Saturday, September 21, 2013
Propaganda and Strategic Threat
Hassan A Barari (“Israelism, Arab Scholarship on Israel, a critical assessment.”) states that “Israeli studies in the Arab world are weighed down by biased projection, ideological deformation, predisposition and the need to expose rather than to understand or explain the ‘other’.” This could also apply as a template for Muslim-Non Muslim interaction.
Conflict within the Muslim world has never been about Israel but has always been about Israel. Let me explain. Israel is an imperfect symbol for a Western ideal of democracy and human rights. It is an outpost on the lip of a hostile Arab volcano that contemptuously denigrates both principles. It is this allegiance to a poisoned Arab chalice that before everything, defines, as it obstructs any relationship.
I apologize to Jonah Goldberg, if any of what follows should be attributed to him. To the author of “Liberal Fascism,” the word ‘fascism’ is “a modern word for heretic.” Heretics are hounded, marginalized, tortured and killed for their thought crimes. How ironic therefore that a fascist will utilize the word as a weapon to be wielded against anyone with whom they disagree, with cavalier and promiscuous abandon. Its core supporters are to be counted amongst liberals and adherents of left wing politics. They claim to represent the moral high ground which means that they inevitably preach a need for “Social rebirth.” The Nation of Islam, many Afro-centric groups, Anti-Zionist groups and individuals employ tactics that differ little from totalitarianism. While fascism is associated with militarism, in its nuanced Western state it rejects Western intervention in the affairs of nations to which the military is central to controlling society.
The means by which ‘undesirables’ are targeted is by a sophist argument that goes: if it is good, it cannot be bad; while if it is bad, it cannot be good. The irreducible logic of modern day fascism is that the chosen are flawless and therefore, to argue for objective or principled reason falls on deaf ears. In this way, anti-Zionism is no different to fundamentalist Islam or The Church that gave us the apparatus of the Inquisition.
The foundation stone of this cultural prejudice is obedience, and it largely discourages critical thought.
In support of this poisoned Occidentalist mindset we refuse to critically examine conduct or mores of behavior outside of our own small corner of humanity. We dissect our society through a conflict prism defined by Western guilt, colonial angst and indifference to a cultural competition that is often, aggressively waged against us. Comparisons are inevitable but usually superficial, so it is better not to make any judgment at all. And this is the problem. Our differences make us unique but not all differences are to be admired. We should celebrate what is worthwhile and reject what is not.
Instead we seem to have adopted a laissez faire approach to ethics. It is easier to feign concern and do nothing so as not to offend. Part of the reason for this is that we all want to believe that everyone is equal, of identical aspiration and talent; if only we provide the means by which ‘they’ may demonstrate their qualities. We want to believe that the kindness and grace we confer on others is reciprocated and if, one day, we should need their help, then not withstanding our failure of altruism, they will forgive us and nevertheless, they will help us too. The fallacy of this line of thinking was demonstrated when, in spite of Muslims being the main victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami (that killed an estimated 230,000 people in 2004) donations came from everywhere but the incredibly oil rich Muslim world.
The basis for our strategy of ignoring crimes that other nations commit is perceived economic necessity (will ‘they’ trade with us if we criticize them?); indifference and racism. Our intellectual elite justify this reality by pointing out our own lax standards of public morality. So it behooves us to hold our tongue whenever we feel squeamish about how others behave. Who are we to criticize the unethical misbehavior of any individual or group? Of course this logic then cascades down to withholding our criticism of unsavory misbehavior in our own society. To be an ethical hypocrite makes for an intellectually athletic series of denials as to the not so complicated nature of evil. One persons’ bloodthirsty murderer becomes another persons’ freedom fighter irrespective of the psychopathology displayed in their behavior.
Barari‘s book was a critical assessment of how the Arab world viewed Israel. But statements were sheathed in a protective coating of superior Arab purpose and Islamic purity. This is understandable if we consider that dissent is an unnatural component of the Islamic environment. Dissidents are subject to arrest and torture. For the less fortunate, there is an almost casual preference for the bomb, the bullet or the sword as the favored response to any idea that does not conform to an acceptable narrative.
Until the Arab and greater Muslim world loses the propaganda war it remains incapable of genuine reflection, debate or engagement with either Israel, the USA or for that matter, anyone else. But for Israel the greater strategic threat to its survival is its inability to conduct a public relations counter assault against those religious and political racists who deny it and deny us our equal rights in the world.