Israel

Are Guardian columnist Owen Jones’ views on Israel and Hamas shaped by “racism = prejudice + power”?

This is a cross-post by Adam Levick from UK Media Watch

Jeremy Corbyn supporter Owen Jones took to the pages of the Guardian on Friday to argue that the UK is complicit in the killing of Palestinian civilians by the IDF by virtue of the country’s arms sales to Israel and, in so doing, provided a good example of the convoluted moral logic used by the radical left to obfuscate Hamas’s role in perpetuating the conflict.

Though most of his op-ed focuses on UK ties to Riyadh in light of a recent Saudi-led coalition airstrike that hit a bus in Yemen’s Houthi rebel-held north, killing 29 children, he weaves in Israel by the fifth paragraph:

Consider another horror unfolding with direct western involvement. On Wednesday night a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter were killed in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike. It is being framed as a conflict between Hamas and Israel, as though an equivalence can be drawn between an open-air prison camp and a regional military superpower. Every death – Palestinian or Israeli – is a tragedy, every attack on a civilian by either Hamas or Israel indefensible. Yet, the human rights NGO B’Tselem reports, 9,456 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces – with western complicity – in the past 18 years, compared with 1,237 Israeli security force personnel and civilians killed by Palestinians. Of the Palestinian fatalities, 2,025 were children. Other estimates put the Palestinian death toll over the same period at up to 9,730. It is perverse to suggest this “conflict” is anything other than overwhelmingly one-sided. And yet as the slaughter continues, British arms sales to Israel are at a record high.

First, Jones erases the context of the attack which resulted in the deaths of two Palestinians by failing to note the Hamas rockets fired at Israeli communities that precipitated the latest round of violence. He also omits the inconvenient fact that thousands of such attacks occurred after Israel withdrew every last Jew from the coastal enclave – terror visited upon Israeli communities in the Gaza envelope which necessitated Israel’s (legal) blockade of weaponry to the proscribed extremist movement.

Moreover, Jones’ immediate rush to judgment regarding the deaths of the Palestinian mother and her child mirrors similar accusations he made regarding Israeli “massacres of children” before all the facts were in.  In 2012, on BBC’s Question Time, he leveled such a charge in relation to the death in Gaza of 11-month old Omar Mishrawi, son of a BBC journalist, and never apologised when a UN report concluded that a Hamas rocket was likely to blame for the boy’s death.

However, what’s especially worth exploring is the peculiar moral logic Jones uses in suggesting that the mere fact that more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed in the history of the conflict suggests that the former are more deserving of our sympathy than the latter.  Such reasoning could of course just as easily be used to root for the Taliban due to the disproportionate death toll during the course of the US-led war in Afghanistan.  Such facile thinking also obscures the fact that the failure of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups to kill more Israelis certainty isn’t due to a lack of will.  Hamas’s desire to annihilate Israel and murder as many Jews as possible is made clear in their founding antisemitic charter (which has never been revoked) and in the words of their leaders, and is only stymied by the determined efforts of the IDF to prevent such an outcome.

But, there’s also subtext in Jones’ argument that evokes the argument increasingly popular within far-left circles, suggesting that we only need to concern ourselves with the bigotry expressed by those in positions of power over others – a definition of racismas “prejudice plus power”

Do read the rest of Adam’s post here

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