Those of us who post at Harry’s Place frequently ask: Why Israel? Why does this tiny country attract so much attention and outrage for its deeds and (yes) misdeeds when other countries daily commit atrocities on a scale the dwarfs any and all of the dubious (or worse) things Israelis have ever done?
To his sort-of-credit, Robert Fowke, writing at Comment is Free, doesn’t react to this question with the usual evasiveness. He attempts an answer:
When things heat up [in the Middle East], it is close to an addiction. Why am I not so worked up about Zimbabwe? North Korea? Sudan? Tibet? Burma?
[Israel] is foreign, of course, but not emotionally, not like Thailand or Uzbekistan, and I do not respond to it as I do to most other foreign states. It is, emotionally, almost an English county planted on the Mediterranean shores.
So I judge this by domestic standards, not foreign ones. I do not expect Israelis to behave like Burmese generals; I expect them to behave like Englishmen, like my friends.
Supporters of Israel complain frequently and loudly that they are singled out for special attention and criticism. What about your own country’s misdeeds, or China’s, they say? And they are right. Israel is singled out for special attention. The Tibetans scarcely get a look-in compared to the Palestinians.
The number of news items about Israel-Palestine has created a self-reinforcing cycle – my appetite for yet more items is whetted by each new article or drama. All of which would appear to vindicate the complaints of the pro-Israel lobby – except that they should consider how they themselves contribute to this.
One reason why Israel is singled out for so much attention is because its supporters are so very vociferous, pushing their agenda at every opportunity. As a consumer of news, the speed of their responses and their sheer ubiquity inflames my interest and my antipathy. Why do they persist in trying to defend the indefensible?
After reading this, one thing I can say with confidence is that Fowke has never set foot in Israel. And Judeosphere sums up Fowke’s orientalist double standards nicely:
While I’m sure Israelis appreciate that they rank high enough on the civilization meter to be deemed British, I feel bad for the democratic activists and jailed dissidents in Iran, China, Zimbabwe and Burma who don’t merit as much attention since they’re, well, so foreign.
But wait; maybe the problem with Israel isn’t that it’s too English or too Western. Perhaps it’s not Western enough. The libertarian Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com voices this particular fear:
It is often said, by Israel’s defenders, that the Jewish state is part and parcel of the West: that Israel, the only democracy in the region, must be defended because they are, after all, reliable allies who share our values, the heritage of Athens and Jerusalem. That has been the conventional wisdom – and it’s wrong. The Mediterranean Massacre underscores the wrongness of this assumption.
Of course something like this is also the conventional wisdom of many of Israel’s detractors, who consider it a European colonialist implant in the heart of the Middle East.
Israel is not a Western country, and hasn’t been for some time: helped along by this latest incident, the realization of this fact by Western governments and peoples will represent a turning point in the Jewish state’s relations with the civilized world, especially including Jews in the Diaspora. I have argued this for years: that the successful aliya program pushed by the Israeli government has displaced the old European-derived Israeli elites with a new,more Asiatic influence, one that is now – with the rise of the Israel far right – the dominant factor in Israeli politics.
Birthed by leftist Zionists who sought to build an egalitarian community in the midst of a desert, the modern state of Israel has taken on the characteristics of its neighbors – gone native, so to speak, both culturally and politically. The large scale infusion of North African and Asiatic populations has changed Israeli society irrevocably, so that, today, the rise of a thuggish fascist demagogue like Avigdor Lieberman, the former bouncer turned Foreign Minister, is all too believable.
Unfortunately this isn’t a million miles from what some leftwing Israelis of European origin believe. That doesn’t make it any less racist– especially coming from an Israel hater like Raimondo, a favorite of the very Goyish Richard Seymour and the Stop the War Coalition.
(Hat tip: Adam Holland)