Wednesday, April 03, 2002

The suppressed scientific paper on the genetics of Israelis and Palestinians is becoming topical again. Professor Antonio Arnaiz-Villena and his co-authors studied the genetic make-up of Middle Eastern Israelis and Palestinians and found that they were almost identical. He published the paper in the scientific journal Human Immunology. In short order, the journal withdrew the paper, wrote libraries to ask them to remove the offending pages, took the article off the internet, apologized profusely, and removed the writer from its editorial board. All this was for a peer-reviewed article well within the ambit of the journal, the science of which has not in the least been impugned (some comments on the issue are here). If there was something they didn't like about the science, they did not have to publish it (and it is, after all, science, which progresses by publishing theses for others to consider and try to refute). Obviously, the problem only arose after it was published, when political objections arose. Fortunately, you can still read the article (it's short and easy to get the gist of). I think it was a mistake to use politically loaded words ('colonist' and 'concentration camps') in the article, no matter how appropriate they may be, but that hardly justifies the book-burning type of response. It may in fact be the historical remarks that caused the most offense - Israeli propaganda holds that the Palestinians are only recent inhabitants of the area (archeology and common sense are gradually proving that almost all of the 'history' derived from studying the Old Testament is actually just mythology - see the article by Daniel Lazare in the March 2002 Harper's). The only possible explanation for all this censorship is the political implications of the article. If Israelis and Palestinians are the same people, how can Israel: 1) force its soldiers to brutalize Palestinians and shoot innocent Palestinians, including children? 2) treat the Palestinians as an inferior animal-like race? 3) ignore and subvert the legitimate aspirations of its brother Palestinians to live normal, dignified lives in their own country (the same desire that led to the creation of Israel)? 4) institute a system of bantustans to use the Palestinians as a very low wage, quasi-slave workforce for Israeli industrial production? The Israelis want to have a colonial power relationship over the Palestinians, and it is not a coincidence that you never see such a relationship between people of the same race. It's as if some smart aleck came to Hitler with an article proving that the Aryans and the Jews were actually the same race.