Myths are a part of national consciousness in almost every nation state in the world; from myths supporting the personality cults that pass for governments across the Arab world to the founding myths of “Western civilisation” which promote European (a euphemism for “white”) superiority, nations under threat call out for support against the disappearance of their “way of life”. Ordinarily, such calls to arms can be dismissed as the work of nutcases but an article on a “centre right” website by a Conservative MP has to be taken seriously because it demonstrates that the inmates have taken over the asylum.
Writing under the heading, “The world must support Israel, as if she goes down, we all go down”, Robert Halfon, MP makes the case that the Israel-Palestine conflict is actually a microcosm of the battle for civilisation. He does us all a service by confirming what pro-justice campaigners have been saying all along; that the state of Israel is not about establishing a safe refuge for Jews persecuted in other parts of the world as is often claimed, but a “a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism”. So wrote Zionism’s founding father Theodor Herzl at the end of the nineteenth century. This Israeli outpost exists to police “the white man’s burden”, this time not Africa but the resources of the Middle East.
Cannily, Mr. Halfon doesn’t define who “we” are, who will “go down” if Israel is brought to heel. Like all apologists for Israeli excesses he is prepared to accept the maxim that the end justifies the means and Israel can (and does) get away with murder, break international law with impunity and treat the rest of the world with utter contempt. Halfon and his kind identify with that because that is exactly what “Western civilisation” has been doing for centuries, and still does.
This is not a dispute between the worlds’ three great monotheistic religions, even though Europe’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage is trotted out frequently as the core values to be defended against “extreme Islamism”, as Mr. Halfon puts it. The truth is that Islamic Spain fostered and developed the Judeo-Christian heritage which fed the European Renaissance before the so-called Enlightenment destroyed faith as anything truly meaningful across the continent. The resultant secular ideologies that now claim to defend Judaism and Christianity have actually been the cause of the demise of religious practice in the West, a trend that has been spread across the Muslim world in the name of “freedom and democracy”. Anti-imperialist movements around the world have not been struggling to free themselves of the Western yoke in order to have the freedom to live in their traditional ways; more often than not, they have been struggling against Western domination in order to live by their own version of a western ideology usually masquerading as democracy. Just consider the support of the West towards those movements which adopt Western ideologies as the norm, and Western opposition when non-Western democratic systems come to the fore, as in Algeria and more recently in Palestine. When the people make their democratic choice in freedom and in elections judged to be “free and fair”, but that choice does not fit the West’s colonising agenda, then “we” must do anything and everything to remove “freedom and democracy”. The situation facing the Palestinians of Gaza at the moment is a classic example of such duplicity backed by people like Robert Halfon.
In his perverted view of the world, support for justice for his fellow human beings who happen to be Palestinians struggling against an illegal military occupation of their land (with all the oppressive policies such an occupation entails) is spun into “virulent anti-Israel politics”. Does this Member of Parliament not respect the rule of law and the principle of justice for all? When he bleats that Israel’s “very existence is under threat from Iran’s fundamentalist regime, which is close to having nuclear weapon capability”, does he pause for even a second to consider the millions of people across the Middle East who already live under threat from Israel’s extreme right-wing regime and its existing nuclear arsenal? Of course not; Israel and “we” are one and the same, or so he would have us believe.
But that itself is a myth. Articles like Robert Halfon’s seek to lump the whole world into two opposing camps; in his mind, oppose Israeli disdain for international values and conventions and you are “trying to destroy Western values as a whole”. Like George W Bush who said, infamously, post-9/11, “You are either with us, or with the terrorists”, there is no middle ground. Religious and political dissent – core values of any robust democracy and the raison d’être for the presence of Europeans in North America – are forbidden and opposition to Israel puts you beyond the pale.
Of course, it is utter nonsense to suggest that “extreme” Islamists are the only people disaffected by what they see passing as Western values today: a group of young people from America’s Amish religious community were taken by Channel 4 to South London where, according to one TV reviewer, “the London lads sit around indoors playing videogames” and “their Amish counterparts quickly grow unbelievably bored”. In an “excruciating sequence, the street-dance crew perform their act – a full-blown Britain’s Got Talent number – for the benefit of the Amish, who stare at them with expressions of blank disinterest; not even unimpressed, they’re merely confused as to why they’ve bothered”. Not much empathy for Western culture and values there. However, when the Amish youngsters are taken to a mosque in London, “their initial suspicion and disapproval melt into an understanding of common ground”. Such issues are not as clear cut as the Halfons of this world would have us believe, although right-wing ideology of the kind espoused by him and his cronies has never been particularly fond of any groups outside what they see as the norm, so perhaps the Amish should be concerned.
“Eliminate Israel,” Halfon says, “and you wipe out a country that is in the vanguard against totalitarianism”, casually ignoring Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s oft-stated wish to expel all Palestinians from their own country and, indeed, Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Jewish state itself. Any state which defines itself as a distinctly “Jewish state” has, by definition, to be a state based on racism and racist principles if Jews are accepted in law (which they are) as an ethnic group. The UN once found the courage to declare that “Zionism is a form of racism”, before its emasculation at the hands of influential Zionists caused that resolution to be rescinded.
Robert Halfon doesn’t allow the truth to get in the way of his argument. He repeats the old canards that “the Israelis… offered the Palestinians almost everything they wanted at the President Clinton talks in Camp David” – 20% of historic Palestine is “almost everything” in his eyes, and even that has been slashed into non-contiguous segments since Camp David – and “instead of [Israel’s physical withdrawal from Gaza] being used as a staging post to peace… Hamas staged a coup d’état and overthrew the PLO”. As a dedicated new boy in parliament, perhaps Mr. Halfon was too busy trying to get elected to Westminster to notice that Hamas won a free and fair democratic election in 2006 and took action against an Israeli-funded coup attempt by a faction within Fatah – not Fatah per se – in 2007.
Standing up for what is right has always been a hazardous experience and it would be much easier to go with the flow and not rock the boat of political expediency. However, far from creating the sort of “free-thinking” that Robert Halfon believes his pro-Israel propaganda reflects, it produces mindless human beings ready and able to be manipulated by totalitarian regimes the likes of which he decries and claims are ranged against the West. In reality, he is part of a totalitarian movement that seeks to stifle religious beliefs and practices, and promote “a free market society, that believes in individual liberty and the rule of law” – as long as that law suits Zionism’s aims and objectives. The fact that he describes Israel as such a society should ring the alarm bells for all decent, law-abiding people everywhere, because this particular newly-elected Member of Parliament appears to have lost all touch with reality.