Trying to Wash Away Western Guilt in a River of Palestinian Aid

The discourse in the West surrounding the Palestinians is dominated by a post-colonial paradigm. Guilt for Palestinian violence and inability to create a civil society is consistently placed on the West, who, through its colonial past and and current societal and economic colonialism have taken away from the Palestinians the ability to form a healthy society.

Absent is the discussion about the role of Jihad in the conflict, despite Palestinian leaders consistently using Jihadi language in their calls to violence against the Jews. Nor is there any discussion of Arab society being a prime divider society, where the law of the jungle is “rule or be ruled”. This mindset renders Palestinian society incapable of cooperating in the Oslo logic solution, where the parties reconcile their differences through negotiation and arbitration- the civil society solution to conflict.

Without changing the discourse, the West is doomed to repeat its mistakes of blaming itself and trying to wash away its guilt in a river of money and Israeli concessions.

Diana West discusses Western guilt in the Palestinian context in The Washington Times.

What about the record?
December 21, 2007

By Diana West – Christmas came early to the Palestinian Authority when the “international community” decided not only to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ request for $5.6 billion in aid, but to throw in almost $2 billion more. Why? Did the PA end its terrorist ways? Stop state-sanctioned incitement against Israel and the West? Change Fatah’s charter (forget about Hamas) calling for Israel’s destruction?

Alas, no, no and no. We are heaping riches on the PA for other reasons, one of which I discuss below.

But first, a digression: Christmas, obviously, doesn’t come to the PA, even if Western billions do. Despite a tiny (and decreasing) number of Christians, the PA is a land of Islam-Dar al-Islam. That makes Israel, the object of the PA’s destructive animus, Dar al-Harb, land of war, right?

Right. But not according to the PC script of the “international community.” We never, ever discuss the Islamic context of “Arab-Israeli” conflicts. But how else can we hope to understand them? Jihad ideology inspires the Arab struggle against Israel. It also explains it. As the only non-Muslim country amid Middle Eastern Dar-al Islam, as the only “dhimmi” nation to reclaim its land once conquered by Islam, Israel’s very existence is a religious offense to the “umma,” or Islamic community. In this same context, what we call “foreign aid” to the PA may be understood as a form of “jizya,” the protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims.

But the non-Muslim world prefers not to think like that. We avert our collective eye from the goals of jihad, from the history and teachings of Islam. Instead, we see ourselves as villains – Israel for its existence, and Israel’s supporters for, well, their support for Israel’s existence.

In so doing, we create a sinkhole of Western guilt and responsibility for suffering Muslims, in this case in the PA. They suffer not as a consequence of their religio-political bloodlust to destroy the Jews in Israel (the nearest infidels), but because there are Jews in Israel. In other words, it’s everyone else’s fault but their own. Islam – particularly, jihadist ideology – is not to blame. Throw more money down the hole.

Of course, this works only until we stop misreading such ideology. And how long will that take? Probably forever-so long as we continue leaning on the same authorities who got us into this mental mess in the first place.

As it happens, I began the calendar year thinking about this subject – exonerating Islam – while discussing a PBS documentary on anti-semitism in the Islamic world. The show’s conclusion: What isn’t Israel’s fault is that of the West.

Well, you can’t expect much more from (lefty) PBS. What was startling about the message, however, was one of the messenger’s: none other than the eminent historian Bernard Lewis. He declared that anti-semitism didn’t even exist in the Middle East until European Christian colonizers brought it. You don’t need to be a scholar of Mr. Lewis’ stature to know that European colonization of the Middle East didn’t begin until some 1,100 years after Islamic anti-semitism got going in the Koran, the canonical commentaries on the Koran and in a long and painful (for Christians also) historical record.

Because Mr. Lewis is probably the most influential voice on Islam in our time – particularly for the U.S. foreign policy establishment – this pronouncements are more than significant. Right or, in this case, wrong, they become the conventional wisdom, or reinforce it.

This comes to mind because Mr. Lewis has done it again – holding Europe responsible for unpalatable traditions of Islam. Writing at The American Thinker blog, Andrew Bostom, author of “The Legacy of Jihad” and, forthcoming, “The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism,” quotes a recent speech in which Mr. Lewis said: “The authoritarianism present in the Middle East region is not part of the Arab and Muslim traditions, but it has been imported from Europe.”

Mr. Bostom goes on to cite copious chapter and verse – including earlier writings by Mr. Lewis himself – demonstrating that “the Arab and Muslim tradition” needed no lessons from Europe on authoritarianism.

Why is Mr. Lewis making statements contradicted by the historical record? If European Christendom truly is the source of Islamic evil-e.g., anti-semitism and authoritarianism-Islam is let off the hook, and blame falls on the West. Whether that is Lewis’ point, it is certainly Lewis’ effect.

And it is certainly the conventional wisdom. Not very wise, though, when it helps feed the kind of guilt assuaged only by giving billions of dollars to murderers and thieves.

