The following is an analysis in progress -- of the National Public Radio broadcasts of 10/16 & 10/17 on Morning Edition of two reviews of the Osama bin Laden videotape which was released soon after the 9/11 bombings of the WTC & Pentagon. The first statements was, by Mickey Kaus ,an online commentator; the second by Norman Podhoretz a contributing editor for Commentator Magazine.
NPR's Alex Chadwick interviews Kaus & challenges three of his assertions. Podhoretz's statement is uninterrupted monologue. The Kaus statement was first and had no opportunity to directly rebut Podhoretz.
The commentary by Kaus (10/16) was set up by Bob Edwards' informing us that there would be a rebuttal by an overtly pro-Israel commentary on the following day. What followed by Kaus was weak, an inadequate statement that presented a "straw man" argument, one easily rebutted, that distorted the nature of the struggle between the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews. The next day Israel's defender "debated" Kaus's straw man.************
Neither Kaus nor Podhoretz confront what is the most important issue: in the attacks of 9/11 the US has paid a terrible price for our unqualified support of Israel. The US public may react by questioning that support for Israel because of 9/11.
It is clear why the US supports the corrupt royal regime in Saudi Arabia by maintaining a significant military presence there : oil - for our sport utility vehicles and heat for our homes. The US presence has been strongly denounced by Ossama bin Laden and many other Islamic spokespeople and is one of the reasons for the 9/11 attacks and several other terrorist bombings.
Oil is one thing, and it is a simple explanation, but the reasons for our support and sacrifices for Israel are more complex. Successive US Administrations have several justifications for the US policy of protecting Israel militarily, economically, and diplomatically: Israel is our friend; Israel is stable in an unstable region; Israel is a democracy; Israel is a valuable military ally, etc. These reasons are all very suspect on their face. As a democracy, Israel's treatment of its 20% Arab citizens is only slightly better than the US treatment of black people before the Civil War. During the Gulf War the US rejected Israel's military assistance as a distracting interference. The US loss of diplomatic and political credibility internationally are major costs of our frequently unilateral support in circumstances where the rest of the world considers Israel in the wrong and in violation of international law. Our UN blanket veto protecting Israel from sanctions is harmful to US efforts on other international problems - such as the current need to maintain a "coalition" in the war on terrorism.
One clear reason for the continued US public support for Israel is that Americans have been sympathetic to the Jews ever since WWII because of the Nazis attempted genocide against them. Another major reason is undoubtedly the very favorable coverage which Israel receives in the US media. The language and placement and emphasis of stories about Israel-Palestinian conflicts is almost invariably pro-Israel - to the point of propagandizing the audience. It is impossible to accurately assess the extent of the influence of pro-Israeli Jews on the media, but the results are obvious. As a consequence, the political influence of pro-Israeli Jews on US policy is all out of proportion to their numbers in the population. There are now more Muslims than Jews in the US.*********************
Kaus says that after 9/11, the US & israel are "in the same boat" - his comparison between 6000 killed in one day & under 200 killed in 34 years is a totally unjustified stretch - and he uses that analogy to say Israel should not rock that boat. He doesn't, however, come right out and say Israel's excesses have, in significant part, been a reason for the attacks and destruction and massacre of 9/11.
Speaking first, Kaus does not have to confront Podhoretz's racism. By putting the Kaus segment first, NPR also does not have to allow the obviously appropriate characterization of the Podhoretz material as racist. Podhoretz makes sweeping and controversial generalizations such as, "most Arabs want Israel wiped off the map," and "for strictly devout Muslims, the Middle East is entirely reserved to Islam." Podhoretz's racism goes unchallenged. In contrast, no one can generalize at all about Jews without incurring accusations of anti-Semitism.
Podhoretz and other Israeli propagandists insist that nothing other than the total destruction of Israel will satisfy the Arabs and therefore any thought of compromise is impossible. The only conclusion which can be drawn from such claims is that, if they are right, the struggle between the Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Arabs cannot end as long as Israel exists - or until the power of Arabs to threaten Israel is destroyed. Podhoretz comes real close to calling for bombing Syria, Iran and Eqypt. (That Iraq deserves to be bombed goes w/o question, right?)************
Kaus: The prominence of the issue of Israel at the beginning & end of the bin Laden video tape clearly indicates the issue is of considerable importance to him.
Chadwick: (interrupts): But bin Laden has not focused on Israel in past; now he is.
