Let me make reference to a column by Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which appeared yesterday in The Washington Post. The argument is pretty straightforward: Foxman says that the reception given to the 'Geneva Accords' is what one might expect if Israel were not a functioning democracy, as though it needed a government in exile.
I don't agree with that. But, okay, fair enough. A reasonable argument.
But look at this graf toward the end of the column ...
I would suggest that there is a tendency in some circles to psychologically delegitimize the Sharon government without stating it so bluntly. Reflexive and distorted reactions to Sharon, whether calling him a Nazi or unrepentant hard-liner or war criminal or racist or drinker of Muslim children's blood, all have an impact. Such outrageous reactions, repeated time and again in the media, in Islamic conferences, in some parts of Europe and in international organizations, have their cumulative effect. The result is to treat a proposal by nonofficials, legitimate as it may be, in a way that would never occur with any other democratic government.
At this point in the column, all Foxman has discussed are the Geneva Accords and, to a lesser extent, a <$Ad$>number of high-ranking current and former members of Israel's defense and intelligence services who have spoken out against Israel's current policies in the occupied territories.
Some circles? Without stating it so bluntly? There's some projection going on here.
Look at the range of attacks Foxman ascribes to Sharon's critics: "calling him a Nazi or unrepentant hard-liner or war criminal or racist or drinker of Muslim children's blood."
One is a reasonable description (hardly a slur) which the Lukidniks themselves I don't think would even quibble with: hardliner.
But look at the others. One is a version of the blood libel: the reference to drinking the blood of Muslim children. Or Nazi? Or racist?
I don't deny these things have been said. But they're not exactly part of the mainstream public discourse in Israel or the US or frankly anything that has been said or thought by the people involved with the 'Geneva Accord'.'
No, Foxman is not saying that directly. But there's something mendacious and morally unseemly about what Foxman is saying.
He's placing those who oppose Sharon's policies, even adamantly oppose them, into the realm of crazies, extremists and anti-Semites. He's quite deliberately classifying them all together. That's the point.
By putting in 'Islamic conferences' and 'some parts of Europe', Foxman provides himself with catch-alls which in some theoretical sense make his statements plausible. But read in the context of his column, those groups make no sense as the folks Foxman is really talking about. I would assume that anyone who accuses Sharon of drinking the blood of Muslim children has already decided to be rather blunt, right? The point is that Foxman is trying to put all the tough critics in the camp of the blood libelers.
The column is meant to stifle debate and squelch criticism. It's a subtle slander. And there's a sense of entitlement, which is the subtext of the prose I quoted above, which should not be there.