“It’s the economy, stupid” is a phrase in American politics made famous during the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election campaign. Bill Clinton’s campaign manager had a sign with this phrase at their headquarters to stress to the candidate that, regardless of the issue being discussed, success in the election depended on making the conversation about the economy – which was in bad shape at the time, and represented former President Bush’s greatest political liability.
I sometimes wonder if Guardian editorial offices has something akin to Clinton’s campaign mantra – a note, not based on political calculations but, rather, maintaining an ideological edifice, reminding them where any conversation about the Middle East must preferably lead: “It’s about Israel, stupid.”
While such a scenario is, of course, meant in jest, I am at a loss to account for how, in the course of a new Guardian editorial (“The Middle East: People, Power, Politics“) on Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal and deadly crackdown against Libyan protesters, and the broader political upheavals in the region, they somehow managed to throw in this line:
“the Libyan leader may still be considered too valuable to lose, as US influence in the region decreases. Nowhere is that truer than in the cockpit of the crisis, Palestine.
“Israel Derangement Syndrome” may adequately, albeit cheekily, describe the dynamic whereby otherwise reasonable people can attribute the cause of nearly any political crisis in the world to the behavior of the Jewish state, but doesn’t seem nearly strong enough of a term to characterize the Guardian’s obsession with Israel.
Arab citizens throughout the Middle East are rebelling and (for various reasons, some noble, and others, it should be noted, decidedly illiberal) attempting to throw off the yoke of despotism that has ruled the region, and the Guardian is convinced that the one state in the region which has, since its birth, proven itself impervious to this totalitarian impulse, is indeed the prime mover of the political malady.
Our previous post, cross posted by Divest This!, described anti-Semitism as more than a “simple” hatred of Jews as such but, more accurately, as a broader ideology – one which continually sees the nefarious effects of world Jewry in seemingly unrelated political phenomena.
Similarly, it seems, the Guardian’s continuous framing of events in the Middle East – which attributes most political maladies to Israel’s injurious effects on the region – is more than “mere” political hostility to Israel. It needs to also be seen as part of a broader ideological framework, one which continuously shows itself impervious to facts, logic, and new information – the self-correcting empirical mechanisms found in those not held hostage to such a rigid political orientation.
While engaging the Guardian in a battle over facts and logic certainly has its time and place, the Jewish community’s fight with the Guardian must proceed without illusions – free of the assumption of reasonableness which typically informs civil debate between two rational political actors.
The Guardian’s myopic and increasingly extreme political orientation can not be coaxed or persuaded but, rather, must be aggressively confronted and fought – free of puerile optimism in what will assuredly be a long and grueling battle.