Saturday, August 4, 2012

Might Makes Right For Mittens And Other Apologists For Israel's Apartheid Culture

Back in the distant mists of time -- my childhood -- well-meaning liberals commonly referred to Negroes/Blacks/Afro-Americans as "culturally deprived." This was a nod to the widely held belief that non-white people were generally stupider than white people, prettied up by favoring nurture over nature as the explanation.

Expanded, this point of view allowed people to point out how many black people were on welfare, that "they" destroyed "their" own neighborhoods when "they" rioted, and that buying a flashy big car with any available funds was the act of people barely wiser than children.

Now, in summer 2012, come our two candidates for chief celebrity spokesman for corporate government.

The billionaire presumed nominee of the GOP took it upon himself to comment -- in Jerusalem, no less -- that Palestinian culture is inferior to Israeli culture, and as a result Palestinians are economic failures. Like the last guy from his party to inhabit the Oval Office, we suspect that he is at least ignorant if not downright dumb. Doesn't matter; he knows what to say to keep the massive campaign contributions flowing. That's as smart as you need to be for that sort of job.

Meanwhile the current resident of the White House does backflips for the same rewards. Last spring when I was helping to Occupy AIPAC, the behemoth lobbying organization for Israel's right wing parties calling the shots in Congress, Obama was speaking to them of the U.S. Israel relationship as "sacrosanct" and assuring PM Netanyahu that "I've got your back." You could almost feel Barack's fingers in Bibi's back pocket, where the wallet is.
Israel bulldozing Palestinian olive trees Source: Join Advocacy Initiative
But what does this really look like on the ground, where generations of Palestinian (and Israeli Arab) children have grown up in a society that institutionalizes racism? Or, as the prominent African American Poet Langston Hughes put it:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Every story is different, here is but one: Murad Amro, 23 year old college graduate, from Hebron in the occupied West Bank, applied for a UN internship in agriculture to further his studies before proceeding to grad school. He was deeply disappointed with the reply he received from the International Fund on Agricultural Development said they could not even consider his application because Palestine is not a member state of the UN.

Not too surprisingly, Murad was extremely discouraged about being denied consideration because of his nationality, wondering aloud about his own personhood. "I AM NOT A HUMAN BEING!!!" "What am I?"  "[is there] no one in this world [who] can hear me and listen to me?" 

Some of the other things Murad could put on his resume, according to Kristin Szremski in an Al Jazeera opinion piece "Romney, Economic realities, and one Palestinian's story":
...non-violent resistance to Israel's occupation with the group Youth Against Settlements. ...efforts to open Shuhada Street, which is closed to Palestinians, ...documenting violence at the hands of Jewish settlers.

Murad's degree is in plant production from Al Quds Open University. And his dreams, apparently, can wither on the vine while ignorant politicians claim he comes from a backward culture that can never thrive economically.

It is the very definition of discrimination, this withholding of assets to a person' based on conditions they were born into and have no control over. It keeps bright leaders like Muran down, stymied and hampered in doing the work they consider important, in Murad's case, food production. Human rights be damned.

Thus the evil empire reigns over its subjects.

Here are some things people used to say publicly about African Americans when the U.S. was heavily segregated in access to education (many would argue it still is).
“[The Negro] has less of what I call ‘abstract intelligence’ than the white man. He functions at a lower level… he is not so able to think in terms of symbolswords, numbers, formulas, diagrams.” Psychologist Henry Edward Garrett, U.S. News & World Report, 1963.
"Sure, we identified with the blacks in Africa...Here were black people, talking of freedom and libration and independence, thousands of miles away...we couldn't even get a hamburger and a Coke at the soda fountain." -- John Lewis, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) put out a fact sheet on Palestinian cultural and economic conditions that covers a lot of ground in concise fashion. From the introduction:
...many critics pointed out that the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, have been under Israeli military occupation for more than 45 years, with Israel tightly controlling and systematically stifling Palestinian economic activity. Moreover, some pointed out that the destructive effects that Israeli policies have had on Palestinian economic development in the occupied territories is just one part of a wider, systematic, decades-old Israeli assault against Palestinian culture and historical memory.
The fact sheet has a brief catalog of lost manuscripts and other cultural treasures. As with the U.S. in Iraq, we see a pattern of deliberate destruction of priceless cultural artifacts.
Absence of evidence helps support claims of  inferiority in a culture you are trying to stamp out. Keeping Muran from even applying to UN programs, and keeping droves of students from traveling abroad, even to accept Fulbright Scholarships.

Oh and did I mention denying freedom of movement within his non-country as well? I'll end with this map of checkpoints in the occupied West Bank.

Tell me, what does apartheid look like?


chrisrushlau said...

An Israeli Arab is a Palestinian.
Even if a corporation comes into being with the name "Palestine", an Israeli Arab will still be a Palestinian, referring generally to the people who live in Palestine, a geographic region in the Levant, and specifically to the population living there for centuries, speaking Arabic. I take some confidence in this view from the fact that the Arabic term for Palestine if pronounced "Philisteen". Before that was an Anglo term for a gauche person, even before the Torah made it the butt of Sampson's whoring rage, it was in the land.
Like in Maine, you have two reasons for living in a place. Either you want to share it with the people already there or you want to take it for yourself and get rid of them.
Your maps don't mention the fact that the Israeli forces feel free to drop in on any point on those maps uninvited, with the endorsement of the US and EU.
What do you say to someone whose desire for security requires you to drop dead?

chrisrushlau said...

Should be, "is pronounced".