A seemingly eccentric question, one that shouldn’t have to be asked, yet it does because that is the bizarre situation the Palestinians find themselves in. Indeed, many find themselves refugees in their own land.

Their circumstances are a reflection of the disdain that supporters of Israel, particularly its chief enabler the United States, manifest toward these beleaguered people. They have consistently collaborated with the Israelis to ensure that Palestinian interests submit to Israeli ambitions.

The impulse behind this bias may have been explained by no less a person than Winston Churchill a century ago. The great conservative was a strong supporter of a Jewish state in Palestine. Once, when asked what then was to happen to the Palestinians, he replied:

“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, though he may have lain there for a very long time … I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race or at any rate a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

So there you have it. If a higher-grade race replaces the Palestinians, no wrong has been done, and no haste to find them a country ensues.

Many will point out that Churchill was an early 20th century imperialist—surely no one thinks like that today. I’m not so sure. Listening to many Israeli supporters, certainly at least conservatives, it appears they think very much like their illustrious predecessor.

Churchill’s statement re “Red Indians” does indeed hit home. The settlers of this continent considered them to be obstacles to manifest destiny, to be swept aside. Only recently have we in this country recognized the wickedness resulting from that attitude and decided, through reconciliation, to make amends.

However, many in North America seem to still apply the Churchillian bias to Palestine, although with a good number of Americans, biblical prophesy replaces manifest destiny. Third world citizens, who have felt the sting of that bias themselves, generally take a very different view of the plight of the Palestinians, as we have seen with votes on the issue at the UN.

Even discussion of the issue reflects the bias. A recent survey conducted by the University of Maryland and George Washington University, which included professors and graduate students, revealed that over 80 percent felt the need to self-censor when speaking about Israeli-Palestinian issues in academic and professional settings. Eighty-one percent felt this need if criticizing Israel, but only 11 percent felt the need when criticizing Palestinians. One of the professors who conducted the poll emphasized that “The key is that most of it was actually fear rather than sensitivity.”

The fear is hardly surprising, particularly in the U.S., where employers have initiated do-not-hire lists of students who have supported the Palestinians or demanded a cease fire in Gaza. Professors have been disciplined and administrators pressured by trustees and funders. Similar intimidation has been felt in a range of industries.

A United Nations statement by a group of special rapporteurs expressed alarm at what they perceive as a global stifling of criticism of Israeli government policies and calls for a ceasefire. Over 600 Canadian lawyers, law students and professors have signed an open letter to the country’s legal community noting a chilling effect on freedom of expression since the outbreak of the war.

The tolerance of Israeli misbehaviour is now about to be severely tested. Certain Jewish-supremacist ministers in the Netanyahu government have recently suggested that once the Gaza war ends, the Palestinians should be removed and replaced with Jews. This shameless proposal of ethnic cleansing has received widespread condemnation including from the U.S.

In the past, the U.S. and Canada have condemned Israel’s expropriation of more and more Palestinian land for settlements, but Israel ignores their censure, expropriates more land, and the U.S. and Canada meekly endure the new “facts on the ground.” No sanctions, no reduction in aid, no nothing.

Will they abandon their Churchillian bias this time and finally stand up for the Palestinians? Or, as Michelle Goldberg asks in The New York Times, “is the U.S. underwriting a war to remove Gazans from Gaza?” We shall see.

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