Don’t laud Jewish defiance then ignore Israeli abuse
Western liberals prefer to damn ‘Islamofascists’ than make Israel face up to the consequences of its violent behaviour
All over Britain this week people will be confronted by the valiant face of Jewish armed resistance to terror; to whit, the rough-hewn - and to my mind, distinctively Anglo-Saxon - features of the actor, Daniel Craig, staring out at them from film posters.
Craig is starring in a new epic, Defiance, which tells the little-known story of a partisan band of Jewish fighters who, during World War Two, fought back against the Nazis from their hide-out deep in the forests of Belarus.
Apparently, after screenings in the Jewish neighbourhoods of Brooklyn, the audience has simultaneously wept and applauded this debunking of the stereotype of Jewish passivity in the face of violence. Yes, six decades on, no Jew need feel ashamed or impotent anymore.
Even our Foreign Secretary calls for a ceasefire with a fatalistic shrug
You don't need to be as English as Daniel Craig to appreciate the irony that just as one army of Jews are being lauded for their principled act of 'defiance', another is engaged in a more morally dubious feat of arms.
Nor do you have to be as much of a conspiracy theorist as some twisted Islamists to imagine that the producers of Defiance may have been encouraged to time the film's release to coincide with the IDF's invasion of Gaza; the Israeli government - and their supporters - have been engaged in a PR offensive for months now, to soften up Western opinion formers and the wider public, so that when the tanks began to roll we'd all accept it as just another scene in the epic tale of Jewish armed resistance to terror.
I'm not primarily concerned with the rights and wrongs of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict here - to my way of thinking the shards of this viciously shattered hall of mirrors will carry on stabbing at us all until the End of Days - but rather with the boundless willingness of so-called liberals here in Britain and in the US to forgive Israel's behaviour.
Coming from any other state, the collective punishment of a civilian population - first with the denial of food and medical treatment, then with bombs and bullets - would be strenuously condemned. Yet even when our Foreign Secretary calls for an immediate ceasefire he does so with a fatalistic shrug of the shoulders, as if to say, 'Well, what can you do?'
Of course, in David 'Helmet Hair' Miliband's case it's absolutely nothing; the impotence of the Quartet powers was never better demonstrated than by their selection of an envoy: not so much a has-been as a never-really-was, the Cheshire Cat of global politics, Tony Blair.
No, there's no room on the diplomatic stage for a Quartet - only the US soloist; which is why President-elect Barack Obama's silence is so depressing at this crucial juncture.
True, Obama set out his compliance to the pro-Israel lobby in the US a long way back on the campaign trail, when he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that under his presidency there would be no negotiation concerning Jerusalem, but still some hoped that he might show more mettle when it came to the actuality. Dream on.
The reality is that some liberals have become impotent apologists
It's a truism that the abused become, in turn, the abusers - but the generation of Holocaust survivors who were so influential in forming the militaristic cast of Israeli society have now quit the stage. Their children - and their children's children - are militaristic by nurture.
Still, a British rabbi interviewed about the anti-Israel demonstrations in London last weekend bemoaned the slackening grip that the Holocaust has on the political consciousness of the West; he pointed to a new wave of anti-Semitism that is engulfing Europe, as if this had no causal connection to any contemporary political realities.
There are also those liberals who cleave to the ugly neologism 'Islamofascism'. By pinpointing the anti-semitism, misogyny and authoritarianism of the extremists they can - in their own minds - justify attacks on Muslims who don't support our enlightened moral codes.
The reality is that they are impotent apologists, who, having no need for a fig leaf, have offered it to priapic militarists such as Ehud Barak and Dick Cheney.
Moreover, the truth is that AIPAC's donors and supporters are not those who were abused by the Nazis, but those who were comfortably thousands of miles away - their fanaticism born of a strange kind of survivor guilt. My mother was an American Jew, and she told me that there was very little awareness of the extent of the Holocaust in the States in the 1940s.
It is these people - who applaud the machismo of an English actor playing a mittel-European Jewish partisan - that are the huge and muscular tail that wags the Israeli dog; to face them down will require more defiance than Obama has shown so far - let alone Miliband.
'Defiance' is released in Britain on January 9. ·
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