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 – a view he held even after the Equality and Human Rights Commission found the party guilty of illegally discriminating against Jewish members of the party.
A mere two days after the Oct. 7 mass murder, torture, rape, mutilation and hostage taking of Israeli men, women and children, Jones, in a YouTube monologue (titled ‘Palestinian Lives Matter) already accused Israel of planning genocide, and, though condemning Hamas’s violence against civilians, ‘contextualised’ it as a consequence of Israel’s alleged ‘occupation’ of the territory. He argued further that the Jewish state had no right engage in a military response.
The next day, he appeared on Sky News and, after a brief moral throat-clearing condemning Hamas’s violence, again suggested that Israel had no right to defend itself following the worst antisemitic atrocity since the Holocaust, since, he argued, it was the state’s mistreatment of the Palestinians which led to the violence.
Jones also was the author of widely mocked post on X blaming the UK for Hamas’s laws banning homosexuality, eliciting a community note which aptly calls out his inability to hold the Islamist extremist group morally accountable for their medieval views.
In December, Jones was among the British ‘journalists’ who attended an Israeli government screening of 45 minutes of unedited footage showing Hamas’s savagery, after which he aired a YouTube monologue in which he expressed doubts about the evidence presented indicating horrific acts of sexual violence against Israeli women. As former Guardian columnist, now Times columnist, Hadley Freeman observed with exasperation, Jones was evidently unmoved by the firsthand witness who recounted seeing a Hamas terrorist murdering a woman while still raping her, and a morgue worker who described female bodies so brutally assaulted they had shattered pelvises,
In his latest Guardian column (“The west’s complete contempt for the lives of Palestinians will not be forgotten”, Jan. 21), Jones condemns the media and politicians for what he describes as their “contempt for Palestinian life”, and then goes on to cite the 234 Palestinians who, prior to Oct, 7 “had been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank alone, more than three dozen of them children?”, before adding “Life is cheap, they say. It is apparently meaningless if you are Palestinian”.
Jones wants readers to think that all or most were innocent civilians. He’s lying.
As we’ve documented, the overwhelming majority of those 234 Palestinians were either members of proscribed terror organisations or otherwise involved in violent clashes when they were killed.
Much of Owens’ piece, however, describes the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza – suffering, he argues, meted out by Israeli forces and callously ignored by the West. Yet, there is nothing in his piece indicating that he holds Hamas responsible for such death and deprivations both sides of the Gaza border – a failure to assign agency to Palestinian extremists which is ubiquitous in Guardian coverage of the war.
Hamas made a decision to launch a savage war against Israeli civilians with the intent of murdering as many as possible, while knowing full well that Israel, like any nation faced with such an atrocity, would retaliate. In other words, they clearly knew in advance that the greatest toll would not be on Israelis, but on the Palestinian population they rule. Moreover, they intentionally placed arms, rockets and other military assets – including a vast underground military tunnel spanning up to 450 miles – in areas populated by civilians, such as homes, shops, mosques, schools and hospitals.
Hamas did this for two reasons. First, they know the IDF operates with far more caution in attacking their leaders and military assets when they’re placed in civilian locations. 2) They knew that Western anti-Israel propagandists, and the media outlets which routinely peddle their agitprop, would react to attacks on the terror group’s military positions which resulted in harm to civilians by demonising Israel, thus placing diplomatic pressure on the Jewish state to halt or significantly slow down their operation to defeat them.
It is Hamas who is indifferent to human life, and who don’t think Palestinian lives don’t matter unless they can be instrumentalised to help achieve their objective of annihilating the Jewish state.
As Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Palestinian-American from Gaza wrote in a Haaretz op-ed today, “It was Hamas’s choices that prompted Israel’s blockade on the territory and took the Strip down a dark path of recurring cycles of wars & stalemate”, before adding that “It is time for the Palestinians to assert their agency and their role over their own future, especially in Gaza, by embracing peace, rejecting violence, and genuinely believing in coexisting with their Israeli neighbors.” It’s important to note that Alkhatib wrote this despite having lost thirty relatives during the current war.
It’s also time for Guardian columnists like Owen Jones to similarly assign agency to the extremists who’ve ruled Gaza since 2007, and embrace the intuitive understanding that what Rob Henderson describes as the “reliable connections between good choices and good outcomes and bad choices and bad outcomes” applies to Palestinians like Yahya Sinwar and Khaled Mashal.