The Livingstone Formulation had another outing in today’s Independent. This time, courtesy of Johann Hari. The paper’s front and second pages covered the dreadful testimonies that have emerged from IDF troops who served in Gaza. Hari followed this up by telling Independent readers that:
“For months, the opponents of Operation Cast Lead – the assault on Gaza that killed 1,434 Palestinians – have been told we are “dupes for Islamic fundamentalists”, or even anti-Semitic. The defenders of Israel’s war claimed you could only believe the reports that Israeli troops were deliberately firing on civilians, scrawling “death to Arabs” on the walls, and trashing olive groves, or using the chemical weapon white phosphorus that burns to the bone, if you were infected with the old European virus of Jew-hatred.”
Further on in his ‘Comment’ piece, Hari clarified that there are still some decent Israelis. He didn’t, however, make any such clarification about who did and didn’t scream antisemitism over the reports that emerged during the Gaza war.
Let me be clear. I think its very likely that Hari and/or his Independent colleagues will have received some disgusting emails, threats and insults during the Gaza conflict from some “defenders of Israel’s war”. There is absolutely no excuse for such despicable behaviour; but plenty of people such as David Hirsh at Engage receive such abuse from the other side of the fence, and they do not write articles in national newspapers blaming it upon such all embracing terms as ‘the defenders of Palestine’.
Hari’s particular Livinsgtone Formulation (“The defenders of Israel’s war claimed you could only believe the reports…if you were infected with the old European virus of Jew-hatred”) is so indiscriminate it could even include the Independent’s own editorial about the soldiers’ testimonies, which states in part:
“Nor does the conduct of Israeli troops invalidate the overall objective of Operation Cast Lead, namely to stop Hamas firing rockets into towns in Southern Israel”.
Ironically, this part of the editorial probably sums up what many of those who basically back Israel felt during the Gaza war. It most certainly does not mean that they were lambasting Hari et al as infected with Jew-hatred for simply believing reports of IDF wrongdoing that emerged during the conflict.
For arguments sake, perhaps Hari would have been closer to the truth if he had written that Israel’s defenders are concerned that the “old European virus of Jew-hatred” plays a role in the unique obsessions and emotions that are stirred by Israel today. However, he didn’t.
Mark Gardner, Director of Communications, CST