Tuesday 29 January 2013

Bad Drawings

27th January.
Harry’s Place notes the antisemitic Gerald Scarfe cartoon which, for some unknown reason, the Sunday Times has decided to publish on Holocaust Memorial Day. The cartoon wasn’t topical. It wasn’t original. It wasn’t witty. It wasn’t even very well drawn.
If it was anything at all, it was an attention-grabbing, going-through-the-motions thing on the part of Scarfe and the Sunday Times. 

When I hear the likes of cartoonists Martin Rowson and Steve Bell being feted on the BBC, as they frequently are, I marvel at the gullibility of their admirers, who mistake stiff, laboured, overworked, elaborately detailed drawings for wonderful draftsmanship, and lazy unoriginal, cruel ideas for insightful, politically astute commentary. 
Most of their ‘anti-authoritarian’ ideas are blunt, not cutting edge. Antisemitic, not critical of Israel’s policies.

It’s ten past eight on Tuesday 29th January
I’m listening to the Today programme and we’ve been promised an item about *that* Gerald Scarfe cartoon. So Rupert Murdoch has said sorry, and Scarfe has expressed regret that it was published on Holocaust Memorial Day, (but he has prepared 364 antisemitic cartoons for the rest of the year?)

Oh, the item is on. They’ve got Steve Bell on the air, and he has accused Stephen Pollard of throwing meaningless terms like “blood libel’ about, while he himself uses the libelously inappropriate term ‘ethnic cleansing’ to characterise Israel’s creation.

Steve Bell is a loud-mouthed bully with supremely ill-informed opinions, which came across loud and clear. He verbally shoved both James Naughtie and Stephen Pollard aside, behaving like a bulldozer in one of his own unpleasant cartoons. 

Sadly too many people share his ignorance. Contradictory narratives surround the Israel/Palestine conflict, and to varying degrees the BBC has chosen to adopt and disseminate the Jew-hating, 'pro-Palestinian' version, which has played no mean part in bringing about a worrying 1930s echo to the state of affairs we can see now.

No matter how many times websites like BBCWatch and Harry’s Place put forth the case for Israel with much substance and eloquence, there are many many others who put forth their own favourite case against. 

Since neither side is particularly receptive to the views of the opposition, it seems it ultimately boils down to a matter of ‘whose side were you on in the first place?’ Having said that, the pro Israel side is by nature very much more open to debate than their opposite number. 

With some notable exceptions, Israel's supporters find it less difficult to listen and engage in debate. They are more likely to set out their argument with clarity, whereas the pro-Palestinians seem to get away with innuendo and snide remarks based on myths like the ones Steve Bell relies on, putting their opponents on the defensive.  

As a result Israel’s detractors always seem able to frame the debate. Over and over again it’s on their terms. For instance, must Israel contemplate living side by side with a state-full of  Palestinian citizens who refuse to renounce violence and won’t even recognise its neighbour’s right to exist? Therefore, as a precondition, Israel could reasonably demand that Abbas sorts this out before going any further.  
But Israel has not made any preconditions. Instead, the spurious issue of settlements has somehow been established as a precondition. A precondition, not for peace, but for the resumption of talks about peace. Oy!

When a debate does take place, people quote historians to bolster their case. For every pro-Israel historian there is a revisionist or an Arab historian who says the opposite. People cite websites, journalists, writers, television, radio, celebrities, their uncle and pub philosophers of all shapes and sizes, and cherry-pick bits and pieces which back up their argument.  We no longer need to use our brains. We just revert to type. After the argument, no matter what, we ‘snap to grid’.

A sort of anecdote.
While passing round the port in the correct direction, titled aristocrats I happen to be acquainted with recount long-ago adventures in the Middle East; hair-raising near-death scrapes involving armed and dangerous ‘Johnny Arabs.‘ They’re apt to chuckle, with nostalgia and a strange affection for people they portray as duplicitous, volatile, sneaky, untrustworthy, exotic foreigners
They know. They know what characteristics define people of a certain religion, yet they still take their word above Israel’s, because without any evidence or personal experience, gut feeling leads them to distrust the Jew-boy even more. 
And they’re really nice folks, who I like a lot. They’ve got wit, humour, generosity, manners, energy, and a genuine respect for the less privileged. Their political views seem to be an odd mixture of Conservative and left wing socialist.

So, what’s new? The antisemitism that pervades most  left-wing ‘progressive’ organisations and much of the media trundles on, gathering momentum like a hideous snowball and gaining acceptance the bigger it grows.

This interesting article on BBCWatch is about Kevin Connolly, who has tried to explain that the BBC’s off-beam predictions (that the elections would bring Israel further to the right) weren’t wrong after all, because Israel’s victorious ‘centrists’ are what we would consider ‘the right’. 
Connolly deduces this solely because of Mr. Lapid’s position on Jerusalem, which the BBC sees as the ‘right-wing’ position.  This is because the BBC believes that, should the ‘obstacles to peace‘ ever be overcome, East Jerusalem must be the capital of the new peace-loving Palestinian state, in accordance with the Palestinians’ demands. Even though they can clearly see the how lovable the antics of Johnny Arab actually are, with their very own eyes. 

That Mr Lapid is labelled a centrist perhaps shows you where the centre of gravity of Israeli opinion on such matters lies these days.” Opines Connolly.

Oh! so un-self- aware! The centre of gravity? Where does he think the BBC’s centre of gravity is? The CENTRE? Puh-lease.
As for Steve Bell. I hope the majority of listeners will have grasped what a fool he is. But I somehow doubt it.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Don't mention...

Following on from Sue's posts, I did note that Sunday (with Ed Stourton) marked Holocaust Memorial Day.   All power to their elbow for so doing.

First came an interview with a Teesside University professor who is involved in a new centre to study "modern fascism, anti-fascism and post-fascism". The professor, Dr Matthew Feldman, laid out the centre's mission - it would look into the resurgence of fascism (the BNP, the EDL) and the way "extreme anti-fascist" groups (presumably Unite Against Fascism) are mirroring the resurgent fascist groups. Ed completely ignored the the second element and concentrated solely on the first one. Dr Feldman said that anti-Semitism was on the decline while anti-Muslim feeling was on the up. The interview (on Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering the Jewish victims of fascism) then focused on anti-Muslim prejudice -, given that the culturally-intolerant "new far-Right" groups are anti-Muslim rather than anti-Semitic. Oddly, the growing threat across the world -including in the UK - of Muslim-specific anti-Semitic violence wasn't discussed at all, by either Prof. Feldman or Ed Stourton. 

Later Ed did what BBC programmes so often do on days such as this. He interviewed a modern artist who had been commissioned to produce a work of art about the Holocaust. The BBC is comfortable doing this and I'm glad to hear them doing it. Chava Rosenzweig, the grand-daughter of a Holocaust survivor, has produced a work consisting of hundreds of porcelain stars (representing the stars the Nazis forced the Jews to wear) fired in a gas kiln:

Then came the inevitable more-heat-than-light debate. This is something the BBC seems to specialise in. (Please see my post on the Remembrance Day poppy row brewed up by Today on the day of the launch of the poppy appeal last October). The usual contrarian (from the BBC's favourite contrarian organisation - the  post-communist Institute of Ideas), Angus Kennedy, was on hand to rubbish the whole idea of Holocaust Memorial Day as "a made-up idea to sugar coat history". David Cesarini (or "Cesarnai", as the programme's website calls him), one of the founders of Holocaust Memorial Day, was forced to answer Mr. Kennedy's concerns and justify himself. On Holocaust Memorial Day itself. Typical.

That glowing example of post-Holocaust hope, the State of Israel, got no mention. The anti-Semitic extremism of the new leadership in key states of the Muslim world, threatening (as ever) the existence of that country, got no mention. Present day anti-Semitism was downplayed in favour of present day anti-Muslim prejudice, which was openly presented as the new anti-Semitism.

