The Lifeboat News
[ Message Archive | The Lifeboat News ]

    Friedland tries a new tactic in both sidesing Archived Message

    Posted by RaskolnikovX on October 28, 2023, 6:37 am


    The tragedy of the Israel-Palestine conflict is this: underneath all the horror is a clash of two just causes

    which sort of sounds like he might try to give the Palestinians some credit but of course instead it's just a sly way of calling anything Israel is doing in their latest murder frenzy just and then he spends most of the article denying Israel is a coloniser, throwing anti-semitism accusations around and "Hammasing" it up and complaining that people are treating it like a football match (apparently bemoaning people who stridently believe in Palestinian freedom and not apartheid, but oddly the religious lunatic settlers don't get a mention. I can't imagine why).

    Fucking weasel

    This is not a football match. Though the way some spectators behave, watching from afar, you could be forgiven for making that mistake. At Wednesday’s game against Atletico Madrid, Celtic supporters defied a Uefa ban on political symbols by flying the Palestinian flag, expressing a long-established solidarity that has become part of the club’s identity. So strong is the allegiance to their chosen side – their team – that at a home game on the afternoon of 7 October, hours after the men of Hamas had begun their massacre of civilians in southern Israel, and while the torture and murder of families in their homes was still under way, a group of Celtic fans unfurled a banner. It read: “Victory to the resistance!!”

    The club is trying to manage the situation, but it won’t be easy. Not least because this is a phenomenon that goes far beyond Celtic Park. Many millions around the world watch the Israel-Palestine conflict in the same way: as a binary contest in which you can root for only one team, and where any losses suffered by your opponent – your enemy – feel like a win.

    You see it in those who tear down posters on London bus shelters depicting the faces of the more than 200 Israelis currently held hostage by Hamas in Gaza – including toddlers and babies. You see it too in those who close their eyes to the consequences of Israel’s siege of Gaza, to the impact of denied or restricted supplies of water, food, medicine and fuel on ordinary Gazans – including toddlers and babies. For these hardcore supporters of each side, to allow even a twinge of human sympathy for the other is to let the team down.

    It would be comforting to shrug off this binary thinking as nothing more than the moral failing of the distant spectator – but it’s having a concrete effect, on the conflict itself and on those hurt by it.

    For this tendency, this need, to see one side as all good and the other as all evil is hardly confined to the football terraces and the streets. This has been a season of open letters, from students, academics, actors and others – and the one-eyed nature of many of these texts has been striking. Even those written very soon after the mass slaughter of 7 October only rarely bring themselves to mention those killings specifically or even to name Hamas. The condemnation of Israel’s actual and anticipated response is detailed and plentiful, but the pain suffered by Israeli civilians is usually nodded to only under a blanket formulation covering all sides. There are long lists of demands on Israel, but no call for Hamas to release its captives, not even children or elderly people.

    Similarly, the current calls for an unconditional ceasefire naturally resonate with anyone who grieves for those under the nightly bombardment that has already killed so many Gazans. It seems such a simple, obvious remedy. Until you stop to wonder how exactly, if it is not defeated, Hamas is to be prevented from regrouping and preparing for yet another attack on the teenagers, festivalgoers and kibbutz families of southern Israel. But even to ask such a question is to give ground to the other team – and in this game, that is forbidden.

    Thinking like this – my team good, your team bad – can lead you into some strange, dark places. It ends in a group of terrified Jewish students huddling in the library of New York’s Cooper Union college, fleeing a group of masked protesters chanting “Free Palestine” – their pursuers doubtless convinced they are warriors for justice and liberation, rather than the latest in a centuries-long line of mobs hounding Jews.

    This week I gave a long-scheduled talk in Stockholm, tied to my book about Rudolf Vrba, the man who escaped from Auschwitz to warn the world. I was told that all other Jewish communal events in Sweden had been cancelled because of security fears, but the organisers of this one were determined to go ahead. And so I spoke about the Holocaust to a room where every entrance and exit was guarded, including by armed police.

    And yet, just as I was doing that, and even after the 7 October massacre had stirred memories of the bleakest chapters of the Jewish past – and prompted a surge in antisemitism across the world – Jews were being told exactly how they can and cannot speak about their pain. We’re not to mention the Holocaust, one scholar advised, because that would be “weaponising” it. Historical context about the Nakba, the 1948 dispossession of the Palestinians, is – rightly – deemed essential. But mention the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews – the event that finally secured near-universal agreement among the Jewish people, and the United Nations in 1947, that Jews needed a state of their own – and you’ve broken the rules. Because it’s impossible that both sides might have suffered historic pain.

    Instead, a shift is under way that has been starkly revealed during these past three weeks. It squeezes the Israel-Palestine conflict into a “decolonisation” frame it doesn’t quite fit, with all Israelis – not just those in the occupied West Bank – defined as the footsoldiers of “settler colonialism”, no different from, say, the French in Algeria. Never mind that Jews sought a refuge in Palestine motivated not by an imperial desire for expansion, but because they faced annihilation. Never mind that Israeli Jews have no imperial metropole, no France, they could ever return to. And never mind their ancestral, millennia-old connection to the land – all of which makes them utterly unlike the French in Algeria. They 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?

    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.

    This is where you wind up when you view this conflict in monochrome, as a clash of right v wrong. Because the late Israeli novelist and peace activist Amos Oz was never wiser than when he described the Israel/Palestine conflict as something infinitely more tragic: a clash of right v right. Two peoples with deep wounds, howling with grief, fated to share the same small piece of land.

    So, this is not a football game. It has no need for spectators who root for one team against the other, goading their chosen side to go to ever further extremes. This is not a game, for one grimly obvious reason. There are no winners – only never-ending loss.

    Message Thread: