Rashi earned fame for his encyclopedic knowledge as well as his uncanny ability to explain texts clearly and concisely…He is a role model for my writing…
Anyone who is familiar with the Elder of Ziyon website can attest to the breadth of information available there and the clarity with which it is presented. The same is true as well in this new book, based on articles he has written. But make no mistake — this is more than a collection of “Elder of Ziyon’s Greatest Hits.” The 51 articles in the 350-plus pages form a coherent whole which delve into five distinct areas:
- Modern antisemitism
- International law
- The experts get it wrong
- The dishonesty of Israel’s demonizers
- The NGO jihad against Israel
Once you read the first article, you see that beyond having a breadth of knowledge and clarity of presentation, Elder of Ziyon is innovative too.
In A new, better definition of antisemitism, he discusses the need to first define antisemitism before one can address it, and traces the attempts to do just that. He starts with Natan Sharansky’s 3D test of demonization, double standards and delegitimization. He then proceeds to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition, which has become the most accepted. Elder of Ziyon also addresses, and critiques, the watered-down definitions suggested by the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and the Nexus Task Force.
And then he offers his own definition:
Why bother with another definition of antisemitism?
For one thing, his definition makes clear that “denigration” — i.e. unfair criticism — as opposed to legitimate criticism, is antisemitic. This clearly counters those who claim that antisemitism is being defined in order to prevent all criticism of Israel.
But more than that:
The “malicious lies” clause is crucial. This covers not only Holocaust denial but all sorts of clearly antisemitic lies about Jewish history, such as the Khazar origin myth that Ashkenazic Jews are not really Jewish; that Jews have no historic ties to Jerusalem; or that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. The other definitions do not cover these lies…This is perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the other definitions.
Elder of Ziyon’s fresh insights are evident throughout his book. For example, in the section on international law.
Let’s face it. Not everyone has the time or the patience to investigate claims that Israel is in breach of international law or to plow through the lengthy legal reports that purport to prove that Israel is guilty of major violations. The articles in this section are not only typically clear and concise, but along the way they also point out aspects of international law that are not commonly brought up.
In his introduction to the chapter, Elder of Ziyon points out:
The Fourth Geneva Convention protects civilians in times of war — but it balances those protections with protections for armies, too.
Anti-Zionists pretend the conflict is about Palestinian human rights. It isn’t. It is about everybody’s human rights and balancing competing rights. [emphasis added]
When was the last time anyone pointed out that the Geneva Convention protects the armies as well as the civilians?
How does this insight play out in this chapter? Check out some of the articles:
The article on The principle of distinction notes that the Convention clearly states that military attacks must be limited to military targets. This we know. We also know that this issue is brought up against Israel whenever there is collateral damage when Israel responds to Hamas terrorist attacks.
What might not be generally known is that when this particular article in the Geneva Convention was ratified, a number of countries made a point to clarify that the limitation on military attacks did not make an army responsible for collateral damage. In other words, international law allows an army to attack a military target even if there are some civilians there.
Elder of Ziyon quotes both the Military Manual of the Netherlands and Sweden’s International Humanitarian Law manual that agree the decision on what constitutes a valid military target is up the military commander. And the US Naval Handbook makes clear:
the commander must also consider the safety of his or her own troops.
But what about human rights in this equation?
The chapter on The principle of proportionality quotes the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that states the obvious, that a human rights lawyer and an experienced military commander would not value a military advantage and the injury to non-combatants in the same way — and then concludes that the decision to evaluate those values and weigh them against each other is up to the military commander.
When Israel is put under a microscope, the validity of such an approach is usually ignored.
The chapter Human shields, hostage-taking, and Human Rights Watch provides an opportunity to debunk both The New York Times and Ken Roth of HRW.
Regarding the Hamas use of human shields, the New York Times claims that the legal definition of a human shield under international law only applies when civilians are forced to stay in the area under attack. The International Committee of the Red Cross proves The New York Times wrong, defining even the exploitation of an area of civilians as a breach of international law. The New York Times is basing itself on Ken Roth’s error, but examples of other condemnations of human shields by HRW are given to illustrate that the normal definition is used for other countries and the application of force to define humans shields is only required when Israel is defending itself.
