“Arabopaedophobia”: Are Palestinian children less worthy?

Bookmark and Share

Opinion piece on Al Jazeera by Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University:

Are Palestinian children less worthy?

As Palestinian children endure lives of suffering, Obama’s love for their Israeli counterparts knows no limit.

During the first and second intifada, more than 700 Palestinian children were killed, and a further 313 children died in the Israeli shelling of Gaza in December 2008-July 2009

What is it about Jewish and Arab children that privileges the first and spurns the second in the speeches of President Barack Obama, let alone in the Western media more generally? Are Jewish children smarter, prettier, whiter? Are they deserving of sympathy and solidarity, denied to Arab children, because they are innocent and unsullied by the guilt of their parents, themselves often referred to as “the children of Israel”? Or, is it that Arab children are dangerous, threatening, guilty, even dark and ugly, a situation that can only lead to Arabopaedophobia – the Western fear of Arab children?

Innocence and childhood are common themes in Western political discourse, official and unofficial. While it is a truism to state that since the end of European colonialism the US and Europe have been, at the official and unofficial levels, friendly to and supportive of the Zionist colonial project and hostile to Palestinians and Arabs in their resistance to Zionism, the expectation would be that a West that insists rhetorically on the “universalism” of its values would show at least a rhetorical commitment to the equality of Arab and Jewish children as victims of the violence visited on the region by Zionist colonialism and the resistance to it. Yet, the only Western sympathy manifest is to Jewish children as symbols of Zionist and Israeli innocence. This Western sympathy is deployed primarily to denounce Arab guilt, including the guilt of Arab children.

Indeed, the only time Arab children received any sympathy at all in the West was a few years ago when Israeli and US propaganda outlets, official and unofficial alike, mounted a major propaganda campaign to save these children from their barbaric Arab and Palestinian parents, who allegedly trained them to commit violent acts, or who unlovingly placed them in the middle of danger, sacrificing them for their violent political goals. It was not Israel who was to blame for killing Palestinian children, but the children’s own uncaring and cruel parents who placed them in the path of Israeli Jewish bullets, which left Israeli Jews no choice but to kill them. This of course is an old Israeli casuistry used to justify Israel’s carnage of Palestinians. Golda Meir had famously articulated the workings of Israel’s Jewish conscience thus: “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.”

In the official discourse of post-World War II US power, Jewish children have been often invoked to illustrate the innocence of Israel, a tradition carried faithfully by Barack Obama’s rhetoric. Refusing to even acknowledge Arab children as victims of Israel, on June 4, 2009, Obama told Arabs in his Cairo speech: “It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.” He reiterated this in his May 19, 2011 “winds of change” speech, declaring: “For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them.”

Read the full article at Al Jazeera…



Leave a Reply

Formatting: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Other Posts

Welcome to the Reading PSC Website!

We are the Reading branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. You will find regular news on the Palestinian cause, details about local and national events plus plenty of other useful information.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please get in touch.

Follow @ReadingPSC on Twitter

Viva Palestina Convoy Map Mark Thomas - Extreme Rambling (Walking The Wall)

Content Disclaimer

The linked articles and RSS feeds included on this site are those of their individual authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Reading PSC. Reading PSC makes no representation concerning the views expressed, and does not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented.