How Liberals (Unconsciously?) Pursue the “Politics of the Worse”

Jenny Tonge has already made her case for being the poster-woman for PCP1-2 when she explained that if the Palestinians have a death-cult in which they sacrifice their children on the altar of the shame-driven hatreds, it must be Israel’s fault (she didn’t actually put it that way; it might have gotten in the way of her sympathy for the underdog).

    “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.”

Part of what is so appalling about the remark is that, unlike Cherie Blair, who expressed similar sympathies, Tonge tells us she might wade into a crowd on civilians and blow herself up. I may be reading too much into this (and giving her too much credit), but I’d say a) she never would; b) she shows (is capable of?) absolutely no empathy for Israelis, who deserve what they get; and c) she has no clue to the teaching of hatred that lies behind these attacks. I also suspect she’d never say this about, say, Chechnian suicide terrorism, even though the Chechnians have a much stronger case to make about their imperialist oppressors than the Palestinians, who could be an independent state now if they’d have taken what was offered in 2000.

Now she’s back at it, blaming Israel for the appalling state of Palestinian lives. Fortunately, informed folks like Jonathan Speyer and Lord Parry Andrew Mitchell, are there to fight back.

In the meantime, she articulates precisely the kind of scapegoating of Israel that represents Europe’s – and America’s – greatest temptation. If you blame Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians and the unrest in the area – which Muslims from all over the world will happily tell you is the case — and you sacrifice Israel for “world peace,” by the time you find out it’s too late far too many people will have suffered far more. I’m not sure we can afford to pursue Blake’s proverb of hell: If the Fool would persist in [her] folly [she] would become wise. Isn’t it time we become wise?

UK peer blames Israel for extremism

Jonny Paul, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 16, 2007
An Israeli scholar has firmly rejected comments by controversial UK Liberal Democrat politician Jenny Tonge, who recently accused Israel of driving the Palestinians to their current impoverished situation and claimed that this issue was being used to fuel Islamic extremism.

“Ever since 1948, Palestine has been used as a battle cry and a propaganda weapon for Islamists worldwide,” she said in a speech in the House of Lords last month. “I have witnessed this in some African countries and, more recently, in Bangladesh. Palestine is what the West does to Muslims. That is the message. The Palestinians have been brought to their knees. A cultured and well-educated society with high skill levels has been reduced to a Third-World country. The statistics are there for all to see.”

Now this is particularly interesting, because it illustrates precisely where the “left” has betrayed everything it stands for. Rather than responding that the Arab-Israeli conflict illustrates just how badly Arabs/Muslims treat their own and use Israel as a scapegoat, that the time has come for the Arab-Muslim world to start taking responsibility for their authoritarian (decidedly illiberal) culture if they want to go anywhere, Ms. Tonge just jumps on the scapegoating bandwagon. The statistics, by the way, are there for all to see — the “well-educated society with high skill levels” is a direct consequence of proximity and interaction with Israel and the decline begins precisely when, in search of honor, the Palestinians began their “intifadas”, first in 1987, then in 2000.

Tonge also alleged that the IDF was disrupting school exams in Nablus, resulting in a generation of illiterate and unskilled Palestinians.

“Even education is being destroyed as children are terrorized by raids on their schools,” she said, claiming that the products of such a system would be “capable of very little except low-wage labor. The economy cannot be rebuilt unless Israel changes its policies.”

Again, she has not paid any attention to the extensive evidence that this culture, especially in the grip of predatory elites, systematically destroys economic growth… which is why so many Arab countries are hopelessly (and from a modern liberal point of view – Tonge’s? – inexcusably poor.

But Dr. Jonathan Spyer, research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, disputed such assertions, which he said betrayed an “appalling ignorance of Islamist movements. Radical Islam is a political idea, some of whose proponents use the method of terrorism. This idea sees world events as shaped by a struggle between the forces of authentic Islam, and those of the non-believers. It uses a long list of supposed Muslim grievances as a way to mobilize support,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

In other words, Tonge’s at the top of the list of candidates for “Dupe of Demopaths” for the month of August 2007.

