Tuesday, May 21

The Sharp Edge of Historical Ignorance

A few days ago, I was stopped by a post shared by a comrade of mine, an academic and self-proclaimed communist from the sub-continent. Her Tweet claimed to present a vast pro-Palestinian protest in Baghdad, captured from high above. My friend had clearly been moved by this impassioned show of support against who she’d term ‘the colonial occupier’ Israel.

Timing is everything, however. And sharing this image mere days after the worst antisemitic pogrom since World War Two proved she was no Rodney Dangerfield. She was clearly none too happy about the military response to the deadly Hamas raid and felt she was a kindred soul with the people of Iraq, who, in overwhelming numbers, shared her enlightened, progressive Left-wing views, and sense of right and wrong. She was proud that they were standing up. This was people power.

Today, Iraq may or may not have 3 or 4 Jews left, who, if they exist at all, are likely in the Kurdistan region. In 1947 the number was closer to 150,000. Life had been relatively good in modern Iraq until the introduction of Nazi propaganda and Radio Berlin, which took to the airwaves in 1939, masterfully exploiting Arabist sentiments. This would eventually lead to a coup by the “Golden Square”, a group of fascist Iraqi army officers, that installed former Prime Minister Rashid A. al-Gaylani who instantly rolled up his sleeves to oust the English. With Iraqi oil central to the war effort, Churchill wasn’t having any of this, and the English sent al-Gaylani packing first to Iran, and eventually to Berlin as a guest of the Adolph Hitler.

This rapid, humiliating defeat saw Iraq’s Jews – the eternal fall-guy – accused of conspiring with the English, and the ‘Farhud’ (violent dispossession) followed. 200 Jews were killed in this pogrom, and thousands were injured, businesses and homes vandalised and synagogues destroyed.

Many left Iraq following the violence, but for those who stayed, the UN’s 1947 vote pierced through any veil of hope. Despite this increasingly grim landscape however which saw the passing of discriminatory laws, the firing of Jews from governmental positions, and the public hanging of a respected business figure in the community, the Jews of Iraq clung to the fragile notion of their identity as loyal Iraqis, anchored in millennia of history. The majority eventually got the message, dwindling the population down to 5000. In 1968 more executions on charges of spying for Israel started a fast slide down to the 3 or 4 we have today.

Would my friend know about any of this? A country long riven by sectarian hatred and twisted by decades of butchery at the hands of Saddam Hussein, schools under him propagandised against Jews and Israel, often treating students to readings directly from Mein Kampf. Could it really be that most benign strain of Cuba Street communism animating the hordes in my friend’s Tweeted image? The country being all but Judenrein may provide a reason to question that, possibly, don’t you think?

But this ignorance is par for the course. The anti-Israel movement is a magnet for the historically illiterate.

Consider Chloe Swarbrick and Marama Davidson of the NZ Greens refusing, after the Hamas-led pogrom, to label the group terrorists. Not only did they lay bare their own moral vacuums, but also an ignorance of Hamas’ violations of all known Palestinian, Arab, and International (UN) laws.

In 2007 in Gaza, Hamas took control after a conflict with Fatah Palestinians, pushing out the Palestinian Authority (PA) after slaughtering 450 of their men, some of whom they threw off the roofs of buildings. Since then, the PA has avoided any dealings with Hamas. The Arab League, which includes 22 countries like Palestine, agreed three times (in 1982, 2002, and 2023) on a peace plan with Israel where land would be exchanged for peace. But Hamas doesn’t agree with this peace plan. They believe in violent struggle to take back the entirety of Palestine, ‘From the River to the Sea’.

Over the years, several organizations and countries have recognized the PLO as the main group representing the Palestinian people. These include the Arab League in 1964, the Organization of Islamic States in 1970, the UN in 1974, and Israel in 1993. Hamas is not part of the PLO and does not agree with the PLO’s peace ideas from 1988.

Many groups, including the Arab League, the PLO, and the UN, support a solution where two separate states, Israel, and Palestine, would exist side by side. But Hamas doesn’t support this idea and aims to remove Israel completely. Hamas is an outlaw group. Calling them terrorists should be the easiest thing in the world to say. And yet…

So, the question becomes where the far-Left narrative today comes from if not history books, or a broader knowledge of the region. One of our most vocal anti-Israel activists, John Minto, made clear in a recent blog piece he didn’t know Arabs and Turks were ethnically distinct and yet believes himself smart enough to identify Zionist lies. The standard for entry is incredibly low.

Wherever they dreamt their narratives up, there is nothing traditionally socialist about their obsession. There is no economic component to the at all. In fact, contemporary Western Leftists would rather Arabs in the Levant suffer material deprivation than have it alleviated by giving up an uncompromising nationalist ambition. We’re talking Western socialists who, for reasons only known to them, want to smash and destroy the state of a beleaguered minority, not to better anyone’s lives materially – they’d know any replacement state would be reactionary – but because they’ve decided, for the good of everything decent in the world, Jews can’t be trusted with power.

This is in fact all they know.