Harriet Sherwood and the normalization of anti-Israel bigotry

Those who speak of ending the “divisions” between Fatah and Hamas generally fall within two categories: Those who naively (though often genuinely) think that Hamas (who they may agree seeks Israel’s destruction) has the potential to become more moderate, and those who really don’t take issue with the hateful ideology of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – and their rejection of the right of Israel to exist within any borders – and think what separates Fatah from Hamas are minor non-ideological issues which can easily be bridged.

While Harriet Sherwood – as well as many of her Guardian colleagues – often characterize such efforts at reconciliation in a way which indicate that they believe the former, it is striking how the tone and tenor of Sherwood’s recent report (Young Palestinians call for protests on 15 March, Guardian, Feb. 24) would almost lead the reader to believe that the youth movement seeking a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation could be characterized as a progressive one.

In the opening paragraph, Sherwood describes the March 15 movement thusly:

“The goal is to force an end to the political divisions among Palestinians by stirring the youth of Gaza and the West Bank.”

Yet, later she acknowledges, almost in passing, what precisely the group is united behind:

“What they want is the parties to overcome their bitter rivalries and unite to fight their common enemy: Israel.” [emphasis mine]

And, a peek at their Facebook Group clearly illustrates that there’s no ambiguity whatsoever regarding their goal:

One of the ‘calls of unity’ listed on their FB group is:

the end of all forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy

And, a couple members of the FB group are quite clear what  moves them to enthusiastically embrace the March 15th movement.

And, this member:

Here’s an enlargement of Jack’s profile photo, in case you can’t make out the Zionist monster strangling the U.S. government.

While pursuing the FB group, and reading Sherwood’s account of their aspirations,I can’t avoid concluding how utterly normative anti-Israel bigotry has become to journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

One of the most dangerous political phenomena in the context of the Middle East is the tendency of many on the (Guardian-style) left to use, or accept use of, the term “Zionism” (the right of the Jewish people to live in a sovereign state, in their historic homeland) in the pejorative, whereas explicit expressions of contempt for the Jewish state, and calls for her destruction, has become nearly a banality barely worth noting, let alone condemning.

I’m quite certain that such Guardian-style leftists continue to rationalize such clear enmity against Jews, often by making incredulous claims that the near universal anti-Semitism is in the Arab world is “merely” the result of their reaction to Zionism.  Adopt a two-state solution, or eliminate Israel altogether, they might say or think, and anti-Semitism would diminish accordingly.

Yet, even a cursory view of Jewish history shows that this is certainly not the case.  Indeed, anti-Semitism has often thrived in countries where the Jewish population was minuscule.  Even today, when (after expulsions of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the period after Israel’s birth) all but a few thousand Jews remain in Arab lands, often even those minuscule populations are seen as a threat to the majority Muslim populations.  As recently as last week, Tunisian protesters directed such hate towards the country’s tiny Jewish community, outside one of the last remaining synagogues in Tunis, while chanting anti-Semitic invectives.

One of the biggest moral failures of the Guardian-style left is their failure to take such unbridled hatred towards Jews in the Arab world seriously, and, how even those who might denounce hatred against Jews are too ready to excuse such hatred as the result of “the occupation” or the mere existence of Israel, itself.

Of course, this is a classic example of confusing cause with effect.

Anti-Zionism isn’t the cause of anti-Semitism.

Rather, insofar as such enmity represents classic intolerance of a majority towards a religious minority (Jews) in land the majority views as theirs exclusively, anti-Zionism should rightly be understood as, not the cause of, but as a symptom of anti-Semitism.

While I wouldn’t characterize the failure of Harriet Sherwood and her fellow travelers to take such hatred against Jews seriously as necessarily representing evidence that they possess anti-Semitic attitudes, themselves, I would assert that such a failure represents a glaring and dangerous ideologically driven moral blind-spot – one which, due to their enormous influence, continues to endanger the Jewish community both in Israel and in the diaspora.

One of the goals of CiF Watch is to name and shame those who engage in such glaring moral double-standards in hopes of lessening their influence, and the potentially injurious effects on the Jewish community.

This response to Sherwood’s whitewash of Palestinian intolerance towards Jews represents such an effort.

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