He noted that al-Qaida had been formed to overthrow the Saudi Arabian government in opposition to the US presence there in the 1990s. “Al-Qaida hardly mentioned the Palestinian issue prior to 2001.”

That’s actually not true; nor is it relevant. Osama’s guru, Abdullah Azzam was a Palestinian who wrote a book called From Afghanistan to al Quds, and already in 1998 Osama’s talking about Palestine and Israel. On the larger point, however, Speyer is right:

“The idea that this trans-national idea, which feeds off many local issues, is somehow ‘traceable’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would be settled by the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel – an outcome which the Islamists in any case reject – is an absurd one. It’s used by people like Tonge in order to hold Israel to blame for radical Islam’s war in the West.”

Baroness Tonge was sacked as a member of Parliament and as the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman in 2004 after expressing support for Palestinian suicide bombers.

Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli Government Press Office, told the Post on Thursday that at a recent meeting in Jericho, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the PA could not control Hamas.

“Any disruption is down to the extremists of Hamas who are operating in the area. Israel is operating in the area to protect its citizens. If exams are being disrupted, this is unfortunate. However, exams can be retaken. Lives cannot be brought back,” Seaman said.

Tonge also questioned how things could get better. “The new government talks of rebuilding the economy in Palestine and of getting the Palestinians back to work, which is very welcome, but how will they do that with road blocks, checkpoints and Bantustans divided by settler-only roads?” she asked. “I am not anti-Semitic, but I am appalled by the racist, apartheid state of Israel. I use the word ‘apartheid’ in its literal sense; it means separation, because that is what is going on.”

Tonge was challenged by Labour’s Lord Parry Andrew Mitchell, who took exception to her labeling of Israel as an apartheid state. “Perhaps we have all forgotten what an apartheid state was like,” he said. He added that Israel “has an Arab Minister in the government and in the cabinet. There is no ban on races mixing with each other. If you go to any hospital in Israel, you will see Arabs, Israelis and Druze, whether they are being treated or whether they are doctors and nurses.”

In particular, the Weizmann Institute, of which I am the UK chairman, has Arabs and Arab professors who mix closely [with Israelis]. ‘Apartheid’ is a very dangerous word; it has all sorts of meanings, and it is absolutely untrue to say that of Israel.”

7 Responses to How Liberals (Unconsciously?) Pursue the “Politics of the Worse”

  1. David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 08/17/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  2. fp says:

    As Dalrymple has correctly observed, the west is now operating on fear, not principle. Of course cowardice cannot be admitted, particularly to oneself, so it must be coached in some moral terms.

    In that context Israel has now become an inconvenient state. It was predictable and expected that jews would become scapegoats at the first opportunity of the west facing a threat.

    Now, however, is much easier for scapegoating to thrive, because people are not product of the education in which history and factual veracity carry much weight. So people can fool themselves or be fooled much easier, just like they were when religious superstition was utterly governing life.

  3. [...] so much a diagnosis of our polarized era as a symptom of it. I believe it’s called scape-goating. « An Anti [...]

  4. [...] from us before they put down their weapons and cease their hate-speech. Like progressives of the Cherie Blair/Jennie Tonga variety, in order to understand the suicide terrorists as acting from hopeless desperation, they must [...]

  5. [...] have sooner chosen someone like Jenny Tonge or, even better, Cherie Blair to make the point: rather than face the real nature of [...]

  6. [...] the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim public sphere is about Israel and the Jews. And if informed, like Jennie Tonge, Cherie Blair, and her sister Lauren Booth, they assume it must be Israel’s [...]

  7. [...] those people who, in the mid-aughts, like Cherie Blair and Jenny Tonge among so many, thought that Palestinian terror was an understandable response to their hopelessn [...]

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