The Irish Times has published an essay by author Eimear McBride, who visited the West Bank on a trip organized by the controversial and highly politicized Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS). BtS campaigns against the occupation by publishing Israeli soldiers’ testimonies of alleged IDF misdeeds or “war crimes.” However, BtS relies almost exclusively on accounts that are both anonymous and unverified, leading to many stories that later turn out to be distorted or even entirely disproved. As part of this campaign, BtS brought authors to the West Bank, to compile their essays into a book of their experiences.
The headline in the Irish Times quotes McBride: “All that is human in me recoils from this.” This indicates the theme of her article, which goes on to dehumanize and demonize Israelis, while affirming only the Palestinian narrative that “this is their homeland, all of it.” In her view, all of Israel is Palestinian and Jews have no place in Israel whatsoever. By her logic, anything Israel does is wrong because the Jewish homeland shouldn’t even exist, in which case the only proper course of action for Jews in Israel would be to leave entirely.
McBride dismisses the notion that Israelis should have any legitimate security concerns regarding Palestinians. In her view, the security fence that finally stopped the hundreds of suicide bombings in the second intifada is a “separation wall,” motivated by discrimination.
She mentions the signs Israel has put up near Palestinian villages, warning Israelis that entry is forbidden and dangerous for them, and says these signs “alarm” her. Paradoxically, though, she is not alarmed by the Palestinian attacks on innocent Israelis that made the warning signs necessary in the first place.
McBride describes, in Hebron, “The sheer effort, in this place, to make history die.” Yet it is McBride who buries Hebron’s history, covering up the thousands of years old Jewish connection, a connection that far predates that of Palestinians, Arabs or even the very existence of Islam itself. How Hebron is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, home to the second-holiest site in Judaism, the Tomb of the Patriarchs; and how, for example, even before Israel was declared a state the Jewish community there was massacred by Arabs in 1929.
Breaking the Silence seem to have done their job well in promoting their agenda and spreading their favored lies across the world, and in the Irish Times. They have clearly exposed McBride to only the most seemingly “moderate,”disadvantaged, and victimized Palestinians; and only the most extreme, ideological and well-off settlers, who she claims are emboldened and encouraged by the state in their supposed land theft, and intimidation and violence towards Palestinians.
The only voice she gives settlers is in this paragraph, where even then she demonizes them and dismisses their concerns:
Then the screaming of the settlers waiting for us when we emerged from the checkpoint on the other side, best summarised as “You’ve been talking to terrorists and liars. Your eyes do not understand what they have seen” is overwhelming and in one way, of course, they are right. I can make no human sense of what I witnessed on those streets. But I know my eyes saw what they did and can never unsee it again.
McBride describes meeting the family of a Palestinian victim of a rare but horrific Israeli terror attack, Mohammed Abu Khdeir. He was murdered in 2014 by an Israeli who claimed he was acting in revenge for the Palestinian kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, who were buried the day before. McBride doesn’t mention them though. She just portrays the Israeli attack as “just one more terrible thread in a pattern I am still learning how to read.”
But Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said there is “no place in Israeli society” for Abu Khdeir’s killers; Israeli officials from across the political spectrum condemned the attack, with Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, calling for the murderers to be prosecuted as terrorists. Two of them were sentenced to life in prison; the third to 21 years. Meanwhile Palestinian President Abbas is increasing the payments made to terrorists’ families, on top of what is already paid to them and to terrorists who survived attacks, thereby increasing the Palestinian incentive to carry out attacks.
McBride ignores all of that; ignores the countless brutal Palestinian terror attacks over the years, including hundreds since 2015 in the “knife intifada,” in which at least 48 innocent people were murdered; and ignores that the Palestinian response to attacks is to glorify terrorists as martyrs, celebrate the murder of innocent Jews, and incite more attacks.
McBride asks a Palestinian woman she meets about her marriage:
“I met my husband during the first intifada,” she says. “I was in my teens, he was throwing stones and I thought that was kind of sexy.”
McBride adds: “I’m pretty sure in my teens I would have too.” Is she unaware of the Israelis who have been killed by Palestinians throwing stones? That those stones are thrown with the intention to kill, even if most of the time they don’t? Or does she just not care?
The utter hypocrisy of McBride’s outlook is explained by these two paragraphs.
First, regarding settlers, she writes that while familiar with settlers’ justifications for why they have, in her view
…decided their fellow human beings deserve to live this way, why Palestinians have brought this situation upon themselves by insisting upon their right to remain on their own land, I did not understand… What I do not understand is the human choice settlers make and the certainty with which they seem able to choose for others what they would never choose for themselves.
This is not just a statement about settlers – this is a statement about all Israelis. She cannot understand the Israeli and Jewish connection to their homeland, because in her view there isn’t one. She disregards Jewish history and the current reality, rejecting the Israeli consensus of striving for peace and coexistence, in favor of the extremist and intransigent view.
Regarding Palestinians, though, she understands:
It’s explained simply, and of course makes sense, this is their homeland, all of it. How can they give up on their dream of the freedom to travel it? See the cities they’ve not seen in years. Catch up with friends and family members. Go paddle with their children on the beach in Jaffa. This is a country they love.
The only positive she finds in Israelis, aside from “peace activists,” is in the anger of many Israelis directed towards left-wing Israelis who protest against the occupation. McBride says this anger says much about Israelis’ “consciences,” but only insofar as she likes to view it as meaning that “somewhere inside, these angry people are ashamed.”
The only “good” Israelis, for McBride, are those who are “ashamed.” Like Breaking the Silence. Only she has gone even further than BtS, in completely denying Jewish ties to Israel, while demonizing and dehumanizing Israelis – and the Irish Times has promoted her hateful, false narrative. The danger of publishing these lies is clear from Irish Times readers’ responses: dismissing concerns about anti-Semitism by suggesting that all criticism of Israel is being stifled; and, ironically, singling out the only Jewish state to be subjected to boycotts and sanctions.
Photo: CC BY-SA 4.0 Larry D. Moore