Mark Humphrys, Sunday Times (Irish edition), 23 Oct 2016.
This is a slightly longer version of the printed version.
Why do people support the Palestinians?
It's a simple question, but a real mystery.
If, as seems clear to me, every supporter of the world's democracies
and opponent of non-democracies
should broadly support Israel -
and be broadly hostile to the Palestinians -
why does the world not see it that way?
I recently met with an Israeli diplomat posted to Ireland who asked this question.
Israelis encounter varying levels of hostility in Europe,
and often wonder why so many Europeans take the Palestinian side.
Many wonder could it be related to anti-semitism.
Could parts of Irish Catholicism be hostile to Jews, for example?
But living here in Ireland, it is obvious that other, more modern reasons are at play.
The Palestinian cause is, on the face of it, deeply unattractive.
They are fighting against a liberal democracy in order to set up
not a new democracy
but rather an oppressive religious state
or a thuggish autocracy (Fatah).
In whatever they set up, there will be no elections and no civil liberties.
So what is it about their cause that makes people support them?
The Palestinians hit all the right buttons
It seems they hit all the right buttons:
They are (allegedly) the "oppressed" fighting against "oppressors".
Yet when you look at their complaints, almost every last one is a consequence of the violence they direct at Israel.
If they stopped the violence, Palestinians could have a very nice life.
They are (allegedly) the "poor" fighting the "rich".
The fact that it is their own fault they are poor
(look at what the intifada did to their GDP)
and the Israelis deserve their wealth
because they worked hard to create it,
is neither here nor there.
They are (allegedly)
"non-whites" fighting "whites".
care primarily about crimes by "whites" or "people like us",
and care little about crimes by "non-whites".
Whether such a bias makes sense or not,
to think of this conflict as
"non-whites" versus "whites"
is actually nonsense.
Israelis comes from all over the world,
including all over the Middle East
(from which they were expelled).
But for many Westerners, this is not about reality.
All Israelis are honorary "whites".
They are fighting
against Jews - always a popular target.
This is probably the main reason worldwide.
They are Muslim, giving them a sympathetic constituency of 1 billion people.
Muslims tend to sympathise
with Muslims engaged in conflict
with non-Muslims worldwide.
Christians aren't like this.
Christians worldwide are on their own, and get little support from western Christians.
If the Palestinians were Christian,
nobody would support them.
And if they were fundamentalist Christian, the Western left would despise them.
They are incredibly violent and barbaric,
with deliberate attacks against the most defenceless civilians.
If the Palestinians engaged in peaceful protest, few
would pay them much attention.
But when they engage in sadistic attacks against civilians,
the world pays attention.
The sane part of the word is revolted.
But less sensible people have a different reaction.
They believe (despite history's total lack of evidence for this)
that if someone is willing to carry out such acts
they must have a good reason.
due to the strange nature of humans,
Palestinian barbarism gets them more support, not less.
Violence is exciting.
Many Westerners are excited by "revolutionary" violence against the West.
These terror fans are everywhere on social media.
If the Palestinians were peaceful, they would be of no interest to these people.
Lack of compromise is exciting.
If the Palestinians decided to give up on the "struggle" and pursue money, jobs, family and shopping,
I would be delighted for them.
Israel would pump money into their economy,
their GDP would triple
and their life would be much better.
But their Western fans, to whom they serve a psychological need,
would be horrified.
They would feel betrayed by the Palestinians
and would go elsewhere in the world
to seek other uncompromising opponents of the West.
Hating Israel is a safe way of hating the West
Many leftish Westerners desire a safe way of hating the West,
a safe way of declaring their moral superiority to the culture of plenty they grew up in.
Hating the entire West is too hardcore,
but hating a small part of the West works.
It is Israel's bad luck that it fits the bill.
Hating Israel is a safe way of hating the West,
a way of signalling your virtue without risk.
So the Israeli diplomat and other Israelis
should not take Irish hostility personally.
It's not really about the conflict.
It's not about them.
It's about us.
