Tag Archives: The Commentator

Another two fingers go up to British Jews.

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Today’s Sunday Times cartoon doesn’t work on any level, but you can see how it came about.

Over the last month certain British commentators have been writhing around in pure ecstasy at the prospect of the Israeli electorate moving to the right. Some of the commentary has made me wince with even Jewish commentators hinting that Israel has shifted to the far right; the connotation being that Israel has finally become a fully fledged fascist state, the antithesis of what would have been expected after the horrors of Nazi Germany.

But, sadly for them, Israel actually shifted to the left in the recent general election. All those columns that certain journalists wanted to write about “the fascist State of Israel” will never see the light of day now. The time they spent concocting the most vile aspersions to cast on Israel has been wasted. Guardian and Independent newspaper columnists have had to, on the whole, hold their fire since the election. Labour politicians like Richard Burden MP have been forced to hold off tweeting the most nastiest denunciations of Israel.

But for some reason The Sunday Times, of all papers, couldn’t hold off publishing Gerald Scarfe’s vile slur of a blood libel with its depiction of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a callous murderer of innocents, including Palestinian children.

And then there’s the context. Not only is it Holocaust Memorial Day today but it is also just two days after The Commentator broke the news that Liberal Democrat MP David Ward had specifically attacked “the Jews” on his website by writing:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

And by juxtaposing the Holocaust with the West Bank and Gaza Ward is actually mocking what happened to the Jews in the death camps, whatever sympathy for them he tries to evince in his statement. The West Bank and Gaza are no Auschwitz, Mr Ward, even though many a Jew hater has tried to equate them.

Ward is not fit to be an MP, but what is more disturbing is the groundswell of support he seems to have had and his comments have flushed out just how nasty his supporters are. For example, under the clip of Ward’s appearance on Sky you can read:

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“Israel is worse than Hitler” and “Is Hitler the new Moses?” These are your supporters, Mr Ward.

I also got tweeted this from Mash’al Hanif in response to one of my tweets about the Sunday Times cartoon:

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Well, yes, Mash’al, it does hurt, but it hurts mainly because I always thought the UK was a comfortable place for Jewish people to live. I still do, but that nonsensical Sunday Times cartoon has rocked that certainty ever so slightly.

But I am also grateful that although I deeply feel Jewish I, however, feel no religious obligation to dress as a more religious Jew and, therefore, exposing myself to the horrors of what the Sunday Times cartoon might compel a person with a violent bent towards Israel and/or Jewish people to carry out. Another Toulouse comes to mind.

And, I’m sorry, Mash’al, but it wasn’t me who targeted the Prophet Muhammad. And nor would I. And for that matter it wasn’t Jewish people either, although Mash’al’s comment goes to show how the initial rumour that the maker of that horrendous film depicting Muhammad in such an unseemly manner was Jewish has now achieved permanence.

After the last week one can see why the Jewish people have traditionally moved around so much, forever trying to evade the animus that certain parts of society have always held for us.

(Thanks to The Commentator which also broke the news of the cartoon and thanks to Chas Newkey-Burden who has written so meaningfully about David Ward MP and those like him who think that its the Jews who should be held up to higher scrutiny after having lost six million people in the Holocaust.)

The Guardian and The New Statesman jump to Tonge’s defence…but only after misquoting her.

What a week. Jenny Tonge resigned the Liberal Democrat whip on Wednesday thanks to some footage I took of her speaking at last Thursday’s anti-Israel event at Middlesex University in Hendon, North-West London.

Thank you for the supportive tweets, texts, calls, emails and comments. All a bit embarrassing as all I did was hold up a camera (albeit under threat of being hauled out by the university’s security guards for doing so).

Some far bigger players took up the cause, as Martin Bright generously describes in his Jewish Chronicle report of the week’s events:

“It is certainly true that she was brought down by an irresistible pincer movement of right-wing bloggers. First, the neo-cons at the Commentator picked up on the footage of the Middlesex University event posted by the redoubtable Richard Millett and then passed the baton to the conservative attack dogs at Guido Fawkes.”

As Rubin Katz commented, it was doing what was right, not necessarily right-wing.

Since Tonge’s resignation some in the mainstream media have tried to jump to her defence, but have based their articles on a completely false premise.

Tonge said:

“Israel is not going to be there forever in its present performance because one day the United States of America will get sick of giving $70bn a year to Israel to support its, what I call, ‘America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East’. That is Israel. One day the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA ‘enough is enough’. Read that book by Walt and Mearsheimer called The Israel Lobby. But, it will not go on forever, it will not go on forever. Israel will lose its support and then they will reap what they have sown.”

But The Guardian‘s Michael White, The New Statesman‘s Mehdi Hasan and Yahoo‘s Ian Dunt all misquoted her as saying Israel “is not going to be there forever in its present form“, instead of “in its present performance“, so allowing them to give Tonge’s words a more benign interpretation than they warrant.

White then argues that a two-state solution involving land-for-peace trades would change Israel “in its present form” (White also concurs with her ridiculous $70bn figure. It’s actually $3bn).

Dunt refers to Tonge as the “victim” of a “trick” by Israel’s defenders and goes on to describe the phrase “in its present form” as one “which almost all people, including Israelis, would accept given the negotiations which would have to take place for a two-state solution to be accomplished”.

Hasan defends Tonge by suggesting “in its present form” was merely an assessment of the threat to Israel’s future as “a Jewish and democratic state”. To back himself up he uses the spurious argument that Jews and Arabs will eventually reach parity in the area under discussion (there will never be anywhere near parity as this study shows).

But Hasan is against Israel’s existence, anyway. In his last paragraph he says he “reluctantly” supports “the one-state solution”.

But Tonge didn’t say “in its present form“. She said “in its present performance“, by which she clearly meant Israel’s present behaviour. She ended with the threat that Israel “will reap what they have sown”, which relates back to that performance/behaviour.

Tonge thinks Israel has massacred and ethnically cleansed Palestinians and so her “will reap what they have sown” must mean that she thinks that the same will eventually happen to Israel’s Jews.

No reasonable person can defend such sentiments. If White, Dunt and Hasan listen again to what Tonge actually said then, surely, they must have serious second thoughts about their articles.

Here it is again: