Radical Chic and being more Pro-Palestinian than the Arab Masses
February 19, 2011 6 Comments
This article from an Australian publication landed in my inbox recently:
- Palestine an Obsession of Radical West, Not Arabs – Brendan O’Neill
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square there were no signs saying “death to Israel, America and global imperialism” or “together to free Palestine.” Yet in the pro-Egypt demonstration in London on Saturday there was a sea of “Free Palestine” placards. In recent years the Palestine issue has moved from the realm of Arab radicalism to become almost the exclusive property of Western radicals.
The power and allure of Palestine in Western radical circles is extraordinary. Palestine is the only issue they get excited about. But their pro-Palestine fervor is not driven by future-oriented demands for economic development in a Palestinian homeland in the West Bank or Gaza. Instead it is driven by a view of Palestinians as the ultimate victims who need kindly, wizened Westerners to protect them from Big Bad Israel.
There is a profound narcissism in the pity-for-Palestinian movement. When American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, it gave rise to a play called “My Name Is Rachel Corrie.” The killing of British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza in 2004 led to a film called “The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall.” This is clearly all about Us – the good and pure Westerners who went to find themselves in Palestine – rather than about Them, the actual Palestinians.
It reminded me of a protest in Dublin recently against the closure of two swimming pools, which for some inexplicable reason had attendees waving Palestinian flags or banners. It also brought to mind an earlier incident when I was visiting the University College Cork in 2006/07. My laptop, which I had opened on a crowded table, had wallpaper featuring an Israeli flag. On seeing it one girl nearby proclaimed something along the lines of: ‘Is that the Palestinian flag? Cool! I’m a big supporter of the Palestinians…’’
Yes, a self-described massive Palestinian supporter unable to tell their flag from that of Israel’s.
This kind of thing heartens me in a way. It begs the question that if you look past all the rhetoric, and despite the intimidating displays of the streets of Europe, perhaps the Palestinian movement is really just a display of self-indulgent, clueless radicalism that should not to be taken too seriously? Now, there are no doubt sinister people involved, namely from sections of the Islamic community and the Socialist Workers Party. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s leadership seems to be dominated by this latter cult (members of which still refer to each other as ‘revolutionaries’) as well as Sinn Fein and similar Irish nationalist groups. The evil of the Islamists is all too obvious, and the strength of groups like the SWP is their rhetoric of peace, brotherhood, and anti-poverty. It helps distract from the fact that the SWP are an absolutely evil organisation, which realised decades ago that Marx was completely wrong in forecasting that the working classes would become increasingly destitute under capitalism and overthrow the ‘capitalist system’ (also known as ‘leaving people alone’). Of course, the opposite happened. Ford brought long distance travel by motorcar to every working man, doing more good for the average person than any politician in history. Tea and coffeehouses would no longer be the preserve of the well off thanks to Starbucks. The ‘jet set’ would no longer be marvelled at when Ryanair can bring shop assistants for long-weekend trips to Prague or Dubrovnik. So with the revolution not happening at home, the SWP and others turned to Third World ‘liberation’ movements like the PLO. Make no mistake that the Palestinian advocacy organisations they run or support are part of a vast Red conspiracy against the West. Groups like the Irish Anti-War Movement are intended to play a part in bringing about the socialist program, which can only entail mass slavery, starvation and propaganda for most of us. Jihadist attacks against the West are supposedly fulfilling Marx’s prophesies. The socialists like Richard Boyd-Barrett actually believe this, and openly admit it in their own publications, and even Al Qaeda affiliated news outlets. That is why they will always be soft on organisations like HAMAS and the Muslim Brotherhood, even if such groups were to, say, impose a blockade of food and other vital goods entering their beloved Gaza Strip and bulldoze Palestinian homes. I find it amazing that Irish leftists like Joe Higgins and the United Left Alliance have not faced more scrutiny in this regard. Somewhat encouragingly, many regular people have abandoned movements like the IAWM when they discover that it is merely a front, and most I hope will just grow out of it when they get a job. Former IAWM supporter Ted Leddy blogs here and has many a fantastic thing to say on these people.
Despite the dark ideologues pulling the strings, I believe ‘Palestine’ today might just be a brand as meaningless as the ubiquitous Che Guevara t-shirts and wallets. Its interesting that keffiyehs, de rigueur among the campus idiots, have not been exported from Palestine or even most other Arab countries in years. They are almost exclusively made in China, due to cheaper labour costs. Drive your radical-chic friends crazy with this fact.