Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Descendant of the Blood Libel?

Gardjola offers reasons why the current media coverage of Israel is mere update of the ancient blood libel against the Jews. The blood libel is the belief that Jews killed children and used their blood for ritual purposes at Passover.

I thought immediately it was an overreach. Reporters and photographers use children for everything to heighten the power of the image. When they're trying to make one group look oppressed, or another look evil, dead or wounded children are the vehicle of choice worldwide, not just against Israel.

Reading the article, however, I think Gardjola gives pretty good evidence that there's something to this. He notes the regularity with which the rumors are circulated that Israelis take Palestinian children as unwilling organ donors (widely believed in the ME). He shows how frequently cartoons depict bleeding Arab children with Jews laughing at the sight. He quotes the philosophy historian Jostein Gaarder
Gaarder makes the following pernicious statements: “We call baby killers ‘baby killers’... We don't believe that Israel grieves any more for the forty killed Lebanese children than it has wailed over the forty years spent in the desert three thousand years ago. We note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs in the same manner they once cheered the plagues of the Lord as "fitting punishment" for the people of Egypt. (In that tale, the Lord God of Israel appears as an insatiable sadist.) We ask ourselves if most Israelis think that one Israeli life is worth more than the forty Palestinian or Lebanese lives. For we've seen pictures of little Israeli girls writing hateful greetings on the bombs about to be dropped on the civilian populations of Lebanon and Palestine. The little Israeli girls are not cute when they strut with glee at the death and torment on the other side of the fronts.”

And then slams it back:

Don’t believe? Don’t believe? This is too serious an issue for Gaarder to make statements based on a lack of belief. If he had submitted a thesis littered with “don’t believes”, it would have been rejected and he would have failed. Why does a doctor of philosophy find it acceptable to write statements on Israel based on the weakness of lack of belief? As the accuser, it is incumbent upon him to prove his charge. Instead he chooses not to belief. Hardly proof is it, Gaarder? Even so, this unproven allegation is enough to be used against Israel. Again how does he know that Israelis celebrate the deaths of innocents? Does he know? Does he have proof? Is his proof enough to overturn the evidence to the contrary of this Lebanese Arab woman?

A troubling essay, with more to it than I would have thought.

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