Yesterday I was at a pub quiz in London, and talking to my friends about how I was going to a launch of a book on Palestine by Bidisha, and a man sitting at the next table with his wife (but who had spent the evening checking me and my friend out and listening to our conversation) piped up:
“I’ve lived in Palestine.”
Oh, where was that? I responded.
“In the historical, biblical land of Israel.”
I warned him that if he was going to defend the idea of Eretz Israel he should not engage with me, but he was looking for a fight and had already started to shake with rage. He and his wife concluded that my citing of international laws made me a “bigot” and “anti-Semite”. Unpleasant experience, but I was struck by how desperate and almost deranged Israel’s apologists have become.
There was a time not that long ago that my friend’s mother – a left-wing artist – would have defended Israel as, simply, a socialist paradise, a humane refuge for Holocaust survivors, a triumph against British imperialism. Now she is regularly incensed by Israel’s transparent attempts to deflect condemnation of its brutality and war crimes. Things truly are unravelling for Israel’s apologists, I believe.