Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Conservative Party's Anti-Palestinian Problem

In recent months, every major media outlet has been falling over themselves to report that the UK Labour party is ‘apparently’ infested with anti-Semitism. 

An intelligent human being would have paused for a moment and actually considered the evidence of such accusations before burning MPs at the stake. 

Yes, a few were undoubtedly guilty of making heinous remarks that anyone would find abhorrent and deservedly paid the price of suspension.

However, most were guilty of simply criticising the Israeli government. 

Obviously you do not need to be a genius to realise that, nowadays, any criticism of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ will have you tarred and feathered with the anti-Semite brush instantaneously. 

You can no longer preach anti-Zionism because, of course, we all know that anti-Zionist is secret code for ‘anti-Semite’. 

Well done to the Zionist lobby for conflating the two so seamlessly in the minds of the public [well, not the public, exactly].

Yet, whilst the Labour Party is in disarray and leader Jeremy Corbyn is left to wonder which of his colleagues is waiting to knife him in the back next, the Conservative Party, and more specifically the Home Office immigration and visa department, is quietly and happily refusing the standard entry visas of Palestinians.

When you consider that it was recently reported that some 375 British citizens known to have ventured to Syria to fight alongside Islamic State were somehow allowed back into the United Kingdom by our crack team of border guards, it seems rather odd that they would have any issue with allowing a few Palestinians to visit one of the world’s supposedly great democracies. 

Now, were these Palestinians planning to arrive in the UK with the intention of orchestrating some major terrorist event, then you could forgive the Home Office for rejecting their applications to visit.

However, given that two of the applicants, Nader al Masri and Sami Nateel, are athletes from Gaza who were due to take part in the Derry Marathon, you have to wonder what possible threat either could pose to the UK.

Nader al-Masri is an Olympian who has proudly represented his people. Was he going to run too fast? Was that the reason the Home Office decided against granting him entry? 

Imagine, for a moment, that you live in Gaza. Imagine the restrictions you exist under. Imagine what you have witnessed in your life, what you’ve had to endure. 

Yet, despite this, you become an athlete, and a damn good one. You dream of participating in marathons and events worldwide like any other runner. 

Now imagine how you’d feel when your application to take part in a marathon in Derry is rejected. This is the reality of both Masri and Nateel. 

Apparently if you’re Palestinian you can’t come here. 

Now imagine you are a photo journalist. In fact, imagine you are an award-winning photojournalist and an author to boot.

Imagine that you spend your time living in the West Bank and, on a daily basis, put your life at risk by using your camera to capture moments of injustice dished out by the Israeli occupation forces. 

Imagine you’ve been shot at and had tear gas fired at you as a matter of routine. Imagine you also take time to capture the beauty of where you live, the people, the landscape.

Imagine that your work has been exhibited in the UK and that it has countless admirers.

Imagine the Network of Photographers for Palestine, a group based in Scotland, raise funds to sponsor and host your visit to the UK so that you can showcase your work and speak of your life in person.

Now imagine, for a second time, your visa is rejected by the Home Office because you ‘might get married whilst in the UK’ or ‘you might rob a bank whilst in the UK’ or ‘you might accidentally trip and get some of your blood on the pavement whilst in the UK’.

The last two examples were of my own making, but the marriage example is a reality for Hamde Abu Rahma. Apparently the Home Office believe he may get married? Why? Don’t ask me. 

Hamde Abu Rahma is the epitome of Palestine. He loves his country. He adores his people. He has no interest in remaining in the UK. He simply wants the opportunity as an artist to come here and exhibit his work.

The problem is, drum roll…Hamde is Palestinian. 

The minister of immigration for the UK is the Rt Hon James Brokenshire, Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup. 

Unsurprisingly, he seems to have no interest whatsoever in replying to emails regarding why Palestinians are being denied UK visas for no apparent or justifiable reason. 

In fact, aside from Scottish and Irish politicians, none of the English MPs seem willing to get involved. 

Clearly the Labour Party feel as if they can’t touch this issue as they’ll end up having to suspend themselves entirely for the crime of being ‘pro-Palestinian’ for a moment.

That leaves us with the Tories.

Whilst the country, and a large portion of the world and media, keep their beady eye on the supposedly prolific anti-Semites in the Labour party, the Conservatives are quietly denying Palestinians their rights.

And no one cares.


  1. Labour is not especially anti Semitic. The Left's hatred of Israel stems from the fact that Zionism is a profoundly conservative idea-(a Western colony carved out of the Islamic World, resurrecting a monocultural ancient nation fiercely protective of its sovereignty and cultural identity).

    Like traditional Britain itself, it's existence as the only law-governed liberal democracy in a region surrounded by tyrannies with secret police and torture chambers, confounds every socialist theory.

    1. You obviously know absolutely nothing about the place.

      And the Tories were extremely sceptical of Israel when they were still the Tories. A few valiant souls, such as Peter Oborne and Geoffrey Wheatcroft, hold out for that position in the media.

      Likewise, the American paleoconservative movement has been on the receiving end of the "anti-Semitism" allegation for as long as it has existed as a distinct tendency.

      If, a long time ago, Israel ever embodied anything that today's Conservatives and Republicans admired, then it was exactly what those times' and these times' liberal Democrats and Labour liberal-Rightists admired.

