Wednesday 8 December 2010

Positively Moore-ish - Charles Moore on Israel, its Foes, and the Battle for Public Opinion

"All I want to ask my fellow Europeans is this: are you happy to help direct the world's fury at the only country in the Middle East whose civilisation even remotely resembles yours? And are you sure that the fate of Israel has no bearing on your own?"

Source: Daphne Anson

There are two observations that some historians make about post-Reformation Britain. The first is that the sixteenth-century abolition of Romanish superstitions and of medieval cults such as that of “Little St Hugh”, the boy allegedly ritually murdered by Jews at Lincoln and venerated as a martyr, and that century’s introduction of the Bible in the vernacular into parish churches, prepared the way for the philosemitism that underlay Cromwell’s decision formally to admit Jews to England in 1656. The second is that antipathy to the Church of Rome and its adherents has always been far stronger in modern Britain than antipathy to Jews; in other words, that anti-Catholicism has been the British equivalent of continental antisemitism.

I believe this interpretation of British history to be broadly true, and we might perhaps cite the so-called 1904 Limerick “pogrom” (an exaggeration, to be sure, since it lacked bloodshed), which entailed rioting and a mass boycott of Jewish shopkeepers following a local priest’s ranting that Jews were usurious “leeches”, as an example of Catholic prejudice in the non-Protestant component of the United Kingdom.

Nevertheless, since Pope John XXIII’s Nostra Aetete document of 1961, which absolved Jews from the “deicide” calumny and asserted that Jews “should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God”, there have been Roman Catholics – such as the late Irish-born Father William Smith, who headed Australia’s Institute of Social Order, and the Sisters of Sion – who have worked tirelessly to forge robust links with Jewry.
This photograph shows the non-Catholic judeophile Margaret Thatcher (remember her attachment to the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, and to the Conservative Party intellectual Sir Keith Joseph, and how her Cabinet was jocularly said – by a former prime minister, Harold Macmillan – to contain “more Old Estonians than Old Etonians”?) in Rome last year; flanking her are two notable judeophile British Catholics – on her right, former New Statesman editor Paul Johnson, an acclaimed historian of Jewry, and on her left, former Daily Telegraph and Spectator editor Charles Moore.

I’d like to share with you extracts from some of the superb articles that Mr Moore, who writes an occasional op-ed piece for the Telegraph, has written – they are magnificent in the case they make for traduced and beleaguered Israel, and deserve to be more widely known. Please note especially Moore's observations on Israel's poor PR efforts, which I quote at the end.

‘As a boy ... I cheered as Israeli courage swept away the outnumbering Arabs who tried to destroy it again and again. I bought books about the Six-Day War, many of which carried pictures of glamorous female Israeli soldiers.

But then a different narrative supervened. People called "the Palestinians" began to be mentioned. Once upon a time, the word "Palestinian" had no national meaning; it was simply the description on any passport of a person living in British-mandated Palestine. During the 19 years to 1967 when Jordan governed the West Bank, the people there had no self-rule, and no real name. UN Resolution 242, which calls for Israel to leave territories it occupied in 1967, does not mention Palestinians; it speaks only of "Arab refugees". Palestinian nationality came along, as it were, after the fact, a nationality largely based on grievance.

Since then, the story has grown and grown. Israel, which was attacked, has come to be seen as the aggressor. Israel, which has elections that throw governments out and independent commissions that investigate people ... became regarded as the oppressive monster. In a rhetoric that tried to play back upon Jews their own experience of suffering, supporters of the Palestinian cause began to call Israelis Nazis. Holocaust Memorial Day is disapproved of by many Muslims because it ignores the supposedly comparable "genocide" of the Palestinians.

Western children of the Sixties like this sort of talk. They look for a narrative based on the American civil rights movement or the struggle against apartheid. They care little for economic achievement or political pluralism. They are suspicious of any society with a Western appearance...They buy into the idea, now promoted by all Arab regimes and by Muslim firebrands with a permanent interest in deflecting attention from their own societies' problems, that Israel is the greatest problem of all.

...All I want to ask my fellow Europeans is this: are you happy to help direct the world's fury at the only country in the Middle East whose civilisation even remotely resembles yours? And are you sure that the fate of Israel has no bearing on your own? In Iran, the new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes the link. The battle over Palestine, he says, is "the prelude of the battle of Islam with the world of arrogance", the world of the West. He is busy building his country's nuclear bomb.

To read Daphne Anson's entire article click HERE

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