THE true spirit of solidarity has been put to the test over the past two months as thousands of civilians across the Gaza Strip have been killed by the Israeli military, prompting numerous international charities to label the situation a “humanitarian crisis”.

Some have shied away from commenting because of the terrorist attack launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians on October 7, which precipitated Israel’s indiscriminate and catastrophic retaliation. For the record: both are wrong, and the oppression of the Palestinian people began long before that horrific event. All of these things can be true at once.

Many influential voices, from political leaders to Hollywood celebrities, have, on the other hand, jumped headfirst into supporting the right-wing Israel government’s choice to do whatever it likes to the human beings (including children) living in Gaza.

The flippancy with which people enjoying comfortable lives in Western countries (some of whom consider themselves eminently “progressive”) have been willing to add their tuppence-worth in support of innocent people having their water and electricity cut off, never mind their homes blown up, has been almost as shocking to observe as the violence itself.

Yet amongst the most frustrating aspects of all of this has been witnessing people, like myself, who feel the need to speak out about these human rights abuses being repeatedly shut down with the most disingenuous of tactics.

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This week, star of The Good Wife and The Morning Show Julianna Margulies (who is Jewish) became just the latest person to berate LGBT and Black people for expressing solidarity with Palestinians – because, in her words, “I want to say to them, you f***ing idiots, you don’t exist [in Palestine], you’re even lower than the Jews”.

In fact, speaking on a podcast The Back Room, she singled out “people who want us to call them ‘they/them’ or whatever they want us to call them”, adding that “it’s those people who will be the first people beheaded and their heads played with like a soccer ball on the field”.

This would be easy to dismiss as a Margulies problem (as in, “please seek help for your violent queerphobic fantasies, Julianna – that’s a problem”), if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve now lost count of the number of times I’ve read much the same commentary over the last eight weeks.

One only needs to venture into the replies section on any of gay journalist Owen Jones’s tweets in support of Palestine to see the apparent glee with which some people revel in graphically describing just how they think Hamas would treat a gay person, a trans person, a woman.

Indeed, there have been several columns in The Telegraph newspaper devoted to those topics, which makes perfect sense because The Telegraph has been one of the biggest champions of LGBT rights and gender equality. That’s sarcasm, of course: they’re actually just massive hypocrites who think they can weaponise the inequalities they support on Monday to pit us against each other on Tuesday and hope we won’t notice because, let’s be honest, it’s been working pretty well so far.

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But it’s not just right-wing voices who are doing this. I’d venture to say that Margulies is representative of a larger portion of the mainstream “centre” than we might care to admit.

In the same podcast, she mentioned that she had vocally supported same-sex marriage and that she had put a black screen on her Instagram after the murder of George Floyd. An explanation, in her mind, of her righteous indignation that these same people would “turn your back on the people that support you”.

This perspective perfectly encapsulates a pervasive yet entirely false notion of what “solidarity” or support for equality and human rights really means. It’s a notion which reflects our individualistic and hyper-capitalist times, in which even basic compassion is a transaction – an investment on which one expects a return.

When that’s the lens through which you view your support for others – as conditional and ready to trade in at any moment – it’s no wonder that the concept of LGBT people, Black people or women caring about people in parts of the world where they would face discrimination or oppression is so bewildering.

“They wouldn’t do the same for you”, is the overriding message – and isn’t it a depressing one? If that’s our starting point for creating a better world, then there is little hope ahead for any of us.

The National: Julianna Margulies comments about queer Palestinians help nobodyJulianna Margulies comments about queer Palestinians help nobody

There is no “us and them” when it comes to human rights. There is no competition for who has earned their rights by showing an appropriate amount of support for this or that group, or used the latest viral symbol on their social media account.

Human rights are for everyone, or they are for no-one.

This isn’t just my opinion, it’s the definition adopted internationally by the UN and other bodies. And yet you would hardly know this from the way some people talk about Palestinians.

Of course, these arguments also effectively deny the existence of LGBT Palestinians (queer people are everywhere, you know) and the small population of Black Palestinians, who are at immediate risk of death because of the actions of the Israeli government. Those groups, who are often facing multiple forms of oppression at once, deserve our solidarity and they certainly deserve their lives.

The idea that opposing what Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly extreme government is doing is antisemitic also ignores the many voices of Jewish people – including those who are Black, LGBT, women – all around the world who are speaking out against it.

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Within Israel, there are vocal critics of the government who are being dismissed and undermined on a daily basis by people who quite simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

One of the strangest parts of the Margulies podcast was when she said that, in light of the lesbian character she plays on The Morning Show, she is “more offended as a lesbian than as a Jew” by seeing queer people opposing the Israeli government.

As funny as it is that someone thinks playing a lesbian on TV qualifies them to speak as one, in truth, Margulies’s opinion does not hold more weight simply because she is Jewish either.

If we truly believe that belonging to a particular group qualifies you to speak on behalf of its global population, we’d have to regard some members of the current UK Government as world experts in racism and the experiences of migrants and their children.

“Lived experience” doesn’t mean much unless it’s coupled with a belief in collectivism and compassion. Maybe if we begin to understand that, we will start to understand what meaningful solidarity looks like.