+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Ultra-nationalist leader invokes Assad's victims to defend Israel

Im Tirtzu, the ultra-nationalist organization whose main activity has involved witch-hunt campaigns against Israeli civil society and academia, has hit upon a new angle that it believes will save Israel, which one of its leaders unveiled in an op ed in Haaretz on Monday (Hebrew): expose human rights violations in the Arab and Muslim world!

The first sign of the latest campaign was a surreal invitation to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to join Im Tirtzu in a demonstration against the horrific massacres in Syria. PHR was disgusted, and wrote back:

It’s very clear that you have  no intention of mounting an earnest protest of solidarity with the demonstrators in the Arab world, but rather, [you intend] to use our refusal to cooperate with you as an additional tool in the violent and hollow attack you are leading against the democratic space and human rights organizations in Israel.”

A group that has repeatedly earned itself the moniker “McCarthyite” might have considered that a campaign supporting human rights of Arabs would look disingenuous or even absurd. There can be only one possible explanation for the sudden attention to the human rights of those it perceives as enemies: Im Tirtzu apparently believes that the terrible crimes against people in the Arab world will give Zionism new life, which is, of course, its mission.

In the Haaretz piece, Ronen Shoval basically says exactly that: the murder of civilians must be manipulated to justify silencing dissent about Israel (I’ll leave aside for now the credibility of “Israel apartheid week,” which really isn’t the issue for Shoval – it’s just the outrage du jour for him).

There are various ways to deal with the lies being spread about us…The one way that has not yet been tried is in fact the right one: a political offensive against the true human rights violations in the Middle East.”

The article pumps itself up, and one can feel the author practically quivering with delight at the new gimmick. He marvels: they persecute homosexuals! They kill women for family honor! A long litany of human rights violations follows, while Shoval typically ignores when the same things happen in Israel, such as Palestinians refugees prohibited from voting in national elections. It’s embarrassingly shallow, but Shoval seems to believe that the “true” human rights violations he lists annul any other wrongs – like those committed every day in the name of Zionism, past and present.

On cue, he accuses the Israeli human rights organizations of silence about the massacres in Syria; blithely unconcerned with the fact that at least PHR, for example had already published its support for Syria’s victims in three languages. He definitely knows this, because PHR informed him in response to Im Tirtzu’s invitation to demonstrate. I wonder if Shoval read the response.

Bottom line: Shoval’s writing is pure desecration of the dead, turning the horror of the victims into a sickening source of putative vindication. After being tormented by their own leaders, the unspeakable pain of the victims is exploited gleefully by an Israeli nationalist to justify the occupation of the Palestinian people, by silencing its critics.

I’m sure the victims of the Assad regime are thrilled to have Im Tirtzu’s support.

Between Shoval’s thinking and Im Tirtzu’s actions, the “second Zionist revolution” is nothing more than a balloon into which they are desperately trying to blow air. The group’s infamous campaigns have been thinner than air – floated at random: First, the New Israel Fund was branded as the source of all evil, in the apparent belief that portraying former NIF President Naomi Chazan with a horn, would somehow revive Zionism.  Last year, a highly refined campaign of superior taste and tact was launched, called: “Nakba – Bullshit (or in Im Tirtzu’s English title – “The BS that is the Nakba,” although I could only find a Hebrew version). Personally I believe that if you have to use terms like “bullshit,” your ideas lack substance or, as Shlomo Avineri pointed out, they’re simply full of lies. Our very own Yossi Gurvitz made hash out of the long and shameless string of fallacies.

And now Arab and Muslim human rights violations are being rolled out like a new savior of the soul of Israel.

But when a balloon is filled with too much hot air, it explodes. And the noise sounds like this:

Human rights violations elsewhere provide no cover for the mutually and regionally destructive Israeli policy of occupying the Palestinian people. The failed attempt to manipulate people’s lives and deaths to cover a system of oppression, and silence those who speak against it, is naked cynicism.

Anyone, inside or outside Israel, has the right to express opinions. Intimidation is pathetic. This is not a joke, a gimmick or a hasbara (propaganda) battle.

Im Tirtzu will surely plead that the article was merely a response to rabid anti-Israel/anti-Semites, certainly not an attempt to silence legitimate critique of Israeli policy. Call me crazy, but working up blacklists of academics, blackmailing universities with demands to fire professors and going on a rampage against human rights organizations belies those inevitable remonstrations.

But hey – way to go on the Zionist revival.   Sahten.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. XYZ

      The thing for us Israelis to remember when observing the mutual slaughter in Syria, Iraq and other places in the Arab Muslim Middle East is this…..the people killing each other are Arabs, brothers who love one another. All Arabs are brothers. Us Jews-Zionists-Israelis, on the other hand, they DON’T like.

      Reply to Comment
    2. palestinian

      I said it once and I will say it again , Zionist abuse the suffering of others for their propaganda,worldwide.

      Reply to Comment
    3. palestinian

      zionists *

      Reply to Comment
    4. Steve

      Wait, so Syria is a horrible country with a government that murders its own people, but if Israel says this, THE TRUTH, then somehow Israel is being bad?
      Strange analysis.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Steve

      Crazed leftist: Syria is intolerant and killing their own people.
      Other crazed leftist: True!
      Israel: Syria is intolerant and killing their own people.

      Reply to Comment
    6. It’s almost as if they have given up on trying to justify Israel’s actions. This tactic is bound to fail as a Hasbara tool, but perhaps it will raise awareness of human rights violations in other countries, which is always a good thing.

      Reply to Comment
    7. rico

      steve, please. im tirzu doesn’t exist to expose human rights violations, they exist to promote the zionist enterprise. their campaign against arab apartheid is a naked attempt to excuse the occupation of the west bank and the accompanying immiseration of the palestinian people.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Steve

      RICO wrote: ” their campaign against arab apartheid is a naked attempt to excuse the occupation of the west bank and the accompanying immiseration of the palestinian people.”
      A better statement would be: ” their campaign against arab apartheid is a naked attempt to excuse the fact that Israel is dealing with irrational dictators, terrorist organizations, and has to maintain security to protect themselves until the threats against Israel stop.”

      Reply to Comment
    9. Jogortha

      “The Arabs are killing each other” narrative is very clever, it presents the upheaval in these societies without addressing “Why” it’s happening. It makes it sound like the conflict in Syria or any other place is merely a result of these people being Arabs.. Of course, it carefully glides over the fact that when totalitarian regimes repress entire groups, they’ll sooner or later rebel unless Arabs are a different breed of humanity.

      One can imagine that the last aspect would infuriate those who seek to deflect attention from the occupation. Maybe it’s time for someone to realize that maybe Hasbara itself is part of the image problem israel has today.

      Reply to Comment
    10. ginger

      Any excuse will do – Im Tirzu facists are like lawyers in this regard, they think (like sociopaths) that they are clever, are proud of this cleverness, and go home thinking they are the good boys their mothers always wanted and dream of being free

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sam

      Way to go Steve: you show those crazed leftists.
      But seriously, Israel is not so much dealing with dictators. Israel is protecting itself against schoolgirls in Hebron by forcing them to pass through at least 2 roadblocks to school and back daily. The occupation in the west bank, now in its 45th year, is a major wrong. How do the atrocities in Syria make it a right?

      Reply to Comment
    12. noam

      steve – i often disagree with a lot of things on +972. i often find a lot of the opinions on everything israeli as diabolic. i often think many writers here criticize israel’s embrace of jewish victimhood while hooting for palestinian victimhood, slamming israeli nationalism and iconizing islamic jihad members.
      but i must tell you, once and for all, that one could hardly exaggerate how obnoxious and unintelligent your repetitive, automatic “defense” of israel is.

      i’m saying this as an actual israeli, who, unlike you i presume, lives here and is concerned about his own security and safety.
      when you write “Israel has to maintain security to protect themselves until the threats against Israel stop”, what do you mean? how and when exactly will all threats “stop”? how did israel make peace with egypt and jordan? how did it sign the oslo accords? that’s how you protect yourself in the long run, not by what we see in the west bank.

