(By Timon Dias)
During Operation Pillar of Defense, it became clear to me that most Western college students and opinion makers do not despise or loathe Hamas the way it factually deserves. I personally do not understand this, and I know that most Israeli´s don’t understand this either.
Hamas represents everything that postmodern minds would be expected to oppose with vigor. It is an organization of freedom hating, theocratic, tyrannical, life loathing thugs that preaches deathcult and genocide. And they don’t just preach it. Through their zealous indoctrination, they make their Gazan subordinates practice what Hamas preaches.
These facts stand uncontested and even the college liberals I speak with everyday reluctantly confirm them. Yet, they do not seem to experience emotional distress or the need for harsh condemnation of Hamas. Whilst this is an odd phenomenon in itself, it’s even odder to observe within the same people, the rather strong need to condemn Israeli policies and Israel itself.
What lies at the essence of this skewed state of mind? I found out that it actually has to do with what might be called Israel’s original sin. To a lot of postmodern minds, the state of Israel and the way it was created is in itself illegitimate in the first place. They see Israel as the last stain of our wretched Western imperialism. Do note that they fail to feel the same way towards let’s say Jordan, whose Hashemite rule is about as artificial and Western imposed as they come.
Among most students, the narrative on the creation of Israel can be summarized as follows: ‘Nazi’s started the Holocaust, so the Jews fled to a land that was owned and inhabited by peaceful Arabs. Then the Jews kicked the Arabs out, created their own state, and left the Palestinians to rot in refugee camps and open air prisons ever since. So now the Arabs are paying the price for the Holocaust, which was caused by white Europeans. How unfair.’
The degree of perceived illegitimacy does fluctuate – mostly as a function of one’s devotion to leftwing or Islamic doctrine – from wholly illegitimate to partly illegitimate. But it is this perceived illegitimacy of Israel as a state that lies at the core of the Western lack of disgust for Hamas.
For if one perceives Israel as illegitimate in the first place, because it is an seen as an illegal occupation, any action against Israel must have some inherent legitimacy. The notion that Hamas are, despite their hideous methods and doctrines, some sort of freedom fighters that want to reclaim what was once rightfully theirs, is rather salient in Europe.
It is this way of thinking that makes it impossible for a lot of post modern minds to wholeheartedly condemn Hamas in a way that it deserves to be condemned. The other day I was talking with a friend of mine about the dangers that would face Israel in the wake of the Arab revolutions. I think he perfectly summarized the way this fact is viewed by most of my peers and opinion makers: ‘Yeah well, occupational hazard..’.
I think it’s safe to say that this way of thought is so widespread, because the European academic circles that study the Middle East are dominated by politically correct and frankly, leftwing, ideology. The intellectuals whose only job it is to accurately report reality, are now actually the upholders of an ideology.
For example, last year I briefly followed a course on politics and Islam. We had to read a lot of articles, including one by Anders Stringberg and Mats Wärn (Journal of Palestine studies, 2005), that stated about authors Bernard Lewis, Fouad Ajami and Jerusalem Post contributor Barry Rubin:
“Their image of the Muslim Arab as irrational, irresponsible and belligerent, fanatically religious but prey to wicked passions, differ in degree, not in kind, from the anthropological treatises that once spoke of the ‘childlike’ or ‘primitive’ Negro in order to legitimize colonial domination of Africa under the guise of a grande mission civilisatrice.
Oh and by the way, the same article stated that both Hamas and Hezbollah where neither racist nor genocidal.
One day our professor even stated verbally that Hamas and Hezbollah could not be seen as largely similar groups because of their vast difference, but that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and George W. Bush were largely similar because both of them are theocrats that desire a religious state. I didn''t bother mentioning the minor detail that the latter did not call for genocide and did not hang homosexuals from cranes.
That about sets the tone.
Personally I think it doesn’t matter how many corpses of political rivals Hamas will drag through the streets behind motorcycles, how many political rivals Hamas will march off high-rise buildings with their hands tied behind their backs, or how many times Hamas will claim to be proud to have their women and children ‘pave the way to victory with their body parts’. As long as the European zeitgeist dictates that the state of Israel is (partly) illegitimate, my post modern peers will not be able to condemn Hamas, and actually mean it by heart.
Timon Dias is a Dutch Master student in Clinical Psychology and a twice a week columnist for the largest dutch independent liberal conservative blog: de Dagelijkse Standaard.