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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. Gavin Burrows
    October 12, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    Well to be fair to Schama he was quite critical of the (somewhat euphemistically named) 'settlements', and seemed to be more in favour of a two-state solution than an endless land grab. He even dredged up the business about the kibbutz he'd visited in his youth being built over a Palestinian village. As someone who's often found himself saying “if only Israel had turned out more like it's early kibbutz days”, I found that interesting.

    Of course we may want to argue that it's not necessarily all that easy to separate the apartheid wall from the settlements. Though ostensibly defensive, it has often been used to annex fresh Palestinian land. And the comment you quote is clearly absurd. Imagine if someone had said “if we do not live in Gaddafi's Libya or Assad's Syria we are morally obliged to be nearly silent.” But I think Schama was a liberal English professor, trying to find a consensus solution and inevitably flailing, more than a nationalist propagandist. His own Jewish roots just added an urgency to it all.

    Possibly something of a sideline, as not really a reaction to anything you've written here, but I often find the left to have a matching set of blinkers for the Palestinian side. Hamas are an authoritarian anti-women, anti-gay organisation who blanketly ban strikes in any territory they control. Those who support them in order to be 'anti-imperialist' are actually the political successors of those who supported the creation of Israel in the Forties. Talk about not learning from your mistakes!

    In other news, it seems Ralph Miliband was a Stalinist all along. Who knew?


  2. Jack Graham
    October 12, 2013 @ 7:13 am

    Except that 'supporting' Hamas can mean all sorts of things short of endorsing every aspect of their programme; supporting Hamas and supporting the Palestinians is not necessarily the same thing; Hamas is consistently more serious about deals and agreements and peace than Israel; Hamas' power and influence is a direct product of years of Israeli/Western manipulation of Palestinian politics; 'anti-imperialism' wasn't the rationale of those on the left who supported the created of Israel; and the Palestinians want a liveable chunk of their own land back rather than to be helped to expropriate somebody else's.


  3. Anonymous
    October 12, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    You can even 'support' Hamas without reference to or interest in any of their policies whatsoever, on the basis that a supporter of democracy (as our governments pretend to be) should want the victors of a democratic election to get the chance to govern.

    "Seized power in Gaza" indeed!


  4. Gavin Burrows
    October 12, 2013 @ 10:53 am

    As I am not hung over today I am probably just being terribly thick in not following you here. Do you mean “supporting Hamas” could involve a variety of actual positions and here's a list of some of them? Because if I read through your points trying to get them to add up I don't really pick out a line of argument.

    To tell you something you almost certainly already know, Israel's approach to the peace process over the occupied territories is to simply pad it out as long as possible. If it ever looks like getting anywhere, they simply move the goalposts and their favoured direction is further away. Hence the common joke “it's all process, there's no peace.”

    I think the rise of Hamas needs to be seen in that context. Hamas were originally seen, and almost certainly saw themselves, as more of a pressure group. At that point their ostensible aim was the destruction of Israel. But a number of things happened to nobble Fateh. (External destabilisiation programmes including targeted assassinations, internal opposition due to their blatant corruption and so on.) Knocking out Fateh had the effect of bringing Hamas to power.

    In opposition, Hamas had nothing to lose by threatening to destroy Israel, even if they had no means of bringing it about. It appealed to those disgruntled with the lack of progress in negotiations. But when they come to power everything effectively swaps over. Continual abstract threats to Israel would get them nowhere, but just expose the way they are now in the driving seat yet unable to drive. But by signing up to a peace process they know in advance will never lead anywhere, that may make a group labelled as 'extremist' seem more reasonable on the world stage. It's simple politicking.

    Of your points the one I'd agree with most readily would be “supporting Hamas and supporting the Palestinians is not necessarily the same thing.” I'd argue the Palestinians have suffered a double whammy over the decades, with land stolen off them by their neighbour and with being spectacularly ill-served by their supposed political representatives. Even more ill-served than is usual. Which is saying something.

    There is probably an irony here in that I'm criticising Schama for failing to find a middle ground he can stand on, while seeing little of a way out myself.


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