“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Red Mist, Arm Flapping And Its Consequences.

with 14 comments

I don’t know what happened in the middle of the night with the flotilla, and until more information comes out I’m reserving judgement.

I hadn’t wanted to post for a few days. I am not really in the mood and I hoped that some concrete facts would emerge, eventually once the recrimination and counter recrimination had died down.

Nevertheless, I feel rather compelled to blog, to record certain attitudes I have recently seen in Europe and Britain which don’t bode well, and to think where they might lead.

Firstly, at any one point there are hundreds of conflict going on in the world, yet what we actually see in the West and how much we are told is rather rationed.

For example, we see very little about Chinese brutality against the Tibetans.

We don’t hear about how Tibet is run and who benefits, nor do we hear much in the mainstream media that would really upset China’s powerful rulers.

There are various reasons for this, the timidity of the media, the fear of consequences, not forgetting the censorship and travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese ruling elite, etc etc.

Equally, we could look at parts of Afghanistan and the aftermath of drones blowing up civilians, or old village men killed in the night, fearing for intruders but instead being shot by American special forces, etc etc.

Not forgetting Turkeys’ continued conflict with the Kurds. You would be hard put to find much coverage, of the recent bombings by the Turkish government, there is the piece in the Western media on how Turkey jails children, but overall the coverage is fairly small compared to the true nature of these conflicts.

And so on.

There’s plenty of conflicts, lots of death, in the Congo, the Sudan and elsewhere, however, they don’t hold peoples attention in the West for very long, there might be a fleeting mention but nothing significance.

And the reactions that you find in the West to death in Africa, Turkey, China, or parts of Asia is one of resignation, “almost that nothing can be done and so why bother”?

There are a few activists who valiantly carry on reminding people in the complacent West of the wider world, but it’s an uphill struggle and doesn’t really have any “political sexiness”.

So you don’t see violent reactions when Turkish planes bomb Kurdish villages, killing dozens of civilians. Nor do you see much reaction when China locks up Tibetans, or executes them, etc etc

There’s not much reaction, but should something closer to home pop-up then what you see is completely different.

An attitude of almost hysterical arm flapping takes hold.

You begin to hear demagogic language and political hyperbole which is normally reserved to describe the events in the 1930s and 1940s. Still worse, much of this inflammatory language is dare I say it, borderline racism.

You know what I’m referring to, the indignation which has recently taken on a fever pitch in the West concerning the conflict in the Middle East.

You might even sympathise with one side or the other, but what you will notice if you take the trouble, is how it almost blots out the hundreds of other conflicts which go on in the world and don’t involve Europeans or Brits.

Now I’m not accusing anyone of being Eurocentric or only being concerned with the welfare of British nationals, but the language used recently to describe events I would say is at the very least, unhelpful and much of it seems to embody unconscious racism.

By that I mean, the fevered language which is used at the moment against Israelis, would never be invoked to discuss the French, the Germans, etc.

I have seen otherwise intelligent people throw around the word “Nazi” and “Fascist” as if they had never read a history book, or understood the need to use temperate language when referring to other nations and groups of people, lest bigotry creeps in.

A red mist has descended across the eyes of many Europeans and Brits, normally considerate individuals indulge in inflammatory language towards Israelis, make statements that they wouldn’t even consider using against the Turkish or Chinese governments.

Along with that red mist has been arm flapping.

Such arm flapping is, in some respects, understandable from a very European and British perspective, after all it is their nationals which are involved, and although it is regrettably how it happens, events in the world are often portrayed as having greater significance when Brits or Europeans are involved.

However, the arm flapping and hyperbole that follow often have a more localised consequence, that Jews in Britain and Europe are more liable to be attacked.

Whilst I’m sure that none of the chattering classes or media types, who helped to heighten the political temperature in Europe and Britain, would wish there to be any attacks on Jews, that is what will probably happen.

Such red mist, arm flapping and vocalising of animosity towards Israelis invariably has a more direct consequence, physical attacks on Jews increase.

That’s what happens.

Of course, those carrying out the attacks on synagogues or Jews in the street don’t really care about human rights in the Middle East, etc, nevertheless they feed off of the anti-Israeli frenzy which is currently going on in Britain and Europe.

