Julie Burchill follow-up; and “Great Britain stands indicted”

December 02, 2004

* This dispatch has a British theme; views in the UK can often be seen as indicative of those throughout much of the West.

 

CONTENTS

1. Letters to the Times on Julie Burchill's article
2. Today's Guardian
3. "Great Britain stands indicted" (By Angela Bertz)
4. New Poll: Almost half of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz



“IT IS VERY UNUSUAL TO READ AN ARTICLE IN THE BRITISH PRESS THAT IS EVEN SLIGHTLY PRO-ISRAEL”

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to the dispatch of last Thursday November 25 titled "My nation of heroes, my chosen people" (& BBC complaints cover-up?).

Many people have expressed interest in the article by Julie Burchill included in that dispatch. Therefore I attach letters published by The Times (of London) in response to Burchill's article and to the accompanying sidebar criticizing Burchill by Ghada Karmi.

Below are 13 letters published in the second section of the Times (T2), followed by 3 letters published on the main Times letters page. There is a summary first for those who don't have time to read the letters in full.

Lest anyone think that because the Times has printed one pro-Israel article, the British (and European) media have suddenly put a stop to their incessant slandering of the Israel and its leaders, they need look no further than the main story on the front page of today's Guardian.

The Guardian leads with a huge banner headline "Middle East Upheaval as Sharon provokes crisis" in a story that is actually largely about Marwan Barghouti having provoked a crisis by deciding last night to stand for election as Palestinian president despite being a convicted mass murderer.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARY OF LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The first letter published by the Times is of perhaps dubious authenticity. Written by someone who only gives a hotmail address, the writer claims to have "visited Israel many times and having served briefly in the army there," yet he says he does "not recognize anything that Julie Burchill describes."

In another letter, Burchill is criticized for "naivety or calculated propaganda." Others, though, strongly support her. One writer says: "I agreed with every word Burchill writes."

Some letters are critical of Ghada Karmi and of the Times for printing his diatribe. One man writes: "It is very unusual to read an article in the British press that is even slightly pro-Israel, never mind one written with such a feeling of empathy and understanding. But why did The Times feel the need to balance this with such an offensive article by Ghada Karmi?"

Another woman doubts Karmi's ability as "a research fellow" given the wild accusations against Israel she made. Instead of unfounded accusations about treatment of Palestinian babies, says the letter writer to the Times, "It would have been more truthful to mention the pregnant Palestinian at a checkpoint who was given a seat and a drink, against orders, by a kind Israeli, and who then blew everyone around her to smithereens."

-- Tom Gross

[Julie Burchill is a subscriber to this email list.]

 

“GREAT BRITAIN STANDS INDICTED” (SUMMARY)

After the letters to The Times, I attach a separate article printed on two pro-Israel websites, by Angela Bertz, who is formerly of Britain and now of Israel. The article, titled "Great Britain Stands Indicted" takes aim at Britain.

Bertz writes: "... My pride in Great Britain has been replaced with a sad sense of shame and repulsion. For years I have watched many of its prominent citizens become pathetic apologists for barbaric Palestinian terrorism.

[I accuse] ... TONY BLAIR Prime Minister of Great Britain. No sooner had the U.S. election votes been counted when Mr. Blair was heading faster than a speeding Palestinian bullet over the ocean to collect his payback... With Yasser Arafat barely cold in the ground Mr. Blair feels the time is right to sacrifice Israel into more painful concessions to appease the Arabs.

... CHERIE BLAIR wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Her deeply offensive remark [in support of Palestinian suicide bombers] was beyond belief . coming as it did barely 24 hours after 19 people were still being scraped of the interior of a bus in Jerusalem and 40 more had been injured.

... DR. JENNY TONGE member of British Parliament who felt she could carve out a more worthwhile career for herself by becoming a Palestinian suicide bomber.

