Bristol Doesn’t ❤ Israel

18 03 2012

Category; Politics, Middle East, Bristol

Time to revisit something from 2010. In June of that year an Israel boycott motion was passed by Bristol City Council (click here for the motion).

I watched  the debate on a webcast and found it monumentally depressing. I edited the webcast (keeping all the speakers who spoke on the topic and all their points).

Here’s that video:

What depressed me was the level of ignorance – depressing for two reasons:

Obviously the level of debate itself I found extraordinary. It is a radical agenda entirely accepted and reproduced – the views in the video represent all the points from all the speakers. There is no balance, no nuance, no understanding of another view, never mind an understanding of the facts.

We hear of ‘Good Jews’ who campaign against Israel from Cllr Kiely, Israel as an illegitimate apartheid regime from almost all of them, that Gaza has ‘no water facilities whatsoever, no electricity, no grass, no education system, no health facilities at all’ from Cllr Choudhury, that Israel is a ‘rogue state’ from Cllr Cook and on and on. And nothing else. No mention of Hamas, it’s aims and governance, no mention of anything at all to counter or balance. No comprehension that there could possibly be any validity in any other point of view. This was a meeting of Palestine Solidarity Campaign in all but name.

But the thing that was much more depressing was that there was no-one to help inform these people and make them less ignorant. The infamous Israel lobby was non-existent. I put myself in the position of someone who has heard a lot of bad things about Israel and is looking for further information on the internet. There is essentially no resource catering for that. There are some sites for ardent Zionists and nothing else.

It’s absurd; it’s OK to dislike Israel, as long as that dislike is informed and for the right reasons. For pro-Israel organisations to dismiss that without engaging with it on a reasoned and reasonable basis is damaging and dangerous. And, more than that, where was the engagement with these elected officials to try and give them some balance? The video was quite widely seen, including by people in some of those organisations (the Jewish Chronicle put it on their website – click here) but nothing was done to try and help these politicians better understand a complicated situation, and that is the most depressing fact of all.

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