That's the BBC for you.

Talking of whom...

Sarah AB, over at Harry's Place, makes a telling point about the main subject of Sue's last couple of posts:
Returning to the David Ward story on the BBC site – the headline reads ‘David Ward ‘sorry’ over Israel Criticism’.   This is not very accurate.  Whether or not Ward is sorry, he most certainly isn’t sorry for criticizing Israel – he has declared quite clearly that he will continue doing this ‘in the strongest possible terms’.  And, whatever his defenders persist in saying, neither was that the reason why so many were outraged by his words in the first place

Never Again

This is a kind of postscript to my previous piece about MP David Ward's unfortunate remarks.

Melanie Phillips nails the issue, as usual, by pointing out that whether or not the idiotic man blamed “The Jews” rather than “just some of the Jews”, the Israelis, or the Israeli government is neither here nor there. It's beside the point. Obviously, “Israel is not trying to exterminate the Palestinians”  If they were trying to exterminate them, they could. And the fact is “The Palestinian population has more than quadrupled since 1948” 
There * is * no * equivalence *  between *  the * Israelis *  and * the *  Nazis *

However, Israel’s neighbours, mainly followers of Islam, are not bashful about their stated aim. Like the Nazis, they intend to exterminate Jews. That is, the Israeli government, the Israeli Jews and, where possible, all the other Jews. Is that clear? Soon, when Iran perfects its bomb, it will be able to do this.

We’re all born with the survival instinct, otherwise the human race would struggle. It would be unsustainable as they say. We * strive * to * exist.  
A variation on this theme is the suicide bomber, the martyr, the shahid. Even by this act of supreme stupidity they are doing the same thing, because in their deluded imaginations, they are after everlasting life. In paradisio.

The lesson that the Jews have learnt is the lesson that all sentient beings must learn. Once bitten twice shy. If someone hurts you once, if you’ve got any sense you don’t go back for more; you avoid the same thing happening again.

That’s why we say “Never again” We mean 'this must not happen again'. Not by the Nazis. Not by the Arabs. Not by the BBC. That is to say, the Jews will defend themselves this time. They will take measures to avoid it happening. That is what they must do, are doing, and Please G-d, as Jews are wont to say, will continue to do.

I’ll reiterate the wise words of Chas Newky Burden:

 Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity.

The situation in the Middle East has been thoroughly misrepresented over decades, largely due to the BBC.

the entirely false belief that the Israelis have supplanted the indigenous people of Palestine and towards whom they are now behaving in an unconscionable way is now the default position amongst liberals and the left, and has also made serious inroads amongst the more isolationist and ignorant British conservatives.”The belief that, in Israel, the victims of one of the greatest crimes against humanity are themselves now guilty of crimes against humanity is the collective libel that has become the default position amongst the British intelligentsia. And as Ward suggested in his remarks on Sky, only those Jews who themselves endorse this libel by denouncing Israel are to be considered free of this taint.”

So when we say “Never again” we’re not saying no-one must ever hurt anyone ever again, no matter what. We’re not saying “Because of the holocaust, there must be no more fighting, no more self-defence, no more retaliation, no more Jews. 

If anyone needs a lesson, it’s those who set out to exterminate others, not the intended exterminee. TM

We’re saying we won’t let the same thing happen again. Not, as David Ward appears to think, we will sit back and watch the same thing happening again.

Now as for silly Mr Ward. He’s not all that silly I suppose. He’s taking measures. The tactics of survival. Pandering to his constituents. Who, in his position, wouldn’t? If Bradford is full of people who believe Israel is a like a cancer that must be excised, whose fault is that?

Saturday 26 January 2013

No Comparison

I’m haunted by a heated argument that had a profound effect on a long-standing friendship.
It took place several years ago and I still can’t stop going over it in my head. 
If you haven’t already guessed what the argument was about, you will as soon as I tell you that the friends are avid Guardian readers, and that one evening they started criticising Israel. Things soon went beyond the innuendo and the ‘was it or wasn’t it?’ veiled insult. Sadly, the whole thing deteriorated into a bit of a slanging match. 

