Melanie Phillips: When “Equality” Becomes A Killer, False & Malicious Criticism of Ben-Gvir
Op-Ed
August 29, 2023

The West’s core doctrine is a recipe for moral bankruptcy.

By Melanie Phillips

(AUGUST 27, 2023 / SUBSTACK.COM) For years, the doctrine of “equality” has been synonymous with conscience and morality in the west. Anyone who dissents from this dogma is tarred and feathered as a knuckle-dragging troglodyte. In fact, this interpretation of “equality” dissolves morality as surely as acid dissolves limestone. This “equality” creates injustice and leads to bullying and intimidation. 

Worse still, it enables terrorism and mass murder. Worse again, this is being actively promoted by western politicians and “liberals”. Thus it dominates and poisons public discourse.

Israel’s controversial National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, provoked yet another tsunami of condemnation when, discussing on TV whether more stringent measures were needed to  curb the current surge of Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israelis, he declared: 

My right, the right of my wife and my children to move around Judea and Samaria is more important than freedom of movement for the Arabs. The right to life comes before freedom of movement.

Cue instant meltdown — and instant distortion and defamation. Most media sources quoted the first sentence but not the last. They thus decontextualised what Ben-Gvir had said, falsely and maliciously misrepresenting his observation as the quintessence of racism by placing Israeli interests above Palestinian Arab interests. 

Does one really need to point out that, however much one may revile a public figure, demonisation through distortion and malice turns such finger-pointers themselves into promoters of malicious hatred?

In fact, what Ben-Gvir was actually saying was that the right of innocent citizens to live their lives free of attack should be given precedence over the right of Palestinian Arabs to enjoy the freedom that allows them to murder Israelis. Those who have called him a racist for these remarks must therefore be presumed to believe that freedom of movement for Palestinian Arabs should be given a higher priority than preventing Israelis being murdered by them. And this is supposed to be the voice of western principle?

Well, it’s certainly the voice of the Biden administration. Last Friday, it duly piled in. The State Department said:

We strongly condemn Minister Ben-Gvir’s inflammatory comments on the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents of the West Bank. We condemn all racist rhetoric; as such messages are particularly damaging when amplified by those in leadership positions and are incongruent with advancing respect for human rights for all.

Outraged by this demonisation of the right of Israelis to be defended against attack, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office released a statement to the foreign media in English on Friday evening. It said:

Israel allows maximum freedom of movement in Judea and Samaria for both Israelis and Palestinians. Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists take advantage of this freedom of movement to murder Israeli women, children and families by ambushing them at certain points on different routes. Thirty-four civilians have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2023, many of them while driving home. The most recent incident occurred when Bat-Sheva Nagari was murdered on route 60 in Judea in front of her six-year old daughter. In order to prevent these heinous murders, Israel’s security forces have implemented special security measures in these areas. This is what Ben-Gvir meant when he said the right to life precedes freedom of movement. Israel will continue its policy of maintaining security while affording freedom of movement for both Israelis and Palestinians.

But for the Bidenites, the right of the innocent to be defended against murderous attack is apparently racial bigotry.  You don’t have to be a fan of the polarising Ben-Gvir to realise this is utterly sick; and coming from Israel’s supposed principal ally in the world, it’s even more intolerable. It makes an absolute mockery of America’s purported support of Israel against those who so relentlessly victimise it, all the way from lies and defamation to mass murder.

For the Biden administration and the EU, however, the supposed odium of Ben Gvir’s remark is nothing less than an article of faith. 

As the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported yesterday:

US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken clarified that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve identical means of freedom and security. The European Union also issued a sharply-worded condemnation of the minister and demanded improvements to Palestinians’ freedom of movement, saying relations between Israel and the EU “shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles. 

All human beings are equal and should be treated the same way. In this context, the values of democracy and respect for human rights stand central to the EU-Israel partnership, including as regards the people living under occupation in the Palestinian territory,” the EU said. It called on Israel to “allow for a tangible improvement of freedom of movement and access for the Palestinians, to enable accelerated Palestinian construction, as well as social and economic development in Area C, and reverse the worsening of living conditions for Palestinians in Area C”.

Now equality is certainly an important moral principle — but not this kind of equality. Equality should mean treating people equally all other things being equal. But in the context of attacks on the innocent, there can hardly be “equality” between murderous attackers and their potential victims. To give potential attackers the same rights and privileges as their potential victims is to ensure that the latter become actual victims. 

That, of course, is precisely the outcome of the Biden administration’s application of this principle to the Palestinian Arabs, whom it continues to fund regardless of the Arabs’ “pay for slay” stipends to terrorists and their families in recognition of their murder of Israelis. These funds actively help fuel more such attacks. As for the EU, it too wants to ease restrictions on the Palestinian Arabs and improve their living conditions, regardless of the fact that these living conditions spawn multiple terrorist attacks on Israelis every day.  

When the Bidenites and the EU talk about “equality,” what they mean is identical treatment regardless of how people behave. This doctrine specifically outlaws any discrimination as “racist”. So there can no possibility of discriminating between attackers and victims, justice and injustice, right and wrong. This is moral illiteracy.

Moreover, it doesn’t even clear their own ideological hurdle. For  their “equality of treatment” means giving Israeli Jews fewer rights than the Palestinian Arabs. There’s no equality, for example, on Temple Mount, the holiest place for Jews — but who are forbidden to pray there while no such restrictions apply to  the Arabs. And the US and EU certainly refuse to give equal rights — or indeed any rights — to Israelis living in the disputed territories, even though it is only Jews who have the legal and historical right to live there. 

But hey, what are mere facts or moral principles when they’re uttered by a hate-figure like Ben-Gvir? With someone like him, it’s open season all the time.  People can be misreported and demonised merely because they are said to be “right-wing extremists” — a category that is extended far beyond the likes of Ben-Gvir to include all who fall foul of the left. 

Surely it should be axiomatic to all decent people that, however strongly one may object to people like Ben-Gvir and condemn his sometimes irresponsible behaviour, it remains a moral imperative to be fair, never to promote malicious distortion and to distinguish between criticism and demonisation. Yet increasingly throughout the west, identity politics has meant that people are judged not by what they say but by what they are; not by the content of their character but by the colour of their skin; not by the truth of their words but by whether they are despised by those who confuse virtue signalling with virtue — and who thus help foment malevolence, falsehoods and ultimately mass murder. 

This article was written by Melanie Phillips and published on Substack, available here.

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