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  • Writer's pictureDurham Pro Bono Blog

False Perceptions of Critics of Israeli Action in Palestine

Currently in the sphere of Middle Eastern politics, a central issue arises that dominates not only pivotal conflicts and nations in the Middle East, but also around the globe – Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, referring to the prejudice towards Jews, appears throughout the media, such as allegations towards the Labour Party. However, what is often misunderstood is that criticisms of Israeli foreign policy amounts to anti-Semitism.

The Israel-Palestine conflict continues to escalate in severity with lack of condemnation from nations around the world for behaviours that would be considered terror attacks in any other area of the world. Notably, the use of live fire against children, medical professionals and peaceful protestors and the bombing of Palestinian settlements during the night should speak severe global criticism. However, nations fail to openly criticise and condemn these horrific actions.

During 2017, Israel shot and injured 3,500 Palestinians, in comparison to Palestinians injuring only 130 Israelis.[1] Alongside this, the incarceration of over 6000 Palestinians, with complaints of torture, starvation and brutal treatment without fair and impartial trials occurs within Israeli borders. Yet, there is no comments, nor no condemnation. Why?

The concept of Israel is, as the majority of the world agrees, a vital and crucial development for the protection of Jews after the horrendous treatment throughout world history, reaching a horrific peak during the Second World War. As such, criticism of such a state is correlated with a similar level of caution to ensure that radical views are not enshrined into modern perceptions about the State.

Members of the Left, such as Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez[2], criticise the IDF’s use of excessive lethal force against bystanders and harmless individuals in Gaza. In response, they are painted by the media as being ‘anti-Semitic’ and racist. This displays a very botched and conflicting image of what is acceptable actions for States, as when nations like Russia that have acted in somewhat parallel ways (such as with Crimea) then organisations such as the United Nations, and individual nations, such as the US and the UK, snap to criticise. It also highlights that the use of claims of racism and anti-Semitism are used as tools to deflect from the brutal choice of action that Israel has taken.[3]

There are many reasons that could explain the knee-jerk reaction to pro-Palestinian branding. One previously covered is the sensitivity and the historical vulnerability that Jewish people experienced and acts as an attempt to preserve this. However, it could be accounted to other reasons. Firstly, UK weapon export sales reached a record high in 2018[4], issuing over £221 million in defence licenses to UK defence companies exporting to Israel. This highlights the notion that the reactions may not be due to social sensitivity, but instead due to the influence of financial gain through the relationship with Israel. This factor also relates to the Yemen conflict, in which over £4.5 billion in defence licenses were granted to companies selling to Saudi Arabia.[5] This shows that the horrific actions of Israel are justified, or at least tolerable, as long as arms are being purchased from nations such as the UK. Furthermore, it bloodies the hands of the UK through the involvement, enabling nations such as Israel to murder innocent Palestinians.

At what point will we consider the action of Israel enough to openly criticise?

In conclusion, it is vital to consider the implications of what State action is allowed and what State action we condemn. If another nation acted in the way that Israel is, then national intervention would occur instantly and it would be deemed terrorism. Israel’s treatment of Palestine is horrific and inhumane and we should not condemn those that speak against it.

Jack Herring

Middle East Section Editor

23 March 2019


[1] Israel and Palestine 2017, Human Rights Watch <>

[2] "Democrat Who Slammed Israel for Gaza Killings Is Shock Winner of New York Primary". Haaretz. June 27, 2018

[3] Ahmad Samih Khalidi, Siding with the Palestinian struggle is not antisemtic, The Guardian <>

[4] Jamie Doward, British Arm Sales Reach Record Level, The Guardian <>

[5] Anna Stavrianakis, History won’t look kindly on Britian over arms sales feeding war in Yemen, The Guardian <>

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes above.

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