Archive for May, 2009

Following on from the success of Britain’s Got Talent and amid increasing anti-Israel sentiment in the UK arts world comes a brand new reality television contest: Britain’s Got Bigots!

The contest is open to anyone who is disappointed with their life and wants to blame Israel for all the world’s ills. Contestants will perform in front of a judging panel of filmmaker Ken Loach, playwright Caryl Churchill and clown Alexei Sayle at the plush, exclusive Royal Court Theatre in Londonistan.

There will be no public vote, as it is morally wrong to impose democracy on people who are not civilised enough to deal with it. However, the winner will get the chance to perform at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Watch out for related forthcoming reality shows including Anti-American Idol, What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sharia and I’m A Suicide Bomber – Get Me Out Of Here. Disappointed antisemites of the world apply – you have nothing to lose but your obscurity!

Get ready for Britain’s Got Bigots – where diversity always comes last!

Sponsored by The Guardian and Press TV.

He’s back. The ghastly Alexei Sayle, not satisfied with marching alongside proven terrorist supporters and antisemites in January, has recently delivered another Israel-bashing speech on behalf of the Stop The War rabble. Well, I say ‘speech’, I’m perhaps being too kind.

First, he dismissed any talk of the 8,000 rockets that rained down on southern Israel as “propaganda”. The murders of all those Israel civilians, including toddlers in nursery schools, were not human tragedies apparently, but “propaganda” to be dismissed. Nice.

“I prefer to speak from the heart,” he said. To which end he scratched his head and flapped around for a while before saying: “I apologise for the speech being crap”. Don’t apologise, Alexei. You’re only invited to these demos as a Jewish fig-leaf for the antisemites who run the show, so it doesn’t really matter what you say.

Trying to hold it together, he then boasted: “I spoke here in 2006 against the Israeli invasion of the Lebanon”. Got to hand it to him, he’s nothing if not consistent: if Israel tries to protect its people against genocidal terrorists, he’ll be there to protest. He then related a confused (and distorted) tale from 2006, involving some “Swedish UN observers”. He later returned to the story and said: “I think they were Swedish”. Don’t worry about facts Alexei, just speak from the heart.

There was just time for him to discuss “the blackness of the Israeli people’s souls” (oh the irony) and then say that it is only when Israel stops the occupation that its people “they will learn to lead decent lives”. What does he mean? Like when Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza and was rewarded by increased rocket fire which ended the lives of numerous Israelis?

Saving the best till last, he concluded: “We’re doing this for the people of Israel as much as we are doing this for the people of Gaza and the West Bank”. Alexei, I am sure the people of Israel are bursting with gratitude for your speech and for your continued support for pro-terror, antisemitic organisations. What a strange man he is!

I was interested to read this news story about Shifra Shomron’s novel Grains Of Sand: The Fall of Neve Dekalim, which follows the fortunes of an Israeli family living in Gush Katif in the run-up to the 2005 disengagement. I recommend you read Shomron’s book – it’s a beautifully written, riveting work. Amazingly, Shomron was 19 when she wrote it. She’s a great talent and I look forward to reading her future work.

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Desmond Tutu is to speak at the Hay Festival this year, and is being billed as “an extraordinary individual”. He is, but perhaps not entirely in the way that is being suggested. Tutu is a relentless Israel-basher, and his criticism at times strays into dark territory. He often compares Israel to apartheid-era South Africa, a ludicrous comparison that is as offensive to black South Africans as it is to Israel.

While in America in 2002, he made some particularly sinister insinuations and parallels. “People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful,” he said. “Well, so what? The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust”. This was an orgy of antisemitism: imagery of Jews terrifying people out of speaking out against wrong, Israel seemingly compared to the Nazis, an aspiration that the Jewish state will bite the dust.

Tutu has also said that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism”. He regularly calls for boycotts of the Jewish state. His nadir came during his visit to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, when he urged Jews to pray for the Nazis. The Simon Wiesenthal Center called that “a gratuitous insult to Jews and victims of Nazism everywhere”.

I leave the final word to the great Alan Dershowitz: Tutu is a racist and a bigot.

I’ve got a very busy time ahead in the coming week or two and I will be traveling overseas a bit too. I will update here when time allows. In the meantime, this is a lovely video.

I’m a great admirer of Daniel Gordis. He has written several eloquent books about life in Israel. His most recent book, Saving Israel, is a less personal but more passionate read, and I reviewed it here.

savI am delighted that Daniel has agreed to be interviewed for Oy Va Goy. We talked about his work, the threat of Iran, the settlements, his views on Barack Obama and his plans for future books.

CNB: So much discussion of Israel focuses on protection against external threats. In Saving Israel you also focus on internal opportunities to strengthen the Jewish state. What has the reaction been in Israel to the book?

DG: As Saving Israel has thus far appeared only in English, the reaction among Israeli readers has thus far been primarily among the English-reading Israeli public.  Among these readers, the reaction has been extremely positive, I’m happy to report.  Book launches have been sold out to standing room only crowds.  And numerous people, pleased to see that someone is finally speaking about the purpose of Israel and not simply the daily external threats that the Jewish state faces, have been urging me to have the book translated into Hebrew.  I’m currently exploring that possibility and am preparing to approach a few publishers with the idea.

CNB: Saving Israel, while personal in parts, is a lot less personal than some of your previous work. Have you plans to publish more personal books in the future?

DG: A great question. The personal dimension of If a Place Can Make You Cry, Home to Stay and, most recently, Coming Together, Coming Apart afforded me a way of making the challenges of daily life in Israel a bit more understandable to those who don’t live here, and I’m grateful for all the response to those books.  Yet moving away from the personal, as I’ve done in Saving Israel and as I plan to do in the next book I’m writing (about how Israel is giving new life to the idea of the nation-state) allows me to make points that are not related specifically to me or my family.  Now that my children are getting older and are approaching adulthood, I have to be more circumspect about I write about my family.  But I’m aware of the power of the form of the memoir, and I’d be surprised if I didn’t return to it at some point in the future.

CNB: Which of your previous books are you most fond of?

DG: As God Was Not in the Fire was my first book, I think that I’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for that work.  I’m pleased that almost fifteen years since it first appeared, people are still reading it and are still writing to me with responses to it.  That’s very gratifying.  Of all the memoirs, I like If a Place Can Make You Cry the best (Home to Stay is an updated version of that), perhaps because I really like the title, which very much sums up part of Israel’s mysterious and magical pull on me and on so many of us.  And finally, I’m happy with Saving Israel.  It’s my first (but not last) venture into confronting issues about the purpose of Israel, which is a topic we don’t discuss enough.  If I had to pick three, those would probably be them.

CNB: Through your writing you are already an extraordinary international ambassador for Israel. Would you consider taking on such a role more formally one day?

DG: I don’t imagine that that would ever happen, but I think that all of us, regardless of what abilities we have, have an obligation to serve the countries in which we believe, in whatever capacity we’re asked to serve.  I’m always looking for new ways to serve this country which is not only my home, but my homeland as well.

CNB: Is Barack Obama good or bad for Israel?

DG: It remains to be seen, but initial signs are worrisome.  To be sure, Israel’s new government has made some serious tactical errors in dealing with the new American administration, and has needlessly provoked a clash when the same points could have been made much more adroitly.  And Israel could well benefit from a United States with a restored international standing, which Obama is seeking to create.  In those regards, some of Obama’s new policies are thoroughly understandable.  But in linking support for Israel to the solution to the Palestinian problem (which Israel has tried to solve, to no avail), Obama has linked two issues that he certainly understands need not be linked.  And when his administration calls for the dismantling of illegal settlements (which I’m in favor of dismantling, because they’re illegal, and Israel should be governed by the rule of law) in order to “give hope to Palestinian youth,” one wonders – is their loss of hope our doing, or the doing of the leadership they have elected and continue to endorse?

Does President Obama recognize that what a settlement with the Palestinians will require is primarily not concessions on Israel’s side (though those are necessary and inevitable), but more importantly, a thoroughly changed attitude among Palestinians, who have yet to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and have yet to foreswear violence and terrorism?  When that changes, we’ll have a shot at peace.  Does Obama get that?  I think the jury is still out.

CNB: We have seen the extraordinary morality and restraint that Israel shows in the face of threats both external and internal. To what extent do you believe that Israel will have to take off the gloves in order to survive?

