Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nov 29 Media Critique: "UN Man's Apartheid Charge"

HonestReporting strike again. Another attack on free expression out of blind and misplaced loyalty to Israel.

Todays target is the UNs Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard. Dugard was recently published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and HR claim that,

In his one-sided diatribe, Dugard takes aim at Israeli military activities but fails to acknowledge the existence of Palestinian terrorism or any other legitimate reasons for Israeli self-defense. Indeed, it appears that in Dugard's world, Israeli rights simply do not exist.

HR often find themselves having to resort to this particular tactic to find grounds to complain. And that tactic is that the writer must present a counterposing or counterbalancing opinion, for every opinion they express. Nonsense of course. If HR really believed this, they would have to change their Media Critique sub-heading from this,

The UN's ‘Special Raporteur’ airs his one-sided views in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”,

to something like this,

The UN's ‘Special Raporteur’ airs his one-sided views in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But some would say he actually has a point”.

And one day hell will freeze over.

So this is HR’s basic point, Dugard is “one-sided”. . They quote from his article just the once, preferring to go to others sources for 2nd hand attacks, such as the execrable FrontPage Magazine. It is notable for the crude distortions it employed to smear Dugard. Dugards 2005 report noted that Palestinian and Israeli sources were telling him that Israeli policies in the OT’s were making a 2-state solution near impossible. FrontPage Magazine turned this into the headline “UN Envoy Calls for End of Israel”. Say no more.

And when you read the article it’s not hard to see why HR eschews many quotes. Dugard is quite fair and reasonable, writing that

Although military occupation is tolerated and regulated by international law, it is considered an undesirable regime that should be ended as soon as possible.

Before describing the current reality and Israels abuses of the military occupation system,

In principle, the purpose of military occupation is different from that of apartheid. It is not designed as a long-term oppressive regime but as an interim measure that maintains law and order in a territory following an armed conflict and pending a peace settlement. But this is not the nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Since 1967 Israel has imposed its control over the Palestinian territories in the manner of a colonizing power, under the guise of occupation. It has permanently seized the territories' most desirable parts — the holy sites in East Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem and the fertile agricultural lands along the western border and in the Jordan Valley — and settled its own Jewish "colonists" throughout the land.

Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid. The West Bank has been fragmented into three areas — north (Jenin and Nablus), center (Ramallah) and south (Hebron) — which increasingly resemble the Bantustans of South Africa….

Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel's large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites.

And there is one piece of information HR doesn’t tell its' readers about Dugard and his comparing of Israeli policies with Apartheid. And it’s information that would be vital in allowing readers to form a judgement on Dugards' opinions on this matter – John Dugard is a South African, and was a long-time anti-Apartheid activist. It must have been an oversight on HRs part not to mention that.

There is a common thread running through a few recent HR items. And it’s that it enthusiastically attacks South Africans who are critical of Israels conduct, finding in it distasteful reminders of Aparthied. You might think that South Africans, better than anyone, might recognize Apartheid-like policies when they see them, but not according to HR. Recently there was the hatchet job on South African minister, Ronnie Kasrils, who had the double temerity to be a Jewish South African. He made similar criticisms to John Dugard. The totalitarians are always doubly incensed when it is ‘one of their own’ who fail to march in lock-step. Let’s be clear about this – what angers HR is that people like John Dugard are allowed to have their say.

Again HR are determined to prove that the South African Guardian&Mail had it exactly right when they described groups like them as “enemies of intellectual diversity and free expression”.

And here is the Special Rapporteurs latest report on the Occupied Territories.