Global IMC Network


Anatomy of Racism

نسخة للطباعةنسخة للطباعةSend to friendSend to friendPDF versionPDF version
This article is hidden with message: Rated Down: Rated below the displayable threshold by users

Anatomy of Racism

By Hannan Ashrawi
Jerusalem, October 18, 2000

"Blaming the victim" has been the common resort of the guilty in rationalizing and distorting the horror of the crime itself.

Whether battered wives, abused children, or Palestinians long subjected to the brutality of the horrendous Israeli military occupation, the first (and last) resort of the cowardly is in maligning the victim, in accusing him/her/them of having brought about the deserved cruelty of the crime.

The essential prerequisite, of course, is the total dehumanization of the victims and the elimination of their most basic rights and attributes as well as claims to protection.

Inevitably, the resultant compound victimization is further enhanced by increased vulnerability, distortion, and exclusion from the protection of human consideration and moral imperatives.

Hence, the latest eruption of confrontations between the Israeli occupation army and civilian Palestinian protestors became the playing field for the full force of the Israeli "spin machine" in a most deliberate, concentrated, and racist exercise of deception and dehumanization directed against a whole people.

The most basic form of deception is in fabricating a false symmetry between occupier and occupied, between oppressor and victim. The "violence" of the powerful Israeli occupation army using live ammunition, tanks and helicopter gun ships is (at best) equated with the "violence" of Palestinian civilians protesting their victimization and continued loss of rights, lands, and lives.

In addition, the Palestinians are called upon to be docile, to stop the "violence," to end the "siege" of Israel-as though the strongest army in the region is being "threatened" by the unarmed people's rejection of its occupation and brutality. The obvious and simple solution, of course, is to withdraw the army and end the occupation.

This, ironically, is accompanied by a devaluation of Palestinian rights and lives by translating our objective weakness into a diminution of rights whereby the powerful determines the parameters of "justice" for the weak.

The whole presentation constantly exhibits the "white man's burden" syndrome. Palestinians should be "grateful" for whatever "generous offer" Israel chooses to "grant" them, regardless of the glaring injustice and illegality of the Israeli negotiating stance.

Both the extreme right and extreme left in Israel (as well as the US) have adopted this condescending, patronizing approach to peace-Barak has gone the "farthest" in "offering" the Palestinians almost 90% of their lands with some "responsibilities" in Jerusalem, and those "ungrateful" Palestinians are being "intransigent" and hard line.

Having compromised ourselves down to 22% of historical Palestine, we are no being asked to be party to Israel's illegal annexation of Jerusalem and its settlement policies-i.e. an unholy partnership for the violation of international law and the relevant UN resolutions.

Should we be unwilling to self-negate, to refuse the role of good little natives, and to continue rejecting the Israeli unilateral version of "peace" that "offers" us a subservient statelet of isolated Bantustans under Israel's apartheid system, then we will be pounded into submission.

After all, if pressure and threat and political arm-twisting do not work, sheer naked military aggression can produce the desired results-since "Arabs understand only the language of violence."

Instant scare tactics or panic politics come into play with such labels as the "terrorist" or "dictatorial" or "violent" Palestinians, while depicting the reality of the Palestinian human will to resist subjugation and oppression as proof of such misrepresentations.

A catch-22 situation is clearly visible: Arafat must "control" his people (nation of sheep?) and "order" them to calm down and accept their enslavement and repression by the Israelis, otherwise he is no longer a "peace partner" and cannot be considered a "leader."

At the same time, Israel cannot deal with Arafat or the Palestinians because they are inherently "undemocratic" and therefore have nothing in common with such "civilized" democracies as Israel and the US.

In parallel, other ready-made labels and stereotypical epithets are easily pulled out as a convenient branding exercise to reduce the humanity of the Palestinians.

The historical and familiar slurs used by Israeli officials and public figures (including cockroaches, two-legged vermin, dogs) have been expanded to include "snakes" and "crocodiles."

The reduction of our humanity to a series of abstractions is nowhere as sinister as in the numerical game. Palestinian victims of Israeli live fire are daily given as "x" numbers killed and "y" numbers wounded. Their names, identities, dashed hopes, and shattered dreams are nowhere mentioned. Absent too are the grief and anguish of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and other loved ones who will have to live with that tragic loss.

