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Israel is trapped by Western guilt Colonial obsessions are undermining Jewish safety

Why do so many in the West deny that attacks on Israel are antisemitic? (Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Why do so many in the West deny that attacks on Israel are antisemitic? (Abid Katib/Getty Images)


October 20, 2023   7 mins

“Great wars in history eventually became great wars about history,” wrote the Israeli-American historian Michael Oren in 1999. It’s hard to think of a country for which this is more obviously true than Israel, though Ireland, Ukraine or even today’s United States might have something to say about that. Either way, the truth of Oren’s insight remains.

History is not some dry mathematical exercise, events mere beads on an abacus. It is built on human imagination: on the myths and ideas that define us. After all, most history today is told as national history — and what is a nation but a group of people who decide they are one? What, for that matter, is an ummah, a diaspora, race or religion? None of these things are facts, but make-believe constructs that are no less real for being so.

And so we return to Israel. On the one hand, we have the brute facts of the past fortnight — the abacus of despair. On 7 October, a coordinated attack by Hamas saw hundreds of Palestinian men break into Israel with the aim of murdering and kidnapping as many Jews as possible. The result was the worst loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust; the worst terrorist attack in Israeli history; more than 1,400 dead and 199 captured. Then came the inevitable response: the air assault on Gaza which has killed at least 3,000 Palestinians. And now the fog of war.

Today, a simple recounting of events is all but impossible, each story revealing far more about its narrator than the battle between Israel and Hamas. For some on the Left, for example, it is now “racist” to say the mass slaughter of Israelis was in any way antisemitic. Apparently, to do so is to project European values onto the Palestinians — who do not care about ethnicity, only occupation. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a take come so close to genuine insight, only to fall into the mud at the last. Can there be anything more obsessively Western than such an insistence on framing everything through the lens of colonialism and racism?

However absurd the argument might be, it is now the dominant framing through which history is seen in the West. This racist-coloniser logic runs through the Yale professor Zareena Grewal’s claim, for instance, that “settlers are not civilians” (and so, presumably, legitimate military targets for Hamas). And it is there in the now-common refrain that “Zionism is racism” or even “white supremacy”. In this view, Jews are just white Europeans, a bleakly dark irony of its own.

At the heart of all these claims lies the same grim conclusion: that Israel itself is illegitimate, a settler state which should be wiped off the map as if it were some kind of Levantine Rhodesia. This is the logic behind signs reading “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — not a benign call for national liberation, but a demand for the conquest of Israel itself and, at least according to Hamas, death for the Jews who live there. The founding charter of Hamas is unequivocal on this point.

Yet instead of taking Hamas at its word, there seems to be an effort in the West to reinterpret its language into something more palatable to our own understanding of the world, filled as it is with ideas of endless progress and liberation. For many of us, national liberation is an axiomatic good, part of the progress of humanity towards an ever more perfect union — the opposite of colonialism.

What Hamas’s recent attack exposed, however, is the absurdity of believing that it shares this vision. Hamas is itself a colonial enterprise committed to the idea that there are Muslim lands which, once conquered, are forever Muslim and must expand to cover the whole world. “During the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement,” the Hamas Covenant asserts. “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” Even if Hamas were merely a national liberation movement, an Arab IRA rather than a Palestinian Islamic State, such an idea of universal nationalism is surely utopian — as if all nations somehow naturally exist on land that is theirs by divine right.

We did not always assume this was self-evident. “It had been discovered and brought to people’s attention in the course of the 19th century that, in order to possess individuality as a citizen, every person must belong to a definite nationality or race,” spat Joseph Roth with evident dismissiveness in The Emperor’s Tomb, his great novella about the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. “I hate nationalism and nation states,” declares his bitter old Prince. “My old home, the [Habsburg] Monarchy, alone, was a great mansion with many doors and many chambers, for every condition of men. This mansion has been divided, split up, splintered. I have nothing more to seek for, there. I am used to living in a home, not in cabins.”

The truth, of course, is that Roth’s grand European mansions hardly offered “every condition of men” the same home comforts, which is largely why the nations within them began to yearn for states of their own — including the Jews. The result was that the 20th century was a century of cabin conversions, which often left minorities on the wrong side of new walls thrown up overnight.

Israel is not unique in this regard. Poland only emerged in its modern form after the ethnic cleansing of East Prussian Germans who once lived there. Irish independence left a million or so Protestants in the North so enraged that they launched an armed insurrection to win a separate statelet of their own — which in course left a whole new minority homeless. In every case, how nations obtain their land is always murky, violent and colonial, granted legitimacy only through the slow process of time, power and hypocrisy.

Occasionally, we glimpse the double standards involved in this process — when an American congressman complains about “planters” in Ulster, for example, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he himself is a planter living in the last great European empire. I wonder how many of the American professors blithely declaring that Israelis are “settlers not civilians” would be happy for themselves to be treated as legitimate targets for slaughter by the Navajo or Apache? The very idea of an independent Palestinian state is the product, ironically, of the same belief in nationalism that led the early Zionists to demand a state of their own too.

Of course, the assault that Israel is about to unleash on Gaza is not just an event that will one day become a war of history — but one that is already the product of how Israelis understand their own history. And at the heart of it is a troubling question: is there a “solution” to the Israel-Palestine conflict, or does the search for solutions ignore the lessons of history itself?

“The history in my regular schooling was all about progress,” the fictional historian Ruben Blum recalls in Joshua Cohen’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Netanyahus: “A world that would continue to improve illimitably, so long as every country kept trying to be more like America and America kept trying to be more like itself.” This sentiment seems to be buried somewhere deep within the Western soul: the idea that, as Cohen writes, “the past was merely the process by which the present was attained”. In this understanding of history, an independent Palestinian state will eventually emerge, sovereign and democratic, at peace with its neighbour, just as Ireland and Ukraine will do the same.

And yet, as Cohen writes, there is another way of thinking about history: a Jewish understanding. “My Hebrew school history was closed,” says Blum in comparison. “It was no history; there was no past, no present, no future. Rather, there was time, as round and perfect as the earth, which from the moment it emerged from God’s spoken light had been marked by a constant repetition, not of seasons, or harvests, or astral phenomena and the holidays they governed, but of oppression, violence, and death.”

In Cohen’s novel, this rabbinical understanding of history is shared by Benzion Netanyahu, the real-life father of today’s Israeli prime minister. Benzion was one of the great historians of the Spanish Inquisition and argued that Iberian antisemitism was not the result of religious differences, but of pure Jew-hatred. As the real-life Benzion observed: “Jewish history is in large measure a history of holocausts, carried out by antisemitic leaders and factions that managed to take over whole countries or regions in times of anarchy, civil war, or rebellion. In the areas that fell under their control, all Jewish communities were wiped out.”

Apart from the sudden exposure of Hamas’s genocidal intent, for me, the most disturbing realisation of the past fortnight is that perhaps Benzion was right. Intellectually, I knew antisemitism existed, though I had never witnessed it first-hand. But now I have. After the slaughter in Israel it was Palestinian flags that were being waved in the streets where I live, with Jewish kids told by their schools to pretend not to be Jewish.

In Benzion’s understanding of history, the only way to survive this circular slaughter of history is to be armed and ready to fight. There is no solution — only vigilance. It is a pessimistic understanding, yet perhaps this is Israel’s fate, its history. This was the lesson of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the great hero of revisionist Zionism who warned the Jews of Palestine that the only way they could survive would be to build an iron wall with their neighbours. And it was also the message of Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Chief of Staff, in his celebrated eulogy to Ro’i Rotberg, a kibbutz security officer killed on the Gazan border in 1956. “Yesterday with daybreak, Ro’i was murdered,” Dayan began:

“The quiet of a spring morning blinded him, and he did not see the stalkers of his soul on the furrow. Let us not hurl blame at the murderers. Why should we complain of their hatred for us? Eight years have they sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and seen, with their own eyes, how we have made a homeland of the soil and the villages where they and their forebears once dwelt.”

But this was no call for withdrawal, guilt or even compromise. Dayan continued:

“Not from the Arabs of Gaza must we demand the blood of Roi, but from ourselves. How our eyes are closed to the reality of our fate, unwilling to see the destiny of our generation in its full cruelty
 Beyond the furrow that marks the border, lies a surging sea of hatred and vengeance, yearning for the day that the tranquillity blunts our alertness, for the day that we heed the ambassadors of conspiring hypocrisy, who call for us to lay down our arms.”

This, ultimately, is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s understanding of Israel’s predicament and, indeed, of Jewish history itself: fated to fight for survival and to be hated. And today, it feels harder than ever to argue that it is wrong. How could you, after a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor was dragged from her shelter and shot in the head not far from where Dayan spoke? The tragedy here is stark: that the more people in the West choose a history which sees the very existence of Israel as illegitimate, the more Israelis will conclude that Jabotinsky, Dayan and Benzion were right all along — that Jews are never safe, that carnage is always lurking in the dark furrows of history.


Tom McTague is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

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Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

Excellent article. I keep reading UH for this level of writing.
There is a complex reality about political Zionism rooted in centuries of a lived in experience for Jewish people.
Much of the polemics from the Left and even the Centre Left in recent days has failed to grasp that.
McTague brings this out well.

T Bone
T Bone
7 months ago

The Center-Left needs to realize every Left Wing Secular Liberation Theory is based on contradiction that these f’rs are not resolving.

These idiots think the cure to rising prices is taxing the people that control the supply of goods!

SĂžren Ferling
SĂžren Ferling
7 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I misplaced a comment – can’t delete…

Last edited 7 months ago by SĂžren Ferling
Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
7 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Well, corporations may only supply us our goods because they use government funded services so it is hardly idiotic or unfair to ask those who profit from it to pay for what they use. Even at the rates suggested they are getting a bargain.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
7 months ago

When you write, “government funded services, are you rehashing Obama’s recycling of “You didn’t build that.”?

Rob C
Rob C
7 months ago

And they will pass those taxes on to the consumer. Such a tax would also be regressive since the less income someone has, the higher percentage of it they spend on buying things.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago

Exactly , the wars of religious conquest engaged in by Muslims don’t count as colonialism because they are the will of Allah or because their victims in the west were white and therefore had it coming ?

Last edited 7 months ago by Alan Osband
D Glover
D Glover
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

I wonder what the liberal/left think about the reconquista of Spain?
Was it an oppressed people fighting back against colonialism, or white Christian Europeans revealing their Islamophobic blood-lust?

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Great point , the latter obviously

SĂžren Ferling
SĂžren Ferling
7 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

I have been in plenty of these kinds of debates.
Al Andalus is considered the pinnacle of tolerance and peaceful coexistence and the Reconquista as a corresponding pinnacle of the opposite.
Several historical studies show that the conditions were, to say the least, more mixed and predominantly the opposite.
No one knows or wants to know that the Muslims were all up around Paris in 712 or that Europe was close to falling at Vienna in 1483 (the Ottomans).

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
7 months ago

Richard Fletcher’s book on the conquest of Spain points out that where the fighting was most bitter, in Central Spain, and went on for years, the population never recovered . And Spain, like former Turkish Europe, is still under populated. Sicily, 200 years under Arab conquest, ditto.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

The Arabs were chucked out of Sicily by the Norman Conquest of 999-1139 AD. There must have other factors involved to result in such a low ‘bonking rate’?

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

I think you may have been reading the wrong books!

The attempted Umayyad (Arab) conquest of France took place in 732 AD got no further that Tours, about 125 miles SW of Paris.
The Ottoman’s two abortive sieges of Vienna took place in 1529 AD and 1683 AD respectively.

SĂžren Ferling
SĂžren Ferling
7 months ago

Yes, I just wrote quickly from memory – it was a bit sloppy. It was just for a somewhat larger perspective.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Not to worry, I do that all the time!

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago

Do you believe the story of the origin of the breakfast croissant being to celebrate the breaking of the 1683 Muslim siege of Vienna ? Why were Muslims big on crescents anyway ?

Last edited 7 months ago by Alan Osband
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Sadly NO.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago

If not croissants, what about coffee?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

What a refreshingly civil internet discourse

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago

Maybe it’s a pity it didn’t? The mix of European and Middle Eastern civilizations might have been greater than the individual parts. Each side now seems to lack what the other has, economically, culturally, morally and in many other ways.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What not transport the entire population of Gaza to the Irish Republic.?
As I recall you still haven’t fully recovered demographically from the ‘Famine’, so could probably do with the numbers.

SĂžren Ferling
SĂžren Ferling
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Not all civilizations are equally compatible.

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago

To put it mildly.

Peter D
Peter D
7 months ago

Which is a great thing. This moronic notion that everyone has to get along is so damaging. It is like homogenising the human race. Hopefully we are not being pasturised at the same time. (Sorry, I could not help myself)
Wars are sad and destructive on so many levels, but it is just the flip side of our creative genius. It is believed that Europe rose and overtook the rest of the world in many endeavours because the continent was not unified, because there was competition. Because there was someone out there willing to say yes when others said no.
We have to stop forcing everyone to live in peace and harmony because to be honest, it is unrealistic and childish. Individuals from anywhere can get along but civilizations absolutely cannot.
It is my belief that the Gaza strip be given to Egypt and they take care of the Palestinians. It is much more sensible than forcing Israel to do it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Such a sad world view from a sad little man.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That nasty comment seems meaningless except that it makes the point that people can’t get along!

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Sad but accurate. Versus the harm that has been done to the world by utopians.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Hahaha and what’s in it for Egypt ?

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

And, if you accept Jared Diamond’s explanation, Europe runs East-West rather than North-South and had more than its fair share of animals that could be domesticated.

D Glover
D Glover
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

I don’t accept Jared Diamond’s explanation. If you’ve ever used a handcart or a wheelbarrow you’ll know that it’s pretty useful.
That’s true even if you don’t have a donkey to pull it. It would be worthwhile inventing the wheel anywhere, even if there are no draught animals.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Egypt controlled Gaza from 1948-67, as Jordan controlled the West Bank. Now, neither country wants anything to do with the Palestinians. Egypt won’t take the Gazans. Look up “Black September 1970” for the Jordanian experience.

R S Foster
R S Foster
7 months ago

…closest of all in 1683, when King Jan Sobieski “the Fat” of Poland…brought his winged hussars down the Kahlenburg, and fell on the Ottomans like the very Hammer of God before that ancient Christian City, and definitively turned the tide…
…until now…

Last edited 7 months ago by R S Foster
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  R S Foster

We shall need another Jan Sobieski “the fat” in the not too distant future.

harry storm
harry storm
7 months ago

There were 2 attacks on Vienna that the Austrians repulsed. The first was in 1529, and the second was in 1683. There was no attack on Vienna in 1483.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Do keep up Harry old chap, you’re about 2hrs 10 minutes behind.

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
7 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Ah but the reconquista of Spain didn’t stop there did it? Yes it threw their muslim rulers out of Spain but it also threw the Jews out (like when Amin threw out all the Asians from Uganda). And then Spain went on to start colonization–That very same year.
1492 Spain threw over the moors. Tossed out the Jews and Columbus landed in Cuba.
So no they are not going to get credit, obviously.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Columbus first landfall was the Bahamas, the Jews were given the choice of expulsion or conversion by the 1491 AD Treaty of Grenada and the subsequent Alhambra Decree of 1493 AD.
The expulsions of the Moriscos ( Moors) did NOT begin in earnest until 1609 AD.

Morgan Evans
Morgan Evans
7 months ago

And where did the Sephardic refugees find a welcome refuge? The Ottoman Empire.

harry storm
harry storm
7 months ago

Aragon and Castile merged in 1492 as well. And I don’t think the Moors were expelled in 1492, though I could be wrong. I remember reading they were expelled about 100 years later. Again, I may be mistaken.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Again about 1hr 10 minutes behind.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago

Why ? The Jews had the opportunity to convert . Many took it . Spain defeated the Aztecs so easily because they were helped by the many tribes oppressed by them who were used in vast scale human sacrifices . The Incas while not quite so cruel were massive colonial power themselves . Though oddly historians are not so judgemental about Inca colonialism .

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

The latter, for sure.. so-called Christian savagery v Islamic civilization and culture.

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

FGM, public stonings and beheadings, honor killings and rapes, blasphemy laws, endless sectarian warfare…and this is in modern day Islamic theocracies. Far leftists have an unfailing predeliction for supporting some of the worst regimes in history.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

A bit of both

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

You have bought the Western trope about how Islam expanded “shook. line and sinker.” Islam expanded mainly by trade, and people in areas “conquered” by Islam were not forced to convert.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
7 months ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Yours is a comment so willfully ignorant of history that it does not even deserve a reply. So, you’re welcome.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Ross

Not so. Read bit more and you’ll see through your own fog. The Moors were never numerous enough to hold and garrison the Iberian penninsula. So they very intelligently opted for a softer approach.
A similar approached was used by the Normans when they conquered Sicily, in the 1050s. And a thousand years before that the Romans, all across their empire.
In these and other cases the original ruling classes suffered, but the farmers and craftsmen were mostly left to get on with it.
So you’re welcome.

harry storm
harry storm
7 months ago

Until the invasions by the Almoravids in the 11th century and the Almohades in the 12th century, also from Morrocco.

Last edited 7 months ago by harry storm
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Spot on!

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
7 months ago
Reply to  harry storm

Very true! Just trying to keep my posts short.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago

In fairness, for much of history, war and conquest were entirely an activity of the ruling class, who ruled largely by virtue of their martial prowess and maybe aided by some economic scheme. The warriors and leaders of two groups simply fought each other, and then the losers were, depending on the situation, either left in place to pay tribute in whatever form to the winner (the approach actually used by the Romans and the Persians before them), made into peasants or slaves (as the European colonizers did in various places), or eliminated entirely (the Mongols were known and feared for this approach). When one conquered an area to gain its land and resources, it made little sense to kill the people necessary to produce said resources. The peasant farmers and craftsmen that had the knowledge and expertise to produce goods and food simply exchanged one set of masters for another. They also constituted a vast majority of the population because prior to the industrial revolution, you needed a lot of peasant farmers and crafters to support a relatively small ruling class who engaged in political and military activity. You’re not saying anything that couldn’t also be said of most conflicts and conquests between the dawn of civilization and the industrial revolution, when technology increased the productivity of farming and manufacturing by several orders of magnitude, allowing significant portions of the population to do other things, like serve in national military forces. In reality, both the reconquista Spaniards and the Moors would be looked upon as unspeakably barbaric, probably nearly equally so, by modern standards, as both were concerned primarily with controlling the land and its resources for themselves and neither had much regard for the peasantry in general. You’re distorting history to suit your narrative, which, to be fair, is true of most national histories, but what are you going to do? As the author mentions, there’s really no such thing as objectivity when it comes to history.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

The Romans were rather good at “subverting the elites,” as I recall. For example Fishbourne Palace and Cogidubnus or whatever he was called.

SĂžren Ferling
SĂžren Ferling
7 months ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Hindu Kush

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
7 months ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

I remember visiting the mosque in Istanbul dedicated to a great saint and colleague of Mohammed, who died grasping the Koran in one hand, and a sword in the other, as he tried to scale the walls of Byzantium.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Certainly, in Al Andalus (Spain) the three religions thrived.. indeed Muslims were better friends to Judaism than Christianity every was. My Jewish colleague in Istanbul has mainly Islamic clients, naturally since Turkish Jews are less than 1% of the population and Islamic Turks are 97% of the population.. It generally comes as a great surprise that Jews and Muslims get on quite well almost everywhere except Israel-Palestine. I winder why that is?

harry storm
harry storm
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What a rosy — and false — picture of history. Yes, the Ottomans were good, until they weren’t, just like the Muslims in Spain, and the Babylonians before them. They also always had inferior dhimmi status. In the modern areas, there were blood libels and pogroms in Damascus (1840, 1890), Aleppo (1810, 1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jerusalem (1847), Cairo (1844, 1890, 1901–02), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 1901–02), Port Said (1903, 1908), and Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1892).
So not so rosy as you paint.

R S Foster
R S Foster
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

…the Balkan families whose little boys were taken for the janissaries (unless unlucky, and castrated to become eunuchs in the harem)…and whose little girls were taken for the harem…under the Devscirme system…might give you an argument on this…
…as indeed might the families of young Irish girls taken from your own southern coastline in the C15/16/17th, by Muslim Barbary Corsairs…for the same purpose, and the same Ottoman Turkish customers…until the Royal Navy smartened them up…
…redheads being especially prized, because of their allegedly “licentious nature”…
…the slave trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Muslim World started at least a thousand years before the rather brief trans-Atlantic component, about which so much has been written…and lasted longer as did North African Slaving expeditions into Southern Europe, Southern Ireland and South-Western England…
…the whole business running for so long that the great North and sub-Saharan African Empires of that period were built on it for many, many Centuries…
…and indeed the earliest post-Crusade European punitive expeditions against the Muslim World…right back to the Knights of Saint of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta…were undertaken against slavers…
The Oba of Benin bought his bronze from Portugal…for slaves, whom the Portugese took to Brazil…

Last edited 7 months ago by R S Foster
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 months ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Yep, that’s why Islam has the death penalty for apostasy, because all those people converted to a backward desert cult (even by medieval standards) due to their love of the religion.

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

There are I think a lot of reasons for this. Firstly most christian background folks don’t know much about the Muslim world. They are just ignorant. (And that includes a lot of people who do make this point. They pick out stray facts or history ignoring the vast diverse Muslim cultures, nations and empire etc) Secondly, like most colonizer cultures, they are great at placing loss of power as themselves as victims–white planters adjusting to either the end of the slavery, white southeners after segregation and white men now. The British and French regarding former colonies asserting themselves…It ain’t pretty. But if your politics/culture doesn’t tag them as those in power–becuae in our culture they are not. well you won’t see it as coming from that place. How could you? Then in the Black community of course there has long been a threat of embracing Islam/Arab cultures. There are complex reasons for this but the Black Self-Respect movement being tied so closely to it doesn’t hurt.
So no a lot on the Left just view the Islamic world through the lens of their own time, place and culture. The same exact thing can be said on the Right and center though. And as for anti-semitism, the right has contributed to it mightily and violently. Space lasers anyone?

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago

Good to see that you use the freedom given to you in Western culture to advocate for one that, if you lived under it, would genitally mutilate you, force you to dress according to their standards, give you no right to free expression and violently oppress you if you did not go along.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

It’s not about whites.
Despite what “locals” might profess, as an Indian I would maintain being colonised by the British was severely, shall we say, sub optimal.

But the British colonisation just cannot be compared to the prior islamic colonialism.
They couldn’t compare to the sheer barbarity , with tens of millions killed.
Or the propensity towards slavery and rape on a massive scale.
Or the utter disregard for science and education.
Or the savage religious bigotry, with so many “voluntarily” converting or mysteriously dying after refusing to do so.

But, our western liberals will happily badmouth western civilization – even though, today, they are as tolerant and civilised as can be, even to their own detriment – while they will refuse to condemn the islamic tyrants who murdered, enslaved and forcibly converted far more.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Yes. Spot on.
The Islamic rule in India was hardly the golden era that Left historians portray it as.
Conversely much good came about from the early EIC days of British presence.

And the sad thing is that the activist Woke lobby from India( just holding press conferences galore in support of Hamas btw) finds easy acceptability even here on UH.
I find such trash on contemporary India being written by the Left ecosystem on a supposedly right- wing and free thinking site, that I sometimes seriously think of cancelling my subscription sometimes.

Last edited 7 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Yes odd how we sometimes tend to eulogise the Mogul Empire, probably due to fame of the Taj Mahal and the Tomb of Humayun, both essentially Persian buildings.

Then when when you consider that maniac Aurangzeb you understand what a disaster it was.

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

Even the paragon of virtue for Nehruvian Marxist historiography -Akbar wasn’t blameless. Brutal invoking of Jihad to smash Hemu in Kabul and to take Chittorgarh.
Only Dara Shikoh was the true sui generis tolerant face of Mughaldom, and that’s why he met his cruel end.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

I recall visiting Fatehpur Sikri some years ago and being harangued by my (Moslem) guide as to what a paragon virtue Akbar was. It all seemed too perfect!
Ah Chittorgarh and its wonderful Victory Tower or was it two? They reminded me of the Roman Triumphal Arch!
I know little of Dara Shikoh , so thanks for the ‘hint’.
Disappointing days cricket! Probably even worse tonight with the Rugby!

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

Yes, a day for ” giant killers”!? Suspect we may be in for a shock today( am apprehensive about HP’s absence..)

Chittorgarh still celebrates Holi ( Colours Festival) with red colour to signify the bloody massacre of 30- 40,000 innocents by ” Jihadi” Akbar.
He also took rich pickings for his ” harem” with any woman who survived the ” Jauhar”.
Of course the Left is amnesiac about these matters- it was only a ” peaceful” surrender to the ” natural” tendencies of a victor…

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

“A gloom in peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head today”.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

Did the rugby also go similar?!
If we don’t take some quick wickets and instead get felled by the Kiwis I shall have to go into mourning for a while..

Last edited 7 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Yes a SA penalty in the dying moments of the game gave them a hard earned victory.

All rather reminiscent of the final 20 years ago against the Aussies, although on that occasion the Gods smiled on us!

Looks pretty tense, lots of pressure on Mr Kohli!
Good luck!

As@ 17.40 BST: Well done, an epic finish!

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

” Birds are singing, the sun is shining, God’s in his Heaven”! Thank the Lord. Tight though, albeit sweet revenge for the sad event of 2019!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Sadly I must report that out BBC 5 Live extra was somewhat spoiled by our female commentator, who appeared to do nothing but only how to shriek.

I’m not asking for a return to the incomparable John Snagg or John Arnott but ‘we’ must do better.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

Strangely enough I agree with you! I am not too keen on ” female” commentators for either cricket or ” the beautiful game”.
Some things are best left to Mars and not Venus!
John Arlott ( presume you meant him)was simply splendid. I used to like Henry Blofeld too.

Last edited 7 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Yes Arlott
.thanks
off to Specsavers!

I did like your splendid expression “Mars not Venus” and no doubt will use it as nauseam!

Henry Blofeld still fighting hard to stop the wretched MCC abandoning the Eton and Harrow match.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago

Yes, I heard him trying hard to be PC in a July interview with Freddie Gray on Spectator TV… thankfully he gave up midway!
The MCC needs to be disbanded if it decides that? Else why not hold it in India with Mayo versus Doon and North Point Darjeeling versus St Paul’s D for good measure?!

R S Foster
R S Foster
7 months ago

…don’t despair on the Rugby front, Chaps…Six Nations is to come, and we got better match by match. Although I was bloody fed up yesterday!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Why would you do that? Isn’t free thinking and free speaking what it’s all about? Do you prefer to only preach to the converted in an echo chamber? Not much of a challenge and rather boring don’t you think?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I fail to see much intelligence and ability to engage in factual discussion from most who espouse Leftist causes. They usually start with a preconceived ideological “given” and once facts don’t support the ” cause” it gets to personal name calling and slander.
I agree with you about the ” echo chamber”. Frankly I like debate and discussion, but only if it is based on an ability to work out differences.
I.E ” to agree to disagree”. Not a great talent of the Left inclined in my own experience.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Slander?! Really? In that case I agree, you should depart.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

What ho! I must have been really irked to be so rhetorical!
And as long as Tom, Mary and Philip write as well as they do, I remain attracted!

Last edited 7 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
7 months ago

Let’s do an Ike and make the problem bigger.
Our world ruling class, for about the last century or so, is an educated class. It rules through a political formula that it is the Ally of the Oppressed Peoples fighting against the White Oppressors. The only question is who the Oppressed Peoples are du jour and who the White Oppressors are. Rule One is that the progressive educated class cannot be the oppressors, even though the worst oppressors in history were the educated Joey Stalin and the educated Mao Zedong. (And hoo boy, did they believe in “endless progress and liberation.”)
Obviously, judging from the kiddies at gubmint universites peacefully protesting against the Israelis, our ruling class has decided that Palestinians are Oppressed Peoples and the Israelis are White Oppressors. You may disagree, but you don’t matter.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
7 months ago

Are you agreeing, then, that “oppression” is “the” irreducible fact of life (human as well as nonhuman)? Did Foucault point out to us only how childish liberal democratic aspersions are? How childish, that is, the “idea of progress” is? When the Jewish people are tempted by, and then succumb to, that idea, they succeed in proving only how unshakable oppression is. That seems to be the awful truth.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago

With few exceptions, Mr. Chantrill, you advance an insistent narrative of sinister dominance by an “educated-elite-ruling class”. Does that educated-elite-ruling class somehow not include the many hard-right top-university- graduate lawyers and MDs–one-percenters or not–who populate the Republican (and Democratic) benches in Congress? Nor the many libertarian or fiscally-conservative owners and CEOs of massive companies and corporations, woke public relations campaigns notwithstanding?
You seem to appropriate and invert Marxist terminology for your own reductive Grand Narrative purposes. I think “Joey” Stalin was a seminary dropout and semi-autodidact, similar in that way to his Austrian-born contemporary, an art-school wannabe who tells of his “struggle” in a famous little book.
Do you suggest a return to some distant past when the elite-ruling-class, and nearly everyone else, was illiterate? Even then, the Elite were “educated” in some sense, taught how to comport themselves and quite literally “lord it” over their inferiors if needed. And are autodidacts part of the problem or solution, perhaps fit for the New Proletarian revolution if they can prove they’ve only read Edmund Burke, Milton Freidman, Ayn Rand, and the Bible?
If you can, please tell me how an Ivy League graduate who inherited $10 million (in the Seventies) and former-or-current MAGA associates such as Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Paul Manafort, and Rudy Giuliani belong–to the extent they’re reducible thereto for Grand Narrative effect–to anything other than an educated-elite-ruling-class?

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Whataboutism ai its finest.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Thanks for the superlative. So anything that dissents from the Grand Narrative(s) or one true thought-tribe that you prefer is heresy whataboutism? Responding to what I wrote with a buzzword seems like bubble-dwelling single-true-sidedness, though not at its finest.
*And while we’re here: What about the other side of the equation? It doesn’t exist? If prominent election obstructionists like Giuliani, Sydney Powell, or Roger Stone spout nonsense that you may want to hear then they no longer belong to the educated-elite-ruling class you acknowledge? All the educated elites and rulers are of the Left?

Last edited 7 months ago by AJ Mac
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago

Quite simply, McTague’s best Unherd article. I have a new respect for his writing after this searingly honest and well-researched account, with perspectives on both history and the nation state that surpass the immediate crisis.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
7 months ago

Superb and excellently written piece. It has struck me how many of the “good” people in this country and the West more generally have absolutely no understanding of the Israeli or Jewish condition. This hits the nail on the head and then some.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Those “good” people will soon realize that this is not just about the Jews. It’s about all us infidels! It will be a wake up call when the “Queers for Palestine” ever get to meet their heroes and see first-hand what terror means.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

If you’re concerned about us Infidels please also note we qualify as Gentiles (or Goys) as well. In either case we have much the same status as the Austrian artist assigned to so many of us.. I’m not sure if religious slurs advance our understanding that much..

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

He meant infidels as in not Muslim.

Your misunderstanding reveals a lot about your worldview.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

So true, I’ve said the same thing.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

OMG exactly! It would not be a pretty sight! But of course, there have to be some queers in the closet in Palestine, living lives of misery.

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

How about a GoFundMe to buy them tickets and hotel accommodations?

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
7 months ago

As an American, listening to Ivy League professors, and younger colleagues at the school where I teach (I am 58), I have been in a state of horror and grief the past two weeks. I am not Jewish, but grew up with many Jewish friends – attended many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs as a kid, visited Temple with friends. And my best friend attended Catholic Church with me more than once. I always felt great connection with my Jewish friends, despite our religious differences – there was a shared value system, cultural beliefs, family commonalities.
The HS where I teach is predominantly white, but we have a growing Muslim population, as well as Indian, and Black students, Latino, etc. We have very few Jewish students. In the past week, there have been 4 significant anti-Semitic incidents, including students being beaten up, spit on, and threatened by Muslim students. I am in shock by the events, obviously from kids taking in the words of adults in person or online. But more so, by the lack of reaction from colleagues. I am seeing raging anti-Semitism and NO understanding of the poison of this from colleagues.
A couple of Jewish students I have confessed they are afraid to come to school. It’s like the tide has completely turned in light of this colonialism/DEI narrative, and suddenly Jewish people are akin to white colonialists. I cannot fathom this. We used to always teach The Diary of Anne Frank, Night by Elie Wiesel. By these classic texts have been replaced by student choice books. Sigh, younger teachers think students should have control of everything even though they know nothing.
I wonder as the author so rightly points out, how many of these far left liberals would feel if they had to give their land back to the Native Americans who are the most mistreated people, possibly on earth – destitute, stripped of their culture, their pride, their land. Now alcoholic, suicidal. Or would they feel deserving of bloody murder and rape for the state of affairs on reservations. But that isn’t even really an apt comparison because Native Americans don’t plot and plan to bomb and kill anyone.
How do we fix this? How have Jewish people gone from the victims of the most horrific crime in history – the Holocaust – to colonizers in less than a century? Why is everything Black and White, literally? Colleges are brainwashing young people to believe men can be women, and Jews are colonizers. This is evil.
Last thought, the worst part is when I speak up on behalf of Israel at school, I am looked at as a racist. What is this world we are living in?

Last edited 7 months ago by Samantha Stevens
Glyn R
Glyn R
7 months ago

When I was teaching in London a five year old boy, born of Algerian parents, came up to me and, quite out of the blue, said, ” I hate the jew”. I asked him why he felt that way and he answered, “They kill my people.”
He had not learned this online, he had learned it from those closest to him. He was five years old. It has been known for a long time that anti-semitism runs deep in many muslim communities. Why has this never been addressed but swept under the carpet?
To try and understand how the Left had come to seize on the narrative that Israeli jews are white colonisers I read a book called, The Left’s Jewish Problem by Dave Rich.
I recommend people read it. Rich makes his case succinctly and underpins it with a great deal of evidence.

Last edited 7 months ago by Glyn R
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
7 months ago

Some valuable points made about Hamas’ cult of Islamic colonisation here which might be considered worthy of broadcast by the West’s ‘anti-Zionist’ news media (with a few worthy exceptions).

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago

The author’s last thought in this article is all he needed to write– “Jews are never safe “.
You must always conflate, yes conflate, anti-Zionism and antisemitism. If you hate Israel, if you question its right to exist, then you hate Jews. Martin Luther King, who had many Jewish friends and allies, once said, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism,”.
If your reflex to the above paragraph is “I don’t hate (the parliamentary democracy) of Israel, I specifically hate the Netanyahu government.” That’s a convenient deflection. Israel has had 37 governments represented in the Knesset since 1948, and the majority of the world, especially the 50 Muslim dominated nations, has condemned them all.
If you think the European history of Jewish hatred began in the 1930’s, you’d be off by almost 2 millennium. The emperor Tiberius expelled the Jews from Rome in 19 CE.
My maternal grandfather fled Russia in the late 1890’s to escape the oncoming “pogroms”, which had been coming and going in that part of the world since 1821. A pogrom is defined as “an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jewish people in Russia or eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” Can you imagine a similar term needing to be coined for any other recognized religious group?
Yesterday, in New York City, which has the second largest concentration of Jews in the world, a man punched a woman in the face inside the subway. When this woman asked why he did this, he answered because “you are Jewish”. He didn’t say because “you’re a Zionist (or Israeli) sympathizer “, but specifically because she was a Jew. In the meantime, above ground Palestinian supporters have been burning Israeli flags, and harassing supporters of the Jewish homeland.
https://nypost.com/2023/10/18/man-punches-jewish-woman-in-the-face-on-nyc-subway-in-alleged-hate-crime/
It took the Norman conquest in 1066 before Jews were allowed to emigrate to England. But, Jews weren’t allowed into Sweden until 1681…and weren’t accepted into Argentina until the 1850’s. Jew hatred, or at least wariness, has always existed around the globe…and sadly, it always will, which is why the existence of Israel is essential to Jewish survival.
Lastly, confusingly Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib bemoans her family’s expulsion from Palestine, and identifies as a Palestinian immigrant, yet she was born in Detroit (MI). Her mother was born in Ramallah, Jordan, and her grandmother was born in British Mandatory Palestine. In short, there’s no such thing as a Palestinian refugee, because there’s never been a nation called Palestine.

Last edited 7 months ago by Abe Stamm
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

I would have thought that SYRIA PALAESTINA was close enough?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago

Well spotted Charlie my boy!

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago

Syria Palaestina was better know as Roman Palestine (circa 2-4 AD), and was Roman controlled. The word “Palestine” doesn’t appear in the Koran and has absolutely no link to the Muslim religion. Nobody really knows where the derivation of the word Palestine came from, but a popular theory is that it’s morphed from “Philistine”, an Aegean people who conquered what is now Israel and Gaza in the 12 Century BCE…but, again, it’s not an Arabic word.

Dr Michael Cohen
Dr Michael Cohen
7 months ago

from Wikipedia: Zachary Foster in his doctoral dissertation wrote that “Most scholars believe the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the provincial administrative name of Judaea to Palestine to erase the Jewish presence in the land,” opining that “it’s equally likely the name change had little to do with Jew hatred and more to do with Hadrian’s romance with ancient Greece.” He adds, there is a “paucity of direct evidence around who made the change, when and under what circumstances”, and that it may be that Hadrian did not “rename” the country but simply “called the place what it was called”

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Impressive post. The long and tragic story of the Jewish people is told in the Old Testament. It’s all there for the world to understand, but most people’s minds are closed to truth.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

..most are closed to myth and fabrication and wisely so.. even in myth the Israelites were big into smiting indigenous peoples and slaughtering them mercilessly..

Jacques Rossat
Jacques Rossat
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

All of the above sounds right to me, as well as the proposition that Jews will alas eternally have to fight against people who hate them. However, even if this a typical Western position, of which I’m proud, the moral status of Israel among its many supporters in Europe and the US would be much enhanced if it abstained of and condemn such obviously excessive stances as moving one million of persons like it did some days ago, tolerating routine “mini pogroms” against Arab villages in the West Bank, and deliberately try to weaken democratic pillars like the Supreme Court (the role of which is essential in a constitution-less country).

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

The Israeli Defense Force is saying, in my words, “move south, there’s lots of room for you do so…because we’re going to come in heavy with bombs that will destroy the network of deep underground tunnels in the north, especially those that enter Egypt. And, we’re pretty certain we know where Hamas hide their munitions, and you don’t want to be anywhere nearby when we strike them.”
Gaza is 141 square miles. Manhattan is 22.82 square miles and has a population almost as large as Gaza. The Gazan civilians have had ample time to move to safety…the IDF know exactly where they’ll be, and will avoid that area, unless Hamas troops have infiltrated it.
Regarding ‘mini pogroms’ in the West Bank. I’ve only read of incidences of strikes against militants. Remember, while Hamas rules Gaza, terrorist organizations Hezbollah and the former PLO rule the West Bank.
Regarding the Supreme Court, my understanding is that the change that is being proposed would make the Israel judiciary more inline with U.S. and Great Britain, where the legislative branch appoints the judges to the Supreme Court. That’s not the case now. I don’t know if this is a good or bad idea.

Last edited 7 months ago by Abe Stamm
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Garbage.. one isolated incident on a train to prove a point? If there was never a state called Palestine, why did the Romans call Palestine, Palestine? And why does my old Atlas call Palestine Palestine?
It was first named by the ancient Greeks as Philistia (Philistines) and renamed Palestine by the Romans.. and has been known ever since as Palestine.
It was never known as Israel! not even by the Israelites. Israel is a people, descended from Caananites, Hamites and Jebuites, with a common faith now largely no longer practiced. It is not and never was not a country.
Zionism is a movement born of sneaky invasion, terrorism, land theft, apartheid and genocide.. but a very nice movement apart from those minor shortcomings..

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The “Levant” is another popular term for the region that includes Israel, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Canaan is another Biblical name given to this same region. But, the region has never been known as a nation of Palestine, and again, ‘Palestine” is no an Arabic word. It’s a region of Arabs…Arab-Muslims, Arab-Christians, Arab-Druze, Arab-Jews, plus the Persians of Iran…not Palestinians.
It’s believed, not proven, because little can be proven about social history that happened over 2,000 years ago, that the Romans changed the geographical name Judea to Palestine, as a way to say, “F–k you! This is no longer your land, it’s ours.” It’s one of many historical middle fingers that the indigenous Jews of present day Israel have endured from their oppressors.

Rob N
Rob N
7 months ago

Israel and Palestine is a big and complex issue but personally I am more worried about the forthcoming ethnic cleansing that is going to happen in the UK. How painful will it be and who is going to win: the young, fiery religious zealots or the weak decadent native Brits.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

.
are we back to the old “rivers of blood” again, ie quotating from the Book of Enoch. Armageddon awaits I guess?

Jimmy Snooks
Jimmy Snooks
7 months ago

Superb writing and insight. Keep up the great work, Tom.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
7 months ago

The author remarks, there in the now-common refrain that “Zionism is racism” or even “white supremacy”. In this view, Jews are just white Europeans, a bleakly dark irony of its own.” The very fact of the matter, the verifiable truth is that the majority of Israel consists of “people of color”, and has since its inception in 1948. I’ll explain.
Once the United Nations vote for Israeli independence become a done deal, the Muslim-Arab nations were up in arms, literally up in arms. On May 14th, 1948, the brand new country of Israel was attacked by the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Though the United Nations brokered a ceasefire, the Jews of Israel proved themselves to be tenacious fighters. They still are. Before launching their assault, Israelis enemies encouraged those living with the new Israeli borders to flee…assuring them that they could return once the Israelis were defeated. 500,000 Arabs fled Israel, and Israel triumphed. Those are your present day ‘refugees’, who have since multiplied into the millions. Today, there are 2,000,000+ non-Jewish Arabs, most Muslim, who live within Israel as full citizenship, with the same rights as Jews…a fact that’s rarely mentioned by the global press.
At the same time that 500,000 Arabs were fleeing Israel by there own choice, 850,000 Jews were being expelled from: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Turkey, and many other Arab/North African nations. The majority of these Jews formed the core of modern day Israel. These people are undeniably “people of color”, and those who later immigrated from Ethiopia are BLACK.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Interesting, who knew!

Lewis Lorton
Lewis Lorton
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I am amazed that people can have opinions about subjects they know little about.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Lewis Lorton

What people? Don’t be coy, name names.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
7 months ago

I was very put off by the tiny caption to the photo. (Criticism of Israel is not anti-semitic. That’s a silly accusation, thrown in anger.)
I read the essay anyway. And I’m very glad I did. Growing up in NYC I’m very sympathetic with the feelings of my Jewish friends and neighbors, and their not-unreasonable distrust of the rest of us. And I’ve heard viscious, hateful anti-semitism. Many times. It’s a form of madness really. What Hamas did was beyond madness.
My criticising Israeli policies is nothing of the sort.
Meanwhile, the Israelis will have their revenge. And who could blame them? By hook or by crook, Hamas must be destroyed. For everyone’s sake.

Last edited 7 months ago by laurence scaduto
P N
P N
7 months ago

Western media has either forgotten or purposefully ignores the huge role played by the USSR in creating Hamas and the anti-Israeli propaganda that we still swallow today. Even the concept of a “Palestinian” is a Soviet construct. Before the 1960s Muslims living in Palestine were simply known as Arabs, with no distinction between Arabs living elsewhere in the Levant. The purpose of giving those Arabs a distinct identity was to turn Western public perception against Israel; no longer were Israelis an oppressed minority surrounded by Arabs but they were an oppressive majority surrounding Palestinians. The Soviets (and the Romanians, from whom we get the inside story of Kremlin manoeuvres) persuaded Arafat to change his message from the destruction of Israel to the liberation of “Palestinians”. The Soviets understood this oppression story would be far more effective in gathering Western support than the destruction goal. They were right. 
There are 22 Arab countries between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean covering approximately 2.5 million square miles. Can they not find room for one small Jewish state the size of Wales?
The Middle East has been part of various empires since the dawn of history. The modern concept of a nation state was thrust upon it, ironically, by Western colonial powers. That doesn’t seem to have worked very well. Maybe imperialism isn’t so bad after all?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  P N

Wow, that’s fascinating, thank you. I suppose I should verify it rather than just accepting blindly accepting, however, it sounds about right.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

The primary sources for this are the best way to verify it. You can read the testimony of Major General Ion Mihai Pacepa, a Romanian defector under Ceaucescu, and Zahir Muhsein, a high ranking PLO member.

Saul D
Saul D
7 months ago

Immigrants dispossessing the natives. Missionary beliefs supplanting the old cultures and ways of living. Crises of resources from co-habitation. Settlers getting state protection with the forceful suppression of local protests. Re-education and reframing of history to make the settlers more worthy than the people they supplant. Cultural battles on beliefs and governance. Fights and wars for cultural dominance. Resistance. Then independence. And then the cycle starts again.
The story of the Europeans into their Empires … the Empires back into Europe. Continual turning tides of migration. Are we the settled, the settlers, or the displaced?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Saul D

’tis hard to know, isn’t it? A little pinch of white man; wrap it up in black skin, add a bit of blue blood and a little, little bit of Indian..
My take is we’re all the same, ie in any group there’s the good, the bad and the ugly.. in my experience that 3 drawer filing cabinet works better than all the Religiously, Ethnically, Colour coded, Nationally divided filing system.. far fewer drawers for one thing!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

That may apply to America but not to the Middle East thanks to the nonsense called religion.

Ben Shipley
Ben Shipley
7 months ago

For obvious reasons, I’m always troubled by talk of “solutions” in the context of Jewish history. In any other context, they always come down to trite, simplistic outcomes that only work if you ignore the messiness of history. Nothing could be better evidence of this than the Free Palestine movement, which depends on a comic-book-level understanding of both history and the present—and future—of the Middle East. No wonder it has gained so much purchase amid the shallow catastrophe that is modern education.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Ben Shipley

So true.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago

“Intellectually, I knew antisemitism existed, though I had never witnessed it first-hand”. Tom McTague is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election. The 2017 general election was very nearly won by Jeremy Corbyn. Truly none so blind as those who will not see.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago

If this is correct – and I’m pretty much persuaded it is – then of course there is no solution for either the Jews or the civilised world in the idea that Jews should not possess Israel. Move the Jews anywhere on the planet and they will still face the unique demand from a significant proportion of the rest of humanity to justify their own existence in ways that other peoples simply do not.

It also begs the question as to whether Zionism would no longer be an issue if the Jews vacated the land of Israel now. By extension of the logic in the article, Zionism or an equivalent concept in future would always be what applies to those who accept the Jews’ right to exist as a distinct people in possession of their own nation, and it would always be the basis of the stupid and specious claim that those who oppose this are not in fact racists, as they keep insisting, when in fact they are indeed exactly that.

The other thing that amazes me is that the West still hasn’t publicly taken the step of identifying Fascism in its modern form. The people getting away with celebrating the murder and kidnap of Jews by Islamist terrorists are fascists, and I don’t understand why we’re not admitting that this is the case.

Last edited 7 months ago by John Riordan
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Who is “we”? I don’t mind saying it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Or should that be “who are we”?!

rogerdog Wsw
rogerdog Wsw
7 months ago

The Arabs invaded Palestine from the Hejaz in 629, about 1300 years ago whereas the Jews were living in Palestine 4000 years ago.
It is the Jews who are the real Palestinians and the Arabs who are the settlers.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  rogerdog Wsw

2000 BC! That is a ridiculous exaggeration, and you know it.

R S Foster
R S Foster
7 months ago

…the difficulty that we in the West face is that our public and political discourse is essentially secular…with even those of Christian Faith (or having moral and social standards set by that faith)…see these as private matters of conscience, not as a way of shaping action. And in addition, that faith is inclusive…not just seeking to draw others to it, but also embracing people of goodwill who do not share it, on the basis of conduct.
The difference with Judaism is marked, in that one needs to be born into it…but that with Islam is both marked and terrifying…in that Islam (which means “submission”)…asserts that only by coming to it will one be saved at the Day of Judgement…but if one does not “Submit”…one will burn in hellfire for all eternity…
…and in consequence, if one has not “submitted”…has not come to Islam…is not Muslim…one has no value, and can be raped, brutalised or killed by “The Faithful” whenever and however they choose…and can live amongst them only as second-class people, subject to the “Jizya”, legitimate oppression…at their will.
We cannot grasp that we are dealing with C7th Jihadists who think it their Holy Mission to conquer the whole world, and everyone in it…
…so I’d suggest we need at the least to check our approach against the views of the most uncompromising, flinty and unbending of Evangelical Christians…who might understand how this works in our antagonist’s heads.
If we are dealing with Jihadis…we need the nearest equivalent we can find to C11th Crusaders. Who successfully led the first counter-offensive against those who seek to obliterate us…

Last edited 7 months ago by R S Foster
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

The source of this problem was the rank timidity shown by the Israelis in 1967. Had they acted with the audacity of say Ancient Rome, we would not now be vexed by this nonsense.

