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How Biden’s dehumanizing rhetoric against Palestinians aids genocide in Gaza

By Xavier Villar

When Palestinian-American academic and activist Edward Said wrote his seminal book "Orientalism" in 1978, he probably foresaw that the paradigm he described would continue to be the lens through which the Islamic world would be viewed in the following decades.

A few days ago, when US President Joe Biden spoke of "ancient hatred" as an explanation for all that has taken place in the region since the Operation Al-Aqsa Storm launched by the Palestinian resistance on October 7 last year, it seemed to confirm Said's perspective.

Biden’s statement, made during the so-called "Holocaust Remembrance Week," pointed to not only a fundamental misunderstanding of the region's history but also a political leaning to adopt a specific vision that has clear implications for the region.

By stating that Hamas is "driven by an ancient desire to eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth," the megalomaniac US president was not only distorting history but also amplifying the Zionist discourse that seeks to conceal the reality of the Israeli colonial occupation of Palestine behind the so-called "ancient Muslim hatred against Jews".

It can be argued that this rhetoric from the American president who can barely maintain his physical or mental balance serves to justify Israel's genocidal war against Palestinians by portraying the settler-colonial entity as a victim of “Muslim hatred.”

The problem for Biden is that there is no way to explain how Hamas, a Gaza-based resistance group that was founded in 1987 in response to Zionist occupation and settler-colonialism, could be responsible for the supposed "ancient hatred" towards Jews in the region.

The only possible way to explain these statements is, as has already been suggested, that they serve as a megaphone for the Zionist discourse seeking to present itself as an innocent victim.

If Zionism seeks to conceal its colonial dimension, it is because it acknowledges that the colonial model remains the best way to analyze the hate-centric ideology. It is important to remember that the Zionist discourse in its early stages had no qualms about presenting itself as a colonial settlement movement.

Although later attempts were made within Zionism to hide that colonial dimension, its objective has always been the construction of a demographically exclusive Jewish entity and the expulsion of native Palestinians through ethnic cleansing that we have repeatedly witnessed since the 1948 Nakba.

Biden's discourse contributes to the goals of Zionism by framing the situation in Palestine as a struggle between civilization and barbarism, without addressing the main issues of illegal occupation and settler-colonialism.

This imaginary division between civilization and barbarism provides justification for the Zionist colonial project that is primarily responsible for what is unfolding in the Gaza Strip today.

For decades, the orientalist discourse has been employed by both the Israeli regime and its Western allies, especially the United States, to portray the Zionist entity as a “beacon of democracy and progress” in a hostile region inhabited by barbarians.

Biden and his friends in Tel Aviv have used this false discourse to justify Zionist genocide in Palestine.

In a now-deleted post on X (formerly Twitter), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the world was witnessing a “struggle between the sons of light and the sons of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.”

An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post declared that on October 7, “Western civilization lost and the barbarians prevailed.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog stated that Israel's war on Gaza “is intended... to save Western civilization,” arguing that Israel was being “attacked by a jihadist network” and that “if it weren't for us, Europe would be next, and the United States would follow suit.”

Each time such rhetoric is employed, the mechanism of projection is activated. That is to say, the so-called “barbarism” is presented as necessary to support the Zionist colonial project and US imperialism under the guise of representing and defending “civilization.”

All of this contributes to justifying genocide in Palestine by creating the perception of the imaginary “Muslim danger,” a threat that, as observed, not only affects Israel but the entire Western world.

This imaginary fear of “Muslim savages” facilitates genocide in Palestine, as well as all the measures that are part of what could be termed the disciplinary apparatus of Islamophobia.

In this context, one can cite FBI Director Christopher Wray's appearance before the US Senate, where he warned of an increased terrorist threat after October 7.

“The ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” he stated, despite a lack of evidence to support the claim.

The use of such language, portraying Palestinians and Muslims as a threat, leads to their dehumanization. The lives of the Palestinian population become collateral damage, something that can be discarded to maintain the illusion of “security” and “civilization.”

Unfortunately, this dehumanizing rhetoric is not new, as pointed out by Said in 1979: "Practically the only ethnic group about whom racial slurs are tolerated, even encouraged, in the West are Muslims."

This analysis might seem exaggerated until we recall the words of celebrated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, comparing Arabs and Iranians to insects.

The persistence of dehumanizing discourse underscores the need to confront oppression and recognize Palestine as the "touchstone" of the global anti-colonial struggle.

This struggle is blocked by the US to preserve the myth of the fight against "barbarians," while attempting to prevent the brutal reality in Gaza from undermining that myth.

The preservation of this myth explains the political acrobatics in which Biden and his political and military advisers have engaged daily since the onset of the genocidal war on Gaza, in which the US has been not only complicit but an active participant.

As many experts explain, when Biden insisted that Israel should not enter Rafah, where over a million Palestinians live as refugees, he did so to defend the myth of a defensive war against an enemy with "ancestral hatred" instead of a colonial occupation war.

To maintain that myth, Biden tried to argue that the Zionist colonial army "had not yet entered the city center," as if the small coastal population were a metropolis with a clearly differentiated center from the rest of the territory.

Biden's words about the "ancestral hatred" of Muslims against Jews make Said's analysis sound tremendously current and relevant, much like the way Said connected the Palestinian liberation movement with other anti-colonial struggles worldwide.

"Every state or movement in the formerly colonized territories of Africa and Asia today fully identifies with, fully supports, and understands the Palestinian struggle," he wrote in "The Question of Palestine".

"In many cases, there is an undeniable coincidence between the experiences of Arab Palestinians at the hands of Zionism and the experiences of those black, yellow, and brown people who were described as inferior and subhuman by nineteenth-century imperialists."

Xavier Villar is a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and researcher based in Spain.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV)

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