Guardian op-ed suggests murder of 3 Israelis was natural result of ‘asymmetry of power’

Professor Alan Johnson in his superb June 21st op-ed in the Telegraph (before the teens’ bodies were found) noted the “jubilant reaction of many Palestinians to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys” and then argued:

And yet, despite all this whooping and cheering about the trauma and possible death of Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, the Palestinians will likely pay a very small price in the international community or global public opinion. Why?

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”, argued Johnson, results in very bad consequences.

One of the bad consequences of holding Palestinians blameless has been the increasingly prevalent spin by pro-Palestinians activists, since the bullet ridden bodies of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were discovered, suggesting that the Palestinian terrorists who killed the three teens shouldn’t ultimately be held responsible, and that the real culprits are Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli government, and/or ‘the occupation’.

To boot, the Guardian published an op-ed on July 2nd by  (a former Palestinian negotiator) titled ‘For Palestinians, this week’s deaths highlight the asymmetry of power. Khalidi not only implied that the Palestinian terrorists who killed the three teens were not morally responsible for the crimes, but also suggested that other such acts of Palestinian terror (since 1967) can be justified as understandable reactions to Israeli policy.

Khalidi alludes to Palestinian support for the kidnappers in the following paragraph:

On the Palestinian side, the kidnappers – whatever their exact motives – seem to have deliberately tapped into the Palestinian public’s longstanding concern over the thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails.

He later expands on the importance of the prisoners in contextualizing Palestinian kidnappings and other acts of terror:

The release of prisoners has indeed been one of the main motives for a long series of Palestinian attacks stretching back to the very beginnings of the 1967 occupation. In successive prisoner exchanges, and as most recently demonstrated in the Shalit case, the Israelis seemed prepared to release Palestinians only under duress and at the tempting ratio for would-be kidnappers of around 1000:1. Eventually, Palestinian militants came to the conclusion that the most effective way of releasing Palestinians from jail was to take Israeli hostages in return.

Later, after a throw-away line noting that “none of this is meant to justify the killing of innocent civilians”, he in effect does just that:

But the three Israeli youths appear to have fallen victim to the asymmetry of power between occupier and occupied, and the inevitable consequences of nearly 50 years of occupation and collective punishment of the Palestinians. 

So, the three boys were killed, not by Hamas terrorists who sang and celebrated after they extinguished three young Jewish lives, but by an abstraction – “asymmetry of power between occupier and occupied” and the “consequences” occupation.  

As Alan Johnson suggested in the passages cited above, Palestinians to commentators like Khalidi, do not possess moral agency or free will.  They are not political actors but are always acted upon.

In short, per Johnson, according to the anti-Zionist moral paradigm, Palestinians always “remain perpetually below the age of responsibility; the source of their behaviour always external to themselves, always located in Israel’s actions”.

A better example of liberal racism would be difficult to find. 

Commentators slam Glenn Greenwald for claiming ‘it’s our fault’ when Islamist terrorists attack

“terrorism” does not have any real meaning other than “a Muslim who commits violence against America and its allies”, so as soon as a Muslim commits violence, there is an automatic decree that it is “terrorism” even though no such assumption arises from similar acts committed by non-Muslims” – Glenn Greenwald, ‘Comment is Free’, April 22, 2013

…the term [terrorism] at this point seems to have no function other than propagandistically and legally legitimizing the violence of western states against Muslims while delegitimizing any and all violence done in return to those states. – Glenn Greenwald, ‘Comment is Free’, May 23, 2013

As this blog has documented continually, Glenn Greenwald is perhaps the most enthusiastic promoter of the Guardian Left narrative which suggests that there is no significant moral difference between reactionary Islamist movements and liberal Western democracies.  Greenwald often attempts to impute such moral equivalence by arguing, with varying degrees of explicitness, that the US (and other democracies involved in the war against Islamist terror) intentionally murder Muslim civilians.  

So, per Greenwald’s logic, the murder of Muslims qua Muslims by the West is what – quite understandably to Greenwald – inspires the wrath of Islamists in the West to commit lethal terror attacks against innocents, such as the recent savagery in London in which a British soldier named Lee Rigby was hacked to death by a British born convert to Islam named Michael Adebolajo

Greenwald’s specious moral logic, which serves to amplify the Islamist message that the West is indeed at war with Islam, has been exposed at this blog, and by quite a few other commentators.  

