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Progressive Westerners dehumanize both Israelis and Palestinians

Hussein Aboubakr Mansour - 3 February 2023

Underneath the positions of pro-Palestinian progressive Westerners lies a conglomerate of presuppositions and assumptions that are rarely openly discussed or mentioned.

One of such major presuppositions is that Palestinian terrorism, the indiscriminate murderous violence targeting mostly defenseless Jewish civilians, is a core part of the Palestinian identity and a normative Palestinian behavior to be expected. As such, this behavior can not be blamed on Palestinian society or institutions but on Israel and Israeli action, which controls the structure of power from which the Palestinian identity emerged. In this position, highly intelligent people discover the most troubling aspect of the conflict but only to dismiss it.

This form of humanistic bigotry against the Palestinians came to justify their worst inclination and disregard the lives of Israeli Jews, ending up being one of the most dehumanizing positions towards Israelis and Palestinians. This position is not new but has become a core intellectual habit of the international left since the canonization of the works of Frantz Fanon as a Bible of decolonization. According to Fanon, the murderous rampage of the colonized man against the colonizer is the quintessential act of self-liberation. The blaze of wrath and anger that ends in murder is nothing but the birth pains of freedom.

In other words, the struggle, no matter how violent or extreme, is an existential condition and an ontological urgency. These ideas, which started in the circles of the French Left in the 1950s to justify Algerian acts of extreme violence against the French colony, became a solid part of the international left, taught in the most prestigious academic institutions to generations of leftist activists, journalists, professors, politicians, and others. These ideas, the epitome of dehumanization and pathological misanthropy, were not born yesterday and are parts of the major intellectual edifice of leftists’ social and political thought.

The proliferation of such intellectual pathologies is what ultimately enables armies of American and European journalists, diplomats, aid workers, NGO officials, and others to totally accept the prevalence of violence, icons of death, and the valorization of cruelty in Palestinian culture, both popular and high, and in education.

This leads to the interesting simultaneous recognition and dismissal of the most central problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the absolute and final negation of Zionism, by any means necessary, as the central ideological content of the Palestinian identity and its symbols. The final result is an international behemoth made of international institutional structures established and financed to purportedly solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while, in effect, ignoring its core issue. Palestinian media, religious, political, and educational institutions are left to daily indoctrinate members of the Palestinian society into believing that the meaning of their identity is existential victimhood which could be exited only through the total and complete destruction of Israel done by way of blood, death, and sacrifice. Anyone who dares to examine Palestinian education, media, literature, poetry, music, etc., would not be able to ignore the unsubtle presence of such violent ideas in Palestinian national symbolism and Palestinian self-image.

This is ultimately the root cause of the total insolubility of the conflict. Until this conversation becomes a central component of any efforts seeking peace and stability, the problems of terror, violence, the loss of innocent Jewish lives, and the indoctrination of Palestinian youth will continue.

I also would not be honest if I don’t address the other side of the coin, the people with whom I stand on most issues, the pro-Israel camp. Many in that camp do see with clearer vision the problem with Palestinian identity and its content of terrorism. Yet, they refuse to make any distinction between the Palestinians as humans and the Palestinians as Palestinians. That is, they accept to see the Palestinians exactly the way Palestinian radicalism insists on seeing the Palestinians, walking landmines waiting to explode to totally erase Jewish existence.

They accept the Palestinian self-dehumanization as the ontological truth of the Palestinians: final, exclusive, and irreversible, and not as humans who are trapped into a terrible story made up by generations of mad intellectuals and sadistic tyrants. This leaves nothing but a security problem against which Israel must remain strong. No will, no wish, no effort, and no thought are spent about the possibility of helping the Palestinians wake up from their self-imposed nightmare and discover a different way to be Palestinian.

Just to reiterate, I’m not talking here of people who think, feel and talk only in leftist cliches. Those don’t see or understand such complex problems anyways. I’m talking about the non-cliche ones who despite understanding the monumental weight of culture and identity refuse to deal with them seriously.

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