Sunday, October 25th | 8 Heshvan 5781

November 23, 2016 7:48 am

What ‘Pro-Palestinian’ Really Means

avatar by Robert Festenstein

University College London. Photo: website

University College London. Photo: website.

On two separate occasions this year, Jewish students have been subjected to harassment and physical intimidation at London universities. At a meeting last week, I heard the hostile individuals responsible for these incidents described as “pro-Palestinian.”

But the term “pro-Palestinian” is, in fact, a misnomer. The individuals in question had turned up in large numbers and threatened a group of Jewish students with violence. There was nothing “pro” about these people.

Their actions were wholly anti. Anti-Israel, anti-free speech and, ultimately, antisemitic. For too long, we have allowed those who hate Jews or Israel to be labeled as “pro-something.” They are not.

I next thought about other “pro” groups from recent history — pro-civil rights in the US, pro-democracy in South Africa, pro-peace in Sudan — and they all have one thing in common: working to end some form of injustice. Broadly, the pros were in favor of something.

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With the “pro-Palestinians,” the narrative is completely different. In the context of Jews or Israel, pro means hate, it means discrimination and ostracism. We know from Toulouse, Copenhagen and Paris that the use of language is crucial. Too often journalists talk about Jewish victims of terror attacks as having “died,” rather than being killed or murdered. The cause of their death is blamed on a bomb, instead of a bomber.

We must examine the way in which we describe those who campaign against the Jews, and describe them accurately. Otherwise we will lose the narrative and, ultimately, the hearts and mind of the general population.

There is room for two nation states, but the pro-Palestinian groups are not interested in two states, only one, wiped of all Jewish presence. So when the next group of thugs break up a Jewish student meeting, they should not be described as pro anything — but only as the antisemites that they are. Perhaps then, the wider world will start to see them for what they really represent.

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