Dr. Mark Humphrys is a lecturer at Dublin City University.
He only likes her because she is violent.
(Image not used in Sunday Times.)
If good people commit disgusting atrocities,
they must be "driven" to it.
Some Westerners actually believe this.
There were supportive and critical
the following week, 30 Oct 2016.
Some pro-Israel people said that even if other reasons are important,
anti-semitism should still be on the list.
I explained that it was
(as you see above)
but the article was shortened by editing.
included this critical letter from Aidan Corr:
Here is my reply to the Aidan Corr letter:
Aidan Corr (Letters, 30 Oct), though he may not mean to, actually illustrates the central problem of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when he takes issue with my article of 23 Oct. I suggested that the Palestinians should abandon the "struggle" and pursue prosperity, jobs, family and "shopping". Corr sneers at this as obviously absurd. But he never explains why it is absurd.
The fact is that the "struggle" has brought nothing but misery to the Palestinians.
Hardly anyone recalls that the Palestinians after 1967 prospered under Israeli occupation.
With the terrorist leaders like Arafat exiled, Palestinian GDP per capita rose from, in 1990 dollars, $ 1,790 in 1967 to $ 5,312 in 1999. That is, the Israeli occupation made the "oppressed" Palestinians 3 times richer. There was also a massive rise in Palestinian life expectancy from 54 to 73. This was all destroyed when Arafat ruined the Palestinian economy by launching the intifada, cheered on by Western supporters who claim to be "friends" of the Palestinians. In reality, these "friends" have brought the Palestinians nothing but misery, by encouraging them to keep up the "struggle" for honour, blood, land and revenge, rather than doing some compromise deal with Israel.
If the Palestinians abandoned the struggle and made a compromise, Israeli investment, driven out by Arafat and Hamas, would flood back in. The Palestinians would become part of the dynamic Israeli high-tech economy. Their territories would open up for a tourism explosion. Their GDP would double or triple within a generation. I would love the Palestinians to be rich and at peace.
But this will not happen. First, because
Palestinian political and religious leaders prefer the "honour" of the struggle to the "shame" of compromise.
And second, because their Western supporters encourage them to keep going on that road.
If Palestinians want to be happy, they should abandon the war and pursue other things. If they want to be miserable, they should follow the advice of their Western supporters and carry on doing what they are doing.
Dr. Mark Humphrys
An edited version of the above was published in the
of 6 Nov 2016.
There was a further critical
from Brendan Delaney
the following week, 13 Nov 2016.
Here is my reply
to the Brendan Delaney letter:
Brendan Delaney's letter says Palestinians carry out jihad
because they are "depressed".
This is nonsense.
In reality, there is no evidence that Islamic suicide bombers and jihadis are "depressed".
Rather, they are soldiers in a war.
If anything, the problem is the opposite - they are optimistic.
They believe in jihad.
They have hope in the glorious future that jihad will bring.
That is the problem.
The letter also
says that Palestinians will "compromise" - by getting 100% (100%!) of what they want.
If this is a "compromise",
I'm not sure what lack of compromise would look like!
Finally, the letter
complains about Palestinian unemployment and poverty
- while supporting the "resistance" that causes it!
It is hard to find any actual argument in their piece though.
Here is my reply:
They are offended by me saying of the Palestinians:
"it is their fault they are poor".
But tellingly they left out the next bit:
"look at what the intifada did to the GDP",
which is the whole point.
How the intifada destroyed Palestinian prosperity.
The Palestinians could double or triple their GDP if they abandoned the "struggle"
and pursued prosperity.
But their lefty groupies (like Phoenix)
would be horrified if they did that.
Phoenix, incredibly, takes issue with me saying:
"the Israelis deserve their wealth because they work hard to create it".
They do not offer an argument. They just sneer at this idea.
I genuinely have no idea what they are trying to say, but it comes across as sinister.
Phoenix doesn't like my photo at an Iron Dome battery,
where I say it is:
"The front line of the liberal, secular West against the jihad."
But again, no argument, just sneering.
