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Et tu, Dawkins? You refuse religion but support Israel?

Et tu, Dawkins? You refuse religion but support Israel?

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Opinion Extremism The Truth

Thursday 7 December 202307:08 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

حتى أنت يا دوكنز... يرفضون الأديان ويؤيدون إسرائيل؟


“I've lost all respect for you,” reads one of the comments in response to a tweet by the famed British biologist and philosopher Richard Dawkins. The responses varied, while some were angry, many were in support, from either Israelis or supporters of the state. “Thank you, Mr. Dawkins, for standing with civilization, for standing with Israel,” wrote one user of the social media platform.

Dawkins’ tweet (is it still valid to use the term “tweet” despite Twitter changing its name to X?) was a comment on a march against antisemitism that took place in London last month. However, in light of recent events, it was more of a pro-Israel demonstration, with white and blue flags everywhere. And, if I may say so, the march drew a largely white crowd, lacking the diversity seen across the world in the pro-Palestinian marches that have become a weekly occurrence since the beginning of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.

Why do many ‘rationalists’ support Israel, even in the midst of the ongoing genocide, despite the UN’s cries, and the sight of thousands of bodies piling up before the world, and the sadistic desire to keep Palestinians under occupation forever?

“Sorry I couldn’t be there, marching with them.” This was Dawkins’ only statement in response to the ongoing events since the beginning of the war; an expression of sorrow that he was unable to attend a pro-Israel march.

A number of his followers, shocked by his stance, tried to justify the tweet, claiming that to march against antisemitism “doesn’t mean you support Israel, same as marching in a pro-Palestinian demonstration doesn’t mean you support Hamas.” Dawkins, renowned in the world of science since the publishing of his book, The Selfish Gene, in the 1970s, later gained global recognition with his book, The God Delusion. He is also at the forefront of the New Atheists, a group of thinkers known for their rejection of religious and mythical perspectives of universe creation.

Dawkins tweeted his sorrow at missing the march against antisemitism in London. But it was more of a pro-Israel march, with white and blue flags and a largely white crowd that lacked the diversity of the pro-Palestinian marches taking place across the world

Dawkins is not alone in his support of Israel during its current war, which, ironically, has seen a global shift in perspective and greater support of Palestinian rights. American television personality Bill Maher dismissed the change in tide as merely a “teenager’s trend.”

Ironically, Bill Maher who is also a political commentator and the host of his own HBO show, is himself the 2009 recipient of Richard Dawkins Award, awarded by Center For Inquiry (CFI), the American nonprofit, to figures who have contributed to science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

Sam Harris claimed that the conflict between Israel and Arabs is a micro-representation of the conflict between Islam and Western Civilization. Perhaps this is why Noam Chomsky, the prominent Jewish thinker, dismissed Harris’ remarks as “ignorant to the extent that they don’t deserve to even be just discussed.”

In his biting and satirical style, Maher mocks different religions on his show, criticizing them in a way that other comedians might find offensive. He believes that criticizing religions should not be prohibited under the pretext of respecting cultural differences.

“I know that most Muslims are peaceful, just trying to mind their own business, and oppress their wives in peace,” he once mocked. Many of his Arab viewers did not take offense, as Maher openly criticizes other religions too. However he, like Dawkins, has vocalized shock by the support youth are showing to Palestinians amidst the ongoing war. Maher considers this a rise in antisemitism. One of the guests on his show described this as a “teenager’s trend,” and that opposing colonialism was attractive. And, “even if the urge to oppose colonialism is understandable,” Bill Maher continued, adopting the popular Israeli narrative, “The Jews didn’t steal or occupy other’s land, they were already there 1200 BC.”

Have these New Atheists gazed too long at the beast of religion and the abyss of extremism, that the abyss gazed back at them, leading them to turn to the opposite monster, Zionism, simply because it is called “the only democracy in the Middle East”?

Perhaps someone should ask Bill Maher what Dawkins’ was asked in response to his tweet, “I thought religions were bad, Richard. Why does Judaism get a pass all of a sudden?”

On his show, Bill Maher hosted Sam Harris, another prominent New Atheist, along with the Hollywood actor, Ben Affleck. Affleck criticized Harris, condemning his “unacceptable racism” for claiming that Islamophobia is not real, but rather a cover for extremism and oppression in Islam, and that the religion is a “mother lode of bad ideas.”

More recently, Sam Harris reiterated his thoughts on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and “the sin of morally equating between Israel and its neighbors.” Harris claimed that the conflict between Israel and Arabs is a micro-representation of the conflict between Islam and Western Civilization. And that despite the occupation, the difference between “those who dance celebrating the slaughtering,” and “those who avoid, as much as they can, targeting civilians”(!) is clear. He also doesn’t forget to emphasize that Gaza has not been occupied since 2005.

Did a just cause lose its reverence in their eyes simply because its banner is now raised with religious slogans? Or is it because ‘rationalists’ resort in times of crisis to the comfortable side, to old friends of liberalism, no matter how monstrous they are?

Perhaps this is why Noam Chomsky, the prominent Jewish thinker, described Harris’ remarks on the conflict as “ignorant to the extent that they don’t deserve to even be just discussed.”

Then why do Dawkins, Harris, Maher, and even many of the other ‘rationalists’, including from our Arab world, support Israel, even in the midst of the ongoing genocide? And despite the UN’s cries, and the sight of thousands upon thousands of bodies piling up before the world’s eyes, and the sadistic desire to keep Palestinians under occupation forever.

“Sorry I couldn’t be there, marching with them.” This was Dawkins’ only statement in response to the ongoing events since the beginning of the war; an expression of sorrow that he was unable to attend a pro-Israel march.

Has a just cause lost its reverence in their eyes simply because its banner is now raised with religious slogans? Have these New Atheists gazed too long at the beast of religion and the abyss of extremism, that the abyss now gazes back at them, as Nietzsche imagined, leading them to turn to the opposite monster, even if it was Zionist, simply because it is dubbed “the only democracy in the Middle East” or a “villa amidst the wilderness”? Or is it simpler than that, and many, even if they are ‘rationalists’, resort in times of crisis to the comfortable side of reason, to old friends of liberalism, no matter how monstrous they may be?


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22






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