“Netanyahu derangement syndrome” continues to plague the otherwise often informative Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King. Its latest recurrence, in an Op-Ed headlined “The push for ‘Palestinian Lives Matter’” (Nov. 7, 2015 print edition), caused King to spotlight but not refute the inverted “Palestinian Lives Matter” ploy.
He pegged his column to the White House meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would take place two days later. But King’s text came largely from the anti-American, anti-white, anti-Jewish Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Wright had spoken in October at Louis Farrakhan’s Capitol Hill rally marking the 20th anniversary of his “Million Man March.”
According to King, “Wright, retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago—and President Obama’s pastor until 2008—used the occasion to deliver a paean to the Palestinians.” The clergyman linked “the plight of Palestinians in the Middle East with the quest of blacks for full equality in the United States.”
Wright, the columnist wrote, cited “racism, militarism and capitalism” in urging the crowd to “stand beside our Palestinian brothers and sisters, who have been done one of the most egregious injustices in the 20th and 21st centuries.” As the columnist reported, Wright said that “ ‘apartheid is going on in Palestine. … [T]here is an apartheid wall being built twice the size of the Berlin Wall in height, keeping Palestinians off of illegally occupied territories, where the Europeans’—presumably the Israelis—‘have claimed that land as their own.’”
Drawing on the black chant from protests over police killings of African Americans, Wright told listeners “Palestinians are saying ‘Palestinian lives matter.’” The clergyman added, “We stand with you, we support you, we say Gold bless you.”
Instead, he worried, as he had in an earlier column, about “a developing divergent African American perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” He said “the linkage of the Black Lives Matter movement with groups that share the goal of isolating and crippling Israel through the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is the latest manifestation of this reality.”
Rather than quoting a long-time Jew-hater at some length, King better could have exposed Wright’s “apartheid Israel” and “land-stealing Jews” indictment. To counter fraying support among black Americans for Israel, the columnist could have pointed out, among other things:
*Veterans of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, black and white, have affirmed that Israel treats its Arab minority—which enjoys the same rights as the Jewish majority—the opposite of how previous white minority governments treated South African blacks (See, for example, “Anti-Apartheid Preacher: Labeling Israel Apartheid is ‘Absolute Nonsense,’” CAMERA, May 8, 2007);
*Israel’s security barrier doesn’t keep Palestinian Arabs “off of illegally occupied territories” Wright’s “Europeans” have falsely claimed as their own. Rather, it was built in the past decade after Palestinian terrorists crossed into Israel and murdered more than 1,000 Jews, Arabs and foreign visitors in the second intifada;
*As the League of Nations recognized after World War I—a recognition incorporated later into the United Nations Charter—Mandatory Palestine was where the Jewish national home was to be re-established, based on the history and continuing attachment of the Jewish people. It was not “illegally occupied” by them, and Jews as well as Arabs have claims to the disputed West Bank to be resolved through negotiations. (See, among others, “Crimea, International Law and the West Bank,” by Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, Commentary, June, 2014);
King said he supports Israel and believes Palestinian Arabs “have a right to be a free people on their land.” He would have done readers a large favor by pointing out Israel does not stand in the way of that Palestinian aspiration—if that is a Palestinian aspiration.
The 1993 Oslo accords, launched at the White House with President Bill Clinton overseeing “the handshake” between Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, called for “final status” negotiations in 1998, widely anticipated to lead to a new Palestinian Arab state. The Palestinian side committed its
elf to ending anti-Israeli incitement and eliminating the terrorist infrastructure. Instead, incitement rose dramatically in official news media, schools and mosques. Palestinian terrorists began blowing up Israeli buses and pizzerias.
In 2000, the United States and Israel offered Palestinian leadership a state on all of the Gaza Strip and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Arafat refused and started the second intifada. In 2001, U.S. and Israeli negotiators repeated the proposal, now including virtually all the West Bank. Arafat again rejected it and continued his war of terrorism.
In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Arafat’s successor, current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the 2001 deal with land swaps to balance the small portion of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) Israel would retain. All the Palestinian side had to do to achieve the 23rd Arab country was agree to end the conflict and live in peace with Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas indicated he’d get back to Olmert on that, but never did. Nor did he agree to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2014 “framework” to restart negotiations.
King could have quoted Amb. Dennis Ross, former U.S. Arab-Israeli negotiator, on this history of Palestinian rejectionism (“Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass,” New York Times, Jan. 4, 2015). Instead, the columnist cited Ross’ new book, Doomed to Succeed: the U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama, to imply that Netanyahu, if not himself anti-black—hence his vehement disagreements with Obama, especially over the Iran nuclear deal—agrees with Israelis who are, or might be.
King might have reminded the “Palestinian Lives Matter” outfit, or any American susceptible to such propaganda, of Prof. Daniel Polisar’s review of scores of Palestinian public opinion polls since the Oslo “peace process” began. He found no majorities for a permanent “two-state solution,” no majorities for ending anti-Jewish terrorism, no majorities believing Jews are a people with ancient historical as well as religious ties to the land or any right to a sovereign country no matter what its boundaries (“What Do Palestinians Want?” Mosaic Magazine, Nov. 2, 2015).
