Disgust makes it difficult to write anything on the barbaric collective punishment of Gaza; I was for a while going to reprise a short post I wrote at the time of the 2006 Lebanon war, which made the analogy between the sudden breaking ranks of so many Communists at the repression of Hungary in 1956 and Israel's seemingly equally abrupt fall into disrepute in 2006. What links the two is the many decades of toleration of barbarity that preceded it being suddenly interrupted by the augenblick of Qana or Budapest. While the analogy fits more neatly than the fairly kneejerk Nazi comparisons, I still don't know if I was ever right about this - as the US has finally abandoned its veto then perhaps so - but this letter, sent to Michael Rosen and others shows another kind of augenblick altogether:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Board of Deputies of British Jews Cancels Sunday’s Solidarity Rally
The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, in consultation with a coalition of prominent organisations in the Anglo-Jewish community, have decided to cancel the planned Israel Solidarity Rally, due to occur on Sunday 11th of January.
This decision has been taken after intense discussions within the community, due to a feeling that such a demonstration would not be in accordance with the Board’s wish to bring the conflict to an immediate conclusion. It was thought that the demonstration might be perceived as the community taking one side in the tragic war in Gaza and Israel, and might be seen as supporting Israel’s military campaign.
The Board calls for an immediate ceasefire, immediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas, and for lifting the economic blockade of Gaza, in order to allow the Gazan and Israeli people to live together in peace. There is no military solution, only a political one.
The Jewish community does not wish to be seen as a participant in the conflict, and in taking this stand we hope to be a part of the solution. The Board stands in solidarity with the besieged and injured people of Gaza, as well as the victims of terrorism in Israel, and we oppose all violence as contrary to the tenets of the Jewish religion. We would like to reach out to the British Muslim community, as well as those of no religion who have demonstrated against Israel’s military campaign-we share your anguish at the destruction and loss of life caused, and hope that our action in calling off our demonstration will be a small step towards peace.
Board of Deputies of British Jews and The Jewish Leadership Council
It's a hoax, tragically - for the first few minutes after I first read it I thought it was genuine. But as Dominic Fox rightly points out here, it is analogous to the recent New York Times detournement - a kind of utopian hoaxing, where suddenly one can 'see reality without perceiving it as inevitable'. On which note: demonstration, tomorrow, 12.30 at Hyde Park. Due to a wedding I won't, for once, be 'stereotypical leftist rent-a-mob' here, but you should be.