I can’t tell you the exact date when it happened, but I do remember the circumstances. I was sitting at the kitchen table in my Vancouver condominium (that means it was 1995-1999) eating dinner while watching TV. George Carlin was on doing one of his hysterical shticks about the irony or inappropriateness of the names somethings have, e.g. why do they call a graduation a commencement? It’s the end of school, not the start. Why do they call it a station wagon? Is it a car that’s not meant to move?….etc. You get the idea.
Suddenly to my shock, hysterical ol’ hippie-left wing satirist George Carlin comes out with: “And why do they call Palestinian freedom fighters, terrorists? And why do they call murderers, Israel Defense Forces?”
Now I’m not a right wing conservative when it comes to much, including Israeli politics. I supported the Oslo accords and was proud to work at the only Jewish Federation in the North America that annually allocated funds for programs in Israel that brought social services to both, Jewish and Arab children. I don’t believe that everyone who criticizes Israeli policies is an anti-Semite. I myself have been at times angered and ashamed of how Israelis often treat Arabs, particularly Israeli Arabs.
But the dictionary (Word net) defines a murderer as “a criminal who commits homicide.” Hmmm, according to George Carlin then, a person of Arab descent who carefully implements a plan that kills dozens Israeli men, women and children on a public bus is a freedom fighter. And the soldier who tries to foil such efforts and often times ends up killing bombers in an exchange of lethal force is a murderer. Nope, I must be missing something. I don’t get it.
Apropos a similar comment about Israelis, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan years ago made the observation that words lose all meaning when the victims of the worst evil man has ever perpetrated on man are themselves accused of being the most evil people on Earth. Was George Carlin simply guilty of hyperbole in stating his support for the Palestinian people? Sorry, but this son of a Holocaust survivor who is named for an uncle who is now just some dust around the Auschwitz Concentration Camp is not willing to give Carlin the benefit of doubt. George Carlin knew exactly what he was saying.
Mitchell S. Gilbert
June 23, 2008