While the aims of many pro-Palestinian campaigners are admirable, the left must look at the wider context of Israel and Palestine today
Peace negotiations have failed and violence on the Gaza strip has resumed once again. As this happens the left and the wider pro-Palestinian movement needs to think hard about how the next intensification of campaigning can avoid contributing to a rise in anti-semitic sentiment.
Many will read that paragraph and immediately react with hostility. A recurrent feature of the last few weeks has been the forceful claims by the pro-Palestinian left that it is not anti-semitic to criticise Israel’s actions in Gaza. Some commentators have also been conscientious in combining their critique of Israel with strong condemnations of those who have used the situation to make overtly anti-semitic attacks.
However, to believe that such arguments and qualifications means the left is now excused of any culpability is to engage in a denial for which the left itself regularly criticises others.
Left-leaning thinkers and movements have argued for many years that racism and sexism need not be overt to exist. Racist and sexist values are so deeply ingrained into much of our thinking and behaviour that it is quite possible for someone to unintentionally exclude or denigrate black people or women even while actively proclaiming themselves an anti-racist or feminist.
Unfortunately the left is at risk of becoming the bastion of unintentional anti-semitism just as individuals and organisations across the political spectrum purvey unintentional racism and sexism. Read More