Monday 21 June 2010

Appeasement in our time?

Stephen Sizer posted a blog on 16 June in which he likened Tony Blair's success in persuading the Israeli Prime Minister to ease the blockade on Gaza to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" deal with Adolph Hitler.

On his web site in March, Rev Sizer, who is not known for his subtlety, featured some photos he had taken of Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem under the caption "Herod's soldiers operating in Bethlehem today".

Back then I emailed him to say:

I just saw your pics of "Herod's soldiers".
Your pictures are, as ever, technically good but in view of the caption and that the Israeli checkpoint you and Colin Chapman passed through reminded you of an "abattoir", are you suggesting that Binyamin Netanyahu is the new Herod and that the Israeli soldiers are murderers of Bethlehem's children?

Stephen replied:

Dear Mike,
I didn’t say that so please don’t put words in my mouth.

I wrote back:

Thank you Stephen.
I didn't put words in your mouth. I asked a question.
The caption must mean something. So if it is not an allusion to Matthew 2:16-18, what does the caption mean?

I received no reply. Today I wrote to him about his latest blog:

I just read your read your “Peace in our time” blog.
It left me wondering: if Tony Blair is Neville Chamberlain, who is Benjamin Netanyahu?
When I wrote to you about “Herod’s soldiers operating in Bethlehem today” you were not prepared to say that Netanyahu was Herod or that his soldiers were killing Palestinian babies (even though the implication was crystal clear).
The implication of your latest blog is that “Tony ‘Neville’ Blair” is appeasing “Benjamin ‘Adolph’ Netanyahu”. Or is this “putting words in your mouth”?
I wonder if you will be blogging about Turkey’s air strikes last week that killed 120 Kurds, including a seven-year-old girl, in retaliation for an attack by Kurdish rebels on a Turkish naval base which killed twelve soldiers.
This incident was the latest flare-up of a 26-year conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people. For decades Turkey has oppressed its Kurdish minority by forbidding the use of the Kurdish language in state schools and government institutions. Layla Zana was expelled from the Turkish parliament in 1994 and imprisoned a year later for uttering from the parliamentary podium a single sentence in Kurdish .
I shall look forward to seeing you expose the hypocrisy of Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident accused the Jewish state of crimes against humanity and called for sanctions against Israel.
I see also that you cite Stephen Lendman with approval. I think I drew your attention to him last year so, knowing your aversion to Holocaust denial, I wonder why you were willing to quote at length a man who contributes to the surreally bizarre anti-Semitic website which, amongst other things, denies the Holocaust and defends as authentic The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.

I'll let you know what Stephen Sizer says.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

I criticise Israel, therefore I am not an anti-Semite

English MP Jeremy Corbyn has objected to an opinion piece by Leon de Winter in The Wall Street Journal. De Winter’s brief article, Anti-Semitism Is Acceptable Again, asked why people and organizations that present themselves as “progressive” team up with reactionary Muslims. The Free Gaza group, said de Winter, is just such a Leftist-Islamist alliance. Israel withdrew from Gaza five years ago, therefore Gaza is already free but that isn't enough for Hamas; it wants a Jew-free Israel too. The Gaza flotilla, he said, was “the perfect execution of a masterful piece of Islamist theatre”. It is acceptable once more to be an anti-Semite.

Corbyn, a political progressive who is not adverse to “teaming up” with radical Muslims, responded by saying that although “race hatred and discrimination of any description is wrong” de Winter should not “conflate criticisms of Israel with hatred of the Jewish people; they are NOT the same.”

I’m not saying Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite but the way Corbyn and other critics of Israel respond to the charge that some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic almost amounts to saying that being a critic of Israel is proof positive you are not an anti-Semite. Is there, one wonders, any form of condemnation of Israel that Corbyn and other progressives would acknowledge as clearly anti-semitic? For example, do false allegations of war crimes, the use of the term "apartheid" to describe the state of Israel and “Nazis” to describe Israel’s leaders and the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination not qualify as anti-Semitism.

A few weeks ago, in an unprovoked attack, North Korea sunk a South Korean ship killing 47 people. Where was the world's outrage? In Pakistan, hundreds die in terrorist attacks every week and the Pakistani military kill hundreds of insurgents every month. Where are the expression of indignation from the rest of the world? The Turks killed hundreds of Kurds every year but where was the anger of the progressives? These, and many more conflicts around the world, cause far more deaths and injury than the justified Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara last week. Yet, according to world opinion, Israel is a pariah state, the world’s leading terrorist organisation and the scum of the earth.

Jeremy Corbyn has shared a platforms with Abou JahJah, a Hezbollah supporter and Holocaust denier who founded the Arab European League, which posted racist cartoons aimed at Jews, including a particularly crude and obnoxious scribble of Ann Frank in bed with Adolph Hitler. Corbyn also spoke alongside Hezbollah MP, Hussein el Haj Hassan who objected to Lebanese children being taught about the diary of Ann Frank.

If Jeremy Corbyn really does believe that “race hatred and discrimination of any description is wrong” why did he join these Islamic radicals to protest against Israel? Perhaps in Corbyn’s book even Holocaust denial and crude cartoons that target Jews don’t yet qualify as race hatred.