In 18 years of existence this blog has only twice hosted guest posts. However in view of the current Middle East Crisis I thought I should give space to Guardian columnists Jonathan Freedland, Gaby Hinsliff, Hadley Freeman, Lucy Mangan, and Marina Hyde, assisted by Stephen Fry, to collaborate and give us their perspective.
Here is their article:
It is easy for people, particularly young people, to be misled by social media into a malformed and warped view of the current conflict in the Middle East.
Of course, we fully understand that it is natural that pictures of thousands of dead Palestinian children, strewn across Twitter, give rise to feelings of hate and disgust.
But step back a little and consider this: are hate and disgust solid bases for building a rational assessment of Middle East Policy? Are those dead Palestinian children obscuring, in your mind, the calculation of something altogether more fundamental and important?
On 7 October Hamas beheaded forty babies, burned babies in ovens before their grieving parents, and carried out a systematic programme of mass rape, particularly of innocent young partygoers. They incinerated people with high explosives so their bodies became unrecognisable.
History started on October 7 2023 and started with an extreme excrescence of the worst abuses of classic patriarchy.
This is the existential threat which Israel faces. Israel is the only Jewish homeland and therefore Hamas is an existential threat to all Jews, everywhere. We saw this before, of course, with the Holocaust. Jewish people have had to live with existential threat for millennia.
The Palestinian people however do not face existential threat. It may appear a paradox that 1,000 dead Israelis is an existential threat to Israel but 20,000 dead Palestinians is not an existential threat to Palestine, but that is the point: it only seems a paradox to you.
You are again being blinded by numbers, your mind is again perplexed by all those images of dead Palestinian children. But you must understand this situation cannot be reduced to a simple numbers game.
It is not the number of dead children that counts: it is their quality.
Palestinians cannot face existential threat because there are now massively more Palestinians living in Gaza than lived there before the Nakba, when they all chose to move there and set up refugee camps.
In Gaza, Palestinians had a chance to set up a second Singapore with all the aid money they received from the EU and Qatar.
In fact Gaza could have been better than Singapore. Because of the physical constraints placed by Israel, including not permitting a port or an airport and controlling the entry of all people and materiel, the Palestinians had a glorious opportunity to go further than Singapore. They could have abandoned the physical world and set up a state that did not involve any movement either of goods or people.
Gaza divorced in this way from the physical world could have been an ultra-wealthy modern leader in pure intelligence-driven economy, not even dependent on computers as they were pretty restricted too.
Instead Hamas chose to ignore this glorious opportunity and focus instead on saving people from being killed, beaten, raped or detained by Israeli soldiers who were merely exercising the entirely necessary right of self-defence from the existential threat I think we mentioned before.
Hamas built command and control centres under hospitals, as proven by photos of Israeli soldiers carrying small amounts of incriminating-looking stuff into these hospitals. Hamas made terrorist bases of schools, forcing Israel to kill literally thousands of people crammed into them for refuge. Hamas stored weapons in churches and mosques, probably including the only high-explosive weapon Hamas ever possessed, which it obviously used to attack its own hospital.
Hamas also recruited hundreds of United Nations staff and journalists, forcing Israel to kill them too. This was all a ruse to increase hatred of Israel and thus reinforce the existential threat to Israel which I think we mentioned already.
That is of course a proper understanding of what has happened in the Middle East, where hundreds of babies were definitely beheaded by Hamas as part of an existential threat.
In return, in exercising Israel’s right to self-defence, an unverifiable number of Palestinians may have been killed or wounded, but figures are from the Hamas-run health ministry so are probably invented to increase the level of the existential threat to Israel.
Remember, if Hamas surrendered, the Middle East would be entirely peaceful and Israel could restore its apartheid state and only kill about 400 Palestinians every year, while systematically stealing more and more of their land, destroying their crops and bulldozing their lands. That is after a few thousand more immediate revenge killings, of course.
