Why Americans (and Europeans) Side With Palestinians

2013, Aug 09, 11:14 am

When the situation in Israel is presented in the American media, or talked about in public forums, there is a seeming unwarranted level of support for the Muslin Arabs in the region. Groups whose members these very same Muslim Arabs would subjugate or kill, if they were able, come out in their favor. But it's not just the feminists, gays, and civil rights activists who support these Arabs against all sanity. Westerners across the board are more kindly disposed than might be expected. Here's why:

So What's the Problem?

These are just my opinions and are largely speculative. It's also unpolished. Apologies.

Here are the main issues which I believe contribute to the multitude of grave misconceptions, both logical and emotional, that pervade western society regarding the Arab-Israel conflict.

The Underdog Problem

In the western world, it is common to cast the less powerful or capable figure in any fight or conflict as the aggrieved party. For examples, refer to the plots of countless popular books, shows, and movies[1]. Such a tendency leads many westerners to somehow envision that the same people who blow up public buses full of women and children are actually the victims.

The Must Have a Reason Problem

It is human nature to ascribe to other's the basic beliefs they themselves hold[2]. Westerners believe people don't generally act without reasonable cause. In reality, since we're dealing with a very foreign culture, the real reasons may be completely incomprehensible. Thus we accept reasons and justifications we can relate to, rather than actually understanding the true motivations.

The Extreme Lie Problem

When a claim is made, it is natural to assume, if not some degree of validity, at least some emotional cause. If, for example, an individual claims to have been sexually abused as a child, it would never be dismissed as an outright fabrication, but would be taken very seriously. This is western cultural phenomena, but in the Arab world the "truth" is often far more subjective and flexible. Additionally, if fabrications are effective, they have no compunctions inventing stories to further their agenda.

The Extreme Position Problem

Reasonable people, when attempting to resolve conflicts, automatically seek a center point of compromise. American and Europeans are, for the most part, reasonable and thus they expect others to be as well.  Muslim Arabs take advantage of this and adopt positions so extreme as to make any compromises massive concessions. Further, they consider any compromise a sign of weakness.

The Shout the Loudest Problem

Those who raise the biggest ruckus are often seen as far more prevalent, and more righteous, than they actually are. Take for example the gay population in the U.S., which is a single digit percentage, and yet holds parades and injects itself into popular media to the point were estimates from average citizens are up above twenty percent[3]. The Muslim Arabs in Israel, and their supporters abroad, are far louder and more active in spreading their propaganda and popularizing their agenda.

The Self Righteous Problem

Israel has a tendency to not to make excuses for itself, or to make them grudgingly. Supporters of Israel begin with the feeling that any decently honest and reasonable individual would vindicate Israel. This presumption presents as self-righteousness, which is scorned in western culture as being obnoxious and even dangerous.

The Arab Resources Problem

Oil is the predominant source of income for most of the Arab world. This impacts their way of thinking and creates an expectation of money for nothing (very little effort), and rewards disproportionate to effort damages one's character. If hard work builds character[4], Arabs are societally deficient. The corrupting effect of oil doesn't stop there, but spreads across the world to every country reliant on OPEC (Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries). America policy and politicians are influenced and this filters down to the general populace, clouding our objectivity.

The Historic Guilt Problem

Many Americans inherited historical guilt over their ancestors' treatment of the American Indians. These ancestral Europeans avoided the guilt by believing in manifest destiny[5] and offering justifications like "they're just dirty savages" and "they weren't using the land anyway". Nowadays we tend look for superficially similar situations so we can get involved and feel better about ourselves.


[1] Underdogs Never Lose

[2] False Consensus Effect

[3] What Percentage of the Population Is Gay?

[4] Calvin & Hobbes – Building Character

[5] Manifest Destiny


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