Misc

What would Orwell say?

Michael Fox, a British-born Israeli lawyer, has written a tribute to George Orwell in Haaretz in which he speculates about what Orwell would have said about certain things if he were alive today. (Those of us who care deeply about Orwell have a weakness for such speculation.)

On Israel, Fox writes:

… Orwell was unsympathetic to the Zionist cause and there is nothing in the subsequent history of the State of Israel that would have led him to change his mind. But he knew a double standard when he saw it. He would surely have wondered what made Israel uniquely evil in the eyes of the heirs of those woolly European intellectuals for whom he had such contempt in his life and why they should refrain from criticizing infinitely more oppressive regimes, merely because they were not Western.

It’s true that Orwell was critical of Zionism. In fact he didn’t care for nationalism in any form. Maybe if he had lived to learn the full horror of the Holocaust, or if he had visited Israel, he would have changed his opinion. But Fox is right about Orwell’s eye for double standards, especially on the Left. More than 50 years after his death, the double standards have taken new forms, but they haven’t disappeared. It’s up to us lesser mortals to do the best we can to carry on his good work.

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