Saturday 9 August 2014

Better late than never

Two long awaited pieces have appeared in the press. Belated but welcome.
The Guardian piece is all the more remarkable because it’s in the actual Guardian. Next we’ll be hearing something like this on Channel 4. (Only joking) 

It’s still written with the ever present caveat - ‘I’m no fan of Israel, but’.  Nevertheless there’s some tacit acknowledgment that antisemitism is behind a great deal of the tidal wave of knee-jerk Israel-bashing despite all those cries of “anti-Israel-ism is different from antisemitism.”

It asks itself whether boycotting artistic ventures linked with Israeli government funding is, in principle, valid or hypocritical. In the end it comes down on ‘hypocritical’ (because of other taxpayer funded projects that no-one has yet thought of boycotting.)

It still comes from the premise that Israel is the baddie, but even so, it says, we mustn’t be nasty to the Jews. “
“It should not need saying, but it does: people can be as angry as they like at the Israeli government, but to attack a synagogue, threaten children at a Jewish school, or throw a brick through the window of a Jewish grocery store is vile and contemptible racism. It cannot be excused by reference to Israeli military behaviour. The two are and should be kept utterly distinct.”
I imagine everyone has a slight masochistic streak, and I admit something similar draws me towards the thousands of comments that appear under articles like this. However, it is reassuring that the savagery of the antisemitic bile one always finds there is ameliorated by the breadth of the ignorance, illiteracy and inarticulate buffoonery that underlies most of it.

However, there is a palpable shift away from knee-jerk left-leaning, automatic, illogical identification with Islamism. Maybe it’s 'Islamic State'. Maybe it’s Al Shebab or Boko Haram. Whatever it is, eyes are beginning to open.
Even the BBC has started questioning some of the assumptions that it routinely makes. That might be a one-off, and we’re still in a nightmarish, Kafkaesque world. 

Charles Moore’s piece in the Telegraph is okay, and it gets better after you’ve waded through all the stuff  we’ve been saying over and over again till we’re blue in the face. Proportionate doesn’t mean ‘equal corpses’. Yes, it’s tragic. Yes, civilians. Yes tunnels. Yes human shields. 

Then we hear about the Egypt factor. Egyptian telly is more overtly critical of the Palestinians than the BBC. Not much of an achievement, that, though.  He mentions the attention-seeking antics of Baroness Warsi, Yvonne Ridley and Lucy Winkett.  
Here’s some new, interesting stuff. 
“........supplying military equipment and sharing human and cyber intelligence with Israel helps defend wider interests in the Middle East – the stability of Jordan and the need to prevent Iran getting control of the world oil price. It is also aware how closely other extremists, such as Hezbollah, watch each battle with Israel for signs of Western weakness.” 
He draws some comparisons between Hamas and other groupings with similar ideological roots.

“Even more important, the Government has some sense of the relationship between a man who fires a rocket in Gaza, a man who slaughters a Christian in Iraq, an imam who preaches hate online from the safety of Qatar, a Muslim “charity” which is actually raising money for politics and conflict, and an Islamist school governor or teacher in Birmingham, Bradford or Luton who is trying to bring up British children to detest their own country.”

Wake up everyone. Really, it’s about time.

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