We haven’t read ‘The Shock of the Fall‘ by Nathan Filer, and can’t comment on the artistic merits of the book which recently won the Costa Book of the Year award. However, we can speak about the Guardian’s report on the award, and the author’s curious understanding of the words “peace” and “human rights”.
The Guardian’s story, Costa winner Nathan Filer: ‘This is huge, isn’t it?’, by Guardian features writer Kira Cochrane, begins thus:
This has been one of the most eventful weeks so far in an already eventful life for Nathan Filer. On Saturday, it was his wedding – the culmination of a journey that began in spring 2012, with an unexpected proposal to his partner Emily while they were being held in an Israeli detention centre. Then on Tuesday he won the Costa Book of the Year award for his first novel, The Shock of the Fall, a trip to the podium that began in 2002, when he was training to be a mental health nurse.
Why was Filer held in an Israeli detention center? Cochrane gives us a bit of background:
In 2009, having worked on The Shock of the Fall for seven years, he decided to study for a creative writing MA, making the novel his priority. That same year he met his partner Emily, who also works in mental health, and her interest in human rights led to them volunteering in Palestine. In 2011, the pair travelled to Hebron, working with the International Solidarity Movement. They taught English at a university, and offered what support they could to people whose houses had been demolished: they filmed one man in this situation, and put his story online. “It’s about raising awareness,” says Filer. “We would go to protests, to be there and observe. If international people are there, it’s less likely the Israeli military will use heavy-handed tactics, so we were there to try to make things more peaceful, really.”
(Indeed, on his blog, Filer freely writes that “(ISM) does important work in Palestine. I’ve volunteered with them…”.)
Cochrane then directly touches on the detention:
He says he loved being in Palestine and, about six months later, he and Emily travelled there to volunteer again. This time though, as soon as they arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv, they were taken into a side room and questioned, before being driven to a holding facility, to await deportation on the next plane home – their passport details had been taken by the Israeli military during a peaceful protest on their previous visit. Filer didn’t feel he was in danger, but says he was furious, “because we knew that the work we were doing was perfectly legal. We didn’t break any Israeli laws, we’re pro-human rights, peaceful people.”
The casual Guardian reader would be forgiven – after reading the passage – for believing that ISM was a peaceful organization.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Though ISM describes itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action” their activities have included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces” and providing the Palestinian terrorist operatives and their families “with financial, logistic and moral support”. They have even reportedly ”embraced Palestinian suicide bombers as freedom fighters”
Here’s more info on ISM from The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and NGO Monitor:
- ISM rejects the existence of Israel as a national homeland for the Jews.
- ISM has been responsible for endangering the safety of many foreign nationals, including Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. Both were killed while participating in ISM activities. In response to Corrie’s death, ISM co-founder Thom Saffold said, “we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.”
- In a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent…In actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured,” but these deaths are “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.”
- In 2003 ISM activist Susan Barclay said in an interview that she “knowingly worked with representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad…”
- In 2003, ISM activist Ewa Jasiewicz wrote about a shooting attack against Israeli civilians: “Lawd – S-T-R-A-T-E-G-Y, I understand its about attacking civilian life the way civilian life has been crushed and continually denied under the occupation and showing Israelis that they are not safe… from the indefatigable Palestinian resistance etc…But that mesage (sic) has been got loud and clear. I don’t get why activists can’t go and do the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) or something, or do a sophisticated politician bump-off…”
- In a 2003 interview on the ISM-London website, Saif Abu Keshek, ISM’s Nablus coordinator at the time, said: “we recognise the right of the Palestinians to choose their way of resistance. To join our way of resistance or to choose armed struggle.”
- In March 2003, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.
- In 2003, terrorists originating from the UK attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people. An official Israeli report showed how the terrorists covered their tracks “by forging links with foreign left-wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).” According to this report, “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity….is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations.”
- After the second intifada senior ISM activists moved their operations to Gaza where Hamas was gaining a foothold before its violent takeover in 2007. Four senior American ISM activists were key in founding an international pro-Hamas umbrella organization called the Free Gaza Movement, which strives to strengthen the Hamas administration in the Palestinian territory.
- In 2008, ISM member Richard David Hupper was convicted by a U.S. federal jury for materially aiding Hamas, “giving about $20,000 to Hamas while working in Israel with the International Solidarity Movement.”
Yet, in an over 1700 word story, the Guardian journalist never once mentions ISM’s terror-supporting activities nor noted the seeming contradiction of Filer’s alleged support for “peace” and “human rights” with his active participation with a group which aids and abets antisemitic extremists who intentionally murder innocent Israelis.
Indeed, one of the biggest scandals of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians is the dishonest manner in which they frame the debate – the way they automatically impute good will and progressivism to nearly anyone claiming to advocate on behalf of Palestinians, even those compromised by their support for violence against innocent civilians. Such moral blind spots regarding the human rights of Israelis continue to define the ideological territory occupied by the Guardian Left.