Exposing the Anti-Israel ‘Peace Industry’

The other day, I went online for what was supposed to be a quick Internet search. Instead I ended up spending a couple of hours meandering from one website to another, led by links and Google hits, increasingly fascinated – and appalled – by what I was seeing. What I was looking at was the websites of organizations – mostly American, and mostly Christian, but also Jewish and Muslim, and also Swedish, Australian, English, Dutch, and so on – that claim to be concerned about the Palestinians and to be working toward a Middle East in which members of every religion can live together in peace and “mutual understanding.”

Some of the organizations, especially the Christian ones, describe themselves and their activities in consistently warm and fuzzy – and, not infrequently, vague – language, focusing on such values as respect and reconciliation, peace and empowerment, hope and healing, freedom and dignity. They seem eager to convey the impression that they have a deep regard for all human beings, including people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and an unshakable belief in nonviolence:

Through a commitment to the principles of nonviolence, Holy Land Trust aspires to strengthen and empower the peoples of the Holy Land to engage in spiritual, pragmatic and strategic paths that will end all forms of oppression. We create the space for the healing of the historic wounds in order to transform communities and build a future that makes the Holy Land a global model for understanding, respect, justice, equality and peace.

MEND works holistically towards peace, and more specifically towards empowering Palestinians, both individually and collectively, towards raising awareness of choice and towards rekindling hope.

Peace and security are rights not just for some of us, but for all the people of the world. Controlling another person’s life, possessions, future, and thoughts is a crime and a humiliation. We have dreams and hopes of freedom, so we are inviting all the people of the world to stand with us and share in our struggle for freedom. (Palestinian Solidarity Project)

B’Tselem has championed human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over two decades, promoting a future where all Israelis and Palestinians will live in freedom and dignity.

Following in Christ’s footsteps, Wi’am strives to build a culture of peace and acceptance in Bethlehem, Palestine, and for the world….We Hope that every people can exercise their right to self-determination without stunting the growth of other nations….We Hope for an end to fear and hatred that oppresses both victim and perpetrator, an end to the cycles of violence and trauma but a beginning for healing….We hope that our children will enjoy their childhood free from fear and trauma. We hope as well as for that precious fruit of determination and statehood: Freedom.

Other organizations employ rather more aggressive rhetoric. For instance, a group called Righteous Jews, which seeks “to commemorate the memory of those Palestinians who have been, and continue to be depopulated, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured, and murdered in the name of political Zionism,” does not disguise its ferocious anti-Israeli sentiments. The site’s newest addition is an essay entitled “How I Became a Holocaust Denier.” What’s interesting is that many of the groups that describe themselves in the most innocuous ways, and that place a huge emphasis on spirituality and nonviolence, routinely work with, link to, and support the groups that use the most vicious anti-Israeli language, and that give every indication of having no problem with violence. And some of the groups that represent themselves as thoroughly peaceful and spiritual also have calendars of events that, well, make one wonder about those self-characterizations: last July, for example, the public events at the Friends International Center in Ramallah included discussions of the books Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Indoctrination by Nurit Peled (there was no mention, needless to say, of any plans to discuss the representation of Jews in Muslim school books) and Arafat and his Dream: An Insider’s View, a hagiography by sometime Arafat henchman Bassah Abu Sharif.

One Christian site serves up a Ramallah-based British pastor’s comment (it’s from 1999, but the sentiment certainly hasn’t gone out of date) that Israeli leaders come in two kinds: “Some of the leaders are foxes and some are wolves. The fox is sly about how he gets at you whereas the wolf attacks you right away, so there is no difference in the end result.” (For good measure, the pastor adds: “The White House is controlled by Zionists.”) Meanwhile, the website of the Badil Resource Center (which at least appears to have no spiritual pretensions) features a new article entitled “Calling a Spade a Spade: The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” There are, as it happens, plenty of references on these sites, Christian and otherwise, to Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine. Moreover, if Israel, for many secular Europeans, is the new Nazi Germany and Palestinians are the new Jews, not a few of the Christian humanitarians in Palestine enjoy comparing the Israelis to the Romans (or, sometimes, King Herod) and the Palestinians to the Holy Family.

Surfing from one of these websites to another, I was astonished by a number of things – first of all, by the sheer number of organizations that describe themselves as being dedicating to providing various types of aid, comfort, counsel, and support to the Palestinian people. One Swedish group’s website mentions that it “has established partnerships with around 50 Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations that together cover five thematic areas: Democracy, human rights, social and economic justice, gender equality and peace and reconciliation” – and those fifty are just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Not that I didn’t already know there were plenty of such organizations – but when you just keep following links and finding more and more and more of them, each with its heartfelt mission statement and its firsthand accounts of activities and its heartwarming photographs of its staffers interacting with Palestinians, it makes quite an impact. Pictures start forming in your mind of West Bank and Gaza villages positively swarming with visiting do-gooders, bumping into and stumbling over one another in their eagerness to “make a difference for the Palestinian people.”

A young American who spent last summer in the Palestinian territories as a participant in one such initiative posted an online diary that is admirable for its candor about this absurd side of the whole business. Within the space of a few days, he witnessed a “music festival…sponsored by both Swedish and local companies” featuring “both Swedish and Palestinian bands”; “a children’s music festival” in which young Austrian and Palestinian musicians provided “entertainment and, ostensibly, hope to audiences of Palestinian and some Austrian families”; and “an inspiring mass” at which friends of Palestine from around the world “sang Kumbaya” together. Yes, really. While pronouncing himself “inspired,” the young American conceded that all this was just “a small glimpse into the ‘peace industry’ that exists here, where organizations can get investment dollars for almost anything.”

To read most of these websites you would think that the reason why all these compassionate souls have flocked to the Palestinian territories is that this is the most troubled corner of the planet – that the inhabitants here are the poorest on earth, the most deprived of education, employment, and medical care, the most exposed to violence, starvation, and disease, and the most subject to torture, unjust imprisonment, and assorted forms of abuse and humiliation. All, of course, the fault of Israel. Yet even the most cursory comparative study shows otherwise. On the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index, the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” come in at #114 out of 187, placing them under the category of “Medium Human Development.” Looking over the list, one might feel that their placement should actually be a good deal higher, but never mind. As it is, they’re just below Egypt, at #113 – which means that despite all the horrible things that the evil characters in charge of Israel supposedly do to make every day of their lives a hell on earth, the Palestinians, according to the U.N. (which, as we know, is no great friend of Israel), are doing almost exactly as well as the Egyptians right next door.

Then there’s the South Africa angle. The folks who wring their hands raw over the Palestinians’ horrible living conditions, and who condemn Israel for subjecting them to an apartheid-like nightmare, are the same ones who celebrate the post-apartheid Republic of South Africa as a glorious success story. Well, guess what? South Africa is at #123 on the U.N. list, nine places below the Palestinian territories.

But the main point about the U.N. list is that there are dozens of countries that are plainly worse off than the Palestinian territories – many of them far worse off. Yet, compared to the armies of Americans and other Westerners who are proud to identify themselves as friends of the Palestinians, the number who are rushing to, say, Mozambique (#184) or Malawi (#171) or Mali (#175) and forming organizations to help out the suffering people there is minuscule.

Perusing these friends-of-Palestine websites, one discovers certain phenomena over and over again – among them a staggering naivete and sentimentality, a colossal ignorance of history (or a remarkable determination to block it out), and a reflexive, vicious hatred of Israel and, yes, Jews. On these sites, Palestine often seems less like a real place on the map, a place where real people live out their lives, than some perverse combination of a poverty-and-suffering theme park for idle, affluent Americans, a laboratory in which Peace Studies practitioners can carry out their experiments, and a destination for left-wing Christian pilgrims in search a virtue fix. On none of the websites I looked at was there so much as the slightest hint of awareness that more than a few Palestinians are in the grip of a self-destructive psychopathology that has been instilled in them by terrorist movements and on which they have brought up their children, almost surely guaranteeing that their people, however much “help” they may receive from all over the Western world, will not develop a normally functioning society or a productive economy in any of our lifetimes, but will continue to be fixated on murder and mayhem.

There’s one running theme in many of the accounts by the “friends of Palestine.” They’ve gone to the Holy Land to observe and get upset about Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians, and in one case after another, to judge by their own accounts, the only thing they actually find to get worked up about is the security procedures that Palestinians have to undergo when they cross from one side of the famous “wall” to the other. Overwrought accounts of what it is like to endure this purportedly insulting, arduous, and humiliating ritual are ubiquitous on these sites. They do not convince. Compared to any number of things that people are being put through in various parts of the world right now on a daily basis, the security procedures at the “wall” seem tame indeed. Virtually never, of course, do any of these websites even admit in passing that the reason for these procedures is the same reason why laborious security procedures have been instituted at international airports in countries around the world: in a word, jihad.

