31 May 2010

Are the Palestinians a lesser race?

Are the Palestinians a lesser race? Winston Churchill thought so. At the Peel Commission on the future of Palestine in 1937, he responded to concern for the Palestinians if a Jewish state was established in the region, a cause he strongly supported, by replying, "I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." So there you have it, in the words of the great man himself, the higher-grade races replace the lower-grade races, and that presumably is the proper order of things.
So do Canadians, as the "higher-grade" race that took the place of the "Red Indians," believe what Churchill did about Jews displacing Arabs? The Conservatives certainly seem to. They support whatever Israel decides is in its best interests, regardless of the suffering this may inflict on the Palestinians. And well they might as the philosophical descendants of Mr. Churchill, their greatest hero and inspiration. But then the Liberals are hardly less committed to unequivocal support for Israel, nor for that matter is our daily press.

This unquestioning support for Israel infers a cavalier, even contemptuous, attitude toward the Palestinians. How can this be explained except by a belief they are less worthy? How else can you explain the indifference to the ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, terror, segregation and relentless land theft they have suffered and continue to suffer? How else can you explain our Prime Minister's Orwellian justification of Israel's assault on Gaza which included the slaughter of 400 children -- 400 children! -- as a "measured response"?

Canadians generally, despite the urgings of their politicians and their daily press, remain decidedly less enthusiastic about Israel's colonial project and much more compassionate toward the Palestinians. But for the powers that be, it seems the assessment of Churchill, the champion of empire, remains their guide -- brothers and sisters in Manifest Destiny.

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