Thursday, March 29, 2012

White people guilt

Recently, the Park Slope Co-Op held a vote on whether to ban products from Israel in their stores.  The initiative lost, 1000-650.  However, I have to wonder, why it seems that boycotting Israel has become a liberal cause.  Israel is both the only democracy and non-Muslim state in the Middle East.  It is one of the smallest countries by land mass in the Middle East, and welcomes people of all faiths.  It also has a very liberal policy WRT to the LGBT community (especially in a region where being LGBT can become a capital offense).  It also, until recently, had a fairly liberal policy on the role of women.  All of these are important liberal causes.  Many would say that it is anti-Semitism.  However, I think  it goes to another issue--one that I call "white people guilt."
The history of the United States is one that has not been kind to minorities.  Between slavery, Native American resettlement, internment of the Japanese during World War II, quotas designed to keep out non-Anglo immigrants, and Jim Crow laws, there are a lot of reasons for liberal Americans to feel guilty over the treatment of the underdog, especially if the underdog is not white.  Back when Israel first started, the Jews in the region were that oppressed minority.  Between the Holocaust in Europe, and various "gentleman's agreements" here in the States, Jews were easy to categorize as the underdog.  Put them on a sliver of land surrounded by people that want nothing more than to drive them into the sea, and they become more enticing.  After all, they didn't have a prayer.  Until they started fighting back and winning.  Suddenly, the entire dialogue shifted.  Instead of the poor, oppressed Jews, suddenly it was the poor, oppressed Palestinians.  And, as an added bonus, the Palestinians weren't white!  Think about it.  Most people who visualize Jews think of Eastern European Ashkenazim, who are fairly indistinguishable from the Caucasian ruling class.  The Sephardim of the Middle East (many of whom had to flee their native countries the minute Israel became a state) rarely register.  This makes the Palestinians the perfect target for anyone who has sympathies for an oppressed minority. 
The irony, of course, is that the Palestinians probably would not like many of the things their supporters like.


  1. White liberal self-hate is the guiding factor here. How else to explain why pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-atheist folks are taking the side of a anti-homosexual, misogynistic, fundamentalist group in this conflict?
    The real irony isn't that the so-called Palestinians wouldn't like the things that their supporters do but, given the chance, they would kill them off once they'd served their purpose in destroying Israel.


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