Robin Yassin-Kassab

Rant against Hypocrisy

with 9 comments

I don’t quite know why, but hypocrisy is the element in political discourse which catalyses my most murderous responses. Perhaps it’s because I like language, or respect it, and believe it shouldn’t be raped.

I remember Tony Blair making a speech in Gaza in November 2001. This is when I realised for certain that he was not a mere fool but a dangerous and filthy murderer. Away from the hall and its selected attendees, for the visiting dignitary’s comfort, a demonstration against British Zionism was being violently suppressed. And at that very moment British warplanes were ravaging Afghan villages. And Blair lectured his audience, representatives of those who’d been hounded and attacked for six decades, in the following terms: What you people must understand, he squeaked, is that no cause, however just you think it may be, justifies violence. Not a flicker of irony nor a trace of self-doubt wrinkled his ugly face.

Let me be clear about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is the president of a state which has achieved a mild but relatively remarkable degree of economic independence, and which leads a principled opposition to imperialism in the region. Compared with its neighbours, it is prosperous and free. But the Islamic Republic also interferes in its citizens’ personal business by trying to enforce dress codes and the like. Its rate of judicial murder is higher even than America’s. Corruption is endemic, as it is almost everywhere, and hypocrisy bedevils the religious establishment as much as it does politicians in the West. Ahmadinejad is a populist demagogue in the mode of Berlusconi or Jack Straw; his function is to distract from his regime’s failures by means of a grandiose and imprecise rhetoric. This means he often ends up with his foot in his mouth. “We don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” he informed Columbia University, “We don’t have this phenomenon.” He may or may not have meant that Iran has a different cultural approach to sexual categories, and his claim was certainly no less absurd than the university president’s claim that Ahmadinejad was a “dictator”, but his words were clumsy at very best. It almost seemed that he’d made a deal with Fox News to play the oriental buffoon. Ahmadinejad often doesn’t seem very clever. Iran is a clever country full of clever people, and it deserves better.

In a 2006 interview with Der Spiegel, Ahmadinejad said, “..there are two opinions .. in Europe. One group of scholars or persons, most of them politically motivated, say the Holocaust occurred. Then there is the group of scholars who represent the opposite position and have therefore been imprisoned for the most part.” This may or may not be outright Holocaust denial, but it looks very much like it, and his comments occasioned criticism from within the Iranian establishment, including from the Supreme Leader. The two-fingers aspect of such flourishes goes down well with some less thoughtful Muslims; the glee of it is in trampling the Western taboo. But it remains ignorant and offensive. It’s particularly offensive to the memory of those Jews slaughtered by fascism who were not Zionists – the majority – people slaughtered not for any political crime but because Hitler thought they were Semites and therefore subhuman. It’s personally offensive to such children of Holocaust survivors as Norman Finkelstein, who has done so much to oppose Zionism. Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, or near-denial, wounds the Palestinian cause because it fails to understand the larger structure of European racism which permitted both the Holocaust and the Nakba. And it plays into the hands of Zionists who shout, “these filthy Semites hate us because they are anti-Semitic.” This obscures the truth, which is simple: We don’t hate them for their race, and only a hysterical few of us hate them for their religion. We hate them – from a deep and blackly bubbling well – because they are thieves and murderers and racists and liars. A Zionist is a Zionist, whether he’s a Jew like Olmert or a WASP like Bush. And some of the greatest, most heroic enemies of Zionism are Jews, people like Ilan Pappe, Jeff Halper, Israel Shahak, the Neturei Karta, Philip Weiss.

Yet we must also remember that Ahmadinejad has been slandered, mistranslated and misrepresented. He is not a puppet tyrant in the Mubarak mould but a democratically elected leader who exercises his powers according to a constitution. Of course, Iranian democracy is by no means perfect; it is formally limited by the Council of Guardians, just as American democracy is informally limited by the corporations. But Iran is certainly more democratic than Israel, a state which allows the full benefits of citizenship to only half of the people under its rule. When Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini’s opinion that “the regime occupying Jerusalem would be wiped from the page of history” – an event any decent human being should hope for – he was interpreted as calling for the genocide of Israeli Jews. The neo-cons also had a field day with their entirely false story about Nazi-style yellow badges to be worn by Iran’s Jews. The real blood-and-soil racists amused themselves by inventing Persian Hitlers.

