Arrogating Arrogance

The self-righteous moral indignation meter was shooting off the scale on March 24th when the Guardian had a field day with the subject of the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat. The estimable Robin Shepherd has an excellent post up on his blog about both the editorial and Oliver Miles’ opinion piece on the subject. His conclusion:

“I have tried long and hard to avoid the conclusion that brute anti-Semitism is at the core of the campaign to demonise Israel in Europe, and I still stick to my view that it is an effect of what is going on rather than a cause. But, boy, if ever there were a distinction that is beginning to look difficult to sustain, that is increasingly looking like one of them.”

Robin highlights the use in the editorial of the following sentence. “Both events in London and Washington are the marks of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself.” As he quite rightly points out, it is not the Israeli government which is being criticised here but the nation; all 7 million of us down to the last man, woman and child. Maybe the cats and dogs too, who knows? One cannot but think that such a sweeping and stereotypical statement made about any other nation would have been deemed too bigoted for publication.
Interestingly, someone else was describing Israelis as ‘arrogant’ today too: none other than the Saudis. How much that embellishes the Guardian’s reputation as a liberal publication I will leave for the reader to decide.
Despite all the righteous protestations of the writer of this editorial, neither Miliband nor anyone else has concrete proof two months down the line of Israel’s involvement in the assassination of Mabhouh and “all but accused”, “highly likely” and “compelling reasons to believe that Israel was responsible” amount to nothing more than a fog of blustering insinuation. In the tawdry world of British politics however, proof is apparently an unnecessary luxury. Were there hard evidence to back Miliband’s insinuations, presumably the phantom photocopying Israeli official would be by now facing charges.
When we strip away all the indignant rhetoric, what it boils down to is that an awful lot of people in the Foreign Office, the media and elsewhere have a problem when it comes to Israelis defending themselves. Conventional military operations are inevitably labelled as ‘disproportionate’ and if more clandestine methods are presumed to have been employed the resulting indignation is no less strident. The recent record of the current British government on issues such as the Goldstone report, universal jurisdiction, submission to the BDS campaign being led by fringe elements associated with terror organisations, or engagement with Hizbollah would indicate that there is no issue of importance to Israel which the British government will not sacrifice for the sake of a few marginal seats in the upcoming elections, although such short-sightedness may well come back to haunt the next party in power.

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