Here are a few suggested posts which effectively take on Greenwald, or at least fisk the logic he employs to arrive at the conclusion that it is our fault when Islamist terrorists murder civilians in the West.

Terry Glavin: ‘Fibbing about Terrorism and Badgering Muslims‘:

In my Ottawa Citizen column today I notice how moral illiteracy defines the way such reliably creepy arbiters of hip opinion as the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and the American celebrity bullshit artist Michael Moore are responding to the Woolwich atrocity. Michael Moore tries to get a laugh out of his Twitter followers about it, in his usual cheap and vulgar way, but it is only the fuzzy timidities around the definition and the common use of the term “terrorism” that allow Greenwald to so easily and completely normalize what he presents as perfectly understandable Muslim revenge violence.

Zach Novetsky: ‘Glenn Greenwald Terrorizes Logic:

Whenever a radical Islamist commits a horrific act of violence or an act of terrorism, Glenn Greenwald is there with the same all-powerful explanation: it is our fault. More specifically, it is the fault of anyone living in the United States or any “loyal, constant ally” state, as he put it on Twitter. Terrorists, it seems, have no agency.

Norman Geras: ‘The pristine logic of Glenn Greenwald

Given the swamp of apologetics and obscurantism into which the Guardian newspaper has turned itself during the last decade, it may seem unfair to pick out one particular contributor to this ongoing journalistic enterprise as especially egregious. Over the years there have been so many voices to choose from in that regard: the Buntings, the Milnes, the Steeles, the Gopals; and then also all those occasionals who, just like the regulars, can’t wait to put together some soft piece of advocacy to the effect that we, the Western democracies, are just plain no good – though, having nothing better to offer for the time being themselves, these commentators make what effort they can to excuse regimes and movements for which no compelling case could be made by anyone of mature moral sensibility.

It has to be said nonetheless that the swamp has now acquired its own special low point, the name of which is Glenn Greenwald.

Marc Goldberg: ‘Terror according to Glenn Greenwald

There were several things that surprised me about [Greenwald’s] article as they were so counter intuitive for me to read. I say counter intuitive because I thought that his views were based on concern with human rights and being anti prejudice. It is for that reason that I was surprised by his consistent use of the word Muslim. His own rhetoric in fact mirrors the rhetoric of al Qaeda

Alexander Wickham:This weeks utterly disturbing Leftists’

Greenwald’s equating of British soldiers to Islamist terrorists is even more repugnant. Of course the Left – and the Right for that matter – have legitimate criticisms over foreign policy, but to become so blinded by self-loathing that he blurs the distinction between good and evil, for me, makes Greenwald an apologist for terror

Richard Kemp: ‘Michael Adebolajo’s dangerous ignorance about Afghanistan

Michael Adebolajo, the knife-wielding, blood-soaked brute who is suspected of killing Drummer Lee Rigby told passersby he was fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan. If that was the reason for Wednesday’s attack on Drummer Lee Rigby, Adebolajo should have travelled to Helmand and started wielding his knife against Taliban fighters. It is they who kill most Muslims in Afghanistan

Alan Johnson: ‘We need to talk about Islamism

In our intellectual culture religion is a mystery. That’s why the commentators mostly refuse to believe religion, any religion, can have anything to do with terrorism. So they either translate terrorists screaming “Allahu Akbar!” into something they can understand – economics, foreign policy, identity – or just change the subject altogether, writing instead (not as well) about the dangers of a racist backlash, the threat of the loss of civil liberties, and so on.

The Muslim Brotherhood are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress. Egypt is in real trouble

(Alan Johnson’s essays on the the dangers posed by the rise of Islamism are truly in a league of their own.  And, his most recent analysis, published on Nov. 5 at The Telegraph and excerpted below, is clearly no exception.  A.L.)

Hardliners are gaining the upper hand in Egypt

Paul Berman, the New York intellectual, is perhaps the most penetrating and imaginative essayist writing about Islamist movements and ideas alive today. In 2010 he published The Flight of the Intellectuals, a stylish account of the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen). According to Berman, the party was shaped decisively in both its ideology and organisational methods by mid-century European totalitarianism and was a politically hardened, ideologically driven and anti-Semitic movement. It was from this inconvenient truth that much of the western media and many public intellectuals were in flight.

When I praised Berman’s insights to a group of normally super-astute democracy promotion analysts in DC, to my surprise most took the view that Berman’s thesis was “crazy” and that the Muslim Brotherhood were really like the Christian Democracy in Europe; they had confessional roots, for sure, but were pragmatic folk and could be a force for “moderation”. I responded that the Brotherhood was exactly like the CDU – apart from its party structure, ideology, rhetoric, policy, and goals.

Back in 2010 ours was an academic argument. Well, not any more. The Brotherhood will dominate the region’s politics over the next decade. It is already regnant in Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the intellectual fulcrum of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, after sweeping to power earlier this year by winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, marginalising the secular democrats and knocking the military off their perch. In Tunisia the Brotherhood sits in government in the form of Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda. The Justice and Construction Party (JCP) in Libya only won 17 of the 80 seats available for parties in the elections for Libya’s 200-strong national congress in July, but hopes to do better next time (the Brotherhood is very patient). The Syrian branch will be a force in any post-Assad regime (in the early 1980s the Syrian branch conducted an armed rebellion) and in Jordan it grows in strength. Hamas, of course, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY, HERE.

Judith Butler, more Palestinian than the Palestinians

Cross posted by Alan Johnson

Judith Butler

In 2006 the rock star left-wing academic Judith Butler said that “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.” (See 16:24 in this video.)

Butler’s remark expressed all that’s wrong with the new style of “Palestinian solidarity work.”

Viewing the two-state solution as a sell-out, Butler attacks the PA application to the United Nations for recognition. The bid’s only value, she argues, is that it allows the left to jump up and down on grave of the “sham of the peace negotiations” and celebrate the “break with the Oslo framework.”

She wags her finger at Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas. By seeking a deal with Israel they are “abandon[ing] the right of return for diasporic Palestinians” and “potentially abandon[ing] Gaza.” If they succeed, “half of all Palestinians may well be disenfranchised.”

The Guardian newspaper sounded the same note when it published the leaked “Palestine Papers” from the Olmert-Abbas Annapolis talks, with distorted editorial gloss, and called Palestinian negotiators “craven” for engage seriously in final status talks.

The London Review of Books routinely denounces Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, as a collaborator. “Fayyad’s critics,” wrote Adam Shatz, “call him a ‘good manager of the occupation,’ a ‘builder of apartheid roads,’ ‘the sugar daddy who got us hooked on aid,’ and it’s all true.”

The Palestinian national movement is being policed from the “left,” and from the coffee shops and seminar rooms of London and New York by people who consider themselves more Palestinian than the Palestinians.

Butler gives an outraged “No!” to Abbas. She will not “sacrifice of the right of return for millions of Palestinians outside the region.” But think about that “No!” It is a program for the dismantling of the Jewish state. “The loss of demographic advantage for the Jewish population in Israel would surely improve prospects for democracy in that region,” she writes (optimistically, shall we say) in her new book, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. As Leon Wieseltier wrote in the New Republic back in 2003, “the one state solution is not the alternative for Israel. It is the alternative toIsrael.”

The new style treats negotiations as useless. Butler claims the Oslo years have seen only “the indefinite deferral of all ‘permanent status issues’—effectively establishing the occupation as a regime without foreseeable end.” Quite as if there never was Camp David at which Ehud Barak offered the shop, ’67 borders more or less, settlements uprooted; nor the Clinton-era proposals which Barak accepted and Arafat rejected; nor Annapolis at which Olmert offered all of that and more, including a shared capital in Jerusalem.

Another part of the new style is to pose an entirely literary “alternative” to the two-state solution. Butler talks of “Palestinian self-determination … without external interference,” “the right of return for diasporic Palestinians,” “the one-state solution.” Refusing to travel to Israel, so with no feel for Israeli society, and with a prose style that secured her first prize in the “Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest” Butler’s answers are, literally, literary. More importantly, Butler gets wrong what the conflict is actually about. Two highly developed and distinct societies, Israeli and Palestinian, each based on a powerful sense of national identity, must divide the land. When there are strong desires for national self-determination, the one-state idea collapses. Brit Shalom, the bi-national Zionist movement of the 1920s, could not know this. We can’t not know it.

To divide the land, each people needs to feel confident and secure if it is to make excruciating compromises. For that, each people must feel itself to be understood as a permanent feature of the Middle East. Butler’s one-statism does the opposite. It proposes to resolve a national question by denying the right to national self-determination of both peoples.

 [Editors’ note: Please also see A. Jay Adler’s post on Butler, ‘Impenetrable: The hallow rhetoric of Judith Butler‘]