The Green Party has allowed its International List email discussion forum to be overrun by arguments about Israel. Its moderators make no distinction between those who initiate antisemitic campaigning about Israel and those who attempt to address this. Some members interested in other international issues have abandoned the List as a lost cause, and others are nearing that point.
A recent measured response from Toby Green, reproduced with permission, gives some indication of the state we’re in:
You are going a long way to proving that some Jews can indeed be anti-semitic, just as the French novelist Irene Nemirovsky was.
The key is the elision between the “holocaust” and the “run up to the holocaust” which XXXX makes. There is a world of difference between the programme of extermination of the Nazis in which 6 million people died and the current situation in Palestine. By saying “and anyway, who cares?”, XXXX clearly – and deliberately – seeks to insult those who do care. In the debate about YYYY’s comments on the Discussion List, ZZZZ acknowledged that equating Jews and Nazis can indeed be anti-semitic. This is widely acknowledged in the mainstream, if not in the more extreme anti-zionist circles. XXXX clearly has no such qualms.
Nor does she have any qualms about facts, since, as mentioned, there is a world of difference between gas chambers and the current suffering of Palestinians. Gas chambers were, thus far in history, unique. Sadly, the daily sufferings of the Palestinians are far from unique, as the indigenous peoples of Colombia, the Karen of Burma, and many others know to their cost, not to mention the 4 million people who have died in Congo since 1997 as a result of wars to procure coltan so we can continue having these ridiculous electronic slanging matches (that’s right – 4 million).
Curiously, although XXXX, and others who share her bent, accuse Israel and Jews who do not support the boycott and vilification of Israel of promoting the exceptionalism of Jewish suffering as opposed to all others, it is actually they who promote the exceptionalism of the Jewish state – I am interested and protest about suffering in all places around the world, am actively involved in human rights movements and development activities in Latin America and West Africa, whereas it is quite clear that XXXX has no interest in anywhere on earth except for Israel/Palestine – this is probably why she erroneously believes that the situation there is uniquely bad, which leads her to make false accusations and to abusing those who care about maintaining historically accurate pictures of the holocaust. It is not a unique situation: it is just one of many examples of what human beings can do to one another in the wrong circumstances.
But the worst aspect of all is that this indication of her beliefs (“and anyway, who cares?”) shows that she has no real interest in seeing peaceful resolution of the conflict in Palestine and Israel, which is disgusting. Anyone who knows anything about the history of this region knows that we have to care about the holocaust and the nakhba if we are to make progress. We have to care about the Nakhba and its historical memory because of the suffering it caused and the feelings it arouses. And we have to care about the holocaust and what it meant to people since most Israelis grew up on streets with holocaust survivors and the reality of that event has clearly had a determining impact on their sense of embattlement, fear of the other, and consequent policies. Thus resolving the situation in Palestine means coming to terms with this psychological process, and engaging with it – not not caring about it. Just as resolving it also means understanding the Nakhba, and what it means to Palestinians. We have to engage with both. But XXXX’s simplistic view of the world and of history means that this is irrelevant to her, just so long as she can feel she’s on the right side.
Sadly, it seems that tokenism is too powerful an attraction to have to deal with the real moral dilemmas and conflicts which history and the nature of being human require us to confront. What a shame. And this in a Green Party which, when I joined, I believed had a more sophisticated grasp of the complexities of being alive.