When considering Ahmadinejad’s spirited comments on Israel we must remember not only the disgust an informed person feels over the theft of Palestine but also that the Zionist state has nuclear missiles targetted at Iran, a country which has not attacked anyone in 300 years. We must remember too that Zionism has recently helped engineer the destruction of Iran’s western neighbour.

In any case, in his speech to the Durban Review Conference on Racism, Ahmadinejad seemed to have learnt his lesson. Perhaps mindful of the hadeeth “A true jihad is a word of truth spoken before an unjust ruler,” he steered clear of Holocaust denial and argued instead that Jewish suffering had been used as a pretext for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the establishment of an apartheid state. And this is the plain unvarnished truth. Because how can Germany’s murder of six million Jews possibly justify the dispossession of the ancient Canaanite-Arab Palestinian people, the descendants of the Biblical patriarchs? It can’t. No more than the legacy of trans-Atlantic slavery can justify the creation of a blacks-only state in Finland. No more than the Holocaust and continuing persecution of the Gypsies justifies the establishment of Gypsy rule over the people of France. Should the poor Tutsis be granted Belgium, and the Belgians driven into camps, and massacred? I’m not talking about Tutsi immigration to Belgium, or even the founding of a Tutsi defence force in the country. I have no problem with that, and I have no problem with Jewish immigration to Palestine. I have a problem with Tutsis expelling Belgians from Belgium.

The examples above seem immediately absurd, but the Palestinian case, to many in the West, doesn’t. I wonder why? But I don’t wonder very much. Finland, France and Belgium are white European countries with advanced capitalist economies. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are not proper human beings. They are brown people, Arabs, Muslims, people of the South. That’s why. It’s only recently that the official West has accepted that Palestinians even exist.

Ahmadinejad called Israel a racist state. This view is considered controversial or, according to an American spokesman, “hateful.” But Israel was created by an act of massive ethnic cleansing. That means murdering and expelling on the grounds of ethnicity, of race, of religion. Today Israel’s absurdly-named Law of Return allows automatic citizenship to anyone of Jewish origin anywhere. Meanwhile millions of Palestinian refugees are refused the genuine return which is their legal and moral right. Those Palestinians who currently hold Israeli passports (but not for much longer if Israel’s fascist foreign minister has his way) are concentrated in deprived zones, intimidated, kept out of all coalition governments by Jewish agreement, and their houses demolished. Recently an Israeli Jewish policeman was given six months community service for shooting dead an unarmed Palestinian Israeli. Israel also rules over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who have voting rights only to a non-existent ‘authority’, who are concentrated in refugee camps and townships, who are forbidden to travel on Jews-only roads, who are trapped by walls, whose drinking taps run dry while the Jews on the hilltops keep their swimming pools topped up, whose schools are closed, whose hospitals bombed, whose mothers die in labour at checkpoints, whose children’s brains can’t grow for the micronutrient deficiencies deliberately planned by the siege.

If Israel is not a racist state, if Zionism is not a racist ideology, then I do not speak English.

A gaggle of white delegates walked out during Ahmadinejad’s speech. Britain’s envoy pigeon-toed it from the hall wearing an inbred public-school jowliness which he perhaps thought was manly. One genitally-challenged weasel took the revolutionary action of shaking his fist in the President’s direction, for all the world as if his fist and all its blood and hypocrisy were not, like the rest of him, too obscene to be put on public show.

The countries which walked out, or refused to attend, are Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the UK, the US, and the Zionist terror state. Half of these states were founded on genocide, and the rest have been guilty of it. All are complicit in the six-decade-long ethnic cleansing of Palestine – the actual, not imagined, destruction of a nation. The self-righteous hypocrisy of these criminals is nauseating.

None of them walk out of speeches by their mass-murdering darling Shimon Peres. All of them will shake Avigdor Lieberman’s repulsive hand. Their response to the massacre in Gaza was to help Israel tighten the seige. And it is no surprise that Israeli war crimes strike them as morally correct, for they themselves have committed enormities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The outrage expressed by the criminals and drones who walked away from Ahmadinejad’s speech is proof, if proof were needed, of the hopeless racism of our world system, and proof too that the system will fall. How long can the earth be ruled by people who rape their own languages? What human depth or stability is there in a discourse founded on dishonesty? These are people who maim, starve and kill in the name of human rights, who bolster apartheid in the name of anti-racism. Changez Khan and Attila were a league ahead in civilisational terms, and so too is Mahmoud Amadinejad.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Posted in imperialism, Iran, racism, Zionism

Tagged with

9 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. http://the-word-well.com/on-work-and-freedom-for-holocaust-remembrance-day-and-durban-ii.html

    u might be interested to read this..
    i can never see how any human being- including the israelis- doesn’t understand why a Palastinian is holding a gun!


