30 May 2005
An elderly Palestinian woman tries to protect her Olive grove from destruction
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it – Winston Churchill
Every day I get flooded with news, appeals, analysis and background on the crime against humanity that is the state of Israel, but as far as the West is concerned, the daily atrocities being committed against the people of Palestine are non-events. Were such crimes being committed by virtually any country other than Israel, the media clamour would be deafening.
Non-Jews are cowed into silence, afraid, it seems, that they’ll be accused of being ‘anti-Semitic’ if they dare raise even the mildest rebuke for the actions of the settler state of Israel.
Demonised, the Palestinians have been transformed into some kind of animal, less even than an animal, some kind of sub-human species, not worthy of our consideration. Fanatics, worse, religious fanatics, propelled by ‘Allah’, messianic in their alleged desire to wipe the Jewish ‘race’ off the face of the planet. ‘Oy vey’ as my mum used to say, how has this come to pass?
Future generations will no doubt view this period with horror and disbelief and attempt to understand how an alleged race of people can grip the planet by the throat so tightly, that only the occasional gurgle of protest escapes.
I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place. – Winston Churchill in 1937 on the projected removal of the Palestinians
Frankly, I get so emotional when I try and write about the occupation of Palestine, that words often fail me, but undeterred, I will try once more to analyse the situation, fraught though it is with booby-traps for the unwary individual who dares challenge the emotional monopoly that the Zionist regime has on guilt and suffering that rationalises so completely, the sufferings of others (the ‘other’).
How has this situation come to pass? How is it that whenever we come to analyse the actions of Israel, reason flies out the window, words take on a different meaning when applied to the ‘Jews’ and of course, to the Palestinians?
How come, those Americans for example, exercising their ‘right of return’ to the land of Palestine, whose fanaticism and outright racism, are not branded for what they are; settlers, thieves, fanatical religious fundamentalists, who treat Palestinians as something less than human?
It defies belief that a so-called race can get away with the daily murder of innocents, poison their water, demolish their houses, destroy their crops, deny them the right to work, use weapons of massive destruction against a defenceless population, and all in the name of defending the ‘Jews’.
We’ll make a pastrami sandwich out of them [the Palestinians] … [we’ll] insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years’ time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart. – Ariel Sharon
As a kid, my mum used to tell me stories of her life as a kid growing up in Leeds in what was considered a Jewish ‘ghetto’, and of the stories her mum told her about life in Russia, the pogroms, the daily humiliations, yet not once did she consider herself as something ‘special’, as somebody above the normal rules of human decency, nor did she ever teach me that because of my Jewish heritage, I was somehow special. Of course, my mum and her mum were atheists and Communists, so that may well have something to do with it.
I was thankfully spared the curse of religion but not of spirituality, nor of my history, yet if there is anything ‘special’ about me, it’s not my Jewish ancestry but the understanding my folks gave me of the universality of justice and dignity that it is the right of all us, regardless of who we are or where we come from. On the face of it, these are qualities that one would assume are normal, human attributes, so what enables us to justify suspending them?
My grandma, Ethel Barbrovsky, a tiny, wiry woman and indefatigable in her commitment to Socialism, spent a lifetime fighting for ordinary justice for all working people. Were she alive today she would be horrified and filled with revulsion at what is being done in the name of the ‘Jews’ and no doubt would be on the front line for the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights as human beings.
Of one thing I am sure, the ability to suspend the normal rules of what it is to be human can only be achieved by dehumanising the Palestinians, this is the curse of the racist ideology, a virus far more deadly than AIDs, a disease that is born out of the imperialism of the ‘white race’.
For although ultimately it is true to say that the desire for wealth, power and control is at the root of the dilemma, the chief means whereby it is achieved is the notion of racial superiority, and here one has to say that the ideology of racial superiority is a unique creation of European ‘civilisation’ and one that took perhaps five hundred years to develop and evolve into what we have today.
For without the appearance of racial superiority as something ‘natural’, something innate and residing in the genes of the white ‘race’, such an abomination would be impossible to achieve. It is no accident therefore, that the ideology of Zionism is also a European creation and truly the bastard son of imperialism.
[I]f I had been an Italian, I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. – Winston Churchill on the Italian Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini before the guy had the nerve to declare war on England
There are of course those who talk of a ‘left-wing’ Zionism, even of a ‘socialist’ Zionism, attempting to legitimise the actions of the early Zionist usurpers of the land of Palestine. And whilst there were those who didn’t support the expulsion of the Palestinians, who envisaged a ‘multi-racial’ Palestine, in the overall scheme of the imperialists for control of the ‘gateway’ to Africa and Asia, they counted for little.
So ingrained is the idea of racial superiority that aside from the most ignorant and emotionally damaged amongst us, many people are affronted by the idea that they are racists. Accuse your ‘average’ European intellectual, for example those who work in the media or in academia, that their basic beliefs about how the world works is infused with a subliminal racism, and they would protest at such an accusation. They will tell you of how many Black or Asian friends they have, they may even be married to one.
But this misses the point of how the ideology of racism actually operates, for it’s not about likes or dislikes but about invisible, unstated but acculturated assumptions about the nature of what it is to be human.
