Category Archives: The Delegitimisation of Israel

Now that Russia has invaded Crimea …

sevastapol

Now that Russia has illegally annexed and occupied another country I fully expect to see the following:

Co-op members strongly pressing for a boycott of all goods made in the Crimea

Russian owned businesses to be picketed

Actors, filmmakers and performers to pressured into not going to Russia

Those same actors, filmmakers and performers to take out a full page advertisement in the Guardian denouncing the Russian government and expressing solidarity with the Ukraine

Performances by Russian orchestras at the Proms to be interrupted

EU to vote to label all goods made in Crimea

Russian speakers to be heckled and harassed at UK and US universities

Russian academics disinvited from speaking at UK universities and elsewhere

Russian military personnel and lawmakers involved with the annexation to be arrested on arrival in the UK

Trades Unions to vote to break ties with Russian counterparts

If these things all happen I will be less inclined to believe that similar measures carried out against Israel and Israelis are only antisemitism and not genuine political and humanitarian concerns.

Water, water, everywhere – the Palestinian Authority’s dirty little secret

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

drop-of-water-27261288549217SWMrI was recently impressed by this article by Haim Gvirtzman on the Times of Israel website.

Gvirtzman is a professor of hydrology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and a member of the Israel Water Authority Council.  He is also an advisor of the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee.

The article is titled “The truth behind the Palestinian water libels’ and shows how water is being used as a weapon by the Palestinian Authority to ‘besmirch’ Israel’s name. And it does this at the expense of its own people using tactics cleverly intended to present Israel to an easily believing world as the perpetrator of water injustice, a profligate over-user of scant resources.

Consequently, Israel is widely seen as using water to deny Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza a precious resource whilst ‘settlers’ use it to water gardens and fill swimming pools.

Thus, water is just another way the PA manipulates world opinion with lies and deliberate policies of denying resources to its own people in order to promote Machiavellian political attacks against Israel.

I urge you to read the entire article but here are some highlights:

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz has asserted that:

the amount of water available to the average Israeli unfairly overwhelms the amount of water available to the average Palestinian.

Under the Oslo Accords the Palestinians have the right to draw 70 million cubic meters from the Eastern Mountain Aquifer. But they do not use that resource fully having only drilled about one third of the 40 sites identified even though there have been numerous offers from the international community to assist with drilling.

If they were to do so the water shortage in the Hebron hills would be averted.

Instead, there is a deliberate policy to drill the Western Aquifer which provides water to Israel. This appears to be done as a political statement of entitlement rather than to solve a problem for the people the PA is supposed to represent.

There is a completely ludicrous absence of water leakage maintenance costing 33% of water taken.

They will not build water treatment plants despite this being a stipulation of Oslo. Result is that raw sewage flows into rivers and who gets the blame? Israel, of course. This is gross negligence as it spreads disease and is easily avoidable.

Other negligent actions include failure to irrigate properly, refusal to build desalination plants and generally refuse most help from outside. In other words, they choose to place their people in danger and in squalid conditions do they can point a finger of accusation against Israel.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority’s deleterious policies – as evidenced in the six facts listed above – are a function of the Palestinian water war against Israel. There is no real Palestinian desire to solve water problems; they prefer to perpetuate the water problems in order to besmirch the State of Israel. They view water as a tool with which to bash Israel.

The warlike strategy adopted by the Palestinian Authority regarding water explains several additional realities.

In addition, the PA do not charge people for water usage there is virtually no meterage, there is illegal drilling.

The sum total of the situation ….. is that the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is more interested in reducing the amount of water available to Israel, polluting natural reservoirs, harming Israeli farmers, and sullying Israel’s reputation around the world than truly solving water problems for the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are not interested in practical solutions to address shortages; rather, they seek to perpetuate the shortages, and to blame the State of Israel.

Unfortunately, President Schulz’s Knesset address, with its seemingly-straightforward but baseless accusations against Israel, suggests that the PA is succeeding in this effort to befuddle international observers and besmirch Israel.

…… it is worthwhile to consider a broader perspective on the water situation in the Middle East. The Palestinians live in the shadow of the State of Israel, a world superpower in terms of water technologies. Consequently, the Palestinians enjoy a relative Garden of Eden. Only in Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gulf States does sufficient, safe, drinkable tap water exist in 96 percent of households. Residents in almost every other country in the region suffer from terrible water shortages.

In Amman, the Jordanian capital, water is supplied to private homes just once every two weeks. In Syria, agricultural fields in the Euphrates Valley are drying up due to the upstream diversion of water by the Turks. In recent years (before the “Arab Spring” began), about three million farmers migrated from the Euphrates Valley to the outskirts of Damascus because their lands had dried up. In Damascus, too, the water running in the river beds, which used for drinking, is mixed with sewage. In Iraq, agricultural fields are drying up because waters upstream on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are being diverted by the Turks. There too, millions of farmers lost their lands. In Egypt, enormous amounts of water are lost due to flood irrigation. The Nile provides 30 times more water than Israel’s annual usage and Egypt’s population is just 10 times greater than Israel. Therefore, we would expect to see a water surplus. Nevertheless, Egypt suffers from severe hunger and thirst due to severe wastage of water. 

So the next time someone tries to persuade you that it is Israel who is oppressing the Palestinians using water as a means of that oppression, be forearmed with the contents of the article by professor Gvirtzman to rebut their lies.

The PA puts an albatross round the necks of its own people.

The lies they tell at St.James’s Church, Piccadilly, London

This is a cross post from Barry Shaw’s The View From Israel

antiisraelwallYasser Arafat defied the Christian tradition in Bethlehem, which had been respected and upheld under Israeli authority, by appointing a Muslim governor and engineered a Muslim takeover of the city council. He then put his stamp on this town by converting the Greek Orthodox monastery, next to the Church of the Nativity, into his official Bethlehem residence.

At great risk to his life, Pastor Naim Khoury, of the Bethlehem Baptists Church, exposed the developing threats to Christians within the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority. “People are always telling Christians to convert to Islam.”
His ministry is based on love and non-violence. He is also a strong advocate for Zionism based on God’s land covenant with Israel through Abraham.
Because of his views, his church has been bombed fourteen times, and he has been shot three times. He has been threatened by the Palestinian Authority to close the doors of his church which they consider as “illegitimate.”

This brave Christian priest needs and deserves the active support of church leaders worldwide. Instead, they boycott him and pick on Israel for their wrath, ignoring the human rights crimes of the Palestinian leadership whom they openly support. How twisted is that?

Elias Freij, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem at the time of the Oslo Accords in 1993, warned Israeli Prime Minister, Yizhak Rabin, to maintain control over his town. “Bethlehem will become a town of churches devoid of Christians if you transfer control to the Palestinian Authority.”
Israel caved in to international pressure, handed over Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority and, for the middle class Christian residents, their lives became threatened, and the mayor’s warning became the current Christian nightmare.

The St. James’s Church Christmas charade failed to mention the fear that pervades the shrinking Christian population. The fear of attack by Muslim Palestinians is personified by Joseph Canawati whose sister, her husband, and three children have fled to America.
“I want to leave but nobody will buy my business. I feel trapped. We are isolated,” he complained.

But the Piccadilly church leaders turn a deaf ear to his plea, or to the fear of death at the hands of non-Christian Palestinians in Bethlehem, such as that felt by Jeriez Moussa Amaro whose two sisters, Rada aged 24 and Dunya aged 18, were gunned down by Palestinian Muslims in their own home. Their crime was to be young, attractive, and wear Western clothes and no veil.

Sami Qumsieh, the general manager of “The Nativity,” the only Christian television station in Bethlehem, has received death threats and visits from armed gunmen. He is now ready to leave.
“As Christians, we have no future here.”

How sad it is that this church, the British Methodist Church, and many other Christian leaders are blindsided in their pursuit of a perceived Jewish enemy that they fail to come to the rescue, or campaign for, their co-religionists, persecuted by those who they actively and expensively support.

Other related articles

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/4511/major_london_church_and_its_wall_for_terrorism

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-bigotry-and-lies-of-st-james-church.html#.UsXgydJdWCM

http://cifwatch.com/2014/01/01/christmas-priorities-at-st-jamess-church-israel-security-wall-stunt-cost-30000/comment-page-1/

Two Unions and a Tribunal: Or ‘how I had my Jewishness defined for me’

This article was first published in ‘Israel and the World’ April 2013

Two recent cases in the UK and Ireland have highlighted the obsessive anti-Zionism that has seeped into the fabric of academic discourse.

Those who obsess about Israel, characterising that state in in the most pejorative of terms, are part of a broader left wing coalition for whom Israel is the new South Africa; a country which, by shedding Apartheid without shedding blood, inconsiderately deprived the Left of something to gather in Trafalgar Square about;  the cause célèbre that makes them feel good about their Socialist credentials once again.

This troupe of Israel-obsessed, Zionist-loathing, self-righteous self-delusionists find support and common cause with the even more obsessive Muslim and Islamist ‘Greens’, thus forming what has been called ‘The Red Green Alliance’.

Even though the views of the ‘Greens’ are about as unpalatable as a side order of Brussel  sprouts, when it comes to their views on Israel, and even though their anti-Israelism and pro-Palestinianism is often, if not invariably thinly veiled anti-Semitism, the Reds are happy to embrace and find common cause with their green brothers and sisters.

Why the Left should find common cause against a pluralist, thriving, innovative democracy and side with those who support and give succour to some of the most obscene regimes in the world is a mystery for which I have little explanation.

In an article by Joshua Muravchik titled “Enough Said: The False Scholarship of Edward Said”[1] there is, perhaps, an explanation:

Said rolled American racism and European colonialism into one mélange of white oppression of darker-skinned peoples. He was not the only thinker to have forged this amalgam, but his unique further contribution was to represent “Orientals” as the epitome of the dark-skinned; Muslims as the modal Orientals; Arabs as the essential Muslims; and, finally, Palestinians as the ultimate Arabs. Abracadabra—Israel was transformed from a redemptive refuge from two thousand years of persecution to the very embodiment of white supremacy.

This is the background against which two absurdities were recently consecrated by academe.

The first case was in Ireland, a cold-bed of anti-Israel activity and sentiment, and perpetrated  by those who clearly believe that the Palestinians are the new Fenians.

The Teachers Union of Ireland agreed an academic boycott of Israel and, thus, aligned themselves with the BDS (Boycott, Sanction, Disinvestment) movement which comprises a motley assortment of groups and individuals who ‘BDS’ no other country, nor who are interested in so doing. This alliance’s rhetoric is often laced with helpful suggestions to the Israeli people to take part in negotiations with themselves (as the other party continues to absent itself) to bring about the end of their own country in order to allow yet another Islamist, anti-Semitic terror state to replace it, all in the name of Human Rights and natural justice, not to mention International Law.

When this group is challenged to explain why they have chosen Israel and not, for example, Sudan or China or Syria or North Korea or Burma as the cynosure of their moral indignation-cum-compass, they can come out with absurdities such as this, reported in the Jewish Chronicle (12 April 2013):

The academic boycott of Israel imposed by the Teachers Union of Ireland is a “backhanded compliment”, the union’s general secretary has claimed.

John MacGabhann said the TUI “expected more” of Israel than it did of other countries and felt a “sense of disappointment” in the actions of successive Israeli governments.

“To a very significant degree, our union and members expect more of the Israeli government, precisely because we would anticipate that Israeli governments would act in all instances and ways to better uphold the rights of others,” he said.

I would bring Mr MacGabhann’s attention to one of the clauses of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism’s working definition of anti-Semitism:

Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

So, don’t take my word for it, the TUI decision is antisemitic. Apart from that, it’s downright stupid, which makes me worry about the future of Irish education if it is in the hands of those who try to find enough wriggle-room to excuse the enormity of their prejudices.

What is the corollary of expecting Israel to behave better than other countries? Why, it means the TUI expects less of other, unspecified countries. But don’t these inspirational academics, in the glory of their self-righteousness, realise that not only gives a free (moral) pass to Israel’s enemies, but it is profoundly racist. It also contradicts what, I would guess, is one of their own cherished principles; namely, international laws, norms of behaviour and the adherence to the principles of human rights  - which are not negotiable on the basis of ‘well, you know, we’re only Arabs, whadya expect?’ or ‘Come on, we are brown-skinned and clearly of inferior moral fibre, give us a break’.

