The Politics Of The Smear

It seems to me that a judgment of the Goldstone Report is perfectly possible without an attempted character assassination of the author. But it is very telling that this tactic - a central one among those fanatically defending the policies of the Israeli government - is so swiftly deployed. One key weapon of those attempting to police and stifle debate on the Middle East is the personal smear. The sheer viciousness of the way in which the anti-Semite card is played is testimony to a position that endures in part by bullying - a sign of its essential weakness. But the Yediot Ahronoth smear of Richard Goldstone as some kind of racist Afrikaner really did up the ante. It was not news; and it is not in any way salient to the critique of Israel's and Hamas's war crimes in Gaza. But it is made especially absurd by the obvious fact that if one is going to judge people on the basis of their former positions on apartheid, Goldstone is a human rights icon compared with the state of Israel, which propped up the sanctioned racist regime with arms sales.

Pro-Israel fanatic, Ron Radosh, offers the following defense of Israel's enmeshment with apartheid:

The truth is that all governments have and do make alliances of necessity that many find objectionable.

What made the Israel-South Africa alliance under apartheid one of "necessity"? Sasha Polakow-Suransky, who has written a book on the Israel-apartheid alliance recalls a quote from a former editor of Yediot Ahronoth in 1985 while visiting South Africa:

"Give the blacks the vote very slowly. See how it works. Bit by bit. If you see that your bit by bit approach is not working, change it. But make the world believe you are sincere. You have to be hypocritical to survive."

Sounds eerily familiar, no? But Goldstone Delendum Est.