Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

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)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Through a Lens Dhimmily: Britain’s Middle East Ambassadors of Distortion

Forget the realities of living in the Islamic Middle East in a state of dhimmitude. Forget the jizya tax. Forget the imposed humiliations and the mandatory occupations. Forget the caprices of Muslim rulers and “protectors” towards the Jews and Christians in their midst. Forget the periodic outbreaks of cruelty. Forget enslavement. Forget the kidnapping of girls, the marriages by capture, and the incarceration in harems. Forget the enforced conversions to Islam. Forget the expulsions. Forget the mass exodus of Jewish and Christian refugees.

James Watt, Britain’s Ambassador to Jordan, and Frances Guy, Britain’s Ambassador to Lebanon, seem anxious to convince us of an alternative “reality” of their own.

These two “gone native” envoys share an unfortunate track record of blunders in their blogs, which appear on the official website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Last year, Mr Watt (pictured), whom I believe it is fair to describe as an Arabist, displayed in several of his blogposts an outrageous denial of the facts of Jewish history and a concomitant lack of empathy with Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish People, and with the Jewish State.

On one post he mentioned that he was looking forward to reading Shlomo Sands’ The Invention of the Jewish People – a blueprint for delegitimisation if ever there was one. But he doesn’t seem to have needed any help from that book in accruing an anti-Israel attitude, comprising denying the right of the Jewish People to self-determination and of Israel to proper self-defence, for he’d already made such statements as these:

"No one is prepared – or very few – to take Zionist arguments at their face value any longer. Completely non-factual assertions – for example that a Jewish people was building Jerusalem 5,000 years ago - only serve to emphasise the absence of real content or reasoning. The strange thing is how long Western audiences tolerated such claims without challenging them: I think because they were hoping that a reasonable settlement with the indigenous Palestinian population would emerge in the course of things (and with some diplomatic heavy lifting)."
“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. 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."
“I offer my condolences to the families of those who were killed [aboard the Mavi Marmara], in what should have been an entirely avoidable tragedy... the entire world has had enough of the blockade of Gaza – a blockade which Israel should have long ago lifted under the terms of UN Security Resolution 1801, as well as other international law. And the world has had enough of the pretexts Israel uses to continue it.”
“Few observers would disagree with [David] Hirst [in the book Beware of Small States, which Watt had read with enthusiasm] that Israel has long committed itself to a policy of massive military deterrence, which is now becoming progressively more violent - and, by the account of its own officials, more ready to inflict civilian casualties on a large scale in pursuit of its political goals. Gaza showed that progression: more remote shelling and rocketing by the Israeli forces, with minimum risk to its own soldiers: ten lost their lives, and three Israeli civilians, while 1,330 Gazans (most of them civilians and 410 of them children) lost theirs. Compare that to the 43 Israeli civilians who died under Hizbullah rocket fire in July-August 2006, and 119 Israeli soldiers in the fighting, against over a thousand Lebanese civilians (one third of them children) and an unknown number of Lebanese combatants.”
As Melanie Phillips remarked when Watt’s blogposts came to public attention, thanks to a commenter on the blog Harry’s Place:
"Watt makes it clear he doesn’t think Israel has an overwhelming historic claim to its existence, thinks the Palestinian Arabs were indigenous to the land and that the idea that Israel was the Jews’ national home thousands of years ago is fanciful.
[H]e denies Jewish national self-determination .... [H]e denies Jewish and Middle Eastern history.... [H]e denies Jewish history and national self-determination and descends into rank bigotry....[H]e is peddling the Big Lie by Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO that misrepresents Israeli defence as aggression and describes all Arabs killed by Israel as civilians whereas in fact most are terrorists .... [H]e is sympathising with the Turkish terrorists who were killed on the Mavi Marmara when they tried to lynch the boarding Israeli soldiers, and claiming that Israel’s reason for restricting the flow of goods into Gaza, that it is to prevent arms smuggling and weaken the grip of Hamas, is a lie ....
It is an old cliché that diplomats are sent abroad to lie for their country. But one inevitable effect of Watt’s demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel through such distortions and bigotry is to whip up yet more genocidal hatred throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
The British Government says it is committed to a two-state solution. Why is its Ambassador to Jordan suggesting that the state that already exists is illegitimate? Is this the British Government’s position? If not, why is it allowing its Ambassador to Jordan to represent such an obnoxious view? Will Foreign Secretary William Hague repudiate these distortions and the vicious hostility Watt displays towards Britain’s ally? Or are we to conclude that these are beliefs that he himself shares?"
Now, in the wake of the New Year’s Eve atrocity in Alexandria that left 23 Coptic Christian churchgoers dead and another 100 or so injured, Mr Watt reflects on the Arabic concept of al-ta'ayush (co-existence). Its spirit, he tells us, “is part of the human and cultural richness of Arab civilisation”. It ‘conveys clearly the sense of “living in harmony”, rather than simply “existing together’ and its spirit “is part of the human and cultural richness of Arab civilisation”.

