Tuesday, May 03, 2011
This morning, I found myself nodding in agreement with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, whose column in The Independent was titled 'Stop blaming Israel for every grievance in the Middle East'.
I can't say I usually see eye-to-eye with Yasmin, but this was a thoughtful, articulate column. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was disquieted at the double standards which single out Israel for special opprobrium for its 'crimes', while the atrocities committed in Syria, for instance, where the regime had slaughtered hundreds, attracted a pathetic handful of protesters outside the London embassy.
For those who have never heard of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, she is a journalist of Muslim African-Asian origin with the UK Independent (a newspaper as left-leaning as The Guardian but in worse financial straits).
'Muslims need to accept our burdens too,' she wrote, contrasting Jewish self-criticism with the distinct lack of introspection in the Arab world. But apart from this flash of insight, Yasmin's progressive agenda never seemed to join the dots between the treatment of Arab rebels and the antisemitism driving the conflict with Israel.
Israel was guilty of 'crimes against humanity' against the Palestinians, she said, burnishing her progressive pro-Pal credentials, without specifying which crimes she had in mind. ( The fictitious Jenin massacre, perhaps? The shooting of Muhammed al-Dura, a proven Pallywood production?)
Somehow the ethnic cleansing of the Middle East of its minorities and the dispossession of its indigenous Jews never seems to figure as a burden on the Muslim conscience. The fact that 14 centuries of religious and cultural antisemitism preceded the creation of Israel, indeed created the need for Israel among the Jews of Arab and Muslim world (the majority population in Israel), has yet to penetrate the 'progressive' mindset. They have yet to recognise that hostility towards Israel is the same bigotry that Muslims show towards non-Muslims (and non-Arabs like Berbers and Kurds). It has its roots in totalitarianism and is symptomatic of every thing that is wrong with the Arab world today.
Yasmin has swallowed the canard that the Palestinians 'paid the price' for the European Holocaust. Most likely, she has never heard of the 1941 Farhud in Iraq - seven years before Israel's creation - in which pro-Nazi Arabs led by the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem slaughtered 145 Jews. She is blissfully ignorant of the fact that some 400 - 500 Palestinians incited the local populace to murder, rape, loot from and mutilate the Jews of Baghdad - seventy years ago almost to the day. Most probably, she has never given much thought to the fact that the Palestinian Mufti was the Nazis' staunch ally, to whom Hitler was willing to subcontract out the extermination of the Jews in the Middle East.
While the Left persists in its distorted views, reversing cause and effect in the Middle East, it is hard to see how we can move on. But the Arab Spring has begun to shake a few entrenched convictions. Let's hope a few more scales fall from progressive eyes.
Cross-posted at CiFWatch