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Ben White at War on Want

This guest post by Jonathan Sacerdoti will also be posted at Oy Va Goy

What does Ben White think about the 85% reduction in terrorist attacks in Israel since the security fence was built?

Firstly, he thinks that is a loaded question, because it requires him to perfunctorily acknowledge that it’s good that so many innocent people aren’t being killed any more by terror attacks. But his biggest concern is that the fence is ‘illegal’ even if it is saving lives on a scale like no other step taken in the Middle East.

I learnt this on Thursday night from an event run by the charity War on Want, where White was plugging his new anti Israel book (which is brim full of lies and misquotations). He didn’t have much to say about the illegality of people blowing themselves up in crowded bars, though. And presumably, if he wants the fence taken down, he’s made a value judgment that the ‘illegality’ of the fence is worse than the brutal and evil intentional killing of Israeli civilians that it prevents.
At the event, I asked White what other suggestions he might have for reducing so drastically the number of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in discotheques, pizza restaurants and buses, seeing as he was so against the fence. But he didn’t have any suggestions. He did seem pretty sure, however, that all efforts Israel has made to protect its people have been totally wrong.

Operation Cast Lead was carried out in January of this year in response to a sustained, several year long barrage of missiles launched from the Gaza strip into Southern Israeli towns. But White and War on Want say that was definitely wrong, even though it reduced the frequency of subsequent attacks on Israeli civilians, and attracted praise for the IDF from former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp, who said that “the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of [Palestinian] civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”. Kemp commanded British troops in Afghanistan, and was a senior advisor on Army Issues to the British government.

Even Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza was somehow wrong, according to White, because it was what he calls a “tactical” move. He suggested it was no more than a photo opportunity for the world to see Israel in a more favourable light. He didn’t have much to say about the Palestinian ‘tactic’ of using this enormous effort for peace on Israel’s part as an opportunity to increase rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, rather than to build a solid foundation for a thriving and peaceful state.
When it came to efforts to encourage the strengthening of the Palestinian people through economic means, as championed by Tony Blair and Binyamin Netanyahu, White was certain that this too was wrong: it is no more than an effort to keep Palestinians employed on a low wage, and busy, so that they might forget their real cause (how patronising….).

Ultimately, the problem with White and War on Want’s approach is that it seems to be motivated more by hatred of the Jewish state of Israel than anything else. They quickly and totally reject any effort Israel makes—be it literal disengagement and movement of thousands of Israelis, encouraging economic growth for the Palestinians, the physical protection of a fence, or even military action. Conversely, they never mention Hamas and its declared genocidal aims, the years of terrorist attacks and peace initiatives rejected by the Palestinians, or the lack of a meaningful and powerful Palestinian partner for negotiation.

White is an absurd excuse for a commentator. He has no desire to consider the complex and sensitive political, religious and security facts of the Middle East. He is unashamedly one-sided, sanctimonious, and often inaccurate. One audience member asked him how he hoped anyone would take him seriously when he didn’t once acknowledge any error or wrongdoing on the part of the Palestinians (of which, of course, there are many).

White and his groupies in the audience suggested it was because we hear so much from the Israeli perspective already, and so little from that of the Palestinians: “Palestinians don’t control the press” one blurted out from the back of the room. And I think we all knew what she meant by that.

UPDATE

Also read Eric Lee:

Earlier, I had noticed several officers of the Metropolitan Police present and overheard a conversation between them and War on Want staffers in which Hoffman’s name came up.

Hoffman himself stood outside the building, quietly and peacefully handing out a flyer refuting the case made by White in his book.

In my experience on the Left, you don’t normally call the police except in the most extreme circumstances, and to be honest, a short middle-aged Jewish man handing out flyers hardly constituted the kind of threat that would have motivated me to dial 999.

But when you grieve over the suffering — the genuine suffering, I might add — of the Palestinians, but feel nothing in your heart for the suffering of the Jews; when every mention of the Israelis is entirely negative, portraying them as monsters — you are not longer a critic and instead have become a bigot

There was no mention of terrorism, of suicide bombers, of the Holocaust, of Jewish refugees, of centuries of anti-Semitism — none of this exists, or is worthy of note.

All that there is — is the Palestinians and their suffering.

Most of those in the audience who came to criticize and to speak out were somewhat too strident for my tastes. (Yes, I was one of the more respectful and courteous critics. Hard to believe, I know.)

I would not have tried to shout down the speakers, nor interrupt, nor heckle. As I told someone afterwards, that’s the sort of thing we do at meetings of the BNP. War on Want is not the BNP.

But as I think back over what was said, and not said, I begin to wonder if the approach of people like Hoffman and those who did their best to disrupt the meeting last night isn’t in fact the correct one.

Maybe it’s time to take off the kid gloves and take on these liars and hypocrites, calling them what they are — anti-Semites.

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