You can’t say it’s never worth listening to the BBC. This morning I heard a speaker mention (on Paddy O’Connell’s Broadcasting House) a brilliant piece in today’s Telegraph by Sir John Jenkins, British Consul-General in Jerusalem, 2003-06.
As I haven’t subscribed to that newspaper since their self-declared ‘move to the left’ I was pleased to be able to access it online by simply ‘registering’.
In the interests of the greater good, I’ll respectfully steal as many passages from it as I dare.
“When confronted with the evidence of his close association with senior figures from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah, and his presence in Tunis at the 2014 wreath laying for Palestinians killed by Israel, including those responsible for the 1974 Munich atrocity, Corbyn says he does it all for Middle Eastern peace: if only we’d all talk to each other more, there would be no more conflict.
Fine words. But perhaps Corbyn might start by explaining how exactly his meetings with these groups, his clear sympathies with at least some of their aims and activities, and his public support for them has helped promote the peace he claims to want – though has failed so far to achieve. “
How well I remember the BBC’s continual plea - that we should “Talk to Hamas’. It was one of Sarah Montague’s recurring themes.
“When Hamas won the last Palestinian legislative council elections, in January 2006, I was British consul-general in Jerusalem. Progressive opinion immediately demanded that the West should abandon its policy of decades, talk directly to the new Palestinian government and continue funding it – irrespective of its commitment to the politics of physical force, including suicide bombings and other terror acts, its refusal to recognise Israel, its rejection of instructions from the Palestinian president and its structural anti-Semitism.
And yet the only thing that ever really mattered was for Hamas to talk to Israel. There is no evidence that Western governments or individuals talking to Hamas had the slightest effect on its policies, any more than our talking to Hizbollah in Lebanon, the violent Shia militias in Iraq or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had the slightest effect on them.
The reverse was the case. These organisations used those who talked to them as useful idiots, persuading them against all the evidence that they were committed to peace while continuing to do what they had always done and believe what they had always believed: that the problems they faced could be resolved at the right time through force.[…]
It may be that I too don’t get Corbyn’s exquisite irony (anti-Semitism as the new anti-racism: who knew?). But for anyone with a normal moral compass, it is hard not to think that Corbyn’s account of his activities is deliberately evasive and deeply troubling. He can clear all this up tomorrow by releasing records of his meetings and revealing himself as the man of peace he claims to be. If he doesn’t, many may unfortunately conclude that he’s just another delusional, virtue-signalling, right-on poseur. “
Since this is bound to be a long post, bear with me or scroll past the following snip
from Justin Webb and Tom Barton speaking on BBC Today 24/08/2018
“Labour’s defence of that point in context is that he was talking about a group of people, pro-Israel activists who were made up of both Jewish people and non-Jewish people and he was using…..
“…..to refer to…. this particular group of activists and not, they say, to the Jewish community.
See? Here we’re talking about a group of activists, not just Richard Millett the blogger
who apparently confronted Manuel Hassassian because he didn’t get the irony in the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK's comment:
“You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God!
I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream of Eretz Israel to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side. Maybe God is partial on this issue.”
Yes, it’s that old “Chosen People” meme, which is deliberately misinterpreted by most antisemites to infer a nasty kind of Jewish supremacy.
However, it was Richard Millett himself - he who supposedly doesn’t understand English irony - who, in his 2013 blog, pointed out the actual irony. Which is, of course, that Hassassian started that particular rant - the one that Jeremy Corbyn thought demonstrated real English irony - with this gem:
“We, the Palestinians, the most highly educated and intellectual in the Middle East, are still struggling for the basic right of self-determination.”
If one needed to spell it out, which one really shouldn’t need to do - one would remind the good Ambassador that he has projected a bucketload of wishful thinking about who’s educated and intellectual and who ain’t. That’s pretty ironic - not the kindergarten-level ‘joke’ about “Children of God”. You know, when little kids crease up when pretending something false is true, that something big is small, or something black is white. Hilarious, if you’re three years old.
Hassassian's joke is that “God” must be on the side of the devil. Ha very ha. But it’s not irony.
