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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 15, 2003

This march is about Iraq, not Palestine

This article like the one posted just below it separates issues
We march, anyway, whether we are making sense of it or not. By "we" I mean humanity, since nearly all of it, we're promised, will be on the move this weekend. I won't be marching. Call me fastidious, but I've never liked the intellectual chaos of protest culture – marching to stop one war while your neighbour is marching to stop another, confusing foxes with persons, assuming that there is a daisy chain of ideologically sound causes, all with the same cast of heroes and villains. Today, for example, if I march to stop a war against Iraq, I will also be censuring Israel, and though I think there is much to censure Israel for, I think there is much to censure other parties to that conflict for as well. Too vexed for banners, the question of Palestine – as are most questions. Nor do I think the one issue has anything, except in the matter of manipulated perception, to do with the other.

Which is precisely, Andrew Murray, the chair of the Stop the War Coalition, is going to tell me, where I am mistaken. Though he calls "Justice for Palestine" a "secondary slogan" to "Don't Attack Iraq", the two issues, he says, "are inextricably linked".

Inextricably? As in incapable of being disentangled? As in too elaborate ever to untie? As in so intricate and labyrinthine that no exit can be discovered? We cannot under any circumstances understand or avoid war with Iraq unless we take what the Stop the War Coalition considers to be the right side in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict – is that what Andrew Murray means?

Here is rigorousness of historical thinking indeed! Here is effect in the most pitiless pursuit of cause. But shouldn't we equally insist, so as not to lose any of this ratiocinative momentum, that some among the Stop the War Coalition also carry banners remembering the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds, chant slogans against the evils of dictatorship, call for the resumption of parliamentary democracy, and otherwise draw attention to human rights abuses in Iraq? Rail against Israel if you must, but aren't Saddam's links to the fate of Iraq a little closer – let alone a little more inextricable – than Sharon's?[more]