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The Bush-Sharon Meeting from British Eyes
Last uploaded : Saturday 11th Jan 2014 at 00:46
Contributed by : The Editor


[First published 15 April 2004. On the occasion of the death of Ariel Sharon we thought we would reprint this piece.]
15 April 2004
There has been an enormous amount of hand-wringing and shouting on British television this evening as news emerges of a congenial press conference with President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Channel Four News had preceded the Sharon-Bush story with a long piece about what were depicted as stupid, vulgar and antisocial Americans based in Iraq. Soldiers eating Burger Kings, a GI DJ bopping in her studio to the limited musical repertoire permitted by the Pentagon and a burly marine saying he has no interest in sampling local cuisine comprised Channel Four's assessment of the American contingent in Iraq. They interviewed angry Iraqis accusing the Americans of being worse occupiers than Saddam. In light of the horrific casualties of the past fortnight one wondered why the British network found it necessary to denigrate the Yanks at so vulnerable a time.

Following this segment was a news alert about Sharon and Bush. It was reported that the President, wanting to placate the Jewish voting lobby, had caved in to the Israeli leader, who, Channel Four pointed out, was also worried about election results. To Channel Four's shock Bush had actually allowed Israel to let 92,000 Jews remain in the West Bank and had effectively revoked any possibility of the right of return of Palestinians to their homes in greater Israel. (Channel Four ?s anchor never mentioned that a million Arabs live inside Israel and seemed very dismayed that Palestinian territory would not be Judenrein.)

I always want to ask: inasmuch as Europe perpetrated the Holocaust and centuries of barbarism, ghettoes, pogroms and expulsions against Jews, why is it that the USA has to bear the guilt for the plight of the Jews? Why is it that the news networks always make Israel look the villain with its evil supporters in the USA as second-fiddle evildoers, when in fact it is Europe and the UK that ought to be digging into its coffers to help the Israelis avert disaster? The reporter in Washington, Lynsey Hilsum, said that she had been meeting Americans in the street wondering why the world hates the USA. The reporter said it was evident these Americans just could not comprehend that American support for Israel was a major contributing factor.

After the Sharon-Bush item the anchor, Jon Snow, hosted an Israeli spokesman, the acting Ambassador Zvi Ravner and Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian writer and activist. Snow did the usual barking at the Israeli (just what sort of magnanimity are you going to show to these people with whom you have been at war for so many years?? ) and the shmoozing of the Palestinian. Snow did not ask the Palestinian what magnanimity they would show to Jews. When the Israeli envoy tried to interject that the Palestinians also had damage to repair, he was shut down by the anchor. (Who can ever forget the arrogance of Jon Snow to Donald Rumsfeld at a press briefing last year with Geoff Hoon? )
It was never reported on Channel Four that the destination of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians has never been given a proper accounting by their leaders.

Tonight on the American news, it was suggested that President Bush?s concession that the settlements will remain in the West Bank -- a retraction of his 2003 view -- is a monkey wrench in the delicate tableau of the Middle East and Gulf. This could very well be true. The anger of the various Palestinian spokespeople on television when Sharon has agreed to leave Gaza and to evacuate a number of West Bank settlements is unsettling. I have always wondered why it is so provocative for Jews to live amongst Palestinians. Arabs live inside Israel and are not shot at every day, unlike the benighted settlers inside historic Judaea and Samaria. A Judenrein West Bank is a form of ethnic cleansing and yet Channel Four News depicts Israel as the rogue state.

That Yasser Arafat sees the accord reached today as an end to the peace process creates another ominous prospect for the region. The Iraqi insurgents killing and kidnapping have been known to refer to themselves as the warriors of Sheikh Yassin.

I do not see peace coming to the region any time soon and lament the fact that Palestinians do not wish to live alongside Jews. It would appear that Iraqis are rapidly developing an aversion to Americans and other enlightened westerners in their midst.

The leadership of the Arab world needs to look long and hard at the direction in which the majority of its peoples is headed. They could start by taking Israel as an example: a tiny democracy that from the ashes of Auschwitz built a cultural mecca that is one of the world?s leaders in technology and science. Hearing the rhetoric of the young leaflet-wielding extremists who congregate in my road in London, I doubt this will happen.

The anger and hostility of the Channel Four reporters on tonight's programme has stayed with me. It matches the ire that I generate when I go to dinner parties and say 'Israel' in my loathsome American accent. It is a chilling phenomenon to witness the way many Europeans do not bat an eyelash when the deeds of terrorists are mentioned, but who become peuce with rage when the non-specific term 'Israel' is uttered.

Has Europe changed since the centuries-long heyday of Jew-hatred? I think not. Anti-war groups wailed that the Iraq war was waged to 'help Israel.' Yesterday's 'Independent' newspaper lamented the fact that 30-40 Israeli companies were being contracted in Iraq. Horror of horrors! Jews getting contracts! If the Indy doesn't like it, I suggest they find some technical whiz kids in Yemen, the Sudan or Libya.

Would these critics like the world to be Judenrein? I am beginning to think they would.


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