Perverse arguments from Israel’s perverse lobby

Daniel Schwammenthal, a leading lobbyist in Brussels, introduces Israeli politician Yair Lapid during a recent event. (AJC Transatlantic Institute)

Pro-Israel advocates took umbrage lately when an EU lawmaker suggested they belonged to a “perverse lobby.”

Daniel Schwammenthal is a protagonist in that lobby, whose arguments tend to be perverse.

He heads the AJC Transatlantic Institute, the Brussels office of the American Jewish Committee. According to his narrative, Israel is always being picked on by nasty neighbors.

While the turmoil in the Middle East can be difficult to fully comprehend, Schwammenthal and his colleagues see things with an absolute clarity. In their view, Israel is the “fireman,” while the governments in Damascus and Tehran are a joint “arsonist.” Or – as Schwammenthal has put it – Israel is the “victim” and its rivals the “aggressor.”

Schwammenthal’s comment was directed at Carl Bildt, formerly Sweden’s foreign minister.

Bildt had tried to strike a specious balance in a tweet by stating that Iran “obviously” sent a drone into Israeli airspace during February – something the Tehran authorities have denied – though also acknowledging that “Israel regularly violates the airspace of Syria and Lebanon” – something which is irrefutable.


It was by no means the first time that Schwammenthal tried to cast Israel as innocent or altruistic. Writing for The Wall Street Journal in December last year, he claimed that Israel’s intervention in Syria’s war had been limited to “providing medical help” and depriving Hizballah of what he called “strategic weapons.”

Schwammenthal failed to remind his readers that Israel’s “medical help” has been somewhat selective. It has treated wounded fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, a group affiliated to al-Qaida, so that they can return to the war. Israel, therefore, has been helping terrorists, not running a charity.

Israel has recently ramped up its support for armed groups in Syria. The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported last month that at least seven “Sunni rebel organizations in the Syrian Golan are now getting arms and ammunition from Israel, along with money to buy additional armaments.”

In the same Wall Street Journal article, Schwammenthal predicted that if a violent situation erupts in Lebanon, “Israeli efforts to avoid civilian deaths” will be ignored by journalists and the United Nations. Such efforts “surpass even NATO standards,” he added.

His reference point is not reassuring – NATO forces have bombed hospitals and weddings in Afghanistan. NATO is not a bunch of peaceniks, as Schwammenthal implied, but a military alliance dominated by that infamous arsonist, the United States.

Nor does Israel have a good record of sparing noncombatants. Most of the 900 civilians killed during the 2006 assault on Lebanon died from “Israel’s indiscriminate airstrikes,” Human Rights Watch has stated.

That assault spawned the Dahiya doctrine, named after a Beirut neighborhood that was destroyed by Israel on the pretext that Hizballah militants lived there. Under the doctrine – subsequently employed in Gaza – Israel treats civilian villages as military bases, thereby giving its troops carte blanche to commit the most heinous war crimes.

Was that what Schwammenthal meant by “Israeli efforts to avoid civilian deaths”?

Not surprisingly, his article drew no attention to how Israel has occupied part of Syria – the Golan Heights – since 1967.

Tweaking injustice

Schwammenthal can be brazenly misleading. In another recent tweet, he suggested that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is not illegal, “only settlements are, according to some.”

Contrary to what Schwammenthal hinted, the settlements and a long list of illegal Israeli policies and practices designed to enforce the occupation – frequent killings, arbitrary detentions, home demolitions and collective punishments – are inseparable from the overall occupation.

Located in a zone that comprises more than 60 percent of the West Bank, the settlements have not been deemed illegal by a few maverick lawyers. Their illegality has been confirmed by multiple UN Security Council resolutions and by the International Court of Justice.

Schwammenthal has suggested that it is extremist to reject a two-state solution for Palestine. An event which he hosted last month gave a glimpse of how that type of “solution” may look in practice. The main guest was Yair Lapid, a party leader with ambitions to be Israel’s prime minister.

Lapid contended that “the best thing” for Israel would be “for us to separate from the Palestinians.” It clearly would not be a separation based on equality, he indicated, as Israel would be stronger militarily than the Palestinians.

Appearing like a recipe for a continuation of Israeli apartheid in some form, that “vision” contradicts Schwammenthal’s attempts to paint Israel as a perpetual victim. Yet if he was offended by his invitee’s remarks, Schwammenthal did not say so.

