Isn’t it time to ditch our uneasy alliances for Palestinian rights?


2:30 pm - February 1st 2011

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contribution by Danny Williams

Would you stay friends with someone who was racist, homophobic and blatantly disparaged women’s rights simply because he bought you gifts? My friend is a ‘movement’ I’ve knowingly associated myself with, despite these faults, because our friendship might get me what I want.

What I want is an end to the enduring, pitiable Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I’ve believe it is possible get Palestinians the justice and recompense they’ve sought since 1948, but I’m beginning to have some doubts about the process.

More importantly I’m thinking about that old cliché: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, and wondering if this really the ethical way to go about change? Isn’t this exactly the strategy that’s befuddled issues and relations in the region for 100 years? Have we not seen time and again, from American support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein that this is a policy that will probably fail, and can backfire in ways that cannot be foreseen.

Over the past few years, an unnatural alliance has transpired between groups that identify as peace activists and others best described as national liberation movements, all engaged in working to improve the lot of the Palestinians. To be sure, many of the goals of these disparate groups coincide; the issue, however, is methodology.

Take the involvement of Turkish aid agency IHH. They’ve been identified as a terror-supporting group by the German and Italian governments and are under investigation throughout the EU.

Even the Turkish authorities began their own domestic criminal investigation of IHH as early as December 1997, when sources “revealed that leaders of IHH were purchasing automatic weapons from other regional Islamic militant groups”.

As the launch date for the second Flotilla nears (provisionally 30th March, to coincide with Land Day in Palestine, providing funds get raised) – I’m forced to consider that an association with both of these groups may be hurting, not helping, Gaza’s Palestinian population.

As an illustration of the problematical nature of this alliance, considering the flotilla strategy, which is being advanced by certain elements within the movement. We’ve seen repeatedly that single boats get through to Gaza. The issue, then, is not boats to Gaza per se, but presenting the Israeli navy with a confrontation, a ship carrying hundreds of people and unknown material, which it must meet.

While the strategy may have media currency, do we really need a bloody confrontation to achieve similar PR? Nine deaths last time was a very high price to pay.

That said, the legal aspects of the blockade and attempts to break it aren’t my point: these things should be debated in international court and not at the end of gun. My concern is an association we’ve made with groups, in particular Hamas, whose presence is highly problematic.

Can we really claim in good conscience to be fighting for human rights alongside a group charged with violating basic civil rights of women, homosexuals and non-Muslims? Can we call ourselves peace activists while condoning a strategy certain to provoke the largest military force in the Middle East? After much soul searching I’m forced to concede, no, we cannot.


Danny Williams is a Montreal-born activist and freelance artist/writer now based in London.

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Reader comments


… but you’re wasting your time.

I have thought along these lines for a long time. But on the internet you get blown away with a storm of indignation if you try to suggest the flotilla wasn’t a good idea, or that the activists were seeking an incident – and some, even martyrdom.

Same with the London protests that are full of Hezbollah supporters.

There are more people that agree with this than you might think

I shouldn’t really need saying but sadly it does.

Unfortunately there are those who are so obsessed with the wrongs of Israel that they frankly don’t care who they are allying with.

whilst we’re ditching uneasy alliances are we ditching our ‘commitment’ to democracy because ‘highly problematic’ Hamas were democratically elected…?

“whilst we’re ditching uneasy alliances are we ditching our ‘commitment’ to democracy because ‘highly problematic’ Hamas were democratically elected…?”

1. They haven’t submitted themselves to re-election. Like Abbas, their term has expired.

2. They were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council, in a Presidential system.

3. When people oppose the BNP, do you also say “but they were elected – are you against Democracy”?

If the past decades have taught us anything at all, it is that we shouldn’t be supporting anti-democratic forces of any stripe. We’ve seen the baleful effects of western support for deeply unpleasant, regressive regimes around the world, not just in the Middle East whether on the basis that they were anti-communist, or anti-islamist, or that they served a useful purpose “protecting” Western interests economically.

Similarly, our governments soft pedal criticism of Chinese authoritarianism, or Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza, suppression of human rights in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf…. there are lots of examples.

It shouldn’t be a case of using a long spoon to sup with the devil; any organisation (whether involved with Palestinian rights or not) which promotes an anti-democratic agenda shouldn’t be at the table at all.

…whilst we’re ditching uneasy alliances are we ditching our ‘commitment’ to democracy because ‘highly problematic’ Hamas were democratically elected…?

This is an interesting point, actually. I don’t – necessarily – support democracy. If a majority’s will is used to oppress a minority it deserves no more support than yer average state. And if a majority’s will is simply used to elect representatives who act in no one else’s interests but their own I don’t see any reason to respect the process.

None of that’s to say a state can advocate democracy for other nations but warble from a different songsheet they end up threatening their interests. (The U.S. with Allende, for example.)

It shouldn’t be a case of using a long spoon to sup with the devil; any organisation (whether involved with Palestinian rights or not) which promotes an anti-democratic agenda shouldn’t be at the table at all.

So, who will be at the table?

#8
+1

@ 10

Those who are committed to shared values; so I’m guessing any individual or organisation which supports or promotes the suppression of basic human rights shouldn’t be.

I’m aware of the criticism that you can’t run a foreign policy on totally ethical grounds, and that there are odious regimes out there that have to be dealt with because they are the de facto power, but a lot more can and should be done to promote the interests of progressive forces everywhere, rather than prop up (to take a topical example) the authoritarian regimes in Egypt and other Arab states on the basis that they may be bastards, but they are our bastards.

Yes, but while I quite agree that propping up Mubarak and the like is disgusting the British government itself is not a “progressive” force. One of my favourite of the Wikileaks’ cables admitted that the Brits had only changed their tune to one of outrage on behalf of the Tamils because they’d had a lot of voters in the marginals.

This post pins the dilemma exactly. Both the means and the end must count in any moral issue such as this. On a practical level we have seen how supporting the wrong people for the right reasons backfires.