    April 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

  2. Qunfuz,

    Strong post, and I identify with the majority of what you wrote, even though at times you have a little bit of “tunnel vision” typical of somebody who’s not actually seen the complexities and subtleties of things in the ground in Israel/Palestine. I’m just back from a visit in Israel and I have noticed I’ve been doing this too.

    You are of course entitled to your rage against “Zionists” but in my opinion it is not justified to talk about the collective of Jewish Israelis in these terms, of deep hatred, even though they would identify themselves as “Zionists”. Basically, once you assume two basic premises about human beings, things become more clearer and far less emotional. The premises are:
    1) People will escape persecution. And,
    2) People will create and adopt ideologies that will make this feel just and moral human beings.

    The Jews in Eastern Europe were persecuted and they fled to anywhere that took them. Some of them went to Palestine. Anywhere they went, they adopted an ideology that allowed them to view themselves favorably. Those that went to Argentine—became Argentinean patriots. Those that went to America—became normative Americans. Those that went to Israel, became part of a European colonialist movement and they adopted the necessary views to make them normative members of this society.

    With this snowball in motion, the friction with the Arabs was inevitable. In 47-79, both sides practices ethnic cleansing, they didn’t even think that there should be any other options. The (few) Jewish settlements that were conquered by Arab forces had very few survivors. Ethnic cleansing was an obvious consequence of the situation and looking at it differently is ahistorical. Once this was done, the Jews were obviously very content, but even if we examine the (ahistorical) scenario in which they would have let the Arabs back, it would have likely only prolonged the civil war and created more casualties on both sides. Since then, the sides are slowly coming to learn their limitations of power and nobody knows how things will end. I of course do hold the political leadership of our peoples accountable for their exacerbation of the situation but the MACRO processes are just a force of nature, like bird migration or ocean currents.

    One Nakba that is both totally transparent to everybody and at the same time very relevant for Jews and Arabs (unlike the Jewish-European Holocaust, which as you correctly note, shouldn’t be a factor in Arab-Jewish relationships) is the Nakba of the Arab Jews who were betrayed by everybody and deprived of their nationality, property, dignity, history and tradition. But nobody counts us because we have moved on in our lives (no matter how root-less our lives are since those events).

    Yossi (AKA Rumyal)

    April 25, 2009 at 5:04 am

  3. Thanks for visiting, Yossi-Rumyal. Of course, this was a rant. I write this kind of thing in order to express anger. Here I wanted to distinguish between generalised Jew-hatred, which I oppose, and specific Zionist-hatred, which I deliberately don’t apologise for.

    I recognise that there are historical reasons for Zionism, just as there are for fascism, wahhabi-nihilism, the Saddamist version of Baathism, and so on. In my earlier post on Finkelstein and Gandhi I explained that by Zionism I mean the Iron Wall ideology that has come to dominate. Those Zionists who want a cultural or religious homeland in Palestine on terms of equality with the Palestinians could be allies.

    As for my ‘tunnel vision’ being cured by seeing the reality on the ground, I don’t know. I have friends whose hatred was ramped up when they visited and saw. In any case, I may have an opportunity to see very soon (watch this space).

    I don’t think the crimes committed by Arab forces in 47/ 48 are in any way comparable to the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Zionists, first because the Zionist Plan D was carefully planned and organised, second because the scale of the cleansing of the Arabs was so much greater, and thirdly because (and I do think this is of the utmost importance) the Palestinians were trying to defend themselves – occasionally stooping to pointless excess – from foreign invasion, while the Jews were the invaders. (I know some of those killed were native Palestinian Jews, and this is a tragedy). Yes, ethnic cleansing was an inevitable consequence of the situation, but, to take an extreme analogy, the Holocaust was also an inevitable consequence of the German situation in the 30s and 40s. The Iraq war was inevitable, and so was Hiroshima, Cambodia’s Year Zero, and so on. This doesn’t mean we forgive and forget.

    When 94% of Israeli Jews support the war crimes in Gaza, when Zionism played such a key role in the Iraqi tragedy, it is very difficult for me to have sympathy for the majority of Zionists. I think it may even be morally wrong for me to do so. But I do recognise they are human beings, and when this brand of Zionism has been discredited, I hope we’ll all live together happily.

