We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Friday, 30 July 2010

It's an Unfair Cop, Guv! Mr Plod shows some muscle

Mr Plod is a British policeman stationed at the House of Commons.  His job is presumably to direct visitors, arrest miscreants and deter terrorist attacks.  Richard Millett is a British blogger and freelance journalist stalwart in his defence of Jews and Israel.  Like the valiant Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation, he goes where angels fear to tread; his reports on anti-Israel meetings and demonstrations are invaluable.  Tom Eisner is a British violinist who doesn't like Israel very much at all and often (although I haven't noticed him lately) goes onto the Jewish Chronicle blogs to taunt - there's no better word, really - fellow Jews who love Israel and wish that beleaguered little country long life.

The other evening, in a corridor of  the Palace of Westminster, Mr Plod, Mr Millett, and Mr Eisner crossed paths.  The outcome was not a happy one for parliamentary democracy.

You see, hosted by Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour MP long known for his hostility to Israel, a meeting was due to take place in a side room (I believe the correct term is committee room) of the House of Commons, addressed by three Arab members of the Knesset.  Its topic was On the "Jewish Character" of the State of Israel, its meaning and significance, political discrimination, and the condition of the Arabs in Israel - just the sort of topic to appeal to Mr Millett in his capacity as reporter.  On seeing it advertised, he tried to register but received no response.  So he went along anyway, and was queuing patiently when somebody approached him.

It was Mr Eisner, who, obviously having the measure of Mr Millett as a champion of The Zionist Entity, asked our trusty blogger whether he'd come to disrupt the meeting.  Somewhat taken aback - for disrupting meetings is not in Mr Millett's nature or remit - Mr Millett answered in the negative.  Mr Eisner, who jokingly asked him for a £200 good behaviour bond, agreed that he could attend the meeting.

However, Mr Millett had been recognised by others as someone holding pro-Zionist views.  And presently  Mr Plod and two colleagues strode purposefully up to Mr Millett.  Mr Plod took the pro-Israel blogger firmly by the upper arm and led him away, past Mr Corbyn, who reportedly averted his gaze and kept shtum.  Mr Millett's details were taken and he was escorted off the premises. 

So, in Westminster, the cradle of democracy, things have come to a pretty pass.  Mr Plod the policeman now muscles in on people who have caused no offence whatever - no offence, that is, apart from holding views that are anathema to anti-Zionists.  Needless to say, the irony of it all is not lost on Richard Millett.

Oh, and by the way, Jonathan Hoffman wasn't allowed in either.  I've advised him to wear a burkha next time.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Sick Man of Europe: David Cameron talks Turkey

I'm a paid-up, card-carrying member of the Conservative Party.  I didn't vote for David Cameron as leader.  I distrusted him then.  I despise him now.  One of the pithiest definitions of a Conservative that I've ever seen is "someone who jumps back when they see a precipice at their feet".   

David Cameron is not a Conservative.  He is a smooth unprincipled opportunist, and, moreover, one who appears to bear the impression of the last man to sit upon him.  In his case, there are the imprints of two men - his appalling coalition partner Nick Clegg (whose antipathy towards Israel, like that of all too many of Clegg's Lib Dem colleagues, is a matter of public record), and the equally appalling Barack Obama (who in appeasement's cause seems willing to sell Israel down the Jordan river).

Cameron's speech in Ankara could have come straight from Obama's teleprompter. With a lunatic disregard for the fact that Erdogan is no secularising Ataturk but an Islamist puppet, Cameron will "fight" for Turkey's membership of the European Union - thus pitting himself against wiser counsels such as Nicolas
Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. With a cavalier contempt for the facts of history, he ignorantly likens opposition to Turkey's membership of the EU to de Gaulle's veto of Britain's bid to join the Common Market in 1963 (back in the days when the EEC could be considered the economic arm of NATO, by the way, and not the villainous bureaucratic tyranny that has been forced on the peoples of Europe by stealth).  The reason for de Gaulle's veto was the general's fear that if Grand Bretagne was to be accepted into what was then a club of six, British influence in the EEC would rival and perhaps eclipse that of France.  The reason so many Europeans today view with alarm the prospect of Turkey's membership of the EU is the fact  that Islamic influence in Turkey is growing, and that membership would give Turks - not only secularist or moderate Muslim Turks - the right to settle anywhere in the EU.

But Cameron is seemingly nonplussed at the potential arrival of millions of Muslim fundamentalists in Europe's heartland.  He lashed out in his speech at people who "think the values of Islam can just never be compatible with the values of other religions, societies or cultures".  I'd love to believe him, but the treatment of women, gays, dissenters and apostates  in Islamic societies makes me wary; I think it should make Cameron wary too.

And then there's the question of the Gaza flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists belonging to an Islamist organisation with terror links called the IHH lost their lives when violently resisting Israeli commandos.  Cameron insists on a rigorous enquiry into Israel's actions.  Never mind that Israel has a right to defend itself, and ensure that arms for Hamas aren't smuggled into Gaza.  Never mind, too, that there is plenty of evidence - such as that newly opened Gaza Mall - that Gaza is not exactly the "prison camp" that Cameron says it is.  Certainly, the lives of the people of Gaza could be improved, but tell that to Hamas. 

