The Mother of all Pretexts

Click here: Media Monitors Network – The Mother of all Pretexts

Uri Avnery is a journalist, peace activist, former member of the Knesset, and leader of Gush Shalom. by Uri Avnery

…But this idealistic movement aimed at settling in a country inhabited by another people. How to bridge this contradiction between its sublime ideals and the fact that their realization necessitated the expulsion of the people of the land? The easiest way was to repress the problem altogether, ignoring its very existence: the land, we told ourselves, was empty, there was no people living here at all. That was the justification that served as a bridge over the moral abyss.

Only one of the Founding Fathers of the Zionist movement was courageous enough to call a spade a spade. Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote as early as 80 years ago that it was impossible to deceive the Palestinian people (whose existence he recognized) and to buy their consent to the Zionist aspirations. We are white settlers colonizing the land of the native people, he said, and there is no chance whatsoever that the natives will resign themselves to this voluntarily. They will resist violently, like all the native peoples in the European colonies. Therefore we need an “Iron Wall” to protect the Zionist enterprise.

Most Zionists were not prepared to accept this force-oriented approach. They searched fervently for a moral justification they could live with.

Thus started the long quest for justifications – with each pretext supplanting the previous one, according to the changing spiritual fashions in the world…The first justification was precisely the one mocked by Jabotinsky: we were actually coming to benefit the Arabs…When the ungrateful Arabs went on to resist our grand project, in spite of all the benefits we were supposedly bringing them, we found a Marxist justification: It’s not the Arabs who oppose us, but only the “effendis”.

…The rise of the Nazis in Europe brought masses of Jews to the country. The Arab public saw how the land was being withdrawn from under their feet, and started a rebellion against the British and the Jews in 1936. Why, the Arabs asked, should they pay for the persecution of the Jews by the Europeans? But the Arab Revolt gave us a new justification: the Arabs support the Nazis. And indeed, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, was photographed sitting next to Hitler. Some people “discovered” that the Mufti was the real instigator of the Holocaust. (Years later it was revealed that Hitler had detested the Mufti, who had no influence whatsoever over the Nazis.)

Then came the Cold War. We were, of course, on the side of the “Free World”, while the great Arab leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, got his weapons from the Soviet bloc. (True, in the 1948 war the Soviet arms flowed to us, but that’s not important.) It was quite clear: No use talking with the Arabs, because they support Communist tyranny. But the Soviet bloc collapsed. “The terrorist organization called PLO”, as Menachem Begin used to call it, recognized Israel and signed the Oslo agreement. A new justification had to be found for our unwillingness to give back the occupied territories to the Palestinian people.

…The salvation came from America: a professor named Samuel Huntington wrote a book about the “Clash of Civilizations”. And so we found the mother of all pretexts. The arch-enemy, according to this theory, is Islam. Western Civilization, Judeo-Christian, liberal, democratic, tolerant, is under attacked from the Islamic monster, fanatical, terrorist, murderous.

…When the Communist empire collapsed, America was suddenly left without a world-wide enemy. This vacuum has now been filled by the Muslims-Terrorists. Not only Osama bin Laden, but also the Chechnyan freedom fighters, the angry North-African youth of the Paris banlieus, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the insurgents in the Philippines.

Thus the American world view rearranged itself: a good world (Western Civilization) and a bad world (Islamic civilization). Diplomats still take care to make a distinction between “radical Islamists” and “moderate Muslims”, but that is only for appearances’ sake. Between ourselves, we know of course that they are all Osama bin Ladens. They are all the same.

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