Of course, it’s possible to bring pressure on Israel without allying oneself to questionable groups.

“I don’t – necessarily – support democracy. If a majority’s will is used to oppress a minority it deserves no more support than yer average state. ”

I don’t believe you have democracy until the majority of the Minority accept the legitimacy of the Majority.

This was where Thatcher went wrong with the Poll tax and why she pulled back. She may have been an evil witch but she was a democratic evil witch.

“Of course, it’s possible to bring pressure on Israel without allying oneself to questionable groups.”

There is only one group I know which does this, without being allied with dodgy groups.

http://www.onevoicemovement.org.

Ask yourself why it never gets invited to Progressive London type conferences, and why its activities have been met with death threats?

13 Ben Six

I never said, and don’t believe, that the British government is a progressive force, nor indeed that it could be saif of many (any?) other “western” governments.

Inter communal conflicts (as for example in Sri Lanka, but many others too… Cyprus, the Balkans, etc. etc) are often the hardest to resolve because forces on both sides resort to terror tactics, and it’s tempting to throw your hands in the air and wish a plague on both their houses.

Historically however “the west” has often made things worse in so many different areas, ranging from Iran in the 50’s, Latin America for a long period, and Africa post de-colonisation.

It isn’t ever going to be easy, but lip service to an “ethical foreign policy” (whatever happened to that by the way…..?) isn’t going to make the establishment of progressive, secular, democratic regimes around the world any easier.

15

“She may have been an evil witch but she was a democratic evil witch.”

I’m still going to party when she dies tho 😉

This whole post is concern trolling at its worst, but this line is just ridiculous:

“Can we call ourselves peace activists while condoning a strategy certain to provoke the largest military force in the Middle East?”

What kind of a nonsense argument is this? Does this mean MLK and Gandhi and their followers no longer count as peace activists because they “provoked” the violent forces oppressing them?

Given the amount of people who have been killed by the IDF for doing nothing, what meaningful tactic would you suggest that might NOT provoke them to violence?

Galen

I never said, and don’t believe, that the British government is a progressive force, nor indeed that it could be saif of many (any?) other “western” governments.

Ah, sorry. Your references at comment 8 led me to assume you were referring to some kind of international diplomatic table. In retrospect it could as easily have been a table at one of those Gol’ darned liberal dinner parties.

Good Luck

There is only one group I know which does this, without being allied with dodgy groups.

B’Tselem? Human Rights Watch? I’ve no desire to start a tedious debate about the purity of each organisation’s allegiances but I’m not sure the entire pro-Palestinian movement is great big group hug for Hamas.

Danny

Can we really claim in good conscience to be fighting for human rights alongside a group charged with violating basic civil rights of women, homosexuals and non-Muslims?

I don’t think one should in this circumstance because the situation doesn’t call for it – and, besides, one would be struggling for Palestinians alongside one of their oppressors – but if I’m not sure one can answer this with an unreserved “no”. How about, say, Churchill’s alliance with ol’ Uncle Joe?

@7. Good Luck
“whilst we’re ditching uneasy alliances are we ditching our ‘commitment’ to democracy because ‘highly problematic’ Hamas were democratically elected…?”

1. They haven’t submitted themselves to re-election. Like Abbas, their term has expired.

2. They were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council, in a Presidential system.

3. When people oppose the BNP, do you also say “but they were elected – are you against Democracy”?

– thanks for info in 1 +2, I didn’t know either point
3 the BNP have won seats not whole elctions

also I never said I was pro-democracy, I’m a floating voter on ruling systems

B’Tselem doesn’t operate in the UK as far as I know, and Human Rights Watch – although it has an Israel focus – is a broad campaign that focuses on human rights abuses in many countries.

They’re not focused on the task of getting Palestinians a State.

“3 the BNP have won seats not whole elctions”

No, but fascist parties have and do triumph in regions of Europe. We don’t say “fair enough, that’s democracy” do we?

24. Dick the Prick

@18 – naughty.

But yeah, excellent post & good thread. I’ve never really been that passionate about the Israel/Palestine conflict mainly because it seems to project itself to the fore where deaths, casualties, human rights abuses and genuine evil persist in far greater numbers in Africa and with our interventions in the mid-east. That there has been money available to fix this – through the oil rich nations – well, it suits their own ends to maintain the status quo. I don’t mean to be flippant but it almost seems like the conflict is showbuziness for campaigners who don’t want to get their hands dirty.

“Would you stay friends with someone who was racist, homophobic and blatantly disparaged women’s rights simply because he bought you gifts?”

So is this an anti-Hamas post?

Depends on the terms of the ‘alliance’. There should be no question of supporting autocratic forces when they are in power. Anyone who thinks “we are all Hamas now” really needs to stop and think what the hell sort of values they are fighting for.

On the other hand, if you hold a rally in town and a few Islamists show up in support, is the rally automatically invalidated? Do you immediately have to ‘ditch the alliance’, cancel the rally, and go home?

Too much emphasis on ideological purity in protest movements is a recipe for paralysis, failure, and years of nothing except endless People’s Front of Judaea style schisming and accusations of betrayal. I imagine there are a few thoroughly nasty customers among the Egyptian protesters today – so do we condemn the whole crowd? Of course not.

Those are the two extremes. In between, things aren’t black and white, and the right judgement call may be tough to make.

But certainly I agree with the OP that any pro-Palestinian activism in the UK should make very clear that it is no friend of Hamas.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 23

“We don’t say “fair enough, that’s democracy” do we?”

Depends what you mean. We accept their legitimacy and then call them names.

“This whole post is concern trolling at its worst”

Strikes me that it’s a very legitimate concern.

Is it not better simply to accept that, although some people are worried about Hamas, it isn’t really a dominant concern.

Raising it won’t make much of a difference. Most people aren’t even bothering to argue against you.

Nice try, though.

Galen10 @ 18: “I’m still going to party when she dies tho”

I hope that was spoken in jest, as the emoticon suggests. The politics of hate lead are unpleasant and dehumanising – and they can lead to the gulag and the gas chamber.

Here endeth the first lesson. 😉

30

Oh… OK then… not a full blown party 🙁

…. but really, wanting to dance on her grave a la Jeremy Hardy hardly makes you a harbinger of the jack-boot and cattle trucks full of Tories heading East does it?

@2 damon: “But on the internet you get blown away with a storm of indignation if you try to suggest the flotilla wasn’t a good idea, or that the activists were seeking an incident – and some, even martyrdom.”

If you check the LC archives for 11 months ago, you’ll find that the debate here was pretty constructive. There were head bangers from both sides, and there were others who do not see things in black and white.

@8 Galen10: “It shouldn’t be a case of using a long spoon to sup with the devil; any organisation (whether involved with Palestinian rights or not) which promotes an anti-democratic agenda shouldn’t be at the table at all.”

The settlement in Northern Ireland was achieved because, long before, politicians and diplomats held their noses to conduct private negotiations. We also know that discrete discussions are held between Israel and its neighbours; about practical matters (eg management of water resources) and about politics (eg Syria’s nuclear programme).

Organisations like Hamas will be part of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, whether we like it or not. At the same time, we have to hold the line that the settlement terms will extend freedom and not hand it over to religious extremists.

@28
These zombie argument concerns have been raised and addressed numerous times before.

As Larry already pointed out there’s a complete lack of distinction in the post between forming a temporary, instrumental alliance with people/groups for a single political cause who you are free to disagree with regarding other issues and being someone’s best mate. This is perfectly illustrated by the silly analogy at the start and the ridiculous comparison of the US actively arming Saddam with activists sharing a boat with a questionable organization they’ve given no direct support to.

As for the argument that “single boats get let in by the Israelis” the reason for this is because it doesn’t challenge the blockade in any significant way and allows them to keep Gaza in a state of borderline starvation. If single boats were able to get in every day, rather than every few months, you can be damn sure they’d put a stop to it. As with the banning of protest in Parliament Square the message is “you’re completely free to protest, just don’t do it in a way which might inconvenience us.” Whilst the IDF will likely use violence against people on the flotilla you can be practically certain that everyone planning on going is well aware of the risks after the last time.

It’s sometimes necessary to put yourself in harm’s way and inconvenience the operations of violent and powerful groups if you want them to take notice and change their ways.

It’s similarly a fact of life that in order to create a movement big enough to make powerful forces to take note of it you will have to stand alongside some people who might hate you, whether it’s because you’re a kafir, gay, white, black, female or whatever. Recognizing that doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily in bed with these people or “condoning” them.

@ 31

“wanting to dance on her grave a la Jeremy Hardy hardly makes you a harbinger of the jack-boot and cattle trucks full of Tories heading East does it?”

I fear it’s a difference of degree, not of kind. Celebrating anyone’s death, let alone desecrating a grave, strikes me as barbaric, because one has ceased to respect the deceased as a (former) person.

35. Erica Blair

I’d guess that Danny Williams, whoever he is, has no interest in supporting justice for Palestinians but wants to undermine any solidarity efforts.

A glance at his twitter feed shows him defending the Israeli whitewash report.

@rabbleca Interesting info on Canadian observer of Israel’s flotilla report, Brig Gen Ken Watkin http://bit.ly/dBSVqX
6:02 PM Jan 26th via web in reply to rabbleca

36. the a&e charge nurse

[33] “you will have to stand alongside some people who might hate you, whether it’s because you’re a kafir, gay, white, black, female” – so no matter how reprehensible certain views might be an alliance of any sort is acceptable, presumably because the end justifies the means?

I guess you must be a keen advocate of consequentialism?
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consequentialism/

37. Erica Blair

Williams also recycles Israeli propaganda about weapons on the flotilla.

@freegazaorg weapons found on mavi marmara, is this true? http://t.co/1jbkLGZ
2:04 PM Jan 25th via Echofon in reply to freegazaorg

His source for his anti-IHH propaganda is one Evan F. Kohlmann

Check out this

http://www.spinwatch.org.uk/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/74-terror-spin/4850-evan-kohlmann-the-doogie-howser-of-terrorism

‘Kohlmann now works at the NEFA foundation, a terrorism research institute set up by the Washington Group – a US lobbying firm and a subsidiary of the giant PR corporation Ketchum. He also works at Counterterrorism Blog, which hosts numerous rightwing terrorism experts and was established up by a former Reagan advisor Andrew Cochran, who worked as a lobbyist for Steven Emerson and The Investigative Project. ‘

38. Erica Blair

How much can we trust this right-wing nut Kohlmann?

‘In one such case Kohlmann was put forward as an expert on the Bangladeshi Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. Under cross examination it transpired that he had never written any papers on the party, nor been interviewed about the group. He had never been to Bangladesh, could not name the country’s Prime Minister nor the name of the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami. Neither could he name a single political party in the country. When he was asked if he had heard of the Bangladeshi National Party – which led the political coalition joined by Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh at that time – he said it sounded “vaguely familiar”. Incredibly Kohlmann was still permitted as an expert witness.’

Who thought ‘Danny Williams’ was worth a post if he relies on sources such as Kohlmann. Quality control please!

Erica, I don’t trust Kohlmann but if doing so puts one beyond the realms of civilized discourse I guess The Guardian, Reuters, The Times and others are off-limits?

“Can we really claim in good conscience to be fighting for human rights alongside a group charged with violating basic civil rights of women . . ”

Quote:

Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City early on November 24 [2006] when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus.
http://www.haaretz.com/woman-beaten-on-j-lem-bus-for-refusing-to-move-to-rear-seat-1.207251

Three years ago, a 57-year-old grandmother got on a bus in Israel departing Rechovot for Givat Shmuel and sat in a vacant seat in the front.

