Er, Your Majesty...

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT&ANALYSIS -

The Bri­tish are not gen­er­ally sup­posed to go in for overt and gra­tu­itous shows of os­ten­ta­tion. Yet this week, the Queen hosted a state ban­quet where more than 170 royal, po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary guests clad in whitetie, evening dress and di­a­monds en­joyed noisettes of veni­son and con­grat­u­la­tory speeches. The rea­son for this op­u­lent show of ex­cess? The state visit of a man pre­sid­ing over one of the world’s most op­pres­sive regimes and one which ex­e­cuted 124 peo­ple last year, many by pub­lic be­head­ing. But then King Ab­dul­lah of Saudi Ara­bia is our “ally” in the war on ter­ror — not to men­tion the ruler of the world’s largest oil­pro­duc­ing coun­try. That helps ex­plain the fan­fare made over his visit. But whereas our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers may choose — if wrongly — to dis­re­gard Saudi hu­man-rights abuses at home, they have no ex­cuse to ig­nore the ha­tred ex­ported to our own shores. A re­port this week al­leged that vi­ciously an­tisemitic books pub­lished by the Saudi gov­ern­ment were found at a Saudi-spon­sored school in Lon­don. Did Gor­don Brown et al raise this is­sue as part of their charm of­fen­sive with the king? Given the tone of the rest of the visit, it seems un­likely. The JC, as we have made abun­dantly clear in the past, is no sup­porter of boy­cotts. Saudi Ara­bia is clearly a coun­try of strate­gic im­por­tance and an im­por­tant global player. But there are surely bet­ter ways of con­struc­tively en­gag­ing with it than the nau­se­at­ing dis­play we saw this week.

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