Rewarding fascism

Today’s recognition of the State of Palestine is virtue-signalling at its most dangerous and dumb.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

Want to read spiked ad-free? Become a spiked supporter.

So now we know what it takes to become a state: the murder of Jews. Rape, kill and kidnap Jews and seven months later, the leaders of Ireland, Spain and Norway will recognise your statehood. That’s the lesson of today’s coordinated spectacle of virtue-signalling in Dublin, Madrid and Oslo: pogroms work. The butchery of civilians gets results. Fascism has its rewards. This is ‘diplomacy’ at its most dangerous.

Of course, Irish taoiseach Simon Harris, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez and Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre are presenting their pious recognition of Palestine as a stab for peace. This is about helping to ‘create a peaceful future’, said Harris. They’re either delusional or they’re engaging in doublespeak. For the true impact of their imperious intervention will be to exacerbate hostilities. Hamas will feel emboldened. It now knows that a wonderful gift awaits it if it keeps battering Israel: a state of its own. In dangling this dream before Hamas, the three PMs have all but green-lighted its terrorism.

Rarely has virtue-signalling felt so reckless. The PMs are so keen to broadcast their correct-think to the world that they appear not to have given one thought to what the consequences might be of three European nations butting in to a bloody war. Their blindness to everything but their own righteousness was best summed up in the figure of Simon Harris. There he was on the steps of Government Buildings in Dublin sermonising about how this is ‘the right thing to do’ – translation: ‘aren’t I wonderful?’ – without so much as a flicker of concern for the global impact of rewarding an act of apocalyptic violence.

That really is what is happening here. Harris and the others were careful to condemn Hamas’s 7 October pogrom, of course. Harris called it a ‘barbaric massacre’. And yet the fact is that today’s announcements, this vain granting of legitimacy to a Palestinian state, would not be happening had it not been for 7 October. Indeed, Harris expressly linked his recognition of Palestine with the ‘appalling’ and ‘unconscionable’ war in Gaza. Yes, a war started by Hamas. On 7 October. With its carnival of anti-Semitic barbarism, the likes of which the world had not seen since the Holocaust. And there you have it. Want a state? Start a war. Kill some Jews. Job done.

Whatever subjective spin the three PMs put on their heedless act of global virtue-signalling, the objective consequence is the legitimation of Hamas. Indeed, Hamas has warmly welcomed their recognition of Palestine, describing it as ‘an important step towards affirming our right to our land’. I’m not into guilt by association, but seriously – when an army of anti-Semites starts singing your praises, you’ve messed up. Badly.

It was completely predictable that Hamas would interpret the recognition of Palestine as a recognition of Hamas itself. What exactly is this ‘State of Palestine’ that Ireland, Spain and Norway are welcoming into the international fold? There’s the West Bank, semi-governed by the corrupt, collapsing bureaucracy of Fatah. And there’s the Gaza Strip, dominated by the frothing extremists of Hamas. Palestine, sadly, is not a functioning state. And right now it shows no meaningful capacity to become a functioning state. That Hamas and its suicidal cheerleaders among the Western influencer set view today’s support for Palestine as support for Hamas and its war on Israel is the least surprising thing I’ve heard in a long time.

The historical illiteracy of the preening PMs really is something. Taoiseach Harris compared his recognition of Palestine with Ireland’s plea for recognition in 1919. That was when the revolutionary Irish Republic issued a ‘Message to the Free Nations of the World’ asking them to acknowledge its independence from Britain. This is mad. There is no comparison between the historic movement for Irish independence and what’s currently happening in Palestine, with exhausted oligarchs on one side and radical Islamists on the other. Ireland sought to create a free republic – Hamas wants to turn Palestine into an outpost of an unforgiving caliphate in which freedom would be notable by its absence. That Harris cannot distinguish between national liberation and Islamist depravity is chilling. He should listen to Salman Rushdie, who wisely counsels that Hamas-ruled Palestine would be a ‘Taliban-like state’.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by the infantile posturing of the three PMs and their dearth of consideration for what might happen if we further isolate Israel and embolden Hamas. Because in a way, such self-involved moral blindness sums up the entirety of ‘Palestinian solidarity’. So much of the supposedly pro-Palestinian sentiment – in politics, on campuses, on the streets – is fundamentally a displacement activity. Politicians and activists bereft of ideas for how to improve their own societies instead seek sanctuary in the moral glow of Palestinianism. Hence you have a figure like Harris, unpopular, unelected, directionless, devoid of ideas for how to fix Ireland’s housing crisis or its migrant crisis, who can nonetheless feel briefly important and even statesmanlike by standing before the cameras to say: ‘I recognise Palestine.’

This is what ‘Palestine’ has become for the cultural elites of the West: a moral balm, a source of fleeting meaning, a soapbox from which they can grandstand on faraway affairs, having zero vision for closer-to-home affairs. That’s what’s most unforgivable about today’s reckless act of unwitting Hamas emboldenment – that these three leaders seem to value their own 15 minutes of virtue more than the pressing task of bringing peace to the Middle East by bringing to an end the racist army that started the current war.

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

Pictures by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics World


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today