On capturing Jerusalem they should have IMMEDIATELY demolished both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and instantly started the construction of the Third Temple. Failure to do so could only be interpreted as weakness.

VAE VICTIS! As ‘you know who’ would have said.

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Hazel Gazit
Hazel Gazit
7 months ago

Certainly in the eyes of its Islamic enemies this was indeed a sign of weakness. However, I hope that Israel never stoops as low as the Arabs.

Warren Green
Warren Green
7 months ago

Why on earth construct a temple? What would you do in it? There are ethnic differences between Israelis as well


Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Green

God knows! What did they do last time?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago

‘sold pigeons and goats I think until one of their rabbis whipped ’em out!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago

Ah yes, the old boot on the neck approach.. yeah, it might have worked I suppose?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

It worked quite well in the Emerald Isle for quite a few centuries as I recall.

tom j
tom j
7 months ago

“Then came the inevitable response: the air assault on Gaza which has killed at least 3,000 Palestinians.”
Does this include the “500” killed at the hospital the other day? Do you have any evidence at all for this 3,000 figure?

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
7 months ago
Reply to  tom j

Hamas said it so it must be true.

Yoram Mimoun
Yoram Mimoun
7 months ago

Concerning the impossibility of a Western mind to understand the resorts of the Israeli-Palestinian bloody and unfinishable conflict, I have heard an interesting point from a pro-Israel Arab Israeli. He drew attention to the fact that the great and astonishing victories of Israel toward its Arab enemies were always the fact of people who had a soviet conception of war, giving little attention the human rights and not believing to much in diplomacy, a conception fitted to the Middle East where fact matter more than values, in consequence of what the military success on the field is the sole legitim consideration. 
But although I quite agree with that it puts Israel in an extremely complicated situation which has to do with the very split identity of this state, or more accurately the discrepancy between Israel’s geographic place and its cultural affinities, which ensue in a tragical difficulty to explain itself to his own allies. In the Western world, honest observers were unanimous to condemn the terrorist attack of Hamas and almost everyone understood the necessity of a military operation, but the nitty gritty application of this healthy reasoning on the field were radically different. Seeing civilian victims in Gaza is unbearable for a mind who believes in diplomacy or in any kind of soft solutions.  

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

It’s not impossible for a Westerner to understand history, current events and the professions of Hamas. One side has always believed in peace and the other genocide.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

If you’re suggesting that Israelis believe in peace they’ve a funny way of going about it! I suppose N€zÂĄ Germany believed in a kind of Pax Romana as well? I keep my boot on your neck and there will be peace between us.
Yeah, that might work I suppose?

Yoram Mimoun
Yoram Mimoun
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The point is not understanding history as a theory but the willing to react firmly when it’s necessary, even if at the price of (many) blood, toil, tears and sweat.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

..or a mind (heart?) that believes in justice, fairness, decency and morals; a mind that cannot understand why pointless hatred always trumps mutual understanding and effective cooperation.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Yoram Mimoun

And the civilian victims in Israel?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago

Regarding the tragedy of Jewish history, two book recommendations – both about the lost Jewish schtetl of Trochenbrod (which was located in what is now Ukraine):
The Heavens Are Empty – Avrom Bendavid-Val
I Want You To Know We’re Still Here – Esther Safran Foer
Regarding the Austro-Hungarian empire, the drive towards nation states and the odd things that happen during those struggles: https://katharinewrites.com/home/story-republic-heinzenland/
Austria is an interesting place to be if you are interested in discussions about Jewish history and the idea of a nation state. You will still hear quite a lot of Roth-like nostalgic sighing over “everyone having lived together peacefully in the empire”. And also a lot of fear about nationalist thinking – although this is mainly a reaction to the excesses of the Nazi period rather than any lingering trauma from the breakup of the Habsburg Empire. However – at this time, there is clear support for Israel and its national sovereignty: a historical imperative considering the semi-recent past, but quite a contradiction considering the scorn which is aimed at those arguing (for example) for EU power to be rolled back and for the nation state to be strengthened.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Try the Old Testament for the original source of it all.

Narcissa Smith-Harris
Narcissa Smith-Harris
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I mean my Czech Jewish step-grandmother who left Germany as a student because of Hitler and then had to leave Czechoslovakia on the last train out, was rejected in Paris and only got to stay in Britain by the happenstance and the skin of her teeth….she said everyone lived together just fine in Germany. Lots of assimilation. Her mother died in Auschwitz, sent there by the commander her occupied her home who “had known her since he was 5 years old”. So yeah, I don’t think one can trust to much these stories of civility.
And while I’m glad for the writer he’s never actually experienced anti-semitism but anti-semitic violence has topped the violence by religious association since at least I’ve been in college which was quite a while ago.

Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂșa
Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂșa
7 months ago

«In this view, Jews are just white Europeans, a bleakly dark irony of its own.»
I would venture to say that this view of Jews as a people, and specifically the Jews of the State of Israel, is not only present in the anti-colonialist Left and the opponents of Israel in its region (some think that the State of Israel is merely a modern recreation of the Crusader Kingdom of Acre), but that it is also (somewhat paradoxically) widely, though not universally, shared by Israel’s friends on the Left as well as on the Right.
The notion that Israel represents an extension of Western Civilization in the Middle East, whether one views (incorrectly, by the way) that Western Civilization is equivalent to liberal civilization, the non-sequitur that “Israel is the only liberal democracy in an authoritarian and backward Middle East, therefore it deserves special protection from and assistance from other liberal democracies and from liberal-democrats everywhere” is quite common among friends of Israel, even if it merely restates the view that Jews are just white Europeans (they are not, the Jews are a Middle Eastern people).
Directly tied to the (utterly ridiculous) view of Israel as a modern-day Crusader State is the (again, mistaken) notion of a common “Judeo-Christian” culture and that the and the (correct) statement that Christians are treated in Israel the best in the Middle East somehow oblige Christians and the citizens of formerly (though not presently) Christian countries to offer special protection to the State of Israel against its Islamic neighbors. Even if this is a less common view (as I said, there are hardly any Christians, meaning Catholics, left in the godless or churchless West), this is also a mere restatment of the view that Jews are just white Europeans, even if Judaism and Christianity are not only vastly different religions, but are actually mutually incompatible religions (both being also incompatible with Islam).
This puts Israel in a rather difficult position, because on the one hand it does need allies in a region of the world full of States and organizations that would want to destroy it, but on the other hand, when these alliances are conditional (on the part of the West), on the Jewish nation-state and its citizens being something it is not and can never be, viz. white Europeans, that is a serious problem. Not only do Israel’s enemies have a mistaken view thereof, but those who could be Israel’s friends also mistake Israel for something it is not, and make their assistance conditional on their false image of Israel being true.
I really do hope that a long-lasting and satisfactory solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict can eventually be found.

P N
P N
7 months ago

Assistance to Israel is not conditional on their being white Europeans. It is based on the assumption that Israel has a right to exist and any sovereign state is entitled to defend itself from terror attacks.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
7 months ago

Thank you so much for this insightful and thought provoking article- which also serves A great example of why I subscribe to Unherd.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago

I thought this was an interesting article, though it didn’t delve into some of the misapprehensions about history. It mentions the Rabbinical history, and yes, that is the history that is taught in the schools, the exodus and the promised land. There is no serious evidence for that; it is a founding myth. The Israelites emerged from the Canaanites, tribes in Judah and Samaria, now partly the Occupied West Bank, land which Israel always coveted and planned to expropriate, as has been extensively documented by Ilan Pappe. 
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard in the last 11 days that ‘Israel gave the Palestinians the Gaza strip’, partly to try to (unsuccessfully) negate the claim that Gaza is an open-air prison or concentration camp. If we go back in history, Gaza was a part of the coastal settlements of the Philistines. After the British threw in the towel, Gaza was part of Egypt and was illegally seized in 1967. ‘Giving’ is not really the concept that captures what happened here.
Gaza is now full of refugees and their descendants from the 1948 war when they were displaced from their lands. 90% of Gazans have never met a Jewish person. This historical fact cannot be denied; it cannot be decontextualised in the current conflict. The idea that Israelis are ‘settlers’ or ‘occupiers’ long predates modern critical social justice and post-colonialism. The language of these movements may be colouring contemporary discourse and the sloganising of protestors, but if these movements had never come about, then there would still be the language of ‘settlers’ and ‘occupiers’.
So where does that leave us on the historical injustice of 1948 and beyond? Should Jewish people up sticks and leave? Absolutely not. They are there, they are staying there, and that is the reality. History is not static. Shlomo Sand, in his comprehensive deconstruction of standard Jewish history, The Invention of the Jewish People, puts it well:
“If we want to organize the world as it was two thousand years ago, we will end up with a huge insane asylum. Nor does a religious link to a holy place confer any rights on it: this is true for Zionists today as it was for the Crusaders of yesterday. On this point, I must point out that this position does not lead me to deny the right of the state of Israel to exist. I have said time and again that a child born of rape has the right to live. The fact is there: refugees from Europe in the wake of the terrible Nazi genocide were forced to join the Zionist enterprise, to emigrate and settle on the land of another population. What has been done cannot be undone without creating a new series of tragedies. We can only repair the injustice as far as possible, provide compensation, and above all keep in mind in any negotiation the fundamental injustice inflicted on the inhabitants by the newcomers they had not invited.”
What’s the solution? We’ve been over that one for days. I don’t know, but we can’t go back to just caging Gaza in a new, even more tightly packed, concentration camp. The rest of the world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to their plight.

