25 July 2014

The Half Shekel Party

Looks like it’s official: Israel now has its own 50 Cent Party (a troop of Internet and social-media commentators paid by the government to spread pro-government propaganda, a cyberops technique deployed most infamously by the Chinese Communist Party). These ones, however, are being recruited specifically to defend the indefensible slaughter of women and children in Gaza. Leaving aside the horror of the eight hundred deaths caused by the Israeli government there over the past two months, it is particularly unsettling that the state which endlessly trumpets abroad that it is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ is deploying cybertactics used specifically by authoritarian regimes to dilute and suppress dissent at home and to deflect critique abroad.

China has done some highly questionable, even monstrous things with regard to human rights in its past; no sane person disputes this. But China does not rain missiles down on Tibet or Xinjiang, for example, despite the regular and jaw-droppingly brutal terrorist attacks that have been taking place in China of late, at the hands of Xinjiang extremists. If the Chinese government did start shelling hospitals and schools in Kashgar or do something as egregious as what Operation Protective Edge is doing now, there would be instant and constant howls of outrage, demands for retaliatory measures and sanctions, crocodile tears for the Uyghurs and calls for war from the neoconservative right, in all the news media across the entire face of the West (including Israel!). Yet somehow, Israel is given a free pass not only for all of these actions, but also for imitating China’s cyberwarfare techniques to defend them, no matter how bloody and gratuitous.

Israel demands for itself a higher consideration from the West than the authoritarian states that surround it by reason of its status as a democracy and as a Jewish state; and at the same time it also seeks to excuse itself from being held to the same standards (for example, of respect for basic human dignities, military conduct and democratic discourse) as other modern democracies. It is high time we either a.) stop considering them a democracy and treat them with the same reserve with which we ought to treat any other Middle Eastern autocracy, or b.) begin holding them to the same moral standards we should hold for every other democratic polity on Earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment