Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Racism and the Palestinians

Michael L.

racismIf there is one category of human being that it is acceptable to despise in the West today it is the racist.

Considering the scope of human history, we are still in the wake of World War II.

Prior to World War II concepts of race were considered a matter of course.  After a mere 60 million people lost their lives, however, we began to rethink the notion.

Today there is no person considered more despicable, outside of the murderer or rapist, than the racist.

Notions of race have done more harm to humanity in recent centuries than almost any other rotten notion that I can think of.

However, I want to talk a little bit about "race" and how it applies to the Palestinian-Arabs.

In my recent piece for the Elder entitled, A few thoughts for the pro-Israel Left a commenter named "minskee" said this:
Too often do I hear arguments denying Palestinians the right to call themselves Palestinian or that all the Palestinians left under their own will. The facts are contrary to both. Hell if a group of people want to call themselves Martians then what's the difference.
Some of you guys will be familiar with this exchange which received a considerable back-and-forth around the concept of the "Palestinians" as a distinct people.

I want to emphasize a number of things on this matter.

The first is that "Palestinian" does not represent a race, because races do not exist.

"Jewish," of course, is not a race, either.

The difference is that over the course of thousands of years the Jewish people emerged as a distinct group with a distinct language, distinct customs and traditions, a distinct religion, and distinct ways of being (ontology) and ways of knowing (epistemology).

The Jews are a distinct people and have been since the earliest of recorded history.  Only the Chinese - perhaps the Japanese? - and the peoples of the Indian sub-continent rival the Jews in terms of longevity as a distinct people.

The "Palestinians," needless to say, showed up around a Quarter Past Last Tuesday and did so for the specific purpose of challenging the rights of the Jewish people to our tiny bit of land.

They could only do so, obviously, because we are a small and maligned minority.

Their aggression against us is a part of the much larger racist Arab effort to stomp on the Jewish people for religious reasons.

The fact that I put the word "Palestinian" in quotes is enough for many people, particularly on the Left, to label me "racist."  They have ideology on their side, but I have history on mine and I will take history over ideology any day.

History says that for thirteen hundred years all non-Muslims, including Christians and Jews, were non-citizens under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperial rule within the Middle East.  For fourteen hundred years, any non-Muslim outside of the State of Israel, continues to be so.

History also tells us that Palestinian-Arab national identity is brand-spanking new.

Even Rashid Khalidi acknowledges the youthfulness of "Palestinian" national identity.  He finds its roots toward the latter part of the nineteenth-century, but no one denies that the great majority of Arabs who live in Israel only began to consider themselves "Palestinian" toward the latter third of the twentieth-century, with the encouragement of the PLO and the Soviet Union.

This being the case, I do not see why Jewish people are under any ethical obligation to acknowledge a distinct people who only came into being as a distinct people to rob Jewish people of our homeland.

It makes no sense.

The Jews have lived in that part of the world for something approaching four thousand years.

We are under no moral obligation, despite our small numbers, to bow our heads to a people who came into being for the specific purpose of robbing us of self-determination and self-defense and it is not "racist" to say so.

We should be saying so loudly and often.

Furthermore, not only is "Palestinian" not a race, it is not even an ethnicity.  The very name "Palestine" was a Roman attempt to erase Jewish history on Jewish land by naming that land after the old enemies of the Jewish people, the Philistines, during the reign of Hadrian after the Bar-Kokhba rebellion.

Prior to 1948, when someone used the word "Palestinian" they generally meant the Jews who lived within British Mandated Palestine, but given the fact that "Palestine" was a region not associated with a specific ethnicity anyone who lived there was a "Palestinian."

Just as anyone who lives in California, despite ethnicity, is a "Californian," so anyone who lived in pre-Israel Palestine was a "Palestinian."

It was only after the Jews re-established our old name for the Jewish people, Israel, did the local Arabs start referring to themselves as "Palestinian" and did so for the sole express purpose of driving the Jews out of ancient Jewish land.

We have no need to respect this and, in fact, by respecting it we give non-Jews every reason to believe that this set of Arabs represents a natural people-hood with rights to what is the national homeland of the Jewish people.

We will never win this fight through negotiation and compromise, because the other side is not the least bit interested in negotiation and compromise.

We can only win it through standing up for ourselves.


  1. I just read a piece of total dreck over at DSKF (DailyStorm Kos Front) that was spouting all the crap you bring up in this article.

    Sh*t from subir at DKOS

    Too bad you can't have an honest discussion about why that garbage is wrong over there.

    1. And here is how you know subir and crowd are basically lying sacks of crap, particularly when they talk about "Secular Democracy".

      Aside from most of the Israeli population who don't want and won't submit to seeing their country dismantled, you know who else disagrees with a "Secular One State Democracy where everyone enjoys equal rights"? Well there are few groups but the main group that opposes this - The Palestinians themselves.

      What? You find it hard it hard to believe that they don't support the formation of the United States of Palestine beneath the steadfast and democratically inclined (meaning supporting democracy not the Democratic Party) leadership of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority? Well.. Here you go, let's hear from the Palestinians themselves : (a pretty reliable Palestinian pollster)

      Q 49:Talk has recently increased about the inevitable failure of the two state solution and the need to demand the formulation of a solution based on the establishment of one state in all Palestinian areas and Israel, one in which Arabs and Jews enjoy equality. Do you support or oppose this view?

      1) certainly support 3.7%
      2) support: 27.0%
      3) oppose: 45.1%
      4) certainly oppose: 22.9%
      5) DK/NA: 1.3%

      In short only 30% actually support a State of equal rights.

      And they wonder why we think that all the Palestinians want is to wipe us out.... Silly us.

      Honestly, if they gave a crap about, "Secular Democracy" they sure as shit would be looking at other alternatives or at least at Palestinian society and how despite ONE free election (which didn't end up being so free - though it was a relatively honest election), they have absolutely no history or tradition of Democracy NOR DO THE PEOPLE SUPPORT THAT.

      But they don't mention it, I wonder why?

      No... heh.... I really don't.

    2. I'll ask again, what has prevented the "Palestinians" from practicing Jeffersonian democracy in the lands they control since 1994? Check points? Security arrangements? I don't think so.

    3. But according to subir and his knot head supporters they really want too... They just can't because of....... Occupation (I am not sure how that causes corruption, nepotism, and all the other "ism's" that daily infect Middle Eastern Political life - but then again I am pretty sure that if JOOZ are involved it's their fault).

    4. Pitt,
      if you want to read something that is truly stomach- churning, I refer you to the latest article at
      It's about Oren Ben- Dor.

      It makes the DK piece look positively measured.

      It's not easy reading. Seriously.

  2. "Race" and "racism" aren't real words. They're not terms that are supposed to represent any objective truth at all. They are shorthand for a basket of bellwether issues and stances that the utterer alternately represents in themselves or condemns in others. To call someone racist is a self proving indictment. It is true because it is uttered. No further analysis is needed. One is either of a 'good' race; brown, black, female, gay, handicapped, Muslim, or one is a member of a 'bad' race; eg, anything else.

    1. Trudy, when I was an undergraduate my college roomate, Rob Macdonald - I kid you not - was the smartest guy that I knew.

      This was the 80s and he was the kind of guy that buzzed around on a motorcycle, in a black leather jacket, with a copy of Ginsberg in his pocket.

      Rob was not everyone's cup-of-tea.

      But he knew more about intellectual history going into college than 99 percent do coming out.

      Needless to say, he never graduated.

      How is it that you remind me of this guy?

  3. I hear more and more about this "subir" fellow.

    My guess is that he is not a huge fan of Israel.

    What counts, tho, is that we are proud of the Jewish people and the Jewish state and we are going to stand up.

    We'll squable amongst ourselves, because we always do.

    People will have their feelings hurt and people will disagree with one another about root causes of political problems.


    The Jewish people are family.

    It's hokey, but it is true.

  4. 'subir' has quite a lot in common with Jeremy Corbyn, who is, of today, standing for the leadership of the Labour party.
    Which is interesting.

    1. Ughh, seriously? Corbyn? Is Labour essentially saying "good bye, cruel world!"?

    2. Hi Jay,
      yes. Seriously. Unfortunately.
      Like you suggest, it will be interesting to see whether he gets enough MPs to back him or whether they think he would be an electoral liability. I'm hoping that he isn't considered a popular candidate. But you never know.

  5. Odd thing Mike I was on the theme a few days ago

    "We are not a race geoffff. Amongst our Jewish fellows are Australian aboriginal Jews, Japanese Jews, Germanic Jews, Chinese Jews, Arab Jews"

    Talknic ,I tried dealing with this nicely and with discretion but it looks like I might have to get a little personal.

