Of all the many extraordinary sites and sounds from the Israel trip from which I have just returned, the view from the high point of Kibbutz Misgav Am, in the extreme north, down into Lebanon is the one I am unable to get out of my mind.
You look in the Israel direction and see richly cultivated farmland running across the Hula Valley for miles and miles almost to the horizon. You look into Lebanon and you see sporadic small olive groves, abandoned homes interspersed with inhabited ones and uncultivated hard-scrabble land running on forever.
The difference is almost surreal since the land itself is the same on both sides of the border. Anyone could farm it. You just have to have the will to do it. (Much of that land, I was told, was riddled with underground tunnels through which to attack Israel.)
You notice a similar disparity between Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas on the West Bank.
Of course the soi-disant “progressive” explanation for the dramatic difference is the Israeli occupation. Never mind the Israelis are not occupying Lebanon – they must be doing it in some spiritual manner.
When I say “the likes of” I am acknowledging there are many similar (though few as bad as Falk), but I will get back to them in a second.
Imagine for a moment the Arab standing on his land whether in Lebanon or the West Bank and looking down or across into Israel. What must he be thinking? (This would also include, to varying degrees, those living inside Israel.)
Their first reaction would most likely be a form of shame – why can’t we do that? But shame is a difficult emotion to “contain” in the psychoanalytic sense. In order to quiet it, you have to do something about it, improve your situation yourself to gain self-respect.
An easier reaction, a quick amelioration of shame, is a combination of rage and blame – and that is what we have seen all over the Arab Middle East for decades. And, as we know, this unremitting anger is justified and exacerbated — and, to a great degree, caused — by religious fundamentalism.
That is what we have before us at present. And in many ways it seems to be growing worse as Israel progresses. Many parts of the country I visited are now almost indistinct from the Silicon Valley with gleaming Microsoft offices interspersed with high-tech Israeli companies.
Meanwhile, the Arab world is in a breakdown and appears to be plummeting toward the eighth century. Paranoia, always a problem for that culture, runs rampant, today’s example being a supposedly secret conclave in which Egyptian politicians blamed America and Israel for Ethiopia’s desire to build a dam — this after the U. S. just quietly sent Egypt an additional 1.3 billion in aid. We must be schizophrenics.
Well, in truth, maybe we are part of the problem. Perhaps giving aid is the exact wrong way to help bring the Arab world into modernity.
In your own family you don’t continue to give money to your cousin to feed his heroin habit. After awhile, you realize what you are doing is making the habit worse. The best way to help him is to cut him off.
The Arab world has a heroin problem — and the heroin is Western aid. Drop it and, like that cousin, they will have to grow up and do something for themselves. (It would be interesting to see how fast the Palestinian Authority made peace with Israel if they no longer received Western aid. As has already been shown, the countries that advanced most quickly in Africa are the ones who received little or no aid.)
For us to do that, “progressives” (and others, alas) in our culture will have to grow up themselves. Buried not too deeply in their ideology (and born of multi-culturalism and cultural relativism) is a form of racism toward the Third World. The Left consciously/unconsciously assumes folks in the Middle East and Africa are incapable of taking care of themselves — a self-fulling prophecy. In the words of Pirandello, “It is so, if you think so.” Ironically, in a bizarre switch, it is the Left that has taken over the “white man’s burden.”
Those of Richard Falk’s ilk are the guiltiest of this form of patriarchal racism. Falk — the prototypical left-wing Jewish professor who blamed the Boston Bombings on America’s “global domination project” — has been accused of antisemitism.
I think Falk is far guiltier of anti-Arab racism — only he is undoubtedly unconscious of it. He completely infantilizes them. The Arabs are the ones who should really hate him. Jews can at least laugh. We’ve seen this all before.
image courtesy shutterstock / Meg007