The Canarian has dealt extensively with the situation in occupied Palestine. Increased Israeli authoritarianism against Palestinians (described by Professor Ilan Pappé as “calculated and cynical provocation”) led to a reaction by Palestinian armed groups. As usual, Israel’s response was grossly disproportionate. These are air strikes against civilian targets including residential buildings, hospitals and schools. So far, hundreds of people have been killed in Israeli offensive military actions, including over 60 children.
Of course, right-wing commentators have resorted to desperate mental distortions to classify Israel’s actions as a form of “self-defense”. The race to the bottom was a long and predictable compendium of propaganda, minimization, and obfuscation. But in a competitive environment, the viewer, the house organ of the Conservative Party, could ultimately receive the award for the most blatant excuse for Israel’s actions.
Dishonestly shaping the debate
Two Spectator articles published on May 20, in particular, are distinguished by their shameless dishonesty. The first is an article by neo-conservative Iraq war cheerleader Douglas Murray. His article begins predictably enough with a selection of pro-Israel topics of conversation. For Murray, Israel is only engaged in “defending its own citizens” against “the terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza”. Those who speak out against Israel’s atrocities are “ignoramuses” for “crying”[ing] about “disproportionate” fatalities “.
But for Murray “all this and much more had been rehearsed a thousand times before”. Apparently, in a British context, there is “only one interesting observation that can be made about this conflict”. And this is:
It doesn’t matter how big or large a conflict with Israel, the response on the streets of Britain is getting worse every time.
His list of allegations includes allegations that:
- Protests outside the Israeli embassy in London, in which “opposition Labor Party leaders participated”, included “openly anti-Semitic messages”.
- Protesters from the Israeli embassy threw rockets at the police.
- “Convoys of cars belonging to pro-Palestinian activists [drove] through Jewish populated areas of London shouting, “Fuck the Jews. Rape of her daughters ”.
Doubtful evidence …
The evidence he provides for these claims is not exactly solid. Of course, real anti-Semitism is never excusable and must be condemned. But Murray’s source for the allegation of the alleged abuse made by the protesters in the car convoy is, for example, an article from the Jewish Chronicle (JC) that has embedded a video posted on Twitter. The video appears to show protesters in one of the convoy’s cars making the remarks over a loudspeaker.
Although arrests have been made, no one has yet been accused of using racist language. In addition, the video was not authenticated as real.
The claim that Labor politicians are taking part in a protest with “openly anti-Semitic messages” is based on another Twitter post. It shows Jeremy Corbyn on stage with “a ten-foot inflatable anti-Semitic cartoon. With horns ”. However, the inflated figure’s clothes and facial hair appear to caricature a member of the Saudi royal family. While the portrayal could arguably be racist against Muslims or Arabs, it cannot be called anti-Semitic.
… But that’s not what it is about
But here is a bigger thing ahead of us. Since each of these claims is believed to be true, the question arises, “Why is Murray so preoccupied with the reactions of British solidarity activists?” The answer, of course, is that he wants to divert attention from the real problem that is going on. Namely, Israel’s vicious and inhumane acts during this recent flare-up of violence.
In other words, Murray tries to manipulate his readers by drawing attention to the most objectionable (alleged) activities of a small number of unrepresentative protesters. This is done to arouse emotional disdain for a deliberately loosely defined Palestinian “side”. And it’s a textbook example of the “guilt by association” error. After all, there were a handful of people in the car convoy and only speak for themselves. Likewise, it was probably just a person who brought the explosive device to the rally in front of the Israeli embassy, and certainly not Corbyn himself.
Shameless diversionary tactic
The next in the series of wanton biases of the viewer is a guest column from Spiked magazine editor Brendan O’Neill. O’Neill begins his article by asking:
Did you know that Turkey has carried out a military attack on Iraqi Kurdistan in the past three weeks?
He begins by listing the various atrocities that the Turkish armed forces have committed against Kurds in recent weeks. Then he asks melodramatically:
Have you seen any major, loud protests in the UK against this worrying act of asymmetric warfare? Have you seen football players waving the Kurdish flag in solidarity with displaced, frightened Kurds? Have you seen social media flooded with angry denunciations from the “bloodthirsty” Turks and pourings of love and concern for the brutalized Kurds?
“I haven’t,” O’Neill replies to his own questions. Well, he mustn’t look very carefully because there have been many charges against the brutality and deteriorating human rights record of Turkey and its treatment of the Kurds in all the progressive media, including The Canary. But let’s assume again that he is right – that not a single Palestinian solidarity activist has looked at it.
In this case, that would still not be a good argument. Because it is nothing more than the tried and tested distraction tactic that is colloquially known as “Whataboutery”. ‘Whataboutery’ is one of the oldest and most trite tricks in the right toolkit. It tries to divert attention from legitimate criticism of one actor to another (usually a political opponent) by asking what about it?
Pulling the anti-Semitism card
The title of O’Neill’s article, “What is the real reason so many people hate Israel?” Adds another component to the maneuver. (I think you can see where this is going …). This implies that those who focus on Palestine and ignore what is happening to the Kurds must have ulterior motives. And while it is not said, what O’Neill is implying is clear enough: that the supposedly excessive focus on Israel is motivated by a visceral hatred of Jews.
This other favorite tactic of Israel’s right-wing supporters was proclaimed by none other than an expert on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Norman Finkelstein. (Finkelstein is a Jew and the son of Holocaust survivors.) Here, too, it goes without saying that anti-Semitism should be clearly condemned. Unfortunately, extensive research for O’Neill and his entire narrative has shown that anti-Semitism is far more common on the political right than on the left. And let’s not forget when Tory MPs attended the unveiling of a statue of a real anti-Semite, Nancy Astor. When that happened, the MPs in question, including Boris Johnson, were largely given a free pass in the company’s press.
What makes O’Neill’s article even more pathetic is that the Kurdish independence movement shares many common grievances as well as many common goals with the Palestinian liberation struggle. And so representatives of the former would surely shrink from the thought that their fight should be called in to excuse Israel’s crimes.
As if it could get worse …
And just like you think he can’t bend lower, O’Neill is pulling Saudi Arabia’s human rights record into his dual exercise. He says:
Saudi Arabia can bomb a school bus and kill 40 children as part of its brutal war in Yemen, and most Western activists do not lose a wink. But Israel just needs to start rolling its military planes out of the hangar, and they’re up at dawn on a Saturday
Again, he doesn’t have to pay much attention. Because the Canarian himself has condemned Saudi Arabia, along with the support of the US and Great Britain, many, many times, such as extensive arms deals with its hereditary dictatorship. We have even condemned the specific action to which he refers at least twice.
The viewer’s shameless propaganda for Israel’s actions not only refutes itself but also parodies itself. Mouthpieces like Murray and O’Neill are now caught up in such desperate mental distortions to defend those actions that it becomes an increasingly pathetic spectacle .
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons