Wrong Answer To The Wrong Question
My brief post on a Hamas leader’s racist comments seems to have provoked more comment than this blog is usually accustomed to, so I thought that I would deal with the comments of TheIrie, a HP regular.
I think there are major three points:
- the acceptability of some forms of racism;
- and Western dual standards.
The acceptability of some forms of racism
Whilst I accept that there is brutality in the occupied territories and Israel’s conduct is not beyond reproach, that does not justify open racist sentiments as so often pour out from some leaders in the Middle East.
I should say from the outset and I don’t normally document all these outbursts otherwise they would be little else on this rather feeble blog. There are plenty of web sites, which document racism in the Middle East, the indoctrination of children and the appalling conditions that many Palestinians live under.
My previous point was to re-emphasise the fact that many in Britain are in denial about the counterproductive racism articulated by some Palestinian “leaders”, and that a resolution to the conflict will not be achieved by wasting vast sums on rockets, rifles or bullets (on either side).
Taking TheIrie’s points concerning Ireland and South Africa. As far as I know there were no political movements in Ireland which called for the eradication of the English, nor was there any longstanding racism towards the English which threatened to wipe all of them out.
The dispute in Ireland was a political one and one of self-determination, and has been largely resolved in the South. Where sectarian poison persisted in Ireland (mostly in the North), violence has continued. So the political lesson of Ireland is avoid sectarianism (racism) and lower the political temperature, which might allow these disputes to be resolved peacefully.
Despite Ireland being occupied by the English from 1170, you will find 100,000s of Irish who make a conscious choice to live in Britain and you would be hard put to hear any significant Irish political leader, etc say that “they hate the English” or wish to kill all of the English, wholesale.
Turning to South Africa, as far as I know, the ANC did not advocate racist attitudes towards whites, even though whites may have been perceived by some as “oppressors” (rather simplistic view as many of the most vocal critics of apartheid and activists against apartheid were in fact “white”) .
So I don’t think that those parallels work, nevertheless, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if people directly involved in a conflict held heated views about the opposing side, with varying degrees of hostility.
I believe that people in the West should not try to excuse away the utterances of political leaders in the Middle East. Bearing in mind that most of leaders haven’t really suffered much, are probably part of a ruling elite who simply use anti-Jewish racism for their own political ends.
So there is a difference between a stupid racist comment and a document which details how some leaders in the Middle East would like to eradicate all Jews in the world.
Hence, there is a quantifiable difference between Anglophobia or a few minor remarks made against whites in southern Africa, and that of political leaders in the Middle East expressing clear antisemitic statements, who might, if they actually had the means would carry out their murderous intent.
Antisemitism is not just anti-Jewish racism, antisemitism has a long and nasty history going back over 2,500 plus years and it comes in many forms, many shapes and many intensities, so it can not always be treated in the same simplistic fashion as other forms of racism.
Oppression doesn’t justify racism, it is always the wrong answer to the wrong question.
In the circumstances of the Middle East, racism only makes the situation worse that is why it is so poisonous for the any Palestinian or Middle Eastern leader to indulge in it.
If you’re in any doubt of the parallel, ask yourself the question:
I would say that sectarian violence in Ireland prolong the conflict, and brought untold suffering to so many.
In parts of the West, there is an idea that some forms of racism become more acceptable, or even excusable simply because of some grievance. That is utter nonsense, either you’re opposed to all forms of racism, we are not really opposed to racism at all.
No, of course, not.
If people wouldn’t accept expression of racism and violence, in say Wigan, then why are such sentiments somehow more acceptable in the Middle East?
They are not. Not, if you apply universal values, that is.
So the speeches and words of an active political leader, such Nizar Rayyan, have a great deal more significance than a throwaway comment or an expression of annoyance from people in the street.
I don’t think that a resolution to the conflict in the Middle East will be achieved by wasting vast sums on rockets, rifles or bullets (on either side).
Taking up this point closer to home, many people in the West rightly condemn the immoral arms industry in Britain and how British arms are often used to fuel conflict around the world. Correctly, they point to the utter immorality of wasting millions of pounds on useless armaments, when such resources could be focused on poverty relief, providing sanitation or basic education in developing countries.
So it seems to me that it is a bit ridiculous for some people in the West to condemn the arms industry in Britain, and then go on to support Hamas and other violent militia who spend an inordinate amount of money on armaments, explosives and rockets. Particularly when such money could be used to relieve the suffering of many of people in the Middle East.
It’s as if there are two standards, on the one hand, it is not acceptable to waste vast sums of money on armaments in Britain and yet somehow people justify sordidly needed money being used to purchase AK47s in Gaza, instead of food and medical supplies.
If butter before guns is a good policy in most countries, then why should we exclude the Middle East from such a principle?
I think these issues arise because many in the West don’t treat the occupants of the Middle East as if they were adults, but rather as children or someone to be pitied.
There seems to be the expectation that racism, violence and weaponry are accepted in parts of the Middle East and therefore somehow understandable, and I frankly don’t think they are.
If universal values apply to people in the West, the people in the Middle East are no less deserving and should be treated as human beings rather than some “noble savages”.
I hope that clarifies why I think the racism (combined with a political ideology and weaponry) articulated by groups in the Middle East should be exposed, and why people in the West should not excuse such conduct.
PS: that’s a long longer than I had intended, Jim Denham explains the matter much more succinctly in the comments.