March 18, 2010
That is the question. For example, a certain sleepy little town in these British Isles has just rejected the chance to host a travelling exhibition on Anne Frank; town councillors decided that the exhibition is not "relevant" to the town. Last week's local rag carried a letter from a local "second generation Holocaust survivor" castigating the decision. In this week's issue there are several other letters deploring the council's stance. There are also - as I suspected there would be - two letters from local pro-Palestinian activists, who used the Jewish person's letter of last week as a peg on which to hang their vitriol. One letter declares that the council was quite correct to refuse to host the exhinition, since Israel, "founded by Holocaust survivors", has cruelly persecuted the Palestinians ever since, and has been stealing more and more Palestinian land. The oppressed, we are told, have become the oppressors (that message is reinforced by the heading above the letter). The other letter carries on in similar vein, and declares that despite being well-versed in the horrors of the Holocaust "most young Israeli soldiers" have an arrogant and racist attitude towards the Palestinians and have thus not learned its lesson.
From time to time anti-Israel features appear in the local rag courtesy of the local "peace group", which at the time of Cast Lead was out in force (all baker's dozen of them) with anti-Israel banners (they are predictably silent over Tibet, Sri Lanka, Darfur, etc) and a leftist columnist who calls for divestment and boycott. The one time I know of that a letter in retaliation was sent was a wasted exercise - the letter was never published.
A pro-Israeli friend and I have debated several times whether or not it is worth responding to defamations of Israel in the local press. I concluded that it was best "not to give the defamers oxygen"; he declared that he'd reluctantly arrived at the same conclusion, and added that "today's correspondence column is tomorrow's chip paper".
Comments or advice, anyone?