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IV

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism attempts to deal with the accusation that Israel is a racist endeavour. Obviously a distinction needs to be drawn between the foundation of the state and the conduct of its government. The Basic Law approved this summer by the Knesset has rightly aroused concern at its treatment of the sizeable Arab minority in Israel, including the Druze, who have strongly protested their loyalty to the state. The law is both unnecessary and, particularly in its treatment of the Arabic language, an insult to a great many citizens of Israel who in the nature of things cannot identify with a flag bearing the star of David or the Zionist dreams of the national anthem, Hatikva (“The Hope”). But to argue that Israel has enacted a racist law does not make “the circumstances around its foundation” racist, as Jeremy Corbyn was still insisting on the day that the NEC approved the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Now, Israel is indeed a state that owes its foundation to racism — to racism that went far beyond vulgar smirks or social rejection or even ghettoisation, to industrial mass extermination on a scale never before witnessed on earth. That is to say, it owes its foundation to racism directed against Jews, not to racism disseminated by and among Jews. It is also a perversion of the history of the state of Israel to argue that it was not founded legitimately; after all, as the ITN News helpfully pointed out in a lead story, it owes its birth to the United Nations, even if its relationship with the UN has soured over the years. For Corbyn to insist that “the circumstances around its foundation” were racist is to wipe off the record the awful dilemma of those who had survived Nazi persecution and were in desperate need of a homeland after 1945. These were not white supremacist colonists but homeless and often destitute refugees, the sort of people whom, in all the rest of the world, Jeremy Corbyn is keen to support and defend. To them must be added the 750,000 Jews who left Arab countries for Israel, often following violent attacks and increasing discrimination. Yet again, he displays a sort of negation of Jewish history and experience, a lack of pity for an oppressed people that sits very awkwardly with his sympathy for just about every other oppressed people.

It is true that Israel’s War of Independence was accompanied by the flight of very large numbers of Arabs and that a good many of these refugees were coerced into leaving; and it is true that very many of these refugees lived in unacceptable, miserable conditions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as in a number of Arab states. They were tragic victims of the creation of Israel; their own response was to develop a stronger sense of their own group identity, as Palestinians rather than just inhabitants of southern Syria or the Arab Levant, often carefully observing the Zionist movement and developing a rival national story.

Take, for instance, Nur Masalha’s recently published Palestine: a Four Thousand Year History, an attempt to prove that the entire land belongs to its only original inhabitants, the Palestinians, and that their history of statehood goes back millennia. Dealing with ancient Palestine, Masalha, by origin an Israeli Arab, tries to show that the Philistines created a cultured and successful state within the land that eventually took their name, passing over with embarassment the easily demonstrable fact that they were not “native” Palestinians but migrants from the collapsing world of Bronze Age Greece and the Aegean — the warriors of Agamemnon and Menelaus, in effect. Delving deeper into the book, I was intrigued by the attention he gives to the ruler of Galilee in the early 18th century, Dahir al-Umar, especially since one of my Sephardic ancestors worked closely with Dahir in the resettlement of Tiberias.
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amcdonald
October 12th, 2018
12:10 PM
Today on BBC Politics Live we were actually presented with an accurate, short but parsimonious summary of the Brexit/Corbyn/Islam war. Toby Young,the UKIP leader , a photo of Tommy Robinson with a group of army cadets,a clip from last night`s Newsnight about the predatory muslims raping white girls, and the dogmatic assertion by the female presenter that Islam is a religion not an ideology. She doesn`t wear a BBC burka but she is one. Andrew Neil will be presenting Sharia Politics Live next ?

Lawrence James
October 7th, 2018
10:10 AM
Jewish settlement in Palestine was approved by the last Ottoman sultans and confirmed by the Balfour declaration made shortly before British, Indian, Dominion and French forces conquered the province. Jewish settlement was, therefore, legitimate Before and after the Allies arrived,and there was no lack of Arabs of the effendiya class willing to sell land to the incomers. A small but important point to add to a lucid and formidable article.

amcdonald
October 4th, 2018
2:10 PM
The 17.4 million who voted Leave are the intelligent majority. Theresa May`s dance and speech hit all the right notes. She`s doing the 17.4 million proud and will make a success of it all domestic and foreign. Hard luck for `Islamised` Jeremy Corbyn. If it ain`t got that swing it don`t mean a thing.

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