Pathologising Israel

Sunday 20 October, 10.30am until 12.00pm, Frobisher 1-3 Contemporary Controversies

Many progressives in the West today seem to regard Israel as a problem they wish would just go away. How different from the post-war period, which saw widespread support on the left in Europe and America for Israel’s mission to build a socialist state in the Middle East. Many went to join Kibbutzim and actually take part in the work of creating that promised land. In recent decades, however, Israel’s international image has been dominated by its treatment of the Palestinians, and it is regarded more like a pariah state than a utopia. Zionism is widely imagined to be a type of fascism..

The PLO-chic keffiyeh is the accessory of choice among student radicals, but more significantly, ‘no platform’ policies and academic and cultural boycotts increasingly target Israel and Israelis. And Pro-Palestinian demonstrations today increasingly see left-wingers turn a blind eye of convenience to portrayals of Israelis as blood-sucking Jewish monsters. Has legitimate anti-Zionist protest allowed itself to merge into anti-Semitism? Do the supporters of Israel play into this by calling any challenge to Zion anti-Semitic?

Whether the motivation is anti-Semitic or not, Israel does seem to be held to different standards than other states. Why is it that what might be considered the normal business of a state protecting itself draws fierce moral condemnation and comparisons with Apartheid when that state is Israel? What makes Zionism and Israel so uniquely unpopular? 

Daniel Ben-Ami
journalist and author, Ferraris for All: in defence of economic progress and Cowardly Capitalism

Paul Bew
crossbench peer; professor of politics, Queen's University Belfast; formerly, historical adviser to Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday Tribunals

Ruth Deech
crossbench peer; chairman, Bar Standards Board

Rachel Shabi
award-winning journalist and writer specialising in the Middle East; author, Not the Enemy: Israel's Jews from Arab lands

Ben-Dror Yemini
journalist; columnist and opinion page editor, daily newspaper Maariv

Alan Miller
chairman, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA)

Produced by
Alan Miller chairman, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA)
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