Archive for June, 2009

I’ve just received an exciting book commission with a very tight deadline. So I might not be posting quite as regularly during July. In the meantime, I am on BBC Radio Berkshire this lunchtime discussing the aforementioned book.

I have the following column about Oy Va Goy in the new issue of Jewish News:

I’ve got a confession to make: I am responsible for the credit crunch. Apparently, it’s all because I’m being secretly funded by a global Zionist financial conspiracy. Or at least I am in the eyes of several visitors to my blog. No sooner did I start blogging as a non-Jewish supporter of Israel (at www.oyvagoy.com) than I was bombarded by all sorts of bizarre online comments from visiting antisemites, aghast that a non-Jew might dare to defend the Jewish state, and sure that there must be some sort of dark plot involved. One such frequent visitor asks me: “So how much are those Jews paying you, Chas?”

So – how much are “those Jews” paying me? Not a penny, not even a shekel, is the bitterly disappointing truth. But then I’m no more in the online Hasbara game for the money than I am for the friends it makes me among the Jew-haters of the worldwide web (“You’ve got blood on your hands, you filthy scumbag” etc). I’m in it because I really love Israel and am genuinely upset by the growing antisemitism British Jews are facing left, right and centre. It’s been eye-opening to discover what anonymous, online antisemites say when it’s a non-Jew they are venting their spleen on.

I’ve grown strangely fond of some of these kooky visitors, as they keep me endlessly entertained with their latest theories. One of my regulars likes to inform me that I only blog in support of Israel and the Jewish community because I suffer from an “enormous inferiority complex”. I suppose they call that projection, as it is the antisemites of the world who are all too often suffering from that complex in my experience. And according to one of my best friends, that isn’t the only inversion at work in their accusation. When I told him about it he burst out laughing and said: “Erm no, it’s an enormous superiority complex you suffer from.” Not true, I’m just much better than most people, is all.

Meanwhile, just where are all these predatory Rabbis that are supposedly “brain-washing” me? One Christian visitor from Nigeria is convinced that I’m being indoctrinated by missionary Jews (try reading some basic facts about Judaism, pal) and that if I fly to Nigeria, he can “save me” from a forced conversion and all the “terrible terrors” that it involves. Terrible terrors? Sounds fun, no? Think I’ll stay here and take my chances.

It is not just my website that such cranks descend upon to heckle me. Another site, which dared to positively review one of my books, had every discussion disrupted for months on end by hysterical flaming about my admiration of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Well, at least they got that one factually correct. Israeli Prime Ministers seem to get the worldwide web ablaze. “You’re only doing this because you’ve got a crush on Benjamin Netanyahu,” said one commenter on my blog.  That’s not factually correct, but I know just what he means. There’s just… something about Bibi, isn’t there?

Meanwhile, on the financial conspiracy front, I’m honestly not proud. I’ll gleefully pass on my paying-in details to any person (Jewish or otherwise) who wants to make me part of any sort of fiscal plot. So bring it on, all donations welcome – however large. Don’t let me down, I shall be checking my bank balance hourly.

Please pray/think/speak about Gilad Shalit and his family. You might also like to watch the video of people round the world reading a story he wrote as an 11-year-old.

I will be at the Tekes for Gilad in London on Thursday evening.

gilad_shalit

I’ve long admired Alan Dershowitz. I remember reading his superb book The Case For Israel, cover to cover, during a red-eye flight back to Britain from New York City. It was a key moment in turning me further away from the widespread default position of liberal British gentiles: a well-meant but ill-informed, lazily arrived-at, loosely pro-Palestinian position. It’s a fantastic book that has made Dershowitz a hero to the brilliant and a feared hate-figure to the bigoted.

Dershowitz has since published other works, including The Case For Peace and The Case Against Israel’s Enemies. Both are excellent, as is his older book Why Terrorism Works. This brilliant man has now made a film called The Case For Israel – Democracy’s Outpost. I encourage you to watch it, either in cinemas if you have the opportunity or otherwise on DVD. During its 77 minutes you will be treated to a clear-eyed, straightforward but heroic defence of this brilliant nation.

The film is a combination of footage of Dershowitz’s contributions to lectures and debates, archive news footage and interviews with numerous politicians, military men and other experts. He puts Israel’s case powerfully, reminding viewers that the Palestinians were offered – and rejected – a state in 1937, 1948, 1967 and 2000. (They have done so again since the film was made.) He shows how the Arab states and not Israel created the Palestinian refugee problem. He demonstrates how the security fence spectacularly reduced the rate of suicide bombings.

He is concise, eloquent and right. “Israel should not compromise at all on checkpoints,” he says. “Checkpoints have been extraordinarily effective: 10,000 terrorist acts have been prevented by checkpoints. Given a choice between waiting an hour and uncomfortableness, and having people go into downtown Tel Aviv to blow up buses, I have to tell you if I was an Israeli, a Palestinian or someone from Mars, I would much prefer the checkpoints. The checkpoints will disappear when terrorism disappears.”

He has always been a formidable destroyer of the hypocrisy and dishonesty of Israel’s worst critics. High on this list is, of course, former US President Jimmy “I’m going to f**k the Jews” Carter. Despite Carter’s boast that he wrote his lie-ridden book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid to “start a debate”, he outright refused to debate it with Dershowitz and insisted they appear separately at a university event.

It’s funny watching Carter lord it on stage at the event, while Dershowitz is forced to twiddle his thumbs backstage thanks to Carter’s cowardice. No wonder the former President is so scared: he has consistently refused to respond to Dershowitz’s allegation that he advised Yasser Arafat to turn down Ehud Barak’s extraordinary Camp David offer and therefore has the “blood on his hands” of 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis.

As the film shows, both Dennis Ross (Middle East negotiator) and Kenneth Stein (former fellow of the Carter Center) fundamentally dispute the record of key meetings Carter produced in his book. Indeed, Stein even resigned from the Carter Center, so at odds were Carter’s claims about meetings which Stein not only attended but took notes from. (The book The Case Against Israel’s Critics offers a fulsome demolition of Carter’s lies.)

Back on screen, Dershowitz is superb. “There is apartheid in the Middle East,” he says in response to the apartheid allegation made by Carter and others. “In Saudi Arabia there is gender apartheid, religious apartheid, all kinds of apartheid. But in Israel? Where Arabs serve in the Knesset, on the Supreme Court and at universities, where affirmative action is part of government policy?” He’s right and it is the ultimate irony that so many liberal/left Westerners attack the state that reflects their key values and tacitly support those regimes that promote the opposite.

Dershowitz’s interviewees are just as impressive. One points out that Jerusalem is mentioned 667 times in the Bible but not once by name in the Koran. But most powerful is the Commander in Chief of the Israeli Air Force, who quietly shows the extraordinary morality shown by the Israeli military in the face of the unimaginable dilemma that its enemies sickening human shield tactic creates. As Dershowitz comments: Hamas attacks in this way to take advantage of Israel’s higher sense of morality.

Turning to the UN, he reveals that there have been more resolutions against Israel than the rest of the world combined. “If a space alien landed in Turtle Bay and took a look at the UN, it would say: ‘What a wonderful world this is! There’s this great place called Syria which heads the Security Council, and this marvelous place called Libya that heads the Human Rights Council. Then there is this dark, pariah state called Israel that commits all the human rights violations in the world.’”

It’s powerful stuff and – however well-informed you are on the conflict – I urge you to watch it. More than that, please encourage others to. I don’t particularly approve of films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and An Inconvenient Truth, nor am I directly comparing The Case For Israel with them. But we’ve seen the massive influence they have had on the public. To convince a friend to read a book about the conflict is difficult, but to get them to watch a relatively short film is an easier prospect.  We’re facing a wall of ignorance and misconceptions: Dershowitz’s brilliant, award-winning film can begin to knock it down. But only if we do our bit and encourage as many as possible to watch it.

You can order it from the Zionist Federation.

Today I am expecting delivery of Don’t Tread On Me: Anti-Americanism Abroad by the great Carol Gould. I’ll be interviewing Carol about the book for Oy Va Goy in the coming weeks.

Tonight I am off for Friday night dinner at the home of the brilliant Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation.

And this Sunday it’s my birthday. Good times.

Hold onto your hats – there’s a new Alexei Sayle video on the web!

His anti-Israel tirades have always veered from the embarrassing to the narcisstic and the plain confused and ill-informed. Not that the antisemites and supporters of terrorism that he regularly protests alongside care – they’re just happy he cannot see how horribly they are using him.

Sayle’s latest effort sees him sink to a new low in what is little more than a two minute, 39 second nervous breakdown in which he begs Leonard Cohen not to play a concert in Tel Aviv. Watching the video, one suspects that Sayle’s agent’s phone isn’t ringing quite as much as it used to.

It’s a toe-curling performance. Reprising a theme from when we last heard from him, he claims that his call for a boycott of Israel is actually for Israel’s benefit. This is the classic justification of the sick abuser -  I might mistreat you but it’s for your own good. He also calls for Israel to “show some kindness to the people they are grinding under their heel”. This man seems to have no idea of all the great things Israel does for the Palestinians, including treating their sick in Israeli hospitals. In fact, it’s safe to say that Israel helps the Palestinians more than Sayle ever will.

And listen, pal, when I pitched the Britain’s Got Bigots reality show idea I wanted you as a judge not a contestant. Damn it you ghastly man, do you have to misunderstand everything? Or do you assume the show will be run on Iranian election-style rules: it’s okay to be both contestant and judge?

Enjoy/endure the video, readers.

Welcome to the blogosphere, CST.

These are busy times for me (not least putting the finishing touches to this little baby) but I will be back very soon with a proper post. I’m attending an event on Friday which I am expecting to be fertile ground for an Oy Va Goy special. So watch this space.

Meanwhile, Facebook users might like to join my ever-growing group I’m British And I Love Israel. See you there.

“In the West Bank we have a good reality … the people are living a normal life.” – Mahmoud Abbas, May 31st 2009.

That’s blown the whole oppression/famine/genocide myth, hasn’t it? Indeed, did you know that life-expectancy in the West Bank has actually risen under Israeli ‘occupation’? It’s a strange kind of genocide that results in that.

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd was in the Middle East yesterday, and gave a text-book useful idiot performance. Described as “weary looking”, the old rocker made a spectacular fool of himself in front of a young audience at a Q&A session in Jerusalem.

Waters said that visiting Jenin earlier in the day “felt foreign in a good way,” a breathtaking insight on par with Welsh footballer Ian Rush’s remark that his time in Italy “was like living in a foreign country” or Judith Chalmers’ ubiquitous description of any metropolis she visits as “a city of contrasts”.

When discussion turned to the security fence – on which Waters spraypainted the words ‘No More Control’ during a previous visit – he said it was an “obscenity”. Not half as obscene as the suicide bombings it has spectacularly reduced, mate. Ever seen a school-bus and its inhabitants blown to pieces? That’s obscene.

The checkpoints have also helped prevent further atrocities, but according to Waters “all this checkpoint bullshit is a method of your government to control, not only the Palestinians but you as well”. Yeah, right: pass the wacky-baccy man!

Like most critics of Israel, Waters folded embarrassingly when confronted with basic facts about successive Palestinian leaderships’ rejection of generous offers from Israel. “I’m not aware of this,” he said. Quite.

(Thanks to Ashley Perry of MESI.)

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