Here’s an unusual occurrence: a British journalist criticizing Palestinians instead of Israel. The journalist is Alan Johnson at the Telegraph, and his piece (on his website at the paper) is called “It’s time to stop infantilising the Palestinians.”
The first paragraph has a number of links to images I’ll reproduce, and excerpts from Johnson’s piece are indented:
The jubilant reaction of many Palestinians to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys has been met in the West with a bit of a shrug. The official daily PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida has published cartoons mocking the three students and celebrating their capture.
The Fatah Facebook page featured a cartoon of three rats dangling from a line.
Sweets have been handed out on the streets (a traditional gesture of joy and celebration).
Many children have been photographed by their parents, holding up three fingers and smiling.
(Sources of the photos and documentation here.)
An internet campaign gathers pace and “popular support for the abduction has continued to proliferate on Palestinian social media” according to the journalist Elhanan Miller. Hamas, of course, is exultant. Yes, Abu Mazen has condemned the kidnap and there have been some brave Palestinian voices raised in defence of the three youngsters, but their voices are isolated; Palestinians calling for the return of the three students have been threatened.
If you haven’t learned from this site about how the Palestinians celebrate the murder of innocents, and how their media (unlike that of Israel) is saturated with hatred towards their enemies, how cartoons like the above are a staple in Arab lands (not just Palestine), and how even children’s television shows teach young Arab children to hate Jews, you haven’t been paying attention to this site. Notice that the cartoons above appeared in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper and the Fatah Facebook page.
In part, because an anti-Zionist mindset that has taken root in the West, and at its heart is unexamined assumption – that Israelis and Palestinians are different kinds of people. Israelis have agency, responsibility and choice, Palestinians do not. In short, the world treats the Palestinians as children – ‘the pathology of paternalism’ it has been called
The unarticulated assumption of anti-Zionism is that Palestinians are a driven people, dominated by circumstances and moved by emotions; qualities associated with the world of nature. Israelis are the opposite; masters of all circumstances, rational and calculating; qualities associated with the world of culture.
This dichotomous thinking has three bad consequences.
I will just give one or two sentences about each of those consequences; do read the piece for yourself to see it all (these are direct quotes from Johnson):
- First, by granting only one side to the conflict agency and responsibility, the dichotomy distorts key events of the conflict (e.g. the war of 1948, the collapse of the Camp David peace talks in 2000, Gaza after the 2005 disengagement). The Palestinians are cast as passive victims; a compelled people. . .
- Second, the dichotomous understanding of Palestinians and Israelis distorts our understanding of Israel’s security. The threats Israel faces are discounted and the security measures taken by Israel reframed as motiveless and cruel acts.
- The third consequence of this dichotomous thinking about the nature of the two peoples is the infantalisation of the Palestinians: they remain perpetually below the age of responsibility; the source of their behaviour always external to themselves, always located in Israel’s actions.
I think this third point is important, for it explains the double standard applied to Palestine vs. Israel. Were cartoons like the above published in official Israeli papers or documents, or were Israelis to hand out sweets and celebrate en masse when that Palestinian youth was killed yesterday, the world would come down hard on that behavior (especially the British media, which abhors Israel). But when Palestinians do such things,they get a pass. At best commenters will briefly mention this vicious hatred in one sentence and then go on to excoriate Israel in several paragraphs.
Have you seen any of these cartoons reproduced in Western mainstream media like the New York Times? Probably not, but of course they’re everywhere in the Middle East. Palestinians, like the outraged Muslims who killed people over the Danish cartoons, or stuck a knife in Theo van Gogh for making a 10-minute movie about Muslim misogyny, are treated like children having tantrums, and their petulance is coddled until they stop crying.
Of course there are reasons Palestinians are angry, and I don’t dismiss those reasons. As you know, I favor withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories and the creation of two states. But what I can’t condone is the murder of innocents (like the murder of the Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem two days ago, still unsolved) nor, especially, the kind of callous inhumanity that leads to things like the cartoons and pictures above. Can you really deny that the world holds Israel to a far higher standard than they do the Palestinians? That’s a form of reverse bigotry, and kudos to Johnson for pointing it out.
His final paragraph echoes my thoughts completely:
Of course, Israel has to compromise and divide the land, making possible a Palestinian state. But if the Palestinians are treated as children, never held accountable for cultivating a culture of hate, then they will never make their own excruciating compromises for peace. And without those compromises – in a Middle East departing further from the norms of human behaviour by the day – Israel will not take risks for peace. Nor should it.