Guardian cartoon against UK boycott ban intellectually misappropriates George Orwell

Yesterday, this writer published an op-ed at The Independent in response to the UK Government’s plan to prevent local authorities from participating in boycotts against Israel, arguing that the policy reflects not only the government’s concerns about undermining British foreign policy, but a growing understanding of the connection between BDS and antisemitism.

The Guardian today published the following cartoon by Steve Bell, predictably criticizing the government decision:


The tree represents the Conservative Party, whilst the words “ORWE’LL DO YOU” have an obvious double meaning – the warning “we’ll do you” (in effect, “We’ll get you!”) is written in a manner visually reminding readers of George Orwell, likely suggesting that the anti-boycott law runs afoul of Orwell’s warnings about the erosion of free speech.  

However, the law in question does not impede on British citizens rights to express their opinion about Israel, or any other matter. Under the new guidance, all public institutions will reportedly be prevented from boycotting Israeli products – a law not dissimilar to US anti-boycott laws which have never been determined to run afoul of the the country’s robust First Amendment’s protection of free speech. 

More importantly, the cartoon’s selective reading of Orwell ignores his more relevant writings about the broader issue of Bell’s default pro-Palestinian position. As Jamie Palmer recently reminded us, in Orwell’s 1945 essay Notes on Nationalism he explored the erosion of the capacity on reasoned political discourse on the intelligentsia when they attach themselves to a narrow and myopic ideology.  

Though Orwell largely was referring to support for the Soviet Union amongst many within the ‘intelligentsia’, Palmer cites, as examples of putatively rational intellectuals falling for violent and regressive political movements, Jean-Paul Sartre’s support for Maoism; Michel Foucault’s soft spot for Ayatollah Khomeini; and the solidarity offered to the fascists of Hezbollah by Judith Butler.

Relatedly, Palmer argues that “support for Palestinian nationalism” amongst the opinion elite in the UK  depends on the “Palestinians’ nobility as a people” or what Bertrand Russell termed a belief in the “superior virtue of the oppressed”. This moral paradigm refuses to accept Israel’s obvious progressive advantages, and that the ideas actually animating “oppressed” Palestinians are completely “antithetical to the values that Western intellectuals offer as evidence of their own moral standards.”

The Palestinian movement which ‘progressive’ cartoonists like Bell champion not only is plagued by endemic antisemtism, and denies basic human rights to the LGBT community and religious minorities, but – more germane to his cartoon – also rejects basic Western assumptions about free speech.

As Orwell observed about the intellectual Left’s obstinate refusal to recognize such self-evident facts: they often not only fail to condemn atrocities committed by the side they support, but have “a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

A more apt characterization of the Guardian Left’s intellectually dishonest and reflexive anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian campaigning would be difficult to find. 

22 replies »

  1. Irony…. thy name is the BDS movement.

    See, when I think Orwellian, I think Up is Down, Low is High, and Anti-Israel Hysteria is a Cry for Peace. I think Israel Isn’t Real, and that Palestine Existed if not before World War II then back during the Canaanite era. Jesus was an Arab and teh Joos always seen to connive in order to keep everyone in their pens. What a world! Now bow to your Big Media Truthsayers!

    Yes, Steve Bell… Tell me more of what you don’t know, Asshole.

  2. The Guardian’s love child….. the BDS movement. Interestingly, when was the last time they ever published an article about any of the other land disputes around the world? Do the Guardian or the BDS movement concern themselves with the real despotic regimes.? Where are the cartoons about those countries? So…what do we have left but to accuse them of co-horting with or being run by or employing anti-Semites.

  3. Never forget that 1984 is bidirectional, it is about the worst of the far left and far right. Reading the manuscript for 1984 you run into beautiful gems that never made it to the final edition like the Christian Pacifists (does that sound like any Sabeel Center?) demanding 20,000 Eurasion POWs be buried alive in retaliation for a Eurasian war crime. Bell, the Guardian and BBC have become a cartoon of what repelled Orwell about the left- they are completely immoral and will do as the party commands. Orwell saw the socialists gunned down in Spain by both Franco and the Bolsheviks. Stalin and Lenin may be dead but the “Party Line” lives on and Israel is enemy number one- the far left is implicitly antisemitic as Judaism is a religion, it is antizionist because Israel is a democracy it is virulently hated because Israel combines both elements in its society and dares to be a US ally and that makes Israel the unforgiveable sin.

    Lastly, Orwell chose the arch-enemy of Oceania for a reason; Emmanuel Goldstein is hated for being everyting duplicitous and evil in this world, in other words, the embodiment of the world’s oldest hatred. The two minute hate is alive and well and living in the Guardian and BBC: Israel is Goldstein and Goldstein is Israel. And just like Ocieania, the Bells, the Guardian and the BBC are at permanent war with Israel and have become full blown Ministries of Truth.

  4. I doubt Steve Bell ever bothered read, no less understand, anything George Orwell wrote. After all, Orwell didn’t write in crayon.

  5. Steve Bell is obsesed with Israel,his cartoons are of someone with a very disturbed mind.He is obsessed with condoms (his parents should have used one)and bums.almost all his cartoons are filled with them…

    • Why should Adam not remark his thoughts? If Steve Bell can turn Israel into a mind consuming monster, we most surely can do the same Steve Bell.

      Of course, there is a difference in that we have his empty argument against Israel as the actual proof we need to make our case.

  6. BDS without the D is BS…..Empty vessels make the loudest sounds……It is a fetid dead carcass blowing in the wind…About time it was cut down…..