I have just finished reading Julian Barnes ‘The History of the World in 10½ Chapters‘.
I am currently doing my thing of finding an author I like and then gorging myself on the complete oeuvre.
The book is amusing and thought-provoking and, ultimately, eschatological.
And the end of the ½ chapter, which is titled ‘Parenthesis’, I was struck by a tidbit, a wee morsel of prose which struck a chord about the two parallel narratives with regard to Israel and the Palestinians which I’ll come to shortly.
This dual narrative is familiar to those involved in hasbara and defending Israel and I came face to face with the ‘other side’ on Twitter recently. A guy called Zbigniew was rather annoyed that I was tweeting the good news of the failure of the BDS brigade to stop the performance of Habima, the Israeli national theatre, at the Globe theatre in London where they performed The Merchant of Venice on two consecutive nights.
I have written previously about the shameful attempt by a group of luvvies who should know better to have Habima banned and the disgusting singling out of Israel just because Habima has played in settlements in Judea and Samaria/West Bank. It is, therefore seen as somehow complicit in the counter-narrative of colonialism, land-stealing and general oppression.
Zbigniew told me that Israel was to be ‘loathed’ and when challenged about which other contries he loathed he placed Israel in a group with Syria, Libya and Zimbabwe.
What I will, for the sake of shorthand, call the pro-Pal narrative always sees the conflict as one of good (Pals) against evil (Israel, or more precisely – Jews). Any wrongdoing by an Israeli or group of Israelis confirms them in their demonisation and hatred of Israel.
This is how Z tweeted:
“I think every right minded person should be concerned about Israel and what is happening…”
“does the expulsion and mistreatment of Palestinians not concern you? chants of Death to arabs?”
“Attacks on Arabs by (illegal) settlers, racism towards the african communities? Israel should be loathed!”
Of course, if you want to cherry-pick specific incidents, ignore history, and even fail to ask yourself questions like “why did these (mainly Muslim) Africans come to Israel in the first place rather than Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt etc.” then you will continue to see Israel and the conflict in this myopic and polarised way.
Such views never consider the actions of the other protagonists because you have already decided their cause is just and so whatever Israel does, even the patently good things, always have a malign intent or are dismissed as propaganda or irrelevant, or impossible without US dollars.
So here is the quote from Barnes which I believe so succinctly tells us about why hasbara is not working; historical truth is going the same way as moral relativism:
We all know that objective truth is not attainable, that when some event occurs we shall have a multiplicity of subjective truths which we assess and then fabulate into history, into some God-eyed version of what really happened. This God-eyed version is a fake – a charming, impossible fake… But while we know this, we must still believe that objective truth is obtainable; or we must believe that it is 99 per cent obtainable; or if we can’t believe this we must believe that 43 per cent objective truth is better than 41 per cent. We must do so, because if we don’t we’re lost, we fall into beguiling relativity, we value one liar’s version as much as another liar’s, we throw up our hands at the puzzle of it all, we admit that the victor has the right not just to the spoils but also to the truth.
Too many people – luvvies in the UK, Israelis in Israel, left-wingers and the whole motley crew of dillusionals – are throwing up their hands and then prostrating themselves before the god of fashionable and deluded ‘truth’ that tells them it’s all Israel’s fault and if Israel changed its policies all would be right with the world.
Yet all they do is to give succour to the loathers and haters who have their single cyclopean historical eye put out but then claim, nevertheless, that they can see more clearly.