Now that an uneasy truce has descended upon Gaza and southern Israel, it is time to consider some of the uglier domestic repercussions of the recent conflict. By “domestic”, I mean here, in the United Kingdom, where it seems to me that Israel’s action has unleashed an anti-Jewish demon that lay, like some slumbering reptile, waiting for its moment to pounce.
Can one be anti-Israel without being, necessarily, anti-Jewish? Of course one can. One can criticise specific actions of specific governments of the Jewish state without being anti-Jewish at all. I’m even going astonish some of you by conceding that one can declare — without being anti-Jewish in the slightest — that it might have been better for everyone had the Jewish state not been re-established. But what I will not concede is that one can welcome — even demand— the killing of Jews and the physical destruction of the Jewish state and still insist that one is not being “anti-Jewish”.
Consider, for example, the contents of a quite reprehensible proclamation that appeared in the Guardian on January 16, signed by 300 or so “intellectuals” including some prominent Jewish academics. “The massacres in Gaza” (the proclamation pleaded) “are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years.”
Well, “more than 60 years” takes us back to 1948. So the signatories of the proclamation must surely mean that Israel’s war of independence was itself aggressive and illegitimate.
Naturally, the signatories condemned Israel for having ended “the most recent lull in hostilities,” a censure that simply flies in the face of historical truth because rockets continued to be launched from Gaza against southern Israel throughout the so-called truce last year. For every one of these launchings — whether authorised by Hamas or by some independent faction operating (no doubt) under a sub-contracting arrangement — the Hamas government bears the legal responsibility. Then the signatories unveiled their pièce de résistance: “Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance… We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war.”
The only reasonable interpretation that I can put upon this siren call for Israel’s military defeat is that these cultured intellectuals — including Jews, remember — who were presumably more than happy to append their names to the proclamation actually hoped (perhaps — God alone knows — even prayed) that Jewish soldiers, and civilians, would be killed and maimed in sufficiently large numbers to force the government of Israel into a humiliating surrender to Hamas — in much the same way (they doubtless envisaged) that Field Marshall Montgomery received the German surrender on Lüneberg Heath in 1945.
Well, this did not happen and the fact that it did not happen, and was never likely to happen, no doubt proved a huge disappointment to the cultured names attached to this miserable proclamation.
Then we have been privileged to witness yet another bout of verbal diarrhoea from Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman who, in a semi-hysterical diatribe in the Commons, accused Ehud Olmert’s government of “ruthlessly and cynically” exploiting gentile guilt over the Holocaust to justify the “murder of Palestinians.” Israel, he insisted, “was born out of Jewish terrorism” and an Israeli spokesperson was “a Nazi.” Not content with entering the fray himself, Sir Gerald saw fit to summon the spirit of his late grandmother (murdered by the Nazis) as a witness — so to speak — to the truth of these assertions: “My grandmother”, he declared, “did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.”
What has all this public breast-beating achieved? Sir Gerald’s weasel words can contribute nothing to the peace process. Nor can calls from his fellow Jews for the military defeat of the Jewish state and (for this is the clear implication of the January 16 proclamation) for the triumph of an Islamo-fascist military dictatorship in Gaza that did nothing to protect its civilian subjects but rather took the opportunity of the war to torture and eliminate its political opponents.
What it has achieved is to provide precisely the sort of pretext that impressionable young Muslims in this country accept as a spurious justification for attacks upon Jewish people and property, and demands for a jihad against the Jewish citizens of the United Kingdom.