A large part of Israel’s problem internationally is that it is viewed as an essentially white power, prevailing militarily and economically over officially sanctified minorities. As a result, the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict was not written by the victors – at least not the history promulgated by critical race theorists, anti-colonialists, and the current U.S. administration.
In a Guardian book review written months before 9/11, we find a candid racial expression of the modern multicultural leftist view of Israel:
For Israel’s new historians, among them [Tom] Segev and Naomi Shepherd, the Zionist project is part of the saga of white settlement, as in north America and Rhodesia. The settlers declared independence only when they no longer required the mother country’s soldiers to subdue the natives. Presenting Israelis as colonisers, rather than as enemies of imperialism, was once the preserve of Palestinian and Marxist writers.
Anti-colonialism evidently means that Europeans and Jews should not win wars. Now that the agenda of “Palestinian and Marxist writers” predominate within universities, Israel’s status is increasingly viewed as another chapter in “the saga of white settlement,” a theory propounded in scholarly tomes such as “Opting for Justice: The Critical Role of Anti-colonial Israelis in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.” The problem for now is that the righteous non-white “natives” have thus far not shaken off the colonial yoke.
Instead, Israel defeated Arab Muslim nations, and for the most part, the country has not apologized or given (inordinate) ground strategically, much to the chagrin of critics. Now comes a strange twist on the liberal critique of Israel: Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the view of one “senior Obama administration official,” is “chickens**t” because he both is “scared to launch wars” and also “won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states.”
At the top of the list of U.S. (and worldwide) complaints about Israel is the plan to build 1,000 apartments for Israelis in East Jerusalem. This plan, according to the mainstream press, is “a plan many experts fear could fan ethnic tensions.” That’s a euphemism to describe the predictable reaction of Palestinians to their Jewish neighbors – the reaction of “natives” to the “white settlement.”
East Jerusalem, in much of world opinion, is supposed to be the capital of an eventual Palestinian state. New Jewish homes in East Jerusalem – “white settlement,” according to the modern view – would complicate that goal. If Israel were to make “accommodations,” such as refraining from building the 1,000 apartments, then peace would be more likely. Netanyahu won’t stop the plan to build, so he’s not a peace partner. This is, at least, the prevailing liberal view.
But which accommodations will world opinion require of the native Palestinians? Does the administration have a vulgar term for the Palestinians or Sunni Arab states that refuse accommodation? No senior administration officials have let fly with any personalized putdowns, but that’s not because the Palestinians or Sunni Arab states have been accommodating.
When Hamas attacked Israel over the summer, administration officials didn’t call Khaleed Meshaal or other Hamas leaders nasty names. If the administration wanted to, they could have bad-mouthed Hamas leaders the same way they did Netanyahu, through anonymous comments to the Atlantic Monthly. The name-calling was instead reserved for Israel’s prime minister. This dramatic mismatch makes sense only when we consider who is writing and teaching the history, and “the saga of white settlement” that defines the popular critique of Israel.
Many explanations have been offered for the tenacious criticism directed toward Israeli policy, including anti-Semitism. There are other explanations deserving of appraisal – namely, that Israel’s two sins were first to prevail as a Western nation and second to defeat officially designated victim groups.
Israel draws the ire of the world community precisely because it is a Western power – the wrong variety of “settlement.” If a nation of Arab Muslims defeated other Arab Muslims and came into possession of their land, few would have cared.
Second, if Israel were to have a series of wars against other Western nations, comparable in intensity to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel would not be treated as a pariah for prevailing, then occupying enough land to defend territory. Israel naturally couldn’t have picked its enemies, but she would have had an easier time post bellum had she fought one of the non-diverse Western nations. As it happened, Israel was forced to defend itself against Arab Muslim nations, whose demographic and religious composition grants them a cherished place in historical narratives.
The victors did not write the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The left’s enchantment with designated victim groups is a major factor in Israeli (and U.S.) policy. When the losers write history, nations like Israel will be resented, while Israel’s enemies will be coddled and rejoiced over.
It is, unfortunately, more satisfying – for some – to act as savior for invented victim groups than to accept that certain victim groups brought their own woes upon themselves. This satisfaction explains why a significant number of Americans and Israelis halfway buy into extremist rationales for violence. This “Muslim privilege” includes the ability to blow people up and be partially excused for doing so.
In the face of daunting ideological pressures and security threats, Israel continues to insist on national self-preservation. Israel refuses to conceive of Arab Muslims as victims entitled to special preference. In contrast, senior U.S. officials, riddled with false colonial guilt, are doing their best to avenge the “natives” as part of a righteous secular ritual of atonement.
The racial backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict helps explain why the prime minister of a “white settlement” can be safely slandered as “chickens**t” while the protected victim groups go on immiserating their neighbors, the West, and themselves.
Cross-posted at American Thinker