The bigotry of Guardian columnist Gary Younge

Gary Younge, a feature writer and columnist for the Guardian based in the US, went to visit the mythical land his colleagues had written so much about – a dark land of oppression, colonialism and racism.

Younge occasionally likes to prove that his rhetorical tool bag of leftist agitprop isn’t limited to the narrow, parochial issues of the US – as there are only so many stories you can file about the evils of the Tea Party and a limit to the number of times you can engage in race baiting – and thought he found a clever metaphor for the mendacity of the Jewish state in contrast to immutable Palestinian victimhood – “a faceless corporation ruthlessly pursuing small family businesses.”

Younge’s tale of Israeli villainy (For Israelis and Palestinians, the status quo is neither sustainable nor desirable, CiF, April 25) is a polemical epic, one which spans two continents, from Peru and Florida all the way to Jerusalem, but begins in territory much more familiar to Younge’s boilerplate Guardian Left populism, an evil US corporation, Disney.

After noting that the company filed a million-dollar lawsuit against a Florida couple (who, we are told, is on public assistance) who unwittingly purchased knock-off costumes of Tigger and Eeyore from an e-Bay site based in S. America, Younge asks why such a large and powerful corporation would engage in such heavy-handed tactics”, before opining:

“for Disney that is precisely the point. They want people to witness the ferocity with which they pursue their interests” [emphasis mine; heavy-handed and glaringly obvious metaphor Younge’s]

Now that the theme has been established, the moral of his parable firmly planted, Younge pivots to the real object of his wrath, and takes the comically absurd road less traveled:

“After a week in the West Bank participating in the annual Palestine Festival of Literature, you get the feeling Israeli security services are using the same public relations team as Disney…. at the Israeli-Jordan border, we were kept several hours…”

That his evidently horrific several hour wait to cross a border into a country besieged with terrorist threats is treated as a corporate public relations debacle is certainly precious, and my guess is that sometime during those agonizing hours Younge’s temper got the best of him, but was eventually able to channel his rage to summon all of the penetrating, anti-Zionist tropes at his disposal to detect, in one brief encounter, the moral temperature of the entire Israeli nation:

“At the crossing into Nazareth, only brown-skinned people had their passports held.”

Of course, Younge’s brief sophomoric meditation on Israeli “whiteness” would come as quite a surprise to the Mizrachi, Ethiopian, and other Jews of color, who make up about half of the state’s population, but who needs such pesky, dry demographic data when you have three full hours of observation?

In fairness though, Younge is quite emphatic that it wasn’t personal, and that his main concern is for the locals:

“Families with small children waiting for hours before putting the entire contents of their car in shopping trolleys and wheeling that through security so they can get home. Grown men and women being shouted at by teenagers with guns. We got only a glimpse.”

Yes, Younge got only a “glimpse”, he acknowledges, enough to understand the “intimidation, humiliation and harassment” – the malevolence of Israeli “teenagers with guns” – but evidently not enough to see what those Jewish teens stubbornly defending their homeland more than occasionally glimpse – such as the young Palestinian woman, disguised as pregnant, who was recently sent to blow up a hospital in Israel. (Her explosive device, by the way, was found during a routine security check at Erez checkpoint, and captured on video.)

Younge, evidently working without the services of an editor, and not satisfied with the quantity of tortured Disney analogies in his laborious diatribe, reflects upon the fact that Israel and her supporters occasionally engage in spirited moral defenses of the Jewish state – those who have the gall to point out Israel’s breathtakingly obvious political advantages over her neighbors –  and likens such efforts to “ Tinker Bells sprinkl[ing] their fairy dust to blur the view or to beautify the ugly.”

Of course, the dust which blurs Younge’s view, what his acute political myopia doesn’t allow for, is the necessity of contextualizing Israeli policies though a broader prism of regional threats such as Palestinian terrorism and incitement, or Hamas and Hezbollah’s increasingly sophisticated military arsenal (which occurred after Israeli withdrawals), and these groups’ explicitly anti-Semitic and even genocidal founding charters.  No, assigning moral agency to Palestinians would be committing  the single most egregious sin in his leftist post-Colonial paradigm: “To suggest that Palestinians are equally responsible for this state of affairs would suggest the two sides hold equal power to shape events.”

In Younge’s Middle East, its Israel, and only Israel, who is responsible for shaping events.  If the anti-Semitic narrative of near omnipotent Jewish power conjures a tiny community with the cunning to shape world events to their designs, Younge’s equally fantastical political musings on the Jewish state’s malevolent hegemony proves the adage of Israel as “the Jew writ large”.

Younge closes by warning that Israel simply may not be a sustainable project, its “occupation” having irreparably ”nullif[ied] Zionism – a state, he implies, which may be morally beyond the pale, and which may soon forfeit  international recognition of its very right to exist.

If Younge’s denial of Palestinian responsibility represents the soft bigotry of low expectations, his suggestion that Israel – alone among the nations of the world – may not have a right to statehood, and that Jews must continually morally justify its national enterprise, represents the hard bigotry of impossibly high expectations.

As has been codified continually:

Denying Jews the right of self-determination, claiming that Zionism is a racist endeavor, and/or holding Israel to standards which no other state is held to are all not merely criticism of Israel; they are anti-Semitic.

Jews don’t require Gary Younge’s moral approval for the continued existence of their national homeland, but moral decency requires that those who peddle in such racist double standards be named and shamed as the bigots they are.  

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