Note: In the following guest post Paul de Rooij demolishes the latest propaganda screed from Islamophobic political editor of the New Statesman and all round turd Martin Bright (also see this and this):
The New Statesman used to be a leftie magazine, but it has repositioned itself to be yet another vacuous dubious rag. Some of its left-wing writers have been shed – they are incompatible with the current business plan. For an overview of the magazine’s travails see this article by James Robinson. However, if any proof were needed about the New Statesman’s errant ways, then one only needs to appreciate the magazine’s pro-zionist staff writers who applaud the “war on terror”. BICOM, the zionist hasbara organization in Britain, must be very pleased for having sent Bright on an extended all-paid tour of Israel. The indoctrination paid off and certainly his articles will be featured on BICOM’s website.
Martin Bright’s “The horror comes home” is a rather poor article with contorted logic and with no reference to the relevant context. However, despite the fact that it is a crass propaganda piece with many failings, it might still be useful to analyze it.
As the the [ Sic] dust and white phosphorus settle over Gaza, two questions present themselves immediately. What happens if the rockets fired on southern Israel stop? And what if they continue? If they stop, Israel will feel fully justified in its strategy of a combined air and ground assault on Gaza, which left an estimated 1,300 dead, many of them women and children. If they continue, as appears to be Hamas’s suicidal intention, the Israeli army and air force have already shown what the consequences are likely to be.
So, the Israeli attack is justified and the only question is whether it will be “effective” in stopping the rockets. Unfortunately in Bright’s rush to conclusions he ignores the fact that Hamas sought a negotiated ceasefire which also would lift the siege. Israel reneged on the lifting of the siege and on several occasions violated the ceasefire, culminating in a 4 November attack killing six Palestinian resistance fighters.
It is also true that the Hamas government in Gaza has been utterly reckless with the lives of its citizens. From the outside, the grotesque tally of the dead (over 1,000 versus 13 Israelis) looks hideously unjust. But from inside Israel and Palestine, there is another way of looking at it (and this is bleak, indeed): which side did best in protecting its own people?
The implication is that Hamas is responsible for the killing of its own people. It is a fact that Hamas indicated a willingness to negotiate, and it is well established that it observed its part of the ceasefire bargain fairly well. So, what is reckless about its actions?
Israel will now argue that the neutralisation of Hamas makes the prospects for a genuine peace based on a two-state solution more likely. Perhaps that’s true. It really is impossible to know at this stage.
It is disconcerting to find so many statement like “that is true”. What is so “true” about Israel pummeling Gaza and the likelihood of meaningful negotiations? The fact is that Israel wants to continue its colonial project and this requires the continuous terrorizing of the native population. One only needs to read the statements to this effect by Israel’s principal planners.
But even if you accept, as I do, that Hamas represents a strain of totalitarian Islamist thought akin to fascism, what happened in Gaza cannot be justified. Even if you accept, as I do, that Hamas must be defeated as a military force, this was not the way to go about it. Even if you accept, as I do, that Hamas used women and children as human shields, this does not mean that the terrorist organisation should take the entire blame when Israeli weapons kill innocents.
Bright portrays Hamas as beyond the pale, but even so he is not really in favor of the Israeli attack. However, in a very silly fashion he sets out to demonize Hamas. Hamas is a religious/political movement with a wide following and it was gained recognition after being fairly elected. It is the main Palestinian political force seeking to resist the Israeli colonial project – even by armed means. So, why does Bright state that it has to be “defeated”? And his statement about using women and children as human shields is absurd. All the Palestinians in Gaza are caged in without a means to escape. The population density is one of the highest, and when Israel attacked these areas they knew they would cause many civilian fatalities. All indications are that Israel actually targeted civilian targets. So, what Bright suggests is that Hamas should share part responsibility in the large number of civilian deaths, but this is preposterous.
About the nature of Hamas: Hamas is a religious political movement which arose as a response to the Israeli oppression; it is very much like Hezbollah in Lebanon which also arose for the same reasons. The more brutal the occupation/dispossession, the more extreme any group will become – oppression doesn’t create conditions for a liberal/enlightened group to emerge. Some of the aspects about Hamas Bright seems to condemn are of Israel’s own making.
When I wrote a piece for this magazine last May called “The great betrayal”, intended as a critique of the British left’s attitude to Israel, it turned out to be one of the most controversial articles I had written. It argued that some opposition to the Zionist state on the left was only explicable as anti-Semitism. I described the Israel-Palestine conflict as “a terrible faultline on the British left”. The piece was seen in some quarters as over-sympathetic to Israel, but it contained the following important paragraph: “On the face of it, the answer to my question [Why does the left hate Israel?] is simple. The British left hates Israel because it has abandoned its Enlightenment principles and set about the systematic oppression of a people whose land it occupies. The invasion of southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006 was a new low point that caused international outrage. For most people on the left in Britain, support for Israel is out of the question.” Now there is a new low point. However, before we assume that everyone agrees with the left consensus that Israel is to blame, it’s worth looking at the recent Sunday Times/YouGov poll, which showed that 39 per cent blamed both sides equally and 24 per cent blamed Hamas. Only 18 per cent blamed Israel.
There you have it: anti-semitism… If all else fails to tarnish those opposed to Israel’s depredations, then there must be some anti-semitism lurking in the background. Furthermore, he states that “the left hates Israel because it has abandoned its Enlightenment principles”!! How absurd can Bright get? That is not the reason why Israel is now considered a pariah state, but it is its continuing ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinians, the constant attacks against neighboring countries and the apartheid implemented in what is considered Israel. Israel was never led by “enlightenment principles”!
In Britain, the main consequence of the Gaza War has been to provide a rallying point for the motley alliance of totalitarian sympathisers of the hard left and Islamic radical right. It is not the responsibility of the Israeli government to consider the consequences of their actions on the rise of militant Islam in Britain and Europe. But the dangers are real. The Islamist tendency represented by self-appointed representatives such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain was on the retreat. The Gaza War has given them new life, as shown by their prominence in the recent demonstrations, and across the media.
Most people at the large demonstrations in London and the UK in general came from all walks of life – religious, non-religious, white or Asian… So, Bright’s statement suggesting that the demonstrators are “totalitarian sympathizers” or other silly descriptors are entirely off. In a very crude manner, Bright is merely trying to smear anyone who is vocalizing their opposition to Israel.
The uncomfortable fact is that many of these groups do have a unifying ideology, which is anti-Enlightenment, anti-women, anti-gay and anti-Semitic.
This is islamophobia plain and simple; Bright uses broad brush strokes to smear an entire religion.
I have written widely about the Islamic radical right in Britain and I have always been depressed at the size of the psychological space occupied by the Palestinian struggle in the minds of young British Muslims. It has always seemed peculiar that bright and politically committed members of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community are so particularly concerned with the alleged abuses of the Israeli government. If half the energy expended by the south Asian diaspora in defence of the Palestinians was spent campaigning for justice and political transparency in Pakistan and Bangladesh, then the prospects for reform in those countries would be vastly enhanced.
Are British Muslims obsessed with the Palestinian struggle? Or is it a case that they are outraged by all the attacks against their co-religionaries? Attacks against Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia,… all these have elicited a strong reaction. It is disingenuous for Bright to state that somehow the Palestinian issue receives too much attention.
To return to my original questions: what happens if the Hamas rockets stop? And what happens if they don’t? The awful truth is that either outcome will be used to justify the unjustifiable, whether that is the killing of Israeli innocents by Hamas terrorists in the name of resistance, or the bombing of Palestinian innocents by the Israeli military in the name of national security.
So, once again, Bright is justifying the Israeli attack and suggesting that the entire issue is simply one of Hamas “terrorists” firing their silly rockets. The history of ethnic cleansing, continued dispossession and the continuing siege of Gaza don’t feature at all as an explanation for the Israeli actions and their inherent criminality. It is a fact that Martin Bright doesn’t understand that Israel is a colonial project and by its very nature it entails ethnic cleansing, grand larceny of Palestinian property, and dispossession.
This article by Bright is a remarkably shoddy and crass piece of zionist propaganda. Since he is the “political editor”, this indicates what type of magazine the New Statesman has become… it is trash.