Saturday, April 08, 2006

Test your biases - A Quiz (David Hirsh)

This little item by David Hirsh is funny and offers some useful food for thought. It is posted on David's "Comment is free" blog at the Guardian website and reproduced at the Engage website. (Following what I have come to recognize as standard British usage, the word "racism" is used to refer to any form of ethnic or religious bigotry, as well as what I would call racism per se.  The point is clear enough.)  I would give this the following title, which is a slight variation on David's:

Are you anti-semitic, anti-Zionist, anti-Arab, or Islamophobic?
Try this quiz and find out.

April 7, 2006 10:20 AM
David Hirsh

Are you an antisemite or an Islamophobe? - David Hirsh
(1) If you heard of an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian child, how would you react?
a I would think this just normal. Jews have been murdering innocent children for thousands of years in order to drink their blood. It's an astonishing testament to Jewish power that the rest of the world puts up with Jewish denials.
b I have read somewhere that Israel has a deliberate policy of murdering Palestinian children. It must be true. Israel is unique because it is a child-murdering state.
c I would be very angry. I would want to know more about exactly what had happened. Was it a teenager involved in attacking Israelis that was shot? Was it a deliberate murder - if so, what are the Israeli authorities doing about it? Was it the "collateral damage" of some Israeli attack? Does the story come from a source that I trust? I would understand this event in the context of a long and bloody struggle on which there is both wrong and right on both sides. I would condemn the Israeli authorities for allowing a child to be killed by an Israeli soldier.
d I would think that Israel tells the truth and acts only defensively, so I would assume that this must be either a lie or a terrible accident. Terrible accidents happen in war. This war is the responsibility of Arabs who try to blow up Israeli civilians and who want to drive all Jews out of the Middle East. So it is the Arabs who are really to blame for this child's death.
(2) Why does the media support Israel so much and portray the Palestinians as vicious murdering terrorists?
a Jews control public opinion through the media. They are hugely well organised, hugely well funded and extremely secretive. Something needs to be done about Jewish power worldwide.
b Zionists control public opinion through the media. They are hugely well organised, hugely well funded and extremely secretive. Something needs to be done about the Zionist-imperialist agenda that dominates western governments.
c I think there is quite a lot of demonisation of Jews and Israelis as well as Palestinians and Muslims in the media. Sometimes, particularly in more left and liberal publications, there are pieces that seek to make it normal and respectable to loathe Israel. Often, and particularly in more rightwing publications, there is anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism, sometimes explicit, sometimes between the lines. I think that we need to oppose all forms of demonisation and racism equally.
d I think the truth is exactly the opposite. It is normal for the media to portray the Israeli defence forces as being equivalent to terrorists. The media always accepts Palestinian narratives and sources. The BBC, the Guardian, the Independent and the New York Times are the worst offenders. I fear that liberals do not see anything at all in western civilisation worth defending.
(3) What can we in Britain do to help the formation of a free, independent and democratic Palestinian state?
a We helped to defeat South African apartheid by boycotting it. We can do the same with the other apartheid state, Israel. We should refuse to sell any weapons to Israel. We should refuse any contact with Israeli artists, musicians, academics, researchers, and students. We should squeeze the Israeli economy for as long as Israel refuses to end the occupation and allow all the Palestinian refugees and their descendents to return to their rightful homes. We cannot be moral ourselves if we are complicit in the crimes of Israel, the fascist state. Israeli oranges are dripping with Palestinian blood and we should not eat them.
b We should do what we can to build a movement for peace between Israel and Palestine. We should help and encourage all those movements that fight for peace, within both Israel and Palestine. We should not think of this as a struggle between a good state and a bad state but as a dispute over territory between two legitimate states - both with particularly difficult and tear-stained histories. We should help Palestinians who suffer poverty, humiliation and curtailment of their ordinary democratic rights because of the occupation. We should try to facilitate links between Israel, Palestine and our own countries. We should support a peace agreement that will guarantee that both Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East have the right to live in peace and have the right to defend themselves collectively against future attack.
c Most Palestinians do not want a free and democratic Palestine. They said, by electing Hamas in January, that they want an Islamic state in the whole of Israel and the Palestinian territories. They elected an openly racist party to speak for them. Most Palestinians think that Jews have no right to live in the Middle East. So we should not worry about Palestine but we should worry about Israel. Israel should withdraw from most of the occupied territories, draw up safe and fair permanent borders, and let the rest of the world worry about Palestine.
d There are 22 Arab states. If Palestinians want to live in one of those then they are welcome to leave Israel. If they want to stay in the only Jewish state, then they should abide by the law and be good citizens of the only democracy in the Middle East. Israel should annexe the liberated territories and should not pander to political correctness and Islamic fundamentalism.
(4) Anti-semitism is ...
a The word "Semite" refers to both Arabs and Jews. Therefore anti-semitism is any racism against either Arabs or Jews. The word has been appropriated by the Jews for their own exclusive use. They think that they are the most victimised group in the history of the world and they play on this shamelessly.
b Extremely rare nowadays. There are still some anti-semites on the far right, particularly in eastern Europe. Anti-semitism is strong among the American Christian right from where much support for Israel comes. But there is no real anti-semitism amongst Muslims or people who support the Palestinians. Israel claims to speak for all Jews and so it is quite understandable that some people take out their justified anger with Israel by attacking Jews. They shouldn't do this but this is not really anti-semitism. Most of the fuss you hear about anti-semitism nowadays is caused by Zionists maliciously accusing critics of Israel of being anti-semitic. They shame the memory of the victims of real anti-semitism by doing this. They are like the little girl who cried, "Wolf!" Soon enough nobody will care at all about anti-semitism.
c A racism that anti-racists should take as seriously as any other. It is making a comeback in forms that do not openly break the post-Holocaust taboos and therefore in forms that are not always obvious.
d Anti-semitism has been a feature of Christianity and Islam since those religions came into being as offshoots of Judaism. Christians and Muslims cannot bear to live alongside Jews, who they see as mouthy, miserly, opinionated, secretive, unpatriotic, effeminate (Jewish men), bossy (the women), too clever by half and dangerous. Christians and Muslims cannot be cured of anti-semitism and so the only way for Jews to escape anti-semitism is by living in Israel and making sure it has an extremely powerful army.
I invite people to provide their own answers in the comments box.