A final point. The websites of several of the Christian friends-of-Palestine organizations note the dramatic decline in the number of Christians in Palestine over the last couple of generations. A typical plaint: “Christians are the minority in this land where the faith was born. Many Palestinian Christians are suffering and leaving the country.” The implication is always that Israel is at fault. At none of these sites is there any mention of the fact that the number of Christians is declining across the Muslim world, and for one reason only. “Christianity ‘close to extinction’ in Middle East,” read a December 23 headline in the Daily Telegraph. No religious group, the Telegraph noted, is more persecuted around the world than Christians, and their chief oppressors are Muslims, thanks to whom “between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left [the Muslim world] or been killed in the past century.” It’s a phenomenon on a massive scale – but one that the mainstream media rarely report on, and one that all the smug, self-satisfied Christians who profess to fret endlessly about the Palestinians don’t show any sign of giving a damn about.

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Bruce, here are some tidbits about the 'business of peace' – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/07/22/when-leftist-

    It takes a sane person to keep from going postal, knowing what she knows…

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel – http://www.adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Drakken

      These useful idiot leftist of the peace studies movement make war enevitable, and when it happens the deer in the headlights look these useful idiot leftist will have will be priceless, because they will be the first to go. To them I say, good bloody riddance.

    • Charles Martel

      What drives me insane is the fact that these useful idiots base all their opinions on a false premise: that the Islamic/Israel conflict is a territorial one, and not one originated 14 centuries ago because of a crazy pedophile who hated women and Jews.

      Everybody is in denial of the fact that there is NO SOLUTION to this conflict unless one of the parties disappears. Jews can live with Muslims, but Muslims cannot live with Jews, and THAT WILL NOT CHANGE! It doesn't matter how much Hillary, Obama, and all the UN and world clowns want to pretend it can be solved. That should be the premise upon which all talks and negotiations should be based. Otherwise, all we are doing is weakening Israel and strengthening its mortal enemies.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Oh and forgot to add this danger into ths mix, lethal like few others – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/09/10/way-past-time
    The so called 'peace' brigades is an underbelly which is ALL to familiar to this American-Israeli blogger – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/08/28/the-internati

    And there is so much more which can't be written about, gleaned after the above was written, and upon immigrating to Israel.

    Adina kutnicki, Israel – http://www.adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • objectivefactsmatter

    I hate knowing about all of these groups and sites and events. It makes me sick and keeps me motivated to fight. I don't have any patience for these dupes who produce, organize or patronize any of this. They're willfully deceived. You have to be extremely thick and superficial to take such serious accusations at face value without any effort to find actual evidence, especially when we know that the movement against Israel is based on a religion that is also hostile to the USA. This is what happens when you allow teachers to lie to students about the USA in school. They grow up believing anything consistent with those absurd leftist lies.

    • EthanP

      I question whether these people are decieved. There is true evil in this world. And certain political/social/religeous ideas seem to spawn hate/lies/deceit. Some may be useful idiots. But most have their eyes wide open.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "I question whether these people are decieved. "

        Being willfully deceived here is probably rooted in evil. You then allow yourself to accept supporting lies. That's what the phrase means to me unless there is some other motive to want or "need" to be deceived, like fear.

        "Some may be useful idiots. But most have their eyes wide open."

        I'd say most have their eyes partly open, pretending only to see certain things their peers tell them to see.

        Anyway, it's getting too subjective to argue about. I take your point.

  • Herb Benty

    The Bible ( GOD), declares that they will say " Peace, Peace, Where there is no peace- in the latter days. Seeing the world through rose- tinted glasses is standard equipment for these fake peace groups. Evil hates real Jews and real Christians…always has. Oh Almighty GOD of Israel, remember your people and look over them, confound the enemy we pray, Amen. Christians!!! read your Bibles for pete's sake, at least Romans where it is written that we owe the Jews a lot, that we are "grafted in to the olive tree of promises", the Jewish nation will be saved in one day!!