Kaus: Bin Laden has recently begun to emphasize the issue of Israel to help mobilize the Arab masses to the al-Oaeda cause. The purpose of raising the issue of Israel is for propaganda purposes. Part of bin Laden's recruiting pitch to moderate Arabs is based on the widespread rejection among Muslims of Israel's war of occupation on the Palestinians.
Chadwick interrupts again , with a challenge to effect that any deal w/ Israel will result in more terrorism. Kaus says that yes, bin Laden would only be satisfied with total destruction of Israel, but that bin Laden plays down driving out or eliminating Israel for propaganda purposes & instead appeals to more moderate Muslins who might support a call for a peace with an existing Israeli state. (This is a weak argument in that moderate individuals are not likely to be attracted to bin Laden's organization, al Qaeda, regardless of its position on Israel.)
Kaus's opinion directly contradicts Podhoretz's claim that a bin Laden call for peace with Israel would negatively effect recruiting among Arabs. According to Podhoretz most Arabs want Israel destroyed, etc.
Neither Kaus nor Podhoretz takes account of the vast majority of Arabs & Muslims who would accept a fair settlement between Israel and a Palestinian State, and who are not candidates for recruitment to enlist with al-Qaeda. Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat has several times repeated that al-Qaeda and bin Laden do not speak for the Palestinians.
That Kaus's position is an inadequate defense of the Palestinian cause is clearly shown by his comments online in Slate.com which are an expanded version of those aired on NPR. He states: "I'm not saying Israel should go further than former Prime Minister Ehud Barak appeared to go at the end of the Camp David talks." Kaus is no spokesperson for the interests of the Palestinians.
The Kaus statement clearly includes the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli's 34-year occupation of The West Bank and Gaza in references to terrorism. There are good reasons to withhold the label of terrorism in cases of domestic struggles for political self-determination (like the American Revolution and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, as well as the Palestinians' resistance to Israeli occupation).
Kaus assertion that the 9/11 attack on the US is comparable to what Israel has endured is pure bunk. In the 34 years that Israel has oppressed the Palestinians, fewer than 200 Israeli Jews have been killed - compared to over 5000 Americans in a single day on 9/11.
Podhoretz's bottom line: no peace is possible for Israel except that won & maintained by force. Violence must continue because all Arabs are implacably opposed to the existence of Israel - not to the policies of Israel but to the existence of the State of Israel.
Podhoretz: The idea that bin Laden's statement that the US will not have peace until there is peace in Palestine includes a peace with the continued existence of Israel is wrong. Podhoretz claims that such a call would not achieve the propaganda result bin Laden seeks , to recruit followers. He claims that a bin Laden call for peace with Israel would negatively effect recruiting among Arabs. Over and over Podhoretz repeats his claim that most Arabs want Israel destroyed, etc.
Quoting bin Laden: "We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish."
"To the Islamic ear this means no sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East - no matter where its borders might be."
Podhoretz (putting words into bin Laden's mouth): "The abomination to be eliminated therefore is not Israel's policies but its sheer existence "
Podhoretz is spieling racism: "Most Arabs want Israel wiped off the map." "Strictly devout" Muslims believe the Middle East region is "entirely reserved" by God to Islam.
He repeatedly equivocates between "Most" & "strictly devout."
Podhoretz claims Arabs' negative views of Israel constitute anti-semitic racism:
The fervent wish of the Arab world to wipe the Jewish state off the map derives not from anything Israel has done or failed to do, but rather from its existence alone, so we are hated not because of our policies but because of who and what we are.
The 10/17 commentary by Israeli propagandist Podhoretz spins on the assertion that Arabs will never accept peace with Israel. This claim is made as a statement of fact. He says that the Arabs universally view the entire Middle East as being promised by God as the exclusive home of Arabs. While it is true that a minority of hardline Islamic extremists call for eliminating the State of Israel, this has not been the position of moderate Arabs - including Arafat - for over 10 years. Much of the hardline rhetoric from the Islamists is in direct response to Israeli propaganda and does not represent a core position of any sizeable group. The Israeli claim that no peace with the Palestinians is possible because of the extremists is just their excuse for continuing their illegal occupation of Palestine. We hear no attempt to rebut this propaganda on NPR.******************
The NPR standards for identifying and defining what does and does not constitute terrorism are inaccurate, misleading, confusing, and, in this and other cases, nothing more than Zionist propaganda. Instead of presenting a balanced report, NPR has chosen to propagandize its audience and ignore Mr. Arafat's statements and the facts of the struggle.