Poor Confucius, he didn’t know what was waiting for him. For 2,500 years, the Chinese philosopher, associated with moderation, altruism, reciprocity, respect for elders and loyalty, flew under the radar of the right wing. Well, the party is over.
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“China is a huge, very, very violent totalitarian country, which thinks that we won’t notice because it funds Confucius centers in universities,” Dr. Gadi Taub said on an Israeli news program to explain China’s sophisticated, hostile takeover over the world. Participating in a discussion on the cold war between the United States and China, Taub described the situation to the program’s host, Avri Gilad, in total identification with the Trumpist American approach.
Clearly, there is no problem with Taub embracing Trump’s worldview, which sees China as a dangerous, aggressive country. However, from the Israeli standpoint (all the more so the non-Bibist one), it isn’t clear at all that Israel should adopt the American position. In fact, it is a diplomatic challenge of the first order, to navigate between two powers when Israel is proud of its friendship with both of them.
Confucius is at the threshold of an image makeover. It’s only a matter of time until his name is associated with technological terror and will instill fear the way Palestinian ambulances or pregnant Palestinians do when they want to pass through a checkpoint. Strangely, but not independently, someone decided last week without any warning that the Palestinians became humans again. Thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank filled the beaches of Tel Aviv and Netanya. They entered without a permit through breaches in the separation barrier, under the army’s watchful eyes. Television screens were full of images of nice, Arabic-speaking Palestinians who were ready to allay our fears about them and prove that they had just come to enjoy themselves.
They have brainwashed us for so many years about dangerous creatures who were born to blow themselves up among us, and suddenly they fill the beaches without anything happening. It’s as if someone changed the settings on Israel’s geopolitical software, from which moment the Palestinians ceased to be an existential threat.
The real coronavirus, which Trump calls the Chinese virus, has probably displaced the metaphoric Islamic virus. Instead of warning the world about the spread of extremist Islamism, the right has moved on to warnings about control by the Chinese virus, be it the coronavirus or 5G technology. Right-wing commentator Guy Bechor is out. Gadi Taub is in. Gilad also remarked on his program that the Chinese cut a deal last month with the Iranians, from which he concluded that the Chinese, “are basically becoming, most regretfully, our enemies.” Taub agreed with him.
However, it may be wise to stop for a moment before submitting to the deluge of anti-Chinese incitement, which will take us for a ride — God only knows for how long and at what price — and ask ourselves whether there is another way of looking at what is going on here. After learning to see Palestinians as predatory animals rather than human beings, favoring a dominant myth of Amaleks threatening to destroy us over a narrative of national conflict, and after years in which we learned to see Iran as the modern iteration of Hitler, are we prepared to follow blindly those who say that the Chinese dragon is the new Iranian threat? And how much time will it take until there is an alarming security debate here between those who favor and those who opposed an attack on China?