Is it pro-Palestinian?

Not in my name

For example Laurie Penny says that although Jews aren’t responsible for Palestinian deaths, their opinions carry extra weight and could “make a difference” when raised in opposition to Israel. “It is not anti-Semitic to say “not in my name””.

Picking through that, she’s obviously not expecting to make a difference with the Israeli government since they’re not even taking a steer from the US government at the moment. And she’s not addressing Palestinians (who may by now understand the limits of moral support – very nice thanks but here we still are, cooped up and dying). She’s definitely exhibiting her own political credentials, which matter only within her political bubble. And she may be hoping to inoculate herself against the now prevalent antisemitic view that all Jews should be assumed to support child-killing unless they say otherwise. Isn’t that a bit like urging Muslims to speak up against ISIS massacres? Don’t Jews held to political tests deserve solidarity?

Conclusion: self-centred cop-out.

Palestinian flags

For example, the “gesture of solidarity” from Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman is a stunt which exceeds his office and misuses a local government institution. How can a Palestinian flag have any impact as a symbol of peace when the Israeli flag is absent? It’s a partisan nationalistic symbol.

Conclusion: competitive, vicarious nationalism.

Writing a letter, as a Jew

Plenty of letters have been written by people and groups who wish to ostentatiously set themselves apart from the Jewish establishment.

I don’t get it. If you have a Jewish background but you’re not part of a Jewish communal organisation then you don’t get to send a representative to the Jewish Board of Deputies, the organisation which was formed to allow UK Jewry to make official, democratically negotiated representation to UK government, or its equivalent for your country. That’s understandable – so go and publish your own letter, as long as you don’t make out that your local group of elected Jewish representatives is invalid (I realise this needs more examples, but it’s late…). It probably has its tribulations and gets through them OK. Or if your Jewish communal organisation decides not to send a representative to the BOD but prefers to use the BOD as a counterfoil, then you’re in an anti-establishment clique which represents a cliquey, niche kind of Jewishness. But well done you for being so fresh and diverse. You’ll stand out really nicely against the silent, confused, hurting majority of Jews who feel unable to speak up for Gazans if it’s anti-Zionists and Jew-baiters trying to make them, and who understand enough to hate what Hamas stand for as much as they hate the sight of smashed up Palestinians.

Conclusion: loathsome identity politics from the dullest radicals.

Calling it a Holocaust

Telling Jews that they of all people should have learned from the Holocaust not to treat other people like the Nazis treated them is vindictively stupid. If I think of them as ignorant,  and beside themselves with grief, fear or rage, I can just about bring myself to explain Palestinian men drawing Hitler moustaches and swastikas on pictures Netanyahu and burning them, but when this is picked up by social media with such evident enthusiasm, Bob From Brockley explains the significance.

Conclusion: casual antisemitism of moralising simpletons influenced (maybe unwittingly) by Hamas &tc media strategists.

Fake pictures and other exaggerations

So many fake or misunderstood pictures and so much misinformation that people begin to doubt any of the reportage. On that, read this. Passing off artistic interpretations of a terrible situation as documentary evidence only sends the message that the truth isn’t actually very impressive and we can all relax.

Conclusion: lying and careless retweeting betrays any cause.

Boycotting Israel

The call is to boycott Israel in its entirety until it fulfills a list of requirements. The poorly hidden agenda is to wipe Israel off the map. “Colonization”? By whom? Nobody. “All Arab lands”? If they meant end the occupation they’d say it. “Dismantle the wall”? Not so fast – remember all those suicide bombers and all that Israeli civilian blood? “the right of Palestinian refugees to return”? That’s 12 or so million people who are designated refugees only because the countries where they live (many of whom made life unbearable for local Jews) refused to give them citizenship to keep up pressure on Israel. Imagine any politician even attempting to pull off that scale of immigration at home.

Conclusion: simple partisanship – Palestinian nationalism good, Israeli nationalism evil.

Blaming Israel for antisemitic attacks on Jews in the name of Palestinians

A seriously depressing and disturbing form of Palestine activism – particularly since so many on the Israeli left find it convenient to instrumentalise these attacks on Jews outside Israel as evidence that the Israeli strategy of confinement and bouts of force is failing.

I’m missing it out cos I’m going to bed.

Anything positive, whatsoever?

