The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Blaming Israel for Palestinian violence is racist: it denies that Arabs are moral agents


So says Alan Johnson in The Telegraph, responding to how the media covered the recent terrorist atrocity in Jerusalem, in which four Israelis (plus a policeman) were murdered while praying in a synagogue (example from the Canadian Broadcasting Company: "Jerusalem police fatally shoot 2 after apparent synagogue attack".) Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing:

Palestinians are understood as a driven people, dominated by circumstance and emotion, lacking choice, below the age of responsibility, never to be held accountable. Israelis are the opposite; masters of all circumstances, rational and calculating, the root cause of everything, responsible for everything.
It is, palpably, an Orientalist view of the Palestinians as the Other, except this time they are affirmed as noble savages. It's a bit racist, to be honest. For example, the Liberal Democrat David Ward MP tweeted that the Palestinian synagogue terrorists had been "driven to madness"—which not only removes agency from them but also sanity.

I would add one thing that Johnson leaves out. The description he provides of how Israelis are understood fits very nicely into traditional anti-Semitism, making it possible to blend modern leftist Third Worldism with more traditionally right-wing hostility to Jews, thus appealing to a broad swathe of European opinion.