The Land Day massacre in Gaza perfectly encapsulates the absurdity of the week in Britain (VIDEO)

April 1, 2018

by Martin Odoni

What happened on Good Friday in Gaza seemed bitterly appropriate, after a week of anti-Semitism hysteria back here in the United Kingdom. The Israeli Defence Force massacred seventeen Palestinian protesters who were observing ‘Land Day’ – the anniversary of a 1976 protest against one of a number of illegal land-grabs by the Israeli Government that led to bloodshed – and injured well over a thousand more, with heavy use of live ammunition.

The protests are being held over the course of the next six weeks at the fence that marks the border between Israel-proper and the Palestinian-administered Gaza Strip. According to reports from the Israeli side of the border, riots broke out among some protesters. The IDF, who had positioned snipers at key intervals along the fence, opened fire.

There have been uncorroborated reports that Hamas, the faction currently administering the Gaza Strip, may have been using human shields in the crowd, and that rioters were trying to pull down the fence and force their way across the border. Reliable evidence to these effects has been in very low supply (READ: none whatsoever). Footage from Palestinian sources shows disturbing signs of over-zealous Israeli behaviour, including apparently shooting unarmed Palestinians retreating from the fence in the back. (Trigger warning.)

Other sniper-fire appears to have been aimed at a group of protesters who were knelt in prayer. One of them appears to have taken a bullet in the thigh. (Trigger warning again.)

Whether the riots were really happening at certain points of the border, it seems incontrovertible that at least some of the actions by the IDF were completely needless and indiscriminate. They also appear to have been very deliberate and premeditated, rather than reactive, judging by the IDF’s own words. One rather boastful tweet its leaders had circulated on its Twitter account was later deleted; –

IDF boast

They don’t exactly sound like their consciences are over-burdened by the deaths, do they?

All of this is, in short, typically squalid on the part of Israel, a country that continues to adopt the pretence of defending itself while using sledgehammer-lethal force on a tiny, poorly-armed opponent. This is not to say that there is no possibility that the Palestinians were behaving aggressively of course. But the dearth of credible evidence for the IDF’s claims, and the IDF’s smug lack of contrition over the deaths, do not inspire much confidence in their word.

Here in the UK, we have gone through a week of crazed hysteria about supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. For reasons I have explained previously, a lot of this perception of anti-Semitism stems from a mixture of fraudulence and paranoia. Some of it stems from the same old problem of conflation of opposition to Israel with hatred of Jews. But this does mean that the massacre has presented us with a bitter opportunity; it allows us to judge whether anti-Semitism is really so prevalent as is currently suggested.

The aforementioned conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism (if we are to assume that ‘Zionism’ is the correct name for supporting Israeli policy, which technically it is not*) works in two directions, both equally dishonest. Zionists like it, because it allows them to shout down legitimate criticisms of Israel by accusing the critic of being motivated by anti-Semitism. Actual anti-Semites also like it, because it allows them to rationalise their hostility towards Jews by reference to Israeli policy, implicating the rest of the Jewish people using a rather elongated form of guilt-by-association logic.

My impression is that some of the British reaction to the massacre has been disgusting, but not for anti-Semitic reasons. Arguably it has been for Islamophobic reasons. In fact, the lack of official reaction has been almost disturbing. Boris Johnson, who as Foreign Secretary is supposed to be what passes for the UK’s leader in international relations (heaven help us!) has had absolutely nothing to say about it at the time-of-writing. Also no noticeable interest has been displayed by our great moral and spiritual leader, the Prime Minister. So, after this and the hysteria about Labour anti-Semitism, this week reveals to us two Tory inner values; –

Sort of half-defending a picture that may or may not have been slightly anti-Semitic is completely unforgivable.

Massacring Arabs is not worth the bother of comment.

I have personally had some testy discussions on social media with Zionists, including the notorious bully and smear-merchant, Jonathan Hoffman. He informed me absolutely emphatically that all the protesters were ‘terrorists’ (seventeen thousand terrorists? Wow, how did they do so little damage? How were so few of them armed?) that they were in a military zone (how is that even possible when they were on the Gaza side of the border, over which the Israeli military has no right of jurisdiction?) that the young man shot in the back in one of the clips above was not shot, he “just fell over”, and that the Israeli military is the “most moral in the world”. In other words, the people who were shot were only Arabs, therefore Hoffman cares not a jot if they all die. He always complains about racism against Jews, even where there is none, but fails to recognise his own racism against Arabs.

EvolvePolitics, meanwhile, eagle-eyed as ever, spotted that the Zionist side of the conflation-habit remains depressingly consistent. Chaim Gordon, a Zionist Tax attorney, called Nadeem Ahmed, a disability activist, a “Corbyn supporting anti-semite”(sic) for the heinous crime of noticing the massacre.

Gordon went on to claim that he knew Ahmed must be an anti-Semite because the protesters had all been sent by Hamas. He offered no evidence to that effect. He was making assumptions against Hamas, while also assuming that anyone not accepting those assumptions must be an anti-Semite. Both of which are quite prejudicial in themselves.