Shortly after taking her seat, the woman was approached by a fervently Orthodox man who demanded she move to the back of the bus with the rest of the women.
Unbeknownst to the woman, who asked JTA to be identified only as H., she had boarded one of the so-called mehadrin (super kosher) bus lines, on which the predominantly ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, ridership imposes sex-segregated seating. The man told H. that segregated seating had been sanctioned by the rabbis and by Egged, the state-owned bus company that operates the line.
http://jta.org/news/article/2009/12/28/1009928/israeli-women-fight-relegation-to-back-of-bus

I’ve heard about kosher, but super kosher?

I don’t think the OP makes a very good point. I am not exactly sure what the argument is. If it is really the case that you can’t talk to or negotiate with extremists, the Israeli Foreign Minister will definitely need to be excluded from negotiations. But where does that get us?

And Chaise is right @27. By and large we do recognise the legitimacy of elected governments even when we consider them extreme. Indeed, when the far-right participated in government in Austria, its seat at the EU top table was imperilled for a while, but no one argued that the election didn’t count, and in any case, that brief exclusion or semi-exclusion was soon recognised as counterproductive and wasn’t repeated when similar things happened elsewhere.

Few peace activists I know are uncritical of Hamas. However, could it be that Hamas do in fact have a legitimate role to play in the future of the country, just as the British were forced to accept the role of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland? The fact that a national liberation movement isn’t to our taste doesn’t mean it is illegitimate. Probably most people here would disagree with certain of the policies and stands taken by the Vietnamese Communists. But you could not have negotiated an end to the Vietnam War without talking to them, because of course, they represented a vast constituency. Unfortunately, Hamas has become popular in recent years because the more secular Fatah have become so corrupt. Until there is a functioning Palestinian state things can only get worse.

I am sure that if a nasty bunch of racists set upon Erica Blair like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LulDJh4fWI

…she would say “weapons? where?”

Watch some charming “kill the Jews!” chanting aboard the Mavi Marmara, the IHH flagship of the flotilla.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3L7OV414Kk&feature=related

These are the people Viva Palestina and the Free Gaza Movement were very happy to join in their Hamas support mission.

you can’t talk to or negotiate with extremists

That is not the point. IHH and Viva Palestina promote Hamas. They love it. This is not about any kind of Realpolitik that is distasteful but deemed necessary.

See Bulent Yildirim, the head of IHH, bellowing for Hamas in Gaza here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfspWxexQ-M

Talking about extremism:

“In Israel, where modernity coexists uneasily with tradition, hand-wringing about the country’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is a national pastime. Cloistered in poor towns and neighborhoods, exempted from conscription into the military and surviving largely off government handouts, the black-hatted ultra-Orthodox, known as Haredim, have long vexed more secular Israelis. Now, in the wake of an Israeli Supreme Court decision, this perennial tension has escalated to new heights. . .

“This year the Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Social Policy Studies released a report showing that unemployment among ultra-Orthodox men age 35-54 is 65% and has tripled over the past three decades. Voluntary unemployment has become the dominant lifestyle choice for Haredi men. ”
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703848204575608473772263624.html

Israel’s housing minister called for strict segregation between the country’s Jewish and Arab populations last week as he unveiled plans to move large numbers of fundamentalist religious Jews to Israel’s north to prevent what he described as an “Arab takeover” of the region.

Ariel Atias said he considered it a “national mission” to bring ultra-Orthodox Jews — or Haredim, distinctive for their formal black and white clothing — into Arab areas, and announced that he would also create the north’s first exclusively Haredi town.
http://www.abudis.net/minister_calls_for_jewish_takeover.htm

Shorter Bob B (who is on his usual form, I see): “Can’t we talk about Jews and how awful they are?!?”

@36

“[33] “you will have to stand alongside some people who might hate you, whether it’s because you’re a kafir, gay, white, black, female” – so no matter how reprehensible certain views might be an alliance of any sort is acceptable, presumably because the end justifies the means?”

I didn’t say “alliance of any sort.” I said “temporary and instrumental for a single political cause.” But you’re almost right on the first bit, I don’t pretty much don’t care how reprehensible anybody’s view is, as long as it remains a view and not an action. Should any evidence (as opposed to insinuation or suggestion) be put forward to prove IHH has actually done anything reprehensible, I’d be willing to reassess my views regarding their involvement.

Allowing people to think different thoughts to ourselves is hardly the diabolical “means to an end” deed you imply. If everyone only ever aligned themselves with people who 100% shared their view NOTHING would ever be acheived. That’s why we have single issue pressure groups in the first place: we put aside any beliefs we may have not directly related to the issue and work on the cause we agree with.

If you honestly need every organization, man, woman and child advocating Palestinian liberation to make public declarations of tolerance towards gays, christians and women’s rights before you feel you can stand with them in support of the cause you’ll probably be waiting forever.As I said before, this is the exact reason these concern trolls keep resurrecting these non-arguments.

to prove IHH has actually done anything reprehensible

Yes, what could possibly be wrong with repeatedly and proudly providing material and political support to Hamas? What’s so bad about Holocaust denial, for example?

This is Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader who hobnobs with IHH and Viva Palestina leaders:

“The lie according to which they were a victim of a holocaust and the (Jewish) people are a victim — this lie has crumbled with the holocaust of Beit Hanun, the holocaust of Al-Fakhura and the other countless holocausts … committed by the Zionist enemy,” he said.

Jews are Nazis and the Holocaust is a lie, innit.

As progressives, we can’t be too picky, can we.

Does David Irving do any charity work? If he does, let’s help him!

@46: “Shorter Bob B (who is on his usual form, I see): ‘Can’t we talk about Jews and how awful they are?!?’”

Quote from the WSJ: “In Israel, where modernity coexists uneasily with tradition, hand-wringing about the country’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is a national pastime.”

