Whatever the Left’s hatred of Israel is about, it can have little to do with territorial claims, for the Palestinians have already been offered, several times, all that the Left demand. In 2000 at the Barak/Arafat/Clinton talks, the Palestinian leadership rejected 97 per cent of the Occupied Territories, plus most of the old city of Jerusalem, as well as US $30 billion dollars in compensation payments for refugees.
Back in the 1920s, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini rejected entirely the 1917 Balfour Declaration that the Jews be given a tiny homeland in Palestine, believing, as Alan Dershowitz writes in The Case for Israel, that it would “violate Islamic law for even one inch of Palestine to be controlled by Jews”. Not only did he reject the notion of a Jewish state, but even the presence of any Jews in an Arab-controlled state. The Grand Mufti would go on to plead with Adolf Hitler to extend the ‘Final Solution’ to Jews in Palestine.
1937 brought the publication of the Peel Report which proposed the partitioning of Palestine. The Jews would receive a slither of land snaking through the north of what is now Israel, ten to fifteen miles wide in most places, stretching from just south of the city of Jaffa (but not including Jaffa) to just north of the Sea of Galilee. The overwhelming majority of the land would be an Arab state. Again, not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership.
As recently as 2008 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a peace deal that would have given the Palestinians virtually all the land that they demanded.
Given that Israel can seemingly offer the Palestinians nothing that is acceptable to them, short of auto-genocide, what is it that the Left demands? The unanswerableness of this question implies that the Zionist-hating elements of the British Left are not motivated by any realistic political goals. Rather, it suggests that for them Israel performs some psychological function. Perhaps the Jewish state gives them a thrilling licence to hate unconditionally, a hate for which there is no other ‘acceptable’ outlet. Or maybe they just need to luxuriate in a warm feeling of smug moral superiority. Or is it that they are projecting their own left-wing ethnic self-loathing onto somebody else, freed for a moment from their own self-appointed status as western ‘oppressor’. Or maybe they just hate Jews.
The flip-side of the Left’s rage against Israel/the Jews is a need, equal and opposite in its ardour, to prostrate itself before Muslim sensibilities. Labour’s recent anti-Semitic travails bear testament to this. But the nastiness of Naz Shah and the idiocy of Ken Livingstone are but an ugly extreme of a long, tapered surrender of the moral high-ground by the Left. Consider (non-anti-Semite) Peter Tatchell’s decision to dedicate an Honorary Fellowship to Palestinians, who have been “subjected to decades of Israeli occupation”. The same Palestinians who in 2006 voted in their masses for a party that wants to kill all homosexuals. Or feminist Laurie Penny dismissing “white men” who express concern about women’s rights in Muslim nations as being Islamophobic, noting that, “Horror stories about Muslim misogyny have long been used by western patriarchs to justify imperialism abroad and sexism at home”. Penny instead raises concerns about “structural sexism” in shops.
For a sizeable minority of the modern, identity-obsessed Left, Islam trumps all else in the irreproachability-stakes. As a result, Jews are on a hiding to nothing. Tatchell’s and Penny’s lifestyles and views are despised by vast swathes of the Muslim population. Genuflecting before the mind-sets of people who vote for Hamas or arrange gender-segregated events in universities sums up western liberals’ suicidal attitudes when it comes to placating the un-placatable. That this servile attitude has found its way into one of our two great political parties is deeply worrying.
It is not ignoble to support the Palestinian cause. I am sure that if I were Palestinian I would feel aggrieved by my lot in life, let down as I would have been by my own leaders, and by the impositions foisted upon me by foreign leaders. And it is also true that there is a ‘football scarf’ element to much of the pontificating on the Middle-East, with those on the Left and Right flaunting their respective unconditional backings of the Palestinians and of Israel as political identifiers. But this does not detract from the fact that something truly appalling is making itself visible within elements of the Left: the raw hatred of an entire people. The far left, with Jeremy Corbyn to the fore, is reaping what it has clumsily sown.
(Image: Garry Knight)