, as he says, “I know that if I try to do the same thing in Western European countries, pro-Palestinian groups may try to have me arrested for participating in the Gaza operation.” (Europe has, for this reason, become very dangerous for Israeli military and even civilian officials.) During a state visit to Brazil, Israeli President Shimon Peres has been called “Shimon Hitler” by demonstrators in a banner showing him with a Hitler moustache beside a swastika imposed on a Star of David.
Can you think of a single country, democratic or nondemocratic, in today’s world that is the target of anything approaching this degree of negative attention? Of course not. The only distant comparison is the intermittent focus on the actual brutality of the Iranian regime — but even there, a distinction is regularly, and properly, made between the regime and the population. No such distinction is made when it comes to Israel; government, army, and population are all vilified.
If I could have a wish, it would be that this year all the Holocaust commemorations (except in Israel itself) would be canceled. They would be replaced by conferences on why, six decades after the Holocaust, so much of the world’s energy and passion is channeled into the abuse of Israel.