By press reports, not least reports in the Israeli press, many Israelis are becoming increasingly concerned about extremists in the Israeli population. They have good reason to be seeing as how the governing coalition depends on the support of religious factions in the Knesset.

Isn’t it revealing how criticism of Muslims is taken to be good and appropriate but any criticism of Israeli extremism is instantly interpreted as antisemitic?

Isn’t it revealing how criticism of Muslims is taken to be good and appropriate but any criticism of Israeli extremism is instantly interpreted as antisemitic?

Ah, the lazy and transparent “any criticism” line again. As a bonus, documenting the horrors of Hamas and its friends is somehow an attack on Muslims in general. How predictable.

No Bob B, you’re engaged in “what about the Jews!” diversion, as I hope any fair-minded reader will easily see.

…documenting the horrors of Hamas and its friends is somehow an attack on Muslims in general…you’re engaged in “what about the Jews!” diversion…

Double standard, perhaps?

Double standard, perhaps?

Eh? A diversion is exactly what Bob B, who likes recommending antisemitic websites, is up to.

The opening post is about Hamas and IHH, you know.

@48 “Does David Irving do any charity work? If he does, let’s help him!”

Are you saying it would be morally wrong to assist David Irving if (for some reason) he was helping someone who was starving?

More relevant to this discussion, is it wrong to provide food and aid to starving and injured people in Gaza if it saves expenditure and effort for a repugnant Islamist government? Would you have run through the superdome after Hurricane Katrina shouting to all the displaced and hungry people “Don’t eat the food! It’s from Scientologists!!!”

“No Bob B, you’re engaged in “what about the Jews!” diversion, as I hope any fair-minded reader will easily see.”

If so why am I distinguishing extremist minorities among Israelis, a distinction often made in the Israeli press?

Btw the dig made at the top about the civil rights of women in Muslim cultures was not restricted to Hamas. It seemed to me relevant to make the point @40 that a minority of Israelis also have a problem with respecting the civil rights of women – apparently on religious grounds – and I supported that by quoting the Israeli press.

My grave offence is that I’m trying in an unblinkered way to apply the same set of values to both Muslims and Jews so I regard massacres inflicted by ethnic jews with as much moral repugnance as massacres inflicted Islamic jihadists. But Israeli propagandists don’t see it that way. As I’ve found many times in online debates, Israeli propagandists routinely try to paint any critics of Israel or Israelis as antisemitic to discredit them and to deflect attention from the substantive issues.

is it wrong to provide food and aid to starving and injured people in Gaza if it saves expenditure and effort for a repugnant Islamist government?

No one is starving in Gaza.

If bringing aid is all about promoting Hamas, which it is for IHH and Viva Palestina, and isn’t for normal charities working there, it is a very stupid and reprehensible move.

Hamas lives for vicious racist hatred and they have brought nothing but oppression and misery to Palestinians.

If you have a thing for racism and oppresion, by all means, work with IHH, Viva Pelesina and Hamas.

52 – Yes, but just as criticism of Hamas needn’t mean you’ve any general beef with Muslims criticism of Israel needn’t mean you hate the Jews. And I’ve got no reason to dismiss Bob’s explanation for his linking to LaRouche. The internet’s not like real life; if you don’t stay on your toes it’s not easy to separate the diamond from the dog turds.

As I’ve found many times in online debates, Israeli propagandists routinely try to paint any critics of Israel or Israelis as antisemitic

Why on earth might that happen to someone who recommends Lyndon Larouche and Deir Yassin Remembered? How strange. Indeed, only an “Israeli propagandist” could object to someone who employs racist websites in defence of his arguments.

Thanks again, Bob B, for illustrating the problem on the left with antisemitism.

if you don’t stay on your toes it’s not easy to separate the diamond from the dog turds

Pathetic. It’s not at all difficult to identify antisemitic websites. And here, for further evidence, we have Bob B saying nothing more than “what about the Jews!” in a post about IHH and Hamas.

I’d like to see you giving such a break to someone linking to a BNP website in a debate about immigration.

You wouldn’t, would you?

You wouldn’t, would you?

No but, then, I’m not sure there are many people who don’t know the BNP while if I was to throw this keyboard out the window the chances of striking someone who’d heard of LaRouche are slim. I was collared by a friend the other day, asking if an article they’d found on alternative med. had any substance. It turned out they’d somehow found themselves on Rense. Well, Christ, I just accepted their claim that they’d never heard of him but should I move to disassociate myself from them immediately?

Well, Christ, I just accepted their claim that they’d never heard of him but should I move to disassociate myself from them immediately?

If it was a one-off innocent mistake, of course not.

With Bob B, on the evidence of this thread and the last, it most certainly isn’t.

And we are expected to accept without criticism of Israel -which would be antisemitic – that continued occupation of Palestinian lands, the continuing extension of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestine lands and the treatment of Arab Israelis are utterly irrelevant considerations in the sentiments of Palestinians.

As for humanitarian conditions in Gaza, try the facts:

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Israeli PM Ehud Olmert he is deeply concerned about humanitarian conditions in the blockaded Gaza Strip.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7737243.stm

New York – More than 80 per cent of Gaza Strip’s inhabitants still depend on humanitarian aid while their conditions have not improved since the relief flotilla fiasco in May, a United Nations official said Tuesday.

John Ging, director of operations of the UN relief agency in the Middle East, described the situation for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians as ‘hopeful and realistic,’ but refrained from showing too much optimism.
http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1602548.php/UN-Gaza-Strip-s-humanitarian-conditions-remain-bleak

@57 “Thanks again, Bob B, for illustrating the problem on the left with antisemitism.”

Anything, any personal smear to avoid discussing the substantive issues.

Btw as you’ve evidently not noticed, I’ve posted often enough that I regard the right-wing v left-wing divide as meaningless twaddle fit only for infantile lovers of football. At various elections I’ve voted Conservative, Labour, Liberal, Liberal-Democrat and Social Democrat. So much for being “left-wing”.

@55

Not starving, but plenty are malnourished.

Do you have any evidence that IHH have actively assisted Hamas in inflicting misery on the Palestinian people, beyond freeing up resources or vague accusations of “promoting” them? Or is working with the government, in any capacity, whatever the objective objectionable in itself as far as you’re concerned?

or vague accusations of “promoting” them?

Yawn. What is “vague” about this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfspWxexQ-M

Amongst other evidence on this thread (there’s much more on the web, try Googling ‘IHH’ and ‘Hamas’).

Idiot.

More comments on Israel and Gaza:

Avi Shlaim: How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine

Gerald Kaufman MP in the House of Commons: Israeli acting like Nazis in Gaza
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGuYjt6CP8

Anything, any personal smear to avoid discussing the substantive issues.

Having said all that above, Bob, the substantive issue here is pro-Palestinian activism, not the actions of Israel or its citizens.

@65: “Having said all that above, Bob, the substantive issue here is pro-Palestinian activism, not the actions of Israel or its citizens.”

I thought that even the most dense would have appreciated that Palestinian activism would likely be motivated by how Israel and Israelis acted and that criticism applied to Palestinians and Muslims – such as their treatment of women folk – could also apply to at least some Israelis too, according to reports in the Israeli press.

As is par for the course in this eternal debate, it’s one set of standards and values for Israelis and another set for Palestinians and Muslims: Palestinian and Muslim atrocities are evil – but Israeli atrocities are justified or covered up and Palestinians are expected to forget all about the maasacres at Deir Yassin in 1948 or Qibya in 1953.

Anyone remarking on the blatant, persistent double standards is instantly dubbed as antisemetic. Plus ca change . .

Ask yourself why it never gets invited to Progressive London type conferences, and why its activities have been met with death threats?

This is a very good point.

But then I stopped paying attention ages ago to speakers who generally get invited to Progressive London to speak on foreign policy issues.

@67 who are you quoting? It could be anyone. It doesn’t make for easy reading or referencing.

66 Bob B

The correct response to any given contentious issue involving criticism of a particular belief set (whether involving Palestine or anywhere else) is not “Yes, but how about those [insert name of opposing group here], and isn’t this a monstrous double standard”. If the OP had been attacking an Israeli or Jewish organisation, it wouldn’t be any more relevant to hi-jack the discussion into an atavistic clawing over the embers about historical anti-semitism, Arab massacres, and how some Muslims deny the Holocaust.

Nobody here has posted in support of “justifyng or covering up” the Israeli atrocities you refer to. It isn’t anti-semitic to bring them up and discuss them, although it is hardly germane to the specific argument. It is however unarguable that anti-semitic comentators frequently use such diversionary tactics, just as extremists in the opposing camp would bring up what they consider countervailing examples of crimes against Jews.

Your constant harping on about there being a double standard doesn’t get any more convincing for the constant repetition, or indeed for the screeds of links to a myriad of external sources you post supporting your argument. It no more supports your case about inherent bias towards the Palestinians than, for example, oldandrew’s insistance that there was bias and a double standard operative against the Catholic church, whether on this site specifically or more generally.

70. Cynical/Realist?

@16 oh crap – I open that link quite excited just to have Tony Blair’s mug urging me to work for peace.

Seriously though, I completly agree with the post – we should work with organisations working to promote peace rather than war. I have my doubts Tony Blair qualifies though.

If you are going to rally to the cause of the Palestinian people you are going to have Hamas as an ally whether you like it or not. This doesn’t mean you should support them however, it just means you will be awkwardly standing shoulder to shoulder with them. In much the same vein as MLK had Malcolm X and the black panthers as his fellow travellers in the civil rights movement, they were hardly peaceful utopians now were they?

The trick of course is in getting Israel to want to deal with the peaceful end of the Palestinian movement, but it appears as though successive Israeli governments have prefered to focus on Hamas and the violence that they inevitably bring to the exclusion of everyone else.

71 cylux

“If you are going to rally to the cause of the Palestinian people you are going to have Hamas as an ally whether you like it or not. This doesn’t mean you should support them however, it just means you will be awkwardly standing shoulder to shoulder with them.”

I don’t think “ally” is the right word is it? It’s one thing to be in favour of some of the same outcomes, but it’s quite another to view Hamas as an ally. I know history is full of examples of e.g. alliances with Stalin to defeat Hitler, and speaking to terrorists to bring about peace in Ireland and other places….. but I don’t think you can see Hamas in the same light given their aims and actions.

If Hamas are prepared to “do a Sinn Feinn” perhaps things would be different, but where is the evidence that they are?

@72 Fellow travellers then? Either way if you’re going to support the Palestinian struggle they are going to be there beside you. I doubt that Hamas could “do a Sinn Feinn” because Hamas is both the political party and terrorist organisation at the same time, Sinn Feinn was not the IRA, even if only ostensibly.

Ultimately, Hamas is a response, it’s popularity only increases among the Palestinians after repeated failure on the parts of the peaceful negotiating section of the struggle and Israeli strikes on their people. The real problem is how do you work toward Palestinian freedom without any and all gains being co-opted by Hamas. In much the same vein as the Iranian revolution allowed the current theocratic regime to seize power for itself and turn on all it’s former allies/fellow travellers.

73

I think many (especially those more versed in Northern Ireland than I) would disagree with your understanding of the IRA/Sinn Feinn relationship. You don’t have to be a raving DUP supporter to think that the two organisations were more or less the military and the political wings of the same movement.

However unappealing many in the UK found Sinn Feinn, there was in the end a way out, but it involved sacrifices on both sides. Whether Hamas (or indeed Israel) are willing to do the same is a moot point at present. An organisation with a track record like that of Hamas is going to have change a hell of a lot before most people would want to see them as allies, fellow travellers, or “people they could do business with”.

@63

Again I ask, do you have any evidence beyond IHH rhetoric in speeches that IHH have ACTIVELY ASSISTED in repressing anybody or given material support that wasn’t humanitarian? Or do you find declarations of support and working with the Hamas government in any capacity objectionable to the extent you would exclude yourself from efforts to help malnourished children with which IHH were involved?

@67

I don’t think One Voice Movement is particularly relevant to this post because, as far as I can see after briefly browsing their website, they don’t provide any kind of material aid to the Palestinians. It’s a citizenship campaign rather than an aid campaign, encouraging Palestinians and Israelis to engage with each other in a civil manner and abandon extremist view points.

Whilst this is a very laudable objective it doesn’t address the blockade, the injustices that lead to its creation, or the problems caused by it. Although One Voice’s citizenship programs might theoretically (and hopefully) result in grassroots Israelis and Palestinians pushing their respective governments to abandon their objectionable policies at some distant point in the future this is hardly a solution to the injustices occurring now or an alternative to delivering the goods Gaza is being denied.

@74 How precisely do you propose to stop Hamas from fighting for the Palestinians? The argument I’ve put forward is that regardless of your feelings your objectives will converge on this point, I have not actually advocated for actively working with Hamas.
I used the example of the civil rights movement, MLK’s position was one of “If you don’t want to deal with me, you’ll have to deal with them”. In this instance Hamas is the “them”, and Israel’s governments are all too keen to make sure that it is Hamas that they are “dealing with”.

77. flyingrodent

Oh God, yes, this is exactly what we need – more calls to disassociate after a decade of deeply insincere calls to disassociate.

After all, since it’s now apparent that the peace process is a bad joke; that the Israelis intend to sieze as much land as they can grasp, regardless of the consequences for the region, with 100% US-endorsed impunity, and that it will continue to imprison and immiserate one and a half million human beings in pursuit of that goal, forever if necessary…

…In that situation, let’s not forget that the most important thing is that somebody, somewhere, said something nice about terrorists.

Honestly, how many times are people going to fall for this? “Let’s have a really bitter, fractious discussion about how ‘the Left’ love murder and racism while the world continues to turn in complete indifference, LOL”. when was the last time you saw, say, a bunch of Tories fretting about what small-minded, reactionary twats they are? Answer – you’ve never seen it. I wonder why?

You don’t need to be columbo to work out why some folk would rather we spent more time talking about what pricks we are than the actual, ongoing travesty that is Israel/Palestine.

…when was the last time you saw, say, a bunch of Tories fretting about what small-minded, reactionary twats they are? Answer – you’ve never seen it.

In fairness, FR, such people are tossers.

77

“You don’t need to be columbo to work out why some folk would rather we spent more time talking about what pricks we are than the actual, ongoing travesty that is Israel/Palestine”

Or indeed to wonder why it is that some people uncritically swallow the concept that a deeply sinister force known as “some folk” are pulling the strings that make us all dance. I blame SMERSH myself….

@69: “The correct response to any given contentious issue involving criticism of a particular belief set (whether involving Palestine or anywhere else) is not ‘Yes, but how about those [insert name of opposing group here], and isn’t this a monstrous double standard’.”

We need to be often reminded of the persisting double standards applied to the massacres and war crimes perpetrated by Israel and its agents versus the deplorable atrocities instigated by the evil Palestinians.

One set of rules for Israel and another for the rest of us but then some Israelies evidently believe that they are entitled to Palestinian land by divine covenment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irIXIy6hNc8

It’s always challenging to contest divine covenants.

80 Bob B

It may never be possible to reconcile extremists on either side who insist they have a God given right to the land, or to ownership of Jerusalem… thankfully we no longer have to contend with Christians insisting that the Holy Land ought to belong to them.

Not all Israelis are religious, but given the history of the area and the current population, the only plausible solution in the end is likely to be a two state one; nobody thought ot thinks it is going to be easy bringing the two sides to the table, and sorting out the details.

Shoe-horning constant reminders into every discussion on your hobby horse that a double standard operates in relation to Palestinian and Israeli culpability is not only unhelpful, it’s not relevant to the issue under discussion.

@81: “Not all Israelis are religious, but given the history of the area and the current population, the only plausible solution in the end is likely to be a two state one”

But according to this report, the Board of Deputies of British Jews has voted to reject the two-state solution for the Palestine conflict:

“the Board of Deputies of British Jews voted down a resolution declaring support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same meeting the Board also affirmed that, ‘in particular’, it stood completely ‘behind the courageous stand of the present government as formulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu.’ A petition has been raised making the point that a majority of the Jewish community in Britain is in favour of a two-state solution and therefore urging the Board to reconsider its decision. ”
http://jfjfp.com/

83. flyingrodent

Or indeed to wonder why it is that some people uncritically swallow the concept that a deeply sinister force known as “some folk” are pulling the strings…

Stay classy, geezer.

readers, take note that the mere suggestion that there are people on the internet who make dishonest arguments in favour of the Israeli standpoint is tantamount to suggesting that the planet is ruled by a seret cabal of Hebrew space lizards. Not the argument of an enlightened truth-seeker, I think.

And you do have to ask, when will the calls to dissasoiate end? when sites like Lib con become 24/7 condemnathons, 100% committed to sniffing out pro-terrorist lefty treachery? when Hamas are rubbed out and the new Palestinian Gandhi Foundation takes power, will the denuncathons end then?

No sir, they will not. come that day, you’ll still be ticked off for standing next to someone who doesn’t visit his granny often enough, or some bloke who doesn’t recycle. This stuff will end on the day that absolutely everyone agrees that the Israeli government can do whatever it likes with its guns and bombs without having to answer a lot of impertinent questions.

This being the case, a more productive line of inquiry might be to ask why, exactly, that is.

82 Bob B

You are rather making my point for me, as you have posted this piece of information before.

