Don’t get annoyed at progressives: it does your blood pressure no good. Instead take a step back. It can be intriguing to watch the ludicrous lengths they go to in order to bend the Bible like a pretzel just to ‘prove’ their latest fad.
Everyone is aware of the stained-glass windows and children’s Bibles which picture Jesus as a kindly, blue-eyed, white man. There is no problem with questioning that, apart from the undeniable fact that this complaint is acknowledged by everyone and has been around so long it is growing whiskers of mould.
Questioning the assumed whiteness of Jesus and finding it to be evidence of patriarchy, white nationalism and colonial oppression, although tedious, does not become a real problem until it morphs into questioning whether He was Jewish in order to attack Israel. Continue reading “ATTACKING ISRAEL THROUGH JESUS”→
In November 2017 Arnold Roth sat by his disabled daughter’s bedside in an Israeli hospital. His tweets from that time offer an informed repose to the Islamist slur that Israel is an apartheid state. Most of the medical staff who attended his daughter were Arab and so were a third of the patients.
The name Arnold Roth should be familiar. Hamas terrorists murdered his other daughter Malki while the 15 year old was eating pizza in a Jerusalem cafe almost 18 years ago.
One of the masterminds of this slaughter of innocents, Ahlam Tamimi, now lives in Jordan. She is a member of the notorious Tamimi clan who are lauded as ‘freedom fighters’ by the depraved mainstream media, which seemingly worship those who kill Jews.
But the media are not only the only culprits. Far too many clueless Westerners parrot the Islamist narrative that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’. However the evidence indicates otherwise. Israel is a place of safety not only Jews but for all religions. Continue reading “WHICH IS THE APARTHEID STATE?”→
On Monday it was announced that the accommodation website Airbnb intends to blacklist Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria because they are built on so-called occupied territories on the West Bank. On the surface this seems fair.
There has been a concentrated campaign drawing attention to Airbnb listings on the occupied territories. Questions have been posed regarding Airbnb’s legal position in profiting from the rentals. If the residences have been built illegally according to international law, there is also a moral argument against listing them and allowing the owners to profit from their construction.Airbnb faced an intensive attack over a number of years, including threats of being listed in the forthcoming UN HRC ‘blacklist’, boycotts and other forms of negative publicity. In the press release announcing its move, the company acknowledged that offering listings in West Bank ‘settlements’ was not illegal: this clearly indicates that its decision was the result of political pressure. Continue reading “DOUBLE STANDARDS”→
In the UK we are already suffering shell shock from the barrage of television programmes about the Great War. There is more to come. It was only in August that we marked the centenary of war’s outbreak, we have another four years to go.
Just wait till December and we will have documentaries, comedies and earnest panel discussions about the Christmas Truce, the moment when in several places on the Western Front British and German troops put down their weapons, fraternised, exchanged gifts, and even in three or four instances played football.
This moment of peace and humanity in the midst of carnage has assumed symbolic proportions, as have the actions of the respective high commands in forbidding such fraternisation. After all, if opposing sides played football they might become friendly and thus be less inclined to kill each other.
Thus it was a matter for rejoicing when, last week, in southern Israel two groups of young children played a football (soccer for those who don’t know better) tournament. About 80 youngsters between the ages of 6 and 16 took part in the tournament in Kibbuts Dorot in southern Israel, a place where rockets launched from the Gaza Strip had landed. The Israeli children came from communities located near the besieged Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian children came from West Bank.
Naturally there was tension between the two groups at first but it quickly evaporated as the excitement of the game took over. Ofer, 11, from Sderot, a town in southern Israel where many rockets had landed, said: ‘It’s great to come back here and enjoy our time [together], after weeks of being stuck at home during the war.’ Qusai, another 11 year old, this time from the West Bank, said: ‘I love it when we play together like this. I hope that one day there will be peace between Arabs and Jews and that there will be no more wars and death…’
The reaction of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah was reminiscent of those of the two High Commands in the Great War, this was too dangerous to be allowed. Jibril Rajoub, Deputy Secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee and Head of the Palestinian Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, stated that: ‘Any activity of normalisation in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity.’
As someone who has followed lower league Scottish football I have witnessed some games which could justly be described as criminal but never one that could be described as ‘a crime against humanity’.
As well as being a crime against humanity the football tournament was also viewed as treasonous. Denouncing the match as ‘a crime and an unpatriotic and immoral act,’ Abd Al-Salam Haniyeh, son of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and, believe it or not, a member of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, demanded that Rajoub ‘immediately interrogate the organizers of the match, settle the account with them and prosecute them on charges of serious treason against the blood of the Martyrs [who died in the Gaza war] and violation of the decisions made by the Palestinian sports community’s leadership.’
Haniyeh is clearly a chap who thinks that when Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics announced the sporting principle that, ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part’.
The leadership of Fatah’s branch in the hometown of the boys participating in the match ‘strongly condemned’ the event. Fatah branch secretary Dr Kamal Makhamresh said that participation in the match ‘was an individual act, conceived by sick souls’, and ‘urged the resients to supervise their children and distance them from these kinds of activities, which damage our cause’.
We have recently seen how Hamas deals with those they think are guilty of treason, ‘Never mind that western nonsense about fair and impartial judicial process, let’s just go for a public execution men and women who might not agree with us.’
Can we assume that their bitter rivals in Fatah will be any more just when they ‘interrogate’ and ‘settle the account’ with those ’sick souls’ who committed ‘serious treason against the blood of the Martyrs’ by organising a children’s football tournament?
We can be sure that when Christmas 2014 rolls around we will find progressive mouthpieces in the West lauding the soldiers who in 1914 laid down their weapons to play football, and excoriating those officers who made them stop. That the same mouthpieces support people who see children playing football together as an act of treason will not seem to them to be hypocritical in the least.
There is no lack of vile regimes which subjugate their own citizens and spread terror abroad. This is especially true of the Middle East where there appears to be little to choose between hereditary dictatorships, military juntas and Islamo-Fascist theocracies. Democracy is a fragile flower in even the best of Arab countries.
A report issued by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) this week criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas for assaults on human rights and freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The report lists cases of torture and mistreatment in PA and Hamas prisons. ICHR pointed particularly to an increase in the number of torture cases in prisons belonging to the PA’s much-feared Preventive Security Service in the West Bank.
It appears that during January alone ICHR received 56 complaints about torture and mistreatment in Palestinian prisons: 36 in the Gaza Strip and 19 in the West Bank. In addition, they received innumerable complaints about arbitrary and unlawful arrests of Palestinians by the PA and Hamas.
The PA police force have a rather direct way with demonstrators. On January 12, 2014, PA policemen used force to break up a protest by Palestinian youths north of Ramallah. Between 60-70 protesters, the report states, were wounded in the head and legs after policemen attacked them with clubs and stun grenades. According to the report on January 28, 2014, PA policemen used live ammunition to disperse stone-throwers in the centre of Ramallah.
You must remember watching the TV news reports about this and reading about it in the newspapers. Perhaps if you missed these you picked it up on the BBC Radio 4 documentary about conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. No?
Don’t beat yourself up. There was no media coverage of the report, just as there is little media coverage of corruption in the Palestine Authority. An EU report found that financial corruption in the PA led to the ‘loss’ of aid to the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the period 2008 to 2012 amounting to around €2 billion.
Yet we all know, because we are constantly told so, that the bad boy in the Middle East and the cause of all the suffering of the Palestinian people is Israel.
Why in a world replete with corrupt and violent regimes should our progressive elites demonise the one regime in the Middle East which actually dares to be democratic? Arab citizens of Israel enjoy more human and political rights than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East. They serve in the Knesset, in the Judiciary, in the Foreign Service, in higher education, and in business. They are free to criticize Israel and to support its enemies. Israeli universities are hot beds of anti-Israel rhetoric, advocacy and even teaching.
Moreover, anyone—Jew, Muslim or Christian—dissatisfied with Israeli actions can express that dissatisfaction in the courts, and in the media, both at home and abroad. This freedom does not exist in any Arab country, nor in many non-Arab countries.
Yet it is Israel alone which is being threatened with boycott, disinvestment and sanctions. Israel and the plight of the Palestinians have become the progressive cause de jour.
There are many reasons held in varying degrees, none having much to do with the facts. There is the herd mentality. Our fiercely individualistic progressives have evolved into what Harold Rosenburg termed a ‘herd of independent minds’.
