“The basic idea behind most modern antisemitism”, wrote the CST’s Dave Rich, “is that Jews must be up to something”. “Whatever Jews say and do”, he added, “can’t be taken at face value: they must have some ulterior motive or hidden agenda that needs to be uncovered”. This understanding of anti-Jewish racism can be applied to those who routinely demonise the Jewish state.
Thus, Tel Aviv’s internationally renowned Pride Parade isn’t a rare example in the Middle East of LGBT freedom, but, it’s alleged, a cynical hasbara campaign orchestrated by Jerusalem and its supporters to “pinkwash” the occupation. Talented Israelis on tour with the Batsheva Dance Company aren’t merely performing their art to foreign audiences, but, it’s argued, are complicit in a process of hoodwinking audiences into ‘believing’ Israel is a normal country.
And, when Israelis excel at protecting their population from the ravages of COVID, the narrative isn’t about the state’s innovative healthcare system that other countries learn from, but about obfuscation of their “racist” decision to prioritise their own citizens’ health over that of the Palestinians.
As the Guardian is one of the global media outlets most attuned to uncovering such ‘Zionist treachery’, it’s not surprising that they’ve recently uncovered a new avenue by which the Jewish state hoodwinks the world: “Sportswashing”.
In short, it argues that Israeli pro-cycling teams and events are PR efforts designed to draw attention away from the state’s “abysmal human rights record, treatment of Palestinians and continued defiance of international law”. “We have no problem, the piece argues, “linking the manifold abuses of Qatar or Saudi Arabia or China to their investment in sport. And yet there appears to be a certain squeamishness about referring to Israel in similar terms…”.
The article was written by their sports columnist, Jonathan Liew, who’s evidently a fan of the antisemitic, terrorist-supporting former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, known for his own ‘washing’ on behalf of tyrannical regimes across the globe. Much like Corbyn, Liew appears to view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the ‘good vs. evil’ paradigm, where Palestinian leaders are not assigned agency, as illustrated here in his article:
The primary objective of Israeli sporting diplomacy is that when you hear the country’s name, you won’t think of any of this. You won’t think about military checkpoints or the bombing of Gaza or the Palestinian occupation, or really Palestinians at all. Instead you’ll think about golden beaches, rooftop cocktails, Lionel Messi and Chris Froome bathed in a glorious sunset.
To describe Jerusalem’s conflicts with the antisemitic extremists who brutally rule the coastal strip, and fancy launching rockets on civilian communities, as Israel’s “bombing of Gaza” plays into the crudest propaganda positing that Israeli leaders wake up some days and, driven by pure malevolence, decide to unleash barrages of deadly ordinances upon innocent men, women and children.
Clearly anticipating the criticism his article would elicit, Liew then writes:
But push at the door a little, and all the classic sportswashing tropes are present: denial, whataboutery, the curious blend of incredulity and aggression. “This is a peaceful country, go and hassle people who work in totalitarian regimes,” [Sylvan] Adams told Cycling Weekly in 2020 in response to questions on Israel’s human rights abuses.
However, it’s not “whataboutery” to question the logic of his accusation, and note that, unlike the totalitarian countries he mentioned (Qatar, Saudi Arabia and China), or, for that matter, Hamas-run Gaza, Israel is, by any objective measure, a liberal democracy – a state with the best human rights record in the region by far.
At the end of the day the pink/diversity/green/art/science/foreign aid/food/sport “washing” accusations against Israel are nothing more than name-calling, ad hominem attacks disguised as serious arguments. The reason why ad hominem attacks are considered logical fallacies is because they question the motives of your opponent – which is often impossible to know and usually irrelevant – in order to deflect attention away from the issues being debated.
So, if Liew wants to argue that Israel does NOT, in fact, have the most progressive record in the region when it comes to the rights afforded to sexual, religious and other minorities, let’s have that argument.
If he wants to argue that Israel does NOT have the right to defend its citizens from Palestinian terrorists, or that such ‘resistance’ is justified, let’s have that argument.
And, if he wants to argue that those with extreme anti-Israel views are NOT, in fact, more likely to be antisemitic than the general population, let’s have that argument.
But, what we won’t do is defend Israel from accusations based on the assumption it’s acting in bad faith: that when it hosts one of the largest LGBT parades on the globe, deploys medical rescue teams to save lives in distant countries, sends artists and entertainers to perform abroad, and, yes, hosts international sporting events, the country is motivated by some sinister scheme that only the Elect few are clever enough and, of course, brave enough, to reveal.
The fact is that all Liew is actually revealing in his risible “sportswashing” charge is the moral and intellectual impoverishment of those whose politics are organised around hostility to the Jewish state.