Friday, July 17, 2009

Genocidal Linkage

First published on

The world’s media have given scant coverage lately to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and - despite extensive reporting on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict - they have likewise offered little on the continuing campaign of genocidal incitement against Israel by her enemies. While seeming very separate issues, the two campaigns, and the choice by media and world leaders largely to ignore both, are, in fact, connected.

On one level, of course, the connection is obvious. Israel-hatred is spearheaded by the Arab world; in virtually every Arab nation, demonizing and delegitimizing of Israel, and often of Jews, is a staple of government-controlled media, schools and mosques. This is true even of the Arab states with which Israel is formally at peace. At the same time, the Arab world is the chief support of fellow Arab leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his Sudanese regime's genocidal assault on the Muslim blacks of Darfur. Illustrative was the Arab League’s unanimous, effusive embrace and defense of al-Bashir at its meeting in Doha, Qatar, in March, shortly after his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Tunisian human rights activist Mohammed Bechri several years ago argued that to understand Arab support for the genocide in Darfur, one has to recognize the "twin fascisms" - Bechri’s term - that dominate the Arab world: Islamism and Pan-Arabism. The first rejects the legitimacy of any non-Muslim group within what the Arabs perceive as their proper domain; the latter takes the same view towards any non-Arab group. The genocidal rhetoric, and efforts at mass murder, directed at Israel, and the genocidal assault on the Muslim but non-Arab people of Darfur follow from this mindset. (Bechri’s "twin fascisms" also account for the besiegement of Christians across the Arab world and backing for Sudan’s murder of some two million Christian and animist blacks in the south of the country. They help explain as well broad Arab support for the mass murder of Kurds - a Muslim but non-Arab people - in Iraq by Saddam Hussein and for the besiegement of the Kurds of Syria and the Berbers - another non-Arab Muslim group - in Algeria.)

But the connection between animosity towards Israel and coldness towards the victims in Darfur extends beyond the Arab world. It embraces, for example, all those European leaders who bend their consciences to accommodate Arab power - in oil, money and strategic territories - and who may pay lip service to recognizing the murderous incitement and related threats faced by Israel or to deploring the crimes suffered by Darfur but refuse to take serious steps to curb either.

Nor are American leaders entirely free of similar predilections. President Bush (43) was certainly sympathetic to Israel’s predicament. But he sought to assuage Arab opinion by pushing for rapid movement towards a Palestinian state and endorsing Machmoud Abbas as Israel’s "peace" partner, even as Abbas refused to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, consistently praised anti-Israel terror and stood fast in demanding a "right of return" that would turn Israel into yet another Arab-dominated entity. (On Darfur, the "moderate" Abbas responded to the ICC indictment by declaring, "We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir.") Regarding Darfur, President Bush led the way in condemning Sudan’s campaign of mass murder and rape and first calling it a genocide. But - already attacked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - he was not prepared to act aggressively against a third Muslim nation, even though doing so would have been aimed at saving hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives.

President Obama has adopted winning over Arab and broader Muslim opinion as a foreign policy priority and he has shown little interest in according more than verbal acknowledgment to the threats facing Israel. At the same time, those in the Muslim world whose good opinion he is most seeking to win are not the Muslims of Darfur but rather Darfur’s oppressors and their supporters. Some of President Obama’s ardent backers have expressed dismay, and have been openly critical of him, for what they see as his reneging on campaign pledges to put Darfur at the top of his agenda. (For example, Kirsten Powers, "Bam’s Darfur Sins," in the New York Post, May 11, 2009). But given his focus on appeasing Muslims hostile to America, his inaction on Darfur should not surprise.

In major Western media as well, deference to Arab opinion vis-a-vis Israel has generally been accompanied by silence on the central role of the Arab world in providing support for Sudan’s actions in Darfur. While the Arab League’s embrace in Doha of Sudanese President al-Bashir was widely reported, few major outlets offered editorial criticism of the Arab stance - The Washington Post being a notable exception. The New York Times, which for decades has used both "news stories" and editorials to argue that Israeli concessions are the key to peace and has refused to cover the genocidal incitement against Israel and Jews endemic in Palestinian and broader Arab media, mosques and schools, offered no editorial opinion on the Doha meeting.

