We must not be afraid to challenge British Zionists over Israeli crimes

Tracy-Ann Oberman. Editorial credit: Brian Minkoff / Shutterstock.com

Following a Twitter spat between two prominent actresses, Juveriah Alam argues that it is perfectly reasonable to hold British Zionists accountable for the crimes of Israel.  

This week James Bond actress Samantha Bond received a backlash on Twitter/X following a tweet she directed to fellow actress, and passionate Zionist, Tracy-Ann Oberman. The now deleted tweet read, “Dear [Tracy], What is your response to Israel’s actions today! 7 people dead! Trying to feed the starving?”

Of course, Bond was referring to the seven international aid workers who were intentionally killed by Israel on Monday night. Immediately following her tweet, a large number of accounts (the vast majority being staunch Zionists) quote-tweeted Bond and expressed outrage. The predominant sentiment was that it was antisemitic to question a Jewish person about the actions of a foreign government.

So this got me thinking: is it antisemitic to question a random Jewish person about the actions of Israel? And can this be compared to holding all Muslims accountable for the actions of ISIS and asking Muslims to condemn terrorism?

There is a lot to unpack here.

Tracy-Ann Oberman: A vocal defender of Israel

First let’s be clear: those who require all Muslims to condemn terrorism are Islamophobes. These are people who are deeply suspicious of Muslims, about how we think as a group and what we really talk about behind closed doors. It’s a national obsession – a fascination – about how many of us are “extreme” and how many of us are “moderate.” It’s why thumbnails with pictures of Muslim women in hijab get the most clicks. Islamophobes are numerous and they are obsessed with Muslims.

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Jews don’t suffer this phenomenon. No newspaper puts “visible Jews” on the front page because it simply wouldn’t work as clickbait. And pro-Palestine activists like myself are not concerned about whether British Jews support Israel or where their loyalties lie. We simply seek to hold those who support genocide to account.

Now while it is true that Israel’s actions are partly inspired by and extremist interpretation of Judaism, the relevance of Jewishness is often overstated by Zionists as a means of deflection to bring in the “antisemitism” slur. We could have a perfectly constructive discussion about Israel’s crimes without having to even mention Jews. And that is simply because the crimes of Israel are so numerous and well-documented.

So why did Bond feel the need to publicly question Oberman? She could have directed the tweet to non-Jewish Zionists such as Douglas Murray or Julia Hartley-Brewer. The truth is, it has nothing to do with Oberman being Jewish.

Rather, it is likely to be because Oberman is a vocal defender of Israel who has voiced opposition to a ceasefire unless all hostages are released. By taking this stance, she puts the power of releasing hostages onto innocent Palestinians. This is pretty much a parroting of the official Israeli stance and by doing so, Oberman is participating in collective blame. She also recently took a cosy selfie with Israel-propagandist Douglas Murray and called the IDF-supporter a “very clever” man.

Nevertheless, Oberman remains a mainstream figure. She is an actress in a popular West End production and she has appeared casually on daytime TV. So it is absolutely fair to expect a statement from her about any atrocity committed by the IDF. Her views should no longer be allowed to remain unchallenged.

In contrast, Muslims who have not expressed support for ISIS or terrorist groups (the overwhelming majority) and individual Muslims shouldn’t be questioned about the crimes ISIS commit. In fact, rather than supporting ISIS, most Muslims are suspicious about who they really are and who is funding them. So it is fair that we refuse to condemn an organisation that we do not identify with.

That is not the case with the general Jewish community’s relationship with Israel. For example, my local Jewish school states in its mission statement that it aims to nurture the children’s “Jewish identity and love of Israel.” I don’t know any Islamic school in Britain that encourages children to love Saudi Arabia or another Muslim nation.

What’s more, we are told repeatedly by Zionists that the bulk of Jews support Israel, that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, and that anti-Zionist Jews are a tiny minority of rejected oddballs.

Well, I don’t buy any of that but I also don’t think it is okay to go and target random Jews and question them about what Israel is doing. But at the same time, Zionists can’t have it both ways. They cannot claim that most Jews support Israel but also consider it antisemitic to question Jews about Israel’s actions. It’s a clear paradox.

‘Vicious pile-on’

Soon after her tweet, Bond became the target of a vicious, co-ordinated counter-attack by high-profile Zionists. She was accused of antisemitism and received masses of abuse which led her to delete the tweet and publicly apologise to Oberman. Having been on the receiving end of an organised Zionist pile-on myself, I fully understand why Bond felt the need to do this. The fact is, being labelled antisemitic for the first time can be deeply hurtful.

But having a quick glance at the profiles of some of the Zionists expressing righteous indignation and false outrage, the matter becomes all the more absurd. Many are active and vocal supporters of Israel’s war on Gaza, have been staunchly against a ceasefire and have been part of a long campaign to malign pro-Palestinian voices.

One such commentator was notorious Zionist extremist Lee Kern who called Bond “a piece of shit” in response to her tweet to Oberman. This is a man who has joked about dead Palestinian babies and has collectively blamed ordinary Palestinians for the October 7th attack by Hamas. If you have views like these, you are in no place to call someone antisemitic for questioning you about individual atrocities committed by Israel.

Let me be clear: Samantha Bond’s tweet to Tracy-Ann Oberman was more than reasonable. I hope that like I did, Bond will come to the realisation that these attacks are solely for the purpose of trying to discredit the pro-Palestinian movement and shut down criticism of Israel.

And since the world witnessed the intentional murder of seven international aid workers, Zionists have only become more desperate, more hysterical and more unhinged. We’ve all noticed. I hope Bond will soon rise above it and continue to speak out against Israel’s crimes.

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