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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

David Ward's Israel tweet

So, what did the Liberal Democrat MP David Ward mean when he tweeted the following non-sequitur: "Am I wrong or am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid state of Israel last?"

How, precisely, are "the Zionists" losing the battle (

What  is "the apartheid state of Israel"? This is apartheid ( and this is Israel ( Spot the difference?

In asking "How long can the apartheid state of Israel last?", he is either contemplating the end of a non-existent system of Israeli apartheid (and why bother campaigning against something that is non-existent?), or he is contemplating the end of the State of Israel itself.

If the latter, then what is his intended fate for the millions of people (Jewish and non-Jewish) who currently live there? Is he proposing a one-state solution, in which case, I would ask what sort of state would it be? If you lived in Israel (be you Jewish, Arab or anything else), you would want to know with what sort of state people are proposing to replace the country in which you live.

Would  it be a state in which the government and parliament are freely, universally elected and then required to seek re-election a few years later? Would it be a state in which women and LGBT people are fully equal? Would it have a free press (and no state media) and freedom of worship, not to mention equality before the law and an independent judiciary? I know of one (and only one) country in the entire Middle East in which those things hold true, and it is the current State of Israel. Can anyone name a second?

In a conflict in which words and their meaning can be of enormous significance (hence the need for nuance when debating Israel/Palestine), anyone contemplating the possibility that the State of Israel will not "last" risks engaging in discourse that echoes the language used by those who actually do seek the destruction of the State of Israel and its inhabitants. Since those who call explicitly for such destruction are major players in the conflict, this is not an academic consideration and such echoes are therefore  inflammatory and should be avoided.

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