Friday, August 7, 2009

The last great European colonial adventure

Stumbled on an intesting article from the Sydney-based freelance journalist, author and blogger, Anthony Loewenstein, entitled, "Where to now for Jewish America". Interesting not so much because of the author's contention that "In the US, moderate Jewish voices on the Middle East are gaining strength, but many American Jews are still reluctant to criticise Israel", as both facts are hardly new to me, but rather because of Chomsky challenging Loewenstein's description of the situation in Palestine as apartheid by claiming that the bad days of Afrikaner hegemony in Southern Africa are not a good analogy because, the situation there was far more humane. In South Africa, the government and population relied on black labour, so they kept the Bantustans up and developed them to an extent because they were crucial. Just like how slave owners fed their slaves. In Palestine, the situation is different. They (the Israelis) don't want the Palestinians, nor do they care about them. They don't really rely on them anymore and they don't need them for labour. They get cheap labour from Thailand or Romania. That's what's taking place." Now, while there might be some truth in this I am certainly sceptical of the "extent" to which the government in Pretoria "kept the Bantustans up and developed them." However, there is a more important reason why the analogy with South Africa doesn't hold and it would appear that, while both Chomsky and Loewenstein are no doubt aware of it, they seem to bypass it in their discussion. Quite simply the regime in South Africa, was so blatantly racist and colonialist that it had nowhere left to hide. Their "lie" was an affront to international community that could no longer be kept up. What we have in Palestine on the other hand is the continued cultivation of that strange oxymoron, a Jewish democracy, and a strange "Weltanschauung" that says that some people are entitled to someone else's land. The racist regime in South Africa had nowhere left to hide, it could no longer disguise itself, it was so obviously a hangover from a time where the white man had his scramble for Africa. On the other hand even those moderate Jews that Loewenstein is referring to continue to see the colonisation of Palestine not quite for what it really is and the mainstream media continues to do a good job in portraying this as a struggle not between an oppressed people and its oppressors but as a conflict in which both parties are at fault and in which both parties have to make a compromise. The myopia suffered by the majority of Jews can be, to some extent, understood. However, the inability of the media to portray, what is in effect, the last great European colonial adventure for what it is, is nothing short of a scandal.

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