One event I regretted missing on my last visit to London was a party at the Polish Club, which has been refurbished and has a new Polish prince as its president and has good Poles and active members such as Ladies Belhaven and Hamilton, both friends of mine, keeping the home fires burning. I have often written about my love for Poland, a heroic country that has been betrayed by everyone throughout its history, but has always remained proud, refusing to play the victim, with 90 per cent of Poles belonging to the Catholic church in today’s greedy secular world. A Polish pope was the first to challenge the Soviets, and Lech Walesa led the charge. But what really gets me about the Poles is their refusal to evoke the betrayals they’ve endured each time they go on a public forum. Just look at their foreign minister, Radek Sikorski. Have any of you heard him begin his speeches by reminding the world that 7 million Poles perished during the second world war?
Hint, hint. Yes, I mean Israel, and when was the last time an Israeli politician did not remind us of the Holocaust even when debating fruit prices from the Holy Land versus Spanish oranges. Now we all know because of such practices victimhood has been debased, except for real victims, like the Palestinians, for example. Victimhood in America is a badge of honour. Women, gays, transsexuals, criminals, blacks, Indians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, even billionaires claim it. (The chief executive of Blackstone, a man worth $10 billion, recently did, comparing his taxes to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.) Victimhood, however coveted a status it is in America, I find terribly humiliating. Victimhood was the reason Israel became a state in 1948 at the expense of the local Arab population. And it would have taken a heart of stone to say no back then. There were some damn good people among them, starting with David Ben Gurion, who admitted had he been an Arab he would have fought Jewish settlers to the death, and the worldly Abba Eban, whose harshest criticism of the Palestinians was that they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Compare these good men with the present thugs of today’s Israeli government, and weep.
The trouble with an all-powerful Israel today is how to remain a victim 69 years after the last Jew died in a German concentration camp. Ah, but that’s easy: bring in the American brigade of Podhoretz, Kristol, Decter, and others of their ilk who see anti-Semitism behind the slightest criticism of Israel, even when it comes from Israelis themselves. (Self-loathing Jews, they’re called.) Two American writer friends of mine, Joe Sobran and Pat Buchanan, had their careers more or less ruined by baseless charges of anti-Semitism (by people like Norman Podhoretz and Abe Rosenthal of the Times) for writing such pearls as, ‘Terrorism sounds more and more like a surrogate word for enemies of Israel’ and ‘The chief polemical project of modern Zionism has been to forge an ideological high redefinition of anti-Semitism that puts criticism of Israel on the same plane with Nazism.’ The response to such pearls was immediate and rather over the top. Rosenthal asserted that such words ‘could lead to Auschwitz’. Bill Buckley simply fired Joe Sobran. Buchanan lost most of the 400 newspapers that syndicated his column. William Scranton, an ex-governor of Pennsylvania who reported to President Nixon on the Middle East that the US should be more even-handed, was never heard of again.
Such are the joys of feeling compassion towards the Palestinian plight. But let’s put aside the Israeli lobby — it’s much too busy discovering new anti-Semites under the beds — and look at the moral blindness that has afflicted Israelis in their denial of Palestinian rights. Roger Waters, the courageous musician whose father died fighting the Nazis, has been called a Nazi for pointing out that the Israeli army subjugates an indigenous population by using lethal force, including the murder of women and children. The Messianic claim of religious nationalists who believe Jews have a God-given right to all the land between the Med and the Jordan River has a lot to do with that blindness. Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Muslims at prayer in 1994, ditto.
I write this as Gaza’s women and children are being killed by the Israeli invasion. No one who is sane and fair-minded denies the fact that Israelis have the right to live their lives without missiles raining down on them. But why are the missiles raining down? (And they are Stone Age missiles which have yet to hit a target after two weeks of being fired.) Because Gaza is a refugee camp without the basic human needs of electricity and medical supplies, a hellhole that in reality is a siege that has turned Gaza into a prison the past eight years. The Nazis lasted 12 years. Israel has been oppressing the Palestinians since 1967. The Jewish people are a great people who have won more Nobel prizes than there are name-droppers in Hollywood. But Israel’s brutal policies towards a helpless people will one day overshadow the Holocaust, take it from Taki. No matter how hard the Podhoretzes of this world try to smear those who demand fairness for Palestinians, they will not be able to shut out the cries of the innocent who are suffering under the settlers’ boot. Long after the likes of me are gone, Israel’s brutal occupation of an innocent people will help anti-Semitism in a way Mein Kampf never imagined.
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