In any case it doesn’t actually “prove” anything, other than the fact that the Board of Deputies is both out of touch with reality, and hardly representative of the general mood of most Jews in the UK, never mind general non-Jewish public opinion in the UK relating to a two state solution.

As your own post shows, horrified Jews in the UK are trying to get them to change their minds.

83 flyingrodent

It’s not a matter of “staying classy” buddy.

I happen to agree with much of the criticism of Israeli policy, and the failure of the US and others to reign them in. However, in any analysis of such a horribly complex issue, pandering to the belief that there is some “plot” to perpetuate the current situation generates a hell of a lot more heat than light. You and I both know there are plenty of crazies out there who do fall for a good overblown conspiracy theory, however specious.

I’m not saying you are one of them, and apologies if you feel I misrepresented your earlier post… but “some folks” really do believe that kind of thing.

Ah well, there you go. I warned you what would happen if you suggested that working hand in glove with Hamas allies might be a bad idea.

The answer, apparently, is its a good idea. Only Mossad stooges would suggest otherwise.

87. Just Visiting

If I recall correctly – the last Aid Flotilla from Turkey, delivered stuff that then stood around unused for some weeks…. The Gaza regime/ Hamas didn’t actually let it straight in anyway.

It wasn’t actually anything needed urgently anyway….

Wonder if anyone recalls that too – or has links for it?

“If I recall correctly”
Probably not.

http://www.onevoicemovement.org.
Went there and first thing I see is Tony Blair’s pic. Hmmm. Give that a miss then.

How about working more with some of the Christian organisations working in the area? I’m not religious myself but I believe the following do amazing work:
Pax Christi: http://www.paxchristi.org.uk/Wall.HTML
Christian Peacemaker Teams: http://www.cpt.org/work/palestine
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) http://www.eappi.org/
And the various groups working with EAPPI, include the inevitable Quakers.

You don’t have to be a fan of hard line religious views to condemn human rights violations of a people- even if they happen to be religious. To protest about suffering in Ghaza is to side with Hamas government on this issue, but that’s because its the right issue to make common ground on.

If we recognise that international human rights violations are taking place in relation to peoples whose government and principles we may condemn, then it is right to condemn the violations whether or not we agree with the government of those peoples on other issues.

If working with such groups make your views plain on issues which you disagree with at an appropriate time.

91. Just Visiting

Hi Skidmarx

Did you research that – to reach your conclusion?

What did you find when you dug deeper behind the URls on wikipedia:

According to Israeli and Palestinian sources, Hamas refused to allow the humanitarian aid into Gaza until Israeli authorities released all flotilla detainees and allowed building materials, which are thought to make up 8,000 of the 10,000 tons of the goods, to reach them.[51][193][194] Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said, “We are not seeking to fill our (bellies), we are looking to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.”[195]

On 17 June 2010, Palestinian authorities accepted the delivery of the cargo under UN supervision and coordination.[196] However, Israel stated it “will not transfer to Gaza the weapons and military equipment it had found aboard the Mavi Marmara.”[170]

Firstly, I’m very happy that there’s been so many comments. My goal, to be frank, was to raise the issue in a provocative way because I think it’s worth discussing. You can disagree with my position, respectfully please, and I will do my best to respect yours. Having no crystal ball, I can’t say if the alliance is worth the risk or not; I just know that I’m emotionally and philosophically troubled by it. If you’re not, more power to you. I also avoided saying IHH and Hamas are inherently wrong or that Israel shouldn’t be talking to both groups: my point was that our association with these groups is problematic in that it may impede our ability to work with and within Israel, and may antagonize Western governments opposed to these groups who may respond by limiting our effectiveness. At the end of the day, the goal is to find tactics that help the Palestinian people. We may not be doing that, and it could be argued after decades of failure, there may have been better strategies.

I’ll respond to a couple of specific points:

Mr. M: “Does this mean MLK and Gandhi and their followers no longer count as peace activists because they “provoked” the violent forces oppressing them?”

The great MLK, are far as I know, never subscribed to the sort of hateful ideology that can be found in the Hamas charter, not did he condone the anti-Semitic vile promoted by Hamas’s religious leaders and media outlets. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,553724,00.html

As for Gandhi, there’s a big difference between burning one’s ID card and promoting civil disobedience, versus sailing directly into the path of an established naval blockade. There’s also a difference between the British forces, which were generally law-abiding as opposed to the IDF which has maintained a well-known policy since the days of Ben-Gurion and Dayan of overwhelming force and reprisals. Yes, another flotilla clash will make headlines; but is it the best strategy to achieve Palestinian autonomy?

Ben Six: “I’m not sure the entire pro-Palestinian movement is great big group hug for Hamas.”
I agree. There are diverse opinions both within and without. The problem at the moment, IMHO, is the failure of the Third Way to establish itself as a credible voice for the Palestinians. It goes without saying, Israel, Fatah and Hamas are equally responsible for silencing politicians that have advocated for compromise and reconciliation. But I do think there’s more we can do to help promote these voices of peace. And the fact that Fatah and Hamas are at each others throats is proof that the Palestinians themselves are divided on tactics and ideology.

Erica Blair: I was offering the information to fellow Canadians that may not have been aware of Watkins presence. I thought it was interesting. I still do. I don’t see how that’s “whitewashing.” If you have a tweet of mine in which I say “Ken Watkins presence on the Turkel Report means it’s legit” then please post it here. As for Evan F. Kohlmann, I appreciate your warning. I was simply asking a question. Your ‘answer’ is as legitimate as any other I’ve seen. Although I agree that his motives are questionable, the original source on IHH activities appears to be entirely authentic: Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard. “Requisitoire Definitifaux aux Fins de Non-Lieu. De Non-Lieu partiel. De Requalification. De Renvoi devant le Tribunal Correctionnel, de mantien sous Controle Judiciaiare et de maintien en Detention.” Cour D’Appel de Paris; Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris. No. Parquet: P96 253 3901.2. Page 112.

DW


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