  • Advocatus

    Excellent piece. Special kudos to Mr. Bawer for his stamina to peruse the mind-numbingly banal (if rather virulent) form of self-righteous posturing that passes for morality and virtue among most pro-Palestinian westerners. That alone is a heroic feat.


    THE "PEACE" TREE HAS MANY BRANCHES but if you research every branch, then the trunk, and ultimately its roots, IT ALL LEADS TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY USA and their thousands of fronts GUARANTEED!

    "THE SEEDS WERE PLANTED" in the 80's by the CPUSA with funds by the SOVIET KGB and today, with Obama and his "Circle of Communists" who were 80's KGB dupes themselves, the teaming up with KGB PUTIN against the U.S. interests around the world culminate with their ultimate goal of aiding any country, or group, that will defeat, and kill Americans, in their takeover of the Middle East, especially IRAN, who they will aid in "wiping Israel off the map!" Go to the cpusa dot org and their People's World and I challenge you to tell us the difference between their issues of importance and those of OBAMA AND DEMOCRATS!

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "THE "PEACE" TREE HAS MANY BRANCHES but if you research every branch, then the trunk, and ultimately its roots, IT ALL LEADS TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY USA and their thousands of fronts GUARANTEED! "

      This is true, but the Islamic branch is now bigger than the original root.

  • EthanP

    It's not just these sites that are a problem. While I avoid such sites, I do subscribe to many Conservative, Jewish and pro Israel sight. The flood of anti-semitic respondants is truelly disturbing. As proof, check out BBC watch. They don't filter or censor. And the number "claiming" to be Jews and Israelis is even more disturbing. And I do believe that most were at least born as Jews. This is one of my favorite sites for news and opinions.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Integrating snide remarks in to leftist talking points takes no brain power or time. That is why leftists publish there remarks so prolifically. Conservatives take time to arrive at their positions and it can create the impression that the liberals have more support than they do have in fact.

  • mimi jacques

    The very latest- Great Britain's accredited educational material publisher Garnet Education's latest 'Skills in English Writing- Level 1' substitutes Israel for Occupied Palestine- erasing once again the State of Israel. (http://www.commentator.com or the antiZionist,antiSemitic http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/01/28301/map… World Peace orgs- some started by antiSemitic churches i.e.Norwegian Sailors'Home-Swedish churches- UNRWA the biggest disseminator in order to justify their very existence after 65 yrs in providing 'refugees' in the 4th generation in UNRWA refugee camps- housing,healthcare,food,education- and Stalinist/Communist antiZionism in all forms- still practiced today by Pravda.ru and Russia Today with their fellow travelers in neoNazist/neofascist orgs/assns. Of all peoples- UAE (Gulf News) is starting to be critical in Palestinian Territories reporting actual events. Turkey's PM Erdogan and his AKP party – France's anti-Israerl pro Palestine policies. In times of economic upheavals/unemployment/EU/debts the slogan is always whether in WWI Europe or World in 2013- for those raising monies (for their own existence+pay+upkeep) blame an ethnicity for all the imaginary ills,imaginary wrongs,since there are so many haters/antiZionist/antiIsraelis/antiCapitalism- spacegoating Jews and Israel has always been the trademark.

  • PAthena

    None of the enthusiasts for the so-called "Palestinians" even know the history of the name. The names "Palestine" and "Palestinian" always meant "the land of the Jews" and "Jew" from the time that the Roman Emperor Hadrian, in 135 A.D., after defeating the last Jewish rebellion under Bar Kochba, changed the name of Judea to "Palestina." (He outlawed Judaism and renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina," his gens name being "Aelius.") That is why after World War I, Great Britain was awarded the "Palestine Mandate," to be "the homeland of the Jews."
    Calling Arabs "Palestinian" is the consequence of Soviet propaganda, for in Cairo in 1964, Gamal Nasser, ruler of Egypt, and the Soviet Union founded the "Palestine Liberation Organization" (P.L.O.) which came to fame by massacring the Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972.
    Newt Gingrich is right – these Arabs should be called "Fakeinstinians."

    • JacksonPearson

      Old Middle East maps show the present state of Israel being 10 times or more larger, than now. It took in most of Jordan and a good part of Syria. The Brits whittled Israel down to sliver of what it should be.

      • Questions

        What you're referring to is the British "White Paper" Mandate of 1922. This forcibly ceded 80 percent of the Jewish homeland, as specified in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, to the Hashemite Arabs. The new territory was to be known henceforth as "Transjordan," later shortened to "Jordan." So now you know the rest of the story.

