SPECIAL REPORT: Lineker, Coogan, Jolie and co – seduced by a lie that will not die

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SPECIAL REPORT: Lineker, Coogan, Jolie and co – seduced by a lie that will not die

After 7 October, why do Israel’s most impassioned critics still cleave to a narrative in which the Jewish state is the villain, entirely deserving of its fate?

Jeremy Havardi is a freelance journalist and author

Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker.
Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker.

The atrocities of 7 October left an indelible impact on Jewish communities around the world. The horrors of that day are etched on the collective Jewish memory and constitute another dark chapter in the long and inglorious history of antisemitism.

Yet despite the appalling litany of terrorist crimes committed that day, Israel’s most impassioned enemies still cleave to a narrative in which the Jewish state is the villain, entirely deserving of its fate. Just examining a selection of figures in the UK and the US, one sees a stark picture of political ignorance and victim blaming.

The former Labour MP Chris Williamson said that the Hamas terror attacks were ‘a reckoning for the evil perpetrated by Israel’, before lambasting his former party for its pro-Israel position.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Claudia Webbe MP tweeted that ‘One side is the occupier. The other side is occupied. There must be a ceasefire and negotiations towards a free Palestine’. The demand for a ceasefire, after the most horrific terrorist attacks that Israel has ever faced, is a moral perversion, suggesting that the Jewish state can be attacked without any ability to respond.

The demand for a ceasefire, after the most horrific terrorist attacks that Israel has ever faced, is a moral perversion, suggesting that the Jewish state can be attacked without any ability to respond.

For some on the left, the idea that antisemites would use the Hamas barbarism as an excuse to attack Jews, something for which there is a plethora of evidence, was worthy of ridicule. Step forth Jackie Walker, another disgruntled ex-Labour activist, who tweeted: ‘According to the CST in the last 10 years antisemitism has increased by 1000000000000009%.’

Can you imagine such abject mockery being doled out to another minority group?

Another anti-Zionist obsessive who has revelled in Jew-baiting is David Miller, the sociologist sacked by Bristol University. On the day of the CAA’s march through London, Miller tweeted the organisation’s official poster but changed its words to ‘March against Muslims: Stand shoulder to shoulder with Islamophobes’.

Had he attended, he would have heard every speaker denounce all forms of racism and bigotry.

Meanwhile, the anti-Israel obsessive Owen Jones was using his Twitter account to denounce Israeli ‘war crimes’ and congratulate the IDF for ‘its stunning military victory against premature babies’, as if the IDF was literally targeting civilians for sport. During an interview with broadcaster Sophy Ridge, he condemned the Hamas attacks while simultaneously lambasting the evils of this ‘apartheid’ state.

Gary Lineker shared an interview between Owen Jones and Israeli academic Raz Segal in which the latter accused Israel of carrying out a ‘textbook genocide’.

Such false moral equivalence is the left’s default position now. Thus, the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tweeted that while she condemned Hamas ‘for targeting civilians’, she also denounced ‘the brutal Israeli military response, the illegal occupation of Palestine & the siege of Gaza’.

She wrote this only hours after the Hamas slaughter and before Israel had even responded. Jeremy Corbyn would inevitably feed off such equivalence. While acknowledging that Hamas could be described as a terrorist group, he added that Israel had also committed ‘acts of terror’ because of its ‘targeting of hospitals, refugee camps and so-called safe zones’.

While country after country lit up public buildings in a show of solidarity with the Jewish people, the Scottish Parliament refused. Green MSP Maggie Chapman declared that what was happening in Palestine was ‘a consequence of #Apartheid, of illegal occupation & of imperial aggression by the Israel state’.

Of course, nothing on 7 October happened in ‘Palestine’. Hamas launched attacks in territory that was indisputably Israeli although, for these anti-Zionist ideologues, such a country does not deserve to exist.

Turning to America, while the US President and many in Congress expressed their unqualified abhorrence of these attacks, the ‘Squad’ defied all moral logic with their hateful pronouncements. In a frenzy of victim blaming, Palestinian Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib declared that ‘As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heart-breaking cycle of violence will continue.’

Palestinian Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib falsely accused Israel of bombing a hospital.

Both Representatives Cori Bush and Ilhan Omar called for an end to American aid to Israel, even as the Israeli bodies were piling up in kibbutzim. Bernie Sanders, while mentioning the Hamas ‘terrorist assault’ on Israel, decried ‘the cycle of violence’ in the region while emphasising that the worst consequence of these attacks was that it would make it harder to address Palestinian grievances.

But it’s not just intellectuals and politicians who have been at the forefront of whitewashing Palestinian crimes. Celebrities on both sides of the channel have made their anti-Israel feelings abundantly clear, usually on platforms with millions of followers.

England cricket vice-captain, Moeen Ali, thought that the best response to the massacre of Jews in Israel was to post a Palestinian flag on social media next to a caption which read: ‘If you’re not careful the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed & loving the people who are doing the oppressing.’

Gary Lineker

Meanwhile Gary Lineker, no stranger to controversy after his tweet on UK refugee policy, shared an interview between Owen Jones and Israeli academic Raz Segal in which the latter accused Israel of carrying out a ‘textbook genocide’. The football pundit went on to tweet that the interview was ‘worth 13 minutes of anyone’s time’. Lineker would have been wise to spend 13 minutes reading the genocidal Hamas Charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel.

A host of British celebrities penned a letter calling on world governments to ‘end their military and political support for Israel’s actions’ and calling for an ‘end to the unprecedented cruelty being inflicted on Gaza’. Among the signatories were Steve Coogan, Maxine Peake, Tilda Swinton and Charles Dance, four high profile figures who signed a letter that did not even mention Hamas.

Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight have fallen out over Israel and Gaza

Despite the pro-Israel solidarity shown by many Hollywood celebrities, some chose to showcase their incendiary opposition to the Jewish state. Angelina Jolie, while condemning the Hamas onslaught, said that Gaza was ‘fast becoming a mass grave’ because of Israel’s airstrikes and that ‘millions of Palestinian civilians’ were being ‘collectively punished and dehumanised’. For Supermodel Gigi Hadid, Israel saw any Palestinian as a ‘terrorist’, any person supporting Palestinian rights as an ‘antisemite’ and any Jew opposed to Israel’s actions as ‘self-hating’.

Instead of condemning the atrocities committed by Hamas, Susan Sarandon posted on Twitter that Gaza was an ‘open-air prison’ and shared the hashtag ‘GazaGenocide’.  On November 10th, she wrote that she was witnessing Day 34 of the ‘Gaza Holocaust’ and urged followers not to let the western media ‘normalise Israel’s barbarity against Palestinians’.

Others even appeared to celebrate the attacks. In one example, Playboy was forced to cut ties with Lebanese-American porn star Mia Khalifa after she posted hateful comments on Twitter after the attacks. Among them was this post: ‘I can’t believe the Zionist apartheid regime is being brought down by guerrilla fighters in fake Gucci shirts.’ She later expressed her hope that there would be ‘4k footage of my people breaking down the walls of the open air prison they’ve been forced out of’.

Susan Sarandon visits IsraAID’s program in Germany

The above names are but a small snapshot of those who are seduced by the lie that will not die. They believe that Israel is an incarnation of all the evils we despise in the world, namely colonialism, racism and genocide, and that this is the context for the appalling attacks of 7 October.

It is really frightening to think that the worst daily slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust has actually stiffened the backbone of the anti-Israel movement rather than given its ideologues pause for thought.

It is truly the sickness of our time.

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