Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East
This is a curious new lobby group, with a curious name.
It is a little like founding ‘Labour Friends of Slough and the United Kingdom’, or ‘Labour Friends of Malta and Europe’. Except, of course, that neither Slough nor Malta have been magnified out of all proportion to their significance. And neither Slough nor Malta are artificial geo-political constructs whose populations are agitating for the eradication of that to which they are intrinsically linked.
Of course, Labour could not possibly launch at the present time a group called ‘Labour Friends of Israel & the Middle East’, not least because ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ has existed since 1957 and ‘Labour Friends of Israel & the Middle East’ would be interpreted as bestowing upon Israel an exalted status and political dominance over the rest of the Middle East of which it is not worthy.
But what becomes of ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ now? Since Israel is manifestly part of the Middle East, are those who choose to befriend Palestine not also befriending Israel? And will members of ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ not also be obliged to join ‘Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East’ since that group professes to additionally befriend that to which they have already pledged their friendship?
But Israel aside, why would any sincere Socialist supporter of Palestine wish their admirable cause to be tarnished with support for the rest of the Middle East? Can one not be a Labour supporter of the Palestinian cause and consider it good, without having also to support the bad and the ugly of the Middle East?
The region that spans southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa is vast. If one wishes to be a friend of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, why should one be obliged to spread that friendship very thinly indeed to Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt?
After all, what hath Ramallah to do with Tehran, Damascus or Beirut?