Why I called out Suella Braverman's gaslighting live on TV

Why I called out Suella Braverman's gaslighting live on TV
4 min read

Fiona Lali

22 May, 2024
Suella Braverman's attempt to rile up Palestinian supporters has fallen flat, widening the gap between UK leaders and the public on Gaza, writes Fiona Lali.
The only way forward is for mass movements to call out, boycott and divest from Israel and its imperial backers, writes Fiona Lali [photo credit: Getty Images]

Last week former UK government minister Suella Braverman tried to jumpstart her stalling career. She attempted to pick a fight with pro-Palestine student activists at the University of Cambridge, but the students ignored her and got on with organising their campaign.

So, to up the stakes, she decided to debate me, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), live on national television. The RCP is organising people in dozens of pro-Palestine encampments at UK universities, and Braverman wanted to go after us.

You can watch it for yourself, but I think it’s safe to say Braverman wasn’t ready for what I said to her in that debate: that she's an active supporter of Israel's mass murder in Gaza. Her team’s reaction backstage clearly showed that the whole thing shell-shocked them.

But why should Tories be so stunned when confronted with what everyone thinks of them? After all, if you talk to almost anyone in Britain these days you find there’s a hatred for the political establishment, the rich, and the powerful.

They’re stunned because they live in a bubble where they’re never actually faced with the truth. Across the mainstream media and the political establishment, there’s a conspiracy of silence about the genocide taking place in Gaza. 

Braverman couldn’t answer my points because they’ve never been put to her bluntly before. All it takes is the guts to tell the truth to their faces, expose their lies, and watch them crumble.

What Suella Braverman got wrong

Braverman thought I’d be on the defensive when she debated me. That’s because, for too long, Israeli talking points have dominated discussions on Palestine. When this is accepted, people feel trapped by the inevitable and false accusation of antisemitism.

The apartheid Israeli state is engaging in a policy of occupation through mass murder and settler-colonialism. It does so with the unconditional support of Western imperialism. These are verifiable facts which we must put front and centre of any discussion about Palestine — right-wing talking points aren’t going to distract us from this.

Nor are lying accusations of antisemitism. Many Jewish people around the world have joined the pro-Palestine movement. Genocide in Gaza is not a Jewish policy — it’s the policy of the Israeli state, run by a government of right-wingers, fundamentalists, and fascists. We must vigorously reject the idea that to be Jewish is to support the horrors unfolding in Palestine today.

How to talk to Tories

When I debated Braverman I didn’t let her put me on the defensive. Instead, I went on the offensive. It’s not the pro-Palestine activists that should be on trial. It’s politicians like Braverman, cheerleading a genocide, who should be answering for their crimes.

The British state has licensed £574m in arms sales to Israel since 2008. The F-35 bombers used to reduce Gaza to rubble are part-manufactured in Britain. Likewise, British universities invest £455m in Israeli companies that directly contravene international law. The bosses and politicians responsible for this have the blood of over 35,000 Palestinians on their hands. 

Braverman asked me what I thought of the events of 7 October 2023. In response I asked her what she thought of the 76 years since the Nakba, during which time Palestinians have had their homes seized, their liberty trampled, and their lives taken, all with the blessing of the West.

What really seemed to startle Braverman was when I linked all of these issues together. Ultimately, I said, the capitalist system will put profit above everything else, including human lives. 

In reality, the only way forward is for mass movements to call out, boycott and divest from Israel and its imperial backers. This is far from an uncommon view among students and young workers in Britain today. And yet when confronted with it Braverman had little to say.

There’s a vacuum in politics. No one is expressing the anger burning in the chests of millions of people. The horror of what is happening in Palestine is a lightning rod for this anger. 

My advice to everyone who feels the same is to first educate yourself on what is really happening in the world. Second, speak up and tell the truth, no matter what lies and distortions the Bravermans of this world might throw at you. And third, get organised. What we can achieve as individuals is dwarfed into insignificance by what we can achieve together. 

Fiona Lali is the national campaigns coordinator for the Revolutionary Communist Party

Follow Fiona on X: @rubanga_a

Have questions or comments? Email us at: editorial-english@newarab.com

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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