The national culture of anti-Zionism: The Guardian creates a new kind of British identity

A guest post by AKUS 

Citizens of most countries are often identified by country of origin, ethnicity, religion, or race.  In America, for example, we commonly refer to Irish Americans, or Hispanics, or Catholics, or Asians. But it takes the Guardian to invent an entirely new kind of British citizenship, driven by its warped views about the Middle East.

When ‘Comment is Free’ was at its worst in its obsessively negative coverage of Israel, it was edited by Georgina Henry. This woman parlayed her fanatical and obsessive hatred of anything to do with Israel and passionate admiration for anything that can be ascribed to Palestinians to an endless stream of negative articles about Israel, preferably written by disaffected “as-a-Jews”.

Henry was shunted aside to the seemingly innocuous siding of the Guardian’s culture section. However, even there she has made it the Guardian’s business to puff up any and everything that could remotely be considered “Palestinian culture”. That is, “culture” emanating from the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River that excludes anything that could be construed in a positive sense about Israeli culture.

In its eagerness to over-emphasize the contributions of “Palestinian culture” to the world, and Britain in particular, the culture department at the Guardian has created a new category of British citizen. No longer is it enough for a British writer to merely be “from Palestine” or “of Palestinian origin” or “born in Palestine”. 

No, looking at the article published on December 21, 2011, Selma Dabbagh’s top 10 stories of reluctant revolutionaries , we learn that Selma Dabbagh is not merely British, nor merely Palestinian, nor even “former Palestinian”, nor “born in Palestine” (she was actually born in Scotland to a Scottish mother – see below). Dabbagh is a member of an entirely new category of British citizenry.

Selma Dabbagh, according to the Guardian,” is a British Palestinian writer of fiction based in London”.

So let me see if I understand this. Suppose, for example, frequent Guardian contributor and British citizen Jonathan Freedland, who always has a great deal to write and say about Jews and Israel, had actually been born in Israel. Would his Guardian bio read: “Jonathan Freedland is a British Israeli based in London”?

I think not.

If, like me, you had never heard of Selma Dabbagh before this, you can find a more thorough bio in a review of her book by Metro news.

The review reveals that this “British Palestinian” has only a generational connection to “Palestine”.  UNRWA’s definition that the child of a Palestinian refugee and their children, down the generations forever, will be considered Palestinian refugees forms the basis for her claim to be a Palestinian.  Her father was one of those (generally wealthier) Arabs who fled to the West during the 1947-1948 fighting, landing up and marrying, apparently, in Scotland.

“Part of the Palestinian diaspora by birth, she was born in Scotland to a British mother and a Palestinian father”.


While she spent time in the West Bank in her twenties, she has never been to Gaza. ‘My Gaza is an imagined place,’ she says. ‘A place constructed from exile.’ Dabbagh grew up in many places (‘I think I’ve moved 30 times’), but spent her teenage years in Kuwait.

Not surprising, a review by the Independent notes the vagueness of her description of an imagined Israeli attack in Gaza:

The story centres around a pair of twenty-something boy-and-girl twins, Iman and Rashid. We first meet them in Gaza in the midst of an Israeli barrage (although the precise details of place and political context are curiously obscured).

Of course, she was well taught to regard Israel as evil:

‘One of the first things we did in geography class was scribble out the word Israel on the map and replace it with Occupied Palestine,’ she says.

‘When I first went to Israel I almost expected the ground to cave in. I remember being very shocked by seeing roller skaters in Tel Aviv. The normality of this evil other.’

Just in case her Palestinian street cred is not enough she has to make sure her readers know where she stands by comparing Israel to Nazi Germany as the review of her book by the Independent notes:

She also has an authoritative university professor make the lazily racist – and quite inexcusable – comparison between the Nazis and the Jewish pioneers who founded the state of Israel (he says that the Jews used “the same tactics against the Arabs” as the Nazis had used against them). This claim is offensive rubbish, and one which the author makes no attempt to defuse.

No wonder the Guardian Culture section adores her.

More from Guest/Cross Post
“A Tale of Two Cities”: Contrasting BBC headlines on Homs and Bet Shemesh
A guest post by AKUS Although the BBC has since updated its...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *