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Richard Silverstein and defending the right to incite violence against Jews

Posted on December 28 2010 5:00 pm
Seth Mandel is the former managing editor of four New Jersey-based newspapers, where he won awards for his coverage of the Middle East and Russia. He has appeared on Shalom TV's current affairs roundtable. He is currently based in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @SethAMandel

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One of the reasons the Right often doesn’t take its leftist critics seriously is because, as any debater knows, once your opponent resorts to name-calling—the leftist M.O.—he has effectively ceded the intellectual playing field and the argument.

But there are times an argument is so noxious it cannot be ignored, and must be debunked. Richard Silverstein’s recent post is just such an example. Silverstein, the purveyor of the popular liberal “Tikun Olam” blog, is based in Seattle, so the recent battle over anti-Israel bus advertisements took place in his backyard.

The background is that a group called the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign purchased ads to be displayed on local buses that show a razed building and the words “Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work”.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, concerned the ads amounted to incitement, rejected them. In the interim, the David Horowitz Freedom Center contracted to place competing ads that displayed taxpayer funded Palestinian terrorism.

Silverstein was aghast at the pro-Israel response.

“I think finally the man has truly taken leave of his senses…. Horowitz’s add SHOULD be displayed on Seattle buses. I want everyone to see what an idiot he is,” Silverstein wrote.

But in Silverstein’s defense, he takes some time out of name-calling (the telltale sign that Horowitz has already won the argument) to attempt to back up his erudite theory that Horowitz is “an idiot”:

“While I’ve disagreed with the over the top rhetoric of the Mideast Awareness Campaign in claiming outright Gaza war crimes (before they’ve been proven in a court like the ICC), it is an incontrovertible fact that Israel uses its $3 billion yearly military aid package to purchase sophisticated weaponry routinely used in wars like Lebanon and Gaza. So American taxpayers do, in that sense, participate directly or indirectly in the oppression of the Occupation. But to claim that we also support or finance Palestinian terror is simply way out there in some sort of Islamophobic nether world.”

To Silverstein, it is an “incontrovertible fact” that if Israel is guilty of war crimes, they are financed by the U.S. taxpayer, but if the Palestinians are, it is outlandish that they would be financed by the U.S. taxpayer as well. There are two rather obvious responses to this. First, the U.S. gives hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians each year, and the share of the Palestinian budget made up of foreign aid is such that it funds pretty much everything the Palestinians do.

The second is that, as Silverstein surely knows, the U.S. funds the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in charge of keeping Palestinian “refugees” homeless and hungry. The agency’s radicalization is well known, and it is an open secret that UNRWA employs and directly aids terrorists in Gaza. As Claudia Rosett wrote in Forbes last year:

“Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman, with a bipartisan group of five co-sponsors, submitted a concurrent resolution noting that ‘UNRWA has employed staffers affiliated with terrorism.’

“The resolution cited specific examples of UNRWA ambulance and schools having been used to abet terrorism and mentioned a number of figures, including Awad al-Qiq, headmaster of an UNRWA school in Gaza, ‘who also led Islamic Jihad’s engineering unit that built bombs and Qassam rockets.’”

Silverstein also doesn’t like the fact that the Freedom Center ads show a bombed-out bus, because of “the fact that there have been no bus bombings in Israel for years.” True enough, I suppose. But this year and last Palestinians have used cars and trucks in suicide terrorist attacks. Even so, what is the statute of limitations, in Silverstein’s opinion, on bus bombings?

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