Cynical exploitation of tragedy

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 10, 2014

What do Louise Mensch, Daniel Levy and Aaron Teitelbaum have in common? I'll tell you at the end of this column.

The novelist Louise Mensch was formerly Conservative MP for Corby, a seat which she won, narrowly, in 2010 and then resigned two years later, allegedly to spend more time with her family. She is not Jewish but her second husband, the music manager Peter Mensch, is, and I am aware that in some Jewish quarters she is regarded as so closely identified with the tribe of Gentile Zionists as to make her almost an honorary member of the faith. On July 1 - the day after the discovery of the bodies of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrah - Mensch used her personal blog, Unfashionista, to present a long, rambling analysis of this tragedy.

Now it's true that she evinced unqualified horror on hearing this news. But she then proceeded to use it as a peg on which to hang an acid invective against Israel.

"I think," she wrote, "it's time for some straight talk. Israel, I don't care if you are tired of the word 'restraint.' You need to show some… Israel, I say to you with my hand on my heart; the Gaza rocket strikes have killed NO ISRAELIS. They don't WORK. They are the weak efforts of losers… Hamas strikes do not kill Israelis but Israeli strikes do kill Palestinian civilians."

Mensch then went for what she clearly believes is the jugular: "Dearest Israel, you have no right to be in the settlements. Nobody thinks you have a right to be in the settlements… There will be no peace and no security until the settlements come down."

Mensch used the tragedy to voice invective against Israel

As a matter of fact it is not true that rockets from Gaza have "killed no Israelis." Since 2001, they have resulted in more than 60 fatalities, not to mention serious injuries to others and the much increased incidence of psychological ill-health, including heightened incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder among young children in Sderot. Nor is it true that "nobody" thinks Jews have a right to construct settlements in Judea and Samaria. But, more importantly, the idea that peace and security for Israel are dependent upon the dismantling of the settlements is pure unadulterated hogwash. For the zillionth time I have to point out that, between 1949 and 1967, there were no settlements. But there was no peace.

On the same day on which Mensch used the Hebron tragedy to stick her knife into Israel, Daniel Levy was interviewed on BBC Radio's World At One. Levy is the director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. In 1995, he was part of the team assembled by Yitzhak Rabin to negotiate the ill-fated "Oslo II" agreement with the Palestinians, which granted safe-passage between Gaza and the West Bank.

He is also a founder of J Street, the controversial American lobby that has been accused of attempting to weaken American-Jewish support for the Netanyahu government, and is currently on the board of American Friends of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Interviewed by Shaun Ley on the World At One, Levy unburdened himself of a string of outrageous, not to say preposterous, assertions: that the Netanyahu government was using the Hebron deaths to impose a "premeditated" collective punishment on the Palestinians; that, in spite of the tragic deaths of the Jewish teenagers, "the headline really is just how quiet the situation has been and continues to be"; and that "Hamas continues to maintain the ceasefire."

Meanwhile, in Kiryat Joel (USA), the anti-Zionist Satmar Rebbe, Aaron Teitelbaum, engaged in a truly wicked diatribe when, speaking in Yiddish, he blamed the parents of the teenagers for their deaths, claiming that they died because they lived in the settlements. "It is incumbent upon us to say that these parents are guilty. They caused the deaths of their sons and they must do teshuva for their actions."

At the beginning of this column I asked what Teitelbaum, Mensch and Levy had in common. They all cynically exploited the Hebron tragedy to foist upon the public their personal prejudices against Israel and its citizens. I am disgusted.

Read Louise Mensch's blog piece here

Last updated: 8:37am, July 11 2014