Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Our differing approaches to terror

From today’s Independent. Worth reading the lot but here’s the end:
“Compare and contrast, as exam papers say. The IRA and its front organisation Sinn Fein want to undo the partition of Ireland that was effected by the creation of a separate province of Northern Ireland in 1920. To that end the IRA deliberately murdered many people, including ordinary Protestants, and that end, if not the means, “is shared by many of our citizens”, Blair says, as well as by millions of Irish Americans.

Hamas wants to undo the partition of Palestine that was effected by the creation of a separate state of Israel in 1948. To that end it has deliberately murdered many people, including ordinary Jews. And that end, if not the means, is shared by hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims as well as others in Asia and Africa. Why does their support not equally validate the objective?
When Blair spoke he was still prime minister. He has since gone on to highly paid fresh fields and lucrative pastures new. One of his supposed jobs is as envoy to “to promote an end to the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in conformity with the road-map”, which was one of the justifications with which he previously sold the Iraq war to his deluded followers.
He has totally failed in that role, as the eminent Israeli historian Avi Shlaim observes, not least because of “his own personal limitations; his inability to grasp that the fundamental issue in this tragic conflict is not Israeli security but Palestinian national rights”. Shlaim adds that this is precisely what has endeared Blair to the Israeli establishment, so that at the very time, a year ago when the people of Gaza were mourning their dead, Blair received an award from Tel Aviv university as “laureate for the present time dimension in the field of leadership”, accompanied by a modest cheque for $1m.
As Shlaim says, the award was absurd in view of Blair’s “silent complicity in Israel’s continuing crimes against the Palestinian people” – but it was no less so in view of his indulgence towards Adams and McGuinness.
But then perhaps all this is too elaborate. It might be that the shade of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and for that matter of any of the Taliban men recently extirpated by CIA drones, could contemplate tomorrow night’s repulsive programme and simply ask, like Ali G: “Is it ‘cos I is black?””

  • slappymcgroundout

    “eminent Israeli historian Avi Shlaim”

    Eminence, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And so, Avi looks rather ugly to me.

    Now re your “Is it ‘cos I is black?”, the Bedouins in the IDF killed by your friends in Hamas would really like to know the answer to that one. The Druze in the IDF would also like an answer. Ditto the Ethiopians and Sudanese in the IDF.

    Oh, and by the way, one of the IDF soldiers who fought in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was Major Fehd Fallah, a Bedouin, serving in the IDF just as his father and his father’s father had served. The Bedouin Major had this to say to the BBC:

    “‘Yes, I have fought against Muslims in Gaza,’ he says. That includes Israel’s three-week Operation Cast Lead which began in December last year.

    ‘And I would fight again if I had to,’ he added. ‘Israeli Muslims who don’t serve in the IDF should be ashamed for not serving their country.'”

    You might wish to learn some history, since there’s a good chance that the Major’s grandfather fought with the Haganah against the British mandate. To this day, when asked to explain their loyalty to Israel, the Bedouin will tell you of the blood covenant that came into being back in the day when they stood shoulder to shoulder with Jews fighting against the British mandate. Our Unionist friends who remember the Somme will no doubt understand the sentiment.

    And a rather salient difference between the two circumstances is that the British did their thing in Ireland largely on their own. The partition of Palestine was a UN event that required a super-majority of 2/3 in favor. So you might not compare apples and oranges, as one could argue that your British friends kept some for themselves, but you can’t say that about Palestine partition, since those doing the voting weren’t getting any of the land as part of their union.

    Lastly, re notion of nationalism, maybe you can tell us all here on Slugger why there was no clamor for nation when Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. Israel didn’t assume occupation from the Palestian Arabs, but from Jordan and Egypt. For just how absurd Avi’s position is, we wouldn’t have the settlement issue today if some had created a Palestinian Arab state back in the day. I’ll let you and Avi figure out why no Arab tried. But for a hint, the end of the story ends at the Med, when and where some others are driven into the sea. And, of course, that just can’t be an Israeli national security interest.

  • Alias

    Folks assume that there is a single Arab nation but that is as misguided as thinking that there is a European nation. Most of those Arab nations detest each other.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    So it would have been better if the Palestinians (you know the people that lived there Muslim, Christian and Jews) had all joined with the Zionists in a terrorist campaign against the British and those who did not wish to live in a Zionist hegemonic state like some Bedoiun and Druze?

    If only they had been given that option before some of them were massacred, had their villages burnt down and driven from their homes………..if only!

  • RepublicanStones

    The partition of Palestine was a UN event that required a super-majority of 2/3 in favor.

    Ehh it also required the accpetance of the Palestinians. 181 was a ‘recommendation’…. incase you’ve forgotten. And nevermind the manner in which the vote was bullied and bribed through the UN eh ? 😉