Several years ago, the Times’ Nicholas Kristof won a Pulitzer Prize for his op-ed coverage of the slaughter in Darfur. Kristof is a constant critic of Israel and, like his bosses, avoids the issue of rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, and promotion of genocidal hatred towards the Jewish state, by its Arab neighbors. In a similar vein, for all his extensive writing on Darfur, he generally avoided the Arab role in supporting the genocide. In some forty op-eds on Darfur published between March, 2004, and April, 2006, shortly after he won the Pulitzer, Kristof devoted only five sentences to Arab backing of the Sudanese regime, and that in an article focused on China’s shameful complicity in Darfur.

But if all this not is very surprising, there are also more curious aspects to the convergence of animosity, often of murderous dimensions, towards Israel and sympathy for, or at least indulgence of, those who perpetrate the genocide in Darfur.

For example, while Egypt has not overtly broken with the unanimous Arab League support for al-Bashir, Egyptian President Mubarak chose not to attend the Doha conference, and he and some other Arab leaders have been worried about the Islamist Sudanese regime’s close ties to Iran and to Iran’s radical Arab allies, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. Yet a number of Western leaders, who advocate "dialogue" with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, prefer to ignore their genocidal agenda towards Israel and their leading role in aiding Sudan’s genocidal government - in effect, outpacing Egyptian backing of al-Bashir by soft-pedaling the role in Sudan of those most supportive of al-Bashir’s murderous regime.

Iran has long given extensive financial assistance to the Sudanese government, has provided its forces with weapons and training and has underwritten Chinese provision of arms to al-Bashir. Sudan, again with Iran serving as financier and mid-wife, has also been a training ground for Hamas, fostering as well an ongoing cross-fertilization between Hamas and the militias responsible for the Darfur genocide. Hezbollah and Syria have likewise been in the forefront of Sudan’s supporters and enablers.

Following the International Criminal Court’s action against al-Bashir, a delegation of his radical allies quickly arrived in Khartoum in a show of solidarity with their indicted brother. It included the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, Syrian parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Abrash and an official of Hezbollah. Hamas also sponsored a large pro-Sudan march in Gaza.

But inevitably, Khartoum’s allies’ contributions to the Darfur genocide, like their promotion of genocide vis-a-vis Israel, are ignored by those eager for diplomatic engagement with them.

Also in early March, around the time of the ICC indictment, the British Foreign Office, led by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, announced its agreement to talks with Hezbollah. More recently, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner have met with Hezbollah representatives. Hezbollah head Nasrallah’s commitment to the murder of all Jews - as in his 2002 statement that "if [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide" (in the past Hezbollah has gone after them as far afield as in Argentina) - was hardly something Miliband and the Foreign Office, or the Quai D’Orsay, or Solana and the European Union, or those British and continental media sympathetic to Hezbollah, were about to note. Nor were they going to note Hezbollah’s support for Sudan’s policies in Darfur.

Similarly, those many European leaders promoting engagement with Hamas typically avoid acknowledging Hamas’s call in its charter for the slaughter of all Jews, its teaching Palestinian children - in its schools and on children’s television - that Jews are eternal enemies of Islam and must be annihilated, and its other purveying of genocidal Jew-hatred. In April, the Dutch Labor party demanded that the European Union sanction Israel if it refuses to accept Hamas as a negotiating partner. Dutch Labor party leaders and like-minded European politicians, in their efforts to push acceptance of Hamas, soft-pedal its aims regarding Israelis and Jews and likewise say little about Hamas’s support of and contributions to Sudan’s genocidal assault on the blacks of Darfur.

