Greta Thunberg and Gen Z’s irrational hatred for Israel

The trendy contempt for the Jewish State is a gross betrayal of Enlightenment values.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

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Can we criticise Greta Thunberg now? For a time, anyone who raised even the mildest objection to the pint-sized prophetess of doom risked being damned as a bully. Surely this moratorium on Greta-scepticism will end following her platforming – to use woke lingo – of an activist with very iffy views. An activist who has trivialised the Holocaust and seems pretty chilled about Hamas’s pogrom of 7 October. Calling out Greta for her fact-lite blather about the planet being ‘on fire’ may have been forbidden – pulling her up for hanging out with Holocaust relativists must not be.

Thunberg has made waves by switching her focus from saving the planet to saving Gaza. Like every other Gen Zer with a TikTok and an insatiable urge to signal his / her / zir virtue to the world, she’s become an overnight authority on Israel-Palestine. She posed with a placard saying ‘Stand with Gaza’. She turned Fridays for Future – where pious rich kids bunk off school to raise awareness about climate change – into ‘Justice for Palestine’ stunts. And on Sunday, she made a climate protest in Amsterdam pretty much all about Palestine.

She invited activists to the stage. One was Sara Rachdan, a Palestinian studying in Amsterdam. It didn’t take German newspaper Bild long to discover that Ms Rachdan holds views which – how should we put this? – are not very pleasant. On Hamas’s pogrom, Ms Rachdan said: ‘This is finally Palestinians taking action [against] the occupation.’ She’s dabbled in Holocaust denigration. She shared a blood-spattered graphic comparing Israel’s actions in Gaza with the Nazis’ actions in Auschwitz. Repulsively, it implies the Jewish State is worse than the Nazis. Where 127 kids a day were killed in Auschwitz, 178 a day are currently dying in Israel’s war in Gaza, it alleges.

Shorter version: the Jews are more accomplished child-killers than even Hitler’s henchmen were. This is rank Holocaust relativism. Comparing the greatest crime in history to this horrendous war denudes that crime of its unique horror. It renders it ordinary. It was no big deal – just the same kind of thing you see on your TV screens every night from Gaza. The implication of moral equivalence between the Nazis’ minutely planned gassing of Jewish children and the deaths of Palestinian kids as a terrible byproduct of Israel’s war on Hamas is beyond immoral. It is the gravest of inversions, treating the Jewish State’s war against anti-Semitic mass murderers as indistinguishable from the Nazis’ acts of anti-Semitic mass murder.

Of course, there’s nothing to suggest Greta shares Ms Rachdan’s views. But isn’t her woke generation obsessed with ‘platforming’, with only rubbing shoulders with the perfectly politically correct and no one else? Indeed, Thunberg ostentatiously flounced out of the Edinburgh Book Festival earlier this year because it received funding from a firm that invests in fossil fuels. Take oil money and she’ll dodge you like the plague; describe an anti-Semitic pogrom as an act of resistance and she’s all over you like a cheap suit. Care to explain, Greta?

Let’s put it another way. Imagine if Thunberg shared a platform with someone who minimised the transatlantic slave trade or described the slaughter of black people by white supremacists as a form of resistance. Do you think she’d still be basking in the warm glow of the chattering classes’ dumb, doe-eyed love? It’s doubtful. If she remains unimpeachable in the wake of her dalliances with people who have done the equivalent in relation to Jews, then we will know, in David Baddiel’s evergreen phrase, that ‘Jews don’t count’.

Greta’s cack-handed embrace of the Palestine issue is not surprising, but it is shocking. It’s not surprising because she is the patron saint of fashionable causes, and there is no cause more fashionable among the West’s time-rich TikToking upper-class brats right now than Israel-bashing. Every woke cause is leaping on the anti-Israel bandwagon. Want to stay relevant? Want to enjoy clicks and clout online? Then you’d better say ‘Fuck Israel’.

So not only do we have climate-change loons for Palestine, we also have Queers for Palestine. I’m sure Hamas would love these posh, purple-haired, gender-fluid navel-gazers. As journalist James Kirchick says, I wonder if they have a sister movement: ‘Blacks for the KKK’? We’ve also had sex workers for Palestine. Apparently the right to sell sex to tragic fortysomething blokes is intimately bound up with the struggle for Palestinian freedom. Porn star Mia Khalifa celebrated Hamas’s racist onslaught of 7 October, calling the killers ‘freedom fighters’. It is truly surreal that a woman who got rich from showing her breasts is cheering a movement that would stone her for showing her ankles.

The rise of Gaza Greta is shocking, though, because it suggests the new generation has failed to recognise the historic enormity of 7 October. This was the worst act of racist violence of modern times. It was the worst assault on Jews since the death camps. And yet solidarity with Israel and Jews has been notable by its absence among the toytown radicals of very online Gen Z. Instead they moved with startling speed to damning Israel itself. This is where echo chambers aren’t only annoying, but dangerous. So loud is the clamour of ‘Yasss Queen’ whenever a social-media youth says ‘Screw Israel’ that these people never stop to think about what has happened over the past month. About the gravity of what was done to Israeli Jews. About the hateful, racist, misogynistic and supremacist motivations of the Hamas pogromists – all vices I thought you youngsters hated?

I wonder if we’re witnessing an unwitting and profoundly unholy marriage between two types of death cult – the eco death cult and the Islamist death cult? Perhaps the reason Western greens seem strangely unexercised about Hamas is because there’s a commonality between their own feudalist loathing for modern society and Hamas’s medieval contempt for the gleaming state Israel built in the deserts of the Middle East. In both cases there’s a culture of cosmic derision for ‘arrogant’ modernists, a loathing of Enlightenment, a horror at the temerity of the human race not only to survive but to thrive.

It’s time for Greta and the rest to wake up. The world is not coming to an end, and neither will Israel.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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