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Blaming Israel for Palestinian violence is racist

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Blaming Israel for Palestinian violence is racist

factsandlogic.org, Nov. 25, 2014

When the media and pundits blame Israel for Palestinian violence, it means they don’t believe Arabs are responsible—and that’s racist

Dear Friend of FLAME:

When four Jews at worship and one Israeli Druze were murdered by axe-wielding Palestinians last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the violence, but quickly added a warning to Jews against further “incitement against Aqsa,” one of two Muslim shrines on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Abbas has also warned against “contamination” of Muslim holy sites by Jews who want to pray there. A spokesman for the Gaza terrorist group Hamas was more candid, calling the massacre of Jews in their synagogue a “heroic and natural reaction to Zionist criminality against our people and our holy places.”

And exactly what have the Jews done to incite, contaminate and commit crimes against Muslim religious sites?

Well, one man, American Yehudah Glick, who advocates that Jews be allowed to pray atop the Temple Mount, the site of two ancient Jewish temples, was shot and nearly killed by an offended Palestinian militant. A Palestinian riot ensued, with rocks, fire bombs and fireworks being fired from barricades in front of the al Aqsa mosque. Israeli police trying to quell the melee chased violent rioters into al Aqsa, then reached inside to shut the doors, prevent further firing and trap the attackers. Palestinians accused of police of “defiling” the mosque because they didn’t remove their shoes before entering.

In other words, some Jews are guilty of advocating prayer on their own holy site, which also happens to be a Muslim holy site, and some Israeli police are guilty of sacrilege for chasing violent criminals into a mosque from which they were firing. For this, some Arabs, as well as many media commentators, believe the Palestinians have been justifiably provoked to murder. When they get riled up, they apparently just can’t help themselves.

This week’s FLAME Hotline article, by British Labour Party politician and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson, asserts that blaming Israel for such Palestinian violence is fundamentally racist. He boldly and forcefully makes the case that those who believe Arabs have no self-control and no ability to choose are guilty of the soft prejudice of low expectations.

In other words, if you don’t hold the Arabs responsible for their actions, you don’t respect them—and if you don’t respect them, you can never fashion a responsible, enduring peace with them.

I think you’ll find Johnson’s piece extremely helpful in your conversations with friends, family and colleagues—especially anyone who believes that Israel is responsible for provoking Palestinians to violence. Please also pass this issue along to your contacts, and use social media to refer your friends to it.

Thanks for your support of FLAME and of Israel!

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)

P.S. Israel is not only blamed in the media for provoking the Palestinians to violence, but also for denying the Palestinians a state. The truth is, though, the Palestinians don’t have a state because they won’t stop trying to expel the Jews from all of historical Palestine—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s critical that we fight back against this mainstream media narrative with the truth: The Palestinians simply do not want peace with Israel. To correct the record, we at FLAME have developed a powerful paid editorial message that we are now publishing nationwide in media, including college newspapers, reaching 10 million key influencers, plus all U.S. congressional representatives and the President and Vice President. It’s called “Why Can’t the Palestinians Have a State? I hope you’ll review this hasbarah message and pass it on to all your contacts who will benefit from it. If you agree that FLAME’s outspoken brand of public relations on Israel’s behalf is critical, I urge you to help us continue to run this message, so Americans will realize that the heart of the conflict is ingrained Palestinian obsession with killing Jews. Please consider giving a donation now, as you’re able—with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To contribute online, just go to donate now. Today more than ever we need your help to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs—from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

Blaming Israel for Palestinian violence is racist: It denies that Arabs are moral agents

The media response to the Jerusalem killings betrays a widespread assumption: Palestinians are “noble savages” who are not responsible for their actions

By Alan Johnson, The Telegraph, November 20, 2014

There were some odd media reactions this week to the murder of four Jews at prayer (and the heroic Israeli Druze first responder Zidan Saif who tried to rescue them) by two Palestinians perpetrators in Jerusalem.

• The Canadian Broadcast Company tweeted “Jerusalem police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack http://ift.tt/1AaVAdn

• The CNN headline read ‘4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem’ without noting that the two Palestinians were the terrorists. (CNN later apologised. See the memes here.)

• The Guardian altered a Reuters dispatch about the massacre in Jerusalem to remove any reference to Palestinians.

• In the Left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the writer Amira Hass wrote about “the despair and anger that pushed the Abu Jamals to attack Jews in a synagogue (emphasis added).”

Of course not all reporting was of this character. But still, what explains the exculpatory impulse, also widespread on social media?

