The Human Rights Complex describes the masochistic tendency of Western “human rights” activists to blame themselves for everything and to let the “people of color” off the hook: if you want to know what will get the “human rights community” indignant, look not at the victim or how badly that victim suffers, but at the perp: white? outrage, of color? embarrassed silence.
It turns out there’s an inverse version of this: if you want to look at what will get the Arab world indignant, look not at the victim or how badly the victim suffers, but at the perp: white (a fortiori Jewish)? outrage, of color (a fortiori Arab) shameless silence.
This is like the cold war joke about the American and the Russian arguing about freedom of speech: “In America, I can stand on the White House lawn and call the president of the USA a fool, and not get arrested.” To which the Russian responds, “So can I.” And it describes to perfection the sick marriage of pre-modern sadism – you’re guilty of everything we wish we could do” – and post-modern masochism – “we’re so sorry, please forgive us.”
Take the Nakbah (catastrophe). To Palestinians today, it represents a real-world catastrophe – the terrible, Holocaust-level tragedy that befell their people in 1948 during the first Arab-Israeli war (for Israelis, the “War of Independence”), during which about 3000 Palestinians were killed and some half a million refugees fled. To others, it represents a psychological catastrophe the horrifying global humiliation of seven Arab armies defeated by a rag-tag army of the worst of the dhimmi — Jews, the weaklings and cowards of 1400 years of Muslim tradition.
Compare with the current catastrophe befalling Syria today: 70,000 killed (and counting), and over a million refugees (and over 4 million internally displaced). In real-world terms, this is a vastly greater catastrophe than the “Nakbah” of 1948. And yet, it barely registers in the minds of the pro-Palestinian camp, who still swarm over Western campuses yearly complaining of a “crime” committed over two generations ago. They’re like the Mel Brooks (2000-year-old man) joke about the difference between comedy and tragedy: “Tragedy is if I cut my finger. I’ll cry a lot, go into Mount Sinai for a day and a half. Comedy is if you fall in an open manhole and die. What do I care?”
When I suggested at an “Israel Apartheid” talk at BU that complaining about red-tape in East Jerusalem was a bit inappropriate given the real bloodshed next door, I got accused of “Assadwashing” in the pages of the Electronic Intifada.
That the Palestinian leadership is full of self-absorbed narcissists who refuse to be distracted from attacking the enemy that has shamed them in the eyes of the world, no matter how comparatively ludicrous the claims of real-world damage, is, perhaps, understandable. But that the supporters of the Palestinians would share that obsession, rather than help them grow up… that’s problematic, especially since their alleged supporters are supposedly “progressives,” rather than useful infidels.
Alas for the Palestinians, whose artificially-prolonged suffering and Arab-inflicted humiliation is all too real.