... VANESSA REDGRAVE British star of stage and screen. This woman has for years fawned and pawned herself at Yasser Arafat's feet. . Ms. Redgrave suddenly a self-proclaimed expert on "walls" declared Israel's barrier [wrongly] as being far higher than the Berlin Wall.

... ROBIN COOK former foreign minister of Great Britain. This gnome like politician on one visit to Israel decided to defy protocol and Israel's objections by visiting Jabal Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem. Mr. Cook was more recently involved together with a select and dubious bunch of MPs and British media stars including Pink Floyd's Roger Waters in a campaign against Israel's security barrier... Not once does this hypocritical bunch of apologists ever mention the 100's of Israeli children that will never go to school again, or who have been maimed for life by Palestinian terrorism.

... BARBARA PLETT BBC correspondent. Who will ever forget her shameful display of grief as Arafat was airlifted from his compound, declaring this evil father of terrorism as a "frail old man", thus sinking the shameful BBC into an all time low.

... ANITA RODDICK British founder of The Body Shop. In 2002 this company awarded $75,000 to a grass roots organization that advocates [what] is tantamount to calling for the annihilation of the State of Israel.

... THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER The Guardian reported in "gruesome" terms the terrible terrorist attack in Bali, calling it "a strike without compunction and showing no mercy, designed to cause utter terror". They went on to call the perpetrators cowards and condemned the people that carried out this heinous act as having "demonstrated a total disrespect for human life". They stressed several times the youth of most of the victims. This report is in blaring contrast to the one issued on the disco bombing in Tel Aviv. That attack destroyed the lives of 20 youngsters and injured over a 100 more. The Guardian showed no revulsion for this act and in fact referred to most of the victims in a cold manner.

... CHRIS PATTEN British EU Commissioner. This delusional man has for years claimed and I quote "We have looked at every one of the documents presented to us ... we have not found yet - and I have to say 'yet' because we are continuing to look at these things a case of money [to Arafat from the EU] being diverted for terrorist purposes." The Palestinians have had more aid money than any other people in the world, (a large portion of it coming from the EU).

... The repugnant JACK STRAW, British Foreign Secretary. This man almost choked on his Sunday lunch after Israel targeted the evil spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Yassin. Upon hearing the news of his death Mr. Straw sickeningly declared it "unacceptable & unjustified. He made similar statements after Israel targeted the quadriplegic's evil successor Rantissi. ... He placed a garland of red and gold chrysanthemums on Arafat's grave ... and went on to sign a book of condolences..."

(The full version of this article is at the end of this email. May I remind readers that the articles I attach to these emails are for information purposes only and I don't necessarily fully agree with them.)

-- Tom Gross

 

NEARLY HALF OF BRITONS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF AUSCHWITZ

This story was released today by Agence France-Presse.

LONDON (AFP) - Nearly half of Britons have never heard of the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland, according to a BBC television poll that was conducted just ahead of the 60th anniversary of the camp's liberation.

Forty-five percent of the 4,000 people questioned for the survey by BBC Two said they had never heard of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, the television channel said Thursday.



FULL ITEMS

PUBLISHED LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The chosen people
Letters
The Times (of London)
November 29, 2004

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,564-1379531,00.html

Julie Burchill revealed her love affair with Israel and its people in a recent T2 article. Did you agree with her views?

It is neither helpful nor informative to have a debate of such poor quality in your newspaper. Being Jewish, having visited Israel many times and having served briefly in the army there, I know it reasonably well. I was surprised, therefore, not to recognise anything that Julie Burchill describes.

Does she realise that there are plenty of haredi neighbourhoods in Jerusalem where she would most likely be spat upon or abused if she were dressed inappropriately?

Does she realise that it is impossible to get a civil marriage in Israel? These are two relatively minor examples, which are indicative of a complete ignorance of the subject.

The reply from Ghada Karmi is equally foolish. Although the point about the disparity between Israel and the Occupied Territories is appropriate, it is only the one-eyed nature of Ms Burchill's article that renders it worth saying at all.

