The Ineffectuality Of Pro-Palestinian Activism
Some days ago I attended the London Review Bookshop for a discussion event about This Is Not A Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature, which consisted of a collection of essays, poems and stories from some of the world's most distinguished artists in celebration of the Festival’s (PalFest) tenth anniversary. After the guest speakers— Jeremy Harding, Ahdaf Soueif, Rachel Holmes, and Bashir Abu-Manneh — had expressed some heartfelt viewpoints including the assertion that the Palestinians had many friends in the world, the floor was opened for questions from the audience. One of the points almost immediately raised by an insightful individual was the fact that despite all their efforts and support, the “friends of the Palestinian people” had so far failed to make any substantial progress towards alleviating the insufferable torment that Palestine's indigenous population had to endure on a daily basis.
Though the ensuing discussion was avid and informed, the real cause of ineffectual pro-Palestinian activism was not mentioned. There was an apparent omission of the obvious fact that while actively supporting the Palestinian cause may assuage those of us with a conscience, it did little to influence the collective conscience of Western political and religious leaders — the people actually involved in the national policy making process — who remained steadfastly subservient in their devotion to Apartheid Israel whose barbaric mistreatment of Palestinians was irrefutably tantamount to vile crimes against humanity. There is for example nothing to be gained from hundreds of thousands of British people taking to the streets in protest against Israeli violations with impunity of international law so long as they have a government whose Prime Minister in her address before the Conservative Friends of Israel unashamedly uttered the following unadulterated codswallop:
“We have, in Israel, a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages . . . It is only when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions and sexualities are free and equal in the eyes of the law . . . It is only when you meet our partners in eradicating modern slavery – one of the main reasons I visited in 2014 – that you see a country committed to tackling some of the world’s most heinous practices.”
While Israel’s historic subversion of Western democracy had been clearly evident to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, those in the mainstream media who supposedly championed the five core principles of ethical journalism — Truth and Accuracy, Independence, Fairness and Impartiality, Humanity, and Accountability — had left it to Al-Jazeera to investigate how the Israeli government was in the midst of a brazen covert campaign to shape Britain’s foreign policy and influence its perception of Israel.
During a six-month investigation, undercover reporter Robin (an alias), met with members of Britain's lobby network which enjoyed strong Israeli government support by way of the Israeli embassy in London. Robin had posed as a graduate activist strongly sympathetic towards Israel who was keen to assist in combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which was prominent and gaining ground in Britain.
Al-Jazeera’s four-part series The Lobby (available online and a must-see for anyone interested in the illusionary concept of British democracy) makes it significantly evident that the main objective of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) — and other pro-Israel groups in the UK working with the Israeli embassy — was to smear pro-Palestinian activists and organisations with charges of anti-Semitism and other equally villainous claims that deliberately created crises for political ends. Despite such revelations of blatant Israeli interference in Britain’s “democratic process,” the British government failed to even venture a token protest.
Consequently, compared to the well organised and abundantly financed global network of pro-Israel lobby groups, pro-Palestinian activists are strictly amateurs who have remained on the periphery of political influence and persuasion. Wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and carrying protest placards is no match for the Jewish lobby blackmail, bribery, and bullying to which members of parliament are relentlessly subjected. In order for pro-Palestinian activists to become effective, they must also make their presence felt in the corridors of power, and not just on the streets. The importance of this fact was was made evident in the recent General Election when — despite Jewish lobby vilification of Jeremy Corbyn and accusations of anti-Semitism within the ranks of the Labour Party — defiant segments of the British electorate chose to deprive Teresa May of her parliamentary majority: a possible sign that some British people are getting fed up with being silenced and deprived of their democratic rights by constant accusations of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Even the tactic of boycott and sanctions which ended Apartheid in South Africa has not been totally successful against Israel because many Western governments — at the instigation of zealous pro-Israel lobby groups — have enacted anti-BDS legislation with the Canada having passed a motion to condemn “any and all attempts” to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel both at home and abroad. The motion called on the government to condemn attempts by Canadian organisations, groups, and individuals to promote the BDS movement, claiming it “promotes the demonisation and delegitimisation” of Israel. Prime Minister Justine Trudeau — another Western leader who regularly brown-noses Israel’s Apartheid derrière — added that “the BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses.”
The General Election setback suffered by Teresa May and her Conservative Party can serve as an example for pro-Palestinian activists who — like the all-powerful Jewish lobby — must also make the importance of their presence and opinions known not only at the ballot box, but by also monitoring the performance of their elected representatives and regularly emailing them to ensure that Britain’s national interests and British citizen rights are prioritised over those of an Apartheid regime guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. It is also of paramount importance for civilised and humane societies to recognise that the iniquity of allowing the Palestinian people to be sacrificed as compensation for the Jewish Holocaust, must unconditionally come to an end.