Thursday, 22 May 2014

Prince Charles

There is very little to like about Prince Charles, however… the supposedly private conversation (or is the 87-year-old Jewish lady who showed him around the Halifax museum an old Polo chum of his?)…

Like so often before, and similar to his father, Charles arrogantly says things, which he should not. This time, I like the outcome: the Putin / Hitler comparison is on the table and, moreover, it's a royal table.

But please God, Save the Queen!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Schloss Torgelow

I was invited by Schloss Torgelow, a private boarding school, an hour and a half north of Berlin and almost in Poland, to read from and discuss Die Schatten der Vergangenheit sind noch lang with their 16- and 17-year-olds. (The 18-year-olds were in the midst of their Abitur, the German matriculation exams.)

Ninety youngsters - an audience that had no prior knowledge of the subject matter, no preconceived ideas and hopefully no bias - listened attentively and when it came to the discussion, asked many good questions and… bought books.

It was a real joy. 

Ukraine / Russia

At some point during lunch with a friend in London – some fifteen years ago – I asked him for his opinion about one or other Middle East issue that was just in the news. His response was that he does not really care what “the Israelis and the Palestinians get up to.” That he was, in fact, tired of the issue. I was taken aback. How could he? An intelligent, interested, well-read, well-travelled, well-educated and cultured Brit – how could he just be not interested?

These days, everyone seems to have a view about the Ukraine and Russia story and I find myself understanding my friend’s attitude of 15 years ago. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

The A- Word

A few days ago, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that unless Israel reached a peace agreement with the Palestinians, it “risked becoming an Apartheid state”.

The Israel lobby in the US in their not so holy alliance with right-wing Republicans, who will attack Democratic administrations regardless of merit, managed to force Kerry to apologise.

He shouldn’t have.  

Apartheid is a system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race and Israel is justifiably nervous about the use of the term apartheid in connection with its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. After all, South Africa became a pariah in the world until it rid itself of its apartheid system. Yet, even many Israelis agree that Israeli rule or control of a substantial Arab population (beyond the 1967-line), which may not be racially motivated, produces an apartheid-like outcome.

Kerry was wrong: Israel does not “risk” becoming an apartheid state. Israel’s course of action leading to a one-state solution, a bi-national state under Jewish rule, will undoubtedly create apartheid. AIPAC, the Israel lobby, might find the suggestion that Israel is at risk of becoming an apartheid state  “offensive and inappropriate,” but it is not half as offensive and inappropriate as Israel’s policies AIPAC so successfully defends.  

Introducing emotive terminology such as apartheid into a debate quickly raises the level of agitation and should – if only for that reason - be done with awareness. Sometimes, however, increasing the pressure is just what is necessary.