Finding the words to say it By William Bowles

By William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
16 November 2008

“The BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem says we have no clue as to when or where this video was shot and it is impossible to know just how frequently such incidents occur.” — ‘BBC: Israel army studies ‘abuse video’

But right below this it says,

“But a leading Israeli human rights group says “many instances of abuse are not exposed because they have become the norm””.

But is this all this group said? Why isn’t the group named? Why is the source not identified? It seems the ‘rules’ that allegedly govern reportage are as flexible as Mr Franks interpretation of events are.

So it is possible to know how often such abuses occur and if Mr Franks bothered to subscribe to the excellent (and ‘balanced’) Palestinian Centre for Human Rights regular reports on events in the Occupied Territories, he would not need to qualify his comments about “just how frequently such incidents occur.” So much for our intrepid journalists in their never-ending search for the ‘truth’.

The overall tone of Franks’ report creates the impression of scepticism as the first quote illustrates. But what does it matter where the video was shot? Franks appears to be implying that the video is a fake let alone an ‘exception’?

I still find it difficult to get my head around the so-called civilized world’s reactions—or rather lack of them—over the treatment being méted out to the Palestinian people by the state of Israel (and ably assisted by the West).

In fact, I find it inconceivable that the actions of the Zionist state—comparable to that of the Nazi’s treatment of Jews and other minorities—elicits only brief ‘news’ items from the Western media and rarely without its usual ‘embedded’ commentary that it reserves for the opponents of Israel.

Overall, the impression is created of two equal, but opposite sides, F-16 fighter-bombers and helicopter gunships, billions of dollars worth of the most sophisticated weapons of destruction on the planet versus crude, home-made Hamas rockets for example.

And it’s not just the BBC. The London Independent for example carried a story in its 15 November edition titled, “Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel”, on a report by the International Red Cross on the devastating conditions the Israeli blockade has created for the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. But even here, the story ends with a comment by Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister who tells us the Gazan people were being “held hostage” to Hamas’s “extremist and nihilistic” ideology which was causing undoubted suffering. If Hamas focused resources on the “diet of the people” instead of firing “Quassam rockets and violent jihadism” then “this sort of problem would not exist”. End of story.

No mention of the Hamas-initiated cease-fire, broken by Israeli invasions of the Gaza Strip.

But just in case the Independent gets accused of ‘bias’, right next to this story is another one titled “Hamas fires rockets into south Israel.’ Nobody was killed or injured by these rockets, which are crude and unguided and rarely cause injury or death.

Collective punishment, denial of basic services such as food, water, medicines, electricity and even education, illegal imprisonment, extra-judicial killings, the targeting of children, women and old people, illegal evictions, restrictions on movement, denial of medical services, illegal settlements, the imprisonment of 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, destruction of orchards and other means of income, lockdowns, the theft of land.

Hey, how long does this list have to get before we see some kind of ‘balanced’ and ‘objective’ reportage in the Western media? All of the above are illegal under international laws including the very ones that the Nazis were prosecuted under at Nuremburg.

Were this any country other than Israel, for example the Sudan or now that the Western media have ‘rediscovered’ the Congo, the most intense propaganda campaign would be underway utilizing not only the usual media suspects but prime ministers and presidents, all would be expressing their outrage about the ‘genocide’ followed by the usual calls to ‘do something about it’. The Palestinians however, are excluded from these calls to do something.

So what does this tell us about our society? I’ll tell you what, it speaks reams, that’s what!

It speaks to the racism so deeply entrenched at every level of Western society, so deeply embedded over the centuries by slavery and colonialism. The result has been the total dehumanization of all people of colour (which takes in about 80% of the planet’s population).

And of course the corporate/state media play their part by tapping directly into this legacy which has become a complete and self-contained ideology, the ideology of racism.

So what is the ideology of racism and what does it depend on that makes it so effective?

Predictably, religion played a major role in the creation of the ideology of racism and specifically, European Christianity.

The idea that we are not all God’s children by reason of different belief systems was the starting point. Ergo, if you are not one of God’s children then you are less than human.

It follows therefore that such creatures are not bound by our laws, they are little more than animals, or at best ‘children’ and hence do not fall under the protection of ‘God’s’ laws, they can be exploited just like any other product of Nature.

But it was to get much, much worse when ‘science’ entered the picture, after all, who can argue with ‘science’? The rationalizations followed on, thick and fast.

Its roots can be traced directly back to the so-called Age of Enlightenment in the 17th century and its ‘Rationalism’ that quickly degenerated into rationalization. There followed three centuries in which to create an entire ‘science’ of racial superiority, one that reached its peak in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with all kinds of crackpot ideas based on such things as skull size and alleged measurements of ‘intelligence’ that we have inherited as the loathsome IQ ‘test’.

Today of course, ‘civilized’ people scoff at those Victorians and their pseudo-scientific ‘measurements’ of black versus white peoples’ intellectual capacities and it’s true that the more extreme aspects have been ‘smoothed over’, but even here, they have been dressed up with yet more pseudo-scientific drivel only now utilizing genetics as a justification.

And it’s no accident that the 19th century also gave us the ideology of Zionism and its central tenet of the ‘Chosen People’.

Indeed Zionism as a singularly European creation, tapped directly into the ideology of racial superiority, after all, Jews, at least European Jews are white and not only white but in every sense the product of European cultural and racial attitudes. We need only look at how Israel treats African/Middle Eastern (Mizrahi) Jews[1] where we witness that it is guided entirely by a European perspective ie, ‘Orientalism’. African and Middle Eastern Jews have no real history except that which ‘we’ give them.[2]

How else do we explain the fact that an entire people, its culture and its history has been systematically erased and not merely by Israel but by the West as a whole. And in the process erased from the public’s consciousness. Palestinians have been reduced (Orientalized) to ‘terrorists’, ‘fanatics’ and faceless, nameless ‘victims’. Only the ideology of racism can explain this gigantic hole in our reality.

Furthermore, it rationalizes our individual and collective responses. The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ aptly sums up the situation.

Whinging at the mass media and especially the BBC with its false image of ‘impartiality’ and ‘balance’ brings only a stony silence, or accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ of any who dare criticize.

Pundits like to point to the ‘legacy’ of WWII and our alleged collective guilt over the ‘Holocaust’, but for example, the Roma people (to which I have some connection as well as having a Jewish mother), were also exterminated in their millions and are still subjected to the most horrendous treatment right across ‘civilized’ Europe including here in the UK where they have been ‘re-branded’ as Travellers. But where are the cries of outrage? But then the Roma are not white are they.


1. For more on how Israel treated its Mizrahim see ‘Israeli Historical Revisionism’ by Anita Shapira, Derek Jonathan Penslar, especially in the educational curriculum.

See also, ‘Study: Israeli Jews becoming increasingly racist toward Arabs’, Ha’aretz, 19 March, 2008.

2. “Said call[ed] into question the underlying assumptions that form the foundation of Orientalist thinking. A rejection of Orientalism entails a rejection of biological generalizations, cultural constructions, and racial and religious prejudices. It is a rejection of greed as a primary motivating factor in intellectual pursuit. It is an erasure of the line between ‘the West’ and ‘the Other.’” ‘Edward Said’s Orientalism’. I can’t recommend Said’s book too much, it was and remains a groundbreaking analysis of the issue.


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