As the Jerusalem Post reported a couple of years ago, when she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tel Aviv University, Ms Lipman noted:
“There are too many bigots and extremists using anti-Zionism as a cloak for anti-Semitism. And they are whipping up a frenzy.”And as she told David Aaronovitch in the course of an interview in the Jewish Quarterly:
"I foolishly agreed to appear on a late night programme hosted by Andrew Neil [This Week, BBC2, 13 July 2006]. I say foolishly because it’s a soundbite programme and everything is reduced to soundbites. Diane Abbott MP had obviously been primed and announced that the Israeli reaction had been ‘disproportionate’. What I wanted to say was that it came about because rockets had been going into Israel for a long time and an unprovoked attack had been made on two soldiers. Her point was (and she knew it would wind me up): ‘All they did was capture two soldiers.’
I wanted to reply that, if you live in a country the size of Israel, two soldiers are incredibly important. Instead of saying just that, I said that it’s not the Israelis who are strapping bombs on young children and sending them out to blow themselves and everybody else up. That somehow became: life is much more important to the Israelis than it is to the Palestinians, and I was savaged by people like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and John Pilger in the Independent and New Statesman.
You don’t see most of the people who wrote to the newspapers to express outrage at the Israeli response at the meetings for other humanitarian causes like human rights in Burma – all I want is a level playing field, where the Middle East is given the same attention as Burma and Rwanda and Zimbabwe and everywhere else. But that doesn’t seem to be an argument which carries much weight.
Out of a year’s column in the Guardian I wrote about Israel maybe three times, and always from a defensive point of view. Even though most of the time I wrote about getting my hair cut, I became a ‘Jewish columnist’ – just as I’m a ‘Jewish actress’. Do you ever see the words ‘that well-known Quaker actress Judy Dench’?
We don’t even have to point out that the reporting is one-sided, because it always is – you see the same Palestinian woman wailing and keening over a dead child and then when you go to the Israeli side you see a bullet hole in a small shop. It’s constantly like that. I only defended Israel in the sense that when you have war and terrorism, as they have, for over 50 years, you do sometimes behave badly. The Americans bombed the Chinese Embassy after two days in Kosovo . . . We are judged by different standards, I don’t think anyone could dispute that – the Jews are always judged by different standards."Here she is, last year, on the Andrew Marr Show, pointing out the hypocrisy of the BDS movement and of Professor Stephen Hawking regarding Israel.
Now, 67-year-old Ms Lipman, who is also celebrated in Britain as a writer and humourist, has proved her credentials once again by severing her long-standing ties with a monthly magazine, The Oldie, owing to what she describes as its “drip-drip of antisemitic, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel material”.
The catalyst for her action was, as the Jewish Chronicle reports: 'an article published in its March issue, in which travel writer Dervla Murphy described Hebron as a ghost town left ravaged by the shooting of Palestinians by American-Israeli Baruch Goldstein in 1994' and which prompted Ms Lipman to accuse The Oldie's editor,Richard Ingrams, of "anti-Zionist bias".
'She said: “There’s an insidious nature to what is being written. Why would I be involved with that?
“All I ask for is a level playing-field. They’re grinding babies into powder in Syria — get that in your middle page. I can’t just stand there at my age and contribute to something which is feeding the myth.”'Private Eye-founder Mr Ingrams, characterised by Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard as "a vile man", has long been known for his hostility to Israel. In 2003, for example, when editor of The Independent, he declared:
"I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it."(See also here and here)
Now, as quoted by the Jewish Chronicle, he says of Ms Lipman:
"She does have a very straightforward view — that critical comments about Israel should be balanced by critical comments about Arab countries."And, alluding to the BBC's obligation via its Charter to be objective in its reportage (which of course it manifestly is not), he adds:
"Well, the BBC may feel itself obliged to give what they call a balanced view, but we’re not under any obligation of that kind."How grand to see an Anglo-Jewish personality of Ms Lipman's stature take so principled and unequivocal a stand in support of Israel.
Good on ya, Maureen!
My Maureen Lipman story: when Habima Theatre came to the Globe Theatreon London's South Bank, down river from the National Theatre, we went. The security kept the protests to a minimum, but the abiding memory of the play (get this) they performed "The Merchant of Venice" was the actor playing Shylock walking around the stage, carrying a suitcase, as the final speeches are declaimed: another exiled, wandering Jew.ReplyDelete
Now to Ms Lipman: she was interviewed on BBC Radio Four's morning programme "Today", along with boycotter (the late) Roger Lloyd Pack. As the interview/debate ended, Maureen L. got the last word in. As the sound faded, she was heard to mutter "It's always the Jews, isn't it?" She used to live quite near us. If I ever see her walking her dog in that public park, I intend thanking her profusely for that final comment!
Thank you, Brian. It's great to have a first-hand story.Delete