24 May 2024 06:17 AM



Why Does America Hate Us? Palestinian Reflections on American Political Ideology Part 1

GAZA: The Palestinians have “suddenly” realized, thanks to US President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry, that the US is biased towards Israel.

The American position has been that negotiations between "the two parties" should resume without preconditions. The Americans have even praised Israel Benjamin Netanyahu's "unprecedented concessions!" Gone is the sweet talk of the American President; gone is the euphoria following his "ground breaking" speech in Cairo university.

We, Palestinians, are not expected to show any form of resistance, including non-violent tactics, namely BDS! All we have to do is to show that we are “good natives” in state of perpetual waiting for Godot, the White Master, to throw us crumbs of his bread. Forget about ethics, morality, equality, human rights, civic democracy and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

We are back to square one.

The question that begs for answers is why does America hate us, Palestinians? Do the American people really believe that we have no rights even though those rights are enshrined in international law? Does President Obama truly believe that we are only a nuisance?

American hegemonic political philosophy judges a belief by its effects not its causes. The emphasis is on the connection between the truth of statements and their practical applicability by one measure only: how will they work for America? This is American pragmatism. That is, White, liberal American politicians (including President Obama!) are interested in the function of ideas and statements and their effects rather than the sources and conditions of their production.

‘Workability’ and ‘practicability’ are the basis of the justification of positions taken by the American establishment. However that does not take into account the circumstances under which these positions are ‘workable,’ neither historically nor socially. Whatever ‘we’, white liberal Americans, want is justifiable and thus legitimate since it is 'workable' and 'practical' regardless of the means through which it is achieved. Thus Apartheid, Nazism, Zionism, American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan can be "easily" justified and sold to CNNized citizens.

President Obama's policy, and that of his Secretary of State, is a remodeling of the ideas of old American pragmatism re-theorized to suit the requirements and outlooks of the liberal middle-class politicians of the late-capitalist American society—albeit in a black mask this time.

Undoubtedly, this American pragmatism is grounded in a Eurocentric understanding of liberal democracy, which exploits the consideration that Western democracies themselves are full of people who can be persuaded to vote in ways quite opposed to their own real long-term interests, if they can be deceived by liberal rhetoric to opt for short-term goals. Put differently, people can easily be manipulated into ‘choosing freely’ what is clearly contrary to their own real interests. Otherwise, Hitler would never have established the Third Reich. The Israelis would not have voted Netanyahu and Lieberman into power. Thus bourgeois liberalism and neo-liberalism in their pragmatic forms homogenize and hegemonize the society with patchwork expedients while evading the more profound radical critique required for genuine social, and hence political, change.

Socio-historical analyses of such societies reveal that the rich are powerful, and have invented ways of legitimizing what they own, and how they legally hire and abuse the labor of the working class and poorer countries. They legitimize such unjust gains by means of laws protected by institutions, laws that ostensibly appeal to the common good, laws that persuade a big sector of the society to vote against their own interests.

Bush was elected twice in spite of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his administration in Afghanistan and Iraq. As some critical thinkers argue, votes in contemporary liberal society are not conferred on each person, as they are supposed to be, but on each dollar, which guarantees an undemocratic outcome.

To take the matter further, voting in elections does not guarantee one's freedom to choose one's representative in terms of one's interests. Rather, it is a fundamental part of a system whose rules have been determined by the powerful bourgeois class in its attempts to assimilate its antagonistic class, i.e. the working class. Colonized peoples were never guaranteed the 'human right' to choose freely their representatives under the ‘liberal’ colonial system.

Many white South Africans participated ‘freely’ in choosing an oppressive racist regime legitimated by the participation of ‘Liberals’ in the parliament. The same applies to apartheid Israel.

An important question arises: how could each individual have such rights when all social primary goods -- including income and wealth -- are distributed unequally?

Liberal bourgeois freedom based on ‘peace’, ‘wealth’, and ‘freedom’ -- exploitation is never mentioned -- is the answer America has for us, an answer that precludes historical awareness; or rather, an answer that requires historical and political amnesia. It is an answer that incorporates two ideologies: capitalism and liberal democracy.

Can we, however, ignore the historical fact that the basis of the contemporary liberal society was a bloody revolution, i.e. the French Revolution? What about the American revolutions itself? Is there real ‘free press’ and ‘enlightened public opinion’ to which we Palestinians can appeal to recognize the horror and suffering that have been inflicted on us?

Put differently, did not US mainstream media mislead public opinion around issues like apartheid in South Africa, Nicaragua, Chile, the assassination of Lumumba and Allende, the support given to Mobutu and other reactionary regimes in Africa and the Middle East? And now the Palestinian cause?

(Second Part)

(Haidar Eid is Professor in Al Aqsa University in Gaza. He is the the author of Worlding Postmodernism: Interpretive Possibilities of Critical Theory)