Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a red line for me. Voices I respect – from Alexander Mercouris to Vladimir Putin (though not, I gather, Xi Jinping) have been forthright in condemning the October 7 attacks even as they condemn the Israeli response and the culpability of its US backer.
In any case I think there’s rather too much red line drawing in countercultural circles. It smacks to my mind of a purism more interested in virtue signalling club membership than in effecting change for the better.
Nevertheless, I myself refuse to condemn the attacks. Why?
… 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.
As for rapper, journalist and warrior for justice Lowkey, the entire fourteen minutes forty-two of his exchanges with Piers Morgan, featured in my previous post, pinpoint with consummate accuracy the dishonesty – or at best breath-taking ignorance paired with self-serving credulity 1 – underlying that shrill demand.
Then there’s the answer given by Yanis Varoufakis, at 10:50 of an Al-Jazeera interview two days ago:
To those who ask this I say, “you lost your opportunity to ask this question the moment you failed to condemn the killing of journalists – Palestinian journalists, non Palestinian journalists , Israeli journalists – Israeli Jewish peace activists, children, women, old men …”
But these responses all make, and rightly so, what we might call a negative case for refusing to condemn the October 7 attacks. It fell to Jonathan Cook, on his blog nine days ago, to make in that calm and closely reasoned way of his the positive moral case for so refusing. That post merits reading in its entirety but let me summarise its three arguments.
First, those demanding condemnation seek to impose the dangerous consensus that “the atrocity clock started on Oct 7”.
They would have us forget decades of Israeli ethnic cleansing and massacre, apartheid, 2 and siege. They seek and to large extent have won control of the narrative. In condemning Hamas we cave in on their terms because:
In western societies, pro-Israel sentiment is baked in, articulated constantly by our politicians and media. Anyone who condemns Hamas has no control whatsoever over the ends to which their condemnation will be put … condemnation of the kind demanded of everyone about Oct 7 has been weaponised to drive out context, to erase Palestinian suffering and Israeli oppression, and to simplify and distort history.
Second: those demanding condemnation do not seek a better and safer world. They seek to legitimate ongoing war crimes:
If Hamas’ actions need to be singled out for special condemnation (while Israel’s decades of crimes do not), then Hamas’ actions must be an order of magnitude worse than anything Israel has ever done.
Third, under international law, Palestinians have a right to resist:
Implicit in the demand for condemnation is an intention to strip Palestinians of the right to any kind of resistance to brutal military occupation by Israel.
International law is clear on this point, even if western politicians and the media are not. Palestinians have a right to resist.
There are plenty of things Hamas did on Oct 7 that were legitimate under international law, such as attacking Israeli military bases that have been enforcing the siege of Gaza for 16 years. That is the main reason why such large numbers of Israeli soldiers died that day. 3
But the demand for condemnation intentionally seeks to blur the distinction between what Hamas had every legal right to do – attack the Israeli army – and what it did not have a right to do, which is kill civilians and take them hostage. Instead, all of the day’s events are painted as illegitimate, all of the day’s events are blended into one giant atrocity.
Jonathan closes his post with this:
Condemnation of October 7 is what the West’s war machine wants from you. It is what ensures that Palestinian children keep being killed, and that Palestinians never get their freedom or dignity.
Condemn if you wish, but understand that Palestinians will pay a heavy price for your words.
* * *
- As I never tire of saying, journalists who know what’s good for them please editors, while editors who know what’s good for them please – on matters vital to power – proprietors. Proprietors not only crave seats at the high table. More importantly they need advertisers and/or wealthy sponsors. This tells us not quite all we need to know about the systemic corruption of corporate media. Just a big and important slice of it. As to my never tiring of pointing this out, well, that’s because I’m used to being quietly cancelled by folk who are not innately stupid or ignorant. Rather, they have been rendered so by the assumption – understandable but hugely and perilously misbegotten – that mainstream media, at least the ‘quality’ sections, are capable of being truthful on matters critical to ruling elites.
- There is a consensus among NGOs – Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to name but two – plus UN human rights experts and even a former head of Mossad – that Israel meets all the criteria of an apartheid state. Noam Chomsky disagrees. Israel, he insists, has a more sinister agenda. Apartheid South Africa did not seek to eradicate black people, he notes. On the contrary, it needed their labour. Israel by contrast shows by word and deed, not just since October 7 but since 1948 and accelerating in the late 70s, that it desires – by ethnic cleansing if possible, genocide if not – the eradication of an entire nation from the vision, of those who for decades have held the reins of power, of a Greater (Biblical) Israel.
- We might add at this point the mounting evidence that many may have died on October 7 at the hands – if we’re being charitable – of a panicking IDF. To which we can add two caveats. One is that, as noted by Lowkey in his Piers Morgan interview, there is evidence of Israel opting to kill its own rather than have hostages taken. The other, as Alexander Mercouris has said, is that we cannot know the truth about ‘friendly fire’ claims until we have an independent inquiry with full access to the facts. (I say don’t hold your breath – think 9/11 and the denial of Truth Commission access to key documents and witnesses.) See also the comment – beginning “Whoops!” – by Dave Hansell on my previous post.