We only allow the state of Israel to commit its crimes against humanity because deep down, we do not regard Palestinians as human, hence the ‘normal’ rules of behaviour can be safely suspended. Were they chickens in a battery farm, they would elicit more sympathy and no doubt a national campaign would arise for more ‘humane’ treatment of the ‘chickens’ of Palestine.
It is for this reason why it is so difficult to deal with the subject of the ‘Jews’, for ‘Jew’ is, like ‘Black’, ultimately a state of mind, not a description of any intrinsic reality. Am I a ‘Jew’? Those of the Judaic faith would assert that I am, because my mother was a ‘Jew’ (or ‘Jewess’ so perverse is the Judaic religion in its treatment of women. Imagine, if you will, a feminine word for Catholic?).
If I believe that I am truly ‘Jewish’ then by God, I really am! It’s bizarre I know but points to the ultimately irrational nature of what it is to be ‘Jewish’. So too has the conveniently interchangeable nature of ‘Jew’ and Israeli. By removing the distinction between the two, the state of Israel is able to pull off perhaps the biggest confidence trick of all; to be both at the same time, whether you like it or not.
It is this mutable nature of the concept ‘Jewish’ that makes it so seductive and such a powerful propaganda weapon, for I can be ‘Jewish’ by ‘race’, religion or culture, or even all three! Take your pick, mix ‘n match, supermarket-style, ‘Buy one, get two free’!
And by the same token, but in the reverse, the concept Arab and Muslim (or Black and African), are also interchangeable, mutable concepts, only used to diminish, to negate. But note also, that in this context, the idea of ‘Jew’ is itself also intrinsically racist. We need only observe that to be an ‘Arab’ Israeli is distinct from being a ‘Jewish’ Israeli, indeed the concept ‘Jewish’ Israeli is a contradiction in terms and thus never used to describe Jews who are Israeli nationals as it would expose the fraudulent nature of the description. If you are ‘Jewish’, you are automatically Israeli but not if you are an ‘Arab Israeli’, as you are an ‘Arab’ first and only an Israeli by an ‘accident’ of birth.
I could have, rather than choose to deconstruct the mythology of the Jew, to deal with the subject as the torrent of mail I get does, the blatant injustice of it all, and of course it is unjust, a crime of horrific proportions that rivals the ‘Holocaust’, perhaps even more so insofar as it is committed in the full glare of daylight, even captured daily on video tape and hence we do not have the excuse that ‘we did not know’.
What then is the solution? Is there one? Many, especially Black Americans, fall into the trap set by the ideology of racism, that racism is a unique expression of the ‘European’, and indeed is somehow, built into the ‘genes’ of the ‘white race’. ‘Oy vey’! Hence we have the concept of ‘African-American’, as denied the right to be an American in the fullest (if abstract) sense of the word, you get awarded the booby-prize.
But to succumb to such a shallow analysis is precisely the objective of the ideology of racism, for make no mistake, racism is first and foremost an ideology, a construct if you will, that has been formulated over time, perfected and fine-tuned, overlaid with layers of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo that point to the ‘differences’ between the ‘races’. Even today, in these allegedly enlightened times we still read of the ‘Arab mind-set’ or the ‘laid-back, easy-going nature’ of the African (all that ‘natural’ rhythm etc), or the ‘nimble, hard-working fingers of the Asian’.
So ingrained is the concept of racial superiority that it defies rational analysis. Policies are formulated, assumptions acted upon, actions forgiven or rationalised away as being deviations from the norm. History becomes the repository of lessons unlearned or at least having no connection to the present that can be discerned.
I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes – Winston Churchill on the use of mustard gas on Iraqis
Hence Winston Churchill’s description of the use of poison gas on the people of Iraq is not connected to current policies. As far as our present leaders are concerned, it was a Martian invasion wot did it.
It is this power to fragment the continuum of our history that is perhaps the most striking aspect of the power of the ideology of racism, for how else can the actions of the Israeli state be divorced from the reality of their impact on the people of Palestine? How else can the corporate media of today justify ignoring, demean and downplay the daily reality of life under occupation?
It has nothing to do with the fact that it simply ignores it, if anything the very fact that occasionally it makes all the ‘right noises’ about how Palestinians or Iraqis are treated that reinforces the underlying assumptions on the part of dominant culture. Assumptions that create a qualitative difference between the death of a Palestinian and that of a ‘Jew’. The ‘Jew’, judging by the value system of the West is worth more than that of a Palestinian. This hypocritical state of affairs even applies to those who perished in the Nazi concentration camps.
I still await the documentary on the Roma Holocaust (several million of whom were exterminated with as much precision and industry as were the Jews) and the endless replays, that were the Roma people in the enviable position of commanding the attention of the Western media the way the Jews are, we would be subject to. To even suggest that the Roma suffered as the Jews did, is tantamount to Holocaust denial such is the power of the Zionist elite.
But to put down our refusal to deal with the crimes of the state of Israel to our collective ‘guilt’ is as much a cop-out as it is to talk of the crimes of our ancestors as having no relationship to our responsibility to our collective present. Yes, in order to choke on our words, we have to have swallowed a lot of crap in the first place.