His reticence on this important point is logical. Schwammenthal smears Palestine solidarity activists yet is silent when Israel’s apologists give the impression that manifest injustices can be tweaked to look moderate or reasonable.

People of conscience would have grave difficulty sleeping at night if they had to swallow such flagrant hypocrisy. The swallowing is probably easier for those who belong to a perverse lobby.




"Israel treats civilian villages as military bases, thereby giving its troops carte blanche to commit the most heinous war crimes."

This is a statement of opinion, not fact. Among other components of this article, it cannot be substantiated.


If you need proof or substantiation of war crimes committed by the IDF in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, check out the website of "Breaking the Silence." Former Israeli army soldiers have spoken out about atrocities against Palestinian civilians that they either witnessed or participated in. The International Criminal Court (ICC) initiated a war crimes investigation after Israel's assault on Gaza in 2014, but this investigation was deliberately blocked by the United States government. Just one example: there exists documented proof that the IDF deliberately attacked UN schools in Gaza which were functioning as civilian shelters, even after the Israeli army was warned repeatedly of the exact GPS coordinates of the UN schools locations. Human rights activists also condemn Hamas' war crimes against Israeli civilians, but you can't pretend the IDF is innocent of war crimes.

David Cronin's picture

Israel’s military itself stated that the whole basis of the Dahiya doctrine is that civilian villages are treated as if they are military bases. That is a fact. If you click on the link provided in the post you will find more details about the Israeli military’s statement. 


your reference in the link is another article from this web-site, equally devoid of fact. It’s the same as saying, “it’s true cause I said so”.


You are asserting that Israel destroys villages, but it doesn't. Villages that are used to launch strikes against Israel, can no longer be considered civilian areas because they are being used as military strongholds. Israel responds accordingly. Once the threat is neutralized, the activity stops. If Israel wanted to obliterate Gaza, Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Beirut, etc..., it could; it doesn't.

Your postulation is that Israel behaves a certain way because of an opinion you hold is fine, but it is not factual. Confirmation of your opinion by including a similar opinion from someone who shares your views (and also neglects to include facts) doesn't make your position correct or your arguments persuasive. It's too easy for someone lacking in education and experience, such as I, to poke holes in what you are saying - and it leads one to conclude that your biased, or uninformed, or deliberately ignorant conclusions are predicated by something other than scholarship.


Your argument is that Israel carries out unspeakable crimes and massacres against villages and civilian areas with impunity. The fact that Israel A) can do that and B) does not do that is not reconciled in your position. As such, your argument is disproven - by facts.


Now I do not know which statement of mine you are referring, but I will assume it is my last where I say your arguement is disproven by facts - and you are now asking which ones. If I am wrong in that assumption, apologies.

Nevertheless, the fact is that Israel, despite your best wishes-for and statements-to the contrary, does not obliterate civilian villages, towns or strongholds without justification. Furthermore, when specific threats posed by terrorist entities from said civilian areas is neutralized, the hostilities cease.

There is an ever increasing constituency within israel who believe we should not stop when the rockets from Khan Younis or Rafa stop flying, as it is within our capabilities from both a technical and logistical point of view, however cooler heads prevail, including those of Netanyahu and every single previous government. All one has to do is look north to Syria to see what’s possible when belligerents with arsenals and capabilities both inferior to Israel, choose to engage without restraint. I do not profess to understand anything about Syria or who is responsible for what, but the wanton destruction of Homs, Aleppo, Gouta, and countless other towns and villages and millions of actual refugees, cannot be ignored.

Your position that israel behaves in similar, if not worse fashion, toward Palestinian hostiles is not only wrong, it is factually indefensible because the counterpoints are irrefutable.

David Cronin's picture

I asked you for facts. You did not provide any. Instead you claimed that Israel does not obliterate villages or towns “without justification”. Obliterating villages or towns is always criminal. There can never be any justification for doing so. 


What fact did I not provide? Israel does not obliterate villages - they could, but they don't. That is factual - and if it weren't, there would be no such places as Ramallah, Rafa, Jenin, Sheik Jarrah, Khan Younis, etc... as they and their inhabitants would have ceased to exist. Israel engages in military confrontations against defined groups who establish their strongholds within the aforementioned communities - among other places, and Israel neutralizes them, at considerable cost to Israel as obliteration is the more accessible option as well as being easier, faster and far less expensive; but intolerable.

Please explain how the above is not factual?

David Cronin's picture

The high numbers of civilian deaths and injuries and the massive destruction of civilian property during Israel’s attacks on Gaza show how absurd your argument is.