[Marxism] When Israel wages war on Palestinians, we speak out. But they are dying, right now, at the hands of an Arab regime

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Mon Apr 13 08:40:45 MDT 2015


> That being said, I think there are obvious other elements to consider regarding the so-called "selective outrage":

> 1) There are plenty of people who do think both the State of Israel and the Syrian regime are unacceptable in their conduct, and not just a handful of people on Marx Mail. The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, a multitude of different left and resistance organizations have taken anti-regime stances as well as anti-Zionist stances (and no, that is not an endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood). So the idea that there is some sort of "selective outrage" is itself fairly selective.

Yes – but the fact that it is much more groups like Hamas and the Brotherhood, regardless of what we think of them, that have taken this kind of principled stand than VERY LARGE SECTIONS of the western left is exactly one of the problems. Geez, people wonder why Islamists gain support in places like Syria instead of leftists and then find this a further excuse to oppose the revolution, without an apparent clue about the circularity of this. Hell, I have no brief for the AKP in Turkey but when its Syria position is so many leagues ahead of that of Venezuela for example, well what can one expect of the resulting politics of the region?

> 2) The Syrian regime is slaughtering people, but it is subject to different international rules than Israel is. It does not receive billions of dollars in direct military aid from the most powerful country in the world, nor does its leadership have a powerful lobby in the United States, nor does its President get to make multiple speeches before Congress, nor is it able to carry on with the kind of trade and normalcy that Israel does ... Israel deserves greater international condemnation and scrutiny when it carries out its aggression precisely because the powers that be in Washington, London, Paris, and even the Arab capitals consider it to be more or less acceptable. 

Yes – the article I sent made exactly that point:

“This is far from a cynical exercise in pro-Israeli whataboutery. There are very good reasons that Israel attracts such widespread criticism and condemnation in the west. Israel is our ally and claims to be a liberal democracy, unlike both Assad and Isis. Israel is also armed, funded and protected from UN censure by the US government; again, unlike both Assad and Isis. Those who try to use the tragedy of Yarmouk to excuse or downplay Israel’s 48-year occupation of Palestine should be ashamed of themselves.”

However, the point of the article was to show that many on “our side” are just as hypocritical regarding the current ongoing Nakba:
“But what of the rest of us? Can we afford to stay in our deep slumber, occasionally awakening to lavishly condemn only Israel? Let’s be honest: how different, how vocal and passionate, would our reaction be if the people besieging Yarmouk were wearing the uniforms of the IDF?”

> “If anything, the double standard, both in general and on the left, is in favor of Israel, not Syria. That is not to deny the existence of apologists for any regime that has even remotely poised itself as anti-imperialist (Assad, Hussein, Qaddafi, even the DPRK depending on how deep into the Stalinist trenches you go). But they are marginal.”

No, the double standard “in general”, ie mainstream, is in favour of Israel, which most people on the left have spent decades fighting against and continue to, while the double standard among a very significant part of the left is the mirror-image of that, in classic mirror-image politics. Unfortunately it is not just the marginal lunar Assadist fringe as you imply, but a much larger section, because extreme “anti-imperialism” leading to pro-Assadism is only one of the influences. Others include a less extreme version that basically says, OK, we know the regime is crap, but since imperialism seems to be saying that, we should say nothing; the view that as a “civil war” everyone commits crimes so everyone is bad, basically a left version of the liberal “Israel and Palestinians both commit atrocities” etc; there’s the “west allegedly sent a few arms to the FSA” so even though Assad is crap the opposition are a western conspiracy; there’s the don’t believe anything you read in the imperialist media idea (except when it suits you);  then there’s the influence, even unconscious, of Islamophobia on a section of the left, which is when they forget about not listening to the imperialist media; this is often connected to an excessive “secularism” among parts of the left which ahs become extremely pro-Assad; the rise of ISIS has solidified these tendencies, so imperialist propaganda about ISIS being uniquely evil is accepted with little thought, bringing them into agreement with current imperialist thought that Assad is a lesser evil; then there’s the Castro and Chavez/Maduro say x, therefore we ought to parrot it; and so on.

And the point is, perhaps it all doesn’t matter? But when the level of massacre continues to spin completely out of control, and a large section of what is seen as left and progressive opinion in the west identifies with this kind of regime, it does muck things up for the left internationally, especially in the Mideast.

Really, I wonder how many left and progressive publications around the world just discovered Yarmouk last week and have accepted hook line and sinker the imperialist media picture that is is largely an ISIS problem?

> The Arab regimes' role in selling out the rights of Palestinians or even going to the extreme of joining Israel in murdering them should not be divorced or seen as separate from the oppression that Israel has carried out. 

Of course it cannot be divorced. Israel is the reason Palestinians are in Yarmouk and in other Arab countries where they get massacred. It is important for us to point this out. But mechanically inserting the word “Israel” every time an Arab tyranny is slaughtering Palestinians or others almost comes across as some kind of guilt trip, like one has to excuse oneself for slamming another regime fro killing Palestinians. Sorry, I feel my anti-Zionist credentials are solid enough to not worry about that. Israel should be slammed always, but not in a way that is ridiculous and does no justice to the argument. In this case, Israel has done nothing at all. What we can demand, of course, is safe passage of the Palestinians in Yarmouk back to their homeland, Palestine, the most logical connection.


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