Monday, 11 January 2010

Wes Streeting and the Israel / Palestine facebook wars

A recent group on Facebook attacks the head of the NUS, Wes Streeting, for 'being a particularly Israel-friendly Laborite'.

I read posts on its wall, where a number of the group's members advocate outing their Jewish lecturers as being zionists. Take this gem:

So many people are scared about being labelled anti Semitic, and being accused of creating witch hunts, but by making sure every jewish lecturer is questioned on their views on Israel, (assuming they have views on Israel), its a great way to highlight the issue and do something on our campuses to make zionists feel really uncomfortable!

Problematic, isn't it?

Well yes, but not for the obvious reasons. Not because it advocates a McCarthyite witch hunt of Jewish academics and nor because it seeks to make all Zionists on campus uncomfortable - the problem with this quote is the person who wrote it. Because she's faking it; she's only pretending to be an Israel hater.

A cursory glance on her facebook page was revealing. I found a girl with happy holiday snaps from Israel who supported Alex Dwek's campaign to become president of the Union of Jewish Students. Her facebook friends include both a past and present UJS campaigns officer. Not the background of your average anti-zionist, is it? What we have here is an Israel-supporter masquerading as an Israel hater.

And she's not the only one. Another person posting similar sentiments on the website appeas to be doing the same: among his profile pictures is the one below. Not really convinced he's an anti-zionist either...

Now sure - they're taking the piss with the things they write, and most people will be clever enough to realize that. But not all will.

And because of this, to pretend as they do - as well as being dishonest - is a counter-productive means of combating those who, like one of those posting earlier on the group's wall, support 'find[ing]out just what their jewish lecturers stance is on Israel. In ALL universities.'

Just imagine the scenario: the JC sees the facebook group, gets shocked, and goes to write a story about it. They fail to take the necessary investigative steps undertaken by yours truly and mistake the author of the quote above to be a bone fide Israel-hater. They, along with Melanie Philips et al, go crazy in attacking such sentiments, citing them as 'evidence' of anti-Semitism and anti-zionism on campus today. What a scoop. Only then someone - an annoying blogger or whatever - goes and exposes the whole thing as having been a fake. The 'evidence' is found to be spurious, and in the process the credibility of real evidence of such problems is tarnished.

No, not the best way to campaign.

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