(June 10, 2019 / JNS) Say one thing for the Israel haters: Over the 71 years since Israel’s founding, they have created the closest thing to a true alternate universe.
In this perverse, upside-down world, what would should be praised is widely disdained, especially by the anti-Semitic political left. That’s an impressive accomplishment, especially considering Israel’s amazing contributions to the world in its short, adversity-filled history.
Via the bizarre black magic of anti-Semitism, Israel’s many exemplary virtues are turned into vices in this alternate universe—and the dastardly deeds of its enemies are revered.
A sterling example was recently provided by Marc Lamont Hill, the disgraced Temple University professor who was fired from CNN for anti-Semitic comments.
Keynoting a leftist political dinner recently, Hill said, “We ain’t got to walk around struttin’, talking about two-state solutions … What about a world where everyone has freedom, justice, equality, safety and self-determination? One person, one vote? Getting rid of the settler-colonial project altogether?”
Given Hill’s solid anti-Zionist bona fides, we can assume his reference to the “settler-colonial project,” was an attempt to delegitimize Israel’s existence and argue for its destruction. But a stranger to the upside-down world of anti-Israel rhetoric—or any rational person—might be forgiven for thinking Hill was in fact criticizing the Arabs.
After all, it’s the Arabs (except those that live in Israel) who almost universally lack freedom, justice, equality and safety. It is the Arabs who have fought three major wars and launched murderous jihads against Israel in an effort to “cleanse” the Jewish people from their homeland and colonize their territory. What’s more, today both Palestinian Arab factions are ruled by ruthless, anti-democratic dictators—both deny their people the vote and both oppose self-determination for Israeli Jews.
Another bizarre aspect of the upside-down alternative universe of anti-Zionist hate is the inexplicable support by some Americans and Western Europeans for the Palestinian people, who are cast as martyrs, instead of misfits.
In a sensical world, most Westerners would not even know who the Palestinians are, so indistinguishable are they from the world’s 250 million other Arabs. After all, the Palestinians just starting calling themselves a “people” in the mid-Sixties.
In truth, as a stateless people, Palestinians are no more worthy of attention than Catalans in Spain, 1.5 million disenfranchised Rohingya in Myanmar or a million captive Uyghurs in China. Indeed, as a people, the Palestinians are virtually featureless, save their most notable contribution to civilization—the art of terrorist suicide bombing.
What’s more, despite more than $40 billion dollars in international aid over the past 70 years, the Palestinians have created little more than two murderously feuding factions—one in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank), run by Mahmoud Abbas, and one in Gaza, run by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas. Both groups are corrupt, bankrupt, autocratic societies that stand for nothing more than the defeat of democratic Israel by terrorist means.
Yet unlike most dispossessed peoples, Palestinians—at least those in Judea and Samaria—are far from destitute. To the contrary: Due to a constant flow of international welfare payments and substantial infrastructure support from Israel (water, electricity, roads), they enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the region.
In a right-side-up world, Americans and the West—especially humanitarian-minded college activists—should be forming support groups for the resilient, democratically inclined and U.S.-allied Kurds, who number 40 million and have been oppressed by the autocrats of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey for decades. Or the six million Tibetans, whose spiritual, peaceful land has been overrun, colonized and brutally oppressed by the Chinese since 1959.
Yet despite the supreme worthiness of the Kurds, Tibetans and dozens of other dispossessed peoples, support groups exist on campus only for the stateless Palestinians. Ironically, though, these groups’ primary activity is not to support the Palestinians—through raising funds for food, education, electricity—but to attack Israel, the world’s one and only Jewish state.
Likewise, there are no members of the U.S. Congress who actively advocate for other needy, dispossessed people the world over, as there are now for the Palestinians.
Indeed, the sole virtue of the Palestinian people—and the source of the passionate sympathy they enjoy from the left—would seem to be their good fortune in choosing Middle Eastern Jews as their enemy.
After all, the left’s anti-Zionist obsession trumps all other political values. The Palestinians can be misogynist (which they generally are), homophobic (which they usually are) and autocratic (which they inarguably are) and risk no loss of affection from their left-wing intersectional allies.
Unfortunately, we are never likely to break the hateful spell of the radical left’s anti-Zionist alternate universe. But we can hope to reach the vast majority of people in the center—those who are not ideologically driven and who may uncritically support the Palestinians for “humanitarian” reasons … or because so many media lie about the Jewish state.
After all, it’s true that the Palestinians as a people are horribly exploited and oppressed by their leaders—they do indeed deserve our sympathy. Yet this is different from characterizing Israel’s “occupation” as the cause of Palestinian suffering.
The next time you’re speaking with people who express sympathy for Palestinians, consider asking this question: “I’m curious, exactly what is it about the Palestinians that makes them special to you, that attracts your support?”
This opens the opportunity to share your sympathy for the tragedy of the Palestinians—brought on by the belligerence of their leaders and by their refusal to accept Israel’s generous offers of peace and their own state in 1948, 2001 and 2008. (Indeed, the Palestinians are the only stateless people to have been offered statehood and turned it down.)
Above all, this question gives you the chance to make clear that if the Arabs laid down their arms, there would be peace, but if Israel laid down its arms, there would be no Israel … because to this day the Palestinian Arabs have never accepted a Jewish state in the Holy Land.
Ironically, this seems also to be precisely why the Palestinians have attracted such extraordinary sympathy from anti-Semites.
As the Trump administration prepares to unveil its “peace deal” in Bahrain in June—a redevelopment proposal that seems increasingly like a Marshall Plan for the Palestinian Arabs—it’s useful to step back and offer a fresh perspective on why the United States, Western Europe and the rest of the Arab world have devoted so much effort and treasure to the inauspicious Palestinians. Ultimately it seems to have more to do with dislike for Jews than any admiration for the Palestinians.
James Sinkinson is President of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.