What Is It About The Palestinians?

Here’s a good question from the Letters to the Editor section of the Jerusalem Post:

What is it about the Palestinians?

Sir, – Accounts of the recent violence in Jericho, which spread to Ramallah, listed an astonishing number of foreigners, international NGOs and welfare organizations working in the Gaza Strip and West bank. They included UN workers, French medical workers, Canadian aid workers, American professors, an organization called AMIDEAST, a private American aid organization, and there may be many more. They are willing not only to devote their skills, but also to risk their lives: Witness the kidnappings, threats and violence aimed at these good souls, who were forced to flee in fear – like the TIPH [Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron] force sent to Hebron to defend Palestinians bodies against the supposedly vindictive Israelis.

What is it about the Palestinian condition and society that so inspires do-gooders and liberals worldwide? And is their selfless commitment reserved for the Palestinians only? Dare we assume that these good people are also in the hellhole that is Darfur, for instance, caring for traumatized, raped and abused women and tormented children; running schools and clinics for this displaced and helpless community? Are all the wonderful, caring and idealistic young EU people, who protect the Palestinians with their very bodies, also caring for the suffering, hopeless millions of Africa? If not, why not? What is it about the Palestinians?

(“10 foreigners kidnapped in Gaza Strip. Gunmen threaten attacks against Israel, US, UK,” March 15.)

FREDA KEET
Jerusalem

12 Responses to What Is It About The Palestinians?

  1. RL says:

    according to Charles Jacobs, we’re dealing with Human Rights Complex. to understand what motivates the HR community, look not to the victim, or the degree of victimization, but to the perp — if white, then indignation; if of color, then look the other way.

    obviouusly one example of HRC is intimidation by the perps (if they were in Darfur, they might not come back; on the West Bank, they only have to worry about the people they’re helping who will, under normal circumstances, tolerate them).

    but there’s some pretty fascinating moral aspects to it too, pathologies of self criticism leading to Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome, moral Schadenfreude about the Jews, the desire of the envious to condescend to inferiors but to resent rivals.

    all of this goes towards identifying why the Palestinians are the “chosen people of the left.”

  2. Lawrence Barnes says:

    A complex and fascinating phenomenon. It may spring from multiple causes; perhaps one of them is related to the West’s self-hatred.

    Does the sense of dread inevitability (things Western are falling apart and we can’t glue them back together) provoke a desperate search for redemption? Can we achieve salvation by allying ourselves with pathetic victims of Western moral blindness? Perhaps. After all, there is a people whose land has been confiscated and whose lives have been shattered. The crime was committed by an elite that is an eternally alien presence in Western Civilization: the Jews.

    It’s a weasel’s tactic, of course. We do not have to admit that we actually did anything horrible to the “Palestinians” (it was those nasty Jews that did it), so we have no guilt and no consequent shame. By helping the “Palestinians” we wax downright saintly. That gives us hope that we deserve to survive the fall of our rotten empire.

    Our actions can appear to be altruistic rather than what they actually are — just a modern variation on hoary Jew-hatred.

    It’s scapegoating perfected.

    Yeah, I know….this is the sort of babble you usually overhear at cocktail parties when a snob spots a babe he wants to impress.

    But is there an iota of truth in it? I’m not convinced, because I do not understand where Western Civilization’s self-hatred (multiculturalism, moral equivalence) comes from.

  3. Bezuhov says:

    Hint: it’s not self-hatred. The ones they actually hate support Israel, so ipso facto they support Israel’s enemies. As to why they hate, ask Yoda. The actual cause of the fear is not a safe object of hate, so its transferred.

  4. Lawrence Barnes says:

    Whew! That’s a bit cryptic for simple minds, even if it does come from a hand puppet.

    So what’s the real object of the fear? Who scares the haters so badly that they dare not respond by hating the entity terrorizing them? The Freemasons? The Illuminati?

    But seriously…I continue to be impressed by the commentary of C. Northcote Parkinson, author of East and West, a history of the collisions between Asia/the Orient and the West. He used art as a device to outline the evolution of Western self-hatred.

    To me, it is obvious that the elites in the West are infected by a bizarre self-hatred. But that’s a conclusion that I can’t explain, even with Parkinson’s help! (His book is more a chronicle than a revelation of causes; it does not describe the development of Western self-hatred as inevitable.)

    So I tend to fall back on tried and true concepts such as Jew-hatred. Sure, I can’t explain everything bad as manifestations of Jew-hatred. In this case, however — the excellent question of why the “Palestinians” are pampered by quasi-suicidal volunteers — it seems to me that simple Jew-hatred plays a role. Combined with cultural self-hatred, bigotry might explain the motives of many of the people risking horrible deaths at the hands of the folks they want to help.

  5. foreign devil says:

    Hatred itself is addicting, as surely as crack. If children are taught to hate it will become self-fuelling and since in Muslim society ‘the other’ the ‘infidel’ is despised, once the individual is taught to look down on and discredit others, one subconsciously realizes it can be done to oneself as well, and a certain pleasure derives from inflicting harm or abuse on others. This can be self-propagating and needs no other explanation.