So we have silence from Conservatives, and warm approval from prominent Zionists, what do we have from the media? Well, I think the most disgusting element of all was rightly identified by Owen Jones. It was the disingenuous response of the BBC; –

The BBC puts blatant spin on a massacre

It is doubtful that the BBC headline would have sounded anything like this had Bashar al-Assad massacred 16 peaceful protesters.

For the BBC to encourage, however subtly, the notion that the protests were ‘terrorism’ was completely outrageous, and that in itself dismisses any possible suggestion that the Corporation might be trying to foster anti-Semitic feeling. On the contrary, it was trying to foster Islamophobic feeling.

The Labour Party’s response, meanwhile, has not been one of anti-Semitic disgust, but of measured and correct disapproval. None of the responses I have seen from Labour MPs so far have even mentioned the words, ‘Jews’, or ‘Judaism’, nor offered any thoughts on supposed ‘Jewish character-traits’. They have simply focused on the killings. Jeremy Corbyn, keeping his usual astonishing dignity in the face of the endless attacks to which he has been subjected, was forthright but entirely correct.

The right wing of Labour has been noticeably quieter, a little like their real allies in the Tory Party. Chuka Umunna was happy to join in the public parade against anti-Semitism during the week, but has gone mysteriously silent in discussions of the massacre. Stella Creasy at least saw fit to mention the killings, although her initial thoughts did rather veer towards the old ‘well-obviously-there’s-fault-on-both-sides‘ safe narrative. Creasy also needs to be a little more careful about implied criticism of Corbyn supposedly failing to recognise racism, given her own recent history.

Screenshot from 2018-04-01 09-39-17

Tony Blair, who was quick to leap on the anti-Semitism bandwagon but slow to remember his own past dalliance with the prejudice, has also shown no detectable concern over the massacre; so much for the Middle East Peace Envoy, right? John Mann, who is seemingly unable to shut up about anti-Semitism, also seems scarcely aware of events in Gaza. The impression one gets is that the massacre has come at a most ‘inconvenient’ time for Labour rebels who want to use anti-Semitism as a stick with which to beat the left. They probably fear losing their artificial ‘moral high ground’ if any implied criticism they make of Israel is presented as anti-Semitic. That is pretty cowardly, and possibly gives in to Islamophobic elements, but it is not anti-Semitism.

So insofar as I can test the water for anti-Semitism triggered by the attack, I have yet to see anything from Labour, at least among prominent voices. (If there is a clamour from less-prominent voices, surprisingly little attempt is being made by the usual accusers to draw attention to them.)

Okay, I concede I have not been able to search comprehensively, so my analysis should not be seen as scientific. But I have to say, from what I have seen, the prejudice seems very much to be on the pro-Israeli side, with an upswing in anti-Semitism not really featuring, no matter how much Chaim Gordon would like to pretend otherwise.

The indicators would reinforce what I said the other day, and indeed have been saying for several years – the ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ crisis is wildly exaggerated.

_____

* Zionism is merely the belief that the Jewish people require a country of their own. It does not necessarily follow that adherents to that belief agree with Israel’s long-term policy towards its Arab neighbours. Indeed, there are some Zionists who disapprove very keenly of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. However, they are in a very clear minority. Most Zionists, certainly in Britain, take a very uncompromising view that Israel can do no wrong.

4 Responses to “The Land Day massacre in Gaza perfectly encapsulates the absurdity of the week in Britain (VIDEO)”

  1. Laura Jones Says:

    Brilliant article. Wish I had the words to express my anger and disgust at our politicians who ignore the plight of the Palestinians. Say any more and I’ll probably be labelled anti-Semitic!

  2. timbastable Says:

    Martin, I have a possibly very controversial question. “is it time to leave the term anti-semitism” behind? Anti-semitism is racism – plain and simple. It’s a word for racism towards a very specific ethnic and religious group, but the real offence is racism. I fully understand in the aftermath of the holocaust why we chose to create a special term for racism against jews – but I do wonder if it’s not time to move on. The holocaust happened because racism was tolerated. Your blog illustrates the problems having a “special kind of racism for a specific group” creates. Racism is a fundamentally immoral and damaging facet of the human psyche. It doesn’t matter who is targeted by racism. Being “anti-semitic” is morally no worse than being anti muslim or anti black or any other form of automatic condemnation of entire groups of people on superficial grounds.

    As long as there a special word for racism against Jews it leaves a proper assessment of what the Israeli state is doing to a racially segregated group of Israeli citizens in limbo. The Israeli State have introduced apartheid and racially motivated oppression of Palestinian people. What they are doing is every bit as morally reprehensible as the suffering Jews have endured – but that special term “anti-semitism” lets them off the hook. I condemn racism against anybody – but I suspect the term anti-semitism should be respectfully retired – I realise I’m on very dangerous ground. I’m not Jewish and I fully understand the emotional dimensions – but I almost feel defining the holocaust as the ultimate act of racism would be a fitting long term tribute to its victims.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      Well, I would argue no, because it’s certainly not the only form of racism to have a specific name. There are forms such as negrophobia, anti-slavism/slavophobia, sinophobia, hispanophobia etc.

      Also, the term ‘anti-Semitism’ was not invented after WWII, it was invented in the 19th Century.


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