by Melanie Phillips
British Jews who care about this sort of thing have had the disturbing experience of observing not one but three examples of public, home-grown anti-Jewish bigotry over the past few days.
First off the block was the former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who in an article in the Independent repeated not only his inexplicable belief that his idol, Iran’s President Rouhani, was ushering in a new world order of peace and harmony, but also that the benighted Israelis were buying up Washington in order to frustrate this nirvana (I paraphrase, but you get the general idea).
The idea that there is something sinister about Israel’s desperate attempt to prevent Iran from hoodwinking the west to achieve nuclear breakout is, of course, as perverse as it is offensive. But the suggestion that Israel pays American lawmakers to take their marching orders from Jerusalem repeats the ancient libel of covert and malign Jewish power, expressed by Straw even more clearly last year when he claimed that ‘unlimited Jewish funds’ were being used to ‘control and divert’ US policy in the Middle East.
Now look also at this cartoon in the current Economist, spotted by the Commentator, which represents Obama being prevented from reaching out to Iran by his shackles to a shield depicting the American eagle framed by Stars of David among the stars of the union. The Economist is thus repeating the malicious lie that the Jews control America.
And now look at what Labour MP Grahame Morris tweeted, apparently with reference to an Israeli flag visible at what looks like some kind of demonstration:
‘Nazis in my village do you see the flag they fly’
The real problem here is not the existence of Jew-haters and Israel-bashers. It is the silence of everyone in a prominent position in the face of such vileness. As far as I can see, no politician from any political party slapped Straw down when he first talked about Jewish control of Washington, nor over his Independent article. No figure of authority, no mainstream newspaper has condemned Morris or the Economist – or if they have, it has been so sotto voce as to be inaudible.
Such audible silence suggests an absence of those who think there is anything beyond the pale in claiming sinister Jewish power, or likening Israel to the Nazis. It suggests a terrifying cultural shift: that Jew-hatred and Israel-bashing have now become acceptable and unremarkable contributions to legitimate national debate. It makes a whole society complicit in perpetrating such evil. That is what is so devastating.
This evil is not just the perpetration of outright bigotry by a few grievously misled or prejudiced folk. Examples now seem to occur almost every week in Britain. It is a positively deranged, obsessive, semi-hysterical general discourse about Israel and the Jews which is utterly irrational, indeed impervious to reason and evidence. It is a cultural phenomenon of incendiary incitement, to be ranked accordingly alongside the infamous eruptions of anti-Jewish hysteria down through the centuries.
It is thus a kind of cultural emergency, which in any normally functioning society would prompt decent politicians and other leaders to sound an alarm. They would denounce such a phenomenon in the strongest terms, exposing the outright lies and group libels on which it is based. But from British politicians and others, there is only silence. Silence in the face of home-grown bigotry; and silence in the face of the brazen denial of truth at the core of both the Arab war against Israel and the incitement fanning the flames of violence.
That fundamental truth is that the Jews alone are the rightful inheritors of what the Arabs call ‘Palestine’, since it is the Jewish people alone for whom the land of Israel was ever their national home, taken away from them by colonial invaders but in which nevertheless they never ceased to maintain a presence throughout the centuries of real occupation.
That truth, the intrinsic Jewishness of Israel, was to have been the subject of an exhibition at UNESCO called ‘People, Book, Land — The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land,’ due to have opened today. But last week, UNESCO suddenly ditched this exhibition on the remarkable grounds that
‘it could disrupt Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations’.
This was let slip by PLO official Riyad al-Maliki, who stated in Asharq al Awsat (h/t Elder of Ziyon) that the most intractable issue was the requirement to accept that Israel is a Jewish state:
‘It would be dangerous to recognize this because this would mean our acceptance of the dissolution of our own history and ties and our historic right to Palestine. This is something that we will never accept under any circumstances.’
If David Cameron, William Hague or any other UK politicians were to state such truths and denounce the falsehoods that are feeding the frenzy of bigotry and incitement against Israel and the Jews, they would start to drain these fetid swamps. But they are silent; the lies, hatred and bigotry consequently increase apace; and that silence will accordingly be for these leaders and for Britain a permanent stain.
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