Anyway, for good measure, here’s the last part of the Today banter:
“Do you think this statement will make a difference, within the party - I mean I’m thinking about his own MPs
“Well, y’know I think there is, within the Labour Party a group of MPs, Jewish MPs in particular who have and are, taking an increasingly dim view of the party’s approach to - y’know - this broader issue of antisemitism. There’s the…. the broader row around the code of conduct within the party, whether they should adopt all of the examples that are included in the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism and I think, incrementally, each of these new revelations, and I have to say I think this one, in particular, is causing many to draw breath whether that statement will ease their concerns, frankly I think it’s quite unlikely.
Here’s another report
this time introduced by an old BBC favourite, Caroline Wyatt.
She too introduced Tom Barton.
“I’ve been speaking to Richard Millett who writes a blog about antisemitism, and for that blog he regularly attends pro-Palestinian events - events he where he thinks people might use antisemitic language in order to record what people say and write about to on his blog and it’s in that capacity that the was at a speech in 2013 y the Palestinian representative to the UK Manuel Hassassian, now, in that video that you mentioned Caroline, when Jeremy Corbyn was talking about Zionists who attended that event failing to understand English irony, now Mr Millet, who’s Jewish, said that that characterisation strongly implied that he was not English, and was, therefore an antisemitic statement.”
When they say that I have no sense of English irony, it strongly implies that I’m not English and that obviously is strongly offensive. It was unnecessary to do it, and racist”
And to be clear, you’ve lived in Britain all your life and you are Jewish but you also feel English?”
I’m very English - member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, big supporter of Yorkshire Cricket Club, Leeds United Football Club, my dad served in the army towards the end of the second world war, he built up a fashion chain and gave employment to thousands of people, he’s provided more for this country than Jeremy Corbyn could ever dream that he could provide for the people of this country.
(Hmm! Sterling credentials for Englishness, what? I’m obviously a bit foreign)
And Mr Millet called on Jeremy Corbyn to apologise to the Jewish community for those comments.
But Tom, labour sources have told the BBC that Mr Corbyn’s comments were taken out of context. What have other Labour MPs been saying, and has there been any further comment from the Labour leadership?
Well some Labour MPs have been very critical of Jeremy Corbyn. Wes Streeting said that the language used here was inexcusable and abhorrent while Luciana Berger said the video contained inexcusable comments - it’s also worth noting though that less frequent critics of Jeremy Corbyn, people like Catherine McKinnell MP from Newcastle North, Phil Wilson the Sedgefield MP also tweeted their support for Luciana Berger, which underlines I think, the concern among some Labour MPs.
There is some confusion about whether Corbyn’s irony comment was about a ‘group of Jewish and non-Jewish Zionists’ or just one solitary Richard Millett, but let’s let that go. The most ironic thing of all is that Corbs thinks only the Pro-Palestinians amongst us (and the Palestinians themselves, obvs) “know history.”
That's so telling. I mean, it’s tantamount to a public declaration of ignorance about, (not to mention complete disregard for) the whole “other side of the narrative”.
Anyway, back to the superficial and typically shallow way the BBC has treated this entire here- today-gone-tomorrow debacle. (It looks as if it’s off the agenda already)
The way John McDonnell has repeatedly stated, unchallenged, that Corbyn’s remarks were taken out
Well, what is the context then? Isn’t it that the remarks were made in the context of an antisemitic conference amongst a whole bunch of virulent antisemites. That puts it in its proper context. There; “fixed it for you”, as they say on the interweb.
As for using the word ‘Zionist’ in its true, political sense - the term ‘Zionist’ may not be a convenient substitute for “Jew” every single time someone utters it, but nowadays it is nearly always used in a derogatory (and antisemitic) manner. The true political sense is all but forgotten, if not totally toxified.
Back to my opening topic, "Peace." Jeremy Corbyn’s version of peace looks to me like this. At the very time - the first time since W W ll - that his party is helping to create a more urgent need than ever for a refuge for British and European Jews - Corbyn’s vision of peace means there can be no specifically Jewish state in the Middle East.
His vision of justice for the Palestinians means the Right of Return and/or international recognition of a hostile, predominantly Islamic, aggressive Palestinian State side by side with a weakened, vulnerable, indefensible Israel. Corbyn’s aspirations for peace amount to the creation of yet another of the most undemocratic, war-like, antisemitic states on the planet.