Monessa Shapiro's selective citations and extraordinary justifications for racism

Nathan Geffen

29 February 2012

Originally published on PoliticsWeb.

The argument in my article "Why is Israel singled out?" is that Israel receives special treatment in the form of massive US aid and the propaganda efforts of well organised Zionist organisations.1

In contrast to many other gross human rights abusers, there are no US, EU or UN sanctions against Israel. In her response, Monessa Shapiro did not address this. She does say there are more UN resolutions against Israel than any other country, but while I agree that there are countries deserving of more, this factoid actually strengthens my argument, not hers. Why are there no sanctions against a country in such blatant violation of international law?

In response to my comment that Israel is less democratic than Turkey and comparable to Morocco and Algeria, Shapiro cites Freedom House's indices of political and civil liberties.

The institution gives Israel a status of free, while Turkey and Morocco are partly free and Algeria is not free. Putting aside concerns about the methodology of these kinds of indices 2 and about Freedom House itself 3, Shapiro should have looked up the rankings for the West Bank and Gaza. The organisation ranks them not free, on a par with Algeria, lower than Morocco and considerably lower than Turkey. 4

This is partly due to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, but it is Israel that must take primary responsibility because it controls the territories, especially the West Bank.

There are over 2 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They have no meaningful franchise --they cannot vote in Israeli elections for the government that actually rules their lives-- and their civil rights are, as Freedom House notes-- very restricted. Yet, the several hundred thousand Israelis living there have the vote and full civil liberties.

Israel can't have it both ways. If it wishes to be considered a full democracy then it must either give the Occupied Territories independence, or incorporate them into one political entity with Green-line Israel and give everyone the same rights.

Shapiro's defence of the Family Reunification Law is extraordinary. Similar arguments were used to defend the pass laws. In response to her:


  1. I criticised the human rights records of over a dozen countries, so it is interesting that the vehement responses to my article have so far come from defenders of the policies of only one country: Israel. That itself is evidence for my argument about the strength of the Zionist organisations.

  2. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which investigate human rights abuses much more comprehensively than Freedom House, do not rank countries or publish indices.

  3. See When Freedom Stumbles published in the Economist on 17 June 2008. The fact that Freedom House considers the Occupied Palestinian Territories disputed and not occupied also betrays its bias. So did its open support for the US war on Iraq.

  4. See Freedom House's Table of Disputed Territories.