I just read an interesting, albeit not a very new article by the great historian Tony Judt. Here is a curious paragraph detailing the change of the West’s vision of Israel:
Before 1967 the State of Israel may have been tiny and embattled, but it was not typically hated: certainly not in the West. . . The romantic image of the kibbutz and the kibbutznik had a broad foreign appeal in the first two decades of Israel’s existence. Most admirers of Israel (Jews and non-Jews) knew little about the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. They preferred to see in the Jewish state the last surviving incarnation of the 19th century idyll of agrarian socialism – or else a paragon of modernizing energy “making the desert bloom.” . . . In politics and in policy-making circles only old-fashioned conservative Arabists expressed any criticism of the Jewish state. . .
But today everything is different. . . Today only a tiny minority of outsiders see Israelis as victims. The true victims, it is now widely accepted, are the Palestinians.
This is completely true, and such a change has, indeed, taken place. It has nothing, however, to do with the West caring about Palestinians. The very idea is risible if we take into account the intense anti-Muslim sentiments that exist in pretty much every Western country.
What Judt is refusing to notice is that something has changed in the West to make this change of attitude towards Israel unavoidable and necessary – to the West. The immigration of Muslims into Western countries is booming. The “support” for Palestinians – which doesn’t cost the Westerners anything – is an easy way to tell themselves, “No, it’s not true that we hate the Muslims in our midst. We are proving that every day by bravely supporting Palestinians.”
This is a nifty little way to exorcise collective guilt for everything one is actually doing and feeling towards the Muslims who are close-by. And the initial support of Israel in the first couple of decades of its existence was motivated by the same old collective guilt over the Holocaust. Now that itch has mostly been scratched and a more delicious one has appeared:
In the eyes of a watching world, the fact that the great-grandmother of an Israeli soldier died in Treblinka is no excuse for his own abusive treatment of a Palestinian woman waiting to cross a checkpoint.
No it’s not. It is, however, a great excuse used by the “the watching world” for its own mistreatment of a Muslim next door.