Long before Rosenburg, Thomas Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog) wrestled with the inherent contradiction between man’s ‘innate tendency to self-assertion … as the condition of victory in the struggle for existence and the obvious fact that in the struggle for survival loners are losers and individuals who banded together increased their chances of survival.’ Huxley came to the conclusion that the glue holding individuals together in a group is the collective shaming code.
The shared code binds members of the group as one. They share disgust, anger, delight and shame of the same things. The unanimity of their visceral response provides a powerful sense of collective identity. They become the tribal ‘Us’, as opposed to those tribes who are not disgusted, angered or shamed as ‘We’ are. A group sharing a powerful visceral code inhibiting the natural tendency of the individual to self-assertion presents a united front against its enemies. To step outside that group is a betrayal of the group, more importantly it is a betrayal of one’s identity.
There are also the great many armchair warriors. Sitting in suburbia or a student union bar the armchair warrior can obtain the thrill of engagement merely by voicing support for the Palestinians. There need be no actual engagement but virtual participation brings with it a sense of taking part in the struggle. North Americans of supposedly Irish descent found the same in their support of Irish terrorism, a dollar in the collecting tin for the ‘bhoys’ and they were on the front line, never mind the innocent shoppers blown to bits by bombs.
Israel is far from perfect but when criticism is focussed on a state with strong democratic credentials, and that nation happens to be the state of the Jewish people, the suspicion of bigotry must be considered. Declarations that ‘I’m not anti-Semitic but ant-Zionist’, sound alarmingly like those statements beginning, ‘I’m not a racist, but …’
Dr Martin Luther King said: ‘Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so.’
Despite Dr king’s assertion it is possible to be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, but it is increasingly difficult especially when the side you support has a view of the Jews which would get Hitler’s stamp of approval. Your position is seriously undermined when the people you support or work alongside are virulently anti-Semitic.
Cliff Hanley believes 9/11 is a Jewish conspiracy; Sammi Ibrahem supports the Holocaust and refers to the Nazis as “martyrs”; Ellie Merton reckons the Breivik massacre in Norway was ‘an Israeli Govt sponsored operation’; and Gill Kaffash believes the Holocaust is a lie. The common factor? They have all chaired or held other prominent positions in the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation which makes the barking mad BNP seem like a group of hand-wringing moderates.
There is also the anti-colonialist’s self-hatred. At the end of the day the problem with the Israeli’s is that they are just too like us.
The World Council of Churches consists of 345 churches representing over 500 million Christians in more than 110 countries and territories. Inevitably with so many denominations represented there has to be some prioritising in where it focuses its efforts.
Nevertheless we are forced to question its stance concerning the Middle East’s persecuted Christians. In the last decade Muslim violence has driven half the Christian population of Iraq into exile. In Syria towns and villages have been emptied of their Christian populations by al-Qaeda. After President Morsi’s overthrow almost one hundred Coptic churches were attacked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters. 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt since the downfall of President Mubarak.
Apart from a few boilerplate statements on its website condemning violence there is little indication the WCC is aware that Christians are targeted in the Middle East and elsewhere by Muslim mobs. The only area of the Middle East where the WCC evidences practical concern is Palestine.
According to the WCC, the overwhelming concern of Christians in the region is the issue of Palestine. Earlier this year the WCC held a conference near Beirut on ‘Christian Presence and Witness in the Middle East’. The closing statement claimed: ‘Palestine continues to be the central issue in the region. Resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine in accordance with the UN resolutions and international law, will greatly help resolving the other conflicts in the region.’
How is it possible, given the terror inflicted upon Christians throughout the Middle East following the Arab Spring, that presumably sane people can believe that if only the Palestine people were given all they demand the problems facing Christians would evaporate like dew in the sun? The statement above was made in Lebanon, a country teeming with refugees from Syria, many of the Christians.
The Revd Dr Olav Fyske Tveir, WCC General Secretary did send a 234 word letter of solidarity to WCC member churches in Egypt. In it he regretted the ‘attacks against several churches’. Given the word ‘several’ covers fifty churches destroyed and a thousand Christian businesses set on fire on the day President Morsi was ousted perhaps Tveir had something to regret.