If they can’t see how repugnant it is to expect more of Israel, and less of others, (and how pathetic an excuse for their own bigotry that is), then how can we possibly trust them to make a proper moral judgement on the rightness of BDS?

The second case was Jewish, Zionist Mathematics lecturer, Ronnie Fraser versus the University College Union.

Fraser accused the Union of harassment due to a number of incidents over the years where he felt that his support for Israel had led to his being bullied and victimised.

This is the same UCU which found that the Working Definition of antisemitism quoted above was not to their liking because it married Israel-bashing with antisemitsm and, although to be antisemitic is taboo even for a UCU academic, to be anti-Zionist is not. In other words, the definition got in the way of their attempts to fig-leaf their own prejudices. Here’s the bit where they felt an index finger pointing rather too close for comfort at their academic sang-froid:

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

‘Could include’, indeed. Context is all. Yet, in a judgement for this same UCU Fraser lost the case before an employment tribunal. He not only lost it, but one of the reasons he lost it was because the judge found that Jews do not understand their own Jewishness:

“..an attachment to Israel… is not intrinsically part of Jewishness”

So what is? An attachment to money and Christian blood?

As Prof. Geoffrey Alderman wrote in the Jewish Chronicle also on the 12th April:

“..I had only to consult my daily prayer book to reassure myself on this point”

Anyone who can make that statement with a straight face is either obscenely badly-educated (maybe they attended University College?) or they are malign in the extreme. Such a judgement is so ignorant that it smacks of the antisemitic form of anti-Zionism that the case was about in the first place.

So, it seems, Jews turned up in Israel because they though mosquito-infested swamps, 40°C, noisy neighbours, pitiless soil and desert  conditions were a worthwhile colonial enterprise. As opposed to, say, the bounty of Uganda or the forests of Madagascar, both thought, at one time, to be suitable dumping-grounds for Europe’s Jews.

The problem, you see, is the whole idea of ‘Jewishness’ and how the outside world cannot, at times, and often for its own ideological convenience, come to terms with the idea that for Jews the Land of Israel is not fundamental to their religion and culture – IT IS their religion and culture. It is as indivisible for Jews as the Trinity for Catholics or the Five Pillars for Islam.

To deny that connection, to divorce Jew from Judaism and The Land, is just another line of attack on Jews and Jewishness  and which leads to assaults on shechita (ritual slaughter) and brit milah (circumcision); and all in the name of animal welfare or human rights.

I’ll finish with words of author Howard Jacobson writing in The Independent[2] about the reaction  to Cast Lead (Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008/9) which typifies the level and tenor of attacks on Israel, which, I will remind you, is the homeland of the Jewish people:

“…the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred…

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth.”

Hélas in Gaza and other stories

You may have though not much has been going on in Gaza recently. That is, if you stick to the mainstream media.

When it comes to the BBC, my headline could have been ‘Clueless in Gaza’. Apologies to both John Milton and Aldous Huxley.

BBCWatch is running with a story which perfectly illustrates how propaganda against Israel works. First the lie, then the apology, or the short footnote hidden away on a page of a daily newspaper, or Goldstone saying if he knew then what he knows now, or a cartoonist saying ‘but I didn’t realise it was offensive’, or Ha’aretz issuing a ‘correction’.

The story I am referring to is about Omar Mashrawi. I’m sure you recall the heart-rending scenes as Jihad Mashrawi, a BBC employee at the time,  paraded the dead body of his son Omar through Gaza City during Operation Pillar of Cloud, Israel’s operation to stop rocket fire from Gaza.

John Donnison, the BBC correspondent on the ground wrote how the boy had been killed by a shell fired by the Israelis. Despite the evidence at the scene appearing to contradict this claim, or at least causing severe doubt, nevertheless, yet another Palestinian dead baby story was attributed to the Israelis.

Three months later we find the probable truth via no less than the UN HRC as the BBCWatch article tells us, and I quote extensively because I cannot improve on it:

On March 6th 2013 the UN HRC issued an advance version of its report on the November 2012 hostilities and blogger Elder of Ziyon bothered to read the whole thing. The report states on page 14 that a UN investigation found that:

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]

A footnote adds that the UN investigated the incident itself.

Omar Masharawi was the only 11 month-old infant killed on November 14th in the Zaitoun neighbourhood (although the woman killed at the same time was not in fact his mother as the UN report states, but his father’s brother’s wife; Hiba). 

The BBC used the story of Omar Masharawi to advance the narrative of Israel as a ruthless killer of innocent children. It did so in unusually gory detail which etched the story in audiences’ minds, but without checking the facts, and with no regard whatsoever for its obligations to accuracy and impartiality. BBC reporters and editors  – including Jon Donnison, Paul Danahar and the many others who distributed the story via Twitter – rushed to spread as far and wide as possible a story they could not validate, but which fit in with their own narrative.

It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it. Nevertheless, the people responsible for the fact that the unverified story was allowed to run – and that it was deliberately given such exceptionally extensive coverage – must be held accountable for their failure to even try to uphold the standards to which the BBC professes to adhere. 

Thus, Israel is demonised. And it is not only western journalists who do it, but Israeli ones too.

Ha’aretz published a story about how Ethiopian women entering Israel were given contraceptive injections. The point being that Israel, which insists it is not a racist, apartheid state, is trying to limit the birth rate of Africans because it is racist. Even at the time the story was rebutted by many sources.The explanation was that these were not long-lasting contraceptive jabs but reversible short-term ones and made at the request of the women for whom more conventional forms of contraception are taboo.

As a result the practice was stopped as being inappropriate.

Nevertheless, what do we find? yes, a plethora of reports telling the world how nasty those Israelis are to let black people into the country and then limit their fertility. The whole idea is nonsense anyway. If Israel were that racist, why spend so much time and effort bringing Ethiopian Jews into Israel in the first place?

And now Ha’aretz has not only given context to its story but has highlighted how its own journalism was hijacked by those with anti-Israel agendas.

 But the story has taken on a life of its own internationally. The words “forced” and “coercion” are being thrown around in the international coverage. Images of Mengele-level persecution of clueless, helpless victims being marched by force from camps to clinics to receive their injections have been conjured up, as the story has travelled from the Israeli media to the national mainstream media, to international and niche publications. The headlines run from the oversimplified to deliberately twisted:

Israel admits forcing birth control shots on Ethiopian women

Israel: Discrimination against Ethiopian Jews

Israel coerced Ethiopian women into taking contraceptive jabs

Israel Admits “Shameful” Birth Control Drug Injected in “Unaware” Ethiopian Jews

The most hostile coverage refers inaccurately to “sterilization” – conveniently ignoring the fact that Depo-Provera is a three-month birth control injection, for which women must voluntarily go to a clinic to receive the shots. It is insulting to the intelligence of Ethiopian women to believe that they did this for years at a time against their will. Certainly, if there was a nefarious plot to stop them from having babies, there would have been a more efficient way to do it.

Back in Gaza, if you recall, our blessed Prime Minister, David Cameron, once characterised Gaza as a prison camp whilst he was endearing himself to Turkish Islamist leader Recep Erdogan.

William Hague, our Foreign Secretary called on Israel to end the blockade.

So, no doubt they will both be much affected by the following facts:

COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) regularly reports on the number of truckloads of goods entering Gaza which continued even under rocket fire. http://www.cogat.idf.il/894-en/Matpash.aspx?Sad Our noble leaders will see that the Gaza prison camp received 400 truckloads of goods and 170 tons of gas this Thursday alone.

On Tuesday 144,310 flowers were exported from Gaza through Israel.

The people of Gaza should be reaping the reward of the quiet which has descended since their government stopped bombarding Israel. Yet, Messrs Hague and Cameron should also note the following:

On the 4th March the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, a major route for goods, was closed, not by Israel but by Hamas. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/HumanitarianAid/Palestinians/Hamas_closes_Kerem_Shalom_crossing_4-Mar-2013.htm

Over 70 trucks laden with food and other goods are currently waiting on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing for their Palestinian counterparts.

The crossing is currently not operating, as the Palestinian contractor responsible for the Palestinian side decided not to open the crossing today.

His decision stems from attempts by Hamas to replace the current contractor with one of their choosing. Hamas has been actively trying to push the Palestinian Authority out and take charge of the management of Kerem Shalom so that they may collect revenue from goods that enter Gaza.

These actions by Hamas endanger the current security arrangements and threaten the operability of the crossing.

If Gaza were so desperate for goods, why would Hamas close one of its lifelines in attempt to take control of the crossing replacing the Palestinian Authority contractor? Answer? it wants a kick-back for Hamas by operating it.

And there’s more bad news for those who find Israel solely responsible for the welfare of Palestinians whose government is determined to destroy the country that is most responsible for sustaining it. Egypt is destroying smuggling tunnels.

Yes, Islamist, revolutionary, Hamas-loving, Jew-hating Egypt is destroying the tunnels used for years by Gazans to smuggle everything from couscous to Mercedes and missiles.

The smuggling tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt are a security threat and must be destroyed, a Cairo court ruled on Tuesday, responding to a petition brought by a group of lawyers and activists in the wake of a cross-border attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards in August.

The Egyptians even flooded the tunnels recently.

So Messrs Cameron and Hague, where are your complaints to the Egyptians and to Hamas about the way they are turning Gaza into a prison camp, cutting off its routes for import and export?

No, we must only hear about what measures Israel takes to feed and sustain its enemies. All countries do that, don’t they? Supply their sworn enemies with food and power? Assad does it in Syria, yes? What? He doesn’t? Oh. So other countries across the world sustain the non-combatant populations of enemy countries and entities like the Sri Lankans looked after the Tamils in areas controlled by the Tigers?

Oh, I see, only Israelis have to be so generous or else it is a war crime and collective punishment. I understand.

I understand completely.

Why I’m not buying the Sunday Times This Week

Normally, by now, I am relaxing after a brisk walk to the local shops and reading my Sunday Times.

Recently, I was reading some old diaries and discovered that I was doing the Sunday Times crossword in 1969. I remember well when my association with that newspaper begun. They ran a series on the Kennedy assassination, something that has fascinated me all my life, and it began with that Sunday Times series of articles.

So for more than 40 years, on and off, I have read the Sunday Tomes. I like the News Review where, religiously, I do the crosswords, puzzles, chess problem and even try the bridge problem. It’s what Sundays are about.

Every week in the main paper there is a Gerald Scarfe cartoon. These are usually hard-hitting critiques of a political nature.

Last week, as I’m sure we all know by now, Scarfe and the Sunday Times editorial team presented us with this:Sunday Times Netanyahu cartoon larger 270113

 

So before I recall all the reaction to this cartoon, let may say that I am only now writing about it because such incidents are sometimes best contemplated once the response and counter-response has taken place because it can be very instructive where Israel and the Jews are concerned.

It took about one second for my first gut reaction. This was not a considered analysis of the politics or the fairness of the cartoon, my initial reaction was: “I think this may be anti-Semitic”. I did not say those words to myself. I felt it in my gut. All I could see was the world’s most prominent Jew with an evil expression and a sharp implement dripping blood and Palestinians dead or dying. My gut and my Jewish radar told me: “Blood Libel”.

Then this was followed by disbelief. Just a minute. This is Gerald Scarfe. He’s not anti-Semitic. The Sunday Times is not anti-Semitic. Am I reading this wrong? Am I too sensitive?

Then I read the words at the bottom. “Will cementing peace continue?”.  I didn’t understand. What was he saying? Is this the separation barrier? Is it a settlement being built? Then my gut reaction to the clear similarity with Nazi Jew-hate propaganda as seen the Der Stuermer, in 19th century Russian images and, sadly, today in the Arab and Iranian press, was reinforced by the unfairness of the cartoon. if this was the separation barrier, then it has saved thousands of lives. If it is a settlement then why show Palestinians being bricked up in it.

