This is my latest column for Jewish News.
So, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a “skilled killer”. Well, we’ve become accustomed to the Iranian dictator’s drama-queen outbursts. But still: get her, eh?
He’s not the only one to talk balderdash about Bibi. Last week, Australian newspaper columnist Mike Carlton evaded watchdog censure for the column he wrote after the flotilla incident. He had described Netanyahu as “an unprincipled thug addicted to the use of military force”.
I wrote to Carlton to point out the flaws in his argument. Netanyahu was not Prime Minister during the 2006 Hezbollah war, nor Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. There have been no major military operations during either of his terms as Prime Minister.
Indeed, during his first term, he negotiated with Yasser Arafat, signed the Wye River accords and handed most of Hebron to the Palestinians. An unprincipled thug addicted to the use of military force? Only in the prejudiced imagination of the likes of Carlton.
Israel is the most slandered nation on earth, so such lies come with the territory. Menachem Begin, for instance, is oft reviled as war-mongering, blood-thirsty extremist. Which is strange, considering that Begin – perhaps my favourite figure in world history – is the man who signed the Camp David accords, sealed a peace treaty with Egypt and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Egyptian President.
I understand that it is mostly Begin’s role in the Jewish underground that earned him such notoriety in the eyes of some (though not in mine). But people can only overlook his glorious, statesman-like achievements if their eyes are blinded by a wicked agenda.
The same goes for those who insist on slandering Netanyahu. True, the Likud Party has some stringent polices, as does the Yisrael Beiteinu party which Netanyahu invited into his coalition. But Bibi’s record speaks for itself, and it is strongly at odds with the image that the world attributes to him.
I wrote to Carlton with a polite, factual correction of his description of Netanyahu. His single-line response? “More of the same old paranoid rubbish”. It’s ironic really – ‘paranoid rubbish’ would be a decent description of his own track record on Israel. Strewth!
During his many factually-dodgy attacks on Israel he has often been quick to boast in print that he has “many Jewish friends”. He also loves to point out that he knows Jewish people who are willing to join in his demonization of Israel. “Humane and decent Jewry,” he writes, ” Shalom to them.” Phew, now you know what you have to do to win his approval as the right kind of Jew!
Carlton has complained before about the efforts of those who “attempt to silence” his criticism of Israel. Oh for the good old days, eh? When there were fewer opportunities to respond to such blood libels. And heck, call me old-fashioned, but if he and his ilk around the world didn’t get their facts so spectacularly wrong they would probably receive fewer complaints.
As some readers may recall, last year I wrote to Jon Snow of Channel 4 News to challenge his breathtaking claim that “nobody gets hurt” by Qassam rockets. He was polite at first, saying that unfortunately he couldn’t find the relevant footage in his archive. So I sent him a YouTube video of the relevant edition, together with evidence of people – including kids – who have been injured and killed by the Qassams.
“Stop wasting my time,” he wrote back. Get her! I doubt I’ll be on his Christmas card list, but I also doubt he’ll be so quick to deny the effect of Qassam rockets again. Picking out these specific issues is a good way to affect paradigm-changes on the wider picture. I think it is well worth continuing to challenge and correct these lies.