This is a guest post by AKUS
Michael White, he of the infamous comment about Israel during an interview that had nothing to do with Israel:
“In Israel they murder each other a great deal. The Israeli Defence Forces murder people because they don’t like their political style and what they’ve got to say. And it only means that people more extreme come in and take their place”
Apparently glued to his laptop while waiting for a new episode in the Peter Pan series to begin in the House on March 24th – “waiting for Alistair Darling to deliver his budget”– what better way for an “assistant editor [who] has been writing for the Guardian for over 30 years, as a reporter, foreign correspondent and columnist” to pass the time than to condemn the Mossad’s assumed evil-doings: Mossad expulsion: they still don’t get it and explain how this excuses his comment.
(Before continuing, let me say that the expulsion of an Israeli “diplomat” or whatever status that person really had represents a new low in Britain’s descent from its once much-admired standing as an example of democracy, law, and order. Whatever the suspicions, there is no proof whatsoever that Israel was involved in the Dubai assassination of Mabhouh. The clownish nature of the operation makes me believe it was very unlikely to have been the Mossad. Nevertheless, a precedent has been set in Britain now. On the basis of suspicion alone, without proof, the British government will act against those against whom it feels represent some kind of threat. Of course, that does not mean the new rule will be applied equally – there are a number of notorious Hamas supporters at large in Britain, and it is clear that Mabhouh travelled on more than one false passport – yet no action has been taken against his terrorist colleagues happily sipping teas and eating scones in posh cafes in London while whipping up enthusiasm for the supposedly starving masses of Gaza. But now the door is open to this abuse of power and what starts with the Jews and Israel will not end with them).
The real point of White’s article was apparently to respond to criticism of his comment: “they murder each other a great deal” which was, weirdly enough, made during a BBC interview when he was supposed to be commenting on the attack on Berlusconi by a deranged (or not?) Italian. He makes no bones about having said it – after all it’s on tape, and available freely on the Internet – go to 3:30min in this replay. Almost as bad was the BBC’s Jo Good agreeing with him: ‘Mmm…hmmm…” she hummed. “Everyone knows that”, she seemed to be indicating – “I understand what you’re saying”.
Despite his comment, or in justification of it, oddly enough, White claims no special expertise about Israel other than his knowledge of Israelis having a jolly good old time murdering each other or their enemies a great deal and a vague understanding of the Israeli electoral system:
“Where do I fit into this jigsaw? Nowhere. I have no expertise in the generally grim politics of the Middle East and avoid writing or talking about it, except to tease electoral-reform-as-a-panacea liberals by pointing out that Israelis use a PR-voting system, which does them few favours.”
(I do agree with him about the voting system, however).
Having admitted ignorance, White then treats us to a few reasons why, in fact, we should not be upset about his comment:
“I’ve occasionally made versions of that point in print or on radio for years. I sometimes add (though not on this occasion): “The trouble is with killing political opponents, you never know when you’ve just killed Nelson Mandela. Apartheid South Africa was wise in that respect.””
Of course, the problem he does not acknowledge is that far from throwing up a Palestinian Mandela, the best the Palestinians have been able to come up with after about 100 years is a set of corrupt terrorists such as Yasser Arafat and Ismail Haniyah, or a corrupt and impotent nebbish like Mahmud Abbas, or a Hitlerite like the Mufti. But again, he would excuse himself by claiming that his knowledge of the situation doesn’t stretch that far.
White was surprised to find that some good friends seemed to be concerned about his comment or the effect it had on his credential as someone who does not relentlessly denigrate Israel (unlike some I could name whose articles appear with monotonous regularity in Mr. White’s paper):
“Wow! A hail of abuse came down on my head. Jewish friends got in touch to ask what I’d said or to assure me they’d told their outraged contacts that I “wasn’t one of those” – the kind of European liberal who relentlessly denigrates Israel and applies double-standards elsewhere.’
In response White claims that he’s “not one of those” – in fact, he seems to be claiming to be a closet Bushie to make sure we understand that he is really, if not a supporter of Israel, at least not a foe, nor is he always opposed to people murdering other people a great deal, if they are not Israelis:
“Indeed not. I suspect I am regarded as very suspect by serious Israel-baiters, certainly beyond redemption among my many friends who want to have Bush ‘n’ Blair tried as war criminals for invading Iraq with such dire consequences (so far)”.
White also believes the fix is in – unnamed “monitors” picked up his unfortunate phrase, wresting it out of context, when clearly, in his mind it had everything to do with a lunatic hitting Berlusconi on the nose with a statue:
“That detail confirms my suspicion that this was a monitoring job; a phrase picked up, wrenched from context and circulated among supporters eager to give anyone a hard time for being “unfair” to Israel. Even BBC London’s audience reach isn’t that impressive.”
Who, I wonder could he be referring to? Surely not a certain website …. Or a huge conspiracy?
Actually, yes – although he can’t name any “monitors” – should we give him a clue? – he is aware of something fishy going on:
“I’m aware that there is a vast hinterland behind all this, probably several websites devoted to monitoring what is deemed to be antisemitism, real or imagined. I tend not to go near such sites myself. Best to stay clear, I usually feel”.
So how does this tie back to the Mossad, Mabhouh, and Israelis murdering each other a great deal?
“Unfortunately, the Palestinian people have been the primary victims of the wider impasse and many innocents have suffered or died as a result of Israeli policy in the occupied territories. Everyone knows that, don’t they? ….
But only this week I read – again – of blameless families losing their homes to “settlers”. And I remain of the view that murdering Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in that hotel was both a crime and a mistake.” [emphasis added]
Note that even here he is so imbued with the accepted Guardian anti-Israeli bias that he cannot refrain from using the phrase: Everyone knows that, don’t they? In two paragraphs White managed to demonstrate the full range of the Guardian’s twisted view of what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians.
The link in his paragraph (suffered or died) goes directly to a year-old column by another “good friend” of Israel, Chris McGreal, that all but accuses Israel of war crimes, noting that that beacon of light and humanity, “The UN’s senior human rights body” – aka the UNHRC, comprised largely of representatives of the worst HR violators on the planet – “approved a resolution yesterday condemning the Israeli offensive for “massive violations of human rights”. That has been the Guardian’s standard position since – well, about 1967, I suspect.
Then there’s the issue of “victims”. Presumably, since the Palestinians, via intifadas, suicide bombers, plane kidnappings, Olympic massacres, bus bombings, school bombings, nightclub bombings, Passover Seder bombings, stabbings, sniping, hurling rocks on Jews praying at the Western Wall, firing thousands of mortars and rockets have not managed to kill as many Israelis as Israel has done in response, there is a “disproportionate” imbalance that make them the primary victims. Not because Israel has spent billions to protect its citizens, or because their leaders have never managed to bring themselves to sign an agreement with Israel, or, as is happening right now, the Arab League and notably Jordan is urging them not to enter negotiations with Israel.
There’s no recognition from White that Israel is offering these “victims” what no Arab country ever offered them if they could only bring themselves to say “Yes” – the chance to create their own state. Jordan and Egypt simply sat in the WB and Gaza till 1967, and, were it not for the 6 Day War, would be sitting there still, and the word “Palestinian” would not be in the dictionary.
Next, it’s time for White to worry about evicting people illegally occupying a dozen or so houses in Sheikh Jarrah, something that passes unnoticed on a daily basis in England, I’m sure. The “blameless [Arab] families” in Jerusalem were actually found after protracted legal proceedings to be squatters occupying houses to which they had no legal right – they simply occupied them during the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem after the Jordanians killed and expelled the Jewish occupants in 1948 assuming correctly that the Jordanians would never allow the Jews to reclaim their property.
Although there are many things about which I disagree with Netanyahu, and the timing of the various recent announcements about building in Jerusalem was catastrophic (and may yet bring down his government), on one matter I am in full agreement – Jerusalem is not a settlement, Jews living there are not settlers, and the new-found Arab enthusiasm for Jerusalem after neglecting the city for centuries and more recently during the Jordanian occupation is nothing more than a dog-in-the-manger hankering after something they resent others having. Sheikh Jarrah, Ramat Shlomo, Har Homah are no more “settlements” than French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev, and half a dozen other suburbs built since 1967. Now the world is agog at the prospect of 20 (!!) apartments to be built on the site of a dilapidated hotel which was purchased by a Jew 25 years ago. Of course, if an Arab were to do the same that would be seen as a triumph of Palestinian revival – only Jews should not be allowed to replace this disused hotel even after they bought it.
Finally, of course – “murdering Mahmoud al-Mabhouh” suggests that Israel may have killed the next Nelson Mandela.
Not bloody likely, old chap. To paraphrase a famous comment about Dan Quayle and John Kennedy, I’ve never known Mabhouh or Mandela, but I’m confident that Mabhouh was no Mandela. Despite trying to justify himself, White’s statement about Jews murdering each other a great deal had nothing to do with Mabhouh, Ramat Shlomo, or Sheikh Jarrah, and has not prevented the next Mandela from arising.
No – what Mr. White still doesn’t get is that his comment is a lie. The truth is that we objected to his statement because it’s simply not true. Israelis do not murder each other a great deal, nor do they murder their enemies a great deal. Israel makes efforts no other country does to take out only the worst of its enemies with as little collateral damage as possible, and only after every other method has failed. It took 8,000 rockets from Gaza to get Israel to finally retaliate in force.
Where do people murder each other a great deal?
Iraq, Afghanistan, and, despite what you said on the BBC… Northern Ireland. That’s the truth. The people doing it are not Israelis, and those doing the murdering – a great deal, I might point out – seem to be British. Perhaps not on forged Israeli passports, but still doing it a great deal. And have been for centuries.
“Everyone knows that, don’t they”, Mr. White?
Indeed they do –in fact, Jo Good might have to respond in agreement … “mm…hmm…”
Chag Pesach Sameach – Happy Passover. “Next year in Jerusalem”.