On October 21, 2010, England’s Cambridge Union Society held a debate on the proposition that “Israel is a rogue state.”
In the end, the proposition was defeated, but below I have copy-and-pasted a shortened version of the speech that night of British law student Gabriel Latner, 19, one of the debaters “favoring” the proposition. Check out his arguments as to why Israel is a “rogue state” and you may be cheering Gabe by the end, as I was.
Palestinians can give very eloquent speeches on how badly Israel has treated them. But the truth is, treating people badly, whether they’re your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state “rogue.” If it did, Canada, the U.S. and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them as “rogues.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines rogue as “Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time,” while another dictionary says it means “behaving in ways that are not expected or normal, often in a destructive way.”
These definitions, and others, center on the idea of anomaly – the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.
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The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state. There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. In mathematical terms, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051 percent. In comparison, the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least 10 British pounds is 0.017 percent – more than twice as likely. Israel’s Jewishness is a statistical aberration.
The second argument concerns Israel’s humanitarianism, in particular, Israel’s response to the Darfurian refugee crisis. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt – where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – perhaps Israel’s cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.
But even more telling is this fact: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets.
Compare that to the U.S. reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst – and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.
Also, Israel engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns – it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands – Israel is in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo used to be a leader of the PFLP, an organization of “freedom fighters” that, under his leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, to talk about peace.
You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA. The British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel is doing exactly that — behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. And that is the dictionary definition of rogue.
Another thing that shows just how roguish Israel is: its record on human rights.
At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East – except for Israel.
Israel‘s protection of its citizens’ civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a “free” country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in say, Lebanon – a country designated “partly free,” where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well.
Iran is a country given the rating of “not free,” putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Myanmar. In Iran, there is a special “Press Court” which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the “foundations of the Islamic republic,” using “suspicious (i.e. Western) sources,” or insulting Islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election.
Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.
I have one final argument, and it’s sitting right across the aisle. Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr. Gidor is a political counselor attached to Israel’s embassy in London. He’s the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them to the U.N. He knows what he’s doing. And he’s here tonight. And that’s incredible: It means that the Israeli government has allowed one of its senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy.
Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was, “Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world,” that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never. And there is no chance that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now because it forgot rule number one: Never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It’s why you won’t see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.
But I have a minute or two left, and so I’ll add another point: Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed Osirak – Saddam Hussein’s nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq.
That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom loving peoples. But it hasn’t. But tonight, while we all prattle on, I want you to remember something; while you’re here, Khomeini’s Iran is working toward the Bomb. And if you’re honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity act in a way that is the not the norm, and you’d better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a Rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran.
Courtesy of Balfour Street blog