What can we learn from these articles? I think only that the truth is somewhere in the middle and by choosing views so wide apart you fail to illuminate anything that is worthwhile.

Paul Mervis,
paulmervis@hotmail.com

 

Wrong examples

Ghada Karmi is described as a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. I hope she normally works on a sounder evidence base than in her claim about all those Palestinian newborns dying at Israeli checkpoints.

It would have been more truthful to mention the pregnant Palestinian at a checkpoint who was given a seat and a drink, against orders, by a kind Israeli, and who then blew everyone around her to smithereens.

Joan Freeman,
London

 

Blind dupe

Naivety or calculated propaganda? Julie Burchill's paean to the State of Israel reminds me of the writings of certain British intellectuals in the 1930s who steadfastly defended Stalinism, while turning a blind eye to its excesses. Uncle Joe considered such people to be convenient dupes. In Israel created by terrorism and sustained by its denial of human dignity to the Palestinian people Ariel Sharon will doubtless view Ms Burchill in much the same way.

Robin Kempster
Brighouse,
West Yorkshire

 

Off balance

It is very unusual to read an article in the British press that is even slightly pro-Israel, never mind one written with such a feeling of empathy and understanding. But why did The Times feel the need to balance this with such an offensive article by Ghada Karmi?

David Khan,
Manchester

 

Unspoken truth

It is wonderful to read the words of somebody outside Israel who has the guts to stand up for Israel. The truth is never spoken by Israel's opponents in English (only in Arabic) that the dispute has nothing to do with occupation of the lands captured as a result of the 1967 war for Israel's survival. They simply do not want peace or for Israel to continue to exist.

Peter Simpson,
PeterSimpson613@aol.com

 

Double standards

Julie Burchill makes a living by being provocative. But this does not mean that she cannot get it right. This time she has. The double standards applied to Israeli and Muslim behaviour are notorious.

Here is proof of the real difference between the two sides: if all weapons in the hands of Arab terrorists turned into marzipan tomorrow, not a single Arab would come to any harm. If the same transformation happened in the case of Israeli weapons, Israel would cease to exist overnight.

Victor Ross,
Great Chart, Kent

 

Hateful stereotype

It is unfortunate that The Times has wasted so much paper printing Julie Burchill's twisted vision of Israel. The utter nonsense she spewed succeeded only in perpetuating the well-established myth of Israel as a democracy amid a sea of Arabs intent on its destruction.

The reality is very much different. As a Palestinian I would like to point out that my people have never wanted the Jewish people dead. All we want is a real nation of our own. We seek the same security that all Israelis seek. We simply want an end to the occupation of our land and to start living as neighbours rather than prisoners.

Most Israelis and Palestinians are so fed up with such worthless propaganda that they are taking matters into their own hands. Organisations such as Partners for Peace, B'Tselem, and the Parents' Circle have dedicated their work to eradicating such hateful stereotypes.

Nu'man El-Bakri,
Exeter

 

Good for tourism

I thought that Julie Burchill's piece was inspirational. She is a marvel. The Israeli Tourist Board should employ her immediately as an ambassador to summon all of us lazy, complacent British Jews to visit the country immediately and boost the ailing tourist industry. I agreed with every word and want to hear more; hopefully she will write a book on the subject.

Karin Parnaby,
London

 

German support

Julie Burchill has written a wonderful article debunking all the cant and propaganda which seems to stream forth from much of the media.

However, she is being unduly harsh on the role of Germany. The new German Government after the war had to try to draw a line under the Holocaust and was very supportive of the new State of Israel. One only had to visit various German trade fairs to see the exposure Israel and Israeli companies and trading syndicates were universally given. Surely the best way to help a young country to get on its feet. Perhaps the realpolitik of the situation does not allow this support to be trumpeted from the rooftops, but I believe that quiet support has always been the role of successive German governments, whether Socialist or Christian Democrat.

