Debunking US Zionist David Harris’s “special Israel” arguments

By Lawrence Davidson

David Harris and an appalling situation

One of my “favourite” American Zionists is David Harris, Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Congress (AJC). I like David Harris because (1) for some unfathomable reason, he, or his office staff, have been kind enough to keep me on his mailing list and (2) he consistently puts forth the ideas which reflect the Zionist establishment’s worldview. Pay attention to Mr Harris and you will always know how America’s Zionist leadership sees things, at least publicly. 

It is true that the old saws that Harris puts forth have gotten a bit shopworn, but since Zionist organisations such as the AJC see fit to repeat them over and again, it is necessary to reveal their holes and threadbare seams – that is, to challenge, yet again, their errors and illogic.

Recently, Mr Harris has been decrying the alleged fact that Israel is treated with double standards – “It’s appalling to see how Israel is treated by a totally different standard than other countries in the international system”, he says. And what is his evidence for this “appalling” situation?

Claims and responses

Here are just two of his repeated claims (there are a lot more), followed by my debunking of same:

Claim 1: The Zionist state is the only UN member subject to “a relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals denying Israel’s very political legitimacy”.

Response: Actually, as time has passed the claim that there exists this “relentless chorus of nations, institutions and individuals” challenging Israel’s “political legitimacy” has become much less true. Just about the entire world of nation-states, including the Arab and other Muslim ones, recognise Israel. It is true that Iran, Syria and but very few others do “deny Israel’s political legitimacy”, but this hardly constitutes a “relentless chorus”.

And, in most cases, those “institutions and individuals” that do “relentlessly” criticise Israel do so based on behavioural standards that are of paramount importance to the preservation of international law – and are indeed applied universally rather than only to Israel.

Harris goes on to make this curious claim: “No one would dare question the right to exist of many other countries whose basis for legitimacy is infinitely more questionable than Israel’s, including those that were created by brute force and occupation.” (Is he here referring to the US?) Perhaps he has conveniently forgotten that the original basis for, as well as ongoing, criticism of Israel was based on just such historical facts – that Israel’s creation was a function of “brute force and occupation”. Harris tries to obfuscate this truth with references to 2,000-year-old Hebrew tribes, egged on by their biblical god to conquest and slaughter. But there has to be a commonsense statute of limitations that makes this sort of excuse irrelevant, at least to the rational mind, even if one believes it to be factual.

Unfortunately, it is exactly the persistence of “brute force” that has worn down most “states, institutions and individuals” to the point that they now accept the Zionist state’s permanence. This means the author’s claim that it is “open hunting season only on Israel” is a wild exaggeration – a tendency to focus on very few examples and extrapolate them into something that, as of the present, they are not. Why would he do this? He gives us his own explanation. “Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that it’s the only Jewish-majority country in the world?” 

There is something unreal about this explanation. The notion that the world is full of people wanting to do harm to Israel only because of its association with the Jews is base paranoia. For instance, a lot of anti-Semites do not oppose Israel. White racists identify with Israel as a model of a racially “pure” state. The Netanyahu government understands this and is embracing the “Alt-Right” racists of the US. Then there are the millions of fundamentalist Christians who ultimately pray for the annihilation of the Jewish people. They give millions of dollars every year to facilitate Israel’s defiance of international law. So, who is left? Who out there really does oppose the Zionist state, and does so for sane reasons?

Here is the truth that Mr Harris seems unwilling to accept: those who, after all these decades, continue to oppose Israel are not anti-Semites but rather are anti-Zionists. And they do so for the very legitimate reason that Zionism has proven itself in practice to be a racist ideology. These opponents include the Palestinians and their supporters, the latter, in turn, being dominated in the West by a large and growing number of non-fundamentalist Christians, humanitarians and Jews. In other words, the issue here is not the political legitimacy of Israel, but rather the political legitimacy of its guiding ideology. And, by extension, the political legitimacy of a state (any state) operating in a racist and oppressive way against others. Israel certainly fits the bill thanks to its obsessive drive to be “Jewish” through a process of segregation and ethnic cleansing.

Claim 2: “Israel is the only UN member state that’s been targeted for annihilation by another UN member state.”

