Balance and fair play needed in Middle East issues

Published on March 31, 2014


Re: Henry Srebrnik's column: "A famous professor who loathes Israel", in the Journal Pioneer, March 17, 2014.
Mr. Srebrnik's recent op-ed piece on Richard Falk's annual UNHRC report on the human rights situation of the Palestinians is as jaundiced and biased as it is inflammatory. His rant lacks any scholarly or journalistic balance or objectivity. As a professor of political science he should know better.

The Israeli-Palestinian situation is historically complex. And those who criticize Israel's long-standing and brutal policies towards the Palestinians must have the courage of Daniel walking into the lion's den knowing that they will undoubtedly set off a firestorm. 

Critics of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians can be expected to be vilified and demonized in any number of ways. But those who deliberately substitute clichés and rhetoric for historical fact and calm political analysis are the enemies of intellectual honesty and peace in the Middle East.

The Palestinians are the people that history has forgotten. Since the Nabuk - the Palestinian holocaust - over 60 years ago, nearly a million Palestinians have been dispossessed and packed into refugee camps and treated like animals, without any prospect that their legitimate grievances will be remedied. The international community seems to have forgotten the Palestinians. No one cares. What is necessary is the courage to correct an historical wrong.

Those who criticize Israel's draconian policies in the Occupied Territories do so at their own risk. The Jewish establishment would have us believe that there is homogeneous and uniform support within the Jewish community for Israeli policies. This is far from the truth.

In reality, there is a considerable diversity of views within the Jewish community, including myself, towards Israel and their repressive policies towards the Palestinians. Those political differences within the Jewish community can no longer be papered over by the Jewish establishment, the media, or fawning academic cheerleaders.

The Jewish establishment has done its best, in my opinion, to silence any criticism of Israel by attempting to impose a Stalinist discipline and mindset on people within the Jewish community so they won't speak out. Those who publicly condemn Israeli policies are viewed as pariahs or worse. Many of my Jewish friends are afraid to speak out for fear of being socially ostracized.

The difference between Zionism as a political philosophy or ideology, and Judaism as a religion or theology, is fundamental. Those apologists for Israeli policy who ignore this critical distinction in order to stifle dissent or discussion by labeling such criticism as "anti-Semitic", engage in the worst type of cheap McCarthyite smear tactic.

What is now necessary is a modicum of intellectual and political balance and fair play with respect to the Israel-Palestinian issue. As a sage once said, "You can do what is right, or you can do what you are told." It is time to speak truth to power.


Richard Deaton, Ph.D., LL.B.

Stanley Bridge, P.E.I.