The passion that the BBC/Guardian’s anti-Zionist campaigning had engendered in highly intelligent people who had nothing to do with either Judaism or Islam, and had no connection whatsoever with the Middle East was quite staggering. The concept that the Guardian was an unreliable source of information about Jews, Israel or the Middle East was inconceivable to them. They were blithely unaware that since the days of Manchester Guardian, Beacon of Light, that organ of wisdom had drifted across a deep chasm.  

With obdurate conviction they repeated multiple inaccuracies and falsehoods. They ‘knew’ that the legality of Israel is in doubt, because it was created in 1948 by kind permission of the British  who lacked the authority to do any such thing. They ‘knew for a fact’ that thousands of indigenous Arabs were violently driven out of their homes by gun-toting European Jews.
They had utter contempt for the conduct of the Israeli government, citing the ominous-sounding mantra “What Israel is doing" (to the Palestinians) as thoughtlessly as Jenny Tonge who constantly bandies about that ubiquitous, meaningless drone. People use the phrase with the ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ sleight of hand vagueness which suffices for specificity, because, let’s face it, what IS Israel doing to the Palestinians? Well, what?

Then one of the most memorable Guardianisms of all, the phrase “The holocaust industry”, was brought to bear. This is Guardianspeak for “the self-pitying whine cynically trotted out by Jews in order to silence debate.” 
This interpretation was set out in no uncertain terms, not to be confused with a potentially alternative definition of the phenomenon.  
Films and television have always been keen on holocaust stories, treating them with the mawkish, voyeuristic sentimentality that panders to our more self-indulgent emotions; the ones that that make the ‘misery memoir’ such a popular genre. I suppose the exploitation for commercial purposes of tales of the ultimate triumph-over-adversity fantasy, which give the viewer a chance, in their imagination, to share suffering and pain from the comfort of the hard-fought security of their own armchair, is something that could be called the holocaust industry. 

When Israelis and Jews say “Never again”, that is not the holocaust industry.

The suggestion that our friends were using antisemitic language brought forth protestations of indignation. 
Although they were conscious of the existence of “another narrative”, that narrative, whatever it was, must be dismissed as the work of the Jewish propaganda machine. 

In a conciliatory moment they urged: “Well, you must admit it would be easier if Israel wasn’t there ”, which was generously taken to mean ‘in that particular location’ rather than ‘was annihilated.’ 

The reason I am recounting this tale is that Sunday is holocaust memorial day. Familiar, dreaded controversies invariably surround this annual occasion. The politically correct proposal that any commemoration should embrace “all” genocides, not be solely (“sui generis”) dedicated to one particular one,  is always posited by Muslims who don’t wish to boycott the whole thing and appear openly antisemitic, yet don’t wish to look sympathetic to Jews in the eyes of their co-religionists by participating in the ceremony.  What a dilemma. 

Yesterday we heard a remarkable interview on the Today programme by John Humphrys with holocaust survivor Henia Bryer. It was a prolonged trailer for a film that will be shown on BBC 1 on Sunday. (tomorrow) John Humphrys was moved, and he questioned her with sincerity, sensitively and obvious sympathy. 

It’s a great mystery how sympathy for Hitler’s Jewish victims differs so radically from the hardened unconcerned attitude society currently displays towards Islam’s Jewish victims.
Cognitive dissonance allows people to turn a blind eye to the similarities between the Nazi and the Islamic ideologies, and inexplicably lets them ignore the openly declared antisemitism within both.

While ignoring these obvious similarities, people nevertheless make demonstrably false analogies when they continually compare “what Israel is doing to the Palestinians” to “what the Nazis did to the Jews”. These throw-away remarks go unchallenged by closet antisemites and well-meaning ignoramuses who don’t even know they’re antisemites. 

