Mid-East Eye is an on-line news portal covering events in Middle East. It’s edited by David Hearst, the former chief foreign leader writer for the Guardian. Though Mid-East Eye has not until today been on our radar, since it is UK-based we thought we’d briefly highlight a recent example of antisemitism in an op-ed published at the site by a woman named Susan Abulhawa. (Abulhawa is a pro-Palestinian activist recently highlighted in a fawning Guardian profile.)
Here are highlights from the op-ed by Abulhawa titled ‘Brand Israel pretends the burning of a Palestinian baby is the act of extremists‘:
First, here’s the strapline:
Israel wants us to believe the burning of a Palestinian toddler was done by fringe elements but the reality is that targeting children is woven into the fabric of Israeli society.
Now, text from the op-ed:
Israeli settlers in Palestine used petrol to set fire to Palestinian homes in the village of Duma on Friday, burning to death 18-month Ali Dawabsheh and critically wounding and maiming four members of his family. Faced with growing international disquiet, Israeli military spokesperson said, “This attack against Palestinian civilians is a barbaric act of terrorism.” Such forceful repudiation of Israeli terrorism is unheard of, and consequently, some, including the Palestinian Authority, have hailed it as a breakthrough. However, as the overwhelming evidence shows, the military’s words are meant as damage control, for international public consumption. It’s “Brand Israel” pretending that the killing of a Palestinian child is the act of fringe “extremists,” when the reality is that targeting of Palestinian children is woven into the fabric of the Israeli military and settler movements.
Israel is a nation that has on its state payroll rabbis who provide religious authority sanctioning the killing of gentiles, including infants. Its justice minister has called for the genocide of Palestinians, including babies, whom she referred to as “little snakes.” The Deputy Speaker of its parliament laid out a multi-phase extermination plan for Gaza. These ethos are not on the fringes of society. They represent a supremacist majority culture of impunity that sees Palestinian life not only as lacking value, but as a menace.
The burning to death of baby Ali should come as no surprise, nor is it without well-documented precedent. It’s just that Israel is trying a new public relations tactic this time.
To those even vaguely familiar with the history of antisemitism and its modern manifestations, the mendacity of the op-ed – which advances a narrative characterized by the late historian Robert S. Wistrich as “a kind of modern secular blood libel” – really speaks for itself. It’s one thing for antisemitic terror movements to claim that citizens of the Jewish state intentionally murder Palestinian babies, but it rises to an entirely different level when such racist tropes are legitimized by putatively serious news sites.
One final note. In the Guardian profile of Abulhawa last June, she briefly addressed the topic of antisemitism.
“Those children are living like this because of brutal military occupation. Our work is just a plaster. Part of our mission is to put eyes on what is happening to Palestinian children. Unfortunately, though, criticising Israel has been conflated with antisemitism.”
Though this clearly wasn’t her intention, Abulhawa actually did us a favor in her Mid-East Eye op-ed by providing such a clear example of the ways in which antisemitism is disguised as mere criticism of Israel.