Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland is mugged by the reality of BDS movement’s malevolence

There are a couple notes of interest about The JC’s report on the debate on an Israel boycott motion proposed at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on Sunday, whose participants included Omar Barghouti, the most passionate defender of BDS, and opponent of Israel’s very existence – who also just happens to be a Tel Aviv University doctoral student – and Guardian contributor, Jonathan Freedland.

(Barghouti was joined by Seni Seneviratne, a British-Sri Lankan poet who is a member of British Writers in Support of Palestine, in backing the motion, and Freedland was joined by American writer Carol Gould, in opposing the pro-BDS motion.)

First, though not surprising to those of us familiar with Barghouti, it’s important to continue noting that this prolific pro-BDS activist’s accusations against Israel are obviously not constrained by the limits imposed on those who take facts, reason, and moral decency seriously.

As such, Barghouti, during the course of the debate, employed rhetoric only used by those who not only oppose Israeli policy, but see the state as some sort of cosmic evil, in which no invective hurled at the Jewish state is considered too extreme or over-the-top, arguing that a culture of “impunity, racism and genocidal tendencies has overtaken Israeli society”. [emphasis mine]

No, not only was the simply odious charge that Israel possesses “genocidal tendencies” not offensive to the crowd, but , according to The JC, Freedland’s and Gould’s attempts to refute accusations that Israel is an “apartheid” state and that, therefore, BDS was a moral imperative were both repeatedly shouted down by pro-Palestinian activists, which led an evidently shaken Freedland to tell the audience:

“Tonight has been hugely revealing. I thought my disagreement with the boycott movement was because I want to see the end of occupation and you want to see the end of occupation and it was an argument about tactics.

“What has come through loud and clear is your motivation is not actually just the end of occupation but it’s with Israel itself – you have a fundamental problem with it.”

Jonathan Freedland, it seems, like many leftist Zionist critics of Israel, was mugged by the reality of a BDS movement which is simply venomous – one which seeks nothing less than the end of the “Zionist entity.”

Hopefully, Freedland – who wrote an essay about anti-Semitism in the aftermath of the John Galliano row which at least demonstrated that, unlike most of his Guardian colleagues, he takes the threat posed by Jew hatred seriously – will better understand the line where mere anti-Zionism becomes clear anti-Semitism, and finally realize the utter futility in “debating” those who possess such blind malevolence towards the Jewish state that nothing less than her destruction will do.

Such political extremism (masquerading as progressive thought) can not be cajoled or reasoned with.

Their hate and intolerance must be aggressively (and unapologetically) exposed, named, and shamed.

Perhaps Mr. Freedland can begin by imparting this wisdom to his colleagues at the Guardian. 

(Those who wish to fight boycott efforts by getting involved in campaigns to actively BUY Israeli goods, please see this site)

22 replies »

  1. Listen to the question period (about 1:00:00), the infamous Tony Greenstein manages to mention “Zionism’s connection with Nazi Germany”. Priceless.

    A discussion like this taking place in Britain borders on the ludicrous. With the British army currently occupying Iraq and Afghanistan (hundreds of civilian casualties annually), not to mention the never-ending occupation of Ireland, one can only wonder why they weren’t discussing the pros and cons of boycotting Britain.

  2. In the recording (the link to which can be found at Harry’s Place) we hear laughter as Carol Gould tells the audience about the shelling of southern Israel. Rather than become defensive or belligerent, she expresses a wish to engage with at least one in the audience who laughed. The chair, however, overrules her – apparently there isn’t time.

    This was a stitch up and blatant cheek on the part of Barghouti who shrieks about Israeli “apartheid” and at the same time is studying for a PhD at Tel Aviv University. BDSers are wilfully blind to the anomalies of his and other situations. It’s about time that we ourselves acted against that.