Logic says there is no actual comparison whatsoever between  the deliberate cold-blooded extermination of six million scapegoats who passively took the blame for Germany’s failings, and the essential, protective measures Israel takes against the current genocidal aims of millions of brainwashed Arabs whose intention is to repeat the holocaust.
 What country wouldn’t take precautions against suicide attacks, multiple rocket attacks and deadly infiltrations by knife wielding crazies.

Disregard the ‘disproportionate’ number of deaths involved.  Six million civilians as opposed to an unclear number in the the low thousands is not the thing that constitutes the falseness of these comparisons - after all, the ‘disproportionate’ argument is their favourite cause for complaint, not mine. 

The difference is in the intent. How can you compare the deliberate attempt to exterminate one innocent group of people with defensive or retaliatory measures taken by an attacked group?  

Like the difference between the words Meerkat and Market, they’re entirely different things.

Here is David Ward MP, who’s trying to straddle two opposing concepts. Showing the obligatory sympathy for Jews murdered by Hitler, while appealing to the Muslim voters of Bradford
.…I am saddened that the Jews…within a few years of liberation…inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel…daily basis…”
Inflicting atrocities? Have the Jews gassed six million Arabs while no-one was looking? 
Chas Newky Burden makes this excellent point.
Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity.
Here’s Mark Gardner from the CST blog on this MP’s outburst:
“Here we have someone who has visited Auschwitz in both a personal and professional capacity. The assumption, therefore, must surely be that he is most certainly not an antisemite. So, he is not an antisemite, but what exactly ought we to call a Member of Parliament who makes a crass Jews in Israel equal Naziscomparison?”
I can only conclude that people who pretend to be pro-Palestinian to disguise their antipathy to Jews are dedicated to making wrong comparisons, but refuse to make the very comparison that is so obvious that missing it is farcical, outrageous, stupid and inexplicable. 
Nevertheless, many people can’t join the minuscule number of dots between the Islamic and Nazi varieties of Jew-hatred, and while they’re at it, manage to overlook the Arabs’ loudly and clearly declared, widely disseminated genocidal aims. David Ward says:
“If all the illegal settlements were vacated and the land given back there wouldn’t be any rocket attacks”
If I cut off your head you wouldn’t have any more migraines, one might argue.

“Wouldn’t it be easier if Israel wasn’t there?” Our friends ask. It would be easier if we all lie down and submit, maybe. Easier perhaps than fighting your case, but maybe not the guaranteed pathway to an untroubled, Guardian-reading, happy-ever-after.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Wrong not right

I realise I’m in a minority. Because I support Israel, and also because I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t like it, and I don’t like being with tipsy people. 

Peter Oborne makes two commonly-held, and in my opinion wrong-headed assumptions; one, that everyone lives in as much fear of an all powerful Jewish Lobby as he does, and two, that everyone shares his inability to function without constant top-ups of booze.

I’m mystified by the fashion for girly, pretend confessionals written by journalists bragging about their dependence on alcohol. They must think this weakness is endearing somehow, since  they bang on about it publicly all the time. This is incomprehensible, as is shameless advertising of one’s addiction, at once trivialising it and wearing it as a badge of honour.

Perhaps Oborne’s anxiety over the negative effect Jews and Israelis might have on his well-being comes from booze-fuelled paranoia, but his obsession about the so-called Jewish Lobby is widely known following the barmy, but still inflammatory, documentary that was broadcast on Channel 4’s Dispatches a while ago. 

Why the Telegraph gives credence to a notorious anti-Israel bigot and booze-dependent hack by commissioning him to write biased feature articles about the Israel/Palestine conflict in their newspaper is both perplexing and bewildering. 

For some obscure reason Oborne was sent to Israel to cover the elections, where he managed to get the whole thing wrong by parroting the BBC’s doom-laden predictions that the Israeli far-right would soon be running the asylum and scuppering their precious two-state solution, when the opposite was the case. The viscerally anti-Israel BBC’s cabal of reporters flooded the air waves with wrong analyses, but no doubt they’ll keep their jobs, but Oborne’s twin shortcomings are (should be) the final nail in his credibility as far as the Telegraph is concerned.