Friday, June 18, 2010

Tu Quoque, The Economist


by Emmanuel Navon


"Can the whole world be wrong?" asked Koffi Annan in April 2002. His was a rhetorical question meant to make a sophistic point: If the UN says black and Israel says white, do the math and guess who's right. Coming from a man under whose watch (whether as Head of the Peacekeeping Operations Department, as Under-Secretary General, or as Secretary General) the UN was passive at best and accomplice at worst during the Rwanda Genocide, the Srebrenica massacre, the Darfur ethnic cleansing and the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal, asking such a question required no small amount of sang froid.


What Annan meant by "the whole world" was the UN, an organization numerically dominated by human rights violators. Similarly, what The Economist means by "the world" ("How Israel plays into Hamas's hands," June 5th 2010) are those European dhimmis who refuse to face what Islam is up to. So, yes, "the world" of Koffi Annan and of The Economist can indeed be wrong.


If you were still wondering why Europe is expressing outrage at Israel's act of self-defense while excusing Turkey's provocations, then read the op-ed published in The New York Times on June 10th by Bernard Kouchner, Franco Frattini, and Miguel Moratinos. Those three European foreign ministers provide a crystal-clear explanation for their hypocrisy: they need to appease Europe's Muslim citizens (here's the quote: "[the flotilla incident] must not create the conditions for a further escalation of violence either in the Middle East or in Europe, where deep emotion has been aroused").


The Economist's articles on the flotilla incident are so hypocritical that one wonders if this otherwise insightful newspaper shares the concerns of Kouchner, Frattini and Moratinos. True, The Economist is not a European politician running for office or trying to appease the car-burning mobs of Paris or Malmö. But its editorial line on Islam-related issues is baffling: It supports Turkey's membership in the EU, systematically uses the adjective "mildly Islamist" to describe Erdogan's "Justice and Development" (AK) party, opposes the ban of the burqa in Europe, claims there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy, and that Muslims did (and do) a great job integrating in Europe.


Those claims defy logics. So does the fact that The Economist is surprisingly tolerant of Recep Erdogan. For a newspaper that has no qualms about exposing the buffoonery, incompetence, or brutality of heads of states and governments (its favorite and regular picks are Silvio Berlusconi, Hugo Chavez, and Robert Mugabe), one wonders why The Economist has nothing caustic to say about Turkey's erratic Prime Minister. About the fact, for example, that Erdogan lectures Israel while he himself refuses to apologize for the Armenian genocide, to end the occupation of Cyprus, to accept the establishment of a Kurdish state, or to return the Alexandretta province it grabbed from Syria. Or that Ergogan "demands" that the 3% Turkish minority in Germany be granted the type of cultural autonomy he adamantly denies to Turkey's 15% Kurdish minority. The Economist never expressed outrage at Erdogan's public embrace of Mahmud Ahmadinejad, of Omar Bashir, and of Haled Mashal.


Like most European newspapers, The Economist condemns the Gaza blockade, though it only blames Israel for a policy that is also implemented by Egypt. It also fails to provide a credible alternative to the prevention of the massive armament of Gaza (its suggestion that the UN should "oversee the flow of goods and people going in and out of Gaza" doesn't even pass the laughing test: The UN has been "overseeing" the massive rearmament of Hezbollah since the 2006 war with Israel). The Economist keeps insisting that "The contours of a two-state solution remain crystal-clear" though this solution has been accepted by Israel and rejected by the Palestinian Authority three times (at Camp David in July 2000; with the "Clinton Parameters" in December 2000; and with Ehud Olmert's offer in September 2008).


In spite of the historical record, The Economist insists that the Palestinians are sincere about peace, but that Israel is not. While Benjamin Netanyahu "does not give the impression of being willing to give ground in the interests of peace," Mahmoud Abbas definitely does. The Economist "understands" why the Palestinians voted for Hamas (it's because Israel prevents peace), but it won't "forgive" Israelis for electing a conservative government (why, indeed, should Israelis have second thoughts about the wisdom of the Oslo process?). If only Israelis would be wise enough to replace their "right-wing" government (actually, a coalition with the Labor Party) for Tzipi Livni (wasn't she Foreign Minister when Abbas said no to the "crystal clear solution" and when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead?), peace will finally ensue.


As for the United States, Barack Obama did see the light but Congress is still the hostage of AIPAC (which won't let J-Street speak out, because J-Street does want peace and does see the light). Indeed, why would anyone in his right mind support Israel if it wasn't for the Jewish lobby? Look at Stephen Harper. He dares to be supportive of Israel. According to The Economist, Harper owes the world an explanation for his effrontery ("Mr. Harper himself has never fully explained his partiality," The Economist, May 29th 2010), though The Economist has an explanation: Harper "is pandering to Jewish voters" (after all, there is no Canadian J-Street).


At the turn of the new millennium, The Economist "predicted" that oil would remain cheap and abundant in the coming decades. After oil prices went from $20 a barrel in 2001 to $145 a barrel in 2008, The Economist had to admit that its theory was wrong. But when it comes to the Middle-East, The Economist will never admit its mistakes. You don't even have to blame the facts. Blaming Israel does the trick better, and it even pleases those Muslim readers who are doing a great job integrating in Europe.



Emmanuel Navon

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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