“A nuanced view of the Middle East shouldn’t be the rare virtue it apparently is”

This is a guest post by St Jude

Via John Rentoul, comes the Jewish Journal cover story from Tom Doran, who writes for The Independent and HuffPo UK:

“I wish I could provide you with a dramatic conversion story (I almost said Damascene, before remembering St. Paul’s thoughts on the Jews), in which a single incident suddenly made me realize the error of my ways and become the supporter of Israel I’m proud to be today. Real life is always rather messier. It was more a gradual process of self-education in which I steadily came to appreciate the discrepancies between reality and the dogma around me.”

The account of his journey from a default post-1967 leftist narrative on Israel and Palestine, to a nuanced and constructive approach, is frustrating. But not because of anything he has or has not done on the way. Quite the opposite. Rather, it lays bare the failure of those with less intellectual curiosity and open mindedness to reach a similar pass, where they could be contributing to solutions rather than just co-opting the conflict into their own structures and activity.

It is difficult to pick out Doran’s best line. Though as Rentoul writes, the last is a masterpiece. However, as somebody who has spent great patches of time directly introducing those on the left to the complexity of Israel’s position, this ordinary couplet leapt out:

“My initial overreaction caused me to question my own motives. Was I really giving Israel a fair hearing?”.

There are many ways that the various anti-Israel organisations undermine themselves. Not least is their demonisation of Israel and Israelis. They have spent years infecting the left with a constant drip of claims that Israel is an all-powerful, genocidal dystopia. Then when someone on the left finally engages with the country and its people directly, the contrast between the propaganda and that reality creates an understanding and empathy that is more concrete than might have otherwise been expected.

A failure to recognise this is just one of the ways in which Palestine solidarity campaigns are exposed as being not really about Palestinians, not really about solidarity, and not really campaigns.

Share this article.