The saner elements of the Left have always been willing to condemn terrorist attacks when these are carried out by groups with which we have nothing in common -- such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad -- but what about when those attacks are carried out by members of Arafat's own movement, Fatah? Today's brutal attack on a left-wing kibbutz should make some on the British Left pause and think. But maybe not.
Kibbutz Metzer is affiliated to the Kibbutz Artzi federation, and like other kibbutzim of that movement has long been associated with the Israeli political Left. These are people who routinely march and demonstrate on behalf of an independent Palestinian state.
The fact that members of Arafat's own Fatah would target such a community, killing a young mother and her two children in their bedroom, surely raises questions about the somewhat artificial distinction we sometimes make between 'bad' Islamicists and 'good' secular Palestinian fighters.
Because even as we make these distinctions, the Palestinians themselves seem unable to distinguish between attacking an armed soldier and killing a child in its bed, or between fighting it out with Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, or crossing over into Israel and slaughtering a family of peace supporters.
Arafat has, of course, publicly condemned the attack and bravo to him for having said so. (Though it may not prevent Sharon from exiling him, or worse.) One wonders if Socialist Worker will join Chairman Arafat in the condemnation -- probably shouldn't hold my breath.
Will any group on the British Left pause for a moment from its Palestine-solidarity work, from Israel-bashing, to grieve together with the comrades at Kibbutz Metzer? I don't think so.
I'd be very interested to see if any comrades have any thoughts on this matter, and will return to this web page to see if anyone posts anything.