Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Once again, we Israelis – or some of us, anyway – have worked ourselves into a tizzy because we think some foreign potentate isn’t giving us the verbal respect we deserve.
This time it’s the Queen of England. A recent article with the titillating title, “Queen blasted for not visiting Israel” chronicles the whole thing. It’s a long piece – a speech, actually – given by historian Andrew Roberts at an annual meeting of the Anglo Israel Association in London. It’s actually a scathing indictment of British foreign policy regarding Israel, past and present, the least important of which is that the Queen has never visited here.
The culprit behind her 57 years of boycott, Roberts claims, is the British Foreign Office which is heavily staffed by Arabs – which is interesting, because that same exact situation exists in the US. There, in the bowels of the State Department, the “Arab desk” has been in control almost as long.
I recommend reading the whole piece -- http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1260447430804&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
The speech is important because of the richness of historical information about British policy vis a vis Jews and Israel, even though the inflammatory title is the least of it.
I almost skipped it myself – basically, I don’t care one whit if Betty Windsor never decides to put her dainty little foot on our holy land. If she were to come, it would just be a huge outlay of Israeli tax dollars to keep the ageing monarch safe and comfortable. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have any particular animus toward the Queen. It’s just that I don’t think that by forcing someone to be nice to us, to MAKE them say nice things about us, let alone pay a tributary visit – accomplishes anything.
Are we so insecure that we need to have people who basically don’t like us, pander to us anyway, wax poetic about how much they love and respect us? Why do we need false words emanating from the proverbial forked tongue to make us feel worthy?
Funny – this makes me remember one of my aunts. Her candor blew me away – she’d say, “If there’s some I don’t like, I’m always careful to be especially nice to them so they won’t know.” Of course that always left you in a quandary: when she was acting especially friendly, was it because she was feeling particularly loathsome toward you just then? It's unsettling -- probably precisely what she intended.
But that’s what many of us here seem intent on doing – forcing someone to be nice to us, when we know, and they know, they are not our friends. What’s to be gained? Now we’re carrying on because the Queen hasn’t visited us. I can’t imagine why any of us should care.
All that said, there's one paragraph in Robert’s speech that’s a treasure – simple truth, perfectly stated:
“It seems to me that there is an implicit racism going on here. Jews are expected to behave better, goes the FO thinking, because they are like us. Arabs must not be chastised because they are not. So in warfare, we constantly expect Israel to behave far better than her neighbors, and chastise her quite hypocritically when occasionally under the exigencies of national struggle, she cannot. The problem crosses political parties today, just as it always has. William Hague called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2007, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists.
In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans -- twelve times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?”
There is it: the unequivocal truth behind all the Anglo ‘tough love’ (as the Community Organizer, may his name be erased, put it) toward Israel. Anglo countries like the US and Great Britain come down hard on Israel because we seem familiar to them. Arabs, who have more exotic personal attributes, are treated with greater sympathy.
That’s racism, pure and simple – what Roberts, whether he’s channeling Algore or not, calls, “an inconvenient truth”.
So let the Queen refuse to visit Israel – doesn’t bother me at all. What she could better spend her time doing is working to clean up the endemic racism in Britain's' Foreign Office. Just as someone should in the US State Department.