“Palestinian Lives Matter” is part of the larger international movement that seeks to delegitimize and destroy Israel as a Jewish state. That coalition does not promote a free Palestinian Arab people in its own country. It’s mum about the status of Palestinian Arabs in Jordan, where they constitute the majority in a country comprising a majority of the original Palestine Mandate lands. It says nothing about Palestinian rights in the Gaza Strip under Hamas’ Islamic extremists or the West Bank under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ thuggish Fatah movement.
The psychological war waged against Israel, in which “Palestinian Lives Matter,” the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, Palestinian Authority communications media, the U.N. Human Rights Council, and countless NGOs (non-governmental organizations) like Sabeel (“Jesus was a Palestinian”) all enlisted ultimately advances an Arab-Islamic supremacism. Suppressed, whenever possible, are all non-Muslim or non-Arab Middle Eastern minorities including not only Jews but also a variety of Christians—Copts, Greek Orthodox and Assyrian, Druze, Berbers (Imazighen), Kurds, Yazidis and so on.
From slavery through the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, many if not most American blacks more accurately saw in their struggles a reflection of the ancient Israelites going from Egyptian slavery to freedom in the Promised Land, Israel. There’s a reason the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church movement in the United States took that name. And the Jewish people in modern times recapitulated the Exodus from Egypt, in many respects, by going from the ashes of the Holocaust, Middle Eastern expulsion and Soviet oppression to reconstruction of and in Israel.
This is what Washington Post columnist King usefully, accurately could have stressed. Instead, he found Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responsible for a “developing divergent African American perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
When the new president said, contrary to previous chief executives from his own Democratic Party as well as Republicans, that the United States would have to put “daylight” between itself and Israel to advance U.S. interests in the Middle East, Israel did not jump on a GOP bandwagon; it sought to strengthen support on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle.
But King is susceptible to the notion that opposition—especially public and sustained—to policies by Obama as the first black president are likely racial, not substantive. In a column headlined “How Israel may be damaging the alliance between blacks and Jews” (July 24, 2015) he seemed unable to believe that Netanyahu, or another Israeli prime minister, would not have opposed the nuclear talks with Iran, given their direction, just as forcefully with a white president in the Oval Office.
Focusing on a mirage of Israeli racism toward Obama, King failed to examine the “Palestinian Lives Matter” effort to co-opt “Black Lives Matter” and smear the Jewish state. But three weeks before King’s latest Israel commentary, Washington Post blogger Ishaan Tharoor—while continuing to misinterpret the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—provided background the columnist omitted.
In “The growing solidarity between#BlackLivesMatter and Palestinian activists; A video connects two very different struggles” (Oct. 15, 2015), Tharoor noted “As the Ferguson [Missouri] protests intensified” in spring, 2014, “Palestinians reached out to those on the
streets.” This January, “a group of #BlackLivesMatter went on a mission to the Palestinian territories.”
As for the Palestinian Arab struggle “hinging on civil rights,” their civil rights depend on the regimes of Hamas in Gaza and Fatah (Palestinian Authority) on the West Bank, under which few if any African Americans would chose to live. As for the civil rights of Jews in the Middle East—having been driven out of or fled age-old communities in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran and elsewhere, they are protected in Israel. So are the civil rights of Israeli Arabs.
As for the “Gaza-as-Ferguson” slogan, CAMERA dissected it in “Naomi Shihab Nye Hijacks Ferguson to Falsify Gaza; Washington Post Helps” (Aug. 29, 2014). Nye’s mangled analogy mashed autobiography, historical fiction and political propaganda.
Not that it would matter. “Palestinian Lives Matter” organizers include, according to Tharoor, Noura Erakat, an assistant professor at George Mason University who, her next departmental review should note, spends considerable effort on anti-Israel polemics. She told Al-Jazeera America television, Tharoor said, that despite “completely different historical trajectories,” both black Americans and Palestinian Arabs experienced “dehumanization that criminalized them and that subject their bodies as expendable.”
Penetrating Erakat’s academic jargon one finds this: The people dehumanized and criminalized like black slaves in America, whose bodies were expendable—in no small measure because Arab riots and massacres of Jews in British Mandatory Palestine induced authorities to virtually bar further immigration just as Nazism swept the continent—were the Jews of Europe. The people who rejected a second Arab state in Mandatory Palestine and went to war against a companion new Jewish state in 1948 were the Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs whose standard of living and populations rose most dramatically, certainly outside the Arab oil states, have been those in Israel and the Palestinian territories under Israeli administration.
African American celebrities who appear in the “Palestinian Lives Matter” video “When I see them I see us,” Tharoor said, include the actor Danny Glover, writer Alice Walker (Pulitzer Prize winner for The Color Purple); and the American Communist Party activist Angela Davis. Glover, a veteran of the far left, was a fan of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Walker is an antisemite who compared Israeli measures against Palestinian Arabs to the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides and claimed Israel was still crucifying Jesus, “a Palestinian.” Davis, professor emerita of the history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California Santa Cruz, is a BDS supporter and shameless anti-Israel Middle East revisionist (see, for example, “Maligning Israel at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting,” CAMERA, Feb. 2, 2013).