There are too many Jew-haters who would rather blame Jews
than take personal responsibility for problems they themselves have caused.
Language is often abused to cover for biased narratives and rank prejudice. Israel—-and more broadly, Jews—-have suffered from this abuse of language.
In this post I describe a number of language devices that are often used as a weapon against Israel and Jews.
In public discourse, Israel is often blamed for actions that are common or universal among other countries. In this abuse of language, Israel-haters pretend that Israel’s actions are unique when they are not.
The recent violent riots by Eritreans living illegally in Israel are a case in point. The riots were an internecine conflict between two groups of Eritrean migrants—-those who support the current dictatorship in Eritrea and those who oppose it for its corruption, brutality, undemocratic nature and decades-long military service requirements.
Although these riots occurred simultaneously in several countries in addition to Israel—Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden—-the New York Times and the Washington Post reported only the Eritrean riots in Israel, as if the identical riots in other countries never happened. Some Western media outlets used the riots as an opportunity to defame Israel.
The reporting gave the impression that Israel mistreats its black African migrants—-this despite the fact that to date Israel has allowed 25,000 of these illegal migrants to remain in Israel.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines scapegoating as “the act of blaming a person or group for something bad that has happened or that someone else has done.”
For millennia Jews have been falsely scapegoated for an endless litany of wrongs. These have included: being responsible for the black African slave trade; deliberately injecting black babies with the AIDS virus in order to profit from the sale of Jewish-owned treatments; causing inflation; using Jewish wealth to bribe government officials; controlling the Federal Reserve Bank; being dishonest merchants; and invading Palestine and stealing the land from its ‘rightful’ Arab owners.
Scapegoating of Jews is not likely to diminish any time soon. There are too many Jew-haters who would rather blame Jews than take personal responsibility for problems they themselves have caused.
Beginning in the Middle of the Story
This language device is a standard weapon of Israel-haters. The accuser—-often a news outlet—describes Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions to root out Arab terrorists but fails to mention (or downplays) the terrorist attacks that necessitated IDF intervention in the first place. The Palestinian Authority routinely does this. It laments that Israel has killed 30 “Palestinians” but fails to mention that most of them are armed terrorists who have murdered Jews. They also fail to note that Palestinians are often injured or killed because Palestinian terror groups carry out their aggression from within densely populated civilian areas. For example, terrorist groups in Gaza launch rockets against Israel from school courtyards, mosques and hospitals. These events violate the Geneva Convention, but Israel haters are too busy blaming Israel to comment on this.
Impugning Israel’s Motives by Inference, Rather Than Evidence
In 2017 a Rutgers University professor published a book, The Right to Maim, that improbably accuses the IDF of pursuing a policy of intentionally maiming Palestinians. According to the professor, the IDF does this presumably in order to incapacitate and demoralize the Arab population. Despite the absurd claims of the book and its one-sided partisan nature, in 2018, the academic National Women’s Studies Association voted to grant an award to the book. The NWSA described the book as “groundbreaking scholarship.” Subsequently, the book served as a class reading for a course at Princeton University.
I am not about to support this Zionist-demonizing industry by buying a copy of the book in order to examine the author’s study methodology. But I would be astonished if her data collection included interviews with the only people capable of reporting soldiers’ motives: the soldiers themselves, IDF commanders and Israeli officials.
I am sure the author found it more convenient to report her inferences as facts.
I have read innumerable times that Israel’s bypass roads in Judea and Samaria prove that Israel is an apartheid state. The accusation is that only Jews are permitted to drive on these roads.
But what are the facts? First, these roads are only built to save lives. They are built in response to murderous Palestinian attacks, mostly on civilians travelling these roads. Second, these roads are accessible to Arabs as well as Jews. The only requirement for use of the roads is that the driver’s vehicle has Israeli license plates—–as do the cars of hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs.
And of course there would be no need to build these roads if Arabs stopped their deadly attacks on Jews.
It is a story as long as the Arab-Jewish conflict: Arabs force us to defend ourselves. They then condemn us for doing so. And the Israel-haters are happy to blame the Jews and excuse the Arab terrorists.
Reliance on Authority
In this language device the Israel-hater uses highly selected opinions of others rather than evidence. Examples include the arguments, “Everyone knows that.” Or “the United Nations says that.” (Never mind that the United Nations General Assembly is dominated by Arab and Muslim Israel-haters and their allies or that anti-Israel bias in the UN is extreme.)
A few years ago, my local university sponsored a course that included a module that was unrestrained propaganda against Israel. This was an example of a phenomenon that is seen increasingly on university campuses today. Here, political ideologues hijack the university to engage in biased and inaccurate political advocacy. The problem is compounded because the ideologues have such a firm grip on the university that no opposing points of view are allowed.
One of the more memorable pieces of “evidence” offered by the instructor was a petition signed by a group of Holocaust survivors, condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The instructor was saying, “See, even Jews say that Israel violates Palestinian human rights. So it must be true.”
But what is the evidence for Israeli human rights violations? Unsubstantiated opinions from a tiny group of Holocaust survivors are not evidence.
Naming and Shaming
Language is just one tool in the armamentarium of those who defame Israel. Faulty arguments can harm. But naming and shaming this abuse of language is also a powerful tool—and one that can be used in the service of truth.