Speaking of Hamas, the chapter Hamas violations of international law points out that Hamas rockets into Israel are more than rockets aimed at civilians. Because there is no military advantage to be gained, those attacks are by definition disproportionate — a fact never raised by HRW, which limits its criticisms of Hamas to mentioning rockets in general, ignoring 19 other kinds of violations of international law that Elder of Ziyon suggests Hamas terrorists are guilty of.
The chapter on The “right of return” myth quotes General Assembly resolution 194 which supposedly supports the right of Palestinian Arabs to return to their homes. In the course of making various points in debunking this claim, Elder of Ziyon notes a double standard, in that the resolution does not single out Arabs as the sole beneficiaries of this right:
Yet no one who supports “return” says Jews have the right to return to the places they lived across the Green Line, whether in Jerusalem or Gush Etzion.
Among the points he makes in Amnesty, HRW and the “right of return” for descendants, he notes that despite their apparent concern for Palestinian Arab
Amnesty and HRW have never called on Arab nations to naturalize Palestinians who have lived in their countries for over seven decades.
Terrorism is not legal “resistance” debunks in just 4 and a half pages the Hamas claim that their acts of terrorism are permitted under international law, quoting both a UN Security Council resolution — binding under Chapter 7 — and a clear statement by the UN Secretary General that the occupation does not justify targeting and killing civilians.
The section on The experts get it wrong has a timely article on
Linkage turned on its head: the Abraham Accords addressing the long-held theory that once Israel gives into Palestinian demands and there will be peace in the region. Elder of Ziyon points out:
The discredited linkage theory has been turned on its head. Instead of claiming the Palestinian issue is the key to solving all Middle East problems, now the problem is in solving other Middle East problems without giving the Palestinians veto power over what Israel does with other Muslim states.
To see the accuracy of this observation, one need only to read about NY Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s recent announcement that he was withdrawing his support for the Abraham Accords because he claims they “isolate” Palestinian Arabs.
The section on
The dishonesty of Israel’s demonizers has articles taking on Peter Beinart’s propaganda that denies to Israel rights while extending them to Palestinian Arabs, Edward Said’s admitted revulsion at Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr, Judith Butler’s claim that Moses was Egyptian and therefore an Arab, and Joseph Massad’s demand that Arab countries given Palestinian Arabs unlimited and unconditional support.
The last section, The NGO jihad against Israel, has an article on Oxfam’s errors in math and basic agriculture in its claim that Israel is destroying Palestinian Arab olive trees. There are articles on Amnesty International’s lack of expertise in military matters in minimizing Hamas terrorism, its annoyance at Israeli pride in its 3,000 year history and its support for a children’s book that is supposed to illustrate freedom of religion but seems instead to teach children to hate Jews.
Then there is HRW.
In one article, Elder of Ziyon takes apart their report on last years war between Israel and Hamas. He gives examples not only of HRW bias, but also outright mistakes in their evaluations and conclusions.
In the other article, he tackles their report claiming that Israel is guilty of apartheid. He looks at 3 legal definitions of apartheid, shows how HRW is forced to cobble together its own brand new definition, and notes a part of one of those definitions which HRW omitted that casts doubt on the definition itself.
The HRW report attempts to strengthen its argument with graphic examples, using drawings of Israelis and Arabs to illustrate what it claims are differences in basic rights. After giving counter examples to debunk those arguments, Elder of Ziyon notes something odd about the pictures HRW uses:
The Jews all have lighter skin. The Jews have light, straight hair. The
Palestinians have darker skin and wavy/curly hair.
He points out that Israelis are portrayed as ‘white,’ which in today’s volatile age of reaction against ‘white supremacy’ sends a distinct, if subliminal message.
In his conclusion, Elder of Ziyon writes that modern antisemitism is more than just an issue with the Right:
Not all antisemitism involves violence. Most antisemitism manifests as insults, sterotyping, derogatory language, incitement and demonization. And nowadays, the bulk of that kind of antisemitism comes from the socialist Left.
…The same hate that animates the physical attacks on Jews lies behind the op-eds, NGO reports, and demonstrations that paint the Jewish state as uniquely evil.
Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemtism, with its short and concise chapters, is an informative book to read. But it also demonstrates in chapter after chapter that many of the claims against Israel by supposed objective authorities is in reality biased and error-ridden demonization. That makes it a useful reference, since we know that these antisemitic attacks are not going stop.
Elder of Ziyon’s book is one of the tools that enable us to see these attacks for what they are — and what they aren’t.
The reviewer contributes to the Elder of Ziyon website.