The Uncuts: 2023 political awards (Part I)

Worst and Best Takes on the Israel-Gaza Crisis

It has been a decade since the last major flare-up between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. In that time, millions of Britons have come of age and many more millions, lacking the excuse of youth, seem not to have paid any attention to the facts of a complicated conflict and prefer easy, soundbite answers.

In 2023, there was not a mere escalation in tensions but a horrific upsurge of violence, triggered by a single day of massacre of civilians on the 7th of October. We struggle for comparisons, but a simple way think of it is as the Israeli 9/11; a day when a terrorist organisation opted to cut the lives short of innocents, in this case many tortured and raped before their eventual slaughter. How anyone could expect Israel not to retaliate against an organisation not only carrying this out, but which had restarted a daily barrage of rocket attacks into the bargain, defies understanding.

It is unfortunate to have to note that our national media has not exactly covered itself in glory on the subject. The Guardian we have, in the main, long expected to show ugly partisanship with any country which opposes Israel, no matter how awful the regime. But we might have expected better of BBC News and even Sky News, which seemed to demand ridiculous levels of proof of the rape and torture aspects of the attacks which most of us realised were real on Day Two, as well as adopting unabridged casualty figures from a terrorist organisation well known for its shameless misinformation.

For balance, there were some poor journalistic takes on the pro-Israeli side too, however; in the Telegraph, Jake Wallis Simons decided that the two-state solution was part of the problem and not the solution. And there were the usual braying voices on the Israeli right.

But some of our own Labour politicians could certainly have done better. While Keir Starmer has thankfully taken a notably rational position on the attacks, the usual suspects have been out in force.

No longer a Labour MP, of course, but if there were still doubt in anyone’s mind about Jeremy Corbyn’s distinct warmness towards Hamas and his hatred for Israel, one has only to check his Twitter timeline, which contains literally one explicit condemnation of the mass murder of Israelis on the 7th and then dozens and dozens condemning on the attacks on Gaza (a number of other key members of the Corbynite clique also seemed to go mysteriously silent over the same period, presumably to avoid having to condemn Hamas). And please, let’s not even start on Zarah Sultana MP’s idiot utterances during the last quarter of the year on this subject.

Sadiq Khan, who initially struck a quite sensible tone in his pronouncements, disappointed hugely by his seeming inability to stop weekly hate marches in the supposed name of “peace” and “ceasefire” in Central London. As a result, London’s Jewish community largely had to find alternative outlets for their shopping, for their own safety, in the run-up to Hannukah and Christmas. One can imagine the outcry if any other ethnic group were to be similarly targeted.

And if you really, truly believe that the marches were genuinely about peace and fraternally supporting Palestinian Muslims for the most part, please ask yourself why we have not had mass marches about Syrian Muslims or Uyghur Muslims, still being killed in far greater numbers. Or simply research the marches’ main organisers, the dreadful Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Hamas sympathisers par excellence.

Let us not forget, as a dishonourable mention, the desperate reaction of NGOs such as the UN and Amnesty, who have long abandoned any pretence that Israel’s right to self-defence should be the same as that of any other country.

On the other hand, a number of well-informed and sensible journalists of the left and centre managed to stand against the tidal wave of bias, making a rational case for understanding the plight of ordinary Israelis (not to mention British Jews, yet again being asked to answer for seemingly everything that Israel does); the horror for ordinary Gazans of being made to act as human shields for Hamas leaders; pointing up the desperate bias being seen elsewhere in the media and apparent open season on Jews worldwide; and even, occasionally, some moments of hope. They were Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian; Hadley Freeman in the Times; and Nicole Lampert in the Mail and the Telegraph.

We know in our hearts the awful truth that there is likely to be no solution to this centuries-old conflict any time soon, particularly after this recent and terrible low point; but the least that we can do is represent it sensibly and fairly. And that requires us to be neither bullied into a position by so-called “community leaders” throwing their weight around (politicians); nor failing to do our homework on the most basic facts of the conflict before opening our mouths (journalists).

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply