The Spectator recently carried a blog by Douglas Murray describing those who had gathered in London at the weekend to protest against Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza as ‘a disgusting anti-Semitic spectacle.’
This appalling smear serves a number of purposes. Firstly, to discredit everyone involved in the Palestine solidarity movement, secondly to intimidate others who might be considering being involved in these kinds of activities and finally, to deflect attention from Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.
Murray’s ‘evidence’ for anti-Semitism is basically that according to him, the same protestors ‘stayed at home’ during other conflicts such as the Syrian civil war, and did not demonstrate against ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. I personally know lots of people involved in the Palestine solidarity movement who far from ‘staying at home’, were busy raising money for humanitarian organisations to help the victims of many of these conflicts. But the crucial point which Murray and others fail to grasp is that, last time I checked anyway, the British government had not signed a multi-billion pound arms deal to sell weapons to Boko Haram or ISIS. But it has with Israel, and continues to offer Israel its support, which makes our government morally complicit in the crimes committed against the Palestinian people. Again it may be difficult for Murray to grasp (and come as a bit of a shock to him) but even though many of the protestors had brown faces and wore a jilbab or a hijab, they were still British citizens protesting against the actions of the British government.
To claim that everyone criticizing Israel’s actions in the occupied territories or supporting justice for the Palestinian people is motivated by anti-Semitism, means you have to believe (and more importantly prove) that rather than being concerned about human rights violations, the following individuals and organizations are anti-Semitic: Bertrand Russell, Nelson Mandela, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Hawking, Desmond Tutu, Tony Benn, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Rosen, Stephen Fry, the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Trades Union Congress. I know which explanation seems infinitely more credible to me.
Perhaps if Murray stopped living in a fantasy world where Israel is ‘carrying out the most specific and targeted campaign in the history of warfare’ and recognised the appalling reality that 80% of the casualties have been Palestinian civilians, he might understand why so many people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, from all over the world will continue to speak out until the occupation, the siege, the wall, the house demolitions, the torture, the bombing and the invasions all end and the Palestinians are afforded the same rights that all people are entitled to.