Monday, 30 November 2015

Bella's mistaken claim of 'truth' on Syria

Bella Caledonia has published an article by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, asking: What is to be done about Syria?

In an introductory tweet, Bella's editor announces the piece as "the truth about Syria". As a large number of comments on the article suggest, it's nothing of the kind.

The Bella editor is challenged on exactly why the site is playing host to such war narrative. His response to one such comment:
I’m confused about your outrage Kevin? It would be good to hear the basis of it? As the author writes: “The debate now is driven by fear and optics alone. The flawed logic guiding the rush to action might deliver some telegenic victories, but will certainly make things worse in the longer run.”
Bella, presumably, sees this as a statement of 'war aversion'. Yet, consider what the author says in his preceding lines:
But if global inaction after the August 2013 chemical massacre in Syria yielded a disaster—at the time of the attacks, 30 months into the conflict, close to a hundred thousand people had been killed; in the next 30 months, the number of the dead would treble—action now is unlikely to make things better. The action being considered in 2013 at least had the merit of good faith.
The strong inference here is that military "inaction" in 2013 was a serious mistake, leading to greater deaths. We're asked to believe that the action being considered by Cameron and Obama was initiated in "good faith". And we're also expected to accept without question the 'certainty' of Assad's responsibility for these attacks.

Whatever one's views on such issues, these lines should be enough to indicate the author's own real war agenda. Indeed, the very title of the piece plays immediately to liberal war sensitivities.

The author asks us to blame Assad for the rise of Isis, ignoring the West's key role. He won't countenance the possibility that bombing in 2013 would have led to even more deaths. The death count is all attributed to Assad. His 'reticence' about the rush to action now, as opposed to 2013, is because this one isn't specifically about bombing Assad. It's also contradicted by his actual prescription at the end of the piece for deeper militarist involvement:
This can be ensured either through the imposition of a no-bombing zone across Syria or by giving shoulder-fired MANPADs to the Syrian rebels.
This military aid, we're to presume, is for Cameron's proclaimed '70,000 moderate rebels' still ready to fight Assad. Robert Fisk thinks otherwise. Instead, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad takes the "indispensable Charles Lister" as an 'authoritative' voice on such matters. Writing at the right-wing Spectator, Lister also laments: "Had the West more definitively intervened in Syria early on, we would undoubtedly have more moderate, more cohesive and more natural ally-material opposition to work with." A Visiting Fellow at the conservative Brookings Doha Center, Senior Consultant to The Shaikh Group, and once leading figure at IHS Janes’ “Terrorism and Insurgency Center”, Lister is part of an establishment  'think tank' circle posing as objective scholars, what Glenn Greenwald exposes as "the sham 'terrorism expert' industry". 

Readers of the Bella article may rightfully ask why an author upholding such figures and 'military solutions' ever got commissioned by its editors.

In defending this, the Bella editor tweets that many of those commenting below the article are being "incredibly naïve about Assad."

Whatever the truth of Assad's own conduct in this conflict, that's a pretty patronising remark. Another Bella response appears to use the author's academic status as a seeming rebuke to those who have 'no such understanding' of the issues. The article is further lauded by Bella as being "a more nuanced view" of the conflict.

Alas, this is so much Guardian-type posturing.

The more urgent and direct question here should be: what is to be done about the West?

As Chomsky so often asserts, we should be doing all we actively can to challenge, expose and resist the mendacious actions of our own states and governments. Pilger makes the same essential point in asking us to see the West's dark record of aggressions over Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. That kind of opposition is, in itself, an act of humanitarian intervention in support of already war-afflicted Syrians.

Sites like Bella should be on emergency footing right now, standing with Stop the War and other such voices in helping to resist the war parties. It should be shining the most damning light on Nato's militarism, alongside the West's support for Saudi and other repressive regimes in inflaming this conflict. As copious links provided in the comments section show, the West's and their Gulf proxies' leading part in the disastrous attempt at regime change in Syria is all too obvious. 

Rather than invite the kind of militarist line being laundered and spun in this piece, Bella should be urgently promoting decisive commentary against war propaganda and more weaponry. Otherwise, what does Bella fashion itself as? A purveyor of Guardian-type war editorials and tortured call-to-war mitigations?

The war media are in full drive, joined, as ever, by liberal White Man's Burden appeals for dutiful intervention. Indeed, the first two paragraphs of this Bella article look like something straight out of a Guardian leader. "After Paris, Syria can no longer be ignored", announces the author. Shouldn't a supposedly critical, left-leaning site like Bella be asking more incisive questions about the role of the French state and their allies in all of this? Here's 10 key truths for a start.

