Owen Jones doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Owen Jones is an Oxford-educated, millennial Guardian columnist, and self-described socialist and anti-fascist. He was an ardent Jeremy Corbyn supporter who consistently defended the Labour leader and party members who were criticised or suspended over antisemitism. Though he doesn’t seem to know much about antisemitism, the Jewish community or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he, as Ha’aretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer wrote on Twitter, seems to have a “weird obsession with Jews”, and that “nearly every take” of his on these subjects are “wrong and offensive”.

Undeterred, Jones’ latest Guardian op-ed on Israel (“Denied a state, Palestinians are now denied a say in their own future”, Nov. 19) focuses on Keir Starmer’s address to Labour Friends of Israel.  Though Jones praises the new Labour leader for condemning “the evil of antisemitism”, he then criticises Starmer for saying he’s a friend of both Israel and Palestine, and for rejecting the “Manichean view of the conflict” in which one side of the conflict is seen as good and the other evil.

Jones writes:

By trying to find equivalence, [Starmer] downplayed the human rights issues at hand. He mentioned the killing of Israeli citizens in terror attacks, but only the “daily humiliations, constraints and restrictions” endured by Palestinians, even though 22 times as many Palestinians were killed between 2008 and 2020.

By Jones’ specious moral reasoning, the disparity in Israeli and Palestinian deaths during that time period should in part determine where our sympathies must lie – suggesting, it seems, that if the disparity was reversed, Israel would be more deserving of political support.  The fallacy in this logic is that it obscures the fact that it’s not for lack of trying that Palestinian terrorists haven’t killed more Israelis.  If antisemitic extremist groups like Hamas had their way, and Israel was less successful at defending its citizens, the Jewish death count would be astronomical.

It’s baffling how any serious commentator could conclude that Israel should be morally penalised for their relative success at preventing deadly attacks. Moreover, Jones’ moral calculus regarding the disparity in deaths doesn’t factor in that Palestinian terrorists usually target Israeli civilians, whilst the IDF targets terrorists.

Jones also falsely characterises Israeli control of the West Bank as “illegal”.  Whilst there’s a broad agreement by most countries and international bodies that settlements built in the disputed territories are “illegal”, there is no such legal consensus on the occupation itself.  And, in fact, CAMERA and CAMERA UK have prompted corrections at multiple media outlets on this very claim.

Jones then takes aim at Starmer’s opposition, during his speech, to BDS, claiming that the Labour leader’s condemnation of the movement for targeting only the world’s sole Jewish state “echoes claims from Benjamin Netanyahu to the Trump administration that BDS is antisemitic”.  But, as we’ve noted previously, it isn’t merely these two former leaders who view BDS as intrinsically antisemitic.  In fact, most Jews share this view.

A major EU poll of European Jews (including Britons) conducted in 2018 showed “82% of Jews classed calls by non-Jews to boycott Israel or Israelis as anti-Semitic”, and a poll of British Jews by Campaign Against Antisemitism in 2020 found that “83% felt intimidated by tactics used to boycott Israel”.  Polls of US Jews have produced similar results.

Jones then writes:

BDS is a strategy called for by Palestinians that seeks to end the occupation, grant the fifth of Israeli society who are Palestinian equal rights, and achieve justice for Palestinian refugees.

This is flat-out untrue.  BDS is a movement that opposes the continued existence of a Jewish state within any borders – a goal made clear by their leaders.

Jones then writes that the “2018 ‘nation state’ law enshrined the inferior rights of Palestinian citizens”, another falsehood.  In fact, the president of the left-wing Israeli organisation ‘Israel Democracy Institute’, whilst opposing the law, characterised it as merely “symbolic and educational” with “very little problematic implications”.  Jones couldn’t name one political right that Arab citizens of Israel lost as a result of the nation-state law – which is why, in the years since the law was signed, the internationally respected human rights organisation Freedom House has continued to label Israel a free and democratic state.

Here’s the penultimate paragraph in Jones’ op-ed:

Indeed, this refusal to listen to Palestinian voices poses a serious question: if people support a Palestinian homeland, what does the path to it look like? Would a future Labour government tut a little louder about annexations as it continues to arm and back Israel and, if so, what incentive would there be for Israel’s rulers to change course?

Implicit in this paragraph and, in fact, his entire piece, is that blame for the failure to achieve peace between the two parties rests solely on the decisions in Jerusalem.  Nothing in his piece even alludes to Palestinian responsibility for the conflict.  Erased from the narrative is Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism and the Palestinian rejection of multiple Israeli peace offers that would have created, for the first time in history, a sovereign Palestinian state.

Also airbrushed is the injurious impact on Israeli trust in the ‘peace process’ of the four-year Palestinian terror campaign of the 2nd Intifada and endemic PA incitement and antisemitism.

Here’s one recent example of how the PA indoctrinates its youth to embrace Palestinians who murder Jews: a show aired on a state-controlled TV show for kids, O Children of Our Neighborhood, showing very young children addressing terrorists who killed Israelis as “heroic”.  (Palestinian Media Watch has translated hundreds of such videos)

In Jones’ world, Palestinians aren’t adults in possession of agency, but are solely victims – standard liberal racism peddled by Guardian commentators, most of whom know little of what they speak, yet fancy themselves moral authorities on the sins of Israel and, by extension, Jews.

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  1. says: Michael+Zeffertt

    I am pleased that CameraUK has picked up on this article that I read yesterday. Jones argues through the constant use of assertions. In fact the whole Palestinian lobby be it PSC, BDS or any other cockamamy organization does likewise.

    Along with so many detractors of the State of Israel Jones sets himself up as an international lawyer in order to re-inforce his assertions, when international law has never been tested. Law is not a matter for alleged majority opinion to determine. It is for real lawyers to determine in a court of law. But Own Jones is Oxford educated so presumably this does not apply to him.

  2. says: Neil C

    In short Owen Jones is an Oxford educated, idiot and an embarrassment to the university, unfortunately he is not the only “free thinking educated misfit” to have inhabited their halls of residence. #defundthebbc

  3. says: John Hoffman

    Adam Levick’s author page claims he “sticks to the facts” and is dedicated to “objective” journalism.
    Let’s just look at this through the lens of bias for one second before we address the points, Adam Levick was hired by Camera in order to specifically present articles that are pro-Israel, and further the narrative that being pro-Israel = pro-Jewish (See: last sentence of this article).
    Jones on the other hand “an Oxford-educated, millennial elitist” (irrelevant ad hominem attack, excellent) is identified as biased because what exactly… He is a free-lance journalist who posts for the Guardian – *who’s editor is notably pro-Israel and has sacked columnists for articles suggesting otherwise*. Would Mr Levick suggest Jones is backed by pro-Hamas organisations or Hamas themself?

    The article itself is full of fallacies:
    1. “It is proposterous to criticise Israel for successfully defending itself and this justifies a conflictual difference in mortality of 22:1”
    The real fact here is that Palestine is a nation of children, essentially the largest concentration camp of minors in the world. >50% of its population are under 18, and nearly a third under 12. I won’t go on further about how “successful” Israel has been at “defending itself” – one of the most financially per capita funded milatary forces in the world against a nation of teenagers.
    2. Israel’s settlements constructed on the West Bank are illegal. I’m happy that Levick has pointed out the broad consensus of the United Nations on this matter – yet decides Israel is exempt. It’s quite sinple really – *Israel cannot build on territory it does not legally possess.* Perhaps Levick would like to write an article in support of Putin’s similar annexation of various parts of Ukraine?
    3. Levick’s final point, suggesting that Jones is wrong for speculating how a future of a peaceful end to the conflict might look for Palestine is dripping in bias/whataboutism. He ignores the actual question or indeed how Israel would plan to answer it (speculation – they don’t care about it ending and ultimately seek total annexation and abolition of Palestine). Instead Levick typically devolves to just pointing the finger at terrorist Palestine.

    I doubt this comment will even be published. Signed Hoffman – Jewish man who is sceptical about the intentions of Israel. Pro-Israel =/= Pro-Jewish.

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