Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The US Love Affair with Arabophobic Hate Speech

We hear a lot these days about 'hate speech', that is, to borrow from at least one definition, "speech capable of instilling or inciting hatred of, or prejudice towards, a person or group of people on a specified ground [such as] race, nationality, ethnicity, country of origin, ethno-religious identity, religion or sexuality."*

Correct me if I'm wrong but the term seems to have been largely monopolised by supporters of apartheid Israel to malign and marginalise anyone who questions not just the criminal behaviour of that entity, but the legitimacy of the Zionist project in Palestine and the ideology of political Zionism which underpins it.** The implication is that this latter group in particular - anti-Zionists - are borderline, if not actual, anti-Semites, and, ipso facto, engaged in hate speech.

By contrast, the blatant Arabophobia, which set in in the US following the creation of Israel in 1948, is generally overlooked, and rarely recognised for what it is: hate speech

By way of illustration, read this passage from Leon Uris' best-selling Zionist propaganda novel, Exodus (1958):

"[The final disaster in Arab history] was brought about by fellow Moslems as the mighty Ottomans gobbled up their lands. Five centuries of corruption and feudalism followed. A drop of water became more precious than gold or spices in the unfertile land. The merest, most meager existence was a series of tortured, heartbreaking struggles from birth to death. Without water the Arab world disintegrated into filth; unspeakable disease, illiteracy, and poverty were universal. There was little song or laughter or joy in Arab life. It was a constant struggle to survive. In this atmosphere cunning, treachery, murder, feuds, and jealousies became away of life. The cruel realities that had gone into forming the Arab character puzzled outsiders. Cruelty from brother to brother was common. In parts of the Arab world thousands of slaves were kept, and punishment for a thief was amputation of a hand, for a prostitute, amputation of ears and nose. There was little compassion from Arab to Arab. The fellaheen who lived in abysmal filth and the Bedouin whose survival was a day-to-day miracle turned to the one means of alleviating misery. They became Muslim fanatics..." (p 228)

Now read these words from the trailer of thriller/horror story director Brad Anderson's latest film, Beirut***:

"Two thousands years of revenge, vendetta, murder. Welcome to Beirut."

Nothing has changed in 60 years! Strange place, the US where trenchant criticism of Israel is deemed hate speech, but few, it seems, bat an eyelid at rampant Arabophobic hate speech.

*This definition comes from the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) website. It differs, however, in one respect from other definitions of hate speech on the web (legaldictionary.net, merriam-webster.com, and dictionary.cambridge.org) in its inclusion of the term 'ethno-religious identity'. Try as I might I can only think of one group that conflates religion and ethnicity. Guess who;

**It is worth keeping in mind here Israeli anti-Zionist activist Uri Davis' distinction between Judaism as a confessional preference and Zionism as a political programme: "Judaism is not Zionism. Judaism, as a confessional preference, should be strictly an individual matter, and, generally speaking... should not be the concern of the law. Zionism, as a political programme, is a matter of public debate. As noted already... the political Zionist school of thought and practice is committed to the normative statement that it is a good idea to establish and consolidate in the country of Palestine a sovereign state, a Jewish state, that attempts to guarantee in law and in practice a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control. Such individuals and bodies as are, for instance, committed to the values of open society, democracy and the separation of religion from the state; who, therefore, disagree with the political aims of this particular political programme, and who regard this programme to be a negative political programme, are anti-Zionist in the same sense that those who for many decades opposed the political programme of apartheid South Africa (which ended in 1994) were, and it is to be hoped remain, anti-apartheid." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (2003), pp 11-12)

***Also on this film, see my 1/8/18 post One Movie Hollywood Will Never Make.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well put Uri Davis, It is a pity the Zionist wing of the UK Labour Party didn't get it too. It seems they don't so much wish to get rid of anti-Semitism but they really want to get rid of of the anti-Zionist leader of the Labour Party. Sick.

Anonymous said...

Israel has codified racism into law. A strident example of an apartheid state, attempting to cleanse its soul by smearing and belittling all those who oppose its totalitarianism.