The visual documentation of the cold-blooded murder of the child Muhammad al-Durra shattered the complacency of those who had been comfortable with the anonymity of the Palestinians and the invisibility of their suffering. Even then, the Israeli propaganda machine tried to distort the truth even in the face of irrefutable evidence.

First, it was said that he was killed by Palestinian "gun men." Then, he was "caught in the crossfire." The worst version was in the cynical depiction of the child Muhammad as a "trouble-maker" or a "mischievous" child who brought it upon himself-as though the proper response to a child living his childhood is deliberate death. The last accusation involved a question: "What was he doing there?" The real question should have been "what was the Israeli army doing there" in the heart of Palestinian Gaza shooting at civilians including a child and his father who had been caught red-handed attempting to indulge in the "provocative" act of shopping together.

Note the difference, however, when two Israeli under cover agents, belonging to the notorious Israeli death squads were killed by Palestinian protestors.

No Palestinian attempted to justify the act. Rather orders were issued to investigate and arrest those responsible. After all, there should be such a thing as the rule of law and due process.

Instead, Israel moved its tanks and armies even closer to tighten the siege and strangulation of Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps. Then it brought in its Apache helicopter gun ships and shelled Palestinian cities and towns in a most senseless and cruel form of collective punishment.

Its version of events presented the Israeli agents as reservists who had mistakenly "strayed" into Ramallah and then were "lynched" by the mob. References to "slaughter" and "blood thirst" and "savagery" became the prevalent verbal currency.

While no one would condone the killing of the soldiers, it is important however, to deal with the real facts and the context:

Ramallah, as a city under total Israeli military siege, was closed off to all movement in or out of the city. Only one entrance was open, entirely under the control of multiple Israeli military checkpoints. Thus to "stray" into Ramallah would require deliberate and repeated attempts requiring tenacity, persistence, and even guile.

The two Israeli agents were clearly infiltrated and planted into the midst of a protest march in the heart of the city. The occasion was the funeral of a Palestinian man, Issam Joudeh Hamad, from the village of Umm Safa, who had been abducted by Israeli settlers and tortured to death in a most grisly manner.

Gruesome footage and photographs of the body, plus the testimony of the doctors who had examined it, were not repeatedly displayed before the eyes of the world for the sake of scoring points or dehumanizing the Israelis. Some Arab stations informed me that the images were so horrific that they refrained from using them.

Most of the people participating in the march (in the besieged Palestinian city of Ramallah) knew the victim, and some had seen the body. The two undercover Israeli agents that had infiltrated the march were recognized by the Palestinians as members of the "Death Squads" that had been responsible for assassinations and provocations.

Despite the fact that the Palestinian police tried to protect them, the two were killed before the cameras.

This immediately became an instant justification for branding all Palestinians as murderers, and for the most systematic, venomous, hate campaign in recent history. It was also used as a justification for the Israeli aerial attacks on Ramallah and other Palestinian cities.

In his moving appeal to his compatriots (Oct. 13, 2000) not to exploit this incident to justify existing racism and hatred, Israeli poet Yitzhak Laor documents several lynchings of Palestinians by Israeli army and security forces. In all cases the perpetrators were never punished, and no moral outrage was expressed by the Israeli public, let alone a shelling of Israeli cities!

The same applies to the Israeli settler reign of terror that targets Palestinians in their own homes and towns, with full Israeli military protection and collusion.

Presented as helpless "Israeli civilians" surrounded by "hostile" Palestinians, the sinister and lethal nature of settler violence, as armed extremists on the rampage, is often ignored. The illegality of Israeli settlements, the fundamentalist extremist character of the armed settlers, and the horrific acts of abduction, torture, killing and just random violence that are committed with impunity-rarely get a mention.

Throughout all this, the Palestinians continue to be blamed.

The most blatantly racist slur is the Israeli theft of our humanity as parents. In an attempt to rob us of our most basic feelings for our children, we are accused of "sending [our] children out to die" for the sake of "scoring media points."

The horror is further compounded by the total and unquestioning equanimity with which such a grand national slur is repeated by Israelis of all parties, with no critical distance or even awareness of the enormity of such a racist charge.

When Palestinian children became targets for Israeli snipers and other army violence, the ministry of education had no option but to close down the schools temporarily in order to minimize the students' exposure on the way to and from school.

That was immediately latched on by the Israeli spin machine as proof that we closed down the schools in order to "release" our children to go out and "riot" thereby obstructing the free path of Israeli bullets.

The safety of home and parents' attempts at protecting their children are not even considered.

Actually, the 18-month-old baby girl, Sara Abdel-Athim Hassan, was shot in the back seat of her father's car, while other child victims were killed in or around their own homes. Mu'ayyad al-Jawarish, 12 years old, was shot in the garden of his own home.

Most children were shot in the head or upper part of the body, mainly with high velocity bullets. The most common targets of rubber-coated steel bullets were the eyes of children.

A shoot-to-kill (or permanently impair) policy has been in force by the Israeli army-claiming the lives of more than 105 Palestinians and wounding more than 3000 (many of whom with permanent injuries).

Israeli officials claim that they had exercised "restraint."

Of course they can do worse-they can commit genocide or complete the ethnic cleansing begun in 1948.

Still, it is Israeli "security" that is at stake.

Israel's powerful army of occupation cowers in fear at the Palestinian people's cry for justice and freedom.

The Palestinian people have no need for security on their own land or in their own homes since they have been thoroughly dehumanized by their oppressor as to deserve whatever happens to them.

Worse than being "non-existent" (as in the myth of the "land without a people for a people without a land"-which even Shimon Peres now seems to espouse), in the minds of the official Israeli narrative, we now seem to be existent on a lower plain as sub-human species, bereft of the most elemental qualities and rights that guide the conscience and moral values of humanity as a whole.

All this is for the sake of alleviating the guilt and responsibility of the real culprit.

Apologists for the Israeli occupation must find an alternative address to be blamed for the horror inflicted on the Palestinians-so who better than the victims themselves?


One of Zionist Extremism's favourite tactics is Blame the Victim. The fact that this is then reflected - without exception - in our highly-concentrated media is a testament to the influence of Zionism throughout the corporate press. That Zionism has no trouble with this Projection only highlights the racism inherent to this violent Cult.

To blame the victims for this killing spree defies both morality and sense
Seumas Milne, The Guardian

Washington's covert attempts to overturn an election result lie behind the crisis in Gaza, as leaked papers show

March 05 2008

The attempt by western politicians and media to present this week's carnage in the Gaza Strip as a legitimate act of Israeli self-defence - or at best the latest phase of a wearisome conflict between two somehow equivalent sides - has reached Alice-in-Wonderland proportions. Since Israel's deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, issued his chilling warning last week that Palestinians faced a "holocaust" if they continued to fire home-made rockets into Israel, the balance sheet of suffering has become ever clearer. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces in the past week, of whom one in five were children and more than half were civilians, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. During the same period, three Israelis were killed, two of whom were soldiers taking part in the attacks.

So what was the response of the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, to this horrific killing spree? It was to blame the "numerous civilian casualties" on the week's "significant rise" in Palestinian rocket attacks "and the Israeli response", condemn the firing of rockets as "terrorist acts" and defend Israel's right to self-defence "in accordance with international law". But of course it has been nothing of the kind - any more than has been Israel's 40-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, its continued expansion of settlements or its refusal to allow the return of expelled refugees.

Nor is the past week's one-sided burden of casualties and misery anything new, but the gap is certainly getting wider. After the election of Hamas two years ago, Israel - backed by the US and the European Union - imposed a punitive economic blockade, which has hardened over the past months into a full-scale siege of the Gaza Strip, including fuel, electricity and essential supplies. Since January's mass breakout across the Egyptian border signalled that collective punishment wouldn't work, Israel has opted for military escalation. What that means on the ground can be seen from the fact that at the height of the intifada, from 2000 to 2005, four Palestinians were killed for every Israeli; in 2006 it was 30; last year the ratio was 40 to one. In the three months since the US-sponsored Middle East peace conference at Annapolis, 323 Palestinians have been killed compared with seven Israelis, two of whom were civilians.

But the US and Europe's response is to blame the principal victims for a crisis it has underwritten at every stage. In interviews with Palestinian leaders over the past few days, BBC presenters have insisted that Palestinian rockets have been the "starting point" of the violence, as if the occupation itself did not exist. In the West Bank, from which no rockets are currently fired and where the US-backed administration of Mahmoud Abbas maintains a ceasefire, there have been 480 Israeli military attacks over the past three months and 26 Palestinians killed. By contrast, the rockets from Gaza which are supposed to be the justification for the latest Israeli onslaught have killed a total of 14 people over seven years.

Like any other people, the Palestinians have the right to resist occupation - or to self-defence - whether they choose to exercise it or not. In spite of Israel's disengagement in 2005, Gaza remains occupied territory, both legally and in reality. It is the world's largest open-air prison, with land, sea and air access controlled by Israel, which carries out military operations at will. Palestinians may differ about the tactics of resistance, but the dominant view (if not that of Abbas) has long been that without some armed pressure, their negotiating hand will inevitably be weaker. And while it might be objected that the rockets are indiscriminate, that is not an easy argument for Israel to make, given its appalling record of civilian casualties in both the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

The truth is that Hamas's control of Gaza is the direct result of the US refusal to accept the Palestinians' democratic choice in 2006 and its covert attempt to overthrow the elected administration by force through its Fatah placeman Muhammad Dahlan. As confirmed by secret documents leaked to the US magazine Vanity Fair - and also passed to the Guardian - George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Elliott Abrams, the US deputy national security adviser (of Iran-Contra fame), funnelled cash, weapons and instructions to Dahlan, partly through Arab intermediaries such as Jordan and Egypt, in an effort to provoke a Palestinian civil war. As evidence of the military buildup emerged, Hamas moved to forestall the US plan with its own takeover of Gaza last June. David Wurmser, who resigned as Dick Cheney's chief Middle East adviser the following month, argues: "What happened wasn't so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen."

Yesterday, Rice attempted to defend the failed US attempt to reverse the results of the Palestinian elections by pointing to Iran's support for Hamas. Meanwhile, Israel's attacks on Gaza are expected to resume once she has left the region, even if no one believes they will stop the rockets. Some in the Israeli government hope that they can nevertheless weaken Hamas as a prelude to pushing Gaza into Egypt's unwilling arms; others hope to bring Abbas and his entourage back to Gaza after they have crushed Hamas, perhaps with a transitional international force to save the Palestinian president's face.

Neither looks a serious option, not least because Hamas cannot be crushed by force, even with the bloodbath that some envisage. The third, commonsense option, backed by 64% of Israelis, is to take up Hamas's offer - repeated by its leader Khalid Mish'al at the weekend - and negotiate a truce. It's a move that now attracts not only left-leaning Israeli politicians such as Yossi Beilin, but also a growing number of rightwing establishment figures, including Ariel Sharon's former security adviser Giora Eiland, the former Mossad boss Efraim Halevy, and the ex-defence minister Shaul Mofaz.

The US, however, is resolutely opposed to negotiating with what it has long branded a terrorist organisation - or allowing anyone else to do so, including other Palestinians. As the leaked American papers confirm, Rice effectively instructed Abbas to "collapse" the joint Hamas-Fatah national unity government agreed in Mecca early last year, a decision carried out after Hamas's pre-emptive takeover. But for the Palestinians, national unity is an absolute necessity if they are to have any chance of escaping a world of walled cantons, checkpoints, ethnically segregated roads, dispossession and humiliation.

What else can Israel do to stop the rockets, its supporters ask. The answer could not be more obvious: end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and negotiate a just settlement for the Palestinian refugees, ethnically cleansed 60 years ago - who, with their families, make up the majority of Gaza's 1.5 million people. All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, accept that as the basis for a permanent settlement or indefinite end of armed conflict. In the meantime, agree a truce, exchange prisoners and lift the blockade. Israelis increasingly seem to get it - but the grim reality appears to be that a lot more blood is going to have to flow before it's accepted in Washington.

- s.milne@guardian.co.uk


Pure nonsense

Pure nonsense, and from an imbecilic racist at that

Random Image



لَقِّم المحتوى Features

لَقِّم المحتوى Newswire