By Mohamed El Mokhtar
The wide contrast between Palestinian economic hardship - an Israeli-imposed ordeal for the most part- and the Western-bankrolled, American-subsidized Israeli prosperity lies squarely, according to Mitt Romney, in the “cultural superiority” of a people whose overall performance is, after all, enhanced by the heavenly hands of “Providence”.
This type of bigotry has no equal but the insolence, cynicism and utter ignorance of its author. Such racist inanities are frankly sickening even when uttered by an empty-headed plebeian, let alone a presumed political leader who is also, after all, the product of an elite schooling. Not only the absurdity of this statement is appalling but the sycophantic delirium of the speaker in question exceeds, in many respects, the apex of human hypocrisy.
Had the Palestinians been living in a free and viable state of their own, and not coercively placed under a quasi siege for over 40 years, stripped of their freedom of movement, geographically squeezed, and economically suffocated by a relentless military occupation, maybe Romney’s mendacity would have made, albeit awkwardly, some sense. And had the act not been performed during a fund-raising event, this sort of conventional pro-Zionist pandering could perhaps have been, at least, taken at face value, that is, as the reckless but sincere words of a dummy apologist.
But the setting, in this case, was carefully chosen; and the delivery purposely staged. Nothing in this dramatic dithyramb was actually missing, or even coincidental. Everything was there to befit the solemnity of the moment: the location of the event, the choice of the background, the words used, the facial expressions, the smirking; everything was carefully calibrated for the same purpose.
Admittedly for someone who came in, expressly, to grovel in front of potential benefactors you cannot do better; for everything seemed masterfully tailored for the ultimate plea. Therefore, the whole drama reeks of the most basic political opportunism possible. It was, at its best, the venal performance of a character desperately trying to flatter his wealthy audience in order to garner votes and financial support. In so doing, he wholeheartedly wished that the echo of his ingratiation will be loud enough to ring the D-day inside the ballot box.
But if his listeners at the King David hotel in Jerusalem that day were still strapped between the squalid walls of the Warsaw ghetto, or inside the Stalinist gulag of Birobidzhan, without purse or voting power, would Romney’s attitude towards them have remained the same? Would his heart be still bursting of the same sentiments of awe and admiration? Or would he be, more likely, like many others before him, completely indifferent to their fate, with nothing to offer but cold indifference, if not condescension and contempt?
Does Romney know that in Nazi Germany, also, there were some who attributed the dreadful experience of crematories and gas chambers to the invisible “hands of Providence”? Indeed, myriad cynics, not all of whom were Nazis, had the chutzpah, back then, to somehow blame the innocent victims for the gruesome punishments they unjustly endured?; for it was not uncommon, at the time, to blame Jews’ suffering on the supposed “abnormality” of their race, their “backward” creed, or the “awkward” nature of their culture”?
Could Romney ever imagine, for instance, Utah given its full potential under a scenario as follows: a brutal military occupation that will slice up the territory into separate small entities littered with permanent military check points, expel many of its capable people, cut off the state from the outside world, rob it from its underground water, impose regular closures to one half of the remainder and a total blockade to the other half, mete out sporadic incursions to one while showering the other with seasonal aerial bombing? Would Utah be capable then, under these dire circumstances, to develop, and subsequently earn Romney’s praises and love?
Romney’s perceptions notwithstanding, Palestinians are far removed from being a sluggish people. Despite countless impediments they have remained a vibrant society all along; always entrepreneurial and industrious, they have never languished in lethargy or morphed into despair; their literacy rate stands at 98%; an overachievement, by any standard, for a people still struggling, against the odds, to free itself from a long subjugation. Another proof, if need be, of their extraordinary aptitude and self-reliance is the notable success of their diaspora universally hailed for its contributions in every corner of the globe.
Romney has not met too many Palestinians; yet the only Palestinian he encountered during his unwelcomed visit, premier minister Salam Fayad, could have taught him, at least, one basic skill he sorely lacks which is, nevertheless, a critical quality for anyone aspiring to a position of leadership: good diplomatic etiquette.
However, neither this type of prejudice about Arabs nor the pathetic pandering to pro-Israeli groups is specific to Romney, or a novelty within the American political establishment. Romney may have taken the reenactment of the play to new heights, but he hardly invented the drama himself.
This self-imposed public strip-tease has been played, over and over, to varying degrees, by representatives of the entire American political spectrum with very little exceptions.
At every political campaign some feel as though they are religiously compelled to go the extremes in indulging the whims of a political lobby catering to the needs of a foreign country. Because AIPAC imposes, as a rite of passage, a showcase of absolute loyalty to Israel, candidates have to compete in outmatching each other to win its much coveted favor before any election; hence this frenzy of faithful vows and pledges of allegiance.
So many play this game simply out fear of political retribution; for there is no denying that pro-Zionist interest groups have effectively intimidated the American political establishment by systematically attacking anyone who dares challenge the status quo. The establishment has either sold out or chickened out. This is true not only of the WASP establishment, which has long been known for its lack of courage, but even the more forthright African American leadership has now bowed to pressure.
As in the case of the gun lobby, or those interest groups working for the business elite, this type of subordination to the diktat of a few is indicative of the moral bankruptcy and systemic corruption affecting the entire political system; the expression of which is to be found in the current undemocratic balance of powers. On one hand, there are the ruling political elites and business oligarchies at the summit of the social pyramid and, on the other hand, the multitude of disempowered masses kept at bay by the soporific propaganda of profit-driven mass media.
- Mohamed El Mokhtar Sidi Haiba is a political analyst. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.