Hazel Gazit
Hazel Gazit
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Gaza is not a “caged concentration camp”, unless you count Hamas as the camp guards. Until this last atrocity at least 20,000 Palestinians from Gaza entered Israel EVERY DAY to work or for medical treatment. Gaza also has a border with its Arab brothers, Egypt, and that border remains closed 90% of the time. Palestinians are not without agency, they are not helpless victims. It is within their own hands to change their future. They can choose peace, to make an independent state that can flourish, as Israel has flourished. But to do that they must give up their murderous, terrorist activities and join the 21st century, not remain in the 7th century.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

Give up their murderous, terrorist activities? Seriously? That’s like really, really hoping someone’s pancreatic cancer goes away all by itself.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Indeed, prevention is always more effective isn’t it.. drastic cures cause other problems.. If only the Zionists have tried prevention in rhe firm of compliance with International humanitarian law, followed UN resolutions and behaved magnsmimously towards the Palestinians the current cancer might not have occurred at all?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

I’ll let three Israelis explain it. Pick any of them.
Norman Finkelstein – Gaza
Ilan Pappe – The Biggest Prison on Earth
Gideon Levy – The Punishment of Gaza

Last edited 7 months ago by Nik Jewell
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

The unemployment rate in Gaza is 60%.. daily release, via checkpoints is normal from any prison for trusted inmates. And yes, Hamas are the prison guards.. Gaza IS a concentration camp.
How could it prosper when it is blockaded by land sea and air and supplies of essential materials are confiscate? Gaza IS a concentration camp EFFECTIVELY controlled by an occupying force. I have friends there.. their lives are miserable! They are not free. They are prisoners. Just as Jewish capos preyed on Jews in their concentration camps, yes Hamas preys on Palestinians. And just as their German brothers didn’t care about German Jews, their Egyptian brothers don’t care about Palestinians.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

I don’t claim to be an expert on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, on the contrary, I’m still learning. However, A couple of things I’ve read stuck in my head. The Palestinians have 20 miles of the Mediterranean that could have been developed for tourism. Also, there are wealthy Palestinians who went to America, made a ton of money, went back and built huge ostentatious mansions. They didn’t go back to help their impoverished countrymen. Neither do other Arab countries want to give them a leg up. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine created refugees Ukraine’s neighbors took them in. That’s not happening with Palestine’s neighbors. Nobody wants them except the protesters, who have never, actually, helped them, and who the Palestinians, actually, would not want. All the time, energy and money that went into carving the underground tunnels in Gaza could have gone towards helping the disenfranchised population. Instead, it has all gone towards trying to destroy Jews and Israel. Hamas and Islam thrive on hatred and destruction and Jews are their scapegoat, blamed for Palestine’s failure to be a successful nation. Jews are scapegoated all over the world, and most of the haters don’t even know why they hate them. It’s just easy to have them to project all the disowned parts of the hater, onto. Try and argue with that.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

Well said.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Why was 1948 an historical injustice? Clearly the Arab neighbours of the new Israel thought so because they immediately declared a war of annhilation against israel, telling any resident Palestinians to leave (temporarily) so that they could kill the Jews without Palestinians getting caught in the crossfire. The first war of conquest was lost by the Arab nations as were all subsequent ones. This left thousands of displaced Palestinians, unwanted by any of the Arab nations who were supposedly fighting for them. Jordan threw them out with great loss of life and they fared little better in Lebanon and North Africa.Gaza and the West Bank are self governing but Hamas appear to have the same objectives as Adolf Hitler.. , .

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The Palestinians did not agree to the UN resolution in 1947 (Israel doesn’t have much respect for UN resolutions either). They didn’t ask for the settlers on land they had occupied for centuries.
After the war, the land wasn’t handed back. More and more land has been expropriated by Israel ever since. The Israeli foreign minister announced a couple of days ago that more land will be taken from Gaza.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Do we all get to choose what is a myth and what is a fact?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Best to see facts as facts and myths as myths.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Of course.. but it gas to be based of provable facts.. sg the time lines fir the Exodus are all wrong.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Did you mean to use the word GAS, Liam old chap?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Spell check, perhaps? Are you in your cups?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

If you’re getting your facts from the bible I’ll probably not take too much notice if them if it’s all the same to you

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Exactly.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Why is only Gaza a tightly packed concentration camp? ( apart from its amazingly high birth rate?) There are as many Palestinians in Israel as in Gaza, more again in the West Bank, and a couple of million in Jordan. What does Gaza do with the incredible amounts of aid it gets? Does this intelligent population, rich with the blood of Phoenicians, , Greeks, Romans develop science, universities, businesses, trade through its 30 kilometre sea coast? Why not?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I don’t know what happens to the aid or the size of it. Perhaps you do?
Are you aware that there is an exclusion zone in the water off Gaza? They are not allowed to extend their port or build new ones.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

It squanders that aid, and ‘WE’ the moronic West, should STOP subsidising these worthless parasites with immediate effect.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Because they are blockaded by land sea and air and vital resources are denied to them.. also intimidation by Hamas – set up by Israel from the powerless Muslim Brotherhood to counter the PLO and thereby scupper the two state solution – means zero progress.
Do you know how much it costs per inmate to run a jail in the UK or US? How come jails don’t produce scientists and business entrepreneurs? ’tis a mystery!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Because they’re criminals.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Exactly. Islam tells Muslims to breed uncontrollably, so that doesn’t help their quality of life.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Thanks to my uptick the number changed from 12 to 7, taking account of 6 downticks.
I wonder what it is that causes reasonably intelligent* and reasonably well-intentioned* people to downtick a contribution like yours? It is surely fair, balanced, informative and makes valid points? It’s a mystery to me.
* or maybe I’m being too generous, am I?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I’ve been commenting on this issue daily since the beginning. I get hammered on the downvotes. I’ve had my words twisted, been accused of hating Jews, of claiming moral equivalence … I’m used to being called every name under the sun by the identitarian left, but liberals and conservatives are usually more civil.
I’ll leave it to the downvoters to explain their reasons.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

In my humble opinion you are fighting your corner well, and clearly demonstrating what ‘free speech’ is supposed to be about.
Good work, and keep it up!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

“Gaza is now full of refugees and their descendants from the 1948 war when they were displaced from their lands”
And the number of Jews displaced from their lands in 1948, from neighbouring Arab countries, was greater.
Funny how we never hear about that, eh?
And why didn’t some of the islamic countries accept the Gazans? After all, millions of muslim refugees have poured into Western countries where they have no cultural compatibility.

“90% of Gazans have never met a Jewish person.”
Correction. 100% of Gazans have never met a Jewish person in Gaza.
They are very clear that any Jews in their lands are to be exterminated.
And if they had the power to defeat Israel, them the same would happen in the rest of that region. Every last Jew, down to babies would be treated as their book commands them to.

Meanwhile, 20% of Israel are muslims, who have the same legal rights and even representation in parliament.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Did the Palestinians displace those Jews?
What percentage of the Arabs in Israel are of Palestinian descent?
All your other points have been discussed for days here.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Really?!! 20% of Israel are Muslims? Yikes.

P N
P N
7 months ago

“In every case, how nations obtain their land is always murky, violent and colonial, granted legitimacy only through the slow process of time, power and hypocrisy.”
There is a paradigm-shifting scene in the film based on Dee Brown’s book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, where the US army’s Colonel Miles says to Chief Sitting Bull:
“…the proposition that you were a peaceable people before the appearance of the white man is the most fanciful legend of all. You were killing each other for hundreds of moons before the first white stepped foot on this continent. You conquered those tribes, for their game and their lands, just as we have now conquered you for no less noble a cause.”

Will Ross
Will Ross
7 months ago

And yet, he quotes Moshe Dayan approvingly when Dayan states that Israel WAS taken from the Arabs in a colonial enterprise.

This piece is wrong in fact (Ireland has been a free state for nearly 100 years, for example), incoherent in logic and defeatest in arguing that conflicts are inevitable and interminable, and might is right.

We have examples where peace was hammered out by men of good will. A quarter of a century ago, Israel itself appeared to be on track. But fundamentalism blocked it. It will be harder now. But it always looks impossible until you succeed.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Will Ross

…the blocking of a solution was engineered by Israel when it converted the relative harmless nutjobs known as the Muslim Brotherhood into the visious terrorist Hamas.. the objective was to set Hamas against the PLO.. it worked too.. The powerful often recruit extremists to secure their long-term plans.. often blows back in their faces though, like Al Qaida (set up from Islamic Jihad by the US to fight Russians in Afghanistan), ISIS from anti Assad extremists et al. Extremists are very useful if properly managed but difficult to control after you make them powerful enough with arms, coups and lots of dosh.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago

The idea of “make-believe constructs that are no less real for being so” rings true. The term “social construct” (in addition to being facile jargon) is often deployed to imply that something was badly built, and in bad faith. As if deliberate or shoddy-and-self-serving architects of Tribe, Nation, and Society etc., independently prevailed in different times and places, but with no underlying connection to something real and fundamental to our human-animal nature.
We are neither stuck with an un-shapeable, primitive us-against-them inheritance nor likely to get altogether free from it. As Yascha Mounk (I think persuasively) contends, we’d better strengthen and support a relatively constructive version of our tribal instincts, because the more backward and vicious versions of in-group, out-group divisions are never far from our streets or collective psyche. Patriotic Universalism anyone?

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
7 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

To me, something being a social construct is less about it being badly built than about its ability to be changed.
That’s why I find recent events quite clarifying. They’ve revealed that people weren’t merely ignorant of the true meaning of decolonization, as many are apparently quite happy to loudly champion the concept’s inherent brutality.
This change in perspective is deeply unsettling – though I also somewhat question whether such people really, truly, understand what they are championing, or if their thinking is simply so abstract as to have left the human realm.
I agree this asserts the urgent need to bolster a more positive expression of our tribal instincts. Otherwise, regressive elements will hijack the narrative and distort the story we want to tell about ourselves.
But I still think that story is mostly progressive. It’s just that we must affirm what truly represents progress, as opposed to an unhealthy fixation on the past masquerading as forward movement.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago

Yes, changeability is part of it, but to my ears statements like “gender/race is just a social construct” insinuate a certain wrongness too–and not without some just cause.
Far too many reveal a readiness to celebrate wanton violence if the blood is thought to flow from bodies that belong to Oppressors or Colonizers, broad brush tarred as such. But I think these are a slender though too-vocal minority of Lefties, largely made up of callow young ideologues and bandwagon activists. But not as cleanly so as I like for my own reassurance.
The aftermath of two-plus years of enhanced isolation amid growing social unrest is also not helping our zeitgeist. But this idiotic/cruel, black-and-white–or white/people-of-color–divisiveness of heart and mind is not a new thing of course, and the far-Left version has been on the rise for many years.
We need to progress and I do put stock in MLK’s aspirational maxim: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. Let it be so!
But I no longer believe in Progress as such, because of the way it gets hijacked (good verb, ma’am) by ruthless or merely material concerns. And I don’t support the cruel “reverse favoritism” of the current woke mob nor the too-uncritical Marxism and pro-eugenics strains of Eugene Debs/Margaret Sanger era Progressivism. A bold stance on my part, I know.
I totally disavow any formal association with most current and past Progressive pieties as I don’t see them as having any correspondence to Classical Liberalism. or anything that is truly liberal. I admit that burn-it-all-down types on both the Left and Right sadden, frighten, weary, and anger me, depending on the day. The mess you have is almost always better to try and fix than the chaotic, bloody alternative. Especially here in the ailing, much-maligned but way-better than-it-could-be West.
Conscientious social evolution and mostly-incremental improvement, sure. Increments don’t have to be miniscule either.

Last edited 7 months ago by AJ Mac
j watson
j watson
7 months ago

When I was young I would contend we better understood the history behind the 48, 56, 67 and 73 wars, all of which had one instinctively siding with the Israeli’s despite terrible events like Deir Yassin. But from Sabre and Shatila onwards it became less comfortable. Yet still one was always well aware the one liberal democracy in the region was Israel and some of the childish support for various Palestinian militia and thugs of no comparability.
The recent events draw one back to what might have been had the Arab League not tried to quash the UN 47 Declaration that led to partition, or perhaps even more had Abdullah not seen the potential to create a greater Transjordan – of course completely colonial in it’s attitude.
The colonial retreat post War had the British deeply involved in two Partitions that still reverberate today – India and Palestine. And yet what alternatives really existed? At least in India, after terrible murder, an equilibrium was found. Tragically the initial decisions of the Arab league and the subsequent Nakba left a legacy that continues to toxify 80 years later.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
7 months ago

As i wrestled with the images of wounded civilians in Gaza, it got me thinking about WWII. I researched and discovered that 600K German civilians died in Allied bombings in WWII, including 80K children. The awful toll of war. But would anyone say the Allied Forces should have left Germany alone because of civilian casualties? Should they? I wonder today.

Last edited 7 months ago by Samantha Stevens
Simon S
Simon S
7 months ago

The Israeli government has been ethnically cleansing the Palestinians for over 70 years. Equating Israel with the Allied Forces is an entirely false equivalence.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Obviously not.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago

Jewish history is depressing. Even more depressing is the level of antisemitism being shown while the Holocaust is still within the bounds of living memory. A ninety year old survivor of the Holocaust being dragged out of her home and shot. I wonder what she thought before she died. Did she remember where she was, or did she think she was still in Nazi Germany being dragged out of her house by the Gestapo. To think that in my lifetime, I would see nations building concentration camps (China), a land war in Europe, and a wholesale slaughter of Jews. If I had a time machine and could go back and warn my college aged self, I would never believe me.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
7 months ago

Had not the Jewish people risen in revolt against Rome and lost in 79 AD they might well have continued to live in Judea and Galilee. As a thought experiment, could those who typify Israelis as “settlers” have regarded them as an indigenous population in an alternative history?

Karen Fleming
Karen Fleming
7 months ago

Great article. I am just not understanding the title. Jews are trapped by western history? I guess that was explained in the article but my insufficiencies did not grasp it. Anyone care to explain?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
7 months ago
Reply to  Karen Fleming

I understand it as the persecution they faced with anti Semitic pogroms for much of European history.
Others may have a different take.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Karen Fleming

At its most stark, the Western idea of “progress” is hindering Jews from establishing a safe homeland. Their historical perspective is just different from either Muslim or Western constructs.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

How so? Israel has the most sophisticated weaponry in the world, the US guarantees its security, and the West does what it can to prevent Iran from getting nukes.
The biggest threat it faces is from the shift to a multi-polar world order, not the latest academic theories.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

How so? Read the article.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

So Israel’s security is “guaranteed” at present?

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
7 months ago
Reply to  Karen Fleming

At the end of the article, John McTague says ” the more people in the West choose a history which sees the very existence of Israel as illegitimate, the more Israelis will conclude that … that Jews are never safe”. I take that to mean that there is a negative feedback loop between attitudes in “the West” and attitudes amongst Jewish people. They are not so much “trapped by western history” as trapped by the way people in the West (or at least our chattering classes) have adopted a new fashionable historical view.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

Perspectives and attitudes change over time. The older generations who grew up closer to the war understandably had more sympathy for Jews in Israel due to the horrors of the holocaust, so were prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt when conflicts arose.
However for the younger generations the war is now simply part of history, they probably don’t have family members alive today who were involved in it. Instead they’ve grown up watching Israel building settlements on the West Bank and carrying out air strikes in Gaza, and without the personal connection to the events of the war they’re not prepared to overlook the times Israel oversteps the mark and are much more critical as a result

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

They seem damn keen to overlook the times Hamas oversteps the mark, both in respect of their own people, and towards Israelis.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The numbers explain that.. gross imbalance, maybe 25 Israeli perpetrated murders for every one Hamas/POJ murder..

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I think you’re right, though I find those that excuse the crimes of Hamas and those that excuse the crimes of Israel are two sides of the same coin

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Please explain.

Hazel Gazit
Hazel Gazit
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Israeli Air strikes on Gaza are ALWAYS in retaliation for thousands of rockets fired on its civilians. Hamas are always the initial aggressors.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

If you ignore the invasion of the Al Aqsa mosque.. and brutal treatment of those at prayer there.. and the murderous activities of the land stealing settlers, yeah.. no provocation that I can see.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

You could argue (and many do) that the rockets are retaliation for the Israelis building of illegal settlements on occupied land.
The PA are much more moderate than Hamas for instance, yet Israelis reward this moderation by constantly encroaching further into the West Bank. The Palestinians see this and think with some justification that violence is the only option they have left

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Hazel Gazit

It would appear that Hamas aren’t always the ones initiating the violence
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-67173344

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If younger people “grew up watching” air strikes on Gaza (and I seriously doubt the video gamer and Til Tok generations give a rat’s), they will have only seen what the media has curated.

One doesn’t need to have a living relative of the period to know about Nazi concentration camps, starvation, cannibalism and Siberian exile under Stalin, mass murder under Mao. This information is a click away on any search engine.

No, the Instagram infants know only “history” as oppressed and oppressor, just as Marx planned. And so do their teacher and their teachers. The non-Arab kids waving a flag they couldn’t identify two weeks ago, screaming though bullhorns and wearing keffiyehs, are doing what is fashionable. Ask any of them who Yasser Arafat was, who Hamas is, what part Iran plays, why Arab states won’t allow Gazans into their countries of origin and see what answers you get.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

You let you bias cloud your vision I’m afraid. Just because you disagree with others views doesn’t mean they come from a position of ignorance.
Funnily enough this has been a tactic of the left for the last decade when denouncing the Brexit and Trump votes, claiming it’s largely illegitimate because those they disagree with were too stupid to know what they were on about

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Well, BB, please go and ask them and get back to me.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Not true.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago

Exactly. And they don’t know why they hate Jews.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Karen Fleming

Editors usually write the header which doesn’t always jive with those who have written the article.

Peter Samson
Peter Samson
7 months ago

Palestinians do not hate Israelis because they are Jewish but because they are occupying land that Palestinians believe belongs to them. There would be much the same hatred if somehow evangelical Christians from the West had occupied what is now Israel. This is not to say that the Palestinians are right and the Israelis wrong, but that racial anti-Semitism is not at the root of the problem. It is also worth noting that few scholars agree with Benzion Netanyahu’s interpretation of the Spanish Inquisition. See for example, https://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/27/books/article-of-faith.html.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Samson

Thanks, I’ve been wondering when it started.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Samson

I disagree. If American Christians lived in Israel instead of Jews they would also be hated.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

If the Christians acted in the same manner towards the Palestinians as the Israelis do then I’d expect them to be hated

Phineas
Phineas
7 months ago

Irish independence left a million or so Protestants in the North so enraged that they launched an armed insurrection to win a separate statelet of their own — which in course left a whole new minority homeless. ”
And the Protestants in the South? Homeless? Most left and those who stayed were indeed homeless in an anglophobic Roman Catholic state.

0 0
0 0
7 months ago
Reply to  Phineas

Not sure of your point here? Ireland was colonised during the 16th and 17th century with mostly Protestant settlers from Great Britain. Given Great Britain’s treatment of the indigenous population – and its failure to delive Home Rule – Irish Independence was inevitable. Had the Irish Protestants not insisted on a separate statelet of their own based on six of Ulster’s nine counties to ensure a Protestant minority they could have used their influence to ensure a more secular Ireland where both denominations were accepted. James Connolly, excuted after the Easter Uprising of 1916, was foresighted in warning that partition would “mean a carnival of reaction both North and South”.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Phineas

Didn’t they, the Protestants, dominate the Irish Bar until at least the 1980’s?
I recall attending a formal lunch at the King’s Inn in the early 70’s and there was hardly a Catholic present.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago