William Sutcliffe’s Guardian-approved anti-Israel propaganda for teens

Alison Flood’s March 31 Guardian/Observer report on a new novel by William Sutcliffe about the Israeli ‘occupation’ includes a quote by the self-described Jewish atheist which encapsulates how the most facile understandings of both the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the broader political realities of our day often pass for serious commentary.

‘…the story of our era is the divide between the haves and the have-nots, and it seemed the wall in the West Bank was very specific to that situation, but also symbolic of other things happening elsewhere”.

As befits such platitudinous prose, Sutcliffe’s new work is targeted towards a less mature audience.


Flood’s review and interview begins thusly:

Pitched as a fable, his crossover novel is set in a city split in two by a vast wall. On one side live the privileged, the occupiers – and our hero Joshua. On the other live the desperate, the occupied, and when Joshua, hunting for his lost football, discovers a tunnel that leads under the wall, he sets in action a series of dreadful consequences. Without making it explicit, it soon becomes clear that this is the West Bank, that Joshua, 13, is Jewish, and that Leila, the girl who saves his life on the other side of the wall, is Palestinian.

The cover art chosen to illustrate the story of “privileged” Jews and “desperate” Palestinians is thoroughly consistent such an obtuse paradigm: An olive tree encircled with barbed wire, juxtaposed with a title evoking the morality tale Sutcliffe is demanding the young reader to imagine.


What finally pushed the writer to commence the project?  Flood explains:

“…he heard about PalFest, Palestine’s annual travelling festival of literature, and decided he needed to travel to the region. He’d been to Israel before, but after experiencing PalFest, “everything I thought I knew about Israel was shattered.”

As CiF Watch has noted (here and here), Palfest (the Palestine Festival of Literature) is the (partially UK-funded) anti-Israel advocacy vehicle which has included a significant proportion of participating writers (and ‘recommended authors) who have been featured in the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ – including Ali Abunimah, Ben White, and Ghada Karmi.

Sutcliffe’s commentary on the ‘revelatory’ benefits of his Palfest journey continues:  

 He’d been to Israel before, but after experiencing PalFest, “everything I thought I knew about Israel was shattered. Seeing a military occupation up close, seeing a small number of people with guns telling a large number without guns what to do… it was so much more brutal than I thought it could be.”

It’s unclear where precisely Sutcliffe ventured in the West Bank, but it’s curious that in his apparently serious overall examination and research of the region he somehow failed to learn of the ubiquity of Palestinians ‘with guns‘, explosives and other weaponry – ‘activists’ who are of course waiting for the opportunity to deploy such lethal instruments of terror against Israeli civilians without guns.

Archive: Weaponry Uncovered in Palestinian's Home

Weaponry Uncovered by the IDF in a Palestinian’s Home, 2012

To critics who may question Sutcliffe’s expertise on such a subject, his answer is as follows:

“it’s reportage – which is why I went out of my way with the two research trips”.

Yet, Sutcliffe’s reporting cum ‘activist tourism’ left him unable to grasp the most elementary story about the fence which divides Palestine and Israel, the muse which inspired his Middle East tale: That there once was a time when the borders dividing the two peoples were porous, when a genuine peace seemed, to some, to be within reach – an ideal which was shattered by an onslaught of snipers, bombings and suicide belts.  

The security fence about which he writes was born of shrapnel, savagely fired, coursing through organs and limbs, tearing apart bodies, and shattering lives.   

Flood then adds the following:

[Sutcliffe] is also playing on another familiar children’s literary motif – that of the portal from the mundane to a world of fantasy. “What’s happening in this book is a kid living in a complete fantasy, who discovers a portal to reality. I’m taking the cliché and turning it upside down,” he says. “I’ve been with the settlers… and I think they are living in a world of complete fantasy.”

However, as one ‘Comment is Free’ critic recently and quite keenly observed about such lazy depictions:   

‘Whilst Palestinians have names, faces and form – their injured children…blazoned across headlines – Israelis are faceless, without history or family. They are not cute or charming or tragic. They are not gifted musicians or parlour comedians.  Israelis are just, coldly and callously, ‘Israelis’, unnamed, numbered and otherwise ignored, unless they are ‘settlers’ or soldiers, when they are as if motherless, amorphous.

In his evocation of Israeli caricatures, unrecognizable as they are crude, it is  Sutcliffe who conjures the most risible and fantastical tale.

43 replies »

  1. But you forgot to add that the Guardian has a Jewish podcast, so a little immersion in vicious anti-Semitism by promoting Hamas/Fatah style children literature is simply for the balance…

  2. about the Israeli ‘occupation’

    First line. Why is ‘occupation’ in quotes?