DG: As the father of one former Israeli soldier and a son who is now in the army, I’m deeply proud of the values, commitments and senses of right and wrong which are at the core of these young people and the work that they do in the military.  But they know that the one thing that Israel cannot compromise on is its security.  If Hamas is going to use Palestinian civilians as human shields, as we know they did and do, Palestinian civilians are going to die, tragic as that is.  And if Hamas leadership is going to hide in mosques, schools and hospitals, as we know they do, those buildings are going to have to be destroyed.  Every other country would do exactly that – it’s only with regard to Israel that the world is aghast when such things happen.  No one notices all the targets that Israel avoids because of these sickening tactics on the part of Hamas.  The world notices only the targets that are selected, which are very few and far between.

The same is true with Iran.  Why would Israel seek a conflict with Iran?  And why would our sons and daughters seek to harm an Iranian civilian thousands of kilometers away from us?  But if Iran pursues its goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon even as it calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, is it moral to risk the lives of (another) six million Jews living in Israel, and to wait idly by while our enemies prepare to destroy us (again)?  I do not believe that Israel will let that happen.  And if and when Israel strikes, responsibility will lie not with the IDF, but with the international community, which for years has cynically allowed the Iranians to progress while only pretending to impose sanctions on Iran.

Countries have obligations, first and foremost, to defend their citizens.  What other country would watch a sworn enemy prepare to destroy it and do nothing?  Why should Israel be expected to adopt that absurd posture?

Thank you to Daniel Gordis. You can visit his website here.

There is an astonishing article by Max Hastings over at CiF, in which he writes about how he fell out of love with Israel. One might have hoped for a reasonable, factual argument from a man such as Hastings. Unfortunately, Mad Max disappoints.

“There is no purpose in wasting rhetoric upon moral denunciations of terrorism or even suicide-bombing.”

Yeah, why condemn terrorism when you can condemn democracy? They must have loved that line at CiF.

“The Palestinians, together with the Muslim world and many in the west, no longer believe that Israel will grant justice to their people by negotiation; they believe that only force might eventually drive the Israelis to make concessions.”

It’s amazing when people get things exactly the wrong way round. The truth is that on numerous occasions over several decades, Israel has offered the Palestinians a state. Each time, the Palestinians have turned the offer down in favour of further terrorism. Hastings is not some random leftie buffoon, he’s an intelligent, educated man. How can he not know this?

“The most extraordinary, indeed nihilistic aspect of Israeli military policy towards the Palestinians is that it has sought to punish terrorism by deliberately wrecking the economic base of Palestinian society. On its own terms, this has succeeded.”

The standard lie that Jews are entirely responsible for the squalor that successive Palestinian leaders have inflicted on their own people.

“For more than 60 years, the Holocaust card has been played again and again.”

What a sickening sentence. Again, they must have loved it at CiF.

“The Holocaust argument is sometimes displaced by a more facile jibe: that those who criticise Israel are guilty of anti-semitism. I have been accused of this myself. Yet I take comfort from the number of Jews who express repugnance about Israel’s excesses.”

Yeah, they are useful for antisemites to hide behind aren’t they?

“It is because so many of us so much want to see Israel prosper in security and peace that…”

Do you? Not on the evidence of this article, which appears to be an order that Israel signs a suicide note.

In conclusion, I quote the words of an unnamed Israeli politician who once told Hastings: “You are a typical European. You loved Israel when it was a victim. Now you turn your face from us, because we have become too strong for your taste. We are no longer Jews on our knees, begging for pity.”

Never again will they thus beg, whether Mad Max likes it or not.

I love the architecture of Manhattan and the Statue Of Liberty is one of my favourite sites in the world. I have a poster of it on my office wall and really enjoyed visiting it last year. It’s great news that, eight years after the 9/11 attacks, the crown is going to be re-opened to the public. Can’t wait for my next trip!

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This week I am completing the writing of my biography of Simon Cowell. As regular readers will know I’m an admirer of Cowell and it’s been a joy to write about him. I’m really pleased with the book.

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Michael Oren has been appointed as the new Israeli ambassador to the United States of America. It’s a vital appointment to get right, not least due to Barack Obama’s terrible approach to the region. There is an interesting article here about his time in the IDF, and here Alex Stein gives his view on the appointment.

My friend Shmuel has another interesting article in today’s Jerusalem Post about the Nahal Hardei combat unit, in which strictly Orthodox soliders may peform reserve service.

Finally, we all like to smile – here’s what makes Israelis grin.

© Copyright Chas Newkey-Burden. All Rights Reserved. Thanks to Chris Morris.