    This is something that is put out there a lot because some think it is a safe and easy way to deflect allegations of antisemitism and therefore racism (often pre-emptively. It is surprising how often it is pre-emptive. It says a lot about a mind that has an urge to deny an allegation that has not been made.)

    All it does most often is confirm a suspicion of antisemitism and therefore racism.

    I tried pointing out it is irrelevant.. That you are on another plane to me where there is no intersection. For me, the matter is so beneath contempt it is hard to hold the dignity to grace it with a response. It is like trying to talk to a man in another universe through a worm hole in outer space.

    I will say it again. Race as an objective concept simply does not arise. It is not even a ghost at the table. Race is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Racism is an entirely different concept. When it comes to racism, it is the racist who defines the race and naturally the definition can be very loose indeed.

    And there most certainly are racists. I've seen them. That glint of pure hate in the eye on first sight that they can't hide and often don't even try. It is the racist who brings the ghost to the table,

    and so on

    1. I am not sure where we disagree.

      There are certainly racists, but there is no such biological category as "race."

      There are peoples. There are nations. But there are no races.

      The very concept of race, as a biological distinction among humans, is an entirely outmoded notion.

      Surely this is not controversial.

    2. Sorry Mike

      That was a raw piece from somewhere else that I dumped here out of context.

      Of course it isn't. I was making the exact same point as best as I could somewhere else.

      It is true what someone here just said. The Left rabbits on about race all the time. They have sucked race deep into their lungs and it hangs over everything they think and say like cigarette smoke..

  6. Hi Mike,
    America, especially the political left, talks about 'race' all the time. In fact, they never shut up about it. What are they talking about?

    1. What they are talking about is prejudice.

      We use the word "racism," but what we mean is bigotry.

      What we are talking about is the tendency to ascribe to individuals within a group the alleged essential personality-traits of that group.

      However, what's really happening, at least in terms of American politics, is the use of charges of racism as a club through which to demean and beat back one's apparent political rivals.

      There is no easier or more effective means of shutting up a rival than to call him or her "racist."

      Even if it doesn't shut the other person up, it delegitimizes that person before others.

    2. Mike,
      because of the way in which the human race developed over about 100,000 years, we have people who have lived in parts of the world where circumstances dictated that they developed slight differences in, for example, physical characteristics, for the purposes of adaptation through evolution. A 'race' is ( paraphrasing) like a very large family. A family, that because of geography and topography, has over many generations bred mostly within itself. That is now changing in the modern world where we can all mingle. Because of the past, however, we can discern slight variations in people whose ancestry lies in different parts of the world. Some of those variations are visible. Some are visible - in very slight genetic differences- under a microscope.
      For example, susceptibility to particular genetic diseases.

    3. Racism, like sexism, is egregious. However, evolving societies that work through culture and law to prevent discrimination on the grounds of any discernible differences, happens by realising that a civilised society chooses not to discriminate, on moral and ethical grounds, and not because all human beings are completely indistinguishable from each other. A civilised society can grasp that women tend to be smaller and less physically strong than men. But, because it chooses to, will not discriminate against women because of that. Therein lies what makes a society truly civilised.

    4. Kate,

      please understand that I am not suggesting that peoples do not share certain physical tendencies.

      Clearly we do.

      All I am saying is that if you go to any university and ask to speak to a biologist in the Department of Racial Studies, you will have no one to speak with.

      This is because no such category as "race" exists within the scientific field of biology.

      What the implications of this fact might be is uncertain to me, but fact it is.

  7. Mike,
    university departments dealing in Racial Studies' are social sciences. Soft sciences. They, of course, will not believe in any discernible differences. It is what they are based on. The newer fields of hard science are able to examine the world in a new way.
    The Newsweek article is part of that social science thinking. Anything else is presumed to be allowing racism.
    There are perfectly reasonable scientists whose work involves being able to look at the human genome. The word 'peoples" is what?
    What is the scientific definition of "people."?
    The problem has arisen because society in the past made enormous and erroneous assumptions according to perceived differences in appearance. The problem is always whether we believe we can reach conclusions about a person because of their membership of a group. We can't. Biology is much more complicated than that. The differences among groups, is far greater than the differences between groups. And the variables are complex and interesting.
    If you don't like the word 'race' you don't have to use it. But it's just a word. Under a microscope, parts of our strings of DNA can be traced to different parts of the world. Our heritage. Our ancestry. That's why people whose ancestry derives from parts of Africa can be susceptible to sickle cell anemia. And, in all likelihood, you can't. That's not racism. It's just biology.