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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Silence of the Left

Four legs good, two legs bad

Henry McDonald

To all my friends "On The Blanket", a happy, peaceful (maybe) and progressive New Year.

In a certain Sunday newspaper from last weekend (December 29th) that I dare not mention there is a telling photograph which Mr Brian Kelly should check out. It depicts three bare breasted lesbians marching along a street in Tel Aviv. The picture was taken during the only gay pride march to take place in the Middle East last year. Emblazoned in Hebrew across the Israeli's lesbians' nipples are slogans denouncing the Israeli Defence Forces' occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. When I saw this image, I wondered what would happen if women across the Arab dictatorships and the wider Islamic world attempted something similar. The answer of course is obvious: at the very least they would be jailed; at worst and more likely they would be killed. In Israel at least there is an opposition to the policies of the present government. Human rights organisations such as B'tselem and Peace Now stand up against the brutalities of Occupation. Intellectuals from Amos Oz to David Grossman challenge the national consensus and call for a Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza. Where are their equivalents in the Arab and Islamic world calling for recognition of the State of Israel (pre 1967 border) or toleration of the Jewish people? Any that do are either dead or in exile.

I mention this startling picture because it seems to me that Mr Kelly's denunciation/presentation of my article in The Observer recently was not only deliberately misleading but the epitome of the muddled thinking that afflicts the Irish ultra left regarding international issues. For the record once again, my Obs column was not an apologia for Ariel Sharon and his cronies. Unlike Mr Kelly I have long standing experience of working in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon where I spent ten years on and off reporting on Israel's occupation. Having been on the receiving end of Israeli firepower and having witnessed at first hand their heavy handed, often at times gratuitous, use of military superiority in the region, I can well appreciate the outrage generated by what the IDF gets up to on the West Bank and Gaza. However to make ludicrous, ahistorical and frankly deeply insulting analogies to the Warsaw Ghetto is an act of total intellectual dishonesty.

When I read Mr Kelly's tirade I was reminded of the sheep in Animal Farm, who bleat out "Four legs good, two legs bad." Those in the so-called "anti-imperialist left" have a rather simplistic two-dimensional approach to complex problems in the world, but particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict. "Palestinians good, Israelis bad" they bleat with no appreciation of the venality, stupidity and downright "anti-semitism" (call it anti-Jewish bigotry if you want) that is prevalent throughout the Palestinian Authority.

What Mr Kelly did not tell you was that the Irish ultra in conjunction with their counterparts in Britain and most of Europe do not recognise Israel's right to exist under any form, pre or post 1967 - a year by the way in which four Arab armies unilaterally attacked the Jewish state with the aim of wiping it off the face of the earth. Anyone who has studied or reported on the conflict knows there is only one solution: two states. Alternatives such as the old canard advocated by Isaac Deutscher in the 1960s of a Socialist Middle are as chimerical as a mirage in the Negev desert.

Moreover, what the left has failed to confront, due in large to the guilt of post-colonialism, is the fundamental fascistic nature of extreme Islamism, a growing phenomena not only in the Occupied Territories but also throughout the Arab and Muslim world. It is an ideology that denies women, gay men and lesbians basic human rights. It preaches hate crime against other religions notably the Jews. It rejects the Enlightenment. It threatens the freedom of the individual. It stifles intellectual curiousity and discourse. Of course there are fanatics and bigots at the edges of the Jewish community in Israel, particularly on the settlements. Amos Oz had the courage after the murderer Baruch Goldstein slaughtered scores of Muslim worshippers in Hebron to denounce this tendency as "Hisbollah in a skullcap." Why does the left-allies of the PA remain silent over the overt anti-semitism and eliminationist tendencies of the Islamists?

Yours sincerely, Henry McDonald, Ireland Editor, The Observer.

PS. The views expressed above are those of myself alone.





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Index: Current Articles

2 January 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


From Pig to Man and Man to Pig
Tommy Gorman


Up the IRB, Down the Amazon

Seaghán Ó Murchú Gem of Exploitation
Liam O Ruairc


The Tyranny of Christmas
Anthony McIntyre


Eat, Drink, Be Merry
Brendan O'Neill


The Silence of the Left
Henry McDonald


When the Falls & Shankill Marched As One
Davy Carlin


19 December 2002


Take It With A Pinch Of Salt
Tom Luby


Victory 2016 plus 40 - Remember to Read the Small Print

Anthony McIntyre


The Men of No Property
Liam O Ruairc


Relatives of Republican Prisoners
Orlaith Dillion


Dirty Politics
Carrie Twomey


Henry McDonald, “Irish Anti-Semitism” and the Zionist Roadshow
Brian Kelly


Arrests in London of Turkish Hunger Strike supporters




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