False Dichotomies

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Live from the Globe

This is a guest post by Nick D

The most telling aspect of the utter failure of pro-conflict advocates to disrupt proceedings at the Globe last night came after it had all finished. I was standing in line, waiting to collect my bag, and everyone I could hear was discussing the show – that is, the performance by Habima Theatre of Israel, who carried off what by general consensus seemed to be a magnificent Merchant of Venice. My Hebrew is negligible, restricted to the odd words I recognise from Arabic, but deprived even of Shakespeare’s language the actors were able to convey to me with awesome power the tragedy of Shylock and the malice of his persecutors. A steady, droning beat on the frame drum provided a superbly ominous counterpoint to the psychodrama unfolding before us, on stage and off stage. Jews were on trial – and witless protesters proving once again to be a curse rather than a blessing to the Palestinians – were props in an awesome, all-enveloping spectacle. Read more

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Deborah Orr and the Worth of Palestinian Lives

This is a guest-post by Nick D

Even by the abysmal standards of pro-Palestinian advocacy, and I write this as a strong supporter of the Palestinians’ right to statehood, Deborah Orr’s article (“Is an Israeli life really worth more than a Palestinian’s?”) was breathtakingly stupid, as well as deeply unpleasant in its trivialisation of a serious issue and empty show of moral concern. It was, however, emblematic of a certain style of  ostensibly pro-Palestinian politics, one concerned much more with image than substance, with glib rhetoric over logical argument, with a facile and easily digestible morality that presents a straightforward picture of victim and villain. The first task of those who consider themselves friends and allies of the Palestinians should be to rid the movement for justice of its false friends, and Orr is a prime example of the commentator who lazily piggybacks her way to a cheap point on the suffering of a region. The incoherence of her argument should be the first signal that she really doesn‘t care – that her whole article is a dog-whistle to the prejudices of her readership rather than an attempt to make a serious comment. She begins by asserting that it is widely held that the exchange of Shalit for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners amounts to a victory for Hamas, and that the deal has also made Netanyahu look weak. Orr then follows this by suggesting that this means the world has become “inured to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian”. This is absurd. If the world had indeed accepted the idea, would you not expect the media reaction to be the reverse – to acknowledge that both sides had received a fair deal, that 1000 Palestinians are indeed equivalent to one Israeli?  To acknowledge that Hamas has had the better of this bargain doesn’t at all imply the kind of calculus Orr claims it does, without any appeal to logic. Read more

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