But if Israel surrendered, every single Jewish person in the world would be killed, exactly like every single Afrikaaner and Dutch person in the world was killed after the fall of apartheid South Africa. That is the existential threat to Israel.
But we have to look outside the Middle East and consider the effect on the wider Jewish diaspora, but not including those liberal Jews and Orthodox Jews who don’t support Israel at all (better cut this it complicates things – ed.).
I was in my local coffee shop on Tuesday, where you order at the counter and your coffee is delivered to your table by bicycle in a wicker basket with interwoven sprigs of lavender. I was eagerly awaiting my non-binary oatmeal latte with Peruvian single-estate caramel syrup, when I overheard an aggressive-looking man at the next table say:
“What do you think Janet? It’s a bit rum all these nippers being killed in Gaza isn’t it?”.
My entire world crashed around me. I had always felt safe in the UK, never believing I could, as a Jew, face any threat or danger. But here I was staring actual anti-semitism in its moustachioed face above a mustard-yellow scarf that had a distinct coffee stain!
I suddenly realised that every Jew faces an existential threat everywhere, and that Israel is entirely necessary to our very survival, no matter how many Palestinians are killed and displaced over decades!
It certainly put those thousands of dead Palestinian children into perspective, for me anyway!
Indeed I realised that to claim there were any dead Palestinian children at all was just to repeat the ancient medieval internet blood libel meme and therefore was itself a part of the existential threat to Israel.
That is the true understanding of the dead Palestinian children! They are actually part of the existential threat to Israel itself! Dead Palestinian children are just an anti-semitic meme!
Keeping an eye on the rampant anti-semite in the mustard scarf, I left, realising that as a Jew I was now unable to visit my own favourite coffee shop. I immediately withdrew young Tristan from nursery because of this coffee shop anti-semitism, and phoned the Community Security Trust, who said they would get back to me once they had fabricated a few hundred more incidents.
Forget those dead Palestinian children, Stephen Fry and I are the real victims in all this.
Jonathan Freedland, Gaby Hinsliff, Lucy Mangan, Marina Hyde, Hadley Freeman, Stephen Fry, etc. etc. etc. (Can you ask MI6 if I should sign this? – LH)
The above—and I would hope I did not have to say this, but experience proves otherwise—is satire.
A great many of the bravest opponents of the war in Gaza are Jewish. There are hundreds of thousands of Jews who are not Zionists. The large majority of Zionists are not Jews. It is important never to conflate the two.
I have no quarrel whatsoever with Jewish people. I view supporters of the racist, aggressive and genocidal political programme that is Zionism with the deepest hostility and indeed contempt.
It is however undoubtedly the case that some of the subset of Jews who are Zionists have been especially active in the British media in justifying the current vicious genocide being perpetrated in Gaza. In doing so they have often chosen to foreground their own Jewishness, to emphasise Israel’s role as the “Jewish state”, and to make claims of facing anti-Jewish discrimination or hostility in the UK.
It is impossible to reply in a way that makes plain that none of those things justify thousands of dead Palestinian children (and scores or hundreds more still every day) without addressing the Jewishness on which they themselves depend.
And their arguments are so callous, so self-serving and so prejudiced that they are overripe for satire. I appreciate it will be impossible to do this without myself attracting totally bogus accusations of an anti-semitism I do not entertain for a second.
Mentioning the Holocaust in a satirical piece caused me great consideration and is not done lightly. I have written here before of how my political duties in the British Embassy in Poland took me frequently to the sites of the concentration camps, and how it had a serious emotional impact on me. But using that dreadful event to justify another act of genocide simply has to be called out.
But I think the anti-semitism scam lost its force 20,000 dead Palestinians ago. So here we go.
I have chosen a random bunch of Guardian journalists (and ex journalists) as that “newspaper” is the epicentre of much of this guff. The names are pretty random and make no implication of ethnicity.
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