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Iran would have arrested this woman

April 18, 2012

As the “Flytilla,” the coordinated arrival, into Ben Gurion Airport, of approximately 1500 international Palestine solidarity activists was taking place last weekend (April 14-15) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued this letter:

Apparently, Zionist democracy means always pointing the finger at someone else.

As in:  The Syrian regime is shooting unarmed protesters in the streets, therefore Israel is a democracy.  (The suggestion is that Israel does not shoot unarmed protesters in the street.  But many of us remember Land Day, 1976.  And all of us know about the weekly confrontations in Bil’in, between armed soldiers and non-violent resistors).

Or how about:  Iran has nuclear potential, therefore Israel is a democracy (the suggestion is that Israel does not have nuclear power, and has no need to imprison whistleblowers like Mordechai Vanunu).

I like this one:  Yemen jails dissidents, therefore Israel is a democracy (the suggestion is that Israel does not hold thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in administrative detention, with no charges against them, and no disclosure as to when they will be released)

Seriously, I’m glad no other seriously messed up country uses the same logic.  Because one could build arguments for some truly horrific crimes, and come out looking good, compared to what Israel does.  As in:  “Israel has a stranglehold on the livelihood of 1.7 million refugees in Gaza, therefore Bahrain can kill a few hundreds of dissidents and be a democracy.”  Or “Israel has set up close to 700 illegal checkpoints to disrupt the movement, and livelihood, of close to five million Palestinians in the West Bank, which it illegally occupies, therefore Iran can hang a dozen gays.”

Then we could get into nuanced comparisons:  “Israel has built Jewish-only roads in the West Bank, Saudi Arabia is better than that, more “democratic,” because women can’t drive, but they most certainly can ride in a car on any road in the whole kingdom.”

Because, come to think of it, there’s a whole lot Israel is doing wrong.  And lots of lots and lots of wrong makes for a miserable world.   And if you want to be a model of democracy, you don’t look for excuses and distractions elsewhere, you fix your own problems.  If you presume to be “the only democracy in the Middle East,” you don’t attempt to justify your violations of international law and of the human rights of millions of innocent civilians by comparing yourself to other non-democracies who also violate the rights of millions of innocent civilians.

How about if, in the spirit of Zionist democracy, I offer the following distraction:

From the Prime Minister’s Office:  “In Iran, the police would have arrested this woman for accidentally showing her belly button.  Therefore Israel is a democracy. “





Oh but wait, Israel did deploy 650 soldiers to stop the Flytilla activists.  And Israel did arrest this woman…  She was showing her decency.


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