Sunday, June 12, 2011

Racism and the Pew Poll confirming Americans sympathize with Israelis more than with Palestinians

A recent poll from Pew Research shows that US citizens sympathize with Israel at a rate multiples greater than their sympathy with Palestinians. I'll make a few points about this.

1) The US identification with Israel at the expense of Palestinians did not start recently, it did not start in 1973, it did not start in 1967 or 1956. The United States has favored Israelis for as long as there has been a conflict. Commonly heard claims that the US was once neutral regarding the conflict are just lies. Often I'm pretty sure the speaker knows they are lying. Maybe sometimes I come across someone who really believes it.

2) The US sympathy with Israel is at least as racially-based as the Arab sympathy with the Palestinians, even among non-Jews.

3) Africa's sympathy with Black South Africans was also just as racially-based as white-American sympathy with White South Africans until the mid-1980s was (along with Israeli sympathy with Apartheid South Africa until the very end). It is important to remember that when both sides are motivated by racial identification, one side can still be right, and that is the side that calls for one-person one-vote, for individuals to be treated equally without regard to ethnicity.

4) Barack Obama is just as biased toward Israel as any white-American. This can only be explained with slight modifications of the explanation for people like Clarence Thomas (and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah), but it also should be noted that if Obama did not demonstrate this bias, he simply would not be President of the United States.

5) While non-Jewish White Americans do favor Israel, they do not care nearly as intensely as the Arab populations of the states of Israel's region who sympathize with the Palestinians. Even though they generally do not have nearly equal resources, Arabs if they were ruled by accountable governments would probably give Palestine more support than the US is willing to give Israel because of the difference in intensity of the identification. For this reason, Israel as a Jewish political majority state is not viable without the American/Zionist Raj.

6) Pew published in its report several a break-out of subcategories of white support for Israel, but none for non-white support. Possibly a fuller report will be made available later, and if so it will be very interesting to see, especially as trends indicate that the United States is slowly becoming a more non-White country.

7) These poll results are not inconsistent with the idea that American Jews, a numerically small but possibly the US' wealthiest ethnic group, have in various ways shaped US policy to be more pro-Israel than it otherwise would be, and specifically have used charges and threats to make the charge of anti-semitism to direct and shape US mainstream discourse on the Middle East.

With that said, while noting the abuse of the concept of anti-semitism as a political tool for Zionism, and pointing out that Jewish ethnic support for Zionist Israel can be just as wrong as white ethnic support for Apartheid South Africa, it should also be noted that Jews supporting Israel is in itself not unusual or unexpected or evidence of any unique positive or negative attribute to that ethnic group.

The only reason Arab identification with Palestinians is morally better than Jewish or white American identification with Israel is that, again, from the inception of Zionism when the territory was 90% non-Jewish throughout and until today, the Arab identification with Palestinians has, been more consistent with the idea of one-person one-vote equality without regard to ethnicity.

8) More tangentially but since we're here: US Racism was, somewhat surprisingly to me, not a strong enough force in US politics to prevent Barack Obama from becoming president of the United States in a situation where the incumbent political party suffered from the economy performing poorly near the time of the election. But I've read that Barack Obama underperformed the expected result for a challenging major party candidate under those circumstances. If the US economy does not improve by election day 2012, and by more than it would have to improve if Obama was White, Obama will not be re-elected.

It is very well possible that Obama may in 2012 be the victim of the same bias in sympathies that he defends so vehemently before domestic US and international audiences.


George Carty said...

How many of Apartheid's defenders (and if possible, could you name some?) claimed that the fall of Apartheid would result in the extermination of South Africa's white population?

I'm just interested, since many right-wing Zionists claim that the defeat of Zionism would result in the extermination of the Israeli Jews.

I suppose this latter claim though is essential in order to make the "Samson Option" threat credible, as if the Samson Option were ever actually to be used, it would almost certainly result in the extermination of the Israeli Jews in reprisal (if not also to a Second Holocaust against the Jewish diaspora, especially if European as well as Middle Eastern cities were nuked).

Arnold Evans said...

First, let's hear the names of the right-wing Zionists who claim the defeat of Zionism would result in the extermination of Israeli Jews.

I'm sure google will produce names of Apartheid's defenders who say similar things once I look.

Apartheid certainly had defenders. Ronald Reagan and Richard Cheney were two. And the alternative to Apartheid, to hear its defenders tell it, was victory for the terrorists.

You really will not be able to find arguments in support of Zionism that were not used in support of Apartheid.

George Carty said...

I thought it was pretty much all the right-wing Zionists who accused the Arabs of having genocidal ambitions.

On the other hand, most defenders of Apartheid (at least those who were not driven by simple racism) were driven by anti-Communism – in those times the word "terrorists" brought Marxists to mind rather than Islamists. South Africa had lots of gold and diamonds, plus a strategic position between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the Free World could not allow such a country to fall into the Kremlin's hands.

The ANC was heavily Marxist oriented for two reasons:

1) When the South African civil rights movement was smashed after Sharpeville, the only way forward that was left was armed struggle, and this needed backing from the Soviet Union, and

2) South Africa was and is dominated by mining. An extractive economy naturally lends itself to a heavy degree of state control.