Singling out


We’ve all heard the “singling out” argument, right? — As in, “Why single out Israel? What about the Tadjiks?!”

Of course nobody is asking about the Tadjiks any more. These days, anti-singler-outers are more likely to redirect your attention to Syria, where Assad is, purportedly, a much worse mass murderer than Netanyahu & Co.

Curiously, the Hasbara Manual doesn’t contain any reference to the single-out argument. I wonder why the manual left it out? Does it concede too much? Yes, Israel is a genocidal apartheid state, but it could always be worse. Not a terribly strong defense, when you come to think about it.

Then too the single-out defense is generally the setup for an anti-Semite gambit: Since Syria is worse than Israel, supposedly, the fact that you are talking about Israel instead of Syria can only mean that you’re an anti-Semite. Now the Manual soft-pedals this approach; its authors are happy to call the Palestinians anti-Semites but seem to feel that it may not be good hasbara to call your interlocutor an anti-Semite. Which is very intelligent on their part, if the goal is to convince your interlocutor rather than silence him. It’s strategically sound to try persuasion first, and fall back on silencing only if persuasion fails. Defence in depth. Even Steven Salaita wasn’t accused of anti-Semitism, just incivility — of which he was certainly guilty, bless him. Quite right too.

With or without the manual’s advice, one hears the argument a lot, mostly from otherwise intelligent and humane friends who happen to be still soft on Israel, for whatever reason, rather than from professional hasbarists. I think these good people go to silencing first simply because they want a quiet life — and also, perhaps, because they know persuasion won’t work. They realize that Israel is obviously a very sketchy proposition, but they have some history, or personal ties, or it would just be very bad for one’s back to be knocked off a horse on the road to Damascus. So can’t we talk about something pleasant?

8 thoughts on “Singling out

  1. Great pix! My husband and I had a good laugh. Speaking of singling out, I’d like to know what’s with the comrades out there who are waxing poetically about how wrong it is of the Empire to intervene in this ISIS situation. Who gives a fuck if the Empire wants to bomb its own rag tag mercenary creation? Isn’t it a little like say if back in the 80’s by some fluke the government had decided that the Contras were not serving its purpose and wanted to teach them a lesson. Would the Left in the 80’s object to bombing the shit out of the Contras? I don’t think so.

    And while I’m on the topic of whining about the Left, I’m curious, do you also find the comparison between Ferguson and Gaza as inappropriate as I do?

  2. I am holding off on the Tadjiks until their PM gets his n-teenth standing O from a joint session of the Congrefs. Then I am letting ’em have it…. verbally, that is…. especially if the bastard needs help dragging his money sacks out of the marbled precinct.

  3. O yeah Michael, the poor Israeli government is so very singled out:

    CounterPunch — June 04, 2014 — Tax Dollars, Detroit and Israel

    “So with Detroit, once the world leader in automobile manufacturing, now on its deathbed, and other major U.S. cities selling off their buildings to pay current expenses, it may be informative to look at how the Federal government is spending U.S tax dollars.

    “Half a planet away is the glittering city of Tel Aviv. One wonders why that city can be so successful, while U.S. cities are dying. Could it be the $9 million dollars the U.S. gives to Israel, every single day of the year, more in foreign aid than the United States give to all other countries combined?

    “‘One might reasonably ask what Detroit could do with $9 million dollars a day. That city is trying to cobble together $1 billion to stay afloat this year; Israel is getting more three times that much from U.S. taxpayers, every year.’”

    Oh they are singled out alright!

    The Tadjiks earn their money the old-fashioned way — by CIA drug smuggling.

    I had this to say on Portland Indymedia the other day:

    Surely ISIS Cannot Be Blamed!


    People rant about how the brave ISIS warriors defend themselves with beheadings and such! What nonsense. If the Iraqis would simply stop raining missiles down among them, then a peace process could begin and then this would all get resolved. But no, the evil Iraqis just keep launching the missiles!

    I’ll say it again: Gotta get that fluoride out of the water folks!

    By the way, despite free medical care, 99% of Israelis are dirt-poor; the big bucks don’t go to them. Israel is not about them. Rather, it is about a 1% cabal of power-mad lunatics. The rest are poor sheep that have not yet received the memo.

    Israel will completely dry up soon, and the 1% will return to the U.S. and Russia, leaving the deluded sheep behind to be slaughtered. They have singled out themselves for this.

    • Bluesy, methinks you missed my (admittedly awkward) joke here. I was suggesting that “our” treatment of Afghanistan is the proper benchmark, or that, if Israel is the standard, then why is Afghanistan being singled out? Lame, I know.

      Israel, like all religious states, is a terrible idea. Of course.

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