European media that are hostile to Israel also virtually ignore Hamas’s genocidal policies and actions regarding both Israel and Darfur. British news outlets such as The Guardian and The Independent, which had barely covered years of Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli communities, or Hamas use of civilians and civilian facilities as shields for its attacks, but excoriated Israel when it responded with its assault on Hamas beginning in December, 2008, are likewise essentially silent regarding Hamas’s promotion of mass murder in Israel and support for mass murder in Darfur. The same is true for myriad news outlets on the Continent.

Most American political leaders have shunned Hamas for its commitment - in words and deeds - to Israel’s destruction and for its genocidal agenda. (There are some notable exceptions such as Jimmy Carter, who has met with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and urged including Hamas in "peace" talks.) But many American media organizations, particularly those, like the New York Times, most committed to portraying Israeli policy as the major obstacle to peace, have followed their European counterparts in saying little of Hamas’s genocidal policies regarding Jews or of its support for Sudan’s genocidal policies in Darfur.

One might expect Western university campuses, often in the forefront of humanitarian activism, to take the lead in rallying opposition to the genocide in Darfur and in demanding intervention to stop the killing. But the current fashion on campuses both in Europe and the United States, driven by Muslim and far Left student organizations and their faculty sympathizers, is intense hostility to Israel, and this has served to preclude attention either to murderous Arab incitement against Jews or to broad Arab complicity - and more particularly that of organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas - in the Darfur genocide. When campus political discourse favors standing truth on its head, as in the University of California-Irvine’s recent week-long program entitled, "Israel: The Politics of Genocide," which essentially entailed speaker after speaker accusing Israel of genocidal actions against the Palestinians, there is hardly inclination to challenge those, including Palestinian organizations, genuinely pursuing genocide, whether targeting Jews or the population of Darfur.

Even people whom one might expect to identify most closely with the victims of the Darfur genocide often do nothing, or limit their actions to words, or actually lend support to the perpetrators, in large part because of pro-Arab sympathies or hostility to Israel. Congress has one Muslim black representative, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, and Ellison has at times spoken out against the Darfur genocide. In April, for example, he joined a protest at the Sudanese embassy in Washington and was arrested along with other demonstrators. But Ellison has consistently supported pro-Hamas groups in America. He also aggressively embraced the Hamas line in last winter’s Gaza War in terms of alleged civilian casualties and Israeli misdeeds while remaining silent on Hamas use of civilians and civilian facilities as shields for attacks on Israel. Ellison has likewise never publicly addressed Hamas’s alliance with Sudan and its backing of Sudanese policies in Darfur. Alignment with those arrayed against Israel seems to trump criticism of those arrayed against Darfur for the Minnesota congressman.

Pulitzer Prize-winning African-American writer Alice Walker, like Ellison, visited Gaza after the recent hostilities, followed the Hamas line on events there, and was silent on the thousands of Hamas rocket and mortar attacks against Israel as well as on the Islamist organization’s use of civilian shields as a strategic weapon in its war to destroy the Jewish state. Before arriving in Gaza, Walker pronounced, sanctimoniously and apparently without intended irony, that "I love children and I feel that the Palestinian child is just as precious as the African-American child, or the Jewish child." Neither while a guest of Hamas in Gaza nor at any other time has she publicly objected to the organization’s use of Palestinian children as human shields, or to its declared objective of killing all Jews, including Jewish children, or to its intentional targeting of children in terror attacks. Nor has she taken issue with Hamas’s support for Sudan’s mass murder of the children of Darfur.

No less perverse has been the stance of some Jewish organizations. In general, Jewish groups, and Jewish individuals, have taken to heart the injunction "never again" vis-a-vis any acts of genocide and have played a leading role in speaking out against the mass murder in Darfur and urging intervention to stop the slaughter. Their role has led Arab and other apologists for the Sudanese regime to complain that the claims of massacres in Darfur are a "Zionist plot."