For those who are genuinely interested, plenty – but I can’t see any low hanging fruit. The easiest is reversing the empathy deficit – so hard to do in Israel or the occupied territories. Also easy, trying to understand, giving consideration to all sides from the religious Israeli settlers to the genocidal jihadis. Refusing to be in a bubble. Paying attention to honest reportage from brave journalists, and commentary from experts who are interested in peace rather than winning. Insisting that humans at risk of harm are at the centre of all conflict considerations. Insisting that every death is investigated, amplifying alternative plans for ending the conflict. Finding ways to drive a wedge between Israel and the expanding settlements, which might include selective boycott. Not leaving it to pro-Israel partisans to hold Hamas to account. Not leaving it to pro-Palestine partisans to hold Israel to account. Refusing to import the conflict. Rejecting zero-sum game politics. Pursuing a vision of peace which doesn’t involve punishing and demeaning one or other of the parties in the conflict. Being careful not to damage the credibility of Palestinian or Israeli politicians by folding them into your own agenda.


16 thoughts on “Is it pro-Palestinian?

  1. Good post. I find it astonishing how (some) pro-Palestinian activists seem determined to write/act in a way calculated to alienate not just Israel’s supporters, but those who are neutral or indeed pro-Palestinian. (I should acknowledge that dividing people into supporters of Israel and pro-Palestinians is rather unhelpful.) What is more astonishing perhaps is that those activists who are thoughtful about how they express themselves, and empathise with all, are sneered at by the more hardline types. One such activist has swayed me towards the idea of a selective boycott – which would seem (from his point of view at least) a more useful outcome than angering and alienating people.

    • When your political position takes this much effort, it’s never fence-sitting. Stand by for my next post: ‘Is it pro-Israeli?’. Your equal-and-opposite are legion, Richard.

  2. Good clear headed piece.

    “For example, the “gesture of solidarity” from Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman is a stunt which exceeds his office and misuses a local government institution. How can a Palestinian flag have any impact as a symbol of peace when the Israeli flag is absent? It’s a partisan nationalistic symbol.

    Conclusion: competitive, vicarious nationalism.”

    Not to mention stoking up sectarianism.

  3. <~~~~~~~ indeed Richard.

    I was looking into 'Is it pro-Israeli?' for ages last night. In the same vein, I wanted to concentrate on local activists rather than Israel-based ones. So I assumed I could follow a trail from British Palestine solidarity campaigners straight through to problematic behaviour of groups and figures of the British and/or Jewish establishment, and then read the commentary and make a judgement. Being far less attuned to these groups than I am to anti-Zionist ones, the fact that the Palestine solidarity campaigners are basically strewing round assertions as if they were to be taken for granted without even referencing, let alone actually discussing, the problematic statements, has really slowed me down.

    And though I will finish it, I really didn't want to spend this much time on it because it already monopolises too many people's attention.

    • It’s around 3,963 words with an uncompelling start. Gossipy, callous and full of conjecture. If that is the best the scourges of the British Jewish establishment can do, then perhaps the controversy is manufactured?

  4. Well there was much debate about the start so I kind of understand your point. However, it was left like that for a reason, a reason that no longer applies. So maybe the start could be rejigged. Thanks for the critique o:))

    As for gossipy and full of conjecture.. Well. We have the emails.

    As for callous. I guess truth can hurt.

  5. Pingback: Minor BDS Victory over Gaza has Zionist Lunatics taking over Guardian Asylum | الحرب الطائفية في المملكة

    • Ah the anti-Zionists. It’s their magnanimity, irresistible powers of persuasion & famously sunny disposition that’s wins you over every time. Mandelas , every last one of em. We are truly blessed with this movement.

  6. Belatedly – thank you Flesh (i.e. for the second comment here). Picking up on your latest comment, I’ve had such a bad experience of dealing with anti-zionists and/or active Western pro-Palestinian campaigners online (with some exceptions, of course), that it’s a relief to come upon a reasonable one, such as one of the people I met at the Gaza demonstration yesterday in Cambridge.

    • Seems better this time on the antisemitism against ‘Jews as Jews’ front. I’m trying to get together thoughts on that including your account & a recent CST blog post which fed into Haaretz piece. The next front is the anti-Israel racism of double standards – without undermining Palestinians or Israeli left.

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