In the zero-sum world of BDS politics, last month’s Eurovision Song Contest could not be perceived as anything but a massive defeat for the boycotters. Their extreme efforts to get the program moved from Israel, their strong-arming of artists to now show up, and their incessant calls for boycott could not prevent the thousands of people who visited Israel for the event or millions watching the song contest on TV from seeing the actual Israel, rather than the dystopia of BDS fantasies and *gasp* making up their own minds, rather than let the BDSers think for them.
The one bright spot for the boycotters were the antics of the Islandic band Hatrio Mun Sigra which did not misbehave during their performance, but did engage in politics by sneaking out a Palestinian flag during the announcement of the winner (it wasn’t them, BTW).
What little heat their “reveal” generated was soon forgotten, except for some BDSers looking for a fix and the Icelandic government which may punish the band for not playing by the rules. But I got re-interested in the controversy when this piece appeared in Tablet revealing that – for all their goth, outsider posing, the members of Hatrio Mun Sigra are part of a hereditary caste of Iceland’s elite – the sons of diplomats and bankers – playing at punk while demonstrating their wokeness in the way all European aristocrats do these days: by dissing the Jewish state.
One need only look at the pale, scrawny members of the band to combine their appearance and background into a single well-worn phrase: white privilege. In fact, if that term had any meaning among the people who use it the most, one might be led to think that anti-Zionism is the touchstone of the most melanin-deprived elite.
This fits nicely with the concept of Palestinian privilege that titles this piece. For example, sixty million of the world’s refugees (including those from Syria for whom the world shows such concern) is supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) whose budget is comparable to the money spent on a UN agency, UNWRA, dedicated solely to not solving the problem of five million Palestinian “refugees.”
Many commentators describe Palestinian behavior such as refusing tax revenue from Israel unless it includes sums they have committed to pay those who killed Israelis or doing everything possible to derail an economic conference dedicated to their economic improvement as the acts of “spoiled children.” But another way to look at those choices is as the acts of an outraged elite doing everything in their power to preserve their wealth, power and position in society.
The poverty such choices might cause the average Palestinian might seem to counter any discussion of privilege, but keep in mind that the elite making these decisions are not impacted by them. The wealth they have skimmed off foreign donors is not likely to be seized, and their positions of power is not threatened by those below them (unless the masses organize under the rule of a new elite of fanatical Islamists). Similarly, the privileged Palestinian elite has no fear that parents of members of Hatrio Mun Sigra or their pals in the European diplomatic core will hold Palestinian members of their caste to account.
The privilege model also helps explain why members of this elite in “Palestine” are so quick to lash out at fellow Arab tyrants who seem to be distancing themselves from “the sacred cause.” After all, with dozens of Arab nations allied with even more Islamic ones within the halls of the United Nations, having their way internationally has been taken as a given by Abbas and Company. So condemning Arab leaders for not sacrificing their own interests is the equivalent of the rich and powerful condemning President Roosevelt as a traitor to his class.
Given how much our own intersectional elite demands they get to decide who gets to speak and who does not based on their own ever-changing ranking of privilege, it’s interesting how the power relationships described above: where European hereditary castes prove their progressive bone fides by embracing the anti-Israel cause, all in support of the least progressive regimes on the planet, is not mentioned (or shouted down when someone else brings it up).
Interesting, but not surprising. After all, rank does have its privilege.
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