‘God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.’
So writes William Shakespeare in his world-famous play Hamlet, in words that do more to grasp the meaning of hypocrisy in human affairs than any number of worthy treatises on the subject could possibly come close to. Given recent events, the same words should be inscribed in huge letters above the entrance to the UK Parliament, a building from which an unending number of high crimes and war crimes have issued throughout its long history on the wings of the very hypocrisy Shakespeare describes.
The latest example when it comes to the organized hypocrisy which passes for democracy on the part of a perfidious British political establishment, is the news that the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas is to be proscribed as a terrorist organization, a status previously accorded its military wing but which now, with this latest demarche, is to be be enlarged to encompass its political wing also.
This decision by the British government is not per se an attack on Hamas, an organization which emerged and grew organically from the cruel soil of Israeli occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, it is in truth an attack on the entire Palestinian people and, more significantly, the right of an oppressed and occupied people to resist their oppression and occupation by any means necessary.
Just by way of a reminder, this particular right is enshrined in international humanitarian law, specifically under the rubric of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (1949), recognizing the legality of wars of national liberation.
No one, of course, will be surprised that the British government – indeed the entire British political establishment – refuses to acknowledge much less recognize the right of the Palestinian people to engage in a war of national liberation. The land of Balfour has only ever viewed the Palestinians as Helots – that is, as an unpeople unworthy of value, dignity, or parity of esteem with their occupier, condemned in the perverse collective colonial mind of your average British ideologue to a future of national extinction rather than liberation.
Renowned German playwright anti-fascist, Bertolt Brecht, said it best: ‘The crimes pile up until they become invisible.’ This writer can conjure no more a simple yet cogent understanding of Britain’s past and present as a first colonial then latterly sub-imperialist power, shorn of the ocean of propaganda deployed in service to the myths of Britain’s standing in the world as a steadfast pillar of something described as the ‘rules based international order’.
Where Britain (officially, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is concerned, the crimes have not only piled up throughout its history, they continue to pile up still today. Don’t believe me, go and ask the people of Yemen. Victims of Saudi barbarism since 2015 with the material and active support of UK military forces, utilizing British weaponry in indiscriminate attacks against civilians that shame a so-called international community – in truth, the West – this is a people whose continuing suffering stands as an indictment of UK foreign policy.
Or how about the Syrian and Libyan people, both of which have lived experience of the chasm that exists between the words ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ in the mouths of British ideologues and the reality of an imperialist agenda rooted in nothing more squalid than hard power politics.
Returning to Hamas, the unimpeachable truth is that Hamas is the child of Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing, occupation and oppression, rather than Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing, occupation and oppression being the child of Hamas. In the same vein, the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) was the child of British colonialism and Orange apartheid in the North of Ireland rather than the other way round, and on and on.
Not that the Palestinians can expect anything better from a UK Labour Party currently led by one Sir Keir Starmer. At the annual Labour Friends of Israel get-together, Starmer gave the keynote speech during which he voiced his opposition to the international Boycott, Investment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
In his speech, Starmer stated that under his leadership ‘’Labour does not – and will not – support BDS. Its principles are wrong – targeting alone the world’s sole Jewish state’.
Substitute ‘sole African state’ for ‘sole Jewish state’ in the above passage and you begin to reach the heart of the matter, which is that for the likes of Sir Keir Starmer apartheid is right resistance to apartheid wrong, occupation and ethnic cleansing right resistance to them wrong.
As for ‘targeting alone’, whoever else are the Palestinians supposed to target if not their oppressor? BDS is a campaign that originated in Palestine and was established by Palestinian civil society. It allows for the channelling of international solidarity on the basis of non-violence, inspired by the international campaign of BDS that did so much to help bring white South African apartheid to an end in the early 1990s.
In the last analysis, this perfidious stance by the UK government and official opposition when it comes to the oppressed Palestinian people cannot be allowed to stand. Hamas’ existence and resistance is not a choice it is an absolute necessity in the context of the most prolonged, brutal and murderous system of oppression in the world today.
With this in mind, the group’s designation as a terrorist organization by a British government drowning in hypocrisy and double standards is tantamount to a badge of honor.
By John Wight
John Wight is an author and political commentator based in Scotland.