“Let’s replace “Israelis” with “white South Africans”, who were also a settler-colonising people. Did the fall of apartheid require them to “get out”?”
I opened my previous post with two quotes from Western Jews. One was Jonathan Freedland, a Guardian columnist pipped by Katherine Viner for the top job. Though he is a frequent apologist for Israel, my quoting of the man was neither approving nor disapproving …
Millions around the world watch the conflict … as a binary contest in which you can root for only one team …You see it in those who tear down posters on London bus shelters depicting the faces of more than 200 Israelis held hostage by Hamas – including toddlers and babies. You see it too in those who close their eyes to … the impact of denied water, food, medicine and fuel on ordinary Gazans – including toddlers and babies …
… simply a way into the truths that (a) meta narratives – Nakba and Shoah – meet head on in respect of a Jewish State forced upon Palestine, and (b) the two do not mirror one another. For one thing Palestinians played no part in the Holocaust, while Zionism – including its Christian and deeply anti-Semitic strands 1 – “had everything to do with the displacement of a nation”.
For another, only one nation has the unconditional backing of the world’s most powerful state.
That was October 29. The same day, Jonathan Cook posted a takedown of the Freedland piece I had cited. A word about Mr Cook, whom I described six years ago in a post on George Monbiot as “the best informed middle east commentator on the block”.
He’d been a Guardian columnist until the spiking of story after story sympathetic to Palestine led him to quit. Since then he’s published countless pieces both on his Nazareth based site and in other publications. He’s also experienced hits to his following, hence his income, from search engine algorithms which actively demote ‘contrarian’ sites like his.
But that’s a subject for another day. Today I give you Jonathan Cook on Jonathan Freedland.
Jonathan Freedland’s enduring bad faith
Guardian columnist feigns concern for two peoples ‘fated to share the same land’. But yet again he finds excuses to keep one of those people penned into a prison
Will the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland ever write a column on Israel that doesn’t rehash dishonest, Zionist talking-points that were discredited decades ago?
It would be too tedious to deal with most of the misdirections in his latest contribution. Let’s just pull out the final sections of his column, italicised, and then point out the ahistorical, morally vacuous thinking behind each of his points:
[Israelis] have been framed as the modern world’s ultimate evildoer: the coloniser. That matters because, in this conception, justice can only be done once the colonisers are gone. Which is why the chant demanding that Palestine be free “from the river to the sea” sends shivers down Jewish spines. Because that slogan does not demand a mere Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. What most Jews hear is a demand that Israel disappear altogether. And that Israeli Jews either take their chances living in a future Palestine under the likes of Hamas – or get out. But where to?
Let’s replace “Israelis” with “white South Africans”, who were also a settler-colonising people. Did the fall of apartheid require them to “get out”? I think Freedland will find that they are still there.
Yes, we all understand that “most Jews” are frightened by a chant calling for the liberation of Palestinians from apartheid-style subjugation and confinement in their own homeland. Of course, Jews are frightened. Israel and its apologists, Freedland prime among them, have been telling Jews for decades to be frightened, just as apartheid South Africa’s apologists told whites they would be slaughtered if a black man ever ruled the country. Whites stopped being frightened only when the Freedlands of the early 1990s were forced to change their tune.
What’s more, such a framing brands all Israelis – not just West Bank settlers – as guilty of the sin of colonialism. Perhaps that explains why those letter writers could not full-throatedly condemn the 7 October killing of innocent Israeli civilians. Because they do not see any Israeli, even a child, as wholly innocent.
If Freedland stepped out of his bubble for a moment and tried living in my world, he might be surprised by the number of people – many of them doubtless those fearful Jews he worries about – who are explicitly calling for Palestinians to be wiped out, who openly support genocide in Gaza – echoing Israeli politicians and leaders of Israel’s nuclear-armed military who have long advocated for a ‘Shoah’, or Holocaust, in Gaza. 2
Perhaps the reason some people on the margins of social media are reluctant to join the establishment chorus condemning Hamas 3 is because it is being so blatantly taken advantage of to excuse murdering Palestinian children. When our politicians and media turn this into a zero-sum game, when they rewrite international law to make shutting off food and water to Palestinians a legal and moral duty, you can perhaps understand why people might be reticent to fuel the flames of genocide …
Read the full piece here. Jonathan Cook strongly implies a one-state solution. It’s a principled stand. Indeed, in the past fortnight I’ve myself referred, in below the line comment on this site, to the two-state solution as “dead in the water”. Now though my attention is shifting from the purity of moral certainty to whether a durable solution may be found in a world moving towards multipolarity …
(That or WW3.)
… Hence my interest in Russia’s position and all it implies as expressed by Maria Zakharova’s call, on the day of the Hamas atrocity, for:
… an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with a capital in East Jerusalem that co-exists with Israel in peace and security.
That’s the subject of my forthcoming post, A way forward for Palestine? Part 2.
* * *
- Antisemitism has never stood in the way of support for Zionism, nor of Israeli/Western tactical alliances with virulently antisemitic Islamism. Churchill and (initially) Hitler had both favoured it, and for the same reasons. See my review of Israel: a Beachhead in the Middle East. That review notes Zionism’s appeal to Europe’s ruling classes:
With Jews disproportionately represented on the Left – as in the revolutions of 1789 and 1917 – it offered the enticing prospect of draining Europe of ‘bolsheviks and troublemakers’. Better yet, leading [Jewish] Zionists like the atheist Theodor Herzl dangled the irresistable prize of an Israel not only beholden but (since gratitude is famously short lived) forever dependent on its backers in the West.
In footnote 3 of the same I asserted, pace Stephen Gowans, that:
Zionism’s earliest enthusiasts were on the one hand Christians in the corridors of Western power, on the other rightwing Jews who saw antisemitism as rooted in the human condition; independent of and immune to social drivers.
While footnote 4 claims that:
The atheism of many right wing Jewish as distinct from Christian Zionists points us to the fact that, under strict interpretations of Judaism, only Jehovah gets to say when Jews have sufficiently atoned for sins punished in Exodus to be allowed Home. God has yet to sign off on Israel’s Law of Return!
- On those “Israeli politicians and leaders of Israel’s nuclear-armed military who have long advocated for a ‘Shoah’, or Holocaust, in Gaza”, .see the samples on offer in my post, “Gaza should be wiped clean with bombs”.
- As for my part in that reluctance “to join the establishment chorus condemning Hamas”, I had this to say in the previous post:
I didn’t condemn that atrocity – opting instead to contextualise it – because I didn’t set up steel city scribblings to offer redundantly asinine endorsement of the hypocrisies our corrupt media and politicians spew out without let or hindrance – and assuredly without need of any assistance from yours truly.