ModernityBlog

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

Ben White, Bigot Or Colonialist?

with 6 comments

Ben White will be well known to this blog’s readers and whilst normally I try to ignore that individual, I will make an exception in this case.

Ben White has a lot of form.

But what I find worrying, in this instance, is White’s underlying thinking as Seismic Shock ably illustrates:

Last year, White wrote for Comment is Free:

” […] the Palestinian Authority is also staffed with “native” West Bank leaders for whom business interests long since trumped fighting for national liberation. Then there are also the groupings created by individuals who have a loyal power base around them.”

White here criticises huge swathes of Palestinian society in a terribly unfair manner. Also I can’t help thinking that his use of the term “native” sounds horribly colonialist.

Having told us that he understands antisemitism (which might vex Israelis), and then criticised the “natives” in the West Bank (which might vex Palestinians), we have to wonder, is Ben White really the best person to be running political campaigns about the Middle East?

The more you read White’s new site, well, it just gets more and more confusing.

[My emphasis.]

I couldn’t have put it better.

Written by modernityblog

24/11/2010 at 14:29

6 Responses

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  1. How this differs from the old Israeli claim that they couldn’t deal with Fatah because Arafat was a crook I have difficulty telling.

    skidmarx

    24/11/2010 at 17:55

  2. que?

    modernityblog

    24/11/2010 at 19:36

  3. mod, i think you might have been led astray by whoever it is you’re quoting here. that article of White’s is about divisions in fatah, and the sentence in question begins…

    “There are indeed some who returned from exile during the 1990s only to become bywords for corruption and nepotism – but the Palestinian Authority is also staffed with “native” West Bank leaders for whom business interests long since trumped fighting for national liberation.”

    so the word ‘native’ here is being used to distinguish between those in the PLO who came from Tunis/exile post-Oslo, and those born and raised (ie native to) the West Bank.

    i guess ‘seismic shock’ just didn’t get that point, but seeing as he/she only quotes the second half of the sentence, one suspects that it was disingenuous

    james

    25/11/2010 at 10:30

  4. Jim,

    I see what you mean, but “but the Palestinian Authority is also staffed with “native” West Bank leaders for whom business interests long since trumped fighting for national liberation.” still reads to me as rather condescending.

    That’s excluding any of White’s *other* questionable past judgements.

    modernityblog

    25/11/2010 at 11:21

  5. If it’s true that many of Fatah’s leaders on the WEst Bank have been corrupt, often cited as a reason for people turning to Hamas, then it would be worse than condesecending to ignore it, unless your priority is to back any crook willing to sell out their constituents?

    And “I have the other stuff he said to fall back on” is a poor excuse for failing to note that this time you don’t have a case. Especially when the first link I check out shows him constructing a reasoned argument suggesting why Benny Morris should be made persona non grata while you set up a straw man in the form of David Irving. Not very impressive at all.

    skidmarx

    25/11/2010 at 17:59

  6. James, so? Criticising the “natives” for their business interests is still a horrible, colonialist-sounding expression.

    seismicshock

    25/11/2010 at 18:16


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