David Horowitz’s Distortion of Reality and Truth
NOBEL LAUREATES, 7 May 2012
by Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate – TRANSCEND Media Service
In 2009 Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered all foreign missions to distribute a 1941 photograph of the then Palestinian leader in exile, Haj Amin Al Husseini, meeting Hitler. The motivation behind Lieberman’s order lay in international criticism of Israel’s decision to further expand its illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem; the not too subtle subtext being that as Palestinians are Nazis any policy implemented against them is justified.
This week the David Horowitz’s Freedom Center perpetrated the same historical distortion in its advertisement comparing college professors who advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel to the Nazi government’s persecution of Jews. Ignoring the political and human rights context in which the call for BDS has been made, and its ultimate aim of securing compliance with international human rights standards, its proponents are instead vilified as Jew haters and their opposition to illegal Israeli policies presented as hatred of ‘the Jewish state.’ Through a series of outrageous assertions their support for Palestinian human rights is linked to the Nazis, calls for genocide and the Toulouse murders.
The truth, however, is that the call for BDS has neither an anti-Semitic intent nor an effect, Rather, it reflects the recognition that after 20 years of failed negotiations and almost 44 years of military occupation and illegal colonization, there is no means by which Palestinians can achieve their basic human rights and freedoms except through the activism of international civil society.
The obligation to act is itself embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ prescription:
“Every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”
And of course, if states were to take their own obligations seriously there would be no need for such international civil society action. Until that day, however, we are all under obligation to secure human rights for everyone, regardless of race, creed or class. Those who advocate BDS are fulfilling this mandate and it is perhaps a sign of the threat they pose to an unjust situation that they are deliberately misrepresented as Nazis – the worst of all human rights abusers.
Yet, the reality on the ground is that whilst Israel’s calculated colonization of Palestine continues apace, its attendant violations of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights will only increase. In this situation the calls for BDS will not diminish but will grow, and scurrilous attempts to defend injustice and silence people of conscience by sowing fear and defamation will ultimately not only fail but are themselves extremely dangerous. By mendaciously claiming anti-Semitism where none exists they devalue the whole concept and aid the anti-Semitic agenda of making anti-Semitism respectable once again. Indeed they already sully and trivialise the memory of the Holocaust by using it as a means to defend present injustice.
Commenting upon Lieberman’s ploy of using the Holocaust era photograph to defend present illegality, an Israeli source remarked that it had been met amongst Israeli diplomats with “laughter, scepticism and a sense of misplaced communication that this doesn’t help one bit the real argument.” The same can hopefully be said of Horowitz’s current distortions, yet in its calculated attacks on individual integrity it may be much more sinister than that.
28 April 2012
Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.
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