I could go on.  But instead I'll refer you to the splendid commentary on this subject that Ray Cook has on his blog today.  Cameron should read it too.  Compulsorily.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Gaza Kiddies' Roadshow - turning Britons against Israel, one whistlestop at a time

You won't see the picture shown here in an exhibition of children's art that opened at Manchester Cathedral over the weekend.  This picture, which we might entitle "Red Alert", is by a little Israeli girl; it depicts her frightening experiences in her home town of Sderot, the target of escalated Qassam rocket attacks by Hamas following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.  And you won't find any attempts to explain Israel's rationale  for "Operation Cast Lead" either.  For the exhibition, which has the backing of UNESCO and of official Gazan agencies, is unashamedly one-sided.  Called "Loss of Innocence", it shows only the artwork of children from Gaza, portraying (or purporting to portray) scenes of distress and barbarity from - you've guessed it! - during Cast Lead, and is in many ways the Hamas Propaganda Ministry's dream.

It consists of about 50 pictures, brought back from Gaza last year by Rod Cox, a Cheshire property developer who went there with the Viva Palestina convoy in which George Galloway also participated.  Due to help Cox to launch the exhibition at the cathedral - I missed that event myself - was Mona Baker, the Egyptian-born Manchester professor who caused widespread outrage in 2002 when, in accordance with her belief that Israeli academic institutions must be boycotted, she removed two Israel-based scholars  from the editorial boards of two journals she edits.

Cox has been prominently involved with an initiative called Chester and Palestine Exchanges, and in 2007 the members of a teenage Palestinian soccer team he was due to bring to the UK for a series of matches in the north-west had their visas cancelled owing to fears they would defect (despite the earlier blessing of the Foreign Office's "Engaging with Islam" scheme).  In 2008, in consequence of a letter he had written to The Independent newspaper, he was accused of antisemitism by the Community Security Trust's Mark Gardner.

On his blog http://www.rodcoxandgaza.blogspot.com/ there are many of the pictures in the exhibition.  There are also some revealing statements.  On the Armenian massacres: "Up to now it [Israel] has supported Turkey's cover up of the Pogrom, because it wants the Holocaust of Jews to be unique.  That way Jews are uniquely privileged to do things others are not."  On the slain Mavi Marmara activists:  "I believe that they have not died in vain ... for I believe that this marks the beginning of the end - albeit a long slow end - for Israel.  Too often have they killed from a wanton lust to kill, to exterminate those inferior and in their way, but, really, the future belongs to those dead."  And this: "How is it that Israel can commit such vile acts of murder ... when they have stolen the land in the first place and have killed everyone who gets in their way to keep this stolen land.  None of Israel or the land it occupies has any legitimacy .... It is truly a pariah state, and the only state except the USA to threaten another with Nuclear attack."

The exhibition, as Cox explained when it was first amassed, is "designed for children - but for adults as well"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=575N0JRzaIs
That's why there are simple captions for children, at their approximate eye level, and, higher up, captions aimed at adults.  All these captions present a very biased view of the conflict, unabashedly demonising Israel, justifying "resistance", and depicting Hamas terrorists as freedom fighters; there's even a drawing of an apparent would-be suicide bomber.

This is not the first time the exhibition has been to Manchester.  Since its inception last year it's been to many localities up and down the UK, remaining in each for about a week.  It arrived in Manchester this time from Bangor Cathedral in Wales, and soon it's on its way to Scotland, and then it makes its way to eastern England.  It's been shown in many schools, including primary schools - for it seems to be deliberately  targetting the youngest and most impressionable of children.

Clearly, it's making enemies for Israel of Britons young and old - one whistlestop at a time.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Denying the Past, Ditching the Future

David Selbourne (incidentally the grandson of a former Rabbi of Tel Aviv) is a British political philosopher and social commentator whose books include The Losing Battle with Islam (2005).  He is always profound, always interesting, and frequently controversial.  Many of his pronouncements are pessimistic, and they speak to us all the more urgently for that.

In a speech that will resonate with innumerable Britons who say "I love my country but I hate what it's become" (or the many variations on that theme that have been commonplace since 1997 when Blair took office and have not stopped under the Cameron-Clegg coalition) he attributes the nation's malaise to an assorted rogue's gallery of types who include "venal politicians, false educators, degraders of the media, thieving privatisers of the public domain".  He believes that the rot is irreversible, and that all who are able to do so should make new lives for themselves outside the UK.  An edited version of his speech, entitled "Too late to save Britain - it's time to emigrate",  is available on The Spectator's Coffee House blogsite.

I'm not sure that everyone would agree with so drastic a step as emigration, but natural conservatives like myself, believing in the social contract linking past to present to future, will identify with David Selbourne's lamentation about the deliberate destruction of Britain as "an organic and particular creation".   One factor which has led to this malign state of affairs is the lack of traditional history teaching in Britain's schools, and in deploring this Selbourne quotes to good effect the French philosopher Simone Weil: "The past, once destroyed, never returns.  Its destruction is perhaps the greatest of all crimes."