But some far Left Jewish institutions and organizations, both in Israel and America, in their eagerness to promote the thesis that sufficient Israeli concessions will win peace, choose to ignore the indoctrination to Israel’s destruction and to genocide that pervades Palestinian and broader Arab media, mosques and schools. Whether they do so out of wishful thinking, not wanting to recognize the annihilationist agenda of Israel’s neighbors, or do so to ingratiate themselves with anti-Israel circles in the West, the refusal to address the genocidal intent of Israel’s enemies leads inevitably to these groups downplaying as well the role of Israel’s enemies in supporting Sudan’s crimes in Darfur.

For example, the editors of Israel’s far Left Haaretz, the newspaper of Israel’s elites, have repeatedly called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas and declared that Israel’s refusal to do so and make sufficient concessions is prolonging the Israeli-Arab conflict. In keeping with this line, Haaretz’s editors rarely address Hamas’s charter and downplay the organization’s other declarations calling for the extermination not only of Israel but of all Jews. Consistent with this whitewashing of Hamas, Haaretz’s editors have had little to say about its support for the genocide in Darfur. Indeed, consistent with its failure to address murderous delegitimization and demonization of Israel in the Arab world more broadly, Haaretz has also had little to say of Muslim Arabs’ targeting of other minorities living amongst them, including the Muslim blacks of Darfur.

The same perverse pattern can be seen among various left-leaning Jewish American groups and their followers. "J Street" was established by people who construe other Jewish American organizations as too hardline in their approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It advocates exclusive focus on negotiations, and it lobbies for greater American engagement in pushing for rapid agreement on a "peace" accord. During last winter's Gaza War, J Street's stance was one of even-handedness, emphasizing that "neither Israel nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong" and that there are "elements of truth on both sides." J Street's tack entails largely ignoring realities that run counter to its promotion of moral equivalence. It essentially ignores the incitement to Israel's destruction and mass murder of its people that is a fixture of Palestinian media, mosques and schools, and, more particularly, the agenda of a religious obligation to annihilate all Jews that is promoted by Gaza's Hamas government. Of course, J Street is likewise silent on Hamas's support for Sudan's genocidal assault on the people of Darfur.

Israel Policy Forum, which advocates positions similar to J Street's, has long called for including Hamas in the "peace" process. In an April, 2008, article entitled "Finding a Way to Bring Hamas In," IPF leaders Seymour Reich and Geoffrey Lewis argued that the fact of Hamas being "the most violent actor" renders all the more crucial its not being left out of negotiations. In April, 2009, IPF welcomed a softening of the American position on Hamas whereby the Obama administration is no longer requiring Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous agreements before it would deal with and extend aid to a joint PA-Hamas government. Israel Policy Forum, in its lobbying for engagement with Hamas, is another group that avoids noting Hamas's genocidal agenda vis-a-vis Israel and Jews generally, and predictably does the same vis-a-vis the organization's backing of Sudan's genocide in Darfur.

There is little reason to believe that the leaders and supporters of J Street, Israel Policy Forum and other Jewish organizations that share their political predilections are any less appalled by the genocide in Darfur than Jews generally, including those who have led efforts to spur intervention aimed at ending the suffering in Darfur. But it is a peculiar, rather unwholesome, reality of Jewish communal life that there are some Jewish organizations and their supporters that can be counted on to be outspoken in condemning genocidal policies promoted by any entity, whatever its targeted group, unless that entity happens also to promote genocidal assaults on Jews.

In any case, the delusion by some Jews that sufficient concessions will appease Israel's enemies and critics, and the consequent embrace of an unethical silence on the genocidal aims - whether in Israel or Darfur - of her enemies, can be added to the other factors noted as contributing to the same outcome. The major force driving genocidal agendas toward Israel and Darfur is, again, Arab supremacism. It is abetted in the wider world by power politics, as well as by, in many quarters, a twisted ideological allegiance whose credo requires that hostility to the Jewish state and consequent sympathy for, or prettifying of, those dedicated to her destruction trumps sympathy for Darfur and criticism of those participating in its people's annihilation. The overall result is that powerful links between murderous hatred towards Israel and support for, or at least accommodation of, genocide in Darfur are a fixture of today's geopolitics and go largely unchallenged.