The author of this piece, and his Pulse Media site, proclaim 'pro-uprising', 'people-defending' motives, while positioning themselves around the 'necessary intervention' argument. It would be facile to label them neo-cons. Yet, they employ a more insidious war-speak, using false emotionalism as a spur to 'external involvement'. As with Libya, they peddled this very line in 2013 over the proposed UK/US action against Syria, claiming: "An externally imposed solution is less egregious than dooming Syria to prolonged war." Any resistant voices, such as Stop the War, who have argued otherwise, who see the repeated folly of more bombs and militarism, are denounced for their "left infantilism." So much for 'nuanced analysis'.

That's essentially, what Bella has given a platform to here. I don't know whether that's down to 'naivety', or the site's own attempt at 'nuance', but it certainly suggests an absence of critical recognition and assertive activism.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Liberal war media let rip over Paris, IS and 'defence of civilization'

Doesn't the heart surge to hear crusading Western liberals warn of the 'existential threat' from Islamic State, and the call for 'dutiful military responses'? And all in the name of 'our civilizational values'. 
Some, like arch-neocon Douglas Murray peddle their ultra-zealous message with undisguised hostility for Islam. Others, like Paul Mason, try to dress-up the case for Western militarism in more faux left tones, warning, again, about that looming 'threat to our civilization'.

And there's always Jonathan Freedland's cloying pitch for the war agenda. His latest is an invocation of the "grey zone" (read, liberal comfort zone) of 'civilized coexistence', while lamenting the West's "inaction" and 'lost opportunity' to attack Syria in 2013.
It's all too typical of the Guardian. In the immediate hours after the Paris attacks, reactionary views on the need for civil clampdowns and revenge bombing filled the airwaves. In contrast, we now belatedly learn, the Guardian spiked any critical comment suggesting that the attacks might be causally linked to Western aggressions in the Middle East. 
At least we have the 'resolute impartiality' of the BBC to rely on. Or that, presumably, is how we're expected to understand the monologue rantings of This Week's Andrew Neil, almost quivering with hubris as he invoked the greats of French philosophical thought, in his lambasting of IS as 'Islamist scumbags'.
Missing from Neil's list of French greats and achievements was Frantz Fanon, (born on the French colony of Martinique, 1925). If only that fine voice of resistance to decades of French oppression in Algeria was here today surveying France's ongoing colonialist interventions and the tragic fallout of IS violence. 
In taking apart the myth of BBC leftism, Mehdi Hasan notes how Neil's Thatcherite presence has loomed large over the corporation for decades now. As David Edwards records, Neil also stated on his Daily Politics show in 2005: “We went to Iraq to make it a better place.”
Yet, this warmongering right-winger has been roundly commended for his This Week performance, not only by 'classic liberals' and Tories like Toby Young and Dan Hodges, but by a chorus of  'celebrity liberals', from Richard Dawkins to Stephen Fry to Piers Morgan.

Thankfully, writer Bea Campbell provided some rational objection to Neil's crude invocation of Enlightenment figures. But doesn't it say so much about the poverty of intellectual thought these days that ideological carpetbaggers like Neil can command this kind of applause and adulation for wallowing in such bathos?

And with the default media and political rush to embrace 'France', the reactionary liberal finds even safer platforms to wage more 'civilized war'.      
In "How to be a Western liberal in an age of terror", Stephen Daisley, STV's digital political correspondent, pours forth in another such rant:
What we need as keenly as military might is civilisational confidence. [...]It’s time to get a little less dainty and a lot less squeamish. We are already deploying drones and extra-judicial killing; we should be prepared to extend the use of these techniques where necessary. As we eliminate the hard infrastructure of Islamism, we will need to target its softer furnishings: Hate preachers and inciters should face deportation or the loss of British nationality, as applicable. Intelligence gathering and policing will become more intensive and at times intrusive but we must take care to cabin this to counter-terrorism. There will be difficult decisions on how we go about identifying suspects, how long we may detain them, and the conduct of interrogations. None of these are easy questions; some make me very uncomfortable. We are fortunate to be rich and privileged and alive. We don’t get to be innocent too. [Emphasis added.]
Here speaks the voice of the 'liberal hawk'. That's not an oxymoron, just a fair reading of how people like Daisley profess their 'Western civilized values' through a chest-beating desire for 'moral vengeance' and more illegal murder.
One can only presume that STV know Daisley is peddling such virulence on an STV site.
Daisley is also, unsurprisingly, a dedicated apologist for Israel's mass crimes, and a vanguard liberal voice on the 'perilous dangers' of Jeremy Corbyn's 'anti-Semitic associations'.
If nothing else, it all helps dispel the facile notion of the 'objective journalist', as so often peddled by news organisations.
Just don't try saying anything truly challenging of such media or the establishment power structure. Amid all the live correspondence from Paris, which BBC or other 'objective' reporter would dare raise the truths of France's and the West's dark culpabilities in creating the space for IS to emerge?  

