Israel’s ‘withdrawal’ from Gaza…. PR stunt of the century?

It’s a topsy-turvy world. The UK’s political blogosphere is reeling following the death of Shot by Both Sides (SBBS), one of the very few political blogs worth reading. SBBS was rightly incensed that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had complained about Mayor of London Ken Livingstone’s alleged mistreatment of an Evening Standard reporter.

The reporter happens to be Jewish and Ken compared his behaviour with that of a Nazi. That might sound like a harsh comparison but, as the Board of Deputies should know, the Evening Standard is part of a newspaper group that admired Hitler and continues to assault ethnic minorities (e.g. all asylum seekers should be locked up as our schools are swamped, by these diseased terrorists.) In contrast Ken Livingstone has a long and admirable track record of promoting equality for all.

The mayor’s comments should have been dismissed as unwise and nothing more. SBBS responded, ‘Send the Board to the gas chambers, that’s what I say (no, not for their ethnicity; for their fatuous whining. And obviously, the people who complain about Bob Geldof saying “f****” on the telly should be ahead of them in the queue…)’ This too should have been dismissed as unwise – a unfunny joke too far – but instead led to an anonymous someone, without much of a life, complaining to (and apparently threatening) the author’s employer.

I’m sure SBBS was anything but anti-Semitic not just because I was a regular reader, but because not so long ago SBBS proudly proclaimed, in response to Israel’s withdraw of settlements from Gaza, ‘Hooray for Ariel Sharon!’, who was, apparently, ‘risking his political position to fight for what’s good and right against racists and bigots. This earns him respect.’ How could anyone so taken in by what may turn out to be the PR stunt of the century be anti-Semitic?

Israel’s withdraw of settlements from occupied land is a Very Good Thing. However, not even Israel claims this is an end to occupation, pointing out that this is ‘the end of Israeli responsibility’ as Palestinians do not control the border crossings, airspace or territorial waters. Some believe Gaza may become a Palestinian reservation.

Israel has gained enormous PR capital from this. We’ve seen no end of footage of young and distraught Israeli settlers who have been betrayed by their leader (after all Sharon did encourage them to settle). But a leader’s betrayal is hard to avoid when a compromise is needed and they knew they’d settled on occupied land that won’t see peace without compromise.

Now we have Palestinians burning synagogues, as Sharon expected them to, and storming their border with Egypt. That these people hate their occupiers is unfortunate, but hardly surprising; that anti-Semitism feeds on that hatred is dangerous and to be condemned, but hardly surprising. In an act of pettiness, Israel demolished most other buildings anyway and it’s kept the Palestinian Authority weak. Palestinians have gained little of worth.

In a highly skillful maneuver Israel has sacrificed settlements on land it had no right to settle. Exhibiting an enormous degree of control, they’ve also ensured that the Palestinians remain under occupation and impoverished while the world sees poor Israelis suffer and the Palestinians behaving like animals. And so the occupier comes out smelling of roses. What a topsy-turvy world.

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