5 Responses to Trying to Wash Away Western Guilt in a River of Palestinian Aid

  1. Eliyahu says:

    Diana West is right vis-a-vis Lewis on the antiquity of Islamic Judeophobia. Just look at the medieval Muslim fable about the end of Days or Judgement Day: At that future time the Muslims will fight the Jews who will hide behind rocks and trees. The rocks and trees will cry out: O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come kill him.

    By the way, this fable appears at the end of Article 7 of the Hamas charter.

    I have my own views of why Europe and other parts of the West support the Arabs agaist Israel and the “palestinian people” notion. They are NOT, in my view, so much trying to exculpate themselves from colonial guilt. First of all [and before they felt any colonial guilt], Westerners, especially Germans but not only, wanted to divest themselves of any sense of guilt or obligation towards the long hated Jews [of course, I am generalizing, not all felt or feel this way]. Hence, pointing to alleged Israeli crimes against Arabs was meant to alleviate such guilt feelings as well as to justify post-Holocaust Judeophobia [the continuation of pre-Holocaust]. This began during the Israeli War of Independence, particularly with Deir Yassin. Surviving Arab residents have admitted [in the 1990s if not earlier] that it was not a massacre but a battle and that the number usually given of 251 dead Arabs is more than twice the number actually killed there in the battle, in which Iraqi troops took part.

    Yet, Jacques Reynier [spelling?], a Red Cross delegate to the country pressured the Arab survivors to allege rapes and other worse atrocities by the Israeli fighters [members of the Irgun and Stern Group]. And Reynier’s inventions became part of the mythology of the Deir Yassin affair.

    In 1948, the Arabs in the country did not yet consider themselves a “palestinian people” [indeed, Article One of the PLO charter shows that they still consider themselves part of the Arab nation]. I believe that this “pal people” notion –which emerged in the early 1960s [the PLO was founded in 1964]– was invented by Western psywar specialists, most likely British. This innovation allowed Westerners to view the conflict in terms of a “palestinian people” often conflated or identified with traditional notions of Jesus persecuted by Jews, crucified by Jews, etc. So the palpeople notion made possible the demonization of Israel, its conflation in the Western mind with traditional Christian Judeophobia.

    Of course, Diana West is right about Islamic Judeophobia going back to Islam’s origins, a point made by Carlo Panella in his book Il ‘Complotto Ebraico’ [Torino 2005].

  2. Lorenz Gude says:

    I agree with Eliyahu – the new antisemitism is the same as the old antisemitism. I also think that the matter is complicated by the Palestinians acting as a proxy for European proclivities while having their own quite separate agenda. This environment is rich in opportunity for pious denial coupled with the indulgence of wanton savagery. A happy division of labor in the great work of cultural regression – one partner provides the rationale while the other does the dirty. I also notice that while the Arabs still swallow the Protocols of the Elders of Zion whole, our American intelligentsia gets in on the act with sophisticated fantasies about the Jewish lobby’. I’m not sure I see any practical difference there either.

  3. Eliyahu says:

    This environment is rich in opportunity for pious denial coupled with the indulgence of wanton savagery. A happy division of labor in the great work of cultural regression – one partner provides the rationale while the other does the dirty [work].

    Good point here, LG. Bat Ye’or points out that the EU, while thinking to make mucho dinero selling all sorts of big cap goodies, like airliners, to the oil rich Arabs, and/or wanting to use Arabs [particularly "palestinians"] against the Jews [the Arabs doing the EU's "dirty work" and redeeming Westerners from guilt feelings towards the Jews] have encouraged Judeophobic notions and propaganda in their own domestic media. But this backfired –as in France and UK in particular– because the Judeophobic incitement only made their own domestic Muslim minorities angry and belligerent [or more so than they otherwise would have been] and they turned around and attacked their host societies, as in the car burnings in France and Belgium, the 7-7 bombings in London, etc. By the way, how many Americans are aware that the rioters in France were also burning schools and libraries and churches??

  4. fp says:

    Well, it’s simple: if you build up fantasies of appeasing yourself out of muslim supremacism by sacrificing the jews, it’s clear it’ll backfire.

    The problem is that even when it does clearly backfire, the west refuses to accept reality and tries to appease even more furiously. IOW, it finds itself in a hole and it keeps digging.

    And yes, despite all the dance that various reviewers of W&M do to absolve them of anti-semitism, the fact remains that they are scapegoating the jews and that has always been the core foundation of anti-semitism.
    Given that they had to corrupt their academic integrity to come up with that crap, why should it be interpreted as anything else other than what it is escapes me.

  5. Michael B says:

    That’s a fitting summary by L.G. It doesn’t occur at such a conscious level, for example the entire multi-culti and related doctrines form the beliefs that are so heavily believed and invested in, but as a summary it certainly reflects a great deal accurately enough.

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