The sequel to our column two weeks ago on Joe Lieberman will remain in storage for another few weeks while the Monitor addresses issues of somewhat more pressing concern.
The Jan. 31 issue of The Jewish Press carried an opinion column by Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder titled “Time to Threaten Arabs With Mass Eviction.” The piece suggested that, given the unrelenting terror attacks against Israelis and the obvious unwillingness of Palestinians to reach a negotiated settlement with Israel, perhaps it was time for the Israeli government to consider the option of moving out a large and hostile enemy population.
The newspaper received a couple of letters in response to the piece, one of which was published in the issue of Feb. 7. But then, quite suddenly, a cluster of e-mails arrived late last week which were uniformly hostile to Israel, many of them bordering – if not worse – on outright anti-Semitism. Most were filled with historical inaccuracies and spouted the all-too familiar cliches of the anti-Israel Left.
Not a few of the letter-writers accused Mason and Felder of calling for the extermination of Palestinians, though of course they advocated nothing of the kind. Others insisted that Mason and Felder were pushing “genocide,” explaining that the term included the mass transfer of populations. Still others charged that Israel was presently engaged in the extermination or genocide of the Palestinian people.
A number of letters quoted from the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, according to which the crime is not limited to the wide-scale killing of a particular ethnic, national or religious group, but encompasses such actions as “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”; “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”; “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”; and “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
The last time the Monitor checked (which was about two hours before this column went to press), the dictionary definition of “genocide” was considerably more precise – and limited.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: “The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.”
Cambridge International Dictionary of English: “The murder of a whole group of people, esp. a whole nation, race, religious group, etc.”
Oxford Paperback Dictionary and Thesaurus: “Mass murder, esp. among particular race or nation.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.”
In other words, according to just about every accepted meaning of the term, Mason and Felder are totally innocent of the ludicrous charge hurled at them by the left-wing haters who wrote in. But ludicrous charges are a stock-in-trade of that crowd, as evidenced by their repeated comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and the IDF to the SS and the Wehrmacht.
As the e-mails began piling up, it became obvious that this was some kind of organized campaign. There was the afore-mentioned time lapse between the column’s appearance and the sudden spurt of letters, the identical points that were being made, the similarity of language in many of the letters and the fact that one particular paragraph was constantly quoted from
the Mason/Felder column.
A little investigation confirmed our suspicion: a website called The Electronic Intifada had alerted its stooges to the column about a week after the issue of The Jewish Press containing the Mason/Felder column had hit the streets. A couple of paragraphs from the column were highlighted (including the one quoted by many of those who contacted us), as was the wide-ranging definition of genocide cited above. And, of course, the website listed an e-mail address for The Jewish Press and urged all properly outraged parties to make their feelings known.
Always partial to the adage “Know thine enemy,” the Monitor next week will provide readers with a taste of those feelings.
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org