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Hostility Toward a Nation: What is the Source?

By Robert Fantina - Posted on 02 May 2013

                Two recent, but seemingly unrelated, news articles are worth reviewing more carefully, to see a common thread.

                The first concerns remarks made by special rapporteur with the UN Human Rights Council, Richard Falk. Following the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon, Mr. Falk said this: “…the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks, and these may yet happen, especially if there is no disposition to rethink U.S. relations to others in the world, starting with the Middle East.”

This thoughtful, reasonable statement was met with a typical unreasonable response by the United States. Via Twitter, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said this: “Outraged by Richard Falk's highly offensive Boston comments. Someone who spews such vitriol has no place at the UN. Past time for him to go.”

                What, one might ask, in Mr. Falk’s statement was ‘highly offensive’? Where, in what he said, is the ‘vitriol’? Is it not reasonable that there might be anger by people victimized by periodic bombings of their country by the U.S.? Would U.S. citizens not feel anger if some other nation continually bombed them?

                U.S. policy in the Middle East has been drastically skewed to support Israel’s interests, disregarding completely the basic human rights of any of Israel’s supposed enemies.  The American Israeli Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) basically owns the U.S. Congress, which dances to its tune without hesitation, knowing that doing so will ensure further campaign donations, funneled into their individual coffers by AIPAC.

                The U.S. is currently busy dropping bombs in the Mid-East. Earlier this week, Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni activist and journalist, whose home village in Yemen was bombed last week, testified before a Senate subcommittee, discussing the impacts of the drone program in Yemen. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to believe that the reaction in Yemen is mirrored in Pakistan and other countries victimized by U.S. bombs.

                Mr. al-Muslimi made two significant points:

  1. The alleged target of the strike, Hamid al-Radmi, was well known and could have been captured by local government officials, had the request to do so been made by the U.S. Random, indiscriminate and arbitrary bombing was not necessary.
  2. The impression that the people in his hometown in Yemen had of the United States prior to the infamous drone program had been built on Mr. al-Muslimi’s discussions of his year in the U.S., during his teens, which he said was one of the best years of his life. The people in his town heard stories of the warmth and welcome he received, and his very positive experience in the U.S. Now, however, all that goodwill is gone. Said Mr. al-Muslimi: “now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time.”

Prior to the 2008 presidential election, when it seemed that a countless number of Republicans were seeking the nomination, an interesting exchange occurred during a GOP debate. Representative Ron Paul referred to the 9/11 Commission Report which said, in part, the following: "America's policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim World."

This did not sit well with another candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He responded by saying that the terrorists of 9/11 "came here and killed us because of our freedom of religion, freedom for women, because they hate us."

Why, one might ask, do they hate us? As stated by the 9/11 Commission Report, it is at least partly due to the U.S.’s policy choices.

So Mr. Falk’s statements do not seem ‘offensive’ or full of ‘vitriol’, as Ms. Rice suggested.
They seem reasoned, logical and sensible.

The second news article concerns a perceived growing anti-Semitism in Europe. World Jewish Congress (WJC) president Ronald Lauder said this, prior to that organization’s meeting in Hungary: “Clearly, anti-Semitism in Hungary is on the rise.” He said that this is seen throughout Europe, but most strongly in Hungary, and called upon the government to “…take stronger action to combat hate crimes.”

One wonders if the Jewish communities in Europe are experiencing some of the same backlash that the U.S. is seeing, which may be the natural result of political policies. It isn’t a stretch to think that the anger increasingly felt around the world at the Israeli government’s horrific treatment of the Palestinians might morph into feelings of anti-Semitism. Also, as Israel seeks to destroy Palestine, its hypocrisy in claiming that Iran wants to destroy Israel is clear to the most casual onlooker. Might people, wrongly, begin to interpret feelings of opposition and antagonism toward Israeli policies as anti-Semitism? And might some of this perceived anti-Semitism result solely from anger towards those policies, as anti-Americanism results from U.S. policies?

Hate crimes are defined as crimes committed against a victim due solely because of his/her membership in a certain social group, including, but not limited to, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. They are certainly among the most reprehensible motivations for crimes. The Israeli government targets Palestinians for no other reason than their ethnicity. As Mr. Lauder urges Hungary to ‘take stronger action to combat hate crimes,’ perhaps he should use his influence a little closer to home, to accomplish the same thing.

The U.S. goes around dropping bombs, ostensibly to ‘protect freedom’ and ‘liberate’ oppressed peoples. There seems to be a belief that everyone throughout the world wants to be just like the U.S., with its limited liberties and skewed definition of freedom. Yet the U.S. doesn’t often consider the wishes of those it attempts to ‘liberate,’ resulting in quagmires such as Vietnam a generation ago, and Afghanistan today.

Decent people throughout the world mourn the suffering and loss of life that resulted from the bombing in Boston. Yet many of those same people are somehow able to ignore the suffering and loss of life that result from U.S. drone strikes in the Mid-East, and Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Horrific suffering and death that occurs on the other side of the planet is no less appalling than when it occurs domestically.  Yet people seem conditioned to accept it when it happens to people of a different religion, nationality or ethnic group, and only mourn when it occurs to people more similar to themselves. 

If a hate crime is defined as one motivated by the perpetrator’s hostility toward the religion, nationality or ethnic group of the victim, can lack of sympathy towards such a victim also be classified as a hate crime? It may be extreme to call such an absence of sympathy a crime, but certainly there appears to be a similarity between the motivation of the perpetrator and the reaction of much of the general public. And until this changes, the possibility of additional terrorist activities targeted to nations that perpetrate such crimes, is unlikely to decrease.

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