Part of the explanation lies in the profound influence that the anti-Zionist ideology (a system of demonising ideas and representations about Israel and the Jews) now exercises in our culture. At the heart of the ideology is a deeply buried, often unconscious, assumption about the dichotomous natures of Israelis and Palestinians that warps our understanding of the conflict. Here it is: Palestinians (and Arabs in general) do not have agency and choice, and so cannot be held accountable and responsible. Israelis do and can; always, and exclusively.

Palestinians are understood as a driven people, dominated by circumstance and emotion, lacking choice, below the age of responsibility, never to be held accountable. Israelis are the opposite; masters of all circumstances, rational and calculating, the root cause of everything, responsible for everything.

It is, palpably, an Orientalist view of the Palestinians as the Other, except this time they are affirmed as noble savages. It’s a bit racist, to be honest. For example, the Liberal Democrat David Ward MP tweeted that the Palestinian synagogue terrorists had been “driven to madness” – which not only removes agency from them but also sanity.

This groupthink is the reason that parts of the media are reluctant to challenge the Palestinian national movement when it is guilty of rejectionism, terrorism, authoritarianism, corruption and the promotion of a vile culture of incitement, demonization and antisemitism. After all, those things are just not the “the Israel story“, are they? As Matt Seaton, comment editor at the New York Times, tweeted recently, his opinion pages will only cover Palestinian racism when “they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”

The world view is being spread by a network of hugely influential public intellectuals. They are shaping much of the debate about the conflict in Britain because their ideas are not remaining in the seminar room but are being ‘translated’ and popularised by determined activists with status and authority in universities, churches, trade unions, NGOs, political parties and popular culture.

• Academic and writer Jacqueline Rose says Israel is “the agent” that is responsible for Palestinian suicide terrorism. She uncritically passes on to her readers a defence of the suicide bomber given by Hamas leader Abdul Aziz al-Ratansi (“If he wants to sacrifice his soul in order to defeat the enemy and for God’s sake – well, then he’s a martyr”).

• The Israeli novelist (and Peace Now founder) Amos Oz complains that incitement by extremist Palestinian intellectuals leads some Palestinians to be “suffocated and poisoned by blind hate.” The anti-Zionist writer Yitzhak Laor is outraged, denouncing Oz for… “incitement” against the Palestinians.

• Shlomo Sand – whose books are found in Waterstones stores across the UK –expresses his disgust at Jewish Israeli intellectuals who opposed Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. Now, Saddam was firing scud missiles at Israeli civilians at the time, so how did he justify his stance? Palestinians felt “joy” at an “”Arab” show of force”, he wrote, and that should have been decisive.

• Ilan Pappe’s recent book The Idea of Israel (Summary: it was a very Bad Idea and should now be Corrected) offers an apologia for the pro-Nazi war-time Palestinian leader Al-Husseini. So keen was Al-Husseini on Adolf that he formed a Muslim SS Unit, but Pappe reduces all this to “an episode” in the “complex” life of a nationalist; a “foolish flirtation” that should only be of interest to the reader because it has been exploited by Zionists to “demonise” the Palestinians. Pappe argues that Al-Husseini was – here it comes! – “forced” into the alliance with Hitler.

The idea that good/innocent/authentic Palestinians are in a Manichean struggle against bad/guilty/inauthentic Israelis is part of a mind-set—a “theory” of sorts—that became dominant on much of the Left after the 1960s. Let’s call it reactionary anti-imperialism. It divides the world, and everything in it, into two opposed “camps”: Imperialism versus Anti-Imperialism. Anyone shooting at Imperialism (the USA, the UK, Israel, “the West”, “the Global North”, or just “the Man”) is now part of the progressive anti-imperialist “resistance” to imperialism. Once in thrall to this ‘theory’, parts of the left redefined themselves as (not very) critical supporters of, or at least apologists for, the reactionary forces doing the shooting, including radical Islamists.

Here is the Socialist Workers Party theoretician John Molyneux instructing the members in the finer points of reactionary anti-imperialism:

“To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate conservative superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically).”

And here is Judith Butler – a professor at Berkeley and one of the most influential academics on the planet – drawing the political conclusions: “[Hamas and Hezbollah are] social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left.” (See 16:24 in this video .)

What we learnt (again) this week was that the anti-Zionist ideology, the ludicrously simplistic assumptions it makes about Palestinians and Israelis, and the demonising/exculpatory framework through which it distorts our understanding of the conflict, is now bleeding from the cloisters of academia into those wider structures of feeling and patterns of response that shape our public square. A prediction: We ain’t seen nothing yet.


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