There’s an old joke about the definition of mixed feelings as being “watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand-new Ferrari.” I think I’ve found a new one that suits it even better.
I’ve never had anything but the deepest loathing and contempt for the International Solidarity Movement. While they claim to be a peaceful group aimed at helping the Palestinians and standing in “solidarity” with them in their “oppression,” but I’ve always seen that as a crock. They’re actually a bunch of anti-Israeli asshats who use their Western identity to protect terrorists. (Good references: here, here, here, and here. Also, a perusal of Little Green Footballs will show just how vile these people are.)
Their modus operandi is to act as “human shields” to prevent Israeli forces from taking action against any Palestinian, anywhere, regardless of the circumstances. They have given shelter to an armed Islamic Jihad fugitive in their own office. They have assaulted IDF soldiers at checkpoints and along the Security Wall. They have stood before bulldozers intent on destroying weapons-smuggling tunnels in Gaza. (That led to their greatest claim to fame, when one particularly clueless young lady by the name of Rachel Corrie discovered, to her eternal dismay, that several tons of bulldozer don’t give a rat’s ass about her sense of moral superiority and bright orange jacket, especially when the driver can’t see very well because of the armor needed to protect him from snipers.)
What infuriates me most, though, is their sheer hypocrisy. They claim to hold the moral high ground, but it is the plain and simple fact that the side they are choosing to oppose is demonstrably the more moral. It is only because the Israelis have respect for civilians that they aren’t simply rounded up, beaten, shot, locked up, and/or kicked out of Israel upon discovery. But the side they choose to back is the one that revels in killing the innocent.
It doesn’t take much courage to stand, unarmed, before a soldier of the IDF and try to interfere with his duty. The risk of death is minimal. You’re much more likely to get a little roughed up, arrested, and hauled off to jail for a little while before being escorted to an airport and sent home. On the other hand, if you tried to prevent a Palestinian from carrying out his plans, you’re pretty much dead.
It also smacks of racism — the innate superiority of Westerners. The ISM believes, and proves by its actions, that Westerners are innately more valuable and better people than Palestinians. They wrap themselves in their Westernness as a shield, believing that while the Israelis cheerfully kill Palestinians wholesale, the sheer thought of confronting a white person will force them to back down.
I once suggested that if the ISM is truly opposed to violence and the slaughter of innocents, some of those “human shields” ought to start riding buses around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. After all, if the Palestinians are so noble and decent, the mere presence of a peace-loving Westerner on a bus should deter the most hardened suicide bomber. But for some reason, my idea was dismissed.
With that in mind, I suddenly find myself having seriously mixed feelings about one event they recently sponsored. They had Hedy Epstein, a Jewish Holocaust survivor in her 80’s, give a speech at UC Berkeley against the Israeli occupation.
I can’t bring myself to criticize her. I’ll leave that to others — one particularly fine group spoke out here. I still loathe and hold in great contempt the scum of the ISM, but I just can’t find it in me to denounce Ms. Epstein. I’ve no idea what brought her to her current position, and I think she’s horribly wrong and identifying more with the spiritual heirs to her persecutors of Nazi Germany than the heirs of their victims, but I just don’t have it in me to judge her.
But I’d still like to see every ISM tool the IDF arrests be sentenced to 6 months of riding on public buses around Israel.