To the leftists who have put their stamp on British state education increasingly since the 1970s, a history curriculum that consists of kings and queens and battles and foreign conquests is not politically correct; it is irrelevant to the recent influx of immigrants from around the globe whose ancestors are not part of Britain's story; and of course it offends the ruling wisdom that all cultures are created equal.  Therefore only select parts of Britain's history are allowable for schoolchildren's consumption - those that highlight the leftist critique of society.  (How different from the situation in the USA, where the broad common narrative of American history is taught to and known by all children, irrespective of ethnicity and background.)

No wonder, then, that a Cardiff University professor who decided to test his 18-year-old undergraduates with five simple questions to which all British people of their age might reasonably be expected to know the answers found the following shameful results.  A mere 10% could name any of Britain's nineteenth-century prime ministers, only 16% knew that Wellington commanded Britain's Army at Waterloo, only 30% that the Boer War was fought in South Africa, only 32% that Elizabeth Tudor was on the throne when the Spanish Armada sailed, and only 38% that Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an engineer (I suspect that the comparatively large proportion of correct answers there was due to publicity for Brunel in a recent popular TV history miniseries).

With showings like that on their own history, can you wonder why so many of Britain's youth are so appallingly ignorant about the history of Zionism and Israel, and seem to believe that prior to 1948 there was a sovereign state called Palestine that was stolen by a bunch of wicked western imperialists?

In 1841, in urging a programme of russification, a group of maskilim  urged the vice-governors of the administrative districts in the Pale of Settlement to ensure in particular that Jewish children were taught Russian history, "for there is nothing which unites diverse ethnic groups with the dominant nation better than the dissemination of information concerning the nation's history and literature".

It's a lesson that should be heeded by David Cameron - who made his own history blooper last week when he said that in 1940 (when Britain stood alone against Germany following the Fall of France and before the USA had even entered the conflict!) Britain was Ameica's "junior partner" in the fight againt the Nazis.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

From the Land of Oz - A Tale of Two Malcolms

If you've ever been to the London borough of Tower Hamlets - not the most heimishe of locations nowadays - you may have noticed a large exterior wall clock dedicated to the memory of Minnie Lansbury, who died in 1922 aged 31.  Born to Jewish parents surnamed Glassman, Minnie was a suffragette and popular civic leader, renowned for her compassion for the neighbourhood's poor.  She was the daughter-in-law of George Lansbury, the famous Labour Party leader.  Her widower remarried, and became the father of celebrated actress Angela Lansbury.

     Malcolm Turnbull, the urbane Oxford-educated barrister/merchant banker who led Australia's Liberal Party (the Aussie equivalent of the British Conservative Party) from 2008-9, is the son of Angela Lansbury's cousin Coral, and like his forebear George Lansbury he is something of a philosemite.  He is certainly one of the best friends that Israel has in the antipodes, and the other evening he proved his credentials yet again when during the current federal election campaign he and his two rival candidates for the parliamentary seat of Wentworth in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs (which he has represented since 2004) addressed the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. A video of all three speeches can be viewed here
http://vimeo.com/13499830 and there is a a synopsis of them here
http://www.jwire.com.au/news/wentworth-candidates-address-board-of-deputies-plenum/10541

Turnbull's unequivocal warmth towards Israel and his profound grasp of the harsh realities that Israel confronts contrasts sharply with the woeful stance of his octogenarian namesake and fellow Liberal Malcolm Fraser, who was prime minister of Australia from 1975-83.  The supercilious Oxford-educated scion of the squattocracy and of a mother of Jewish descent, Una Woolf, Fraser is widely remembered for three things: the controversial manner of his appointment to office, the much-mocked pronouncement that "life wasn't meant to be easy", and the mysterious loss of his trousers in a seedy hotel in Memphis in 1986 when he was chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group.  While prime minister he was a hard-headed rightwinger, and in 1975 his Cabinet learned of a plot by Palestinian terrorists to assassinate three prominent Aussie champions of Israel - future Labour prime minister Bob Hawke, communal leader Isi Leibler, and journalist Sam Lipski.  Fraser was perceived as friendly to Israel.

Subsequently, however, Fraser - evidently determined to be an elder statesman of international import - reinvented himself as an extreme small-l liberal and a self-righteous exponent of "human rights", founding the organisation Australians All.  He sounded off to the embarrassment of his Liberal Party successors, undermining them, especially the estimable and staunchly pro-Israel John Howard.  He loftily dismissed widespread public fears of large-scale Muslim immigration, made light of the threat from radical Islam, called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas (thereby earning the soubriquet "Mad Mal of Hamastan"), and rounded on "the Jewish lobby" - yes, he used that very phrase - when Zionist leaders pointed to the flaws in his arguments and questioned the wisdom of his views. He flounced out of the Liberal Party in 2009, condemning its conservatism. Early this year he was quick off the mark to urge the then prime minister Kevin Rudd to expel Israeli diplomats from Canberra in reprisal for the use of four Australian passports by the team believed to be responsible for the assassination in Dubai of the Hamas arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Perhaps the kindest thing to be said about Malcolm Fraser is that he should have had the grace and good sense years ago to button his lips and fade quietly into one of those spectacular antipodean sunsets.

