Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Palestinian Group Think and the Victim Narrative: Part Two

I'd like to start this continuation from the previous installment with a brief and less than frivolous look at a widely sold food product in the Arabic world known as Panda Cheese.

Perhaps you have heard of this company's products, or perhaps not, but the take away here is the not the cheese itself, but rather the very popular marketing campaign that the makers have conceived, and how it reflects general Arabic sensibilities and humor, which I believe are symptomatic of their overall perceptions of what is normally called "the conquest narrative".

Videos of the Panda Cheese commercials are easily available to watch on Youtube, but to demystify the general theme of all of them I'll give you the recurring motif in a nutshell.

1. To the tune of Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways", one person offers cheese to another, or suggests that cheese needs to be purchased.

2. The second person, usually a male, insists that they do not want to eat cheese at that moment, or that there are more than enough other food items to eat.

3. A Panda arrives, or I should say, a man in a Panda suit arrives. Why the company icon is a Panda, I have no idea.

4. The Panda glares at the non-compliant "cheese denier" and then suddenly engages in various acts of vandalism, such as knocking over their shopping cart, computer or television set, attacking their property, such as their automobile, with a club, and smashes their non-cheese products by stomping on them. In one case, the Panda even disconnects an IV from a patient in a hospital bed.

5. Due to the destruction, and the clear threat that it will continue, the initial offender quickly complies and orders or purchases the cheese, sometimes aggressively shoving their child to pick up more cheese faster, as to not risk angering the Panda further. The slogan is "Never Say No to Panda".

The Panda Cheese commercials are on some level tongue and cheek, and are admittedly almost undeniably very funny, but beneath that overt comedic layer, the deeper cultural sensibilities are so telling that I can't imagine that the writers were/are not aware of them. In case I'm not making myself clear, the message is: submission to violence is normal, and that violence is normal.

In the west, trade and commerce and nobility and militarism have always had very different places in society. Kings and warriors may have been accorded honor or not depending on their record, but tradespeople were always traditionally thought to be most effective and esteemed when they not only gained financial wealth but also engendered a sense of fairness and trust to their customers.

Adherence to this commonly accepted standard even bore a negative stereotype of the inverse in 1950's America, when those buskers who attempted to seem "too trustworthy", such as used car salesmen, were thought to be untrustworthy and deceptive. Luckily, the old Roman motto: "Caveat Emptor", or, "Let the buyer beware", usually sufficed to circumnavigate the cunning wiles of these knaves.

However, on some level, Arabic culture traditionally disdained the art of sales, particularly retail, and depicted sellers as "ignoble", or at least, lower. Interest was, and is considered usury according to Sharia law, and Islam, as is a common inclination it shares with Christianity as well with Socialism's guiding principles, often conflates wealth with the sin of greed. Sure, there were Arab business persons back then. Hell, even Mohammad himself worked a caravanserai, but in general there is a good reason why Coptic and Assyrian Christians, Jews, Mandeans, and other minorities in Middle Eastern Muslim dominant cultures did, and still do in some cases, power the economic machines of their nations.

In the medieval context, Muslim's, like Christians, prized their idealized knights and warriors as being noble and beyond the concerns of avarice. However, it was also quite acceptable for a knight to wrest land and wealth from his enemy, especially if his enemy was a non-believer.

Clearly in the Muslim world, dhimmi, such as Christians and Jews, could be abused for their non-belief, but then again, so could fellow Muslims, if the attack was based on an amorphous community standard of consensual morality. For instance, if a Caliph was corrupt he could be deposed, and if he was deposed, it was of course Allah's will. Thus, the ends justified the means and his deposition was indeed "meant to be". It was no longer a coup or insurrection, it was the righteous triumphing over the wicked. If it worked out of course. If it didn't, then some mental gymnastics needed to be plied.

This psychology still occurs today on the village and national level all over the Muslim world, as (barring a few moderates) politics swing from Muslim extremist to military despot and back again, over and over. Democracy is problematic as it could potentially limit Islam, and that would be just crazy. Allah is all powerful, but apparently he needs help, especially when it comes to killing people.

Throughout the ages Islam thrived on the intimidation of non-Muslims, both to increase the size of the Muslim community by pressuring dhimmi to convert, and also by taxing them to increase the wealth of the kingdom. Once large communities, such as the Zoroastrians in Iran were decimated, and so nothing was thought of the use of intimidation to force conformity. After all, when the entire country, and eventually the entire world is Muslim, then that's the day that rainbows and unicorns start, right? Wrong. The day the entire world is Muslim, just like any other faith, is the day that those people turn on one another, as is the history of humanity. There is no great salve, no day of idyllic conformity that will "fix" the world. Be it Islam, Christianity, or Communism, adherence to a single ideology will not usher in a golden age. Quite the contrary, it will only bring death, because an ideology that demands to be THE singular ideology implies such a degree of conformity that the only solution is an ever shrinking consensus that is designed to eat itself.