Anthony S. Norton,
London

 

Bluster

When is The Times going to stop giving Julie Burchill column space for her peverse and ill-judged polemic? Her purblind view of Israel brings to mind that self-regarding fourth-form girl who sought to dominate the debating society every week with her poorly informed bluster.

I could, perhaps, understand her selecting the Jews as her "chosen people" if we were talking about the plucky little Israel that fought off the numerically superior, heavily armed Arab armies in the Six Day War. But the Israel that I see is the one with overwhelming military superiority, which it uses like the worst kind of bully to deprive the Palestinians of the possibility of self-determination and anything resembling a normal life.

Andy Wood,
Bebington, Wirral

 

No baggage

Invariably, the debate becomes mired by emotional and subjective rhetoric, and by a tortured treatment of so-called facts and statistics by revisionist historians such as your correspondent Ghada Karmi.

You paper is therefore to be congratulated in providing Julie Burchill with the opportunity to set the record straight, particularly as she cannot be accused of having any axe to grind, being by her own description a non-Jewish, working-class, West Country girl with no preconceived prejudices.

David Pine,
elipine@hotmail.com

 

Working for peace

Sadly, your writer did not mention the countless Israeli organisations that work for peace, justice and equal rights, including Merchavim, which gives citizenship training in schools; Givat Haviva, offering training and education for Israelis Jews, Muslims and Christians alike; Neve Shalom Wahat al-Shalom, which provides opportunities for Israelis and Palestinians to meet as individuals, rather than knowing each other through stereotypes.

Rachel Montagu,
The Council of Christians and Jews,
London SE1

 

Rose-tinted

Your article reminded me of the old joke about the man who was allowed to have an early visit to Paradise during his lifetime. He came back to Earth, and was enthusiastic about the prospect of heavenly life. Eventually, he died and got there again. This time, however, things were not so great. The food was the same, the same virgins were singing the same song, the clouds had gone dirty and grey. Our man complains about the level of service, pointing out that it was much better when he was first there. An angel replies promptly: "First time, you were a tourist."

Andrew Schonberger, Sydney

 

[This selection of Letters is from the main Times letters page, on November 29 and November 26, 2004.]

Letters
The Times (of London)
November 29, 2004

Palestinians and Israel
From Mr Daniel Frohwein

Sir, Dr Ghada Karmi (T2, November 23; see also letter, November 25) refers to the "cost to the Palestinians of creating Israel 56 years ago". However, both the League of Nations and the United Nations supported the creation of the Jewish State.

Jewish Palestinians accepted less than they had hoped for when Western Palestine was partitioned by the UN in November 1947. Arab Palestinians rejected this compromise, and sought to reverse the decision by force of arms. Arab armies attempted to wipe out Israel in l948, l967 and l973.

The tragedy here is not the birth of Israel, but the intransigence of Palestinian leaders, who have promised their followers that, ultimately, the Jewish State will be wiped off the face of the earth.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Frohwein,
31 Golders Rise,
NW4 2HX.
November 25.

 

From Mr John Pelter

Sir, Julie Burchill describes how a place that was "just another regular barren Arab desert" was "turned into a Garden of Eden". I am sure that the several hundred thousand Palestinian people who were dispossessed and driven into exile and squalor, may have thought differently.

Yours,

John Pelter,
14 Maple Close,
Petts Wood, Kent BR5 1LP.
November 25.

 

Letters
The Times (of London)
November 26, 2004

Visiting Israel

From Mr David Matthews

Sir, I enjoyed reading Julie Burchill's article about her recent visit to Israel (T2, November 24) and the alternative view from Ghada Karmi.

I have just returned from a ten-day visit to Israel, during which I was able to spend time in the West Bank, as well as Jerusalem and Galilee. I went with a view to meeting individuals and groups of people, both Arab and Jewish, who want to see an end to bloodshed and who are trying to encourage reconciliation between Jews and Arabs.

For example, I met a Jewish man whose daughter, aged 14, was killed by a suicide bomber but who has joined with other bereaved parents from both sides to try to bring some sanity into the chaotic situation they live in.

