I am never surprised to see an anti-Israeli editorial in the New York Times, but the Pinkwashing article this week by Sarah Schulman was probably the most ridiculous one I’ve seen in many years. The crux of Schulman’s argument is that Israel is a leader in human rights only because its government has decided that this would be a great public relations stunt to divert attention from the oppression of the Palestinians. With a single hateful wave of her magic wand, she can dismiss everything that Zionism and Israel has ever stood for as a nothing more than a marketing campaign and publicity stunt. All the Israel haters have to do is find a powerful word filled with negative connotations, hurl it at Israel, and sit back and enjoy the fruits of their destructive powers.
The principles of human rights were the cornerstone of Zionism as far back as the Helsingfors Program in 1906 when Israel was just a distant dream. They vowed that when they would establish a Jewish state, it would adhere to these principles:
- Full democratization of the regime according to the principles of parliamentary democracy, autonomy of the national territories and guaranteed legal rights for all minority peoples.
- Full and unconditional (civil and national) rights to the Jewish population.
- Representation of all national minorities in federal, regional and local elections that shall be conducted by secret ballot. The right to vote shall be extended to women
This was more than a decade before the US congress passed the 19th amendment allowing women to vote.
Just this month, the supreme court of Israel upheld the sentencing of its former president Moshe Katsav to prison following a suit that started out as a sexual harassment case and ended up as a rape conviction. The 3 justices who sentenced Katsav were comprised of two women (Edna Arbel, Miriam Naor) and one arab (Salim Joubran). Maybe Schulman thinks this was also just a publicity stunt?
Israel’s human rights record is far from perfect, but it is competitive with any western democracy, including the United States. Prof. Schulman does not have to agree with the Israeli government’s policy and methods of dealing with the ongoing security threat posed by the Palestinians (who are not, and don’t want to ever be citizens of Israel). If that is her opinion, let her justify it directly. But, instead, contrary to every rule of Logic and common sense, she is allowed to use the platform of the New York Times to vilify all the human rights accomplishments of Israel as a cynical publicity stunt. That is just bad reasoning and pure fallacy.