This brings me to premise number two. The Palestinians deny the very conquest epic they aspire to.
Premise 2: The Israelis have taken Palestinian land "illegally", and the gradual increase of Israeli territory has diminished Palestinian held land.

Refutation 2: The Palestinians have taken part in five wars against the State of Israel, incessant acts of terror, and several violent uprisings. These have been part of their effort to win the contest and take control of the entire territory in question, with the end result being the stated "death of the Jews", which is still listed as part of the Hamas charter. Thus, these are not Gandhi-like civil protestors fighting imperialism of the European colonial sort with strikes in an effort to establish parity and egalitarianism, they fully believe in the normal paradigm of the conquest narrative that has defined much of human history.

They just don't like that they've lost.

Had they won those wars, there would not be a Jewish state at all. It would certainly be Sunni Muslim, with a scant few Jews and Christians, if any. On the contrary, of Israel's eight million citizens, two million are Arabs, and of the four-and-a-half million more under occupation, a large share of them work in Israel on a daily basis.

This is by no means an equivalence to South African apartheid, nor is this an ethno-religious genocide as we have seen in Bosnia and the like. Not by a long shot, and deep down, the Palestinians know that. They rely on Jewish idealism and the Jewish desire for peace to keep the struggle going, and as I specified in Part One of this article, the struggle has made many a Palestinian leader quite wealthy.

In a normal conquest narrative scenario, when one force engages another force in combat, the winning force wholly decides the terms of the peace. "To the victor goes the spoils" is the usual sensibility, but quite foolishly, Jewish idealism got the best of the Israelis, and they decided that they required the agreement of the losing side.

Now obviously, a harsh peace can embolden future war, as we saw in the aftermath of the Versailles treaty at the end of World War One, which paved the way for Hitler and the continuation of the war as a sequel called World War Two. Thus note to self, don't make a peace too harsh, but on the other hand, one does not require the defeated side to agree to all of the conditions of the peace.

That is equally an act of folly.

Rather than delineate the shape and size of the Palestinian state for them as victors, the Israelis sought and waited for the Palestinian leadership to agree on a map that they were, and will, never to agree on. This is because the Palestinians fully believe in the conquest narrative. They want it all! Israel had a chance to establish a solid boundary and disengage in 1967, but that would have entailed not having access to the cheap Arab labor base that Israeli business owners like so much, and so, there was engagement on both sides, no matter the rhetoric and/or violence.

I personally believe that the Israelis are generally more apt (in quantity) to want peace than the average Palestinian, and in fact they might be framed as being obsessed by it as per their hitherto mentioned Jewish idealism. It is a subject that is endlessly discussed, written and sung about, in Israel, and is perhaps the quandary that they live with that is best reflected in former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's famous quote, when she said, "We will have peace when the Palestinians love their children more than they hate us". However, even acknowledging their desire, the Israelis are also very practical, are distrustful of other side, and as I have pointed out, do not wish to take on the FULL mantle of conquest. The Israelis have never fully smote the Palestinians, regardless of what Fatah and Hamas contest, and they can be at best condemned for administering the territories with a somewhat heavy hand, that by Arabic standards is not actually heavy, unless plied on them by a non-Muslim community. When a kid in the West Bank stubs his toe it's somehow the Israelis fault, but when King Hussein of Jordan massacred 5000 Palestinian refugees in a camp in Jordan, well, we don't need to talk about that.

For those of you who are reading the installments of this article and do picture the Israelis as the "evil imperialists" in this scenario, and conversely believe that the Palestinians are poor indigenous folk who were just minding their own business in "the wilderness", riding camels and the like, before the Israelis showed up, you are betraying either your complete ignorance of the complex realities of the situation, or you have been politically conditioned by Marxist deconstructionist elements that are part and parcel of the Palestinian public relations machine.

As an interesting by product of writing this article and selecting the images to attach to it, I just so happened to run into one photograph that for me says it all. It's a picture of a group of young Palestinian demonstrators dressed up as the Na'vi from the James Cameron film "Avatar" (inset to the left).

Their message could not be clearer.

We are the oppressed "natives". The Israelis are the "aliens".

Never mind that there never was a period of history in the last 3,200 years that there was not a Jewish presence in the Levant, and that Jews have been an oppressed historical minority for the the last 1,800 of those years, but who am I to contradict such a potent, if silly, Marxist parallel.

In fact it's such a viscerally simplistic trope that you may enjoy a previous Gauntlet post from last May, unrelated to the Palestinian question at all, which dissects James Cameron's Avatar for the unapologetic globalist-socialist polemic it is.

Till next time.

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