Cyn­i­cal ex­ploita­tion of tragedy

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Ge­of­frey Al­der­man

WHAT DO LOUISE Men­sch, Daniel Levy and Aaron Teit­el­baum have in com­mon? I’ll tell you at the end of this col­umn. The nov­el­ist Louise Men­sch was for­merly Con­ser­va­tive MP for Corby, a seat which she won, nar­rowly, in 2010 and then re­signed two years later, al­legedly to spend more time with her fam­ily. She is not Jewish but her sec­ond hus­band, the mu­sic man­ager Peter Men­sch, is, and I am aware that in some Jewish quar­ters she is re­garded as so closely iden­ti­fied with the tribe of Gen­tile Zion­ists as to make her al­most an hon­orary mem­ber of the faith. On July 1 — the day af­ter the dis­cov­ery of the bod­ies of Gi­lad Shaar, Naf­tali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrah — Men­sch used her per­sonal blog, Un­fash­ion­ista, to present a long, ram­bling anal­y­sis of this tragedy.

Now it’s true that she evinced un­qual­i­fied hor­ror on hear­ing this news. But she then pro­ceeded to use it as a peg on which to hang an acid in­vec­tive against Is­rael.

“I think,” she wrote, “it’s time for some straight talk. Is­rael, I don’t care if you are tired of the word ‘re­straint.’ You need to show some… Is­rael, I say to you with my hand on my heart; the Gaza rocket strikes have killed NO IS­RAELIS. They don’t WORK. They are the weak ef­forts of losers… Ha­mas strikes do not kill Is­raelis but Is­raeli strikes do kill Pales­tinian civil­ians.”

Men­sch then went for what she clearly be­lieves is the jugu­lar: “Dear­est Is­rael, you have no right to be in the set­tle­ments. No­body thinks you have a right to be in the set­tle­ments… There will be no peace and no se­cu­rity un­til the set­tle­ments come down.”

As a mat­ter of fact it is not true that rock­ets from Gaza have “killed no Is­raelis.” Since 2001, they have re­sulted in more than 60 fa­tal­i­ties, not to men­tion se­ri­ous in­juries to oth­ers and the much in­creased in­ci­dence of psy­cho­log­i­cal ill-health, in­clud­ing height­ened in­ci­dence of post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der among young chil­dren in Sderot. Nor is it true that “no­body” thinks Jews have a right to con­struct set­tle­ments in Judea and Sa­maria. But, more im­por­tantly, the idea that peace and se­cu­rity for Is­rael are de­pen­dent upon the dis­man­tling of the set­tle­ments is pure unadul­ter­ated hog­wash. For the zil­lionth time I have to point out that, be­tween 1949 and 1967, there were no set­tle­ments. But there was no peace.

On the same day on which Men­sch used the He­bron tragedy to stick her knife into Is­rael, Daniel Levy was in­ter­viewed on BBC Ra­dio’s World At One. Levy is the di­rec­tor of the Mid­dle East and North Africa pro­gramme at the Euro­pean Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions.

Men­sch used the tragedy to voice in­vec­tive against Is­rael

In 1995, he was part of the team as­sem­bled by Yitzhak Rabin to ne­go­ti­ate the ill-fated “Oslo II” agree­ment with the Pales­tini­ans, which granted safe-pas­sage be­tween Gaza and the West Bank.

He is also a founder of J Street, the con­tro­ver­sial Amer­i­can lobby that has been ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to weaken Amer­i­can-Jewish sup­port for the Ne­tanyahu govern­ment, and is cur­rently on the board of Amer­i­can Friends of the United Na­tions Re­lief and Works Agency for Pales­tine Refugees.

In­ter­viewed by Shaun Ley on the World At One, Levy un­bur­dened him­self of a string of out­ra­geous, not to say pre­pos­ter­ous, as­ser­tions: that the Ne­tanyahu govern­ment was us­ing the He­bron deaths to im­pose a “pre­med­i­tated” col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment on the Pales­tini­ans; that, in spite of the tragic deaths of the Jewish teenagers, “the head­line re­ally is just how quiet the sit­u­a­tion has been and continues to be”; and that “Ha­mas continues to main­tain the cease­fire.”

Mean­while, in Kiryat Joel (USA), the an­tiZion­ist Sat­mar Rebbe, Aaron Teit­el­baum, en­gaged in a truly wicked di­a­tribe when, speak­ing in Yid­dish, he blamed the par­ents of the teenagers for their deaths, claim­ing that they died be­cause they lived in the set­tle­ments. “It is in­cum­bent upon us to say that these par­ents are guilty. They caused the deaths of their sons and they must do teshuva for their ac­tions.”

At the be­gin­ning of this col­umn I asked what Teit­el­baum, Men­sch and Levy had in com­mon. They all cyn­i­cally ex­ploited the He­bron tragedy to foist upon the pub­lic their per­sonal prej­u­dices against Is­rael and its cit­i­zens. I am disgusted.

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