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)
- Which anti-Israel blogs do Guardian editors read? (cifwatch.com)
- What the Guardian won’t report: 73% of Palestinians agree with quote from Hamas charter about the need to kill Jews (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian contributor characterizes proponents of Israel’s anti-BDS bill as supporters of “totalitarianism” (cifwatch.com)
- On the Guardian’s continuing subservience to the racist BDS lobby (cifwatch.com)
- My Peace Agenda: A Response to Jonathan Freedland (cifwatch.com)
- The Guardian’s obsession with Israel and the conflicts not covered (cifwatch.com)