Kevin Myers is a columnist who has written for the Irish Times, (exact equivalent of New York Times – liberal as hell), the Irish Independent, and now the Sunday Times. He has a rare, relatively profound, and knowledgeable view of the Middle East. Kevin makes his mark with this solid analysis, however we would disagree a little with his historical account of the circumstances surrounding the Balfour declaration. We have transcribed the article below, which appeared in last Sunday February 2, 2014 edition of the Sunday Times.
It can be read here if you are a subscriber of the Times:
Isn’t Israelophobia just Anti Semitism by Another Name
Now there’s as much chance of having a temperate reasoned conversation in Ireland on the subject of Israel as there is of the Taliban making women’s water polo the national sport of Afghanistan. Nonetheless I murmur, sotto voce, that Alan Shatter (Jewish), the minister for Justice, surely had a point when he recently declared at a Holocaust memorial service that Europe should be slow to support proposals for any part of the Middle East to be Judenfrei, or Jewless, For, quite simply, the demands for the removal of all Jewish settlements from the West Bank are utterly bizarre.
Normally no democratic government anywhere would insist on the withdrawal of any ethnic group from a particular area. Yet now we have Oxfam, which is dedicated to “combating the causes of famine,” trying to close down a soft drinks plant on the West Bank that employs mostly Palestinians solely because it is an Israeli company (Presumably their unique metabolism means unemployed Arabs are less likely to get hungry than ones with jobs). Only a politico-cultural blindness to the implicit anti–Semitism of all this would even allow such toxic silliness to masquerade as policy.
So Just what is a Palestinian? If a Jew can be Irish or Canadian or Iranian, why not also “Palestinian?” This is not mere casuistry, because people of the Arab origin can be Israeli, and be elected to the Knesset, serve in the Defense Forces, and sit on the bench. An Israeli-Arab judge, George Karra, imprisoned former Israeli president Moshe Katsav for rape. So why in any peace accord must it be presumed no Jews may remain on the West Bank?
Ah, but they are there by conquest, goes the assertion. Well, only up to a point. They are able to buy – yes buy – land in the West Bank and stay there because of the presence of the Israeli army means they are not then killed. But these “settlers” mostly have title – deeds that existed in the land registry under the British Mandate and, before that, the Ottomans. And no, I’m not arguing for a greater Israel of Judea and Samaria. I’m just asking a simple question. Why do Palestinian leaders not guarantee the safety of the 200,000 Jews now living on the West Bank if they were to come under any future Palestinian government? Why does that absurd chimera “the international community” accept an explicitly anti-Semitic definition that both excludes Jews from being Palestinian citizens, even though they’ve been born in Palestine, and presumes a priori that all Jews must leave the West Bank as part of any permanent peace settlement? Why are Jewish newcomers always called “settlers” rather than “immigrants?”
Of course, there’s a terrible history to all this. The Balfour declaration that defined Palestine as natural home of the world’s Jews was a monstrous piece of imperialist edict-making, and a grave injustice to the Arabs of the Sanjak of Jerusalem. It was up to them to make such a declaration, not politicians in Paris and London. Moreover, the Arab uprising (1936 -1939) was met with a degree of violence that vastly exceeded anything done by the British during the post war Jewish insurgency. It was standard practice for the British army “night squads” to toss grenades into Arab houses, and after a Lieutenant Law (from Dublin, actually) was killed by a landmine, men of his unit raped all the women and murdered the men in the nearest Arab village. The regimental history merely notes “severe reprisals were taken.”
“TURNING HISTORICAL DOGMA INTO LAW IS THE HALLMARK OF THE STUPID THE PIOUS AND THE TOTALITARIAN”
Many atrocities on both sides accompanied the war for survival that was later forced on the Israeli people, and thousands of Arabs fled. All very terrible – but so too was the contemporaneous disaster that befell the millions of Germans driven out of Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1945-46, with many thousands raped and slaughtered. Likewise, the millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs during the partition of India in 1947. Yet no sane person today demands a right of return home to refugees from these conflicts.
Moreover, though it’s illegal to define people in law by their ethnic origin within the EU, both the EU and the UN declare Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal. It is illegal to define anyone by their ethnos – unless they’re Jewish. It gets better, for several countries in the EU – which, remember, seeks the eviction of certain people merely because they’re Jewish – have made it illegal to deny the Holocaust took place. Dead Jews are deserving of protection to be denied living ones.
Turning historical dogma into law is the hallmark of the stupid, the pious and the totalitarian. To have any practical effect, a law must define its terms, and by any definition a holocaust – “wholly consumed by fire” – simply did not occur. There was no single event, no single methodology, no single cruelty, which characterized the near-genocide of the Jews of Europe and which would be defined in law. For what law can reconcile the many contradictory truths: that Auschwitz’s furnaces, consumed hundreds of thousands of Jews, that Nazi Einsatzgruppen slaughtered perhaps even more, with possibly as many again being worked to death, but the city of Dresden built air-raid shelters for Jews, and SS men helped to save Denmark’s Jews?
But why should the Palestinians suffer today because of what happened in Europe all those years ago? A good question, and one which should be addressed to all the Arab states that refused them homes and citizenship. Moreover, history is often unbearably cruel – ask the Mohawks and the Choctaws, if you can find any; ask the Australian aborigines, the Hottentots and the Maoris. Is Manhattan to be returned to the Lenape Indians, and Connemara to the Fir-bolg?
I can already hear Raymond Deane of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Committee sharpening his pen on a whetstone, with his predictable shrieks about Israeli apartheid, and the usual chorus of support from the doggedly dogmatic anti – Israel lobby. Theirs are both specious and spurious arguments, for just how many Zulu or Xhosa judges sat in South African apartheid courts? However, it does say something about the political agenda of so many editors of newspaper letters pages that Deane’s effusions, no matter how irrational, regularly get published. These then invariably set the vicious tone for all public debate about Israel that follows in the media generally: rant, posture, froth and foam.
Such Israelophobia can only prosper in defiance of the evidence we see nightly on our television screens. Across all Arab lands, from the Euphrates to the Nile, thousands of people have been slaughtered by governments and terrorists, with the very survival of indigenous Christian communities now imperiled. But who alone, amid all the murderous delinquencies of the Middle East, is threatened with both boycott and disinvestment by the well meaning idiots of the world, such as Oxfam? And who must all leave their homes to “guarantee” regional peace (oh, you know, as in Gaza)?
Those wretched Jews again. And if all that’s not anti-Semitism, then pray what is?