Last weekend I attended the Make Amazon Pay summit in Manchester, UK. And although we were there to organise against corporate greed, many of the sidebar conversations I had were about... Gaza and the left’s response.
So although I touched on this topic in my last newsletter, I'm revisiting it this week. Because it relates to issues beyond Gaza, and to how the left positions itself in general.
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The trap of comparisons
There's a concept called Godwin's Law, that's as old as the modern internet. It says that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison to Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.
And in the context of the horrific events in Gaza unfolding right now, Godwin's Law is painfully evident. On one side of the battle for public opinion, some international progressive voices are referring to Gaza as a 'concentration camp’, labelling the Israeli government a ‘Nazi-type regime’, or comparing the destruction wrought by Israel's bombs to the Warsaw Ghetto.
On the other, Netanyahu claims that “Hamas are the new Nazis", and that Israeli children had to “hide in attics like Anne Frank.” The Israeli UN delegation shows up to work wearing yellow stars. Right wing media in Israel publish Nazi-esque cartoons depicting Palestinian fighters as cockroaches. And a US member of congress compares Palestinians to... yes, Nazis.
I don't know where all this will lead us, but certainly not to a good place.
A strategic mis-step
(Some quick context. I fully support the Palestinian cause and believe Israel is practising apartheid. I also think the best way to combat bad ideas is with better ideas – clampdowns on freedom of expression irk me to the extreme.)
Now, the Israeli government and its US backers are acting according to their agenda. But I think we should focus on what we can control: ourselves.