Tag Archives: johann hari

Is The Independent anti-Semitic?

I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the discussion. After all we have just had to endure a week of radio phone-ins questioning whether England is an anti-Semitic country after Shimon Peres’ less than diplomatic recent interview in which he said that “There is in England a saying that an anti-Semite is someone who hates the Jews more than is necessary.”

That dreadful statement implies that the English dislike the Jews as a matter of course which is not true.

Peres was correct however in pointing to the political advantage for many of being anti-Israel. They’ve done the maths.

Even David Cameron managed to keep tight-lipped about Israel until election-day. He made a point of referring to East Jerusalem as “occupied East Jerusalem” but because he constantly praised British Jews for their contribution to British society they flocked to vote for him and his party.

However, within three months of being elected his true thoughts revealed themselves when he referred to Gaza as being a “prison camp” because of Israel and he called the attack on the Mavi Marmara unreasonable (I doubt Cameron would have allowed an IRA boat to have docked at a British port).

But while England is not an anti-Semitic country there are English people that are anti-Semitic. This anti-Semitism is not merely confined to the BNP but deeply penetrates the far-left of politics also.

The subtle difference is that while the BNP and other far-right groups actively encourage anti-Semitism those on the far-left allow it to flourish unchallenged in order to suit their objectives.

Take the case of the openly and virulently anti-Semitic Hamas. Their Charter talks of jihad and killing Jews but the far-left will never condemn Hamas. Instead they state that although they don’t support Hamas they support the Palestinian people’s elected representatives’ right to govern. This is where the ideology of the far-left and Hamas coincide: the destruction of the Jewish state.

The expressed anti-Semitism of Hamas is left unchallenged by far-left political activists because they see it as having, for them, this benign outcome.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Down the years far-left politics have helped to destroy many a Jewish life, so why should it be any different today.

But getting back to The Independent. While Peres was taken to task over his unhinged statement The Independent got away with publishing an objectionable article by Chistina Patterson disingenuously headlined The limits of multi-culturalism in which she attacks religious Jews for the capital crime of…..being rude. For example:

“I didn’t realise that goyim were about as welcome in the Hasidic Jewish shops as Martin Luther King at a Klu Klux Klan convention.”

She doesn’t like the way religious Jews clog up the pavements with their prams and children, drive while on their mobile phones and drive the wrong way into supermarket car-parks.

To honour political correctness Patterson then goes on to slam the way Muslims dress before arriving at her real gripe; female circumcision and the lack of prosecutions for it.

Now female circumcision is a far more serious crime among ethnic groups than being rude. I am sure that many religious Jews are incredibly rude but then many non-Jews are also guilty of the same charges of rudeness and driving while speaking on a mobile phone.

So Patterson’s attack on this specific group of Jews is totally gratuitous. Not only that but when one ascribes such miserable traits to just one group of people, like Patterson does, people might have the wholly legitimate right to identify this as nothing less than racist rhetoric. This kind of talk is comparable with the notoriously anti-Semitic “Jews are tight with money” jibe.

Patterson’s gratuitous attack on religious Jews seems to be a cover for her not unreasonable attack on the barbaric but very rare British Muslim practice of female circumcision and as a good liberal Patterson probably wanted to show balance.

By now we are used to The Independent being a totally anti-Israel newspaper. Johann Hari, Yasmin Alibai-Brown and Robert Fisk have spent vast amounts of their journalistic years taking Israel to task. Fisk won’t even compare Israel to Hamas. Israel is far, far worse apparently now.

Sadly, The Independent’s views are more far more ideological than factual about Israel and at times the newspaper itself seems to be a mere extension of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the high-profile anti-Israel lobby group.

But this unscientific attack by Patterson on Jews directly is out of place in a British newspaper. I’m surprised it was allowed to run but then maybe The Independent is unfussed these days in appealing to the people Peres meant to refer to in his interview as being anti-Semitic. After all with its vastly declining circulation it needs the readership.

But where were the phone-ins about Patterson’s objectionable views?

Fisk/Hari

It was a good old Independent doubly-whammy to nicely finish off International Israel Apartheid Week.

Robert Fisk

Last Friday (12 March) Johann Hari had a piece Palestinians should now declare their independence.

On Saturday (13 March) Fisk recommended books to help you understand the Middle East.