    Because the West Bank is Judea & Samaria forever?

    • Why is 19 years of Judea and Samaria being renamed “West Bank” enough to change the name to “West Bank” forever?

        • In my perfect world, there would be two countries living side by side in peace and cooperation, borders to be determined by negotiation.

          Unfortunately, that isn’t possible in the present climate, when (as was proven when Israel withdrew from Gaza), any land ceded by Israel will be another launching pad for attacks against it.

          However, I don’t see why we have to accept a name change that was initiated by those who occupied the lands for 19 years, and who ethnically cleansed the Jews who lived there.

        • “Israel from the river to the sea!”

          A lot of inferences coming from you. Why all the hysterics?

  3. This sounds like one of those Soviet-era “educational” books, designed to brainwash impressionable young minds. Its awful that an adult would do such a thing, and make money from it too.

  4. Imagine a novel for teens called ‘The Wall’ written in, say, 1984. It could feature a boy, ‘a Have’ from West Berlin, who discovers a tunnel under the Berlin Wall while playing a ball game. When he gets to the other end he discovers he’s entered a world called ‘Occupied Berlin’, a world he never dreamed existed, a world of ‘Have Nots’ and a young girl saves his life, thus inspiring him to develop shame and self-loathing and redeem himself by joining the Young Pioneers….

    I don’t know how this fable ends because I haven’t read William Sutcliffe’s ‘The Wall’, but I am familiar with Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Harry Potter going through a wall. Entering ‘secret worlds via walls, holes, mirrors, etc, is a recurrent motif in young people’s literature.

    However, given the hideous experience of Gilad Shalit I can’t help feeling there is something disturbing about someone writing a book about a Jewish boy called Joshua who enters Palestinian territory through a tunnel and doesn’t spend the next few years in an underground cell deprived of food and sunlight. (I’m assuming this doesn’t happen to Joshua or the Guardian would be unlikely to give this book a favorable review.)

  5. Israel has chosen to be a symbol of our times – it has decided to symbolize the division between the haves and have nots – Israel has decided to build this wall to separate those who have all rights a democracy can offer and than on the other side are those who have no democratic rights and are administered under military rule. This is the choice Israel has made Sutcliffe has only captured it for his readers. Dickens was not anti-Londoner he was capturing the worst excesses of what some Londoners were doing to their poor and particularly the children. If you do not want to be vilified avoid villainous behavior.

    • If you do not want to be vilified avoid villainous behavior.

      Those villainous Jews, thinking they had the right to defend themselves from being blown to smithereens while riding a bus or eating pizza. It’s a basic Palestinian human right to be allowed a bit of Jew-killin’.

    • I hope you’re wagging your finger at the Palestinian leadership too. What is it with you useful infidels that you abandon critical thought and aren’t even aware of the rubbish you spout or that your ignorance is paraded for all to see?

      I don’t know what a psychologist would make of the thinking which evidently underlies your post, but it cannot be normal to perceive things in such a polarised way.

      And Dickens may not have been anti-Londoner but I would put money on the fact that most “pro-Palestinians” aren’t really anything of the sort – rather they are rabidly anti-Israel which doesn’t help their codependents very much at all

    • And your poor have nots – who are not under the evil Israeli rule but under the beneficial democratic and humane governance of Hamas – are enjoying the colorful flowers of freedom like this:

      Not just the mixing of sexes are banned there but flowers too.
      But the ban on flowers is the Islamic Resistance Movement’s boldest stroke yet. Hamas Minister of Homes and Gardens, Dr. Said Abu Sababa said on Monday night that the power of flowers to trigger happy emotions, heighten feelings of life satisfaction and affect social behavior in a positive manner is “a menace to Palestinian society.” Dr. Sababa elaborated further, asserting that “flowers produce unnatural feelings of optimism that must be eradicated – uprooted, if you will.”

      Seeking to rid the Gaza Strip of any uplifting colors except green, Hamas is organizing a series of public flower burnings. The Islamist group believes that the intermingling scents of Roses, Lilies, Tulips, Carnations and Orchids that will fill the night sky mark the latest phase in the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. Cotton Candy, popcorn and soft drinks will be sold around the various bonfires.
      Could it be that the name of this “Minister of Gardens” is only a very rude joke?
      Sababa!? Maybe his real name is Dr. Fadiha?

  6. cba it is a typical racist ploy to put words into somebody’s mouth and than vilify them for it. I never used the phrase villainous Jews you did – Stop supporting villainous behavior and remain true to Jewish tradition of being anti-Racist.

    • Those villainous Jews, indulging in the villainous behavior of defending themselves from being blown to smithereens while riding a bus or eating pizza.

      How on earth could I support such villainous behavior?! Obviously I must remain true to the Jewish tradition of being anti-racist by allowing myself to be killed by Palestinians exercising their God-given UN-given right to blow up Jews. (By writing “the right to blow up Jews” I am, of course, in no way implying a limitation on Palestinian rights. Palestinians, as any anti-racist knows, naturally also have the right to stab or shoot or throw rocks at Jews or attack them in other ways. And by writing “Jews” I obviously imply “or any non-Jew who happens to be in the vicinity of Jews and any Muslims who thereby get killed are martyrs for the cause so it’s all good”)

    • The meaning and sub-text of your post is plain to see.
      Stop trying to deflect or lecture your betters.

  7. Snigger you really are a racist – unbelievable

    You do know the book is written by somebody of Jewish origin who also happens to be anti-racist

    Nobody is threatening to kill you – you are only using that as an excuse to kill others. There can be no justification for racism of any form.

    • Nobody is threatening to kill us?
      Maybe you should have read the charter of the organisation you are defending…
      It’s only a friendly suggestion before you make a bigger moron of yourself (…seems to me the textbook example of a mission impossible anyway)

      • Maybe you should have read the charter of the organisation you are defending
        You’re assuming he’s capable of understanding what he’s reading. I believe he’s given ample evidence on this blog that he is not.

  8. I do not support the murderous organisation IDF you refer in your comment Peter – I seem to remember you are the one who support them. They killed a Palestinian prisoner yesterday and bombed Gaza again.

    • They killed a Palestinian prisoner yesterday
      Those sneaky Israelis, infecting a Palestinian prisoner with cancer…

      and bombed Gaza again
      Those damned Israelis just don’t learn… Jews must NEVER fight back. It’s the Palestinians’ basic human right to fire rockets and mortars and missiles at Jews, and that human right must not be infringed.

    • I always knew that the IDF is a cover for Hamas Jeremy and that the IDF spokespersons are threatening the Jews…but i was supposed to be a secret known only inside the Elders Council.
      They killed a Palestinian prisoner yesterday…
      aber naturlich they killed him Jeremy… injected him with one of our secret cancer virus what we modified genetically so it kills only Palestinians…
      …and bombed Gaza again.
      Of course we did Jeremy. The experts in the Ministry of Welfare realized that the supply of children’s blood last week wasn’t satisfactory in the Tel-Aviv area, many Israelis were forced to a bloodless Pesach diet especially in the poorer suburbs.
      What other explanation could exist? True apart from the blood collection it is our fun to bomb the poor have-nots who are so generously giving us from their rockets…

      Jeremy, Jeremy you give a bad name to mentally challenged psychopaths…

      • I’m laughing so hard… the only problem is, I suspect JH/JA/JB/whatever takes your comments seriously.

        And Peter, you really ARE being a little unfair to mentally challenged psychopaths.

  9. cba you are up for an Oscar for dancing on somebody’s grave – I assume you are not dumb enough to know that if you keep a person diagnosed with Cancer in prison he will die. Are you suggesting that the Israeli Prison Services does not know that Cancer patient need immediate treatment or otherwise their chances of survival are nil. Besides, keeping a terminally ill person in jail is a joke in a very poor taste even for a racist like you. Even the Scottish government allowed the terminally ill patient to return to his family in Libya. It requires our current day fascists in the Israeli Prison Service to force a terminally ill prisoner to die in confinement without his family.

    • you are up for an Oscar for dancing on somebody’s grave
      Oscar are given for acting in movies or directing them and not for movies
      Why dancing on a grave? Are you dancing on the graves of the cockroaches after placing the roach powder under the sink? (Judging from your posts it seems a plausible scenario)
      Are you suggesting that the Israeli Prison Services does not know that Cancer patient need immediate treatment or otherwise their chances of survival are nil.
      Everybody knows (even the prison sevice personnel) that if a person in a prison suffer from cancer then s/he will die as every other human with or without this illness inside or outside a prison.
      Even the Scottish government allowed the terminally ill patient to return to his family in Libya.
      The poor Libyan mass murderer who for the sake of some oil profit has been freed caused a loud and clear scandal in Scotland, the good Scots didn’t appreciated your “humanistic” approach especially after it became clear that the fellow didn’t have any terminal cancer at all.

      Jeremy, Jeremy your blood pressure will kill you in the end if you can’t control your hissing fits…

    • I’m not quite sure why JH-of-the-many-nicks thinks that chemotherapy administered in a prison hospital is somehow magically less efficient than chemo in another hospital.

      I’m also not quite sure why he thinks he’s strengthening his case by mentioning the Lockerbie bomber who, we were told, only had 3 months to live and needed to be released on compassionate grounds, yet somehow managed to survive for several years after that.