Peter Oborne loves the Jewish people. He loves us so much he wants to save us from ourselves. It’s a shame Oborne wasn’t around at any of the previous troubled stages of Jewish history to advise us where we were going so wrong, but we can only breathe a sigh of relief that he has taken an interest in our current predicament.
In his recent article for The Daily Telegraph The cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel he writes about the “cowardice” of the Conservative Party for not condemning Israel’s settlement policy in stronger terms. He’s concerned the door will soon be closed on the possibility of a two-state solution and that, eventually, Israel will either cease to be Jewish and democratic or will become an apartheid state.
Oborne quotes Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, a former British ambassador to Israel, who recently said that “anyone who has a real affection for the Jewish people will want to help them to avoid this looming disaster.”
Alarm bells start ringing when someone critical of Israeli policy then co-opts the “the Jewish people”. Are all “the Jewish people” really responsible for “this looming disaster”? Israel is a democracy and British Jews do not have a vote. And it’s not British Jews who have Hamas to their south and Hezbollah to their north.
It’s a fact that there are far more non-Jewish supporters of Israel in the world, and thank goodness when considering the tiny Jewish world population. So why don’t Cowper-Coles and Oborne think non-Jewish supporters of Israel require such “help”?
Their patronising attitude towards Jews brings to mind Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury’s quip that “the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence”.
Oborne finishes his article by claiming that “Mr Cameron does not want to go down in history as the man upon whose watch all hope of a two-state solution died”. Oborne ignores the fact that the two-state solution died in 1937 when the Arabs rejected 80% of British Mandate Palestine, in 1948 when the Arabs rejected 45% of British Mandate Palestine and 2000 when the Palestinians rejected 22% of, what was, British Mandate Palestine.
Oborne’s allegation that Israel could eventually either cease to be Jewish and democratic or become an apartheid state bears no relation to reality when one looks at the demographics on the ground. A study by Bar Ilan University proves that should Israel ever decide to annex the West Bank then the 1.41 million West Bank Palestinians would, when added to Israel’s existing Arab population, still leave Israel a Jewish majority and democratic state.
Oborne slams David Cameron for devoting just 64 words to the settlement issue at the recent Conservative Friends of Israel lunch. Oborne thinks “This is cowardice”. But Oborne doesn’t criticise Hamas and even blames Israel for the recent conflict. Again Oborne ignores the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza before Israel assassinated Hamas’ Ahmed Jabari.
And Oborne refuses to differentiate between Palestinian terrorists and civilians who were killed, but just repeats the mantra that “the number of Palestinian deaths vastly exceeded those on the Israeli side”.
Oborne ignores Hamas treatment of its own people in forcing them to become human shields. Hamas imports tens of thousands of rockets into Gaza but cannot build even one bomb shelter for the people it was elected by to govern.
Oborne also criticises Britain for not backing the recent Palestinian bid for enhanced statehood at the UN. It is morally reprehensible that Britain only abstained. How could a civilised country like Britain refuse to vote against enhanced statehood when considering that the Hamas Charter calls for the murder of Jews?
In 2009 Oborne made a television documentary called Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby. It opens with the menacing line “Tonight on Dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power.”
Oborne sets out to investigate financial transactions between Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Conservative Party and to investigate the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists like CFI, BICOM, Zionist Federation, Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. A not insubstantial part was dedicated to CiFWatch, which monitors anti-Semitism in The Guardian and its Comment is Free website.
Oborne investigated the claim that accusations of anti-Semitism by pro-Israel lobby groups are being used to silence criticism of Israeli policy. He put to Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian’s editor, an accusation by CiFWatch that the Comment is Free comments’ thread “is full of vile anti-Semitic sentiments”.
“I think it would be a terribly dangerous thing if the British press were made to feel that they couldn’t criticise Israel because they are going to be held up as anti-Semitic. I think it is a very disreputable argument.”
But since 2009 CiFWatch has proved time and again that some Guardian articles are anti-Semitic. Chris Elliot, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, has admitted as much.
The Guardian’s Deborah Orr was forced to apologise for describing Israel’s prisoner swap of Gilad Shalit in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners as proof “Zionists believe that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.” Elliot explained in response that “Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read ‘chosen’ as code for Jewish supremacism.”
A recent cartoon by The Guardian’s Steve Bell seemed to employ the anti-Semitic trope that Jews control the world. Elliot admitted that Bell’s cartoon could be considered anti-Semitic.
And under a very recent Comment is Free article there’s this and worse:
“The 9/11 WTC attack was done by the pro-slavery Zionist-Jew bankers…”
Despite all his efforts to uncover something sinister Oborne declares at the end of his Dispatches documentary:
“In making this programme we haven’t found even something faintly resembling a conspiracy, but we have found a worrying lack of transparency and the influence of the pro-Israel lobby continues to be felt.”
So, Oborne found the pro-Israel lobbies in Britain guilty of nothing more than…..doing their jobs effectively.
Instead of trying to save “the Jewish people” from ourselves Oborne could do worse than visit Gaza if he really wants to understand why there cannot be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He could then ask Hamas:
1. Why it summarily executes alleged Palestinian collaborators and drags their bodies through the streets?
2. Why it oppresses Palestinian women, gays and political dissidents?
3. Why it doesn’t build any bomb shelters for its people?
4. Why its Charter calls for the murder of all Jews?
But we know he won’t go and ask such questions and that makes Oborne the only coward around here.