    It’s because I think it is important to discredit the Zionist ideology that I rant in this way.

    I also think the resistance needs to offer a vision to Israeli Jews which includes them in the future of Palestine, as the ANC did to South African whites. I wrote about this in my post called Four Solutions.

    I agree with you about the Arab Jews. I blame Zionism for their plight, but of course I blame simplistic Arab chauvinism too, especially in Iraq. (Syria is a somewhat different case).


    April 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm

  4. Qunfuz,

    I think we’re on the same page with respect to “Zionism” vs. “Zionists”, but just to make it perfectly clear where I stand I want to mention that it’s practically impossible for an average person in Israel to not be a “Zionist” as he is brought up believing that being a Zionist is synonymous with being a normative and contributing member of society. This may also imply that in the quest to defuse Zionism it may make more sense to rebrand the term, then to fight it head-on, but I’m not sure about that.

    Regarding “tunnel vision”, sounds exciting if you can make it into Israel and report your experiences. I hope they don’t give you too much trouble in the airport, but it’s likely they will (and I apologize for that). You should be golden once you make it through the airport. I am not saying you won’t encounter things that will shock you, you certainly will (I do every time), it just that you’ll see a more complex picture than can be described as you put it above:

    “…Those Palestinians who currently hold Israeli passports (but not for much longer if Israel’s fascist foreign minister has his way) are concentrated in deprived zones, intimidated, kept out of all coalition governments by Jewish agreement, and their houses demolished….”

    If you get to see enough, you’ll see that discrimination doesn’t apply all the time, to everybody, everywhere. A lot of the discrimination is around land use, and pits suburban Jewish expansion against rural Arab communities. However if you live in Haifa or go to a university, then the story is very different. There is also the general question of class discrimination in Israel. A lot of the Mizrahim are also “concentrated in deprived zones”, and of course the question of built in limiting factors in traditional societies, that in many cases may be more limiting than government policies. In some cases it’s hard to tell cause an effect or to sift through conflicting narratives. e.g., narrative A: the government discriminates against Arab municipalities, this results in deep antagonism, people start evading taxes and the communities become bankrupt and disintegrate. Narrative B: traditionally, rural Arab community NEVER pay taxes, in Israel or in any other Arab country, and hence they have smaller budgets. etc.

    Yossi (AKA Rumyal)

    April 25, 2009 at 5:22 pm

  5. Yossi – This is what I wrote in the Finkelstein and Gandhi post:

    “I continue to believe that Zionism is the enemy, but by Zionism I mean the Iron Wall Zionism of Jabotinsky that has come to determine the character of the mainstream, from the Labour Party to the openly fascist fringe. Those Zionists, however, who are interested in a cultural home and refuge in Palestine on terms of equality and brotherhood with the Palestinians – those could be allies.”

    So I’m certainly interested in ‘rebranding’ Zionism, as you suggest. To return to our earlier discussion, in one way of understanding it the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 47-49 was not inevitable. Before the state was declared there were other models of Zionism – Ahad Ha-Aam, Buber etc. These models were often contradictory and often failed to factor in Palestinian and Arab nationalism, but still their vision of cooperation and coexistence count for something. as a gentile I’m not in a good position to formulate a rebranded Zionism, but I certainly think the attempt is necessary. Why don’t you and Shai have a go, and then see if you can sell it to people like me? And people in Israel.

    Of course I accept your point that life for Palestinian Israelis is not unrelenting hell. I know some personally, and read or watch more. Ali Abunimeh (you must have read his book?) writes of meeting an Israeli Jew who couldn’t accept that ‘Arab Israelis’ are the same people as the Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza, because the Arab Israelis behave fairly civilised. If they behave civilised in comparison, said Ali, that’s because they have more rights. If you want the occupied Palestinians to behave fairly civilised give them the rights of the Arab Israelis. If you want them to act completely civilised, give them the same rights you have.

    I think every point I made in the post about the Palestinian Israeli predicament is true. But I didn’t mention the many instances of happy coexistence and social success because I was focussing on why Ahmadinejad was not wrong to describe Israel as a racist state. I was being necessarily selective to make my political point. If I ever write a novel set in Israel-Palestine, I promise I’ll be more inclusive!


    April 26, 2009 at 12:27 am

  6. Qunfuz-Robin,

    I am not sure whether Buberian Zionism ever stood a chance with the Eastern European crowd of Zionism. But I’d like to ask you what is your opinion about 47. The version of the history I’m familiar with unequivocally says that the Palestinians were the ones that started and were on the side with the initiative in the civil war. At the same time, Arab armies said they are preparing to invade the country. So my questions are
    (a) are you assuming a different version of the history with respect to the civil war?
    (b) assuming you agree with my version of 47, do you think that the Arab side had other choices rather than starting a war?
    (c) do you think that had the Arabs not initiated the civil war, then the Jews would have done so?

    Thanks for volunteering me for re-defining Zionism but I’m really not up for the task 🙂 Not much of a Jewish and actually quite an anarchist at heart. But I may do it just for fun. Haven’t read Ali’s book yet, but I have seen recorded talks by him. He’s a very impressive person.

    BTW, is your book available in America?

    Yossi (AKA Rumyal)

    April 26, 2009 at 8:31 am

  7. Yossi – a). I more or less agree with you. Palestinian guerilla attacks started first, after the UN partition vote. According to Avi Shlaim, the Arabists of the Jewish Agency downplayed the military danger of these attacks and called for political flexibility, but Ben Gurion and the Haganah called for hard hitting reprisals, and got their way. Once Palestinian resistance had been broken and the exodus of the refugees began, the Arab League committed Arab armies.
    So the chain of events was Jewish immigration and agitation for a state – Partition plan – Palestinian guerilla attacks – Zionist massacres, expulsions and dispossessions of Palestinians – entry and defeat of Arab armies.

    quote from Begin: “In Jerusalem as elsewhere we were the first to pass from the defensive to the offensive..Arabs began to flee in terror..Hagana was carrying out successful attacks on other fronts, while all the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter.”

    b). If I had been alive in 47 I would have supported war against the Zionists. I agree with the Arab Higher Committee that the partition plan was “absurd, impractical and unjust.” The allocated Jewish state contained an Arab population equal to the Jewish, and most of the Jews were recent immigrants. The vast majority of the land there was under Arab ownership. Were there other alternatives? Surrender, which I don’t approve of.

    c). Before hostilities started a secret plan had been worked out between Golda Meir and the British-sponsored King Abdullah of Jordan, by which Israel would take 78% of Palestine and Jordan the West Bank. But if the Arabs hadn’t ‘started the war’ – but I thinkj that ultimately the Zionists started the war by claiming Palestine for their state, the Palestinians were fighting in defense of their land and future – then the Zionists would have had to have done so if they wanted a Jewish state.

    have to take kids out. to rushed to do this properly. but Zionism began as a secular movement, so an anarchist’s redefiinition of the term sounds acceptable (and more than acceptable to me. It’s important work. Get to it! If you could come up with a definition many Israeli Jews could sign up to ,and many Arabs wouldmn’t have a problem with, you’ll have made a breakthrough.

    Read Ali’s book. My book is not published in the US, but you can order it (probably at great expense), from Amazon.co.uk. Out in paperback in the UK this week.


    April 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm

  8. Qunfuz,

    Your last reply was somewhat rushed and therefore a little bit cryptic. Something I always fail to understand is why the Arab side dismissed the option of simultaneously rejecting the partition plan and not starting a war. i.e., negotiate. Based on what I read, and the Arabs will never admit, it seems like belligerency was the only acceptable means for conflict resolution in Arab society, at least at that time. I agree that the Arabs had a casus beli, but thankfully governments don’t wage war each time they have a cause, they instead try to find a peaceful solution, especially if they know that they are likely to lose, which the Arabs could have known if they were willing to consider things rationally. To summarize going to war was both justified and reckless.

    Yossi Rumyal

    May 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

  9. The person who calls himself ‘chroniclinghate’ won’t find his comment here. I don’t publish comments which are racist or personally insulting. Chroniclinghate called me a bigot, a racist, someone who only knows how to write with crayons, and much more. I didn’t read it all. He seems to think I support Iranian oppression of Bahais, which I don’t. But as I said, I didnt read it all.

    Yossi’c comment above, by the way, is really strange, a product of Zionist delusion. Half of the 800,000 plus ethnically cleansed in 47/ 48 were kicked out BEFORE Arab militias arrived in Palestine. The country was raped, the people driven out, and Yossi thinks the Arabs shouldn’t have “started a war.” My God.

    Robin Yassin-Kassab

    August 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: