Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Israel-Apartheid Hate-Fest: Prejudice, projection and group-think

Isn't it strange that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has, for example, a vibrant and open gay scene, media which vigorously critique the government of the day, where prime ministers and presidents are impeached for corruption by an independent judiciary, where human rights organisations operate relatively unhindered, where women and members of non-Jewish minorities are in the Knesset, in the High Court, and in the Executive. (Go find a Christian or Jew or Bahai or openly gay person or woman in a position of real power in Iran or Saudia or Egypt )

Yet some resentment filled people looking for a cause (and a few misguided fellow travellers)  brand  Israel as an Apartheid state. Of course Israel does have some Apartheid like features, if Apartheid is understood to be a metaphor for state backed inequity and discrimination...there are the two million stateless citizens of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria (which is Jordan's problem as much as Israel's), there is underfunding of Israeli Arab and Druze municipalities, there is a gap betwen wealthy and poor, there is a lack of sufficient separation between synagogue and state, there is the crumbling of the rul of law as fundamentalist understandings of governance gain traction amongst some sectors of Israeli society .

But if Apartheid is understood in this general way, then every country on earth has apartheid like features, and many have far more than Israel.

Indeed many of the members of the laughably named and completely corrupted UN Human Rights Council, such as  China,  Congo, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia have far worse track records on a number of key parameters such as:

gender equality
press freedom
religious freedom
persecution of minorities
supression of the aspirations of ethnic groupings within their territory

Chosing to charicature Israel in this way is a profound act of accentuating a few features and ignoring all the rest - the very process which characterices all prejudice, all racial, religious and ethnic stereotyping.

The reasons why people wish to  cast Israel in this light are many; in Europe it sometimes stems from a desire to shed Holocaust guilt; "see, they're not so different from us, they're not so virtuous, they  also do bad things  (maybe they even deserved it a bit....)" It also stems from the disowned parts of self, such as avarice, greed and agression which have been historically projected onto 'the Jews'. Most fundamentally, in post-Christian Europe it stems from replacement theology; the 'anxiety of influence' of a culture (Christianity) birthed from a religion (Judaism)  that must be devalued to reduce the internal tension of simultaneously rejecting the parent while being unable to be completely free of it.This is why European culture  goes to geat lengths to differentiate betwen contmporary Jewry and the "ancient Israelites" - its langaging is designed to attack the notion that there might be a continuous identity.

In the Islamic world state sponsored anti-Semitism is the norm not the exception, and a useful mechanism for collective self avoidance, and sometimes the glue which keeps these societies from imploding (just as the enmity of much of the Islamic world is sometimes the glue which keeps Israel from tearing itself apart)

In countries which have recently experienced transitions to democracy from minority or foreign rule their is an knee jerk identification with the Palestinians as an opressed grouping, irrespective of thekind of fundamentalist and anti-democratic rule the Palestinians have chosen for themselves, and the human rights abuses perpetrated by Palestinian Authorities which are daily practice in both Gaza and the West Bank and Israel. (Where Palestinians have, for the last 80 years, randomly targeted Israeli citizens in acts of terror, beginning with the 1929 Arab pogroms in Hebron and elsewhere, which temporarily ended the at least 2000 year old Jewish presence in that West Bank town ).

"Dam braces and bless relaxes...." (Blake, I believe, talking of Milton). The more one-sided, unhinged, hate filled and vitriolic, the more the basic impulse to make wrong irrespective reveals itself from under the newspeak of human rights, the more it creates an equal and opposite force, as those like myself, complacent, preoccupied with other things, and frequently critical of developments and uglinesses in Israeli society, are pushed back towards identification by the injustice of the attacks...such as this man telling it like it is:

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