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America, Israel and the Bizarre Stories That Ended My Year
Last uploaded : Wednesday 1st Jan 2003 at 01:59
Contributed by : The Editor



Some of the news stories that have rounded out this year have ranged from the depressing to the downright bizarre.

One that stands along the cusp of ?depressing to bizarre? is the tale of 59-year-old American film director Larry Clark, whose production, ?Ken Park,? was withdrawn from its premiere at the London Film Festival in November when he tried to choke his British distributor, 47-year-old Hamish McAlpine at the fashionable Charlotte Street Hotel restaurant. What is truly remarkable about this story is that Clark, despite, according to the British media, 'a history of violence,' emerges as my hero because he lost his cool when McAlpine began uttering anti-American abuse at the dinner table. (Where have you read this before? D?j? vu? How many times on this site have I lamented the abuse received by Americans from enraged Brits?)

It transpires that Clark, who was eventually taken to a police station and held for four hours, assaulted McAlpine when the latter began to make anti-US remarks when September 11th was mentioned. Later, Clark told ?The Observer? newspaper, ?I?d never normally fight someone -- it?s not in my nature.?

Well, if McAlpine was half as hurtful, boorish and offensive as so many Britons have been post-September 11th about the USA, then he got what any self-respecting American male would dish out: according to witnesses Clark threw a punch, knocked over the table and jumped on the distributor and had his hands around McAlpine?e throat before the two were extricated from each other. Well, good for him! How I would have loved to have throttled a few people since September 11th! Imagine how well-inclined British folk would have felt if, after the first wave of the Blitz, Americans had said ?Good! They are getting what they deserve! Hundreds of years of British imperialism and colonialism punished at last! Hope Adolf gives it to them in the neck a few more times!?

Larry Clark is my ?unsung hero? of 2002 -- he has never won an Oscar but he has shown his pride in being an American. This is a concept I cannot explain to non-Americans. In fact, in the new wave of Leftism in America that hates the memory of poor Todd Beamer because ?Let?s Roll? is too Bush-y patriotic, (would they prefer 'God is great,' the shout of the suicide bomber?) I have even found it difficult to explain to fellow Yanks the fury I experience when my remarkable country is slaughtered by those who come from nations with equally flawed histories.

Just as I boil when Israel is criticised out of proportion to the idiocies perpetrated by the Sharon regime -- simply because Israel, like the USA, is possessed of attributes that far outweigh its misdemeanours -- so do I fume when non-Americans vilify a nation that was attacked just fifteen months ago.

Moving on to other stories that ended 2002, I am dismayed to see that academic boycotts of Israel continue apace in the United States and around the world. Following in the footsteps of Professor Mona Baker, one Michael Sinnott, of University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, (he is described as a ?professor of paper science?), wrote to Professor Stephen Greenblatt of Harvard, who , in turn, had criticised Prof Baker for her firings of Israeli academics. In an account detailed in ?The Daily Telegraph? of 29 September 2002, Prof Sinnott is quoted as having written : ?.[Israel?s] atrocities surpass those of Slobodan Milosevic?s Yugoslavia. Uniformed Israeli troops murder and mutilate Palestinian children. ..With the recent crop of atrocities the Zionist state is now fully living down to Zionism?s historical and cultural origins as the mirror image of Naziism?Zionist atrociousness has been slower to develop, but victims learn from their victimisers, and with the atrocities in Jenin, Israel is about where Germany was around the time of Kristallnacht.?

Self then went on to berate the ?Jewish lobby? and defends the poor ?browbeaten? victims of said lobby in the United States (by the way, there is no such thing: Jews are amongst the tiniest minority in the USA and their vote is of little importance to politicians. The safety of Israel is a pragmatic one made by successive administrations who seek to keep strategic access to the Gulf in perpetuity for the West.)

Prof Sinnott eventually apologised to Prof Greenblatt, but his original invective gives an indication of the venom reserved by so many for Israel. Where is their invective about the state of life in some African states or the state of women in the Middle East? Where is their invective about the Judenrein in Libya and Pakistan? Is this not ethnic cleansing?

In recent weeks I have been receiving disturbing e-mails about various academic boycotts that have sought to further damage Israel?s economy. It is appalling that people in academia could even contemplate punishing their esteemed colleagues because of Israel?s right as a sovereign state to defend its people from a vicious Intifadah that came like a bolt from the blue after eight years of tireless diplomacy generated by Israel and the Clinton Administration.

This year AN Wilson, Brian Sewell, Will Self and Robert Fisk continued their near-obsessive traditions of out-of-proportion criticism of Israel. I am prepared to give Bob Fisk some credit for his poignant and moving tributes to Daniel Pearl, and a bit of rope to Sewell for his brave 22 October article in ?The Evening Standard? entitled ?Militant Islam is placing a noose around the globe.? Sewell observed, ?And what will Islam gain? It will secure the old certainties of poverty, disease, the suffocating conformism compelled by the beatings, amputations and hideous executions of sharia law?..?God is great? they shout when men and women, hanged for what we see as mere misdemeanours, choke slowly in the noose. The West cannot change such a culture at a stroke.?

Will Self, who, to my utter disbelief is currently holding a position with an American university, writes a weekly column for ?The Evening Standard? in which he frequently disparages the United States. I am pleased to say that my own refutation of his despicable slurs on America and Americans was indeed published by the paper. His essays, ?The military stupidity of Bomber Blair;? Dubya?s aim is to mug Iraq for oil? and ?Hoon, vain vassal of America?s evil empire? (Hoon being the UK Defence Minister) were not instructive but simply served to discredit an entire culture. Most offensive were Self?s reference to ?crack head America? and to ?the paranoid, deluded American electorate? as well as his suggestion that containment of Iraq is akin to the Nazis? invasion of Poland. In the ?Independent? review of the year, Will Self wishes for an early demise for Dick Cheney. Why is this man paid to write this material? Why is he teaching in the United States?

Another disturbing piece of biased journalism was written by Ghada Karmi, who portrays fierce Zionists driving hordes of Palestinians out of their homeland, with no mention of the United Nations? deliberations and of the rejection of a two-state option. In a piece entitled ?A Palestinian in Golders Green? (The Evening Standard 11 October 2002) she relates the extraordinary story of her life in that most Jewish of London neighbourhoods, Golders Green, where she has lived since the ?Naqba? (catastrophe) when she left Palestine. She says she has had death threats since taking up the Palestinian cause with vigour; she does not understand why Jews refer to PLO hijackers as ?terrorists.? Articles like hers break my heart: they are read by millions of people in England and are filled with a cruel, distorted picture of a generous, decent people who have built a tiny, blossoming nation out of a squalid desert outpost (what had Britain ever done to improve life for the Arabs before the Jews created Israel?); in ?The Guardian ? (19 October 2002) she is even more graphic in her descriptions of Jewish cruelty. She describes how ?the people of Safad in northern Palestine, driven from their homes, had walked to Syria through rain, mud and cold, old and weak abandoned where they fell, the children separated from their parents??

Why are all these stories coming out now? Why were there no whingeing Palestinians when Yitzhak Rabin was handing chunks of land to the Palestinians? Where, if these people have been suffering, are the 55 Muslim nations and the 22 Arab nations? When a Jew is suffering he or she is rescued by one of our many agencies and resettled somewhere else. I am weary of Palestinian whingeing and would like to see Arab nations take the lead in a comprehensive campaign to achieve peace, to stop terror, to acknowledge the monumental contribution the Jews have made to that backward region, and help their own people in need as we do ours wherever they may be in the world.

We pray for peace on earth in 2003.


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