      i agree, a final pullout of all military from the WB can only happen with many security assurances as part of a permanent peace agreement with palestine = an end to the conflict. this should be done as part of a regional strategic treaty with all arab nations which are singed on the arab peace initiative.

      but why pretend that the reasoning for settlements and land expropriations is security? that is a straightout lie. ask any strategic expert, even in israel. this simply isn’t true. you’re spinning everything around at “arabs” and “threats”. if israel wants peace through two states someday (whenever there will “be a partner”), it WILL be based on the green line. and you know that. if we want peace, we must stop settlements. not today, yesterday!
      once the occupation of the WB will be declared TEMPORARY and maintained for PURELY defensive reasons, without claiming the WB in any way, once we put the green line back on every map, including the weather forecast, once we prove we’re only waiting to safely “hand over the keys” – THEN we could defend that occupation. THEN you could reason the human rights abuses it entails with actual security needs. BUT as long as you keep colonizing it, this occupation cannot be argued as legal or legitimate.
      do you understand what i’m saying, although it’s not “israel=good, arabs=bad” ? can you see anything in any colours but black and white?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Steve

      NOAM: Thanks for the detailed views and actually, I think you are thinking of someone else — because out of all my posts here, I’ve barely mentioned anything about settlements. Once in a while some other guy who also called himself Steve posted, and maybe he’s said something about them.
      As for my view, though, the main settlement area will probably never be disbanded, ever. Too established at this point. The smaller settlements will probably be gone, once peace is reached. But that all depends on how soon Palestinians want peace. If they drag their feet on a permanent peace agreement for another 30 years, Israel might as well keep growing, developing, building, etc. in the main area.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Cortez

      “But that all depends on how soon Palestinians want peace. If they drag their feet on a permanent peace agreement for another 30 years, Israel might as well keep growing, developing, building, etc. in the main area.”
      But Israel doesn’t want an a true and equal peace agreement. Even before the rise of terrorism, it didn’t want to resolve this issue and its always had the bargaining power, money and force on its side. Its sad because it didn’t have to last that long.

      Reply to Comment
    15. To take the side of the Syrian protestors (which, I hazard, Shoval does) is to side with those oppressed by violent means. Which, I further hazard, means Shoval sides with Palestinians in the West Bank, who seem to have only rocks and slogans.
      If you wanted to engage a different kind of Arab culture it would be in the West Bank. There, a difference could be made. But that would mean not all Arabs are alike–which is ontologically impossible.
      My mind can not view this stupidity for long and survive. Perhaps that is the purpose of this stupidity–to beat down all attempts at thought.

      Reply to Comment
    16. sh

      They’re all taking a cue from Avigdor Lieberman who expertly discomfited the Israeli left a long time ago by publicly weeping – and expressing support – for the Syrian rebels. Kind of scary to find oneself on the same page as Yvet.
      Greg Pollock, you may have a point about beating down all attempts at thought.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Steve

      The leaders of Syria are crazed militants
      So are the leaders of the Palestinians.
      The difference is, the leaders of Syria can easily kill the people they want to kill (their own civilians), whereas the leaders of the Palestinians have been prevented from Israel from killing Israeli civilians as easily as they used to.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Steve

      Israel wants a legit, permanent peace agreement.
      But Israel’s neighbors are crazy, making this difficult.

      Reply to Comment
    19. “Im Tirzu – The Second Zionist Revolution”

      Wouldn’t that entail that Im Tirzu are POST-Zionists?
      The original Zionist movement is past tense. Now they’re starting a new one.

      Post-Zionists AND Neo-Zionists.
      Fits the definitions quite nicely.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Steve,
      Sometimes when you win, you lose.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Piotr Berman

      Steve surprized me today. How one of these statements differs from the others?

      Crazed leftist:
      Israel is dealing with irrational dictators,
      The leaders of Syria are crazed militants
      So are the leaders of the Palestinians.
      But Israel’s neighbors are crazy,

      Does it mean the Steve learned a new world in school today? “irrational”? Congratulations! This is a much more sophisticated term than “crazy”.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Click here to load previous comments