Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Camels were never this vicious


by Melanie Phillips


No sooner is one smacked smartly on the butt and disappears into the desert than another one comes ambling across the sand. The gushing effusions by Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, about the spiritual godfather of Hezbollah which as I wrote below she posted on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office site, have been excised from that site. But now it turns out that Britain’s ambassador to Jordan, James Watt is even worse, as ‘Bialik’, a reader on the Harry’s Place blog, has pointed out.


For on his own FCO blog, 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.


Here he denies Jewish national self-determination:


No one outside Israel is prepared – or very few – to take Zionist arguments at their face value any longer.


Here he denies Jewish and Middle Eastern history:


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).


Here he denies Jewish history and national self-determination and descends into rank bigotry:


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.


Here he 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:


Few observers would disagree with Hirst 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.


Here he 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:


I offer my condolences to the families of those who were killed, 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.


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?



Melanie Phillips

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