Alibhai-Brown begins her piece (“The UN is warning of spiraling violence, yet the West has forgotten the Palestinians”, Dec. 7) by stressing how ‘careful’ she is when addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a claim we refute here and in previous posts – and stressing that she supports the Jewish state’s right to exist (which we’re evidently supposed to thank her for), before pivoting to Israeli villainy:
Last Sunday, a Palestinian man was reportedly shot dead by Israeli soldiers while he lay injured on the ground. Medics were not allowed to approach the man, who, the soldiers allege, had carried out a knife attack.
Of course, Border Police don’t merely “allege” that the Palestinian carried out a potentially deadly knife attack, there’s video to prove it:
The Israeli civilian victim of the attack, Avraham Elimelich, suffered serious head and neck wounds.
Also, her claim that the terrorist was denied medical care isn’t backed up with a source. Though, it is a common for police to check to determine if a wounded terrorist has a suicide bomb before allowing medical personnel to approach.
Alibhai-Brown then writes the following, attempting to contextualise the ‘tragedy’ of the Palestinian killed after committing a terror attack.
A Palestinian doctor I know well tells me: “Death is not bad. You go, the end. But how to live without facilities, humiliated, our homes destroyed, farms and homes seized, our children treated like cockroaches? [It seems that] some young men do bad things to be shot dead.”
His wife, now very depressed, recently aborted the third child she was carrying. These are the everyday sufferings of a people, political pawns who have been pushed into a pit that gets deeper and darker as time goes on.
Are we truly supposed to conclude that there’s some connection between Israeli policy and the woman’s depression, as well as her decision to have an abortion? (Note, it wouldn’t be the first time a UK media outlet blamed Israel for Palestinian mental health issues.)
The op-ed then claims:
Women and young teens are treated abominably in Israeli jails. Save the Children found that children in the detention system faced beatings, strip searches and psychological abuse.
However, in addition to the fact that most of the ‘children’ are 16-18 years old and incarcerated for terror attacks, NGO Monitor and blogger Elder of Ziyon noted that the report’s authors acknowledged that, “it is not a statistically significant or representative sample”, that“the report …presents children’s experience from their own perspective” and that their claims “have not been independently verified by Save the Children”.
As children enact the nativity play this Christmas, how many parents know that Bethlehem, Christ’s birthplace, is now an Israeli-controlled town where Palestinians live abjectly and fearfully?
Bethlehem is in Area A of the West Bank, which means it’s completely controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, Bethlehem residents generally don’t live “abjectly”, as – though its tourist-based economy was hit hard by the COVID epidemic – it’s generally considered one of the more prosperous West Bank cities.
Alibhai-Brown then complains:
Any criticism of [Israel] is deemed anti-Semitic by apologists and diehard allies.
This is a baseless smear, one which was frequently hurled by Jeremy Corbyn’s allies during the Labour Party antisemitism crisis to avoid being held accountable for rhetoric deemed racist per the widely accepted IHRA Working Definition. The IHRA definition, which is used by most major Jewish and pro-Israel groups, is clear that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.
Then, Alibhai-Brown writes:
In November, Israel designated six Palestinian charities as terrorist organisations. These organisations aided Palestinians suffering poverty, mental distress, human rights abuses and gender oppression (by their own men).
As we’ve demonsrated in previous posts, the links between the ‘charities’ she mentions and the PFLP terror group are undeniable, and much of it is open-source information that Alibhai-Brown could have easily accessed.
I knew the British-American-Jewish thinker Tony Judt, a proud Jew and stalwart anti-Zionist. After damning Israel as a “belligerently intolerant, faith driven ethno-state” in 1983, he was “cancelled”, his reputation trashed until his death.
Judt wasn’t “cancelled” in the modern sense of the word, and his reputation was not “trashed until his death”.
Though he received some criticism from Jewish groups and others for his opposition to Israel’s existence and his suggestion that the state had become the primary cause of modern antisemitism, he was, until his death, a popular public intellectual and highly celebrated academic.
Then, in her final complaint, Alibhai-Brown writes:
A report from Jewish Voice for Labour accused Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party of purging Jewish members who call Israel to account.
The main Jewish group within the Labour Party is the Jewish Labour Movement. The fringe Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) was among Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest supporters, and among the groups that consistently gaslighted Jews who filed complaints over antisemitism. As London-based academic David Hirsh observed, JVL is “a group of anti-Zionist Jews whose key political project is to portray Jewish concern about anti-Semitism as a disgraceful conspiracy to silence criticism of Israel.”
Alibhai-Brown’s legitimisation of JVL is not surprising, as she was not only a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, but wrote a notorious Independent op-ed in 2015 (which Indy editors have, at some point, disappeared) titled “Fling mud if you must, but don’t call Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite.” In addition to falsely claiming that pro-BDS British director Ken Loach was Jewish, and defending antisemitic cartoonist Carlos Latuff, she wrote the that “The right, Blairites and hard Zionists have formed the most unholy of alliances to slay the reputation of the next likely leader of the Labour Party.”
In addition to its antisemitic evocations, such conspiratorial explanations for political events, Walter Russel Mead has argued, is the sign of a profound cognitive failure, and a harbinger of more errors to come. Those, like Alibhai-Brown, who are in thrall to such impoverished thinking should be the last people called upon by media outlets to analyse issues like the Israel-Palestinian conflict and antisemitism.