The West is obsessed with the ‘primeval’ Israel-Palestinian conflict, says Jon Snow


Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow has said he is obsessed with the Israel-Palestine conflict because “I see people like me doing horrible things to other people”.

Speaking at a panel discussion following a performance of Palestinian play The Siege , Mr Snow, who chaired the debate, labelled the conflict a “primeval war”.

He said: “I shouldn’t say anything as the chair but I will. I think one of the reasons there is an obsession is because people like us are engaged in this. By that I mean, I’m almost making a racial observation, not about Judaism, but about Europeans and Americans, white people in fact, and the conflict feels horribly like our own conflicts from our own colonial pasts. We think we must be able to resolve this. We managed to get through, they must be able to get through, and we can sort it out.

“Oddly enough I don’t think it is the fact that they are Jews, it’s the fact that they are like us. When you see an Israeli squaddie you feel a certain sense of sympathy – a sense of ‘there but for the grace of god go I’.

“I may be naïve but I don’t think it’s the fact that it’s Jews, I think it’s the fact that they are people like us, developed Europeans, engaged in a primeval war and therefore we want to do something about it because we’re convinced, as we’ve come through primeval war, that somehow we can bring them through too and then they’ll see it the way we see our own past.

“I’ve often wondered why I am so obsessed with it – and I’m so obsessed with it because I think I see people like me doing horrible things to other people.”

Mr Snow was responding to an observation by JC features writer Josh Glancy, who was one of the panellists, that many in the Jewish community feel there is too much of a focus on Israel in the media, which is not always legitimate.

The Siege, which is produced by the West Bank’s Freedom Theatre , was being performed at the Battersea Arts Centre in London this week on the latest leg of its UK tour.

The play focuses on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where dozens of suspected Palestinian terrorists hid during the Second Intifada in 2002.

Freedom Theatre artistic director and panellist Nabil Al-Raee was cheered when he said the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians should not be called a “conflict” but an “occupation”.

“The conflict is not with Jewish people. It was never about religion. It was always about Zionism and Israel taking other people’s land,” said Mr Al-Raee.

Palestinian film-maker and panellist Leila Sansour said: “The problem has been made difficult, but it is very very simple. The media plays a hand in making it difficult when it is simple.”

The play is performed in Arabic with English surtitles. It focuses on six Palestinian fighters who take shelter in the Church of Nativity while under fire from the Israeli army. The protagonists are not given names and no context is given to explain why they are at war or who they are. Several references are made to the “Israeli propaganda machine”.

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