History lessons needed
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