Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cohn Job

What to make of the Star's Martin Regg Cohn? He is going great guns with his argument that Israeli Apartheid Week is a propoganda exercise meant to demonize Israel...
...It used to be called propaganda, but that is so 1940s.
Israeli Apartheid Week is actually a double-barrelled branding exercise: It allows Israel's critics to brand themselves as the good guys out to fight the bad guys; and it brands Israel – demonizes it – as a racist regime equivalent to the old South Africa, one of the greatest moral stains of our time.

At root, the campus meetings are not about consciousness-raising (or dare I say it, conflict-resolution). They are about reframing Israel as a racist regime.

But why get bogged down on the semantics of apartheid – an Afrikaans word conjured up decades ago to describe segregation and systematic discrimination in Southern Africa – if what we're talking about is racism and discrimination in the present-day Middle East?

Why not, for example, call it Israeli Racism Week? Ah, that would be too close to that discredited slogan, "Zionism is racism," which is so 1970s – and has long since been repudiated by the United Nations. It's too tired, too tainted, too toxic.

Apartheid has richer marketing possibilities. It's a bolder brand. No matter that Israel isn't South Africa, it allows university students to feel like they didn't miss out on the great moral cause of our time – apartheid – while their elders get to relive the good old days of fighting the bad old ways.

Besides, it has more zing than Israeli Intransigence Week, or Palestine Occupation Week...
...when he more or less undoes it all with this risible wrap up:
Anti-apartheid week isn't about to disappear, whether or not parliamentarians pass non-binding resolutions. It's fringe for the moment, but you never know when it will go viral – especially if the current Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu blunders ahead with indefensible policies on East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Exsqueeze me? Indefensible is it? You can find several excellent defences here, none of which link the construction of housing in Jerusalem with the possiblity that IAW could go "viral". (Really, what on earth does one have to do with the other?) And, actually, it's already gone viral: initially, the virus infected one campus--our very own U of T. Six years later the bug has spread to 42 other cities on five continents--six if consider "Al Quds" to be in Asia.
Doesn't sound terribly "fringe" to me. And it would be difficult--nay, indefensible--to argue that Jerusalem housing starts had anything to do with it.

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