Then I realised that this cartoon followed on immediately from David Ward MP’s remarks equating Israel with Nazis on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. This image, echoing the blood libel and depicting Netanyahu as a murderous demonic figure was a further kick in the gut.

An immediate farrago ensued. What I had not even considered was that last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This was irrelevant to me. Didn’t enter my head when I looked at this cartoon, but, I guess, it was there in the background creating a feeling of general antipathy to Israel which was spilling over into casual and unthinking anti-Semitism.

So, Rupert Murdoch weighed in with an apology. The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council met with Martin Ivens, the acting editor of the newspaper and, before very long, an abject apology was issued.

The apology, although I am convinced was genuine, was a little ambiguous:

“I’m grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line. The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”

He appears to be apologising for the timing of the cartoon. He believes this is what gave offence. This is, perhaps, even worse because it is saying: “Sorry for depicting Jews as murderous Nazis on Holocaust Memorial Day, we should have waited a week and depicted them as murderous Nazis next week”.

Of course, it is not ‘the Jews’ being depicted, but Binyamin Netanyahu. Scarfe aimed his venom at him, not Jews generally. However, when you depict a Jew using anti-Semitic imagery, then your political point has gone beyond the person and extends to a whole people.

Scarfe also apologised saying he was unaware of the date the cartoon would appear and that he was ignorant of the Blood Libel. Never heard of it, he said.

This is what I wrote to local community leaders in an email last week which I have edited here to avoid repetition:

Scarfe’s response is interesting. Although I find it hard to believe that he is unaware of the blood libel I am inclined to believe him. I’ve never seen Scarfe as an anti-Semite or even anti Israel.

The interesting bit is that he is a well-educated man in his 70’s and he has never seen anything about the blood libel or understands Jewish sensitivity to blood (his apology was for the timing not content. Perhaps prompted by Ivens).

Yet his image so closely recalls and even references images from the 30’s and 40’s that he must, somehow, have subliminally stored away these images and inadvertently reproduced their tone right down to the demonic look and the dripping sharp instrument.

There must have been studies of how the Jew in European culture plugs in to folk memory. Many German cartoons were folklorish in nature. The Jew as a character from Grimm’s fairytales. This is how, I believe, someone like Scarfe can blithely reproduce anti-Semitic imagery whilst remaining, apparently, un-anti-Semitic.

….

I think we were right to object and the apology, although missing the point a little, is well-received. I shall be buying the ST again, but maybe not this weekend – maybe I’ll check the Scarfe cartoon first.

I should also note that there was much debate in the Jewish community in the UK and in Israel, Ha’aretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer denied it was anti-Semitic.

The reaction from Israel haters and an assembly of pro-Palestinian groups was also instructive. They generally missed the point accusing the Jewish Lobby of playing the anti-Semitism card to close down debate. They supported Scarfe and David Ward saying they were brave or righteous to point out Israel’s ethnic cleansing, genocide etc.

Others could not see the relation to Nazi imagery. Usually these people were not Jewish and did not have Jewish sensitivities. They not only could not experience my gut feeling – and I trust my gut when it comes to anti-Semitism – but they also missed the important point that not one member of the Jewish community said the cartoon should not be published or that criticism of Israel or its politicians in political cartoons was inadmissible.

It’s not the first time Israel supporters have cried ‘anti-Semitic’. Steve Bell of the Guardian also came in for heavy criticism.

Yes, cartoonists have the right to offend. Often that offence is deliberate and aimed at politicians at home and abroad. Judging the fairness of the image depends on your politics. It also depends on your experience. If you inhabit my world where Israel is being vilified disproportionately, where Israel is subject to obsessive UN criticism, where Jews and Judaism are under attack daily across Europe, then your skin’s thickness is subject to a thinning process to the point where if you prick us, we certainly do bleed.

The best thing I can say about this cartoon was the reaction of the Jewish community. It was in part over the top hysterical, as is often the case with certain elements of the community who will jump in and on anything vaguely anti-Semitic that moves. The leadership, though, did the right thing; they expressed dismay whilst expressing the right to publish and to free speech.

No-one died as a result of this cartoon. There were no demos across London or the world calling for Scarfe to be killed. No-one burned down the Sunday Times offices. Scarfe can sleep safe in his bed at night. He does not have to skulk from safe house to safe house with a police armed guard. No embassies were attacked or diplomats killed.

Cartoonists and journalists should be aware of  the sensitivities of all communities. This does not change their right to say and depict as they wish within the law.

I’ll be buying the Sunday Times next week. This week, I’ll register my own personal protest and deprive them of my £2.50.

Why David Ward’s remarks about Israel and the Holocaust are mainstream

David Ward MP is in a spot of bother with the Liberal Democrats.

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK he chose to make the following slanderous comparison between Israeli Jews and Nazi Germany:

” [he was] “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.

Even to rebut this piece of trash is like trying to respond to a ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ question, but here goes.

There are about a hundred things wrong with this statement so let’s dissect it.

Firstly he makes the telling conflation of Jews and Israelis. Is he really saying that, given his statement that ‘atrocities’ are and have been visited upon Palestinians that the Jews are responsible wherever they are in the world? Israel may be the nation state of the Jews but not all Jews live there or even identify with it.

Second:  he uses that trick which others have used before; to be ever so sorry about the Holocaust and to tell us how awfully the Jews were treated and then go on to accuse them of ‘not learning the lesson’ of the Holocaust as if it’s the victims who have a lesson to learn and not the perpetrators. it also conveniently avoids the fact that it is Israel’s and the Jews’ enemies who daily proclaim their wish to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people: Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian regime.

Third: He says ‘within a few years’ of the lesson that the world taught the Jews, they were themselves perpetrating atrocities. Oh, really. In the 19 years between the declaration of the State of Israel when it was attacked by armies of the Arab League intending to finish Hitler’s work, until 1967 when the same Arab League lost a war in 6 days and had to concede territory after attacking Israel once again, all the ‘atrocities’ were against the Jews.