 Uh huh.
 “It is a term in common use in those Arab societies where Christians and Muslims live together (and as Jews did too not long ago). Those societies treasure ta’ayyush. They know it is a prize that calls for daily efforts and constant care. They know the disaster and grief that follows if those efforts fail.”
Note the dishonest comment about the Jews. Watt (whose second wife, Amal Saad, comes from an Arab family in Lebanon) implies that they lived alongside Arabs in harmonious paradise. He tells us nothing of dhimmitude, nothing of persecution, nothing of some 750,000 Jewish refugees from Arabic lands who fled to Israel.

Let him see this, for starters:

By coincidence (I assume) Frances Guy has been posting on a similar theme.

You may recall that in July 2010 Ms Guy (pictured), on her blog, blithely revealed her admiration for Sheikh Fadlallah, the Holocaust-denying Hezbollah terror merchant, who had just passed away:
“One of the privileges of being a diplomat is the people you meet; great and small, passionate and furious. People in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire most. It is an unfair question, obviously, and many are seeking to make a political response of their own. I usually avoid answering by referring to those I enjoy meeting the most and those that impress me the most. Until yesterday my preferred answer was to refer to Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, head of the Shia clergy in Lebanon and much admired leader of many Shia muslims throughout the world. When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person. That for me is the real effect of a true man of religion; leaving an impact on everyone he meets, no matter what their faith. Sheikh Fadlallah passed away yesterday. Lebanon is a lesser place the day after, but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon's shores. I remember well when I was nominated ambassador to Beirut, a Muslim acquaintance sought me out to tell me how lucky I was because I would get a chance to meet Sheikh Fadlallah. Truly he was right. If I was sad to hear the news I know other peoples' lives will be truly blighted. The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace.”
Despite an outcry, she kept her job.

More recently, last September, Ms Guy blogged:
“There are nearly 60 Palestinian veterans in Lebanon who served with the British army during the 2nd World War. The tragic irony of their situation is heart-wringing. After loyally serving the Union Jack, in 1948 they were forced to flee their homes when the state of Israel was created. Some of them have been in refugee camps in Lebanon ever since. ... I am proud that a system is in place to give these brave men some comfort. I am less proud that 60 years after their flight from their homes, diplomacy has so far failed to find a solution to the Arab Israeli conflict. The Royal Commonwealth ex-services League is helping nearly 20,000 veterans all round the world. As they say, these people weren't forced to join up, they chose to. That's why the league is trying to help them. Their quiet dignity in the midst of hardship and poverty is to be admired and respected.”
In a speech made in Beirut on Armistice Day (reported in the Jordanian press and elsewhere in the Arab world), she was less guarded in her language, describing these men as being “chased out” of their homes by the Israelis.

I couldn’t help but think of that speech, and whether she’s been bamboozled, when I read in a newspaper report from 1945, as quoted by me in a recent post, that the Palestinian Arabs serving in units of the British Army proved restless and unreliable, mutinying often, deserting along with their rifles and ammunition, joining without authorisation a VE Day procession in Beirut in which they displayed a picture of the traitorous Mufti, and committing acts of hooliganism. After a subsequent similar disturbance they were discharged on the ground that “their services were no longer required”, so that whereas 15,000 Palestinian Jews remained under British arms, “few if any Arabs” did.

In her latest blogpost Guy has been pondering the symbolism of a celebrated arboreal species. “The Cedars of Lebanon as symbol is poignant,” she writes. “It is an indigenous species that is listed as endangered. Quite – where do so many different confessional groups live in relative harmony?”

Well, it’s not too clear from that strange phraseology what inspired the leap from plant to people, but it would appear Ms Guy is trying to spin us the fiction is that Lebanon is a country in which Muslims and non-Muslims get along just fine, better in fact than in any other country.

The facts fail to support her.

During the 1940s there were about 24,000 Jews in Lebanon, about 3000 in 1975, and there are virtually none today – only aged survivors. Although Lebanon was the only Arab nation whose Jewish population increased following the Declaration of the State of Israel (when Lebanon had a Christian majority, be it noted), many Jews left the country after the 1958 Civil War. The situation of Lebanese Jewry deteriorated with the coming of the Civil War that began in 1975, and in 1982 radical Islamists captured and killed eleven of the community’s leaders.

As for that country’s Christians, Brigitte Gabriel (who comes from that background) has given a harrowing account of how they were reduced from 65% of the population in 1975 to less than 20% today, owing to persecution by militant Islamists, including Palestinian incomers, massacres, and polygamous marriages producing numerous offspring. She tells how tolerant, multicultural, open-bordered, progressive, entrepreneurial Christian-majority Lebanon  – “the Paris of the Middle East” – became “a terrorist infrastructure, a hotbed of Islamic Jihad”.

 As well as being a warning to the West, which practises the same tolerant and potentially self-destructive immigration policy as did the Lebanon of her childhood, Ms Gabriel’s words directly contradict the absurd fantasy woven of Ms Guy.

Ms Gabriel also describes the torture and murder of Christians in Lebanon (even of leftist Christians who had aided the Muslim cause) including the nicety of tying one leg of infants to their father and one to their mother and then separating the parents so that the infants were torn apart.

She tells of the deliberate fouling of churches with human excrement and urine  – and how the Bible was used as toilet paper.

The Bible as toilet paper, eh? Could that be why Frances Guy isn’t overly keen to give the Bible its due as a sourcebook for those Cedars of Lebanon?

There can be few people who grew up in the Judeo-Christian tradition who are completely unaware that the mighty Lebanese cedar is mentioned several times in the Bible. Cedar wood was used in the interior of Solomon’s Temple, for example.

This beautiful line from the Psalms is particularly famous: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

Of the cedar Ms Guy writes: “It grows to be majestic and it has contributed to so many different civilisations; the Phoenicians used it for ships; the Egyptians for ships and its resin for mummification; the Ottomans and the British were more prosaic but the railways benefitted.”

Alarmed at the thought that Ms Guy believes that the ancient Israelites are as off-limits with her hosts as their descendants in the Zionist Entity are, I left the following comment beneath her post: “Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem was built of cedar, which figured prominently in Israelite civilisation, especially for building purposes, and there are numerous references to the cedar in the Bible.”

Short and perhaps not so sweet – from the standpoint of a British diplomat grovelling to the Arab world.

But fair dues to Ms Guy, for my comment has now appeared.


  1. These people are disgusting and so are many others in the EU. Why on earth does Israel want to be in the EU? We all want out.

  2. Precisely, Ariadne.
    It's despicable that Watt retains his diplomatic post despite believing the crap about the "Palestinians" being indigenous and insisting that the Jews' historic claim is based on myth.
    How insensitive - but clearly in the eyes of Perfidious Albion the sensibilities of Israel play second fiddle to those of the Arabs.
    Watt is almost certainly just another Israel-hater no doubt gnawing away at Israel's legitimacy even more fervently behind the scenes.
    I don't understand why Israel wants to be in the EU either. If Israel loses control of its borders as other states in the EU have, and is inundated with immigrants as we all are, it'll be "Adieu, Jewish State!"
    All of the EU will be in trouble if Turkey ever gains admittance, as Cameron wants.

  3. I say "we" btw, because I'm in the UK at present - probably back in Oz later this year.

  4. I am an admirer of Uri Avnery, of Gush Shalom, whose views concerning the present state of Israel politics is quite critical. Since you are a writer who attempts to present a balanced view of Israeli politics I would think you would want to look more critically at an Israel that seems to have lost its moral core when it comes to the dispossession of Palestinians from the historic rights to their homeland. I hope you don't believe that someone such as Avigdor Lieberman, who seems to speak for Netanyahu, can bring any genuine peace between Israel & Palestine. He gives the impression of a deranged individual who seems determined to alienate, with his angry rhetoric, even those who are or were friends of Israel.

  5. Daphne, then you really know how bad things are here.

    A look at the FCO web site is bad enough but with what we fund and harbour there's no chance of any truth or reason getting out into the mainstream here.

    I hope UKIP makes a good impression in the forthcoming by-election. It at least thinks Israel has a right to exist and defend herself. And I know Blair said that but they all act another way in the main parties. Saving the Nazi Mufti's house now! Unbelievable.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Hugh.
    I try to avoid commenting on internal Israeli politics, preferring to highlight the external enemies and extreme critics of Israel. The crude Lieberman is of course a far cry from the courtly Eban, and sometimes undermines Netanyahu, of course. But I wonder whether the Palestinians can be trusted: they say one thing to western audiences, and another to their own. The Palestinians have had many chances but have blown them all.
    Yes, Ariadne - it's another example of Melanie Phillips' thesis that the world has turned upside down.

  7. Palestinians in the Mandate were Jews. An Arab refugee from the 1948 war waged by Arabs was anyone who spent 2 years in the Mandate for Palestine and claimed to be a refugee. The UN was driven to that definition by the number of scammers claiming to be refugees.

    To read anti-Israel propaganda one would believe that WWI had never happened. Very sad for the memory of our forebears.

  8. That's most interesting, Ariadne. Thanks for that.

  9. I mentioned the other day that The Australian, based in Sydney, has always been my favourite Aussie newspaper, and is the one most consistently fair to Israel. David Burchell’s article, “That convenient scapegoat, Israel” (The Australian, 11 January 2011), has been getting a lot of well-deserved publicity, it seems! Here’s the link (thanks to Assad Elepty for alerting me to the article):


  11. Speaking of Australia, another largely unreported example of "cultural enrichment" in OZ;
    Of course this was quickly hushed up but reported on the great "Gates of Vienna blog"
    Another interesting fact on the "Gates" blog is that Psychological research shows Muslims have the world record in feeling ridiculous or suffering from "Gelotophobia" which may explain their propensity to violence?

  12. Thanks for the link, Anon. I would not have associated Bendigo with something like that!


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