Why do so many well-meaning people committed to ending abuses of power ignore the evidence of who is actually committing these abuses and blame their victims instead?
An official investigation funded by Britain and the European Union into textbooks used in Palestinian schools has descended into farce.
In April 2018, finally responding to concerns about anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian-Arab schools, the United Kingdom pushed the E.U. to commission a report on Palestinian textbooks from the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Germany.
In April last year, the Institute published as a preliminary what it called its “Inception Report.” This, it said, developed a framework for “an academically rigorous review” of “how peace, tolerance and an understanding of the other are incorporated into Palestinian textbooks.”
This report, however, was itself riddled with so many mistakes that the European Union ditched it. Bafflingly, however, the E.U. has continued to use the Georg Eckert Institute to finish the project.
Its final report is due out next month. But it has now produced an interim report, which the E.U. is choosing to keep secret.
Marcus Sheff, chief executive of the Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, managed to obtain a presentation of this interim report. This has shown the project lurching from bad to worse.
Calling the review “a comedy of errors from start to finish,” Sheff says the researchers have looked at the wrong textbooks. They have actually used as examples textbooks that are used in Israel’s Arab schools in Jerusalem, praising them and presenting them falsely as part of the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum.
On the basis of this egregious mistake, the researchers have claimed that the Palestinians’ educational materials have been “transformed” for the better.
They make no mention of the vile language and images used in many of the Palestinian textbooks, such as describing the burning of Jewish bus passengers with Molotov cocktails as a “barbecue party,” or teaching Arabic through a story promoting suicide bombings and illustrated by a Palestinian gunman shooting Israeli soldiers in a tank.
The incompetence seems hard to credit. Why do people in the West appear to find it so difficult to acknowledge Palestinian hatred and incitement against Israel and the Jews?
Clearly, they resist acknowledging anything that will undermine the narrative on which E.U. and U.K. foreign policy has been based for decades—that giving the Palestinian Arabs a state would end the “Middle East conflict.”
But this gives rise to deeper questions. Why do they believe that the Palestinians are entitled to a state of their own? Why do they claim that, aside from the extremists of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority’s leaders are legitimate statesmen-in-waiting?
Because these Western supporters refuse to acknowledge the murderous incitement against both Israel and the Jewish people that routinely emanates from the supposedly moderate P.A.
They don’t just ignore its repeated calls for Israel’s destruction and support for the murder of Israelis. They also ignore the grotesque anti-Semitism that pours out of P.A.-backed preachers, publications and TV.
As painstakingly documented by Palestinian Media Watch and the Middle East Media Research Institute, the P.A. presents the Jews as possessing inherently evil traits. It regularly describes them as treacherous, corrupt, allied with the devil and the descendants of apes and pigs.
It has claimed Jews are “thirsty for blood to please their god (against the gentiles), and crave pockets full of money;” that the Jews were forced out of Europe in the past because of the threat that their “evil nature” posed to Europeans; that these Jewish “traits” and “ways of behavior” constitute a danger to all humanity. And so on, and so on.
The Palestinians’ supporters, who are so quick to damn any Western figure suspected of the slightest historic connection with far-right movements, also totally ignore the history of Palestinian Nazism.
In the 1930s, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj-Amin al-Husseini, made a pact with the Nazis and turned the Palestinian Arabs into Hitler’s army in the Middle East.
More than that, as detailed by Barry Rubin and Wolfgang Schwanitz in their book Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East, al-Husseini was no less committed than Hitler to the extermination of the Jews. He pledged to achieve that infernal aim throughout the Middle East and was highly influential in encouraging Hitler to adopt the specific extermination strategy of the Final Solution.
This still matters today. While the Palestinians in general shouldn’t be tarred with the Nazi brush, al-Husseini is revered and extolled by the P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, a Holocaust denier who openly draws on the former Grand Mufti for inspiration.
So why are Western progressives so attached to the Palestinian cause that they ignore such evidence of its noxious characteristics?
One answer is the anti-Semitism that courses through the West itself. Another is the realpolitik that has caused Western leaders to cozy up to the Arab world.
There’s a deeper reason. Acknowledging the toxic reality of Palestinian Jew-hatred would up-end the entire moral and political universe that the left has constructed around the narrative of the “oppressive” West and those it has “oppressed.”
Left-wing idealists need to reflect this dogma in a cause with which they can identify. All of their previous causes have either ended or gone belly-up: Soviet communism, South African apartheid, Irish republicanism.
The Palestinians have been portrayed as oppressed victims by fiendishly effective propaganda that has rewritten a history of which the left remains almost wholly ignorant. So they’ve made the Palestinians into their poster cause of conscience.
Moreover, the overriding preoccupation of progressives is never the actual condition of the oppressed for whom their hearts bleed. It is instead how noble and virtuous such support makes them appear, both to themselves and to others.
If they had to acknowledge that the Palestinian cause is inextricably intertwined with murderous anti-Semitism—and that its current leader hero-worships a man who had sought to achieve victory for fascism and the extermination of the Jews—then their entire moral and political universe would implode.
This is also why the same kind of people refuse to acknowledge the anti-white, anti-Jew, revolutionary agenda of Black Lives Matter, telling themselves instead that it’s a noble campaign against racism.
When incontrovertible facts about Palestinian anti-Semitism or BLM are pointed out, not only do progressives deny this noxious agenda, but they smear as racist anyone who dares point out these inconvenient truths.
That’s because progressives believe they stand for everything that’s good in the world. So anyone challenging their position is assumed to be bad, anything they say is automatically dismissed as a lie, and they are assumed to have the worst possible motives.
This is why support for the Palestinians is both symptom and cause of the West’s moral collapse; and both Jew and non-Jew are involved in its disintegration.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” in 2018. Go to melaniephillips.substack.