19 September 2006

Choosing sides - 1

The Parliamentary All-Party Inquiry Into Antisemitism, whose report makes for interesting reading, says the following about Melanie Phillips’s written evidence:
In her written submission Melanie Phillips expressed the view that, with Israel being blamed for endangering the free world, the only Jews who are considered respectable are those who distance themselves from Israel. She says: "British Jews who try to defend Israel against these calumnies and uphold its right to defend itself against genocide are accused of 'dual loyalty'".
I suspect most of us have come across those attitudes, not least in the main-stream media or, as Rush Limbaugh describes them, the drive-by media. I remember discussing the matter with a very proper young man who had been in the army, was doing a second degree in International Relations or Politics and, I suspect, was aiming to join the Foreign Office. When I asked whether Israel had the right to defend itself, his comment was "well, -ish". He, or perhaps his tutor, had decided in their wisdom that, uniquely, Israel had no right to defend itself and its enemies had every right to do what they liked up to and including complete genocide, as threatened by a number of leaders in the countries that surround it.

The first and only tangentally relevant point to be made here that there are several groups in this country who are actively encouraged to feel loyalty to countries other than their own: Britain. I am not talking about the Left and the MSM in general whose attitude seems to be that any anti-Western country or system is to be preferred to ours.

At its worst the various Muslim groups that have shown themselves to be hostile to this country, which has been theirs for two or three generations and to the culture under which they could, if they wished, to thrive. Instead, their leaders threaten execute violence, which some completely befuddled members actually execute, demand that Sharia law be introduced, speak of real hatred about Britain and the West. That is not even dual loyalty, yet little opprobrium is attached to it. Even the bombs of 7/7 produced sentimental twaddle about standing together and not giving in to extremism.

Even without going so far, there are problems, not least for the unfortunate people, many very young, who get caught up and find themselves without a real homeland. It’s not good pretending to be Indian if your family has lived in Britain for three generations, if you have had a British education and have, whether you like it or not, Western attitudes. You go “back” to any part of India and you find that you are seen as an outsider, while you have made yourself to be that in Britain.

The other day I received another freebie newspaper, this one produced by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, whose new leaders seem to have forgotten their promise to cut waste and taxes. Among other fascinating pieces of information about what the leader of the council may have said the previous week, there was a picture of young dancers performing Indian dances to celebrate Indian Independence Day.

Now, this is not a religious but a national festival and its celebration is appropriate to those for whom India is a country as important or, maybe, even more so than the one they live in. Dual loyalty? I have heard nothing about that.

The crucial argument here is one that both Jews and non-Jews have to understand and that is the following: to defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, to demolish the calumnies directed against it is something we should all be doing.

Partly the reason is that no country should have to live under constant murderous attacks and no country’s people should be constantly threatened by extermination. We are not talking about the past, about the Holocaust or its denial but about threats made and executed today.

But there are other reasons and they cannot be repeated often enough. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is a country, which has free speech, free press, free elections. Anyone who spends time shedding tears about the oppression of Arabs in Israel had better recall that there are Arab newspapers, Arab political parties and Arab members in the Knesset. There are Arab students at the University of Jerusalem (some of whom were blown up by one of those suicide/homicide bomber representatives of the religion of peace); there are Arab schools and mosques as well as churches, not just synagogues. While there is undoubted discrimination in various places, the opportunities are far greater for all citizens of Israel than they are in any Arab country. Though Arabs do not have to serve in the army, many of them, particularly the Bedouins do.

One or two Arab journalists realized what was needed during the last war in Lebanon: Israeli Arabs must unconditionally commit themselves to Israel. Only then will the present unhappy situation of mutual suspicion can start clearing up.

None of this means that Israel or its government cannot be criticized. It is one of the aspects of any democracy that the government can be criticized without there being violence either by or against that government. Try criticizing one of the Arab governments, let alone the Iranian.

There is, however, another overwhelming reason for us all to stand up for Israel and I thought of that as I sat through a public meeting called to discuss the anti-Israeli attitude of the media, a few days ago. (The second part will be about that meeting.)

Israel’s enemies are our enemies. I do not mean just the terrorists. The ones that fire hundreds of missiles into Israel are linked to the terrorists who threaten us and explode bombs or fly planes into buildings. They are linked to the people who organize violent demonstrations the moment they hear something they consider even slightly unacceptable or insulting while pouring the vilest abuse at Jews and Christians.

Who else are Israel’s enemies? The United Nations and the NGOs, as well as other transnational organizations who hate all democracies and want to see a world run entirely by themselves. (They will not get it.)

Last but not least, there is the world-wide main-stream media, the drive-by media. They, too, as we know from what passed for reporting during the war, have declared war on Israel.

Are all these people not our enemies, too?