Monday, 19 July 2010

For Zion's Sake! Drop Rotem's Bill!

In 1970 Israeli Chief Justice Shimon Agranat observed: "The goals of aliya and the ingathering of the exiles obligate us to see the term 'Jew' as a secular concept.  We need not be exacting in checking the Jewish origins of immigrants so long as they do not totally lack such origins".

Given the realities of Soviet society, many of the olim who arrived from the USSR over subsequent decades had just one Jewish grandparent - and not always the correct one, for purposes of Halachah.   At present, with 300,000 Soviet olim unrecognised as Jews by the Orthodox Israeli rabbinate and thus unable to marry in Israel, regulation of their status is a pressing necessity.

But the Conversion Bill that Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem managed to push through the Knesset Law Committee by one vote last week is, in a nutshell, mad, bad, and dangerous to do.  In empowering only rabbis sanctioned by the Chief Rabbinate it discriminates against non-Orthodox rabbis.  While it might not directly threaten the right of return of non-halachic Jews in the Diaspora, it is an unjust and provocative piece of legislation that could well be the thin end of the wedge.  It threatens to alienate a significant component of the non-Jewish world - the non-Orthodox element - at a particularly gruelling time for the Jewish people, a time when, more than ever, all Israel must be responsible for one another.

It also insults the memory of those non-Orthodox Jewish lay and religious leaders who have played a mighty role in the Zionist movement.  I'm thinking of such people as the great Rabbi Stephen Wise in America; of Eva, Marchioness of Reading, who was raised an Anglican, but rediscovered her Jewish roots during the Nazi era, joined the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, and became Vice-President of the Zionist Federation in the UK; and of Rabbi Herman Sanger, the remarkable refugee from Germany who headed Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne, Australia, and kindled within it his own love of Zion.  Sanger's biography has recently been written by his distinguished successor in the pulpit, Rabbi Emeritus John Simon Levi, whose own passion for Israel has been palpable and influential. 

Why should a person who has not even been raised as a Jew, but happens to have been born of a Jewish mother - such as the British actor Stephen Fry, who  seems to sign every "As-a-Jew" statement condemnatory of Israel going - have more claim upon Israel than the sons and daughters of mothers who converted through non-Orthodox batei din?  I'm sure there must have been a number of such offspring in Temple Beth Israel's Netzer movement over the years - and if the Netzer movement isn't imbued with an infectious all-pervasive Zionist spirit, then I don't know what is.

Orthodox ... Conservative ... Reform ... Liberal.  We all belong to K'lal Israel.  Medinat Israel must not cast any of us asunder.  For Zion's Sake.  And for ours.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Judah's Lion and the Judge: the scandalous courtroom remarks of George Bathurst Norman

In the old days, when Anglo-Jews of a certain status relished the appellation "gentlemen of  the Mosaic persuasion", and often preferred the term "Hebrew" or "Israelite" to "Jew" with all its unpleasant stereotypical connotations, communal concerns tended to be raised sotto voce. The approach achieved results, but it was despised by more forthright  newcomers.

There are still critics who characterise Anglo-Jewry's elected leaders as "trembling Israelites".  But that charge could never be brought against the esteemed Vice-President of the Zionist Federation, the extraordinarily active and fearless Jonathan Hoffman (pictured, at a recent pro-Israel demonstration in London).  His willingness to play Daniel in the lion's den is legendary; indeed, his courage is itself leonine.

Now, Mr Hoffman has obtained the 87-page transcript of the case of Regina versus Robert Nicholls and Others, heard at Lewes Crown Court on 28-29 June, which after a scandalously biased-against-Israel summing up by Judge George Bathurst Norman resulted in the acquittal of all seven defendants, who successfully argued that in illegally breaking into and smashing up an armaments  factory they believed to be supplying Israel, they were preventing a greater crime.

Mr Hoffman's masterly blog here http://cifwatch.com/2010/07/14/the-judge-who-thought-he-was-defence-counsel/shows with analytical precision just how offensive, mischievous and improper Judge Bathurst Norman's summing up was - far more scandalous than at first imagined, although that was scandalous enough.

The blog's a must-read, and a must-do is the action that Mr Hoffman suggests.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Dirty Doings Down Under

In some Zionist circles they're dubbed "Theobald Jews" - Jews who make a fetish out of demonising Israel before the non-Jewish world.   The term derives from a Jew in medieval England who turned traitor against his people by lying about them to the authorities.

We're all familiar with the type, I suppose.  And they exist even in Australia, which has one of the most staunchly pro-Israel of all Diaspora Jewries.  In fact, there's a certain thirty-something Australian Jew who's carved out quite a cosy little niche for himself as a Theobald.  He calls bloggers like me "whores for Israel" - ironic, really, as a whore sells her favours while Israel has our souls for free.  Ironic, too, as he must have made a few handy bucks out of the contentious polemical diatribe against Israel that he wrote a few years ago.  That notorious tome was published by a prestigious academic press - which grubbied its own reputation as a result.  I guess that's what happens when a publisher's CEO also belongs to a dodgy outfit called  Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

But this particular Theobald Jew has now outraged even some of his anti-Zionist Jewish fans.  On his blog he pictorially defamed Israel - and downplayed the struggle against Islamic terror - with this vile imagery (provenance unknown). I reproduce this filth here advisedly - I take no pleasure in showing it, but I do want to demonstrate how exceedingly low some Theobald Jews are prepared to sink in their quest to delegitimise and destroy the Jewish State.  He was eventually shamed into taking it down - and explained that he had intended no offence and that he now realised that such images should not be given oxygen.  Too bad that he let a reference of his own to IDF "stormtroopers" to remain.

 He and not quite two score of Aussie Jews - some might best be described knowingly as "as-a-Jews" - have proclaimed that in view of Israeli policies they have waived their "right of return" as laid down by Knesset legislation of 1950.  In noting some of the names on the list, it's hard to resist the conclusion that Israel's loss is Israel's gain.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Stand by Your Guy!

On the London Daily Telegraph blogs over the weekend (blogs.telegraph.co.uk), Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator Nile Gardiner argued compellingly that British Foreign Secretary William Hague should sack Fadlallah-loving  Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy. 

Compelling to all people of good sense, though not, it seems, to Hague and his Arabist FCO pals.  But it does seem that  Britain downgraded its diplomatic presence at Fadlallah's funeral - his ambassadorial admirer does not appear to have attended.

Another photo of the lady - in her Eastern bonnet - with the terror-promoting sheikh has just surfaced (hat tip: Derek Pasquill, commenting over at CiF Watch).  She sure seems to have enjoyed the old terror merchant's company, eh?

Enjoy! (If you can.)  Personally, I wonder whether it's totally necessary for the non-Muslim representative of a (once?) great power to cover her locks, obeisant-like, in this way.  Were she observing prayers in a mosque, I could understand it.  But in a secular setting?  Dhimmi - I mean dear me - no.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Watt Amman! More Quackers from the FCO Camel Corps

Foreign Secretary William Hague - himself no great shakes when it comes to standing up to the world's bullies - was reportedly  'very unimpressed' with Frances Guy's  blogged infatuation with the Israel-loathing, West-hating, terror-peddling Sheik Fadlallal, and after 'mature consideration' that blog was removed.

Still, unlike Octavia Nasr, CNN's Middle East editor, who on Twitter described Fadlallal as 'One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot' and promptly lost her job as a result, Britain's envoy in Beirut has kept hers.  Now, the woman who when head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Engaging with the Islamic World  unit met all kinds of unsavoury types in appeasement's cause, and who in her current role pioneered diplomatic talks with Hezbollah, has blogged an apology of sorts. (Well, she would, wouldn't she?)
    
Now, it turns out, Britain's man in Amman, James Watt, has been indulging in a lot of dodgy blogging of his own (hat tip: Harry's Place).  It seems a youthful meeting with Lord Caradon opened his eyes to the wicked ways of those pesky Zionists, though perhaps Mrs Watt, Amal Saad, who's a member of an Arab family, has jaundiced the ambassador's view of Israel too. 

"Completely non-factual assertions - for example that a Jewish people was building Jerusalem 5000 years ago - only serve to emphasise the absence of real content or reason" he thundered in March this year.  "No one is prepared - or very few - to take Zionist arguments at their face value any longer."  "The origin of the problem - the arrival of the Zionists in Palestine, with their commitment to avoiding any kind of integration into existing society, and their policy of importing their co-religionists from cultural and social backgrounds alien to Palestine, changed everything", he proclaimed on 1 July.  "So did the massive expulsion of huge numbers of Palestinians from their land.  Their right to return, and to compensation, remains the central demand, backed by all Arab states and reflected also in the principles set out by the international community for peace."  Other blogs by Mr Watt mirror the view of his Arabist FCO masters regarding the Goldstone Report, the Gaza Blockade, the Mavi Marmara affair, and so on.

And, it would seem, just like Ambassador Guy (I talk from experience) Ambassador Watt is decidedly reluctant to allow non-sycophantic comments to blight his blog.

Back in 2007, right around the time of Iran's capture of 15 Royal Naval personnel whose vessel had drifted too near to Iranian waters, I was in London to attend a meeting of a specialist historical society entirely unconnected with Jews or Israel.  Afterwards, five of us were guests of the chairman, at dinner at his club in Pall Mall.  Just as the second course arrived, the man on my right (who despite my very Jewish surname had insisted on extolling to me, and not jocularly either, the virtues of the menu's pork, which he proceeded to order) was asked by the man on my left what he made of the Iran naval affair.  To my astonishment, the reply was an invective-laden denunciation not of Iran, but of Israel - which, he claimed, was responsible for all of the ills of the Middle East.

I had a choice.  I could either sit silent and ladylike, or I could give him a piece of my mind.  Reluctant to embarrass our genial host, I nevertheless chose to do the latter - while my fellow diners, obviously uncomfortable, almost buried their heads in their plates.

