- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

“How should a conscientious Jew react to Israel’s new image as military giant and flawed oppressor?” That’s the question asked by the current Economist, the distinguished British weekly, a rhetorical question that would fit right in with Jimmy Carter’s latest attack on Israel.

In other words, were Israel a flawless oppressor (oxymoron of the week) that would be OK? How do you become a flawless oppressor? Can an oppressor ever be anything but flawed?

Has there ever been an oppressor who was not flawed? What are the criteria for a flawed oppressor? Would the concept of “flawed oppressor” apply to the six Arab wars seeking Israel’s extermination since 1948? And if Israel is a flawed oppressor how would the Economist characterize Arab suicide bombers, and anti-Israeli terrorists? Victims of flawed oppressors?

Were the September 11, 2001, terrorists in New York and the London Underground terrorists protesting against flawed oppressors? Should Britain have been supported when it stood alone against Adolf Hitler in 1940 even though it was a flawed oppressor in India?

I wonder how a conscientious Economist editor, let alone a conscientious Jew, reacts to the image of Israel, a country with a population of 6 million including 1 million Arabs, as a military giant. I am sure believers in democracy would react happily to a situation where a Middle East democracy, flawed or not, is capable of defending itself against a sea of jihadist enemies. Does the Economist really think the Arab states would accept an unflawed oppressor? Would the Economist be happier if Israel disarmed and stopped being a flawed oppressor?

I read into the Economist editorial, with its seeming profundity, a form of polite, gentlemen’s club anti-Semitism.

Would the Economist apply its “flawed oppressor” metaphor to the British government when it tried to deal with IRA violence?

The Economist editorial reminds me of a sentence in George Orwell’s famous essay “Politics and the English Language”: “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”

To single out Israel as a “flawed oppressor” at a time when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, has demanded that Israel should be “wiped out from the map,” is to join with public voices who deny the Holocaust.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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