    Apathy kills

    • I regret not addressing Barghouti’s accusation in his speech that Israel is evidently responsibe for the putrid water in Palestinian conurbations. Apparently Hanan Asrawi made this same accusation at a women’s luncheon in the USA a few years ago and a bunch of Jewish lady attendees simply walked out. I was in such shock the whole evening of July 10th at the Purcell Room I suppose I lost my bottle, but will comment now that these accusations of Israel poisoning water is right out of the Protocols, a Goebbels screed or Mein Kampf,

  3. Perhaps Mr. Freedland can begin by imparting this wisdom to his colleagues at the Guardian.,/i>

    I’m looking forward to read his article on CIF about his revelation…

    BTW WTF Barghouti is doing at a literature festival? I know that he’s writing only fictions but have they any literary value? Or maybe in London today being a Jew-hater is enough to be called a writer?

    • I’m looking forward to read his article on CIF about his revelation…

      Exactly. Given the massive scope of G/CiF coverage of I/P, surely there would be room for such an article.

  4. It always takes a while, but finally the penny drops.

    Usually, as with Guardianista Freedland, much, much too late.

    Perhaps he will take over Melanie’s lost position at the Spectator?

  5. At 1:26 you can hear an old woman called Hannah Brown whose family fled Germany in the ’30s explaining why she hates Israel which she learned to see as a racist, fascist country which she left in the 1950s. What she completely overlooks is that probably the only thing that saved her and her family from a concentration camp was the fact that she could (somehow – illegally?) emigrate to Palestine. She mentions spending time in the occupied territories – but presumably, never during th 20 years they were under occupation by Jordan. Quite fascinating to see the total inversion and perhaps attempt to exculpate feelings of guilt at having survived the Holocaust herself.

    • Hannah Brown is almost certainly a lifelong Communist who was brought up to hate zionism or at best swallowed the Soviet-dictated propaganda whole and handed over her brains to Stalin & Co long before the state of Israel existed.

      • Actually, according to her little speech, no.

        She said she was a child when they fled Germany for the only place that would take her family, and the only people who would take them – the Zionists of then Mandatory Palestine.

        She may then have imbibed the kool-aid from dyed-in the wool Stalinists who were shockingly prevalent in Israel at the time, like the Machovers and many of the very left-wing kibbutzim, though she said her family lived in a town somewhere in Israel till she left in the 50’s = probably because of the appalling economic conditions then, rather than the ideological spin she now tries to give it.

        • A friend of mine tells me she confronted Ms Brown after the event about the many attacks on Israel and that the country needs to defend itself; she tells me Ms Brown launched into a tirade about how Israel ‘makes it up’ — in other words, rockets and suicide bombs are complete fiction.

    • The psychological impact of survivor guilt and its tendency to poison relationships and perception, should not be underestimated, but why is it that such people always have to be wheeled out to try to undermine and score points off Israel? Hannah Brown was a stooged who had introjected the hate-filled nonsense she was fed, and was co-opted to add to the stench of delegitimisation given off at this “debate”.

      The appeal to the emotions rather than the adoption of reasoned argument (and Omar Barghouti’s mixture of lies and emotive language was hardly reasoned argument and neither was the execrable Greenstein’s “contribution”) should itself be undermining!

      Was this a stacked audience? Where were the howls of outrage when Barghouti lied once again about alleged genocide of Palestinians?

      What the hell is wrong with us that we stand by and allow this to happen?

  6. We should not focus on the BDSers blindness and instead concentrate on making ourselves stronger.

  7. I don’t really follow Irish news (who does?) but it is fascinating to read this in light of the Freedland debate

    Immigrant families from East Timor fled a Catholic area of Northern Ireland on Friday night when loyalist rioters tried to attack nationalist homes, a Sinn Fein councillor said today.

    “Around 100 loyalists attacked police who prevented them attacking nationalist homes,” said John O’Dowd, who is a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    The families from East Timor packed their bags and ran from their homes in Portadown, Co Armagh on Friday night, when the area was engulfed in violence, he said.

    The police fired around 20 plastic bullets and arrested three people. They confirmed that loyalists provoked the violence when a planned peaceful protest was hijacked by a violent minority.

    Is this the end of democracy as we know it in Northern Ireland? Should we boycott products and artists from Northern Ireland, assuming there are any?