Fisk recommends and quotes from George Antonius’s The Arab Awakening:

“The cure for the eviction of Jews from Germany is not to be sought in the eviction of the Arabs from their homeland …”

Fisk sees this as “the first truly eloquent warning of what was to come”.

He didn’t recommend Benny Morris’ The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem but he mentioned it in passing:

“Benny Morris was the most prominent Israeli researcher to prove that it was indeed Israel’s intention to evict the Palestinians from their homes in their tens of thousands in 1948 – the fact that Morris has since gone completely batty by claiming the Israelis didn’t ethnically cleanse enough of them does not detract from his seminal work.”

But Morris did not prove any such intention!

Morris, for starters, quotes Ze’ev Jabotinsky, leader of a right-wing Zionist movement, who said in 1931: “We don’t want to evict even one Arab from the left or right banks of the Jordan. We want them to prosper economically and culturally.”

If anything it was the 1937 Peel Commission, which was under the auspices of the British government, that first recommended transfer of the Arab population out of areas earmarked for the Jewish population on partition.

Morris’ view is that there was no specific Zionist policy of transfer although there had been unofficial “transfer thinking” that preceded the war. But it was only once the Arabs rejected the 1947 UN partition resolution, civil war between the Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs and then the full-scale Arab invasion of Israel ensued that “Jewish hearts hardened towards the Palestinian Arabs who were seen as mortal enemies, and should they be coopted into a Jewish state, a potential Fifth Column”.

To be fair to Fisk has lived in the heart of Beirut for 30 years and so he is highly biased out of necessity.

Johann Hari does not live in the heart of Beirut and so has no such excuse for his bias (or is it just ignorance?).

Johann Hari

Hari suggests the Palestinians should declare their own state forthwith to concentrate the minds of the West and he narrates his own version of the Arab/Israeli wars including, like Fisk, that of 1948:

“Until 1948, the Palestinians were living in their own homes, on their own land – until they were suddenly driven out in a war to make way for a new state for people fleeing a monstrous European genocide.”

Again there is no mention of the total Arab rejection of UN partition resolution 181, the consequent civil war started by the Palestinian Arabs against the Jews and the Arab invasion after Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948.

For Hari one side is evil while the other side is totally innocent. He continues this theme throughout the piece.

He quotes Golda Meirs’ “there are no Palestinians”. Well to Meir there were no Palestinians 40 years ago just like there were no Palestinians as such to the Jews that came to Palestine 100 years ago because they did not view the Arabs living there as a nation. But that doesn’t mean to say there is no Palestinian nation now. There is and one deserving of a country.

But it is a common anti-Israel tactic to take an ancient quote of an Israeli or Jewish leader and put it in today’s context to make the speaker look evil.

Hari also writes of “some heroic Israelis who argue back”, so painting the rest of Israel’s citizens as weak, ignorant and cowardly.

But Hari thinks he has found the answer to why there are so few “heroic Israelis”:

“It may be that surviving the most horrific atrocities doesn’t make you compassionate, but more often makes you hard, and paranoid. It may make you see the ghost of your murderer even in your victims: Adolf Hitler in a Gazan child.”

For Hari Jews are still so obsessed by the gas chambers that every one of us, apart from his “heroes”, has turned into our own self-contained irrational killing machine.

Not for Hari do Israelis fight back against thousands of deadly Kassam rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza towards Israel’s southern towns or against Katyushas hitting nothern Israel from Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon.

And Hari thinks that Hamas, “the ugly fundamentalist group”, tacitly accepts a two-state solution but how ignorant can one be.

Accepting a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, as Hamas does, is not the same as accepting the existence of Israel.

But Hari has fallen for Hamas’ rhetoric hook, line and sinker.

Hari finishes off urging the Palestinians:

“They should declare independence. Then it is up to us – the watching billions – to pressure our governments to make it real, rather than a howl in the dark.”

Hari doesn’t understand that Palestinian society is in no state to declare independence. While building consruction is swiftly taking place in West Bank towns the hatred that persists between Hamas and Fatah will mean that civil war, bloodshed and revenge killings would not be far away.

Hari hasn’t thought the consequence of his logic through but, then again, for Israel’s haters the demonisation of Israel and Israelis far outweighs any concern they really have for the Palestinian people.