Professor Alan Johnson in his superb June 21st op-ed in the Telegraph (before the teens’ bodies were found) noted the “jubilant reaction of many Palestinians to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys” and then argued:
And yet, despite all this whooping and cheering about the trauma and possible death of Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, the Palestinians will likely pay a very small price in the international community or global public opinion. Why?
In part, because an anti-Zionist mindset that has taken root in the West, and at its heart is unexamined assumption – that Israelis and Palestinians are different kinds of people. Israelis have agency, responsibility and choice, Palestinians do not. In short, the world treats the Palestinians as children – ‘the pathology of paternalism’ it has been called
The unarticulated assumption of anti-Zionism is that Palestinians are a driven people, dominated by circumstances and moved by emotions; qualities associated with the world of nature. Israelis are the opposite; masters of all circumstances, rational and calculating; qualities associated with the world of culture.
This “dichotomous thinking”, argued Johnson, results in very bad consequences.
One of the bad consequences of holding Palestinians blameless has been the increasingly prevalent spin by pro-Palestinians activists, since the bullet ridden bodies of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were discovered, suggesting that the Palestinian terrorists who killed the three teens shouldn’t ultimately be held responsible, and that the real culprits are Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli government, and/or ‘the occupation’.
To boot, the Guardian published an op-ed on July 2nd by Ahmad Samih Khalidi (a former Palestinian negotiator) titled ‘For Palestinians, this week’s deaths highlight the asymmetry of power‘. Khalidi not only implied that the Palestinian terrorists who killed the three teens were not morally responsible for the crimes, but also suggested that other such acts of Palestinian terror (since 1967) can be justified as understandable reactions to Israeli policy.
Khalidi alludes to Palestinian support for the kidnappers in the following paragraph:
On the Palestinian side, the kidnappers – whatever their exact motives – seem to have deliberately tapped into the Palestinian public’s longstanding concern over the thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails.
He later expands on the importance of the prisoners in contextualizing Palestinian kidnappings and other acts of terror:
The release of prisoners has indeed been one of the main motives for a long series of Palestinian attacks stretching back to the very beginnings of the 1967 occupation. In successive prisoner exchanges, and as most recently demonstrated in the Shalit case, the Israelis seemed prepared to release Palestinians only under duress and at the tempting ratio for would-be kidnappers of around 1000:1. Eventually, Palestinian militants came to the conclusion that the most effective way of releasing Palestinians from jail was to take Israeli hostages in return.
Later, after a throw-away line noting that “none of this is meant to justify the killing of innocent civilians”, he in effect does just that:
But the three Israeli youths appear to have fallen victim to the asymmetry of power between occupier and occupied, and the inevitable consequences of nearly 50 years of occupation and collective punishment of the Palestinians.
So, the three boys were killed, not by Hamas terrorists who sang and celebrated after they extinguished three young Jewish lives, but by an abstraction – “asymmetry of power between occupier and occupied” and the “consequences” occupation.
As Alan Johnson suggested in the passages cited above, Palestinians to commentators like Khalidi, do not possess moral agency or free will. They are not political actors but are always acted upon.
In short, per Johnson, according to the anti-Zionist moral paradigm, Palestinians always “remain perpetually below the age of responsibility; the source of their behaviour always external to themselves, always located in Israel’s actions”.
A better example of liberal racism would be difficult to find.