One wonders how the racism that is so much a part of U.S. and Israeli society towards the Palestinians can have such strength. Racism against African-Americans in both countries is strong (witness the frequent shootings of black youths by whites in the United States, and the very high acquittal rates of those perpetrators, if they are even charged with a crime, and Israel’s rampant violence again people of African descent), and now racism is financing genocide. A look at some of the possible factors is interesting, frightening and disheartening.
1) Palestinians speak Arabic. An estimated 295,000,000 people in the world, about 4% of the world’s population, speak Arabic, but it is not spoken commonly in the United States, so it must be an inferior language. Bilingual Americans tend to learn French or Spanish in high school as their second language. The Arabic alphabet is far different from the English alphabet, and civilized people, we all know, should adopt the U.S. way of doing things.
2) Palestinians are often Muslim. This means that they read the Koran, not the Bible, the book of scripture that is chosen to be ignored in the U.S. Now if citizens in the U.S. chose to ignore the Koran, that would be different. But it is difficult to ignore something one fears, even if it is a book.
Additionally, their churches have rounded roofs and towers, unlike the Christian churches commonly seen in the U.S. And they call them ‘mosques’, not churches, or even temples. So what if some of them have been standing for hundreds and hundreds of years; nary a cross is seen on them, so they can’t be real houses of worship, like those large, ornate buildings in the U.S. that are generally mostly empty on Sundays.
3) Palestinians dress differently. This means that, especially for women, the clothing they wear is far different from what is generally seen in the West. Headscarves and long cloaks, regardless of the weather, are part of their religious practices, but for many Americans and Israelis, if their clothing looks different from what they wear, the wearers must be odd, and probably inferior. After all, they haven’t adopted the more western culture of showing off one’s body anywhere at any time. That they don’t adhere to these enlightened views obviously shows their inferiority.
4) Both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, all that is left of Palestine, are impoverished areas. And Israel is a prosperous nation, with tourists flocking to its glittering cities, and with world-class universities, so it must be populated by better people. It isn’t necessary to look beneath the surface, and recognize that if the U.S. gave Palestine $3 billion a year, as it gives Israel, Palestine, too, would be a progressive, prosperous nation. Conversely, if the money tap from the U.S. to Israel were to be suddenly shut off, that country would quickly descend into poverty.
5) Palestinians look different. They don’t have the desired ‘WASPy’ appearance that U.S. citizens commonly see advertising products, and that are worshipped on movie screens. This is a factor that hasn’t changed much in over one hundred years. Let us see what Indiana State Senator Albert Beveridge said about U.S. soldiers fighting in the Philippines, in 1898:
“Everywhere the pale blue or gray eye, everywhere the fair skin, everywhere the tawny hair and beard…. Here thoroughbred soldiers from the plantations of the South, from the plains and valleys and farms of the west, look the thoroughbred, physically considered. The fine line is everywhere. The nose is straight, the mouths is sensitive and delicate….The whole face and figure is the face and figure of the thoroughbred fighter who has always been the fine- featured, delicate-nostriled, thin-eared and generally clean-cut featured man.”
For Senator Beveridge then, and many U.S. citizens today, the features described above do indeed indicate the human ‘thoroughbred’. Palestinians simply don’t qualify.
6) The news media says they are all terrorists. In recent days, with every cease-fire ending, Israel has said that the Palestinians have violated the agreement, although Western journalists in Gaza have not reported this to be the case. But if the news media says it, it must be true. So what if more than half the population is under the age of 17; one never knows what a child sleeping in his or her crib could be capable of doing.
So there we have it. Language, religion, dress, socio-economic status and physical appearance, enforced by a media more determined to entertain than to educate, all combine to prove to a naïve and ignorant public that the Palestinians are somehow less valuable than other humans. Would there be any other reason for the U.S. to finance and fully support a racist, apartheid regime?
The U.S. has a long history of inventing enemies, and then convincing the populace that they are somehow less than human. During the U.S. war against Vietnam, it was “… common knowledge that when GIs weren’t calling the Vietnamese gooks, dinks, slants, and slopes, they could be heard calling them Indians, and their habitat, Indian country. The purpose was clear: perceive the Vietnamese as subhuman (Erick Erickson called this ‘pseudo-speciation’), then righteously exterminate them.” A solider from that war who witnessed, but didn’t participate in, the My Lai massacre said this: “A lot of those people wouldn’t think of killing a man. I mean, a white man – a human so to speak.”
Today, they are not Palestinians, but Hamas. Since the U.S. years ago determined that Hamas is a terrorist organization, since it offered something to the Palestinian people that the U.S. and Israel didn’t then and don’t now want to give them, they are the ‘enemy’ and not human. Hamas had the audacity to offer health care and employment to Palestinians, and to break from the weak and corrupt U.S. and Israeli puppet government of Fatah. So killing ‘Hamas terrorists’ is perfectly acceptable to people who believe the lie that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and then everyone in the Gaza Strip, including children, toddlers and newborns, is fair game for Israeli bombs.
As people the world over are horrified, not by what is reported by the news media, but by what is seen on social media, things are changing. Racism and genocide are finally being recognized. Not with the majority in the U.S. and Israel: U.S. citizens are too complacent to question their own government, and Israeli citizens enjoy watching the slaughter of the people who reside in Israel’s colony. But even in the U.S. and Israel, things are changing, but not as fast as in the rest of the world. The U.S. is already seen by much of the world as one huge terrorist organization, due to its constant wars and bombings, and its financing of Israeli terrorism is now coming under international question.
Israel is increasingly feeling the pain of the marginalization in the world community that it has earned, and so richly deserves. The blood of innocent Palestinians is paying a high price for that pain, but it will ultimately lead to their freedom. World citizens must increase their efforts to make this happen.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).