Writing for the Daily Mail is more or less a guarantee of admission to my “oh shut up” list, but Melanie Phillips winds me up perhaps more than average. I can’t put my finger on specifics, but the general “the world is against me (and my carefully selected ‘majority’)” is as good a place to start as any though.
What particularly irks me, more and more in recent months, is the assertion that any questioning of Israel or Jews is Anti-Semitism. My studies in the Middle East are just beginning, and I know there’s much more complexity I haven’t got my head around yet. That said, I don’t think Israel should be granted all of the special ‘favours’ it seems to rely on, in the proven lobbying of other governments, and in the allowances of behaviours we in the West would be forced to condemn from many of their Arab neighbours. Of course, I know those Arab neighbours haven’t got the hottest track record when it comes to terrorism or outright aggression towards Israel either.
No side is without blame, and yet we’re not supposed to challenge the ‘rights’ of Israel to defend itself. Defence is one thing. Outright aggression (Lebanon, anyone?) is clearly not the same. I question both sides, I want peace on both sides, less needless death and more co-operation. But it has to apply to both, or I’m not being reasonable. To question Israel is not Anti-Semitism, and comparisons to Nazi Germany shouldn’t be bandied about simply for shock value.
I know that historically Jews have been poorly treated. As a Catholic (albeit lapsed) my heritage is fairly rife with persecution too. But I understand the magnitude of the Holocaust, how it must never happen again, how it is worse than even the imagination can stretch to. I hate the leaders of Iran and elsewhere who call for Israel’s annihilation. And yet, part of me wonders how this wasn’t the only possible result, after how Israel was created. Dispossessing another people of the land surely doesn’t make them any better than those they fight against? To place oneself so firmly in the midst of hostility seems like bad planning. Were the Palestinians just supposed to take it? I know the arguments, I know most of the history, but wasn’t there anywhere less contentious?
Still, history, politics and religion. Put them all together and how can you avoid trouble?