He did, however, add later that ‘I hope that this will not be interpreted as a conflict between Christians and Muslims’. Amnesty International titled their 16 page report on the situation, ‘Egypt’s Christians Caught between Sectarian Attacks and State Inaction’. A determinedly secular body could see that Muslims were attacking Christians because they were Christians. The WCC cannot acknowledge this fact.
In the Middle East the WCC is concerned overwhelmingly with Palestine. That is where it places its resources, where it wishes its member churches to focus their attention, efforts and prayers. In 2001 the WCC founded the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. The EAPPI brings Christians to the West Bank where they live for three months amongst Palestinians and then return home to tell others of their experiences.
EAPPI’s core publication, Faith Under Occupation, jointly published with WCC and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (2012), places sole blame for the difficulties faced by Christians in the Holy Land on Israel. It also seeks to ‘disprove’ what it calls ‘unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society’.
Did the WCC ever consider setting up a similar programme for those countries where Christians are being persecuted and churches destroyed? Of course not, for Palestine is the ‘central issue’ and all will be well in the Middle East once it is sorted out. In the meantime the perishing Christians of Iraq, Egypt, Syria and the other Muslim nations of the Middle East will just have to be patient and bear their persecution with grace and the occasional statement of concern from the WCC.
Members of the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church have faced real danger in providing aid to persecuted Christians of all denominations in Syria and Egypt. The Russian Orthodox Church has assumed a real financial burden on behalf of Syria’s Christians. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem is providing aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan. The WCC issues statements.
This year the Church of Scotland had to rewrite a report on Palestine about to be presented to its General Assembly. The initial version ‘caused worry and concern in parts of the Jewish Community in Israel and beyond’. Even the rewritten report has been described as saying that Israel has a right to exist, just not in Israel.
Such is the focus on Palestine as being the only real problem in the Middle East pervading the bureaucrats of the Church of Scotland that the Convener of the Church’s World Mission Council could respond to the attacks in Kenya and Peshawar with a statement including the sentence, ‘This is not about religion, but about people who are seeking to do wrong’.
As Mahboob Masih a Palestinian minister of the Church of Scotland remarks in this November’s issue of the Church’s magazine Life and Work, ‘It may not be about religion for the Convener of the World Mission Council but it is about religion for the perpetrators of the Peshawar bombing and Kenyan attack.’
The Convener’s response is, ‘In one sense he is quite right. These attacks are about religion – from the point of view of the Christians.’ Somehow not about religion from the point of view of the people who shouted Allahu Akbar as they selected non-Muslims to murder.
The Christian Church is under attack throughout the world. Unfortunately ecclesiastical bureaucrats are so focussed on the one issue which concerns them that they cannot listen to Mahboob Masih’s advice, ‘We should have the moral courage to acknowledge the reality without any fear of offending someone’
Lauded in the West Mahmoud Abbas President of the Palestinian National Authority is greatly exercised about Jews. We know this because he laboured the point in a combative speech delivered to the General Assembly of the United Nations last week.
Even Jonathan Freedland, a supporter of the Palestinian cause, described the speech clearly: ‘The language was especially uncompromising, condemning the ‘colonial military occupation’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘the brutality of repression and racial discrimination’. Abbas spoke of ‘apartheid’—always an incendiary word when applied to Israel-Palestine—and described what Israel calls its security barrier as a ‘racist annexation wall”.
As Abbas was delivering his speech one of his officials in Ramallah was revealing that 250,000 of the approximately 600,000 Palestinians in Syria have become refugees due to the civil war there. Mohamed Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that 93,000 of the displaced Palestinians had fled to Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Shtayyeh added that Palestinians who fled to the neighbouring Arab countries were living under harsh conditions.
Unfortunately, despite the tens of thousands of Palestinians who are being butchered and expelled from their homes in Arab countries, President Abbas sees evil as emanating from one source only, Israel.
The warring parties in Syria who are killing Palestinians by the hundred were ignored in order to criticise Israel. Over the last two years nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed and countless others injured in Syria. This was passed over in silence. Abbas did not, however, neglect to stress to the UN that 27 Palestinians were killed by the Israel Defence Forces since the beginning of the year.
Near the end of his speech Abbas did make passing reference to the plight of the refugees. But the mistreatment of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Egypt was passed over without a word.
Abbas’s speech shows that the Palestinian leadership considers construction of new housing units in settlements and neighbourhoods of Jerusalem as being much more serious than the displacement of a quarter million Palestinians.
In a survey earlier this year the Pew Research Centre found 40% of Palestinians agreed that ‘suicide attacks against civilians in defence of Islam are often/sometimes justified’. Yet for the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s security fence in the West Bank, designed to end suicide bombings, is more problematic than the killing and displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Syria.
Abbas did not seem to have time to mention the suffering of his own people at the hands of Arab governments and terror groups and said not a single word of condemnation of any Arab country for mistreating Palestinians over many decades. In the worldview of the Palestinian Authority, as with their ‘useful idiots’ in the West, only Israel can be in the wrong.
What is not mentioned by Muslims and progressives alike is that the greatest hurts caused to Palestinians have been at the hands of Muslim nations. This is not a recent development but has historical resonance.
Having fled Israel at the urging of the Arab governments Palestinian refugees proved a problem, especially for the Jordanians. By 1970 large portions of Jordanian territory, areas of Amman the capital, and towns and villages along the Israeli border were under terrorist control. Weapons bearing Palestinian terrorists swaggered the streets of refugee camps with impunity. The authority of King Hussein was rejected and Hussein knew who the real masters of Jordan were, and did nothing.
The Jordanian army was aware of the danger. On a visit to an army camp the Sandhurst trained king was outraged to see a woman’s brassiere flying from a tank antennae. His demand for the meaning of this was met with, ‘This means that we are women,’ replied the male tank commander, ‘You don’t let us fight.’
Eventually Hussein could no longer allow his kingdom to slip from his hands. On 17th September 1970 he let his army loose. It was a massacre.
Terrorists were hunted down in their homes, streets and camps and were shot out of hand. Some fled to Syria and Lebanon, 72 swam the Jordan and surrendered to the Israelis, many sheltered in the camps. Jordanian artillery pounded those camps. The number of dead civilians, including women and children, is unknown but estimates range from 3,000 to 7,000.
Muslims and progressives rarely mention the atrocities committed by Arab nations against the Palestinians. It doesn’t fit their agenda.
The alliance of progressives with Islam is not simply a result of a shared anti-Semitism, although that plays a part. Rather, this alliance is based on something deeper, a shared enemy and a shared outlook.
Winston Churchill loathed soviet communism with a passion. Unlike many of the West’s useful idiots he saw it for the evil, murderous, genocidal system it was. Yet in 1941 when Germany broke its treaty obligations and invaded its hitherto willing ally the USSR Churchill had no hesitation in allying the UK with the USSR. They fought the same enemy.
Just as the USSR was previously eager to ally with Nazi Germany so today’s progressives in the West are eager to ally with militant Islam, for the same reason, and probably with the same result.
As with the USSR and Nazi Germany, Islam and progressives have differing versions of the same shared statist ideology. Both are statist to the core, adamantly opposed to diversity or dissent. They both see a major roadblock on their paths to the attainment of power, those who hold to the Judeo-Christian tradition. We follow a different God and refuse to bow to their gods.
Progressives have a relationship with reason and truth as elastic as a lawyer’s conscience. Consider reactions to differing groups taking political action.
As expected there has been a reaction to the campaign by Christians and traditionalists against Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year award to be presented tonight. There is nothing unusual in that, to return to Casablanca it is merely the usual suspects letting off steam.
The issue was discussed this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. As usual the BBC practised even handedness after their own definition. There were two guests discussing the issue, one of whom thought Stonewall did “absolutely fabulous work.” To achieve balance the other contributor argued that Barclays and Coutts had got their decision all wrong.
On the Independent newspaper’s website Archie Bland described Christians as being involved in a “vile campaign.” Elsewhere, those who wrote to the banks concerned were accused of belonging to “an extremist Christian group.” Of course “fascist,” the usual technical term used by Progressives to try to shut up any who disagree with them, has been in use.
Yet when Progressives instigate a boycott this is seen as taking a principled stance. When arts organisations are called on to boycott or disinvite Israeli organisations and artists this is supposedly an expression of compassion and an example of Progressive moral superiority.
At the end of August a group of luvvies attempted to stop performances by the Baksheva dance troupe at the Edinburgh Festival because Baksheva are an Israeli group. A coterie of Scottish writers headed by Scotland’s national poet Liz Lochhead and including novelist Iain Banks and short story writer AL Kennedy even wrote to the press calling for a cultural boycott of all Israeli companies and artists.
Earlier this year, actress Emma Thompson and assorted others who make a living playing make believe sought to have the Israeli theatre company Habima banned from taking part in an international Shakespeare festive at the Globe Theatre in London.
Their argument was that Baksheva and Habima had small subsidies from the Israeli government and to allow them to perform would be to show support for Israel’s “apartheid” policies.
Lochhead, Thompson and just about every other writer, actor and actress in the UK has willingly received government grants and subsidies in some form through the largesse of the British taxpayer. They incessantly moan if there is a hint of a threat to their subsidies. Should we boycott their work because reading Liz Lochhead’s poems or watching Emma Thompson act would be showing support for Britain’s use of drones in Afghanistan?
It is supposedly “vile” when Christians object to being called bigots for holding views which have prevailed for 2,000 years and have been taught by every major religious leader before Giles Fraser. Yet it is showing compassion when middle class youths and middle aged protesters don a keffiyeh and disrupt city centres in support of Palestinian terrorist organisations.
Actually that is compassionate in the same way that blacking up at a civil rights march in Alabama in the 60’s would have been compassionate.
At heart logic or just plain consistency has no meaning for the Progressive because for them objective truth has no meaning. What matters to Progressives is emotion. This is why so many of their heroes and role models are in the entertainment business.
Those in the entertainment business are overwhelmingly Progressive and it is not because of intelligence. What actors and writers do for a living is attempt to get inside the skin of a character, to feel as they feel, so that they can present the character to an audience. Good writers and performers, such as Lochhead and Thomson, do this very well, unfortunately they have difficulty stopping. They have training and experience and are immersed in only one line of work – make believe.
A pound to a penny every time some faux compassionate Progressive thespian such as Susan Sarandon or Sean Penn gets up to lecture us on the evils of the West they will say “I feel…” This is not just a semantic trifle, for the Progressive thinking or reasoning takes second place to feeling. For the Progressive the heart always rules the head. Reason and logic are seen as barriers to the “truth” of emotion.
Unfortunately emotion is always easier to manipulate than reason.The real world requires more than make believe compassion, it requires actual truth.
Mitt Romney, a man with the charisma of a wardrobe, is running for the US presidency. As part of his campaign he is visiting three nations which have close connections with the USA: Britain, Israel and Poland. These are countries which influence or contain large groups of US voters and potential donors.
At a donors’ breakfast in Israel, Romney offered his take on the “dramatically stark differences in economic vitality” between Israel and the Palestinian territories. In his estimation at least part of the reason for the disparity are the cultural differences between the two groups. As well as the automatic cries of “racism” this elicited glee in the media at the supposed gaffe, as Mark Mardell of the BBC told us last night, of “insulting the Palestinians.”
I don’t know if Romney is any more, or less, prejudiced than any of the rest of us, I do know that if I were trying to persuade a bunch of wealthy Jews in Jerusalem to donate to my political campaign I wouldn’t spend a lot of time praising those nice folks at Hamas and Fatah. Romney is a politician and this “gaffe” may well have brought him significant donations in Israel and votes back home.
It is easy to point out that a substantial reason for the disparity in living standards between Israel and the Palestinian territories is the blockade and other restrictions imposed on the territories by Israel. This, however, shores up Romney’s analysis, as the Palestinian terrorism and virulent anti-Semitism which gives rise to the blockade is a product of one of the main drivers of those cultural differences.
There is a larger picture to be taken into consideration. The Palestinian territories are not alone in the Middle East in having high levels of poverty, illiteracy, political corruption, misogyny, scapegoating of outsiders and repressive governance.
Over the last decade the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has issued a series of studies conducted by independent researchers and scholars from the Arab world. The studies tried to find out why barriers which impede human and economic development persist in the Arab world.
As one would expect the findings blame poor governance, lack of individual freedom and gender inequality. Precisely the social attitudes Romney summarized as “cultural” deficiencies among Palestinians. It is, however, somewhat doubtful that Mark Mardell would consider the UN to be gaffe prone.
According to the UN what impedes the good governance and economic and social progress of Arab societies are the “political and social flaws and constraints” on human freedom and the individual’s sense of personal security. There is not an Arab nation without what we in the West would consider massive constraints on the individual’s freedom and security.
The UN describes gender inequality as a “main obstacle” to full human development. Throughout the Arab world more than half of Arab women were found to be illiterate. When we consider that some of the wealthiest nations on the planet are in the Middle East it becomes clear that this is not simply a matter of economic poverty.
Palestinian women have a long way to go before approaching the level of education, freedom and empowerment accepted as normal by the mass of Israeli women. This does not arise from poverty but rather gives rise to poverty and is a product of the ideology which is the source of the other poverty inducing cultural factors.
What the UN fails to stress is the main and determining ‘cultural’ factor. The Arab world is a Moslem world and many of the constraints on human freedom and gender equality there, as elsewhere, arise from their interpretation of Islam.
What we believe shapes how we think and how we think shapes how we behave.
It is a mark of talent and perseverance to achieve the near impossible task of having the Liberal Democrat whip withdrawn. To do so you must be a rabid extremist of some ilk.
One way is by being so old fashioned that you are wedded to consistent moral standards and so you continually insist that cast iron manifesto promises made prior to an election should be carried out when in power. But that hasn’t happened within the Lib Dems and nor is it likely to.
The other way to get kicked out is to make a long series of comments so outrageous that even the famously non-judgemental Lib Dems are forced to make a judgement.
So congratulations are due to Jenny Tonge.
This week she finally tipped the balance. Speaking at an event to further Israel Apartheid Week, the basic idea behind which is that Israel is an apartheid state, Baroness Tonge, of Kew in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames prophesied the eventual destruction of Israel, stating that Israel would “lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”
Former US marine and anti-Israel activist Ken O’Keefe was also speaking at the event. O’Keefe told the student audience that Israel was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that it “continues to foster false-flag terrorism.”
“If Israel is inherently a racist state, if it is inherently an apartheid state, then I want no part of Israel; it has no place in this world. And it must in its current form –if you want me to use some inflammatory language – in its current form should be destroyed,” he said.
Baroness Tonge was seen to applaud O’Keefe’s speech.
In any grown up political party Jenny Tonge would have been thrown from the back of the sleigh long ago. She has a long record of anti-Israel statements which can, and do, merge into anti-Semitism.
In 2004 she was sacked as Lib Dem spokesperson on children’s issues by then party leader Charles Kennedy after suggesting she would consider becoming a suicide bomber. Nevertheless, in 2005 on the recommendation of the Lib Dems, she was made a life peer and given a permanent seat in the House of Lords.
In 2006 Menzies Campbel, then leader of the Lib Dems, condemned her for “clear anti-Semitic connotations” after she had insisted that “the pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.”
According to a statement by the Lib Dem peer in 2010 the root cause of worldwide terrorism is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. In the view of Baroness Tonge the reason that the world community does not take action against Israel for this is “Holocaust guilt.”
Eventually Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sacked her as the Lib Dems spokesperson on health in 2010. This was after she suggested that Israel set up an enquiry if it wanted to refute allegations, made by Islamists and pro-Palestine activists, that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” the organs of earthquake victims. Despite this she retained the Lib Dem whip, which means that notwithstanding the outrageously anti-Semitic statements she has made she was still accepted as a member in full standing of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party.
It was only after her latest attack on Israel that she was given the ultimatum, apologise or resign. She remained true to her convictions and resigned and thus has had the whip withdrawn.
It is possible to be anti-Israel or anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. Unfortunately Jenny Tonge, like so many in the fashionable pro-Palestinian camp, fails to make the distinction. In their effort to promote the cause of the fascist rulers of Gaza and the West Bank the fellow travellers with Islamist extremism are unwilling to see in anything other than black and white terms.
There is much that is wrong in the state of Israel but our fashionable Guardianistas never seem to ask themselves the question: “Would I prefer to be an Arab living in Israel, or a Jew living in Gaza?”