Response: Here Harris is referring to Iran.Typical of the propagandist, Harris fails to contextualise his claim, for to do so would call it into doubt. The charge that Iran has “targeted Israel for annihilation” is based on a  2005 New York Times article that claimed that the president of Iran, at the time Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared in a speech that Israel needs to be “wiped off the map”. Soon after this was published, it was realised that Ahmadinejad was being misquoted. And, to no one’s surprise, the misquote came from “the Middle East Media Research Institute,” an enterprise “founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer”. Of course, the Israeli leadership knew of the misquote, and in 2012 Dan Meridor, then Israeli minister of intelligence, belatedly conceded this fact, agreeing that that “Iran wants to wipe Israel out” is a “common trope that is put about… but as we know Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, not did he say that Iran’s policy is to exterminate Israel”. You would think that David Harris, who almost certainly knows the truth, would have long ago stopped spreading false rumours. But then, this big lie serves his propagandistic purposes so well.

So what did the Iranian president really say? It took till 2006 for the correction, rather quietly, to be made. Ahmadinejad had expressed the opinion that the Zionist state was an “unnatural creature” and therefore it was unlikely to survive. It is true that this is not very flattering but it was not at all a threat to wipe Israel off the map. 

Later the Iranian president would explain his view further with an analogy to the recently removed Soviet regime in Russia. The analogy with Russia takes us back to the centrality of Zionism in this story. Just as the Soviet regime had ruled Russia for the benefit of the Communist Party, but now had “vanished from pages of time”, so, Ahmadinejad said, the Zionists’ discriminatory mode of rule for the benefit of one group must also “vanish”. And, just as there is still a Russia which is now, allegedly, of a more democratic character, so there can continue to be an Israel that is a more democratic state operating for the sake of all its people.

Why Israel is special, really

One of the interesting things about David Harris’s lament is that he never denies that Israel is practising oppressive policies and cruel tactics. He is just asserting that Israel should not be singled out for these criminal actions when others also act in this fashion. His problem then is not that Israel isn’t guilty of violating international law or acting in ways that are recognised as inhumane. It is that we all take too much notice of that behaviour. Hence his assertion that it is “egregious double standards and blatant hypocrisy” when folks protest Israel’s criminal misbehaviour.

However, might there be reasons that do warrant singling out Israel for greater notice – reasons that cannot generate the charge of “double standards”? Indeed there are: 

– Here is the most immediate reason: The fact that Zionist influence spreads far beyond Israel’s area of dominion and now influences (one might say corrupts) many of the policy makers and bureaucrats of Western governments, and particularly those of the United States. This often turns their governments into accomplices in Israel’s abusive policies. This process makes it imperative that Israel’s criminality be singled out as a high-priority case for protest and boycott. Under these circumstances, prioritising Israel is not hypocrisy, as Harris claims, but rather a national act of moral self-defence.

– Zionist Israel appears to be aiming at the destruction of many of the international laws which, ironically, were put in place after World War II in order to discourage the racist and genocidal policies directed against the Jews themselves. Why would Israel do this? It is because only by taking the world back to an era where racist colonialist practices are accepted can Israel, a consistent practitioner of such policies, be truly accepted into the world community. 

– Israel is the only country whose behaviour can be identified as a contributor to the recent increase in real anti-Semitism. It is therefore in the obvious interest of world Jewry to single out Israel for protest and force the Zionist state to mend its ways.


There can be no doubt that David Harris considers himself a defender of the “only Jewish-majority country in the world”. However, he also seems quite accepting of the fact that Israel has become one of a number of thuggish nation-states. In the face of that reality all he can muster in its defence is a demand that Israel “merits equal treatment” with the rest of the barbarians, “no more and no less”.

Finally, David Harris doesn’t understand how dangerous to his cause is a consistent application of his demand. The demand for equal treatment means that citizens can insist that their leaders cease treating Israel as special in all ways. For instance, in the name of equal treatment, US citizens can insist their leaders stop giving Israel grossly inordinate amounts of financial and military “aid”. This assistance has amounted to almost $150 billion since 1949. Now that really is treating Israel, in Harris’s words, “by a totally different standard than other countries in the international system”. The result of that sort of inequity truly does constitute an “appalling” situation.

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