Toxic Western Wokeness Exacerbates Middle East Conflict

Political professionals from all sides can develop a vested interest in perpetuating problems they are supposed to solve. In the Middle East, for example, some suggest the Israeli government and Hamas are in a symbiotic relationship whereby, intentionally or not, they end up colluding in ways that exacerbate the conflict for their own reasons. But this is not the only example of the phenomenon at work in the Middle East; the principle can operate at other levels.

In movements for “civil rights” or “national liberation,” an established maxim is that the only ones who can liberate an “oppressed” people are those people themselves. Whether and how they gain their own state is for the Palestinians to decide. This makes me doubt proposals for international conferences of nations (with their own self-interests) to administer justice from on high. While a “two-state solution” is pushed by commentators I respect, the Palestinians would be foolish to accept any “solution” imposed on the situation by major powers, Arab states, or the United Nations—all of whom have already exploited them as shamelessly as they would argue Israel has done.

The problem is not that the Palestinians do not have just grievances. It is that they have been unable to have those grievances recognized by mounting a plausible, constructive, nonviolent movement for a homeland that could convince the world the result would be stable, prosperous, and free. Adolescents throwing stones, vicious terrorism, calls for Israel to be obliterated—these hardly reassure anyone that a Palestinian state would contribute to Middle East peace and stability.

Why this inability? It is connected to how the Palestinian issue has been manipulated and exploited to salve Western consciences, create the appearance of action, and further other agendas. The Palestinians’ peculiar status, walking a line between victims and perpetrators, results from this manipulation.

Like other chronically impoverished communities (e.g., American ghettos, Native American reservations, French banlieues, and postindustrial Northern England), the Palestinian camps are full of idle and violent young men whose prospects are bleak and who harbor grievances and resentment. Their dysfunctionality and despair may find its outlet in apolitical criminality, or it can be politicized into extremism and terrorism.

So (you probably are expecting me to say) the solution is to relieve their chronic poverty and “hopelessness” with welfare and development aid, right? Wrong.

Although such gimmicks seem unobjectionable to almost everyone, including those who think they will make little difference, and they have the added “benefit” of alleviating feelings of guilt, such gestures are not harmless. Trying to buy our way out of conflicts by paying people to shut up is precisely the way to perpetuate and worsen the problem. I suggest further that this may be one reason why some cynically push for welfare and development aid. It keeps the outrage alive.

Development aid to the Palestinians is already suspected of funding terrorism. But, going further, the aid that is spent as intended may be generating even more violence in the long run.

Of course, the larger, perennial problem with the idle and violent young men in these impoverished communities is that they do not have families. This is yet another problem our interference has exacerbated. Palestinian violence exists against “a background of destroyed families and failed educational systems,” writes David Rosen in his book, Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism. This background cuts the youth loose to serve in militias and armies. In armed conflict, as in gangs, youth find “surrogate forms of family and kinship.” Although Rosen places the Palestinian resistance within the larger context of “child soldiers,” a phenomenon full of mythology that he debunks, it remains that the internal dynamics of these communities are critical to understanding the larger conflict.

Like adolescents everywhere, these youth are naturally rebellious. Rosen shows that for Palestinians and other adolescent fighters, their revolt against external “oppressors” grows out of their rebellion against their own societies: “The Palestinian youth were leading an intergenerational revolution as well as a war against Israel.” They are fomenting “a real social revolution” against not simply Israel, but their own elders. “The peoples’ committees in the villages are run by boys of fifteen,” Rosen writes, “who are challenging the authority of old sheiks and imams.”

In stable societies, adolescent rebellion is checked or channeled into constructive purposes by institutions controlled by traditional authority. In contrast, what little authority exists over Palestinian youth only inflames their militancy. “From the beginnings of the conflict, the conviction that young people have a duty to sacrifice themselves for the Palestinian cause has held a central place in militant forms of Palestinian political consciousness.” The youth are politicized and militarized by upbringings that are saturated with radical ideology. “I was in a refugee camp in which everyone spoke about politics day and night,” one boy recounts, “and when my mother and grandmother spoke about politics, how could I not speak?”

As this young man reveals, he and his comrades are largely raised by radicalized women who impart this ideology to them. They are often fatherless and beset with all the dysfunctionalities that condition entails. All the communities I mentioned are dominated by single-mother homes, where fathers are marginalized or removed and adolescents are raised by women, with hardly any male supervision. The corollary is that they also have few prospects of ever being normal fathers themselves, which would likewise impel them toward responsible lives—and responsible politics.

Anti-poverty programs, even when they seem ideologically neutral, can only make this worse. But international development aid, like domestic welfare, is controlled by feminist social workers who think that proliferating single-motherhood and marginalizing men is a good idea. Anyone familiar with the UN knows that the vast preponderance of its functionaries are radical women, whose programs consume the bulk of UN time and resources. Dominated by feminists operating under the guise of aid and “relief,” the UN and other agencies use development assistance as leverage to eliminate fathers and break up families, just like they do in Western welfare states.

To the extent that these youth are victims, they are victims of not only Israeli violence but also manipulation by the social work agencies of intergovernmental organizations like the UN and the recipients of that aid among their own population.

In parallel to the armed rebellion of children, the other legacy of the woke decolonization ideologies has been the rebellion of women in the form of radical sexual ideology. This was exported from the West and taken up mostly by women working for the UN.

These global social workers flood communities such as the Palestinians with development aid. The radical ideology tied to that aid—programs about “gender equality” and “gender-based violence”—serves only to ensure that the youth will never have fathers, families, stable upbringings, and responsible civic life.

This agenda lies behind all development aid today. Gone are the days when aid organizations were in the business of distributing only food and medicine; today they also promote and glorify feminist and other forms of woke activism. One UNICEF publication forthrightly states its motivation to “provide vocational skills, potentially increasing [a woman’s] economic power, thus freeing her from dependence on her husband, father, or brother.”

As we tear apart our world deciding which side deserves elimination as the embodiment of “pure evil,” we might consider not dripping our own poison into the conflict. We might find that massive infusions of money for the purpose of deliberately disrupting a community’s social structure is unwise. Doing it in the name of humanitarianism only makes us feel good about promoting our own agendas and sponsoring ideologies that are more subtle than those of the past, but equally deadly.

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