  6. RL says:

    we have a discussion at seccnd draft about the issue of self-criticism taken to pathological levels (ie what’s being called above “self hate.” we call it “Masochistic omnipotence syndrome” — everything is my (our) fault, and if only we could improvee ourselves we could fixx everything.

    as for the hatred transfered, i thought that what Bezuhov meant was that Palestinians hate the other Arabs and their own elites, who are responsible for their mess, but can’t express that since it would get them killed, so they a) transfer their hatred to the scapegoat (Israel) and b) hate all the more to cover their cowardice.

  7. Gutless says:

    “What is it about the Palestinians?”

    I’m saddened to say this, but everyone here is missing the point: The Palestinians garner support because they regularly kill Jews.

    I wish I had the guts to sign mine name to this post but, even more, I wish neither clause of that statement were true.

    This is one of the sadder aspects of the story. There’s little doubt in my mind that the Arabs are Europe’s proxies for an Judeophobia that, since the Holocaust, was no longer acceptable (until 2000). It’s one of the major components of Palestinian Suffering.

    Indeed one of the most tragic ironies of the whole story is that the Palestinians, whose ideology is remorselessly hateful and irredentist, have chosen the perfect enemy. On the one hand, the Israelis are the best enemies one can have (any other country with enemies like the Palestinians would have wiped them out long ago), and on the other, the Europeans will forgive any Palestinian excesses.

    It’s a sick relationship, and it’s bred one of the most terrifying apocalyptic movements, now in a waxing, global phase.

    By the way, why are you afraid to affix your name to such sentiments. What would happen to you?

  8. Gutless says:

    Dear Prof. Landes:

    Thank you for your response to my comment. You asked “why are you afraid to affix your name to such sentiments. What would happen to you?”

    Well, for one thing, attaching my name to my comment would mean the end of my hopes for tenure at Columbia.

    ia it that bad? are you in Middle Eastern Studies?

  9. Gutless says:

    In answer to your latest questions:

    1. Yes.

    2. No.

    that’s even worse!

  10. Lawrence Barnes says:

    It is true that the Arabs do look down on “Palestinians.” That helps to explain things, I think. And as for the idea that “Palestinians” get respect because they kill Jews, I believe I got that point some time ago, but I did not state it explicitly. Still I know people who are not Jew-haters but consider Israeli policy murderous, and never sympathize with Jewish victims of Arab violence. In such people I believe I detect an irrationally negative view of virtually all US policy, foreign and domestic, as well as contempt for the value systems embraced by the overwhelming majority of US citizens. That’s part of what I mean by the West’s self-hatred.

    i’m not sso sure that it’s respect so much as “appreciation”. as for the self-hatred, we call it “masochistic omnipotence syndrome”. are you suggesting that the hostility to self translates into an incapacity to empathize with Jews? i’ve noticed the remarkable difficulty in empathizing with Jews… which leads, among other things into the ability to give a pass to suicide bombing. but i hadn’t connected it to MOS. the jews then play a stand in role for the self one dislikes — the successful member of civil society who’s not poor weak and in need of charity… just empathy.

  11. Gutless says:

    Dear Prof. Landes:

    You seem surprised that conditions at Columbia are so bad. Unfortunately, it has been that way for a long time: http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/expolsing.htm

  12. Lawrence Barnes says:

    I find this a bit confusing. First, I see remarks added to my comments, but unattributed. Who’s there, and why is all this over my name??

    Second, I don’t know whether it helps to replace “respect” with “appreciation.” Maybe.

    Third, my reaction to MOS is that here we have another term, an abstraction, that may prove to be as unhelpful as “ego,” “id,” or “honor – shame culture.” I don’t like such abstractions because, like “the rights of society,” they posit the existence of things that do not exist, and they quickly lead us to error. This is the use of creative taxonomy to blur our understanding of reality, in other words; it’s more theology than descriptive, analytical discourse.

    My problem with this is that I have to understand MOS as a replacement for self-hatred, when the two seem to me to be different in some ways. No, I’m not sure. But I’m uncomfortable with the plunge into hair-splitting etymology in order to deal with the subjects at hand. The tools have become more complex than the tasks, in other words. And they are procrustian.

    Now as to the suggestion that Jews stand in for the self one dislikes…. I believe that notion is an example of being led around on a leash held by an unwarranted abstraction. It seems to me that the Jews don’t stand in for anyone. They are, variously, “the termites of the cross,” “kikes,” “international bankers,” and so on. That’s bigotry with a history, not MOS. Jew-hatred can be understood pretty well without smearing jargon all over it.

    As I said long ago, I do not understand Western self-hatred. Sometimes it appears to me to be a contempt for most of the ways the West deals with other civilizations and cultures, and a claim that the failure to achieve an impossible Utopia in the West is a devastating damnation of the West. Being less than perfect, the West is its harshest critic, and gives up. This loss of resolve creates tension between those who want to carry on, who want to uphold the values of the West and be assertive in the world, and those who curse the shortcomings of Western Civilization as disqualifying faults. Those shortcomings mean the West is incompetent and arrogant as a global power. It is not a morally evolved example for nations/civilizations that do not understand freedom of speech and press, for example. That’s the cant of self-hatred.

    And that’s as far as I can go right now in trying to understand Western self-hatred. Still working on it.

    Meanwhile and off topic: could we have a Preview feature for the comments??

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