Who was the man who spoke so ill of Israel? Why, a former officer in one of Britain's armed services and a leading official at the Ministry of Defence - that's who.

These days, it seems, the droppings of the FCO Camel Corps extend the length and breadth of Whitehall.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Britain's Beirut Envoy - another Foreign Office Arabist kind of Guy

There she sits, hunched forward,  her crowning glory hidden beneath a scarf, smilingly catching his every word.  Frances Guy, Britain's ambassador to Lebanon, and Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the popular Shia cleric who passed away a few days ago. 

Sheikh Fadlallah apparently had many sterling qualities -  his progressive view of women's role and status being just one of them - and attracted numerous admirers.

However, the man said to be Hezbollah's spiritual leader had less palatable views regarding Israel and the West.  He justified terror. He wanted Israel annihilated. For instance, he encouraged suicide bombers against the Jewish State, declaring that "All of Palestine is a war zone and every Jew who unlawfully occupies a house or land belonging to a Palestinian is a legitimate target.  There are no innocent Jews in Palestine."  He declared that Zionists had vastly exaggerated the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. And he praised the deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Beirut 27 years ago.
 
Notwithstanding all that, Ambassador Guy has blogged a eulogy for Sheikh Fadlallah, in which she reveals him as her "favourite politician" (hat tip: Elder of Ziyon).  In the course of that eulogy - headed "The passing of decent men" - she has not made any attempt to dissociate herself from his uncompromising attitude towards Israel.

Is this acceptable to the British Foreign Office - whose Arabist predilections are well-known though sometimes (weakly and implausibly) denied: that their envoy to one country should be permitted to express adulation for a politically influential  public figure of that country who advocates violence against the citizens of another country and, for good measure, that country's destruction?  A country that is an ally, no less, of Britain? Is this the shameful reality of Britain today?

[Update: Ms Guy's ill-conceived eulogy has now mysteriously disappeared into cyber heaven; however, a screen-shot of her extraordinary post may be viewed on Elder of Ziyon's blog, official Foreign and Commonwealth Office heading and all. ]

[Further update: as of Friday morning, the post is retrievable via Bing - but not Google.  Type her name into Bing and when the start of the post appears onscreen press Cached Page, and you'll get it all - except, that is, for the comments accompanying it.]

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Slave Trade City votes for Israel Sanctions

Is there no end to the lies, distortions and fabrications - indeed, the obscenities - that emerge daily from the United Kingdom regarding Israel?

Two Bristol men were aboard the so-called "peace" flotilla intercepted by Israel in June. Last night, Bristol City Council  voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion put forward by a Lib Dem councillor (who having evidently swallowed Hamas propaganda hook, line and sinker compared Gaza to Britain during the Blitz) to "hold Israel to account for this illegal [sic] action" (boarding the Mavi Marmara, resulting in nine deaths)  and for sanctions against Israel until it "complies with international law and ceases perpetrating human rights abuses". 

The Libs Dems, of course, have many Israel-defamers within their ranks -  Baroness Tonge is just the most notorious.  But none of the parties seem to have had any councillors principled enough to speak up for Israel during the Bristol debate.  The best the Conservatives could do, reports suggest, was to put forward a motion couched in what they termed "less emotive language", urging Israel to "exercise restraint".

It says much for the level of ignorance among these leaders of a big city that they appear to have shared the mischievous misconceptions voiced by one of the local flotilla activists before the vote: "We question the morality of the council having money invested in Israeli banks or investment funds where it gains interest derived in any way over 60 years of ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine, the illegal occupation of the West Bank, and the brutal starvation and slaughter of the people in Gaza".

Naturally, the pro-Palestinian anti-Israel boycott brigade in Bristol is cock-a-hoop at this latest British blow against the little Jewish State in its struggle to survive.

The wealth of the great port city of Bristol was founded on the gross immorality of the Atlantic slave trade.  Many of the city's finest buildings and grandest homes were built with the filthy  lucre derived from that loathsome fount of human misery.  Might we now expect the councillors of Bristol to vote for the demolition of such  local structures, or for them to be given over to the poor and destitute?  That would be a surefire way of demonstrating that their "humanitarianism" is even-handeded.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Britain's Methodists in Meltdown

Many words have been expended on the British Methodists' decision last month to launch a boycott of all Israeli products from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, giving that church the dubious honour of being the first Christian denomination in the United Kingdom to do so.  Some delegates reportedly wished to go further, and launch a full-scale boycott of the Jewish State.  The Methodists are even considering whether or not to countenance the very concept of Zionism. 

Needless to say, no country except Israel was singled out for criticism.  The Methodists' decision has been widely seen as antisemitic, and had been condemned by a wide range of people and organisations within and without the Jewish community.  The Board of Deputies of British Jews, not renowned for speaking out lightly, issued a forceful denunciation.  Even Rabbi Danny Rich, head of Liberal Judaism, and hardly a  tub-thumping Zionist, was unhappy.  A masterly op-ed in the Jerusalem Post (4 July) by the magnificent Robin Shepherd was headed 'The banality of Methodist evil'.

