Thursday, 3 July 2014

Alan Johnson's brilliant article on how the world treats the Palestinians as children, the Israelis as adults

Before the the bodies of three abducted Israeli teenagers were discovered earlier this week - and before a Palestinian teenager was killed in what appears to be a revenge attack - Alan Johnson published an article in the Telegraph (here) which brilliantly pinpointed the bizarre double standards applied by the liberal left to the behaviour of Palestinians and Israelis. The article was written in response to a flood of gloating online comments by Palestinians and their supporters in the wake of the kidnappings. Johnson's basic point is summed up in the title of his piece, "It's time to stop infantlising the Palestinians", while the heart of his argument is to be found in the following paragraphs:

...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.
Johnson goes on to outline the consequences of this sort of poisonous moral relativism, and ends with this thought:
Of course, Israel has to compromise and divide the land, making possible a Palestinian state. But if the Palestinians are treated as children, never held accountable for cultivating a culture of hate, then they will never make their own excruciating compromises for peace. And without those compromises – in a Middle East departing further from the norms of human behaviour by the day – Israel will not take risks for peace. Nor should it.
Most writings on the Palestinian issue are so much prejudiced flatulence (including, no doubt, my own), but Alan Johnson is, I believe, saying something true and important.

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