Fourth: He says that these atrocities were perpetrated IN the new State of Israel. Is he referring to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled or were forced out as a result of the attack on Israel by the Arab League? Did atrocities occur? Of course they did; war always produces atrocities whether it be in Afghanistan, World War II or Vietnam. Israeli atrocities as regrettable as they were were certainly no greater than those of their enemies and, in my view, considerably less. However, an atrocity is an atrocity. But is Mr Ward, therefore, holding Israeli Jews to a higher standard than the rest of the world? If so, than this is actually a marker for anti-Semitism – not that I would accuser Mr Ward of that, that would be too simple. it’s far deeper than a irrational hatred, it’s a pathology.

Fifth: ‘continue to do so on a daily basis’. So Mr Ward is saying that Jews (presumably those in Israel) are daily committing atrocities. Like what? No doubt there is much Israel can be criticised for. No doubt that innocents die. But there is a context for this, whether you agree with Israel being in the West Bank, for example, or not what atrocities are here? Maybe he means settlers allegedly taking Palestinian land? Or, maybe some settlers have shot and even killed Palestinians. Is he referring to the awful ‘Price Tag’ actions which target Mosques and farmers’ crops. These may all be crimes, but are they atrocities like the Nazis committed atrocities? Do they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence? If so, half the countries of the world should have learned these lessons – why pick on Israel, of all countries, or rather ‘Jews’ as examples of atrocity perpetrators when he could have mentioned: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Congo. This is not an exhaustive list. Every one of those conflicts exhibit truly awful atrocities on a large scale of both genocide, and ethnic-cleansing as well as internecine and tribal warfare.

Even the USA and the UK have not been atrocity free in recent years. And this is to say nothing of Islamist atrocities, including those against Israel, which have been a part of everyday life for over a decade.

He also mentioned Gaza which was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the, er, Israelis eight years ago, since which time its inhabitants have set a course of suicide bombings and rocket fire against Israel. Its government, Hamas, has a charter which clearly sets out its mission to destroy Israel and the Jews. Nice. Clearly THEY didn’t learn the lesson of the Holocaust; or maybe they did, and the lesson was that if you threaten to wipe out the Jews no-one will believe you.  Meanwhile Israel continues to provide them with water, electricity, hundreds of truckloads of goods daily and treats thousands of Gazans every year for free in Israeli hospitals.

So  Mr Ward, the British provided the Germans with all that was necessary to sustain life whilst the Luftwaffe blitzed England, is that right, Mr Ward?

Yet it is Israel who has to learn the lesson of its own intended destruction.

Sixth: Mr Ward’s words imply strongly, and please read them very carefully, that Israel’s actions are, somehow, comparable to the actions of the Nazis. This is in itself actually an anti-Semitic marker, but let’s again exonerate Mr Ward from that accusation; I’m sure many of his constituents in Bradford would never countenance, let alone elect anyone with such views.

So let’s look at what characterised the Nazi’s atrocities against Jews (and here I also have to mention Roma, Gays and the mentally ill etc. who, it is presumed, have indeed learned the lessons of their experiences in the Holocaust and would never commit a single atrocity against anyone, ever again, as a result, their all being very special super-human people who inherited the no-atrocity gene from their forbears, whereas the benighted Jews did not).

Please, Mr Ward, show me the death camps, the labour camps; show me the ghettos (and, no, Gaza is not a ghetto, it’s a political entity which happens to be an outclave of the Palestinian Authority thanks to Egypt cutting it loose some time ago). Show me the starving millions; the cattle trucks; the gas chambers; the denial of paid work; the laws. Show me the death pits, the disease, the torture, the summary executions of innocents – show me the genocide, Mr Ward.

So, Mr Ward has knee-jerked his anti-Semitic trope, inspired as he was by Holocaust Remembrance Day which sticks in the throat of certain people on the Left in British political classes, because their favourite victims, the Palestinians, engineers of their own fate, and themselves as anti-Semitic as they come, don’t figure in this national breast-beating for the wrongs done to the Jews and others. They cannot abide that the Jews should garner a single drop of sympathy or that maybe some people might just begin to figure out why the Jews need their own country and justify defending it against those who are themselves inspired not by Holocaust Remembrance Day but by the perpetrators of the Shoah, the Nazis, to whom Mr Ward so egregiously compares the Jews.

Some have said that Mr Ward is playing to his Muslim constituents gallery. If this were true it would be a calumnious attitude towards them in that it implies that Muslims in his constituency would be more likely to vote for him because he accuses Jews of behaving like Nazis. After all, Mr Ward is not George Galloway.

All this goes to show that, in the UK today, you can get away with (give or take a reprimand) slandering Israel – even on the eve of a day intended to remind us what such attitudes can lead to.  Such views are now mainstream because the public has bought into the anti-Israel narrative to such a degree that they will even believe that Israelis behave like Nazis thus demonstrating not only ignorance of Nazis but also Israelis.

 

 

#Stoptherockets

#StopTheRockets is the Twitter hashtag promoted today by the incomparable @avimayer.

Avi has relentlessly been using this hashtag with his own barrage of tweets to get it ‘trending’.

Avi’s tweets point out that rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza into Israel which illicit a response from the IDF do harm to both sides, especially children.

The context for this is more than 100 rockets fired from Gaza in the last 2 days. Some of these rockets have hit towns, cities and kibbutzim in Israel causing damage to buildings, shock but no casualties.

As is often the case Hamas and its allies in Gaza say that this is all in response to Israeli aggression. A 13 year old boy was killed and there are reports that a funeral cortege was hit by the IDF.

These in turn were in response to a prior attack on the border fence where a large explosive device was detonated injuring Israeli soldiers and later an anti-tank round was fired at an IDF vehicle seriously injuring two soldiers.

The scale of the rocket attacks is unprecedented of late and Israel is in the usual place between a rock and something hard because it’s damned if it responds and it’s damned if it does not.

What has been significant on Twitter is that the Hamas apologists are out in force. For them, anything is justified as ‘resistance’. The argument is that Israel is strong and is oppressing Gaza whereas they are weak and desperate. Therefore – all is justified.

The tortuous moral knots that these apologists tie themselves up in was exposed by a tweet to me after I asked everyone to agree that firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian targets is a war crime. At least a dozen people retweeted me.

