Friday, February 10, 2012


This piece by Colin Shindler about the fluctuating historic relationship between the left and Israel is well worth reading. The conclusion is superb, comparing contemporary leftist positions with the one taken by Jean-Paul Sartre, even if I wish that Sartre's Arab sympathies had been formed as much by the Palestinian experience as they were by Algeria.
Jean-Paul Sartre bypassed the psychological maelstrom. He remembered the round-up of Parisian Jews in 1942 and their deportation to the east. For that reason, he was pro-Israel. He also remembered the struggle of Algeria's FLN against the French colons. For that reason, he was pro-Arab. This double legacy, he argued, meant that the responsibility of the left was to create space for dialogue and to facilitate negotiations between the two sides.
Sartre’s plea has been forgotten, to be replaced by an ideological checklist to determine which sort of Israeli a pro-Palestinian leftist can speak to. Talk not to your opponents, only to your fellow-travellers. It is an impoverishing regression. 
Impoverished. A perfect summation of the repetitive sterility of most left commentary on Israel/Palestine.

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