Monday, March 17, 2014

Hello, Geoffrey?

Geoffrey Wheatcroft is a British journalist and writer, whose books include something called The Controversy of Zion.

His Spectator review of a) Ari Shavit's My Promised Land: The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel, and b) Shlomo Avineri's Herzl: Theodor Herzl & The Foundation of the Jewish State, were republished in the Weekend Australian Review. (Needless to say, while absolute gems on the Middle East conflict, such as Max Blumenthal's Goliath (and so many others) are routinely ignored by Murdoch/Fairfax reviewers, these two Zionist confections are getting the kind of attention they don't deserve.)

Wheatcroft's review, as you'd expect, is nothing if not uncritical. Here are some of the itches I just couldn't help scratching after reading it. I'll begin with his comments on Shavit's book:

"Shavit's father and uncle were closely connected with the building of an Israeli nuclear bomb at Dimona. Shavit meets one of their colleagues, the anonymous head engineer of the Dimona project, whose father was killed by an Arab gunman in 1943, and who worked on the great secret project as a form of recompense." (Duality of a Zionist state,15/3/14)

Hello, Geoffrey?

So dreamy little Shimon (or Menachem or Yitzhak or Ariel or whatever) Toogoodtobetruestein, who used to ask such questions as 'Daddy, what lies behind the stars?' and 'Mummy, why do other boys pull wings off flies? It's sooo cruel', and who was wont to lie in bed at night talking to the moon through his bedroom window, was sooo mugged by reality in 1943 that he decided to be a nuclear engineer when he grew up just so he could blow up every Arab within cooee of Israel's ever-expanding borders?

Hello, Geoffrey? 

About that mysterious "Arab gunman" of 1943. Seriously now, the only gunmen running around Palestine in 1943 were members of the Haganah, Irgun and Stern Gangs.

"Towards the end of My Promised Land Shavit muses that, 'if Herbert Bentwich [Shavit's British great-grandfather] had not been overcome by an obsessive yearning for Zion' the family would have remained in England. 'I like to think I could have been a literature don at Oxford or a producer at the BBC. My life would be much more relaxed and far safer than my Israeli life. My children's future would not be under a cloud. But would I have had a richer inner life?'"

Hello, Geoffrey? 

Millions of Palestinians in exile, millions more under Israeli occupation, and a smaller number hanging on as third-class citizens in a 'Jewish' state, just so Shavit can lead "a richer inner life"!  And Joe Hockey reckons we've got a sense of entitlement?

Now for Avineri:

"But [Herzl] was an irenic moderate, who pursued the remote ideal of a bi-national state shared by Arabs and Jews..." and a "romantic [who] imagined that the Arabs would welcome the Zionists with open arms."

Hello, Geoffrey?

Is this "irenic moderate" the same Herzl who wrote of Palestine's indigenous majority Arab population in his diary in 1895: "We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying employment for it in our country"?*

Hello, Geoffrey?

Is this "romantic" the same Herzl who, on his one and only trip to Palestine in 1898, dismissed its scenery as "Arab-blighted"**?


[*See my 4/1/13 post What would Herzl Do?; **The Middle East: Temple of Janus, Desmond Stewart, 1972, p 161]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Geoffrey,

"The Controversy of Zion" is the "controversial" (if you find it)book of Douglas Reed!