Sunday, July 30, 2006

Anyone for "peace in our time"?

It is not anti-semitic to condemn as disproportionate Israel’s recent military retaliation in Lebanon and Gaza.
It is anti-semitic to deny the holocaust or the betrayal of jews by their fellow citizens in most occupied European countries during WWII.

It may not be anti-semitic but it is certainly illogical to deny Israel’s right to treat the public statements of politicians such as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as more than mere rhetoric.

The jews have learned, to their cost and our collective European shame, that sometimes threats of extermination are actually real. Sadly, they have also learnt the hard way that the only people they can ultimately rely on in a crisis are themselves.

The failure of the international community or the UN to take any action against the Iranians for these public pronouncements by their President suggests that such sentiments do not merit much by way of outrage. Shades of pre-war Germany again.

It is not undemocratic to denounce President George Bush despite his democratic mandate achieved in two elections. Both his election and the ability to denounce his electoral success are integral components of the democratic system. Yet those who most vehemently deny his legitimacy are the very ones who demand that Israel respects the democratic choice of the Palestinians and deal with Hamas.

It is undemocratic to use a democratic electoral system to legitimise a political philosophy of “the ballot box and the bullet”, as both Hamas and Hizbollah have done. Again, the Jews know, from the success of the Nazi Party in the German elections of 1933, that a democratic process is no guarantee of a democratic outcome.

It may not be anti-semitic but it is certainly illogical to demand that Israel negotiate with groups whose stated position is the elimination of the Jewish state from the face of the earth. How exactly do you negotiate terms for your own extermination?

Those who argue that Hamas are the democratically elected government of the Palestinians and, as such, the Israelis are bound to negotiate with them might just as well claim that the Nazis were the democratically elected government of Germany and were therefore entitled to pursue any policy they chose to with regard to ethnic or religious minorities.

The seemingly intractable dispute in the Middle East is an infuriatingly complex mix of right and wrong on both sides, fuelled by the ongoing interventions of regional powers who often seek to use it as surrogate cockpit to fight the West in general and the US in particular, rather than a pursuit of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. With all the oil wealth in the Middle East, how come the Palestinians are so impoverished? Where is evidence of financial support from their arab/islamic neighbours?

This problem will not be resolved through the barrel of a gun but neither will it resolved by the pious platitudes of mealy-mouthed, hand-wringing liberals (picture Michael D Higgins) who view the world through rose-tinted spectacles and promote no solution which would give Israel long-term security from organisations such as Hizbollah.

These are the very people who would happily vote for Chamberlain-style appeasement of terrorism and fundamentalism. Remind me - just how long did “peace in our time” last?

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