So the next time you hear the word “Israeli” and a red mist descends before your eyes, just before your arms start flapping, please try to think of the consequences, please try to think of how your actions and words may help someone else justify his attacks on Jews in Britain and Europe.

Still better, try to use the temperate language that you naturally favour when discussing the French, Germans, other nationalities or your own.

Think, before you open your mouth, think of the consequences.

Written by modernityblog

02/06/2010 at 13:53

14 Responses

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  1. great post, thanks Mod

    James Mendelsohn

    02/06/2010 at 19:45

  2. Excellent post, Modernity. More power to you (oh, and the new site/platform is a great improvement. Welcome to WordPress!).


    02/06/2010 at 20:22

  3. vy good, mod.


    03/06/2010 at 02:16

  4. […] worth reading: Modernity Blog addresses the worrisome tone of anti-Israel rhetoric emerging in Europe: The language used recently to describe events I would […]

  5. I wondered when it would occur to you that the language and attitudes which you express towards others every day on this blog were precisely the same as those being expressed towards Israel, and expressed by the same people, with the same hate, and for the same destructive purpose? While you have been refighting the anti-Nazi struggle of the 40’s, the real enemies of your people have been left free.

    The Israelis did nothing wrong here. The whole business was a setup, designed for political ends, to demonise the only democracy in the Middle East. If Israel had let the enemy in, they would have forfeited their sovereignty. If they tried to prevent this invasion, then they would be demonised by the haters in the West. Whatever they did, they lost — and that was by design. Indeed some of the manufactured outrage was probably written before the events even happened.

    Thankfully Israel did the right thing. Nor need we grieve that some of the “activists” got a well-deserved bullet. Every one of them would be in jail, if they tried it off China — and funnily enough, these scum never DO try it on regimes like Mugabe and his like. Only the decent countries are so attacked.

    All of this we have seen before. These are the same tactics used to destroy Rhodesia and install Mugabe, to destroy South Africa and install the ANC, and in dozens of other ruined lands in Africa, now turned to misery and barbarism. These tactics are a method of war, let us make no mistake. They are designed in cold hatred to destroy the victim. And they work. They are acts of war, and Israel would be perfectly justified to treat them as such.

    I think it’s time, Modernity, to reconsider your alliances. Your position is like that of the Jews who joined the Nazi party. You’re allied with those who are determined to destroy you, who hate you so badly that they will plot and scheme for decades to install some Arab tyrant in Tel Aviv, and lie to protect him while he wrecks the country and murders its inhabitants.

    Those who will the means, will the ends. The ends are evil.

    Roger Pearse

    05/06/2010 at 21:03

  6. So, Roger, Israel is like apartheid South Africa or white-ruled Rhodesia? Thanks for the compliment.

    One doesn’t have to like what Mugabe has made of Zimbabwe to oppose white rule, or to think that the ANC has not perfectly ruled South Africa to oppose apartheid.

    I’m not interested in seeing Israel put in such company either by opponents or supposed supporters.


    05/06/2010 at 23:22

  7. I agree with your post Modernity – and I also agree with Rebecca.

    Sarah AB

    06/06/2010 at 18:35

  8. Good points of the post:
    1. Unwillingness to defend armed attack on unarmed protestors.
    Bad points:
    1. A complete lack of facts to support your assertions.
    2. There are plenty on the left prepared to condemn the Chinese oppression in Tibet, for those who are not should they really shift attention from a cause that is highly relevant to many in this country just because it makes you uncomfortable?
    3.The blockade has been going on for years without being a major element of the news cycle. Israel murders Palestinians all the time without in being publicised. The continual humiliation of Palestinians in the West Bank is continually lied about by Israeli spokesmen who point to it as if it was a paradise for Palestinians. The plight of the refugees from 1948, who under international law should have been allowed to return to their homes has been written out of history.
    4.No evidence of a correlation between opposition to Israel and anti-semitic attacks is produced. However, if we accept for a moment that the two are correlated, their is a far more proximate cause: the actions of Israel, the outrageousness of which would seem obviously to correlate with the opposition to it, and are a far simpler explanation for any rise in anti-semitic attacks.
    5. Without going too much into the psychology of fascists, but noting that the BNP and the EDL are superficially more sympathetic to Israel than their forebears, nothing helps gain wider acceptance of the way in which they substitute attacks on Jews for opposition to Israeli actions mor than the conflation of anti-zionism and anti-semitism, and nothing helps more to undercut them than Jews standing up for justice for Palestinians. I’m not saying that those who don’t are responsible for anti-semitic violence, just that to calim that opposing Israeli actions causes such is completely wrongheaded.
    6. Why doesn’t opposition to Chinese imperialism encourage attacks on British-Chinese,opposition to Darfuri genocide attacks on blacks, opposition to Turkey’s oppression of Kurds attacks on Muslims?
    7.Your claims about “violent reactions” and “red mist” are unsupported claims that the opposition to Israel’s actions is irrational in a way that other causes are not. It is clear that anything I say won’t convince you, as you’ve already ruled out the possibility that the reason people have so much antipathy to Israel is because of the reality of what it does as a state. But you might save yourself some time if you realise that if you try and present an argument to anyone on the left that they shouldn’t object to Israel’s terror against the Palestinians because you think there are encouraging anti-semitism you won’t be taken at all seriously.


