Ubiquitous Palestine

Listened to Julian Morris (another economist who considers themself an authority, god help us), panelist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze about the orthodoxy of climate change, getting upset about the charge of denial – he’s the descendant of German Jews and feels that it is “grotesque” to use the term denier in this context, and perceives it as an attempt to link his enviroskepticism with Holocaust denial. He says he knows plenty of Jews who are also skeptics. Of course he doesn’t mean that if you’re Jewish and skeptic about climate change, you should be taken more seriously, but he was so flustered that he managed to give that impression. And not that there aren’t Jewish Holocaust deniers, whom I won’t dignify by naming them. After my initial shock that the holocaust should raise its head on a programme about climate, I realised that the emphasis was on orthodoxy rather than the environment. And that the point is that there is a need to foment ongoing engagement with some issues, including holocausts and climate change because there are some types of truth which are likely to come to more harm if allowed to end up on the received-wisdom pile. I know plenty of people who feel differently, though.

Clare Fox (who along with Spiked and the rest of those Manifesto Club reactionaries is particularly obtuse on the subject of environmentalism, and loves to insinuate that science will come to a full stop if we give an inch on it) accuses George Monbiot of “smearing” enviroskeptics by associating them with holocasut deniers. He counters that they are in denial – but fails to drive the point home by pointing out that that is a cliche everybody else seems to get away with using.

Yesterday evening I was in our Media and Coms department talking about our Virtual Learning Environment, so how did somebody come to tell me a story – during which he made it clear that his allegiances were with the Palestinians – of a tutor who made a polemical presentation and showed a polemical film (anti-Israel) and afterwards asked her undergrads to debate the conflict. The debate consisted of a single Jewish student against the rest of the group, and the matter was raised at the department’s next student meeting. Without bringing up my politics, I pointed out that if one’s students don’t debate, then we must assume them to be vulnerable to indoctrination and be careful to represent all sides of an issue. He says that Palestine is the overwhelming concern in that department at the moment.

And on the Today programme this morning at 08.55, Ishac Methi (sp?), member of the Darfur Union in Britain, calls for a delegation of British Muslims to go to Sudan. He says that most Muslims have too easily allowed their attention to be diverted towards Palestinians, and have forsaken Darfur. While his idea of choosing causes based on religious solidarity sickens me, and while I don’t want to people who genuinely care to look the other way when it comes to Palestinians, the man is at least right that Darfur is by far the more urgent humanitarian cause.

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