In an act of true, independent journalism, Glenn Greenwald has alerted us to the case of reporter Elise Labott, suspended by CNN for sending an innocuous tweet about US refusal to admit refugees fleeing the conflict. As Greenwald documents, many more journalists have met similar career fates for daring to editorialise with words and sentiments decidedly 'off-message' for their corporate employers and political overseers.

One Twitter message summarises it perfectly:          
If you're sympathetic to the weak, it's activist journalism. If you're sympathetic to the powerful, it's objective journalism.
As Greenwald says, "No truer tweet has even been written". 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

France's state violence - 10 key truths behind attacks on Paris

No illumination of France's monumental crimes
There's been widespread sadness and sympathy over the terrible killings in Paris. All very human and commendable. 

But, as Jonathan Cook asks, why the selective coverage, outrage and empathy? Were those innocents blown up a day before in Beirut by the, apparently, same Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) not worthy of the same humanity, the same demonstrations of global support?

Those calling attention to the disparity are reminded that Beirut was 'widely covered', and that, anyway, 'rather than blame the media', we 'more naturally' incline to tragedies 'closer to home', and stories of 'unusuality'. Yet not only did such coverage constitute a tiny fraction of that on Paris, the massive focus on the latter showed how the whole weight of our emotional response gets packaged around reassuring notions of the 'more noble society', and a media-lavished iconography of 'our higher identity'. Is it really believable that we're not deeply influenced and directed by such establishment-serving coverage?      
Grief as solidarity can mean simple human regard. It can convey basic rejection of brutal killers and their inhuman ideology. But it can also blur who and what we stand together with. Shocked Parisians? Of course. Grieving families? Certainly. The French state and François Hollande's government? That's quite a different matter.       
For, as Glenn Greenwald documents, emotional exploitation of the Paris atrocity cannot hide the deep complicity of Western states and their Gulf allies in giving rise to ISIS. And a key part of that disastrous agenda involves France and Hollande.

In embracing the tricolour, La Marseillaise and Eiffel Tower peace avatars, it's worth thinking about what kind of 'France' people may be supporting, the extent of French state killing in foreign lands, and how it has failed to protect its own citizens.   
#1 Key truth  France has played a criminal role in the destabilisation of Syria, Iraq and the wider region. As John Pilger puts it, "ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington, London and Paris who, in conspiring to destroy Iraq, Syria and Libya, committed an epic crime against humanity." Nafeez Ahmed's penetrating story How the West Created the Islamic State is vital reading here.
#2 Awkward truth  As a consequence of that Frankenstein scenario, France has joined the US in its belated bombing of ISIS. The response we've seen in Paris should come as no surprise. Perversely, while bombing ISIS in Iraq, France consciously refrained from targeting ISIS/al-Nusra in Syria, viewing it as a valued part of the effort to oust Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Now, notes Nafeez Ahmed, France's "reactionary declaration of war [sees it fall] into the ideological trap laid by ISIS." 
#3 Background truth  France's leading part in the Nato assault on Libya, alongside neo-colonial interventions in Mali and West Africa, has created enormous carnage, hostility and other sources of ISIS-style 'blowback'. Nicolas Sarkozy also has much to answer for.   
#4 Dark truth  France is deeply embedded with the dictator kingdom Saudi Arabia, a key creator and sponsor of ISIS. Hollande's recent $12 billion arms deal with Riyadh denotes France's latest muscular presence in the Middle East. While massively profiting from this state-corporate bonanza, France is filling the region with even more armaments, and feeding further instability. Despite criticisms from human rights groups, France also backs the brutal Saudi bombing of Yemen. Is it fine for France to help bomb and murder on these streets, while condemning guns and bombs on the streets of Paris?  
#5 Hushed truth  Turkey, a key French/Nato ally, has been a vital conduit and facilitator of ISIS terror, all part of its strategy to remove Assad and contain Kurdish separatists. Turkey has also been assisting ISIS in black market oil running, providing vital finance for the kind of operations we've seen in Paris. Why hasn't France been condemning Turkey?
#6 Home truth  France's treatment of its Muslim population has been oppressive, discriminatory and racist. This is the real 'égalité' of so many poor and alienated Muslims, allowing a volatile social base for ISIS recruitment and violence. Growing state hostility and suspicion towards Muslims in France, being sold as 'necessary checks on extremism', is making social relations even more precarious.   
 #7 Alarming truth  France has been pushing for more powers, harsher clampdowns on civil liberties, and deeper surveillance of citizens. Some are calling it a descent into authoritarianism, with the seeming approval of many French citizens. The whole 'Je Suis Charlie' hypocrisy should be seen in this light. As Nafeez Ahmed warns, "France’s new state of emergency grants the government extraordinary powers that effectively put an end to democratic accountability, and give law-enforcement and security agencies unaccountable authority to run amok." So much for cherished notions of 'liberté'. 
#8 Shameful truth  France has been drawn deeper into Israel's aggressive positioning over Syria, Iran and its wider geopolitical arc. Backing Saudi Arabia, and lobbied by Israel, France opposed the recent international nuclear deal with Iran, pitching it as even more hawkish than the US. Rather than assist growing efforts for their indictment over war crimes, France has openly welcomed Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. Besides Israel, France is now the only country in the world that bans, prosecutes and jails supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

#9 Selective truth  France has denounced Vladimir Putin's intervention in Syria, yet asks us to believe its own "we are at war" bombing of ISIS in Raqqa is legitimate. And, notes Mehdi Hasan, while it's seemingly acceptable to say Russia's bombing in Syria has "incited" extremist retaliation, it's not apparently appropriate to suggest the same about France's bombing of Syria. Nor will you hear much of the French/Western media amplify Putin's claim that ISIS is being funded by 40 countries, including G20 states.  

#10 Moral truth  France's state elite and service media, like Western others, proclaim noble ideals of 'fraternité', yet offer no broader concern or generosity for those bombed and murdered elsewhere. Where's the real 'universalisme'? As Cook asserts, if we really wish to see ourselves as 'civilised', the dead in Beirut, Gaza/West Bank and other suffering places should be "equally deserving of our compassion". True moral concern and solidarity can't just depend on 'Je Suis' sentiment, however sincere, and denouncing ISIS. It also means standing in resolute opposition to dark state actions, questioning propaganda media, and rejecting the exploitative call for more deadly and futile bombing.  

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

JK Rowling and friends protecting Israel through fantasy story of 'coexistence' and 'hilltop engagement'

As Israel continues its murderous purges across the West Bank and Jerusalem, alongside its brutal siege of Gaza, there's no shortage of zealots defending such wickedness. Just consider Hillary Clinton's latest right-wing pledge of support, and rant against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, for one.

The core cause of the 'conflict' and reason for Palestinian resistance shouldn't even be up for debate. What part of the words 'illegal occupation', a reasonable person might ask, are so hard to understand?

But if that level of fanatical entrenchment and denial seems inexplicable, what about those seemingly more 'liberal' voices calling for 'engagement' with Israel in the name of 'peace' and 'coexistence?

recent letter at the Guardian from JK Rowling, Simon Schama, Hilary Mantel, Melvyn Bragg and other artist figures rejects the case for BDS, urging, instead, a 'Culture for Coexistence'.

Responding to a 
statement showing more than 600 (now over 1000) artists saying "we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel", Culture for Coexistence insist that, whatever the issues behind the "conflict", the need for "interaction" and "dialogue" must prevail.

It's a typical liberal Zionist pitch. But with particular insidious effect, coming from a popular figure like Rowling, providing another line of respectability for Israel's crimes.

Rowling is deeply mistaken in lending her name to Culture for Coexistence. Others within the group seem even more suspect. One only need look at the Israel-supporting links and backgrounds of some of the signatories to see where their real motives lie. But in opting to take such a public stance, Rowling invites similar critical challenge.

She and her associates are protecting Israel by peddling a fantasy land narrative, a state of make believe, in which, after decades of ethnic cleansing, enforced exile, continued occupation, refugee camps, mass killing, siege containment, settlement expansion and apartheid discrimination, we're still expected to buy the fiction that Israel is remotely interested in discussion, a 'peace process', the idea of basic human justice.

Such people help sustain a mythical world of 'bridge-building' and 'peace tables'. It all seems so noble and well-meaning. Yet it gives enormous cover to the oppressor, legitimising Israel's violent founding, its stolen lands, its 'need for security', while characterising the Palestinians as some enduring 'problem' and 'terror' entity.

In the letter,
Rowling and her co-signatories claim that:
Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace.
It's a facile line. In a passionate and devastating response to Rowling, a young Palestinian, Mia Oudeh, using her own love of the Harry Potter characters as illustration, calls it "a ridiculous sentence". Pointing to the massive divergence of power between Israel and Palestinians, she states:
[Israel] is a settler-colonial state which operates on the apartheid of an indigenous people and has broken international law and UN resolutions every single day since its existence. The practices Israel enforces in its culture and every day functioning are in themselves divisive and discriminatory. No cultural engagement between Palestinians and Israelis will ever build bridges, because...there are no two sides.
Noting how "the fourth largest army in the world, receiving $10.2 million daily in US military aid", is facing Palestinians with paltry rocks, she asks: 
How can we, as Palestinians, sit and conduct peaceful dialogue with Israelis, as equal sides, both to blame for a “conflict” [given such an] uneven distribution of power?...Israel and Palestine are not two sides, but the oppressor and the oppressed.
For Mia:
[Boycott] is the only logical way that this madness will stop. We have spoken until our tongues have dried out – dialogue is a method that has gone stale. We need action and that action is BDS until Israel recognises international law, like every country on this planet should. 
Amongst many other fine responses to the Culture for Coexistence letter, Farhana Sheik also captures the essential point: 
But the effect of their call for dialogue is to create a soothing soundtrack to just such a record of brutality. “Dialogue” and “cooperation” are lovely words, but they are often disingenuously used by propagandists for Israel, to suggest a way forward that Israel’s own actions are responsible for blocking.
In a subsequent response, taking issue with the theme 'talking wouldn't stop the Wizarding War', Rowling acknowledges Palestinian suffering, yet still hopes 'both sides' will "come to the hilltop" and engage:
The Palestinian community has suffered untold injustice and brutality. I want to see the Israeli government held to account for that injustice and brutality. Boycotting Israel on every possible front has its allure. It satisfies the human urge to do something, anything, in the face of horrific human suffering. What sits uncomfortably with me is that severing contact with Israel’s cultural and academic community means refusing to engage with some of the Israelis who are most pro-Palestinian, and most critical of Israel’s government.
PACBI’s Cultural Boycott Guidelines reject, on principle, boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, or religion) or opinion, and does not boycott Israeli individuals – cultural workers, academics or otherwise. BDS does not entail, as you say, 'severing contact with Israel’s cultural and academic community' nor 'refusing to engage with some of the Israelis who are…most critical of Israel’s government,' quite the contrary.
As Ben White shows, in a comprehensive rebuttal of wider anti-BDS arguments, PACBI target only those individuals and institutions seen to be openly supporting, endorsing or promoting Israel. White documents how Israel's universities are a particularly entrenched part of the occupation and military repression of Palestinians. For example:
The University of Haifa has “trained hundreds of senior officers in the Israeli Defence Forces” through “a special programme of graduate studies in national security and strategic studies.” Bar Ilan University offers teaching certificate scholarships to “outstanding fighters”, in order to harness their values “for the benefit of Israel's next generation.”Ben-Gurion University offered a special grant for each day of service to students who went on reserve duty during the ‘Operation Cast Lead’ assault on Gaza. Israeli universities similarly offered enthusiastic support for the ‘Operation Protective Edge’ offensive of 2014. Hebrew University, meanwhile, has a joint programme with the Ministry of Defense for students heading to the army’s R&D units, who live in a special base located on campus.
In its relentless efforts to court artists and performers, Brand Israel is also a core part of the state whitewash. Against this, a growing list of artists, from Elvis Costello to Alice Walker to Roger Waters, have refused to perform in, or engage with, Israel. Waters has been particularly assertive in asking other artists to join the boycott. In response to Dionne Warwick's castigation of his stance, Waters wrote:    
I believe you mean well, Ms. Warwick, but you are showing yourself to be profoundly ignorant of what has happened in Palestine since 1947, and I am sorry but you are wrong, art does know boundaries. In fact, it is an absolute responsibility of artists to stand up for human rights – social, political and religious – on behalf of all our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed, whoever and wherever they may be on the surface of this small planet.
It's hard to believe that Rowling could be so ignorant, or unable to see what true empathy and support for suffering Palestinians entails. But there's always room for learning and humble realisation. In a wonderfully compassionate letter, Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, asked singer Alicia Keys to cancel a Tel Aviv concert, saying:
a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own. Under a campaign named ‘Brand Israel’, Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place. This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil.
Why won't Rowling and her friends relate that vital story? Why don't they listen to Palestinian civil society, which is urging the world to boycott Israel
BDS was also given tremendous momentum by Stephen Hawking's refusal to attend Shimon Peres's 'peace' conference. In contrast, PACBI say, public figures like Rowling are effectively assisting normalization:
These projects provide a false symmetry between the oppressor and oppressed, which only serves to empower the oppressor, and contribute to perpetuating and normalizing oppression.  In addition, they have often played into the hands of persistent Israeli official propaganda, especially its well oiled, but so-far futile, 'Brand Israel' campaign which serves to mask Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
Citing a story run by media outlet Breitbart UK - an "unadulterated mouthpiece for right-wing ideology" - Rowling talks in emotion-tugging tones about not wanting to boycott Israel's 'vital services' to medical science. Again, one might usefully refer here to one of Ben White's rebuttals:
Did the fact that the first ever human heart transplant took place in 1967 in Apartheid South Africa absolve that country’s regime of its crimes – or invalidate the boycott? Contributions to technological or cultural progress cannot exonerate a persistently criminal state from accountability.    
Like Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian, and other liberal Zionists, Rowling tries to tell us a comforting story of Israel's 'basic decency', that it's somehow 'got lost', and how they are helping to 'save' it by deploring the 'bad guy Netanyahu' and his government. But Netanyahu and Likud are only part of the problem. The central issue is the occupation itself, an oppression maintained by every successive Israeli leader, supported by all the mainstream 'opposition', with the whole weight of the Zionist state.

