His­tory lessons needed

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Me­lanie Phillips

Yturned their holy place, al Aqsa Mosque, into a theatre of war from which to hurl rocks, molo­tov cock­tails and other mis­siles at Jewish wor­ship­pers at the Western Wall. Ul­tra-Ortho­dox men go­ing to pray were chased and stabbed in images of per­se­cu­tion that we never thought we’d see again. Few in the west did see them, be­cause the me­dia didn’t pub­lish them. Since then, Is­raeli Jews have been un­der sus­tained at­tack from knives, boul­ders, bul­lets and bombs. Very lit­tle of this has been re­ported. The me­dia woke up when Is­rael started killing th­ese ter­ror­ists. Jour­nal­ists could then re­sume their favourite pas­time: sani­tis­ing Pales­tinian vi­o­lence to bash Is­rael as the world’s prin­ci­pal vil­lain. They never re­ported that Mah­moud Ab­bas lit the fires of para­noid hys­te­ria by telling the in­cen­di­ary lie that Is­rael in­tended to al­low Jews to pray on Tem­ple Mount (the fact it for­bids them has al­ways passed with­out com­ment, of course) and even to de­stroy al Aqsa.

They never re­ported what has been pour­ing out from Ab­bas and his hench­men ever since: lies about Is­raelis killing “in­no­cent” Pales­tini­ans, their con­tin­ued in­cite­ment about al Aqsa and sup­port for at­tacks on Jews.

In­stead, the western me­dia has pro­duced false­hoods and dis­tor­tions of its own to sug­gest the vi­o­lence was all Is­rael’s fault. De­spite the fact that Arab pogroms against Jews and reli­gious in­cite­ment over al Aqsa go back to be­fore the state of Is­rael was even founded, the de­fault nar­ra­tive of western lib­er­als is – lu­di­crously – that the set­tle­ments and check­points are the cause of Arab vi­o­lence. This nar­ra­tive has to be changed. Pales­tini­ans know they can at­tack Jews with im­punity be­cause the world will blame Is­rael for its re­sponse. The rea­son this con­flict con­tin­ues is that Bri­tain, Amer­ica and Europe have re­warded and en­cour­aged the Arabs’ ag­gres­sion by promis­ing them part of their Jewish vic­tims’ le­gal and his­tor­i­cal en­ti­tle­ment.

In this week’s counter-ex­trem­ism pack­age, David Cameron has shown re­fresh­ing re­al­ism about Is­lamic ex­trem­ism and a wel­come com­mit­ment to tackle anti-Jewish feel­ing. But he hasn’t joined up the dots.

If he wants to stop rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion at home, he should start ed­u­cat­ing Bri­tain’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity in Jewish his­tory: that the Jews are a peo­ple, not just a reli­gious af­fil­i­a­tion; that they are the only peo­ple for whom Is­rael was ever their na­tional king­dom cen­turies be­fore Mo­hammed was born; and that their right to re­store their own home­land was en­shrined in in­ter­na­tional law as long ago as 1920.

That would start punc­tur­ing the Mus­lim Jew-ha­tred which lies be­hind so much Is­lamic ag­gres­sion. It might also open the clenched eyes of some Bri­tish lib­er­als – and not a few Bri­tish Jews, too.

They pre­fer to see Is­rael as the world’s prin­ci­pal vil­lain

Me­lanie Phillips is a Times colum­nist

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