Robert Festenstein

‘Pro-Gaza is a lie’

In May 2022, the BBC reported that human rights groups believed China had detained more than one million Uyghur Muslims against their will over the previous few years in a large network of what the state called “re-education camps,” and sentenced hundreds of thousands to prison terms.

I do not remember the vast marches in the streets, week-in week-out demanding that the Government take action. I do not remember the camps at universities up and down the country full of students claiming solidarity with the Uyghur Muslims. There was no impact on local elections, no intimidation of Chinese people and no new pressure groups set up in support of the victims of the actions of the Chinese government.

I make no apology for what is a lengthy introduction, since it matters. It matters because all of the above is what has happened since 7 October 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel. Within a month, the marches began demanding a ceasefire when the response from Israel had barely started. Groups up and down the country declared the murderous attack a legitimate act of resistance.

Once the UK general election was called in late May, independent candidates stood in those constituencies with sizable Muslim populations claiming to be supporting Gaza. Four were successful so that these people will sit as MPs in the UK Parliament promoting Gaza. Only they won’t. Their campaign was not about Gaza or even Muslim values it was about Israel.  It was not about peace between the protagonists, it was about the destruction of the State of Israel. Make no mistake; the claims that these campaigns were about humanitarian aid, about loss of lives or a ceasefire were just lies.

If those promoting these independent candidates were truly concerned about Muslims around the globe they would have protested as I set out above in support of the Uyghur Muslims. But they didn’t because the campaigners were concerned with Muslim issues, they were concerned only with hating Israel.

The hate-marches since 7 October 2023 and more recently the pro-Gaza election campaigns in various parts of the UK have shown us what these people in the UK want – the destruction of Israel. Its annihilation is absolutely central to the marches and now the new MPs. Some Labour MPs were critical of the Labour Party because the independents were saying what the Labour MPs had wanted to say about Israel but were constrained by the party from doing so. In other words, there are a few dozen Labour MPs who are just as keen as the new independent MPs to see Israel destroyed.

What makes the independents different is that they were elected because they hate Israel and by extension the idea that the Jews are entitled to self-determination. It is a chilling thought that when the opportunity was presented to the voters in these constituencies where the “pro-Gaza” candidates were standing, that not only was “destroy Israel” was on the ballot paper, but a total of four of these independent candidates were successful.

How do we deal with these Israel haters, these people who wish to see us return to the unprotected days of pre-1948, to our return to vulnerable status. Language is everything as we have experienced in the hijacking of the word “genocide.” Say it enough times and people believe it even though they have no understanding of the reality on the ground. There have been no Israelis in Gaza since 2005 but for reasons passing understanding the claims that it is being occupied by Israel are alive and well.

So what now? As a start let’s stop talking about “pro” anything, whether it is Palestinian, Gaza or ceasefire because they all pretty much mean the same thing – annihilation of Israel. If there is any doubt remaining, just listen to the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and the call for annihilation is crystal clear.

How do we describe these people if not pro something. The phrase “those who are antisemitic because they discriminate against Jews by denying their right to self-determination” might be accurate but it hardly rolls off the tongue. “Jew-hater” is certainly accurate but runs foul of the whole “good-Jew bad-Jew” thing where the antisemites claim to love those Jews who hate Israel and don’t really keep anything to do with Judaism. They are the good-Jews. The others, like me and all those who support Israel and maintain a Jewish life are the bad-Jews.

What is left is “Israel hater.” It’s the best we have. At least as a phrase it describes these new independent MPs with so much more accuracy than pro-Gaza or whatever suffix might be in vogue.  Getting the wider world – and the Jewish community for that matter – to adopt “Israel hater” as the real name to describe these people might be a difficult task, but we need to be as accurate as we can when describing our enemies so that everyone can identify them for who they really are.

About the Author
Robert Festenstein is a solicitor based in Manchester with considerable experience in Court actions. He is active in fighting the increase in anti-Semitism in the UK and is President of the Zionist Central Council, an organisation devoted to promoting and defending the democratic State of Israel.