Yours truly,

David Matthews,
61 Gays Road, Hanham Abbots,
South Gloucestershire BS15 3JU.
November 25

 

GREAT BRITAIN STANDS INDICTED

Great Britain stands indicted
By Angela Bertz Israel

Angela Beretz takes aim at her motherland.

It was barely 100 years ago that the British Empire was at its height. It reigned supreme over 20% of the world's land area and more than 400 million people.

It was the single largest empire the world had ever known.

Sixty years later this was the land of my childhood and youth. Despite the fact that the sun had by this time long set, we were still brought up with a set of pride in our nation and its glorious past. In 1965 millions around the world paid their final respect to Sir Winston Churchill, who 20 years previously had led this proud and determined island to victory as its greatest wartime leader. The following summer national pride soared to an all time high as its football team won the coveted world cup.

Today I live proudly in my adopted country of Israel.

My pride in Great Britain has been replaced with a sad sense of shame and repulsion. For years I have watched many of its prominent citizens become pathetic apologists for barbaric Palestinian terrorism.

Tony Blair Prime Minister of Great Britain. No sooner had the U.S. election votes been counted when Mr. Blair was heading faster than a speeding Palestinian bullet over the ocean to collect his payback. Mr. Blair sanctimoniously declares peace in the Middle East as being high on his list of priorities. With Yasser Arafat barely cold in the ground Mr. Blair feels the time is right to sacrifice Israel into more painful concessions to appease the Arabs.

Cherie Blair wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Her deeply offensive remark "As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress" was beyond belief. This statement was all the more remarkable coming as it did barely 24 hours after 19 people were still being scraped of the interior of a bus in Jerusalem and 40 more had been injured

Dr. Jenny Tonge member of British Parliament who felt she could carve out a more worthwhile career for herself by becoming a Palestinian suicide bomber. Identifying herself with these mass murdering ghouls Dr. Tonge said she understood their "desperation", as if there was ever any justification for getting on a crowded bus and blowing innocent people to pieces.

Vanessa Redgrave British star of stage and screen. This woman has for years fawned and pawned herself at Yasser Arafat's feet. On a visit to the region in 2003 she used a press conference in Israel's capital city of Jerusalem to condemn the construction of the country's security barrier. Ms. Regrave suddenly a self proclaimed expert on "walls" declared Israel's barrier as being far higher than the Berlin Wall. Further more this pathetic apologist for Palestinian terrorism seemed unable to make any distinction between a wall that was built to separate cultures and one that was sadly not built in time to stop 130 Palestinian monsters crossing into Israel with explosive belts.

Robin Cook former foreign minister of Great Britain. This gnome like politician on one visit to Israel decided to defy protocol and Israel's objections by visiting Jabal Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem. Mr. Cook was more recently involved together with a select and dubious bunch of MP's and British media stars including Pink Floyd's Roger Waters in a campaign against Israel's security barrier. Mr. Cook has joined this pathetic bandwagon of Palestinian terrorism apologist by blatantly ignoring the thousands of terrorist attacks that Palestinians have perpetrated against Israel. Their website found at www.waronwant.org/palestine talks incessantly of the tragedy that has befallen the Palestinians and that their children now have difficulty getting to school because of the barrier. Not once does this hypocritical bunch of apologists ever mention the 100's of Israeli children that will never go to school again, or who have been maimed for life by Palestinian terrorism.

Barbara Plett British BBC correspondent. Who will ever forget her shameful display of grief. The BBC long known for its media bias and one sided reporting on this region have shown time and time again to be inaccurate and distort the truth almost beyond all recognition. Ms. Plett shamefully wept as the disease ridden Arafat was airlifted from his compound, declaring this evil father of terrorism as a "frail old man", thus sinking the shameful BBC into an all time low.

