Palestine, Gaza and Anti-Arab Racism

The West’s dehumanization of Arabs has helped to normalize war crimes.

From the Hammer & Hope: Intense anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, and what the Palestinian American intellectual Edward Said described as “Orientalism” has underwritten the West’s perpetual wars, sieges, and onslaughts against the Middle East, wars that America’s client state, Israel, has helped manage for multiple generations. This racism has normalized America’s and Israel’s war crimes in the Middle East.

But this is far more than a simple ideological project. As the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the region, to the tune of more than $3 billion each year, Israel has long been of use to the West as the Zionist project of building a state on the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian population. The U.S. disguises its geopolitical designs to control access to the region’s oil supply under the guise of rooting out terrorism. Though America’s “war on terror” failed, its afterlife of security theater, surveillance, and abject racist demonization of a perpetual Arab or Muslim “other” lives on.

Soon after Israel began its siege, Joe Biden made a mockery of Palestinian grief and death. “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” he said, echoing the Israeli government. His statement recognizing 100 days of the war on Gaza made no mention of the thousands of Palestinians whom Israel had killed. More recently, Biden enjoyed an ice cream cone with a late-night talk show host while blithely suggesting the possibility of a cease-fire. A week later, The Washington Post revealed that the United States has quietly delivered 100 weapons packages to Israel over the course of its assault, including thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, and bunker busters.

Of course, the U.S. has long licensed Arab death. Consider the Clinton era. In 1996, when Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” asked UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright about the deaths of half a million Iraqi children caused by U.S.-backed sanctions on Iraq, Albright infamously said, “The price is worth it.” Activists confronted her the next year, and she responded, “I am as concerned about the children in Iraq as any person in this room.” But, she added, “Saddam Hussein is the one who has the fate of his country in his hands. … He is the one responsible for starving children, not the United States of America.”

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