top of page
PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
PayPal ButtonPayPal Button

You can’t be “pro-Palestine” AND anti-Israel

In order to be pro-Palestinian it is necessary to be pro-Israel.

It is a sad, indeed infuriating, situation that the people in Europe and North America who self-define as "pro-Palestinian" are in fact the ones responsible for helping perpetuate Palestinian statelessness, hopelessness and rage. It is especially galling that they do so while slapping themselves on the back for their heroic righteousness in defense of the very Palestinians whose lives, in practice, seem to mean nothing to these activists.

In any online discussion of Israel and Palestine, the "pro-Palestinian" troops lob missiles from behind rhetorical shields of "settler colonialism," "white supremacy," "apartheid" and similar inventive accusations that bear little to no resemblance with facts on the ground.

This language, of course, mirrors the narrative of the Palestinians themselves. Under reasonable circumstances, this is the sort of thing that progressive Westerners should be doing. We take our cues from the people with whom we are allied. We take our lead on racism from racialized people. We take our cue on women's rights from women themselves. We take our direction on gay rights from the LGBTQ+ community. The problem in this instance is that we are allying with a movement that is the very one that is oppressing the Palestinian people.

There have been nascent movements in Palestine in favour of peace, coexistence and democracy. But they have mostly been crushed by Palestinian dictators and terrorists. As a result, the loudest voices in Palestine are those who are allowed to speak — and therefore the ones that echo the intolerance, hatred and xenophobia of the Palestinian leaders themselves.

The sad irony is that the endless "solidarity missions" and other junkets that Western progressives, church people and trade unionists take to Palestine congratulate themselves for meeting with rank-and-file folks, the grassroots Palestinians. But Palestine is an authoritarian society. You are no more likely to get unvarnished truth about the situation from ordinary Palestinians than would some wide-eyed Westerner landing in Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe in the 1950s expecting to learn the "real truth" about what's going on there. This is especially true because, while the Soviets had powerful tools for the indoctrination of their subjects, the Palestinian dictators have perfected the art. For three generations and counting, Palestinians have been fed an undiluted diet of Jew-hatred through their education system, political and religious leaders, popular culture, news, weather and sports.

Ordinary Palestinians may indeed seek to live in peace, although there is an old, unfunny joke that Palestinians want peace — they just don't want it with Israel.

But peace is demonstrably not what their leaders want. Both the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas, in their founding charters and in everything they have done since, have sought to perpetuate unceasing, indeed genocidal, violence to rid the region of Jewish people. It is an act of profound Western arrogance and “First World” presumptuousness that we would convince ourselves that the violent language and the promises of rivers of Jewish blood are nothing more than hyperbole for domestic audiences.

There remains a small group of deeply principled, courageous Palestinians genuinely seeking peace and coexistence with their neighbours. These are people that Western progressives have, by and large, thrown under the bus as we have signed on to an alliance with the most extreme voices in that society, which happen to be the autocratic leaders and their most extreme, intolerant followers.

Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Khaled Mashal and almost every Palestinian leader and public figure that you could name has made abundantly clear that the only satisfactory resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the eradication of the Jewish state. There are some progressives who acknowledge this fact but insist that there is a difference between seeking the annihilation of a Jewish state and seeking the annihilation of the Jewish people — a distinction they really should discuss with their Palestinian "allies."

Overwhelmingly, in the Western world, self-declared pro-Palestinian activists relitigate the history of the conflict, beginning in 1948 or earlier. They depict the creation of Israel as a crime of civilizational magnitude. They recount the displacement of civilians – a result typical of any war and, in this case, caused not by “Zionist aggression” but by an Arab-initiated war – even as they exhibit no concern about the larger number of Jews made refugees in the same era. They nitpick over this detail or that detail, as though proving the Zionists wrong and the Palestinians right will, by some miracle, result in a positive outcome today for the people affected.

This sophistry and carping has not and will not have any positive effects on Palestinian people. The voices who contest the legitimacy of Israel or who reinvent historical “facts” are, put mildly, far more concerned about being right than they are about ending Palestinian statelessness, oppression and death. A fair reading of history indicates that the conflict began, and has continued for seven decades, because of absolute Arab intransigence and the refusal, based on savage antisemitism and nothing else, to militate against the presence of self-determined Jewish people in their region. And Western activists sign on uncritically to this xenophobic and genocidal ideology.

It doesn’t bother them, unsurprisingly, that the fate of half the world’s Jews who are Israeli could be negatively impacted by their wrongheaded activism. What should be surprising is that they also do not seem the least bit concerned that their activism is having ongoing and seriously deleterious impacts on Palestinians. It is clear from many, or most, conversations with “pro-Palestinians” that resolving Palestinian statelessness and its assorted injustices is far from their main priority. Slamming Israel and seeking its elimination is the goal. But the sad irony is that, for most Western “pro-Palestinians,” the subjects of their white saviour complex are not seen as realized human beings.

Indeed, to scratch the surface of many online pro-Palestinian warriors is to discover that they are willing to fight for a free Palestine to the last dead Palestinian.

What so many Western progressives have done is not only justify but enthusiastically endorse the absolutist narrative of Palestinian righteousness to the point where the lives and well-being of actual Palestinians ceases to matter. When we join marches, chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" or other messages that completely reject coexistence, we are doing precisely the opposite of what we think we are doing.

We will leave aside, for now, the outrageous idea that a "free Palestine" would in any way be free for women, LGBTQ+ people … or, really, anyone. But if we are talking about free Palestine in the context of national self-determination, which Palestinians deserve, we are behaving in direct opposition to our stated goal.

Israel will never be defeated by boycotts, marches in Paris or Melbourne, and not even by three generations and counting of mass-murdering terrorism.

Palestinian self-determination will come only through a negotiated settlement between two peoples. Palestinian self-determination — a "free Palestine," if we insist on using the inapt term — will emerge only when the Palestinians (and, notably, their overseas false friends) are willing to accept coexistence, mutual recognition and peace.

Those are the only things that will end this conflict and lead to an independent Palestine.

When we reject coexistence, mutual recognition and peace, we push Palestinian self-determination further away — even as we wrap ourselves in Palestinian flags and congratulate ourselves for being such devoted allies.

There will never be a "Palestine from the river to the sea." The sooner we accept that — and the sooner we encourage our Palestinian friends to accept that — the sooner they may return to the negotiating table that Arafat overturned in 2000. That will be the first step to peace and a two-state solution.

A zero-sum narrative where Israeli defeat means Palestinian victory is a recipe for endless war and perpetual Palestinian statelessness and death.

We are part of the problem. We contribute to the lack of peace. We are part of the reason Palestinians are suffering.

Peace and Palestinian self-determination will come only through a negotiated settlement when both sides have demonstrated they are willing to coexist in peace.

Twitter pundits and Facebook activists can find all sorts of incidents in history to “prove” that Israel has done dastardly deeds. But Israelis, from the beginning until today, have sought peace with their neighbours – what alternative have they had?

Any and every example of perceived Israeli overreach or malevolence is, at root, the reaction of a people justifiably tired of seeking peace and getting nothing but violence, terror and promises of genocide in return. If Palestinians committed to mutual coexistence today, there would be an independent Palestine tomorrow.

But they have not – and we have rewarded them for that obstinacy. We have encouraged them to accept nothing but complete victory over the “Zionist usurper,” a victory that will never happen.

The only way Palestinians will ever be a self-determined people is if they put down arms and live in peace.

As long as we continue to egg them on in their existential battle for supremacy and a Jew-free Palestine, then we should only blame ourselves when the numbers of dead Palestinians rise.

If we genuinely seek Palestinian independence, we need to do the opposite of what we are doing now. We need to demand that Palestinians (and the rest of the Arab world) accept Israel as a legitimate neighbour and insist that Palestinians stop the bloodshed and negotiate in good faith. That is the only way there will ever be a “free Palestine. (Whether it is “free” by any meaning of the term that we would recognize depends on the Palestinian people’s taste for democracy and minority rights and, perhaps, our own activism to encourage democratic values, which is a cause we have steadfastly refused to take up.)

In short, as long as Western progressives continue demonizing Israel and rewarding Palestinian inflexibility, we are the reason Palestinians are stateless. We are the reason they are dying.

If we truly cared about Palestinian lives and self-determination, we would stop debating the irreversible past and take steps to encourage coexistence. To be truly pro-Palestinian, we must be pro-Israel.


Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page