I came across a passage from a Shelby Steele essay in 2010 (excerpts of which I posted below) which may accurately explain the Guardians’ continuing sympathy for even the most violent, antisemitic Islamists: Hamas members who represent the antithesis of even the broadest understanding of liberal values.
Since 2011, the broadsheet which aspires to be the world’s leading liberal voice has published the Islamist terror groups’ head of international relations Osama Hamdan, Hamas ‘advisor‘ Azzam Tamimi, Musa Abumarzuq – deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, and today Hamas’ political leader and Gaza’s Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh.
“[T]he merest echo of the shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.
The West …lacks the self-assurance to see the Palestinians accurately. Here again it is safer in the white West to see the Palestinians as they advertise themselves—as an “occupied” people denied sovereignty and simple human dignity by a white Western colonizer. The West is simply too vulnerable to the racist stigma to object to this “neo-colonial” characterization.
Our problem in the West is understandable. [We] don’t want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So…choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians…are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation and even—they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority.
And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity—no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority.”
The truth of Steele’s words is reflected by Ismail Haniyeh’s essay. The leader of a movement whose founding charter continually calls for the eradication of the Jewish state strikes the appropriate ‘liberal cords’ and plays the Guardian crowd like a fiddle.
Haniyeh begins his CiF essay We Palestinians are reclaiming our destiny, June 8th, thus:
“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.”
Haniyeh is being a bit coy here. Is the fakery he speaks of the Jews’ erroneous connection to Israel? Perhaps the rhetorical obfuscation and craftiness over the truth (in need of ‘revelation’) is owed to the need for tip-towing around elements in his movement’s less than enlightened founding platform; those elements which command allegiance to the Protocols of the Elder of Zion and insist that there is indeed a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.
The Islamist leader now clearly aspires to more lofty and elevated prose (though, as you’ll see in this passage, falls for the garden-variety analogies).
“…our destiny dictated that we should become like a fruit overhanging a garden fence: each passer-by would try to pluck us, while we struggled to cling to the vine. But our right to our land…is an inalienable right guaranteed by all norms and laws. The “Palestinian problem” has many dimensions, but at its root is Israel’s occupation.”
Hint for the truly perplexed and/or those merely taking the Guardian seriously: where the Hamas leader writes that the “Palestinian problem has many dimensions, but at its roots is Israel’s occupation.”, by “occupation” he meant of course to write “existence”.
Now the progressive Haniyeh pivots to the downright risible:
“We as a people want to live in our homeland, the land of our ancestors, in freedom, dignity and democracy, and with a just peace that restores our rights.”
A more exquisite example of what Richard Landes terms the Demopath vs. Dupe dynamic would be difficult to find. This dynamic indeed lies at the heart of the Guardian’s liberal cognitive egocentrism (the tendency to believe that almost everyone wants positive-sum solutions – and prohibits people from imagining malevolence).
Demopaths, such as Hamas, are – per Landes – people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests. Thus, they are able to invoke the word “democracy” without a hint of cognitive dissonance even in the face of their bloody coup in 2007 which purged Gaza of any last trace of democratic opposition and the dearth of human rights in the territory for religious minorities, women or gays.
Dupes, per Landes, are people who take demopaths at face value, accept their position and accuse those who suspect demopathy of demonizing, essentializing, prejudice, or racism.
I’d add one more component to Landes’ definition of a “Dupe”, Guardian style. ‘Comment is Free’s decision to legitimize Hamas, per Shelby Steele, seems necessarily incumbent upon the terrorist organisation not only effectively employing the language of human rights, but using it in a broader narrative claiming victimhood.
Who are the Palestinians in the eyes of the Guardian, after all, other than a group (via a strictly enforced political orthodoxy) juxtaposed with the Jewish other: a political abstraction void of complexity or human color?
Without this perception of victimhood, the Palestinians would be forced to be held accountable for their cultures’ political and moral faults and egregious social and economic underdevelopment – difficult truths in an honor-shame culture.
The silence of the Guardian (and the West more broadly) in face of decades of the Palestinians’ (post Holocaust) endemic antisemitism is shameful, for sure, but seems in many ways to be informed by their own contempt towards those whose sympathy they claim to possess.
When you deny adults moral agency, you are in effect infantilizing them. You are implicitly acknowledging that they cannot compete morally with other adults; that their culture can not be held to the same ethical standards as others.
Is there a more clear definition of racism?