Salman Masalha || Welcome, racists
Israel responded to the weekend fly-in by the so-called "pro-Palestinian" activists with hysteria bordering on stupidity, at best - because, even if it sounds strange, these activists are in no way pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab. Rather than the fly-in serving as a "Welcome to Palestine," as the organizers called the protest campaign, it was aimed at expressing solidarity with Israel and stressing the extent to which Israel belongs to the activists' cultural family.
It is possible that some of these activists are good, naive people who wish to mend the world. It is also possible that some of them came with the intention of blackening Israel's already blackened face. And even when the world is busy with more urgent matters, it is proper to remember the sad plight of the Palestinians and not to let the prolonged Israeli occupation be forgotten. This is indeed an important matter.
However, it is clear that the civilized and politically correct world of these activists is infested with racism - not against the Jews but against Arab and Muslim culture, because the protest shows that the organizers' premise completely contravenes any identification with Arab suffering.
There is a grain of truth in the cynical letter the Israeli government prepared for any of the activists who, despite all of Israel's attempts to keep them out, managed to land here anyway. In that letter, the government says the protesters could have focused on the actions of Syria, Iran or Hamas, but chose Israel instead. Indeed, were these activists to have waved the banner of human rights in general and Arab human rights in particular, they would certainly have found somewhere to express their "moral" commitment in other places in this region. There is no dearth of such objectives in recent times.
For a year or more now, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been massacring Syrian Arab citizens who are demanding freedom. The rest of the world, which for some reason is considered cultured, has been observing this atrocity with its arms folded and has done nothing to stop the killings and destruction in Syrian cities. This is the civilized world to which these activists belong, and they appear to be acting according to the moral codes of this world of theirs.
Those who divide the world, and the human beings who populate it, into two categories - some to whom universal moral rules apply and some to whom they don't - cannot be called moral. Universal morals must be applied to everyone. The morality of anyone who excludes any group of people who are not required to act according to moral codes is in itself dubious.
Is it a kind of multicultural racism that prevents these and other activists from displaying solidarity with the Syrian Arab citizens who are being slaughtered? Do Syria and other countries like it in the Arab world belong, in the eyes of these activists and others like them, to a different cultural world, one where universal moral codes do not apply?
Human rights activists of this kind, who cannot find the time to hold demonstrations of solidarity with Arab citizens who are being massacred on a daily basis in Arab countries, in effect reveal anti-Arab racism through their inaction. For them, the Arab and Muslim world belongs to a different cultural world that behaves according to different moral codes, which are not part of "our" lofty Western moral codes.
To the way of thinking of these activists, Israel is something else. Israel is part of their family. That is why they come to demonstrate here, rather than in Syria or other Arab countries. This fly-in, and similar demonstrations, should be renamed "Welcome to Israel."
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 17 April 2012
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