One person chose to respond as follows:

“@RayPCook how many civilians have been killed from the rockets fired from Gaza?”

My response was:

“what a ridiculous question which completely exposes the bankruptcy of your moral position”

The response back:

“@RayPCook can you tell me why it us ridiculous? Or is this also a morally bankrupt question?”

And this conversation continues.

Does anyone else out there understand why the question is morally bankrupt?

Ok. In case not, here goes.

As no Israelis have been killed, the implication is that either it’s not a crime to fire at them or that these rockets are just a few squibs put up by the poor defenceless Islamist Jew-haters in Gaza. In other words, regardless of the intention of the rockets, if no-one is hurt, then it’s ok.

The corollary is that if someone were killed, would it then suddenly not be ok?

The ridiculous question avoids the moral and legal aspect of indiscriminate fire at civilians. This same person, no doubt, would be bleating about Israeli war crimes if Israel were to launch a two day barrage against Gazan civilians.

He/she may believe this is exactly what Israel has done. So if he/she and other like minds believe it’s wrong for Israel to do it (and I don’t believe they do) then how can they justify it if Gazans do it.

Let’s say Israel launched 100 rockets at Khan Younis and no-one was killed – that would be ok, would it?

This is the logic of the cesspit where Hamas apologists spend their pitiful lives swilling around in moral equivalence, hypocrisy and bigotry.

The sad thing is, they don’t see it. And when it’s pointed out to them, they have no good, that is, moral answers. That’s because when it comes to Israel they are immoral. Their ideology or their twisted world-view or their Jew-hatred taints their thinking.

Update: in my eagerness I failed to mention that people have been injured by this rocket fire and that could easily have been fatal.

Also, one of the reasons why Israelis suffer few casualties in these attacks is because every Israeli either has or has access to a bomb-proof room and air-raid warnings sound, often giving people a matter of seconds to take cover.

In addition, during barrages, schools close, life is curtailed for hundreds of thousands of people in the range of these rockets. Unlike their jihadi adversaries, Israelis value life not death. They don’t hide behind human shields, schools, religious buildings or hospitals.

C of E ignores violence against Christians whilst slating Israel

Stuart Palmer (haifadiarist.blogspot.co.uk) has recently responded to a letter on the Church of England Newspaper to a letter writer who blames the ills of the Palestinians completely on Israel.

Stuart has been kind enough to allow me to reproduce his letter.

I thought this letter makes a number of points the C of E and, indeed, all Christians who are so quick to blame Israel for everything bad about the Middle East East conflict.

Sirs,

Re Jeremy Moodey’s analysis “A Question of Bias on Israel-Palestine”, it is beyond belief that the writer can lay the blame 100% on the side of Israel. I do wonder whether he has ever visited the region and sat down to have coffee with the Palestinian youth in Bethlehem or Jerusalem. It may surprise him to know that they are supportive of Israel and would prefer to be part of the Israel success story rather than the dictatorial, fragmented and corrupt Palestinian Authority.

And while Moodey is making the case for the Palestinians, he does not seem to care what is happening to the adherents of his own Christian religion in the area.

a)        The war on Christianity and its adherents rages on in the Muslim world. In March alone, Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic law authority decreed that churches in the region must be destroyed; jihadis in Nigeria said they “are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women”; American teachers in the Middle East were murdered for talking about Christianity; churches were banned or bombed, and nuns terrorized by knife-wielding Muslim mobs. Christians continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for allegedly “blaspheming” Islam’s prophet Muhammad; former Muslims continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for converting to Christianity.

To understand why all this persecution is virtually unknown in the West, consider the mainstream media’s well-documented biases: also in March alone, the New York Times ran a virulently anti-Catholic ad, but refused to publish a near identical ad directed at Islam; the BBC admitted it will mock Jesus but never Muhammad; and U.S. sitcoms were exposed for bashing Christianity, but never Islam

b)        Dozens of Gaza Christians staged a rare public protest this month, claiming two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and were being held against their will. The small but noisy demonstration showed the increasingly desperate situation facing the tiny minority. Protesters banged on a church bell and chanted, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”

Since the Islamic militant Hamas seized power five years ago, Christians have felt increasingly embattled, but have mostly kept silent. There are growing fears among Gaza Christians that their rapidly shrinking community could disappear through emigration and conversions.

Their numbers appear to have shrunk from some 3,500 to about 1,500 in recent years, according to community estimates. They are a tiny minority among 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, most conservative Muslims. “If things remain like this, there’ll be no Christians left in Gaza,” said Huda Al-Amash, mother of one of the converts.

c)        From a Christian friend in the UK in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, she wrote that:  “I, for one, am not prepared to fund the activities of such as Dr Dinnen or the Synod whilst they embark on an unjustified crusade, out of all proportion in comparison to so many urgent issues in the world, against this legitimate, democratic country. Israel makes no claims to be perfect, like ourselves, they make mistakes. However, it is a country  which subscribes to the same sets of values and rights as ourselves, and is a beacon in an area of the world which is full of ‘despots, tinpots and crackpots’ and deniers of equal human rights for women, homosexuals and those of different faiths. 

Hence my decision to terminate my standing order. I suspect that there are many other Christians who share my opinions but most worryingly, also many more who do not fully know the facts but take their cue from the Church’s stance. Unfortunately this misguided stance is yet another example of the Church concentrating on the wrong issues and smacks of moral cowardice, dubious motives and delusion. I for one find it extremely depressing”.

Meanwhile the Christian community in Israel is flourishing, a testament to the open society in which we live, but, of which, Mr Moodey is totally ignorant or perhaps chooses to ignore. Let him come and visit the most multi cultural city in Israel – Haifa – and see for himself.

The 2012 Olympic opening ceremony in London – a Guide for the Perplexed

The ceremony was a complete triumph for Danny Boyle, his team, the performers and participants and everyone in the UK. Well done to all. This was a moment of pride in a time of worry and concern.

The negatives: carpers and critics have pointed out a Utopian view of Britain, a socialist agenda and a paean to multiculturalism. All this may be true. Yes, the ceremony did not tell us about the problems with the NHS, the railways, housing or social unrest. Please tell me any Olympic ceremony in the past which dwelt on the negatives.