    07/06/2010 at 13:20

  9. Thanks everyone for the kind comments, I just bashed out the post prior to going away and I might well do another post on the subject now I’ve returned.


    08/06/2010 at 23:07

  10. Skidmarx,

    I am glad that you’ve commented.

    My point concerning China and Tibet is evidential, I’m not suggesting that there aren’t **some** people on the British Left that object to China’s conquest and occupation, but comparably it isn’t such a cause celebre.

    You ask for facts, and I’m sure that the SWP are opposed to the Chinese ruling classes activities in Tibet, I would speculate that in the past 30 years of the yearly Marxism events that Tibet was hardly the subject of any sessions, compared to say “Zionism” or Israel, I imagine it would be a least a 20 to 1 ratio.

    Not forgetting that this occupation has been going on since the 1950s, not 1967, and if we were to study with a slightly longer perspective, say 60 years, then I doubt that the Chinese ruling class have been subject to any significant amount of scorn in the leading periodicals of the British Left, the Morning Star or the New Left Review.

    By that I don’t mean the odd article but ***overall*** in 60 years there hasn’t been a great deal of condemnation (outside of the SWP), if we were to look at trade union motions in the past 60 years would we find much dealing with Tibet and attacking the Chinese ruling class? I doubt it.

    My point is, OVERALL, as a totality, it hasn’t received anywhere near the coverage, that is despite the obvious brutality of the Beijing dictatorship.

    Etc etc


    08/06/2010 at 23:19

  11. The size of the demonstrations against Israel has been much larger than that against Chinese oppression in Tibet, if the British Left were to ignore this it could easily be dismissed as an irrelevance.
    You’re right that the SWP has been consistent on Tibet:


    09/06/2010 at 10:18

  12. Or put in terms of Burma:

    Yes! It’s basically impossible to condemn Burma as much as Israel, unless you’re prepared to stand around on your own shouting “I condemn Burma, I really deplore Burma, Burma’s terrible”, as everyone within earshot goes “yes, I know, we heard you the first time, weirdo”. The reason people spend so much more time on Israel is that it *takes* more time, because there’s a lot of people around making disingenous arguments in support of crimes committed by the Israeli government, but very, very few people doing so on behalf of Burma or Sudan etc.


    09/06/2010 at 10:35

  13. Just to clarify one of my points, and then I’ll leave it at that.

    I am not suggesting that **individuals** on the British left do not condemn, argue against and otherwise understand the nature of the Chinese ruling class’s occupation of Tibet.

    Obviously they do, as the evidence suggests.

    Rather my point, which is twofold, is that Tibet isn’t a cause celeb on the British left and that overall (taken as a political totality, not the thoughts of individuals) that the British left hasn’t seen any parallels in the situations.

    Obviously, there are political reasons for this, British Stalinism and its residue, similarly how British Trotskyists group’s view China (as somehow ever so slightly better than capitalist regimes), deformed workers states, etc etc etc.

    In fact, if I remember correctly the remnants of these attitudes even came up recently with the StWC making a statement to the effect that “it had no position on Tibet”, which is peculiar until you remember the number of ex-CPGBers in its leadership.


    09/06/2010 at 12:45

  14. […] Modernity Posted in conflict, media. 59 Comments » […]

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