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Of Socialist “Unity” and “Solidarity”

This is a guest post by E

George Orwell defined Doublethink as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.”

Glancing over the pages of Socialist Unity today, I couldn’t help but think of this very definition.

Yesterday, May 14, was the anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, in 1948. If you are Israeli, it is a day of jubilation (although it is celebrated according to the Jewish calendar, which varies from the Gregorian calendar). If you are Palestinian, it is your day of Nakba (“disaster”). And apparently if you are a socialist, it is the day in which began All That is Wrong in the World.

This is how the front page of Socialist Unity looks today:

You will notice that the red title bar has been changed to green, a caption in Arabic has been added reading “Solidarity with Palestinians for peace and justice”, and a Palestinian flag with the caption “Remembering al-Nakba” has been placed on the site’s right-side. And on the front page there are currently four posts from the past several days dealing with Israel/Palestine.

What struck me wasn’t the fact that Socialist Unity chose to commemorate the Nakba. There’s no denying that Israel’s creating has been catastrophic for the Palestinian national movement, and from their perspective they rightly view Israel’s creation and the results of the 1948 war as a disaster. SU and far-leftists in general are well known for their support for the Palestinians, so it only makes sense for them to hold the same view, and they are certainly within their right to express it.

So that’s not what bothers me. Even taking into consideration the one-sidedness of their position and their complete ignorance of any pro-Israeli argument or suffering throughout this conflict, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. What does strike me, however, is how selective Socialist Unity is in selecting the causes it champions, and the blatant hypocrisy in which this support manifests itself.

For example, Socialist Unity, or any other far-left site for that matter, has never commemorated in such a manner the Armenian Genocide, the genocide in Rwanda, or the killing fields in Cambodia; it has never put up a Kurdish flag to commemorate the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey during WWI or their gassing by Sadam Hussein in 1990; nor has it ever altered the blog’s title bar to read “solidarity with Darfur for peace and justice” to protest the atrocities there. With the Armenians, Rwandans, Cambodians, Kurds and Darfuris – all of whom have suffered several times in magnitude than the Nakba – there is no unity. For them there is no solidarity.

But really, why travel decades back or halfway around the world? All ones needs do is compare SU’s treatment of the Palestinian issue with something happening these very days in a land not-so-far-away: Syria.

Recent reports put the death toll of the Syrian conflict at 80,000, the majority of which are civilian, with some estimates going up even to 120,000. Nearly 1.5 million Syrians have become refugees, and similar numbers are displaced internally in Syria. Alawite pro-government militias are carrying out acts of ethnic cleansing to create an all-Alawaite zone in western Syria, and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah is deepening its involvement in the conflict. More people have been killed and displaced in Syria in two years than during the entire history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And yet, when it comes to Syria, socialists in general and Socialist Unity in particular seem to have their head in the sand (not to speak of other places…). Posts on the subjects are few and far between, and usually range from a mild condemnation of both sides and a call for an end to hostilities (while keeping Assad in power, of course), to outright support for the Assad regime.

John Wight, a well-known anti-Israel campaigner and one of SU’s main editors has publicly declared his support for Assad:

Who’s neutral? I’m with Assad and the Syrian people against a Saudi and Qatari armed insurgency, supported by the West, comprising religious zealots and obscurantists engaged in barbarism.

Wight is also a leading activist in the Scottish Palestinian Solidary Campaign, one of the most extremist and vehemently anti-Israeli outfits in the UK today, which frequently fails to distinguish between being anti-Israeli and being anti-Jewish. Aside from his support for Assad, Wight has written several pieces on SU decrying “outside intervention” in Syria. Naturally this opposition is only limited to Western intervention. Oddly enough, when it comes to Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah involvement, Wight has nothing to say on the matter.

Moreover, when it comes to Syria and Assad, even “solidarity with the Palestinians for peace and justice” takes a back seat. In late 2012, Syrian army forces shelled the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on several occasions, killing scores. One would expect that an organization named the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (or its Scottish counterpart) would scream at the top of its lungs against such an atrocity. And yet, there was barely a protest, let alone condemnation of Assad or his Iranian masters. The same goes for Socialist Unity, which was utterly silent. It seems that when it comes to certain matters, even solidarity with the Palestinians goes only so far.

I’m sure that some of the editors and readers of Socialist Unity will go to bed tonight confident in the virtuousness and self-righteousness of their “solidarity” and arm-chair “resistance”. They should realize, however, that such displays of one-sided nationalism – while completely ignoring the other side, forgetting about every other conflict in the world, and even forgetting about their own namesake when it suits them – don’t make them right or righteous.

It just makes them hypocrites.

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