Is­rael bail out Gaza? Cheeky, Tony

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

WHaT ex­aCTlY is chutz­pah? I am some­times asked by nonJewish audiences to ex­plain this Yid­dish (though de­rived from He­brew) word, which like other “Jewish” terms has en­tered the everyday english lan­guage. Well, I say, its rough trans­la­tion is “cheek”, “ef­fron­tery”, “au­dac­ity”, “in­so­lence”. But none of th­ese re­ally con­vey the al­most-ad­mirable shame­less­ness that chutz­pah is meant to con­vey. So I have been ac­cus­tomed to il­lus­trate the deeper mean­ing of chutz­pah by telling the amus­ing story, which I am sure you all know, of the man who mur­dered both his par­ents but, when asked by the judge if he had any­thing to say be­fore sen­tence was passed, asked for the court’s mercy be­cause he was, af­ter all, an or­phan.

Well, I have now aban­doned this story for an­other. a few days ago a non-Jewish aca­demic col­league phoned me for an ex­pla­na­tion of chutz­pah, which he had ap­par­ently heard on a TV soap.

“You want to know what’s chutz­pah? I’ll tell you. It’s Tony Blair plead­ing with the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to save the bank­ing sys­tem of Gaza from col­lapse by pump­ing in around $28 mil­lion a month to keep the banks afloat. That’s chutz­pah.”

In fact, the chutz­pah en­shrined in this ap­peal — re­vealed in a leaked mem­o­ran­dum sent ear­lier this month from the of­fice of the Quar­tet’s Spe­cial en­voy to the Mid­dle east (ie Mr Blair) to the Is­raeli De­fence Min­istry — is even more out­ra­geously au­da­cious than the re­quest it­self.

To be­gin with (I ex­plained to my non-Jewish friend), the Ha­mas gov­ern­ment of Gaza — the elected Ha­mas gov­ern­ment, I should say — is deeply anti-Jewish; its found­ing char­ter unashamedly re­flects a prim­i­tive ha­tred of Ju­daism and of Jews, draw­ing on Judeo­pho­bic stereotypes de­rived from the Pro­to­cols of the El­ders of Zion and be­yond. More than that, the elected Ha­mas gov­ern­ment is un­al­ter­ably op­posed to the ex­is­tence of the state of Is­rael. It is true (I ad­mit­ted) that a truce is cur­rently in place — though it is fre­quently vi­o­lated on the Ha­mas side, and rock­ets con­tinue to be launched from Gaza on to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion of Is­rael. But the Ha­mas gov­ern­ment has made it clear that this truce could be con­verted into a de­fin­i­tive peace treaty only if Is­rael were to agree to abol­ish it­self.

But the chutz­pah of Mr Blair in ask­ing Is­raeli tax­pay­ers to kindly prop up the bank­ing sys­tem of this malev­o­lent regime is at an even greater level of im­pu­dence than a con­sid­er­a­tion of just th­ese facts might sug­gest.

While pro­fess­ing a ha­tred of Jews, Ju­daism and the Jewish state, the elected Ha­mas gov­ern­ment of Gaza is per­fectly happy to utilise, as its nor­mal everyday cur­rency, the Is­raeli shekel. In­deed, Mr Blair’s re­quest ap­par­ently did not ac­tu­ally men­tion 28 mil­lion US dol­lars, but spoke in­stead of a monthly sub­ven­tion of 100 mil­lion shekolim.

Then (I con­tin­ued) there is the not unim­por­tant mat­ter of Cor­po­ral Gi­lad Shalit, the Is­raeli sol­dier who has been held by the elected gov­ern­ment of Gaza for more than two years without so much as oc­ca­sional ac­cess by the Red Cross.

You would think (wouldn’t you?) that, as a friendly ges­ture to fa­cil­i­tate the trans­fer into Gaza of 100 mil­lion shekolim per month to pre­vent its en­tire bank­ing sys­tem from col­lapse, those who com­prise the elected gov­ern­ment of this ter­ri­tory would — at the very least — of­fer such ac­cess, and that Mr Blair would in any case in­sist upon it. But they haven’t and nor has he

Well, at the end of this les­son my friend as­sured me that now he well un­der­stood the true mean­ing of chutz­pah. But lit­tle did I know that Mr Blair was about to add yet a fur­ther di­men­sion to this unique demon­stra­tion of su­per-cheek.

In last week’s JC Mr Blair had the chutz­pah to try and teach us all about “the virtues of char­ity and sol­i­dar­ity”. “I be­lieve,” he de­claimed, “that faith groups have a cru­cial role to play in com­bat­ing de­pri­va­tion, hunger and poverty.” and, for good mea­sure, he had the chutz­pah to prat­tle on about “the prophetic tra­di­tion” in Ju­daism, “the cry to bring peo­ple out of poverty and suf­fer­ing” — as if you and I might not have been aware of th­ese ad­mo­ni­tions.

It is not we who need this les­son, Mr Blair. It is the elected gov­ern­ment of Gaza, to whose sur­vival you seem to have com­mit­ted your­self at no mat­ter what cost — so long as the cost is paid by the Jews. That’s chutz­pah for you!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.