Theater of the Palestine Solidarity Movement

(Spectator-UK) Alex Ryvchin - In Galway, Ireland, they stood huddled in the corner of the lecture theater whispering ominously. Then the leader surged forward, arms flailing, voice bellowing, clad in the colors of Palestine. Professor Alan Johnson, a respected political theorist and one of British Labour's most astute thinkers, stoically continued his address. He presented his analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unsparing in his criticism of both sides, and stated the progressive case for peace: two states for two peoples. But the protesters weren't there to engage with ideas, or to advance a negotiated, peaceful outcome to the conflict. They were there to "resist." What they were resisting in that lecture theater on the western coast of the Irish Republic is not clear. But there they were. Seething Westerners draped in keffiyehs and kitschy woven Palestine bracelets, the essential uniform of today's fearless "revolutionary." For the Israel-haters, Palestinians are helpless victims, totally without agency and therefore without fault. They exist only as an abstract construct of untarnished innocence, an idealized nation of goatherds and olive farmers. But this deception is only one half of the equation. To complete the resistance fantasy, one must conceive of a villain worth opposing, "the Zionist Jew" - an equally mythical figure, evil beyond redemption. If the traditional racist stereotype of the Jew is greedy, ruthless and cunning, wait till you meet the Zionist. Yet Zionism is no more or less than the secular, national movement of the Jewish people. Like the national movement of the Palestinians, it sees the nation-state as the expression of a people's right to self-determination. Israel has twice traded territory for peace treaties (with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994). It does not aspire to impose the religion of the majority on others. But fighting real Zionism, a people's inalienable right to self-determination, hardly qualifies as the noble struggle about which self-righteous Westerners fantasize. The anti-Israel movement is defined by symbolic acts that change nothing. Adherents celebrate when pro-forma anti-Israel resolutions are driven through hospitable forums and pop stars are intimidated into cancelling their gigs in Tel Aviv. How this improves the life of a single Palestinian has never been established. The writer is the public affairs director for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

2015-11-12 00:00:00

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