        • JacksonPearson

          In short, Israel got the short stick…again!

          • objectivefactsmatter

            The UK knew who'd be easier to manipulate as oil became more important. It's really that simple, especially knowing that the Jews would never wipe out the Muslims, creating a stable region but in theory, if the Muslims did achieve hegemony in the region, appeasing them seemed like the wisest policy at the time. And even as circumstances unfolded, they knew they could get more cooperation from Israel if they were constantly under threat from all around.

            It was never in the narcissistic interests of the UK to help the Israelis. Only those who believed the Bible thought it was wise because they knew about Islamic intolerance and violent reactions that go along with it.

          • JacksonPearson

            Thanks. Your comments makes a lot of sense. No matter being the size of a postage stamp, the Arab world went absolutely ballistic when Israel became a sovereign nation.

    • Zionist Libertarian

      I disagree. Their proper name is "Inventedstinians".

  • Ghostwriter

    The only peace the above groups seem to want is the peace of the graveyard and that graveyard is filled with Jews. They don't really seem to care about the Israelis too much.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "The only peace the above groups seem to want is the peace of the graveyard and that graveyard is filled with Jews."

      Well, yeah. That is what they mean by the "religion of peace." It's the peace of death.

  • apran

    Many people will praise you if you attack Israel, the muslims, the leftists, the useful idiots. But hardly anybody will notice you if you help people who really need help, people who are starving, sick, have no education etc.

    So, those who attack Israel are really some hypocrites and opportunists, they don't really care about humanity, they only care about themselves and how to exploit certain issue for their own benefit.

  • Jozy

    As cliché as it sounds, real Christians really ought to stand WITH Israel. 'Christians' against Israel are useful idiots, believers in the false doctrine of replacement theology (the idea that Jews are no longer God's chosen people) or friends with the world, a desperate act of appeasement to the atheist liberal Left. I have to say I really have a hard time following 'christian' organisations who oppose Israel and side with the freedom hating, warmongering Palestinian Arabs. Also, all these 'christian' organisations are doing the Christians who do support God's chosen people a massive disfavour, attacking many Jews' delicate trust in Christians.
    Therefore I say to any (Israeli) Jews reading this: do not listen to these false friends of the world. As a Christian and as a European, I stand with you Israel!

    • Hamid

      Actually in Genesis 12:3 … "I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”"

      So Christians (and even Muslims – who pretend to claim they accept the Bible) – should take heed.

  • Anamah

    They are a malignancy spreading the pestilent tumor across the world and now with the W.H. strength sickening America from school.

  • Jaroslav Petrik

    Bruce, that is some terrible example of selective reading and deliberate misleading. Some of the organizations you named (e.g. B'Tselem) are Israeli-based and they would probably feel very offended if accused of hating their own country. There is a stark difference between Israel and Zionism and between a Jew and a Zionist, which you seem to ignore. Look up the Breaking the Silence project of IDF veterans who speak out about their missions if you want some proof that Israel bears its share of the blame.
    You are right that most of these organizations are not balanced in what they do, but that is the reality of a deeply divided society, where isolation is promoted over interaction. There are rare exceptions, like the Parents Circle Families Forum — I wonder whether you never came across those in your brief internet search or you just chose not to mention them. In any case, you might want to look at peer organizations on the Israeli side and see how many of them are more balanced and openly criticize Israeli policies.
    The only piece of a valid argument in your article is that there is a flourishing peace industry in Palestine, which is highly ineffective, often self-serving, and certainly not fully true to all aspects of the conflict. But the way you describe it doesn't help either: as demonstrated in the comments, it further radicalizes people and reinforces the stereotypes they already have, rather than provides a food for critical thought or gives some constructive feedback.

  • Barry Shaw

    The people that Bruce refers to should read this article I wrote for the Jerusalem Post.
    It is one in a series and blows the lid on the wishful, utopian, thinking, that leads naive but well intentioned people into the dangerous hands of Israel's enemies.
    Similar people at the time of Soviet Communisim were called "useful idiots."
    My article predicts what happens if their dream of Palestinian flags flying over Jerusalem comes true. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.a

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  • yrral01

    Peace is an excuse to do nothing. People want FREEDOM not peace.