Is Palestine the Obsession of Arabs?
No, says Brendan O'Neill, it's the obsession of Western leftists:
UNTIL the Palestinians are given back their rights we're going to have instability throughout the Middle East," declared John Pilger on ABC1's Q & A last night. "That is central to everything."
Yet, one of the most striking things about the uprising in Egypt was the lack of pro-Palestine placards. As Egypt-watcher Amr Hamzawy put it, in Tahrir Square and elsewhere there were no signs saying "death to Israel, America and global imperialism" or "together to free Palestine". Instead, this revolt was about Egyptian people's own freedom and living conditions. Yet on the pro-Egypt demonstration in London on Saturday, there was a sea of Palestine placards. "Free Palestine", they said, and "End the Israeli occupation".
The speakers had trouble getting the audience excited about events in Egypt, having to say on more than one occasion: "Come on London, you can shout louder than that!" Yet every mention of the word Palestine induced a kind of Pavlovian excitability among the attendees. They cheered when the P-word was uttered, chanting: "Free, free Palestine!" This reveals something important about the Palestine issue. In recent years it has moved from the realm of Arab radicalism, where Egyptians and other peoples frequently demanded the creation of a Palestinian state, and has instead become almost the exclusive property of Western middle-class radicals, such as Pilger.