 But here's the thing.  The Methodist Church in Britain  is a church in meltdown. Its 'Statistics for Mission 2005-2007' - the latest statistical report available - shows that between 2004 and 2007 its membership dropped from 294, 000 to 267,000 (a decline of 9% in only three years).  Every other statistic was in a state of absolute rapid decline, in some cases of breathtaking proportions.  The Methodists' average Sunday attendance figure fell from 280,000 in 2004 to 230,000 in 2007 - that's a decline of 18%.

The working- and lower-middle-class members who have traditionally constituted the church's core seem to be voting with their feet, leaving the church ripe for takeover by radical extremists. Indeed, throughout the English-speaking world churches with a left-liberal agenda are in decline.  Secular socialists are generally athiests or agnostics, and so belong to no church.  And within the leadership of those churches only leftwing activists, clerical and lay, remain.

 The good news for supporters of Israel is that, by contrast, the fundamentalist churches are growing - in Britain, in Canada, and in the United States.  And their adherents tend to be Christian Zionists.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

In Praise of Israel's Christian Friends

On 6 July 1897, at a restaurant in London's Piccadilly, Theodor Herzl outlined his grand Zionist vision before a mainly sceptical audience comprising members of a club for young Anglo-Jewish intellectuals and cultural figures.  The most enthusiastic commentator present was an elderly non-Jewish guest, the pre-Raphaelite painter Holman Hunt, a devout Christian who knew the Holy Land intimately, depicted real Jewish faces (of people he encountered during his sojourns there) on his biblical-themed canvases, and had put forward a scheme for Jewish settlement not unlike Herzl's own - and at virtually the same time.

He was one of a number of nineteenth-century figures in the English-speaking world dedicated to the restoration of Jews to Zion.  While some of them were millenarians, believing that the ingathering of the exiles was a necessary prelude to the conversion of the Jews and thus to a new messianic age, some had no strong missionary agenda.  Arguably the most remarkable of the latter type was the Protestant, anti-Roman Catholic novelist and editor Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, who died in 1846; she anticipated the well-known twentieth-century philosemite Rev Dr James Parkes in holding that Judaism constitutes an alternate path to redemption.

Nowadays, mention 'Christian Zionism' and the American Evangelical Christian Right most often springs to people's minds.  In 'liberal intellectual' circles it is de rigueur to deride its adherents.  But at a time when 'Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions' is becoming the slogan of certain denominations and faith groups, some of which are attempting to invalidate the Jewish People's historic attachment to Eretz Israel altogether, all well-wishers of  the Jewish State should accord them the appreciation they deserve.

 Other staunch supporters of Israel in Christian circles include the Roman Catholic Sisters of Sion, represented at the Solidarity with Israel rally held in Sydney last month (during the immediate fallout from the flotilla affair) under the auspices of the News South Wales State Zionist Council.  As the name indicates they also include the Anglican Friends of Israel, founded in Britain in 2005; among its patrons is the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, and chaplain to the London Stock Exchange.

As its website shows, the Anglican Friends of Israel are not slow, when occasion warrants, to counter injustices against Israel, be the latter in word or deed; among their more recent activities, for example, is a commendably articulate and robust letter to the BBC regarding its biased reportage, and a fine defence of Israel regarding the boarding of the Mavi Marmara - a defence which demonstrates a close knowledge of the issues involved and a sophisticated grasp of political realities.  A more sophisticated grasp, it is tempting to add, than that of Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was quick to condemn Israel as soon as news of Israel's raid on the Mavi Marmara broke - overlooking the terrorist-links of the IHH which sponsored the 'aid convoy' as well as the defensive reasons for Israel's  Gaza blockade and before all the information about the raid came to hand. (Justifiably, the Anglican Friends take him to task.)

Nor must we omit to mention Christian Friends of Israel (UK) who have joined with the Zionist Federation of Great Britain to denounce the recent resolution by the Methodist Conference to boycott produce from the disputed territories. The Anglican Friends have roundly condemned the Methodists too.  So, to all Christian champions of Israel: heartfelt gratitude and praise.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

From an English Courtroom - a Charter for Anti-Israel Criminality

Judge George Bathurst Norman raised eyebrows in the Anglo-Jewish community in 2001, when he blamed the collapse of a fraud trial he was hearing on the plaintiffs, the United Synagogue organisation, which he claimed had been "so casual as to offend the very name of justice".  The United Synagogue's president expressed "incredulity, a burning sense of injustice" at the judge's remarks, adding "It is extraordinary that the victim in this case can be made to appear the villain".  Bathurst Norman duly apologised.

Nearly a decade on, and the same judge was trundled out of retirement (we are surely entitled to ask "Why?") to preside at the trial of a number of people charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage - £180,000 worth of it - to a Brighton factory believed to be exporting arms components to Israel.  The damage occurred in response to Operation Cast Lead.  Last week, Bathurst Norman effectively directed the jury to deliver "Not Guilty" verdicts, telling them in his summing up: "You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time".  He added, of the ringleader: "The jury may feel his efforts investigating the company merit the George Cross" (Britain's highest civilian award for gallantry!).

