Israel haters are latter-day peasants with pitchforks

Protesters hold placards and wave Palestinian flags during a 'March For Palestine' in London on October 28, 2023, as they call for ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. (Henry Nicholls/AFP)
Protesters hold placards and wave Palestinian flags during a 'March For Palestine' in London on October 28, 2023, as they call for ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. (Henry Nicholls/AFP)

Take a bow all those who began expressing outrage over the deaths of Palestinian civilians as soon as Israel began its operation against Hamas – that’s the operation deliberately provoked by the savage, demonic massacre and mass abduction of Israeli civilians on Oct 7th. Also, take a bow those who ripped down posters showing pictures of babies and infants abducted by Hamas. Take a bow those describing Israel’s defence against existential threat as “genocide” and also those who declared that calling for the genocide of the Jews could be  “contextualised.”

Every one of them should be given a distinction in Uncritical Thinking and in following the herd. Many of them appear to have graduated summa cum laude in Jew-hate. (Unless that is, they started out as antisemites and/or a large chunk of their income derives from regimes which sponsor terrorism, in which case their vocal and vituperative antipathy to Israel is at once easier to understand and more venal.)

Anyhow, if they are not actual antisemites nor derive their income from Iran, Qatar, etc, they need to realise that they are the peasants with pitch-forks from Mel Brooks’ Frankenstein parody. They may have swapped pitch forks for cellphones, but they have been whipped into Israel-hate exactly as pre-war Germans were whipped into hate for Jews or Stalin’s Useful Idiots were whipped into hate for whatever suited his regime at any given moment.

We know they are useful (and arguably “idiots”)  because right on cue – that is, within hours of the start of the Gaza operation – celebrity haters were composing comndemnatory open letters (mostly without one word of sympathy for Israel’s victims slain, raped, burned alive, mutilated or abducted), Labour politicians were crafting censorious sound-bites and the bien-pensant were screaming for Israel’s annihilation, swelling the numbers on pro-Palestinian marches and ripping down posters of babies, children and women abducted by Hamas.

So – given that overt Jew-hate remains unacceptable in polite society – what made it flourish among so-called liberals and bien-pensant? How did we account for the success of Israel’s enemies at resurrecting Jew-hate and making it so powerful that anti-Jewish hate crime has risen 900 percent in the UK and British Jews feel unsafe?

One answer is “media bias” – notably bias at the BBC and The Guardian, and back in the time of Robert Fisk, The Independent – but it’s all a bit chicken-and-egg because media bias didn’t just happen spontaneously. First there was anti-Israel sentiment which was easily whipped up using a pretext or a fig-leaf. This fig-leaf was the Palestinians (although that should be “Arab Palestinians ” as there were also Jewish Palestinians). “This fig-leaf gave respectability to the rather less respectable objective of ejecting Jews from their ancestral homeland, and handily excused 50 years of murderous terrorism – inside Israel and wherever there were Jews across the globe.

This fig-leaf – straight out of the KGB play-book, incidentally – began with a “Palestinian narrative” stitched together from omissions, half-truths and outright lies. Ignoring documented history – and even the Bible – it profered a mythical “Palestine” inhabited only by Muslims.

It asserted that Jews were usurpers in their homeland (despite Jews having lived in Palestine continuously since Bible times, sometimes as a majority) and riffed endlessly about Jewish oppression and Palestinian victimhood.

Now we see the role of media because despite those ideas playing effortlessly into millennia-old antisemitic tropes, it is unlikely the narrative would have got such traction without active complicity from media. And that was pretty much guaranteed by the  dissemination of the fictional Palestinian narrative in in an explosion of Palestinian propaganda on campuses.

Many students who’d heard and believed the fake narrative went on to take up roles in academia, comedy and other creatives areas but it was those in media who were the most useful. And why not. Palestinians are, after all,  victims – just not victims of Israel or Jews. As journalists and correspondents, they could frame and headline reports in ways which highlighted harm, threat or danger to Palestinians whilst minimising harm, threat or danger to Israelis – or ignore it entirely. Or they could report Palestinian “press releases” or unverified claims  as “fact.”  Or they could collude with Palestinian spin-doctors to heighten the perception of Palestinian “oppression” wherever possible by avoiding all shots of apartments, villas, parks, malls, etc – until, of course, recent weeks when  the cameras were invited to linger over the damage.

Through biased reporting,  these media “collaborators” have helped to spread and perpetuate an idea of Jewish “oppression” of Palestinians.  Even if they didn’t intend harm to Jews, their bias has been a major factor in a rise in  Jew-hate. The cumulative effect of this distortion and bias over three decades has been to alter perception. And as we know perception is reality, so if the perception is of Israel is a “brutal occupier” and “an apartheid state” then that is the “reality” for many people.

So, the media has a lot to answer for.  Although BBC seems to have been the most consistent and overt in its anti-Israel bias (hence the demand for the never-published Balen Report in 2004) and The Guardian has been busily promoting Israel-hate since the 1990s – most recently (and most egregiously) under an editor who co-wrote a play that is pure Palestinian propaganda – it is not just them.

As those releasing the anti-Israel toxin knew it would, the contagion spread and media everywhere perpetuates the “narrative” of Jewish “oppression” and Palestinian “victimhood.”

Except there is a glimmer of light. Perhaps the sheer, wanton brutality of Oct 7th alerted a few of the brighter ones – I am especially thinking here of some British newspaper editors – to the realisation that being anti-Israel is not about compassion at all. That helping to stir up the peasants with pitchforks through selective presentation of information was actually serving a somewhat different and heinous purpose devoid of compassion for Palestinians.

Now we just need a few more savvy, intelligent Britons (and a few more savvy, intelligent journos and editors) to open their eyes and examine the reality (tiny Israel amid vast Islamic lands; fully integrated Arab population; sanctuary for persecuted members of LGBTQ community from Arab countries; noisy, chaotic open society) and recognise they’ve been hating Israel for a a purpose that has nothing whatever to do with compassion for Palestinians.

About the Author
Jan Shure held senior editorial roles at the Jewish Chronicle for three decades. and previously served as deputy editor of the Jewish Observer. She is an author and freelance writer and wrote regularly for the Huffington Post until 2018. In 2012 she took a break from journalism to be a web entrepreneur.