There are quite a few factors which lead me to believe that many Guardian reporters and editors will lend moral support to the Palestinians in the event they launch another deadly intifada.
First, the paper has shown a clear tendency to license extremist commentators who reject peace and reconciliation with Israel and legitimize (if not justify) Palestinian terrorism. Additionally, their binary moral paradigm in which Palestinians are seen as nearly immutable victims of Israeli oppression further necessitates at least tacit support for the Palestinians’ recourse to violence.
Promotion of extremism:
In 2011, the Guardian published the leaked ‘Palestine Papers’ and, in an official editorial contextualizing the thousands of pages of “confidential” Palestinian records covering years of negotiations with Israel, criticized Palestinian leaders for showing reasonableness during negotiations, suggesting that they ‘sold out‘ on Palestinian “rights” such as ‘the right of return’ – characterizing such putative flexibility as “craven”.
A well-researched report by Just Journalism in 2011 demonstrated the consistent promotion of voices at ‘Comment is Free’ who reject peace negotiations and reject Israel’s very right to exist:
Additionally, Guardian editors published a letter in 2011 by a philosophy professor which explicitly defended the right of Palestinians to murder Israeli civilians in terror attacks – an editorial decision which was actually defended by their readers’ editor following the uproar which ensued.
Also in 2011, the Guardian editorialized about the ‘Arab Spring’, and actually praised the Palestinians for launching intifadas.
In 2012, during the war in Gaza, Associate Editor Seumas Milne wrote an op-ed defending the right of Hamas terrorists to launch terror attacks against Israelis, and argued that Israel has no such moral right to defend itself.
Oppressor vs. Oppressed:
In addition to their fetishization of Palestinian political violence, the binary, oppressor-oppressed political framework in which they see the conflict seems to necessitate that they suspend moral judgment when dealing with what they see as the ‘weaker party’. This moral tick betrayed itself in their 2011 editorial on the Palestine Papers noted above, where they opined about the notes released from the 2008 negotiations between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas when they accused the US of ‘bullying the weak Palestinians and holding the hand of the strong Israelis’.
More recently, an official Guardian editorial on the current peace process began by stressing the following: “there are two points that must always be borne in mind with the Palestinians: they are the aggrieved party; and they are by far the weakest party”.
Indeed much of the Guardian’s world view seems dictated by such platitudes about the virtues of the ‘powerless’.
As Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson said in defense of his notorious cartoon (during the Mavi Marmara row) which used biblical imagery in depicting murderous Israeli troops killing the dove of peace, his mission is always to ‘afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted’. Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian’s star reporter until late last summer, said at a conference recently that if you are pleasing the people in power, then your job is not journalism.
Much of the Guardian’s shift editorially from the Zionist sympathies under its long time editor CP Scott to their current pro-Palestinianism can arguably be traced to the way in which many on the left began to accept previously marginal theories on the necessity of understanding political affairs in the context of the relationship between the powerful and the powerless. Such elites soured on the Jewish State once they were no longer viewed as the underdog besieged on all sides by more powerful foes but, instead, as the confident, successful and militarily dominant modern state. The Jewish people’s greatest sin, argued Pascal Bruckner, was “having emerged from their immemorial weakness” and, by “fearlessly resorting to force”, betrayed the role of victim that had always been assigned to them.
However, more sober minds would surely understand that Israel’s virtue is not dependent upon either its power relationship with its foes, but, rather, by the inherent justness of its cause: its exceptional tolerance towards religious, ethnic and sexual minorities; the strength, vitality and endurance of its democracy; the dynamism of its economy and disproportionate quantity of scientific advances, and the fact that it continues to faithfully carry out one of its primary missions, to serve as a refuge and safe haven for Jews around the world.
Similarly, any intellectually credible assessment of the Palestinian people – one not compromised by the bigotry of low expectations – must avoid the temptation of seeing Palestinians as abstractions, and instead view them as complex political actors who are morally accountable for the decisions they make. Those who suggest that Palestinians have no choice but to walk into cafes and ignite suicide vests, sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel coursing through the limbs and organs of innocent men, women and children are not only negating the humanity of the Israeli victim, but in effect denying the moral agency of the Palestinian perpetrator.
If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do break down, the Palestinians will still retain the power to freely decide whether to continue pursuing their interests through the political arena, or to return to the path of violence and destruction. If they choose the latter, then Palestinians, and Palestinians alone, will bear moral responsibility for the unimaginable consequences.
And, if the worst does indeed happen, and Israelis are forced once again to bear the burden of a malicious campaign of terror, then the chances are good that Guardian editorials will fly off the presses ‘contextualizing’ the violence as understandable (if regrettable) last resort of the ‘downtrodden’, while all but ignoring their ‘more powerful’ victims.
Genuinely liberal voices, of course, would never countenance such a facile ethical response to a nihilistic, malevolent course of action, and would certainly never succumb to the fool’s moral calculus which equates weakness with virtue.