      Those remain extremely pro-Israeli, but only because, like you, they have absolutely no idea what the place has been like for decades now, and is becoming more like all the time.

      Oh, well, you could argue that, in its way, it was just becoming more Middle Eastern. But you don't want to argue that, do you?

    2. Anon. has an idea of Israel that he has half-digested from Peter Hitchens, who wants the place to be something because he would like it to be, the same as Julie Burchill. They are both wrong, whether their imaginary Israels would be good or bad, they simply don't exist, never have and never will.

    3. They are both now less likely than they ever were. Burchill's never was, very much. Hitchens's is just made up, and stands entirely outside Old Right opinion on the subject. He thinks that it would be nice if Israel were like that, so he has decided that it is, or that it used to be, or that, potentially, it could be. But it isn't, it never has been, and it never can be.

  2. I said nothing about what Israel is becoming. I was describing Zionism as an idea which is indeed based on the recreation of an ancient monocultural nation through pure colonialism.

    The idea behind everything from Israel's immigration policy to its foreign policy are extremely un-PC; it shamelessly discriminates in favour of Jews in its immigration system to preserve its cultural identity and fiercely defends its territory in the foreign policy arena.

    And for all its faults it remains the only law governed liberal democracy in the region and one in which women and minorities enjoy greater rights than they do anywhere in the Islamic World.

    Precisely because it is-as unPC as it is to admit this-a European colony carved out of the Islamic World.

    1. No, that is just what you want (or Peter Hitchens wants) it to be like.

      There is a reason why the Old Right has never had much, if any, time for Zionism, and why only the New Right takeovers of the Conservative and Republican Parties have made them pro-Israeli.

      There is a reason why the old liberal Right of the Labour Party was mostly Zionist (often ferociously so), while New Labour was so to the point of fanaticism, but the reaction against such dominance has put Labour in a very different position on the issue, as much as anything due to co-operation with traditional conservatives against the neoconservative wars (I have seen that first hand).

      There is a reason why the declining Clinton wing of the Democratic Party is almost deranged in its support of Israel, while the rising Sanders wing is far more sceptical and suspicious; again, the Paleo Boys are, if not in, then certainly around the Sanders movement.

      In any case, over half of Jews in Israel are of Middle Eastern or North African origin, linguistically and culturally Arab. So even the idea of Israel as some kind of Western enclave is pure fantasy on the part of people whose only idea of a Jew is Woody Allen.

  3. Have any of you been to, say, Tel Aviv?

    For all its faults, Israel is the only Western style democracy in the region and women and minorities enjoy greater freedoms there than anywhere in the Islamic World. That's beyond any dispute.

    Precisely because it's a European colony.

    If you don't know that Zionism is first and foremost a rejection of multiculturalism and the creation of a specifically Jewish state, and colonialism was inbuilt into it from the outset (as the brilliant pro-Israeli historian Benny Morris admits "inbuilt into Zionism was the notion of forced transfer of the Arab populations") then you don't know anything.

    I mean, are you and Anon joking?

    1. Have any of you been to, say, Tel Aviv?

      That is a very untypical place now. In many ways, it always was. But it is exceedingly so now, and becoming more so all the time.

      Look at the present Israeli Government. Would that be Tel Aviv's choice? Hardly! It is, however, largely made up of the heirs of those who bombed the State of Israel into existence against Britain.

      If, in modern times, there has ever been "a European colony" on that territory, then Israel has never been it, but rather is the result of its violent destruction.

  4. Pity poor, teenage Anon., who has never heard of the Lehi or the Irgun.

    You are right, until the New Right takeover the Tories and the GOP had very little time for Israel and were often anti-Zionist, Zionism was for the liberal right wings that controlled the Labour and Democratic parties.

    1. My father, the mildest-mannered of men, could not look at Yitzhak Shamir on the television in the 1980s, to the extent that he had to leave the room.

      My father's old friend, my erstwhile Senior Tutor from my undergraduate days, still takes much the same view of the whole business to this day.

      They were there.

      It is perfectly hilarious to read the comments on sites such as Coffee House, Guido Fawkes or Breitbart London, praising Israel for being everything that they hate Britain for having become or for being in the process of becoming.

      But in any case, it is less and less like that, and more and more reminiscent of the other thing that they hate Britain for having become or for being in the process of becoming.

  5. Nothing you have said contradicts the fact that that is what Zionism is as an idea. Nor the fact that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the region and women and minorities enjoy freedoms there that they don't enjoy anywhere in the surrounding region.

    Israel is a European colony; where did the people who set it up mostly come from?

    And why is it the only Western style democracy in the Middle East?

    Tel Aviv is indeed like any European city.

    1. Only in ways that you dislike, and some of which I dislike. It is also now wildly untypical of Israel in general, which routinely elects governments that would lead to sanctions if anywhere in the West elected anything remotely like them. Indeed, there is no sign that Israel will ever again have a government that was not like that. But then, such were the people who bombed Britain out of Palestine.

    2. Hardly anybody in Israel is now like the people who set it up, Ashkenazi, secular, liberal, leftish. The birth rate among people like that is negligible and the parties for people like that are dying out.

    3. Quite. Arabic-speaking Middle Eastern and North African Jews now predominate, the ultra-Orthodox are growing exponentially, and there are Arab majorities, which are continuing to solidify, across half the pre-1967 territory.