I think if they attempted to construct an argument it would be comical.
But take a read of the page.
It is all about the neo-con ideas of freedom for the entire world,
ideas that both left and right ought to defend but have largely abandoned.
(One reason I hate Trump.)
Phoenix seems offended by me hoping various traditional cultures die out.
But traditional cultures are, along with communism,
probably the major source of violence and oppression in the world today.
Obviously we don't want languages, art, literature, music, cuisine and other cultural forms to die out.
But the oppression inherent in various traditional cultures must die, and it is racist to want to keep it alive.
Phoenix are such hypocrites.
Like everyone else in Ireland,
they have abandoned the culture of their 19th-20th century devout Christian ancestors,
who themselves abandoned the culture of their medieval Irish-speaking ancestors,
who themselves abandoned the culture of their pre-Christian pagan ancestors.
People invent and abandon cultures all the time.
Why shouldn't foreigners do the same? Dump their cultures and get better ones.
They are angry at me saying that:
"The Muslim Brotherhood is a fascist, anti-semitic, far-right Islamist organisation. It supports sharia law and the suicide bombing of Jews."
But they do not explain what is wrong with that description.
(That would involve knowing something about the Muslim Brotherhood.)
my article on Islam.
But again, it is just sneering.
This time, they merely sneer at the printed title (which I did not even write).
Phoenix writer comes across
as someone desperate to make a case against me, but
unwilling to do the homework necessary
to construct an argument.
Sneer with his pals.
Because if he argued, his ignorance would be exposed.
woman on the left has
abandoned the culture of her ancestors,
such as the woman on the right.
I suggest that the woman on the left abandons her current culture and gets a new one.
And Phoenix has a problem with that!
The Eucharistic Congress, Dublin, 1932.
Phoenix and all Irish leftists have entirely abandoned this culture.
And yet they are angry at calls for modern conservative Muslims to abandon their culture.
Phoenix is so narrow-minded
that it sees everyone on the right as the same.
Phoenix completely ignored the most obvious thing about me in 2016
- that I am NeverTrump.
It was part of my very
But Phoenix doesn't care.
They describe me as
while completely ignoring that Trumpists hate me as a liberal, globalist
Phoenix are simply cowards for not noting
the main thing about me this year.
Gaza is poor because of Gazans
(or at least, Gazan leaders).
Israel is not stopping Gaza becoming rich and free.
Gazan leaders are.
"Mahmoud al-Zahar said that if Gaza wanted to be like Singapore it would have done so already".
Read and learn,
The kind of hatred Phoenix magazine spews at the Jews of Israel.
Phoenix are so anti-Israel that in
May 2010 they had an entire
16 page supplement attacking Israel.
The supplement carried (without criticism) a highlighted quote from
a representative of the Hamas terrorist organisation
and a highlighted quote from
a representative of the Fatah terrorist organisation.
An Irish student activist
says on 10 May 2018
that Israel "at some point should probably cease to exist".
He was quoted in this article:
The true face of BDS, Teresa Trainor, 27 Feb 2019.
Phoenix magazine, issue of 8-21 March 2019, decides to defend the quote that Israel should "cease to exist".
They attribute it to the wrong student activist.
But they clearly defend it, and regard it as only "allegedly incriminating".
Blocked on Twitter by the regressive left and Islamists:
I love debate.
I love ideas.
But the Western left
and their friends the Islamic right
do not return the favour.
Their response to opposing ideas, whether expressed politely or robustly, is often to block.
See Who blocks me on Twitter.
I will debate almost anyone.
Stick to ideas and I will debate you.
But I do have rules.
See Who I block on Twitter.
Twitter is broken, 2016 on:
I am on Twitter at
Twitter was a great place for debate before 2016.
You could meet everyone in the world, and argue about ideas.
Starting in 2016,
Twitter became increasingly broken.
It became full of reporting and bans and censorship.
In 2019, Twitter even started
for no reason that was ever explained, or could be appealed.
promised to end the censorship.
But it looks like a false dawn.
One day, we will have a better place to gather.