The Olympics is not just a big athletics meeting as Peter Hitchens has written in his inimitable lugubrious and Scrooge-like style. It is a festival of the human family. Flawed, yes, nevertheless it aspires to show us the best of ourselves and to make us feel good about who we are and what we can be. We all know the negative aspects of human behaviour and these are very much on show at the Olympics. So what’s the harm in trying to inject some inspiration, some honest sentiment, national pride?

Israel: I have already written about the IOC’s refusal to remember the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches and a German policeman at the Munich Olympics in 1972. This omission was highlighted by a brief silence for the dead of all conflicts and a fitting tribute to the victims of the 7/7 London bombings which occurred the day after the Olympic bid was won.

One view is that if this had been commemorated it could have resulted in the walk out of Arab and Muslim states and protests at the ceremony itself. So best not to highlight Israel’s isolation. I don’t agree: if there are still people on this planet who believe that kidnapping, hostage-taking and murder and the desecration of the Olympic ideal are not a heinous crime, whatever the excuse or motivation, then the countries that those people represent should be banned from competition.

The Lebanese judo players requested a barrier be placed between them and the Israeli team at their practice venue before the games. A Tunisian competitor who was scheduled to compete against an Israeli has developed a mystery affliction and withdrawn. Indeed, I expect the Israelis to find that many Muslim and Arab competitors are afflicted not by a mystery disease but an ancient and, apparently, incurable one – Jew Hatred. What other country now or in the past has had to put up with this nonsense. The IOC should act against countries which will not compete with Israelis or anyone else on political grounds. I seem to recall that the two Koreas once played a World Cup match and so did the two Germanies before reunification. Iraq played Iran, too, at football.

Only Israel is so monstrous a nation that to even make eye contact with its nationals is enough to afflict your immune system.

But back to the ceremony.

What I really loved about it was that it catered more for the Brits than outsiders. It was full of references and in-jokes which would have completely baffled all but the most serious Anglophiles (or should that be Brittanophiles?). It was the quirky, British TV comedy aspect of it and the fact that we ‘got it’ and others wouldn’t that made it special.

They said Bejing could not be bettered. What Boyle did was not to try to compete with what was essentially a high-tech extravaganza. He completely changed the paradigm; indeed, he subverted the whole accepted notion of what an opening ceremony should be.

For me the highlight came early. Sir Kenneth Branagh emerged from a horse-driven London omnibus as Isambard (which the BBC commentator strangely pronounced ‘Eisembard’) Kingdom Brunel (what a glorious unBritish name that is) replete with signature cigar and stovepipe hat. The look on Branagh’s face was a mixture of pride, self-esteem and wonder. He proceeded to the grass mound at centre of the stadium and declaimed in the best traditions of British Shakespearean theatre:

‘Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again’

Branagh’s rendition, especially those last nine words, was spine-tingling. I’ve listened to it four times already and it never fails to send shivers down my spine.

Branagh’s choice as Brunel was masterful and his performance perfection. These are the words of Caliban in Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. The conflation of Brunel as Caliban was strange, but worked. Better Caliban than the Taliban, you might say.

In this context it is a whimsical reference and welcome to the British Isles, even, perhaps its weather. It is, essentially, an invitation to behold a dream sequence, a journey of the imagination which we are about to encounter. And surely the Olympics contain that sense of awe and wonder, fear and trepidation which pass so quickly and become as if a dream of remembered common experience. This was a brilliant and deeply moving moment accompanied by the soaring music of Elgar (Nimrod from the Enigma Variations) – who else. Kitsch? Of course, but wonderful kitsch.

Perhaps, only those of us with a true British nervous system could be moved by this combustive association of Bard, engineer par excellence and imperial music-making.

Other highlights were the unique participation of the Queen in the humour of the opening. Arriving by parachute, apparently, with Daniel Craig in his James Bond persona. Rowan Atkinson and the Chariots of Fire sequence with an ageing Mr Bean hamming it up in true Brit fashion.

I can understand criticism of the NHS sequence where Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee seem to have taken over Great Ormond Street. A clever conflation again of the JM Barrie Peter Pan legacy, the world of children’s books (even JK Rowling put in an appearance) and those NHS antics. The NHS sequence would be anathema to Americans who can’t understand how or why the State should provide something for nothing. And there are many in this country who would agree. But the NHS is a major presence in the lives of the British, for better or for worse and a cornerstone of post War Socialist Britain which even the Tories have pledged to support. Yet, it does seem a little strange to make it part of an Olympic opening ceremony.

I could have done without Sir Paul McCartney. Love him as I do, he is now past his singing sell-by date as he demonstrated at the Diamond Jubilee.

I urge you to replay this ceremony and pause the action frequently to appreciate the richness of texture and the multitude of cultural references woven into the tapestry of the production:

Wind in the Willows, Eastenders, a glimpse of Olympic medallists of bygone years, Pink Floyd, Fawlty Towers and, gloriously, the Rugby Union national teams woven into the national songs of the constituent elements of the United Kingdom.

And then the gobsmackingly awesome forging of the Olympic rings and the Up Helly Aa finale of flame lighting adding a certain Niebelung feel to the occasion which is not inappropriate given the country’s Germanic, Celtic and pagan roots. Even the uprooting of the tree on the replica Glastonbury Tor had a whiff of Yggdrasil about it. It all came perilously close to Nuernberg in the 1930s but kept enough distance to keep such thoughts in the background.

Now then. Shami Chakrabarti. WTF! Never mind, the surreal experience of Shami, Ban Ki Moon and Muhammad Ali in the same shot made it all worthwhile.

I love the atmosphere at these games. I love the Benny Hill music amid the soft porn sand pit that is the Beach Volleyball arena on the hallowed ground of Horse Guards Parade. I love waking up to see archery at my old stamping ground of Lords Cricket Ground and I love the sheer incongruity of an Olympic cycle race through West London. I love the Americans not understanding it all and insisting on renaming things such as The Tower Bridge.

It’s bonkers, it’s charming it’s the Olympics as an end of pier show but it’s British and it makes you proud.