Many of these same 'peace' figures are keen to portray themselves as 'friends of Palestinians', not just Israel. Yet their positions are every bit as bad, and arguably worse, than more seemingly fanatical Zionists; their mitigations only helping to shroud the wicked actions of the Israeli state even more.

They serve to mystify the issue, confusing what is, in essence, a very simple choice: to support the oppressed or the oppressor, the occupied or the occupier, the bombed or the bombers, the legal or the illegal.

They also help perpetuate a Western/Orientalist view of the imagined 'peace table', with the US sitting at its head as 'benign, neutral arbiter', rather than Israel's direct sponsor, while Israel gets to define what can ever be on the 'peace menu'. For all the 'deep concern' of such two-state liberals, the Palestinians are still treated as some hopeful beggar seeking crumbs from Israel's loaded table.

Implicit here is the appeal for Palestinian 'compromise', the possibility of 'resolution' if only Palestinians would learn to know their place, not to expect an end to their colonisation, to accept that Israel itself can never be subverted, that Israel's 'security' is, somehow, paramount, that Jewish rights to stolen land will always stand above any Palestinian right of return.

As Hanan Ashrawi
the Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.
This is the state such 'peace' adherents are defending, the 'two-sides' distortion all part of the welcome hasbara fantasy of Israel's 'fundamental goodness', its 'readiness to engage'. As with those who maintained cultural links with South Africa, they are on the wrong side of history.

Meanwhile, we see the actual facts on the ground, the real story: intensified occupation, the pain of Gaza and Israel on the rampage; a state murdering Palestinians with impunity, a deeply-militarised, vigilante-minded society, its citizens urged on by its political leaders to carry guns, its army and police standing casually aside as settlers shoot down Palestinians in the street. What kind of 'civilized state', a self-proclaimed 'democracy', would demolish an entire family's home because one of the family had carried out an attack?

As with courageous Palestinian resistance on the streets of Nablus, Hebron and Jerusalem, intolerance to citizen action is not confined to Israel. In France, pro-boycott protest is now banned, with convicted BDS activists facing jail. So much for 'Je Suis freedom'. As French BDS say:
For any citizen with a conscience who is mindful of the rights and the dignity of peoples, to promote BDS is not only a right but a moral duty.
All of which confirms the growing need to resist not just reactionary authority but the liberal story-tellers churning out more 'peace-pulp'. Palestinians haven't just read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, they've lived it. Beyond the tall tales of Israel's 'engagement', the faux morality play of liberal 'coexistence' and 'dialogue', Palestinians know the reality of suffering. It's their own 'daily text'. Those of real conscience should know, help spread and show appropriate solidarity with that authentic and continuing story.