The defendants' acquittal, then, rested on his subjective agreement (presumably deriving from his assimilation of Hamas propaganda via such sources as the BBC) with their defence argument, namely that their actions against the factory were justified in order to prevent a greater evil - war crimes by Israel.  Said the jubilant defence lawyer of the verdict: "It sends a clear indication that sometimes direct action is the only option when all other avenues have failed".

Similarly, Brighton MP Caroline Lucas, head of the Israel-demonising Green Party and herself a pro-Palestinian activist, expressed her delight "that the jury has recognised that the actions ... were a legitimate response to the atrocities being committed in Gaza" and that the defendants had clearly "exhausted all democratic avenues and, crucially, that their actions were driven by the responsibility to prevent further sufferings in Gaza".  Outside the courtroom one of the defendants reiterated that "it was necessary for ordinary people to take action like we did" - and vowed that the factory would continue to be targetted until it closed down.

So there we have it.  An English judge has given  a virtual carte-blanche to violently-inclined anti-Israel fanatics.  Apparently, there can be no appeal against an acquittal.  But there should certainly be a protest against Bathurst Norman's biased and blockheaded summation.  You can complain to the Office of Judicial Complaints on the form which can be accessed here:

Friday, 2 July 2010

Blame Barbarism, not Bibi!

The agony and anger of Gilad Shalit's family is understandable; all normal hearts must bleed for them.  But blaming Bibi Netanyahu for their son's continued detention is unfair.  He has declared his government's willingness "to release 1000 Hamas prisoners, but not the most dangerous ones, and not to Judea and Samaria", from where they can attack Israelis again.  This is prudent; indeed, perhaps not prudent enough. 

Many Israelis would caution against any deal with terrorists, recalling, for example, that the exchange in January 2004 of 400 Hezbollah prisoners for Elhanan Tannenbaum, kidnapped in Dubai in 2000 and taken to Lebanon, and for the bodies of three soldiers ambushed on the Israeli-Lebanese border, resulted in the subsequent deaths of around 30 Israelis at the hands of some of the beneficiaries of the deal.

 Since the start of this century freed prisoners have murdered almost 180 Israelis, and have wounded and permanently incapacitated many more.  Hamas, responding to Netanyahu's offer, is insisting that before any deal can be done regarding Sergeant Shalit Israel must hand over 450 hard-core terrorists currently held; this is someting that the Israeli prime minister has declined to do, avowing that there is a price that Israel will not pay.  However painful this appears, it seems the correct course.  Bibi is not to blame for the impasse; a brutal and barbaric organisation with a mindset that would thrust us all back into the Dark Ages is. 

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Blondely pimping brand Iran

While Israel has been foolishly neglectful of connecting with a global audience by exploiting satellite television broadcasting to its advantage, the Islamic Republic of Iran has grasped with fervour the chance to showcase the image that it wants the world to see - both of itself and of the Zionist entity.  The state-funded Press TV, Iran's propagandistic news channel, was set up in 2007, and has bureaus in Teheran, Beirut, Damascus, Seoul, Washington - and, inevitably, Londonistan.  Its broadcasts reach most parts of the world, and for most viewers it is free-to-air; it also has a website. 

And it has not been short of western abettors.  Its regular presenters include such "feminists" as journalists Lauren Booth, Tony Blair's embarrassing sister-in-law, and Yvonne Ridley, kidnapped by the Taliban in 2001, who in 2003 converted to Islam. Both women, who also broadcast on London's Islam Channel, are heavily active in the Free Gaza Movement and other anti-Israel initiatives.

 Ms Booth recently addressed an outdoor demo in London, in which to wild cheers she shrilly condemned Mark Regev as "an Israeli killer Zionist" and, in an apparent rallying cry for jihad, exhorted the green, red, black and white-bannered throng to take up arms against Israel, while Ms Ridley has been active in the Respect Party, that curious mixture of radical Muslims and radical Socialists united in their loathing of "Zionists".

On screen, Ms Booth (pictured in a Gaza souvenir shop) appears with a veil not quite covering all of her blonde hair; Ms Ridley's blonde locks are totally concealed beneath a particularly forbidding version of the hijab.  I've always found it intriguing how avowed feminists - who would no doubt rant and rave and scoff and sneer at fundamentalist Christian explanations (you can find them on the web, from strict old Calvinists and others) that wives must cover their heads as a symbol of their subjection to their husbands - meekly don the veil when required to by Islam. 

But it is positively obscene that such people - who are quick to accuse Israel of human rights violations - continue to pimp brand Iran despite the odious Ahmadinejad regime's horrendous oppression of its people. It has now come to light, courtesy of one of its own, that to oblige the Iranian government  members of the ruthless Basij militia  forcibly marry - and rape - virgin prisoners the night before those women's scheduled executions.  This enables the death sentence, forbidden in the case of virgins, to be carried out.  Will this shocking revelation (you won't find it in the leftist press) of a particularly repellent crime against women finally wean these Israel-hating pro-Iran female broadcasters away from their role as handmaidens of Hamas's sponsor?  I wouldn't bank on it.