Anita Roddick British founder of The Body Shop. In 2002 this company awarded $75,000 to a grass roots organization that advocates the "Right of Return" for Palestinian refugees. This is tantamount to calling for the annihilation of the State of Israel. Despite the Body Shops weak response to this travesty, stating that they did not have any particular views on the conflict it was found that both Anita Roddick and her husband were in fact members of the selection committee.

Judge Higgins the only judge from Great Britain to sit on that farce of a court in The Hague. Placing her vote clearly in favour of Palestinian terrorism Judge Higgins added insult to injury by declaring in part of her long winded statement that: "Since 1948 Israel has been in dispute, first with its Arab neighbours (and other Arab States) and, in more recent years, with the Palestinian Authority". Judge Higgins shows her blatant ignorance for the facts. Israel has in fact never been in dispute with either its neighbours or the Palestinians. It has never instigated any of the defensive wars that these so-called neighbours have thrust on it, or either of the two uprisings (Intifadas) that have been launched by the Palestinians.

The Guardian Newspaper This influential British newspaper has for years been at the forefront of anti Israel reporting. The Guardian reported in "gruesome" terms the terrible terrorist attack in Bali, calling it "a strike without compunction and showing no mercy, designed to cause utter terror". They went on to call the perpetrators cowards and condemned the people that carried out this heinous act as having "demonstrated a total disrespect for human life". They stressed several times the youth of most of the victims. This report is in blaring contrast to the one issued on the disco bombing in Tel Aviv. That attack, by a brain washed Palestinian ghoul destroyed the lives of 20 youngsters and injured over a 100 more. The Guardian showed no revulsion for this act and in fact referred to most of the victims in a cold manner as follows "most of the patrons were Russian immigrants". The only personal reference to give the reader any idea of the horror of this act was provided, not by their reporter, but by an eyewitness who said "I saw parts of a brain, things I have never seen before. It was terrible"

Chris Patten British EU Commissioner. This delusional man has for years claimed and I quote "We have looked at every one of the documents presented to us... we have not found yet and I have to say 'yet' because we are continuing to look at these things a case of money being diverted for terrorist purposes." The Palestinians have had more aid money than any other people in the world, (a large portion of it coming from the EU) yet their standard of living remains substandard. Yasser Arafat was recently on a list of the worlds wealthiest people. There were constant talks of starvation among the Palestinians. Surprisingly Mr. Patten never seemed to make any connection to the endless supply of weapons and masked gunmen that poured into the street to fire state of the art machine guns every time some ghoul succeeded in blowing up innocent people in Israel and the billions of dollars he claimed were not used for terrorism.

All of the above need a strong constitution when it comes to feeling utter shame and contempt, however none of them have ever come close to the repugnant Jack Straw; member of British Parliament and Foreign Secretary.

This man almost choked on his Sunday lunch after Israel targeted the evil spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Yassin. Upon hearing the news of his death Mr. Straw sickeningly declared it "unacceptable & unjustified. He made similar statements after Israel targeted the quadriplegic's evil successor Rantissi.

Yasser Arafat was barely in the rigor mortis stage when world leaders poured into Cairo to attend his funeral, among them Jack Straw.

Yasser Arafat was finally laid to rest in his Ramallah compound. One can take some small consolation from the fact that his decomposition will be a long drawn out process, with no self respecting worm eating away at the evil corpse of this mass murdering terrorist.

This is more than can be said for the worm that stood above the ground in the shape of Jack Straw. This representative of the Queens Government placed a garland of red and gold chrysanthemums on the grave, as if to give legitimacy to the man that invented modern terrorism. He then went on to sign a book of condolences.

The only bright light to shine out of this former colonial power came from a world renowned footballer. On a recent football match in Poland the England team were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. The star player and captain of the team David Beckham expressed his pride in his Jewish ancestry. (His grandfather was Jewish.)

Sadly at this point I fear even if David Beckham were to lift the World Cup trophy for England in Germany in 2006, this will not be enough to restore my pride in a nation that now stands in the forefront and almost united in apologizing for Palestinian terrorism.

The sun has truly set.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.