Bradley Burston Aug 30, 2016
It’s time to stop pretending that racism can ever be good for the Jews. Not in practice, and not in propaganda.
It’s time to stop fooling ourselves that there’s any reasonable benefit for Israel in practicing racism against Palestinians, whether in flagrantly discriminatory policies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, or in less obvious but still keenly felt official inequality toward Palestinian citizens of Israel.
It’s time, as well, to call out “Pro-Israel” voices who “defend” Israel by demonizing and dehumanizing Palestinians as a people, as a society, as a whole and as individuals. It’s time we called racism-as-Zionism what it is: Disgusting.
It’s time to stand up and answer the know-it-all social media zealots who, from the comfort and insulation of their armchairs in North American suburbs, post incessantly about how all Palestinians — people whom they’ve never ever met nor spoken with — are fanatic, base, primitive, bloodthirsty Jew-hating animals, for whom Jew-murder is the be-all and end-all of their lives, and — incidentally — are also not a real people, so deserve no rights beyond the right to be expelled.
It’s time to ask, if this is what “pro-Israel” means, what does this Israel stand for?
“There is irrefutable evidence of the barbaric and genocidal nature of Palestinian society. Indeed, the reality is that, despite maintaining a ‘moderate’ stance to the outside world, internally the Palestinians and the Islamic State group are birds of a feather — although the Palestinians are probably more corrupt.”
The author is Isi Leibler, former leader of the Australian Jewish community and ex-chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress, who moved to Israel in the late 1990s and is now a columnist for Israel Hayom and the Jerusalem Post.
His column, published by both media outlets last week, held out little room for the possibility that Palestinian society is fragmented and diverse, split over a broad range of issues, among them, one state versus two, the role of religion in politics, and the question of an eventual accommodation with Israel.
Two days before the column appeared, a respected poll of Palestinian public opinion showed that 51 percent of Palestinians support a two-state solution.
But for Isi Leibler, the only thing which Palestinians truly support, is slaughtering Jews.
“While Arab hostility to Jews prevailed even during the Mandatory period, it was not comparable to the culture of death and evil that today saturates every aspect of Palestinian life,” he writes.
“The Palestinian Authority has become a criminal society and can be compared to prewar Germany when the Nazis transformed their population into genocidal barbarians by depicting Jews as subhuman.”
You have to hand it to Isi. A great sense of timing. His statements on Palestinians come just as the school year begins, and students, many for the first time, will be learning about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
According to Leibler, the direction of the debate over Israel is all wrong. In his view, “exposing the barbarity of our neighbors should be made the top priority in our foreign relations efforts, rather than the endless disputes over whether the minuscule 2% of territory comprising settlements (which are not being expanded) is justified.”
Let’s forget, for the moment, that neither the two percent figure nor the observation regarding non-expansion are, in fact, even remotely representative of the reality of occupation.
The problem is reducing millions of Palestinians, people of all ages and aspirations and backgrounds and temperaments and dreams, to a darkly uniform mass of murderers.
The problem is racism. The problem is using racism against Palestinians as a defense of Israel. Using racism against Palestinians as a substitute for information, for honesty, for any vision at all of a way forward, a way out.
In a reality like ours, a morass of rage, frustration, colossal unfairness and despair, racism has a definite allure. It’s the easy way out, the tempting default, the feel-good heat sink.
The problem is, it’s wrong. It’s disgusting. It appeals to the worst in us, and makes nothing better.
The problem is not Isi Leibler. For every Isi Leibler, there are countless others, much worse, pumping out hatred against Palestinians on social media as if the hatred itself were somehow helpful, useful, as if it somehow made Israel stronger. Some people even hate Palestinians for a living. Some of them are in the Knesset. One of them now has the biggest office in the Defense Ministry.
There is a prime minister who exhorts Israeli Jews to drop everything and run out and vote for him because Arabs in droves are coming over the hill.
A prime minister who exploits a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in order to accuse Arab Israelis as a whole of disloyalty to the state.
Is this really the best that Israel’s got going for it?
Are there no better arguments from the right supporting Israel — and doing everything possible to fend off any eventuality of a Palestinian state alongside it — than branding Palestinians genocidal, barbaric criminals?
When the right uses racism as a public relations tool, all it’s really doing is preaching to its choir. But what does that say about the preacher, and what does that say about the choir?
In the end, in marshaling racist arguments in order to “defend” Israel, what they’ve shown the rest of us, is only this:
Racism is not a defense. Racism is a confession.