Israel's apologists and the Martin Luther King Jr. hoax

<<< Earlier issue of this journal ^ This issue of this journal Later issue of this journal >>>

Article/book #: 5524
Title: Israel's apologists and the Martin Luther King Jr. hoax
By: Fadi Kiblawi   Will Youmans  
Published in: Electronic Intifada
Date of issue: Monday, 19 January 2004
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:

Cross-reference(s):
  1. Fadi Kiblawi and Will Youmans refer to this article by Tim Wise
Commentary

Abstract:

»For the sake of clarity, there are three degradations of this maxim enumerated in this essay. First, it is especially fallacious as proof when the quoted authority demonstrates no special knowledge on the subject. Second, when the authority who is not an expert on the given subject is also quoted out of context, the argument is even weaker. Third, the lowest violation of this formal logic principle is when an advocate uses a false rendition, or a fabricated quote, by the same authority who can claim no expertise. This is the best framework for understanding how various exponents of Israel have used Martin Luther King Jr. to promote their cause.
Dr. King’s expertise as a non-violent civil rights leader and visionary are unparalleled in U.S. history. However, that does not make him an informed commentator on Middle Eastern affairs or on the ideological facets of Zionism. As impressive as the references to his views on Israel may seem, this is a textbook example of Argumentum Ad Verecundiam. Finding direct and published utterances by Dr. King about the modern Middle East and Zionism is extremely rare. A cursory review of dozens of books on and by the civil rights leader turned up nothing. Nonetheless, defenders of Israel often refer to a letter by Dr. King. This letter is reprinted in full on many web pages and in print. One example of a quotation derived from this letter is:

"... You declare, my friend; that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely 'anti-Zionist' ... And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews... Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so."«

»That advocates of Israel have relied on fabricated and out-of-context quotations from a leading moral figure of yesteryear only underscores the absurdity of the general point that all opposition to a Jewish state in a diverse land is anti-Semitic. There are obviously many legitimate ways to critique Zionism. One quite reasonable observation is that after more than a half-century of conflict, the Zionist project has failed to bring the Jews of Israel peace and security – its raison d'etre. One might counter that this is due to Arab intransigence; the Palestinians should accept their dispossession. However, Palestinian opposition to this fate is an indisputable fact, and security was and is Zionism’s key goal. This necessarily was an analytical failure on the part of the Zionists who assumed the Palestinians would blend in to other Arab countries while the later generations forget their past. To dismiss this argument – one that evaluates Zionism by its own goals – and every other critique of Zionism as anti-Semitism is not only dishonest but a cowardly evasion of meaningful debate.«

»The main reason why critique of Zionism persists is that whether Israeli officials like it or not, history as it is written and the actual land are still disputed by the millions of Palestinians who are refugees as a result of Israel’s birth, the 3.5 million Palestinians living under Israel’s direct military rule, and the Palestinians who compose twenty percent of Israel’s citizens in second class status. If Israel was founded and developed on uncontested terrain then arguments against its existence would more likely be out of hatred against the Jewish people. For supporters of Israel to wipe away all critics of the methods and outcomes of Israel’s foundation with the "anti-Semitic" label denies completely the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative--the experiences and perspectives that never show up in Dr. King’s imagined "oasis."
Dr. King, though long-passed, is still monumental in the continuing movement for civil rights in the United States. His legacy should be celebrated, and also critiqued constructively; it should not be falsified or stretched to accommodate a different agenda today. The context behind Dr. King’s authentic statements on Zionism was unique to a particular domestic political moment in order to sustain a fragile political coalition. Beyond that, Dr. King never claimed any expertise on the subject, nor made it a frequent topic of his speeches or writings. Claiming that all critiques of Zionism are anti-Semitic based on the force Martin Luther King Jr.’s words on the matter fails as an argument on many different levels.«











Previous Next