Melanie Phillips is always "in your face" confrontational
Here she takes the fight to the British PM, who has been tagged in the media as anti-Jewish. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. And this piece is a little too hot for my taste - weakening the case, for example, by using phrases like Jewish "rightful inheritance". Ancestral homeland appeals mean nothing to the "left" and are already conceded by the "right" (at least in the U.S.). The essence of Phillips's argument, concerning the current situation, and concerning the historical background, is correct. And the latter is better supported by noting a few basic points.
1. In the period leading up to 1948 there was considerable support among the Arab residents of Palestine for Jewish immigration. Why? Because it led to profitable land sales (and increased the value of land owned) and because it led to increased employment and economic growth in the region. The Zionist appeal to the Arab population was precisely along these grounds touting peaceful and mutually advantageous coexistence. It is important to note that the sole basis of the steady Jewish immigration during the period of the Yishuv in the late 19th and early 20th century, was the voluntary and profitable sale of land to the Jewish immigrants, something practiced even by those Arab leaders who in public condemned the immigration, while, in private, profiting from it.
2. This general attitude became increasing undermined over time by extremist right wing Arab leaders, the most notorious of whom was Haj Amin, the grand Mufti of Jerusalem, one-time confidant of Hitler, who authored and broadcast a series of genocidal radio broadcasts in Arabic from Berlin. He became the most important Arab leader (of the AHC - the Arab Higher Committee), successfully and tragically drowning out (and violently suppressing) substantial Arab opposition to him. Under his leadership the Arab residents became increasing violent in their protests against the proposed partition of Palestine into two states - a Jewish and a Palestinian state (sound familiar?).
3. This violence was directed not only at the Jews, but also at the British occupiers of Palestine. The British response was to move more closely to the Arabs' position. Whether this was anti-Semitism, as it clearly was in some notable individual cases (for example Prime Minister Bevin), or whether it was expediency - not wishing to commit to resources and effort to confront the Arabs - is less important than that it meant the abandonment of the British commitment to the Jewish project of peaceful immigration and, in the more urgent situation, to the saving of countless Jewish lives. Either way the record is shameful, but perhaps understandably political.
4. Mr. Cameron is consciously or unconsciously echoing this performance.
Perhaps that is how Ms. Phillips might have argued.
PS. For source material on the above see Ephraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed Yale University Press, 2011.
From: lawrence rosenbloom [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:10 PM
Subject: Open letter to David Cameron. Worth a read
Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.
An open letter to the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
Dear Prime Minister,
I was interested to read that, when you met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, you said:
‘Britain is a good friend of Israel and our support for Israel and Israel's security is something I have described in the past, and will do so again, as unshakeable.’ I wonder, therefore, if you make a habit of threatening your friends? For you also said that unless Israel ‘engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’ with the Palestinian Authority, the more likely it is that Britain will endorse the ‘State of Palestine’ for which the PA is expected to seek recognition at the UN in September. This is not the behaviour of a friend so much as the kind of intimidation that is more reminiscent of a Mafia protection racket.
I wonder whether you might explain to both Britain and the Jewish people why you do not insist that Mr Abbas ‘engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’ by unambiguously renouncing – in both English and Arabic – his repeated assertions that his people will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, the casus belli of the entire conflict?
I wonder also if you might explain to both Britain and the Jewish people why you implicitly endorse the racist ethnic cleansing inherent in the putative ‘State of Palestine’ which the PA says it will declare – a state in which Mr Abbas has repeatedly declared that not one Jew will be allowed to live -- but which you have now threatened to support? I’m sure the British people in particular would be interested to know when you decided that racism and ethnic cleansing were part of your modernising programme for the Conservative Party.