Martin Amis’ newest novel supposedly helps us to see the Nazis as they really were, and makes black comedy of the Holocaust. This could be seen to be quintessentially Jewish, but it isn’t, particularly in light of the blackguardly parallel to Nazism being levelled at the Israelis by the wilfully ignorant and cognitively dissonant flag-waving media junkies.
I’m not a particular fan of his work. In previous novels, the prose sometimes reads as if someone originally wrote in something like Estonian then used Google Translate for the final version.
Over the last month, there have been disturbances, let’s say, in the Middle East. These disturbances are not small regional ripples, soon forgotten as the world finds other things to talk about.
As everyone knows, I have just returned from Jerusalem – in fact, about a week before I left – three boys were kidnapped. A friend said that she thought they were dead. I didn’t believe her and I was wrong. Shortly after, a deranged man murdered and set fire to an Arab boy, and Operation Protective Edge began.
A caliphate has been declared in what was eastern Syria and northern Iraq by an organisation whose thirst for blood and conquest outmatches anything the world has seen for a generation and is reminiscent of the early struggle for Islamic identity in the seventh century.
Millions of words have been written, hundreds of pundits have given us the benefit of their opinions on social media, blogs, TV and radio. Journalistic integrity has been compromised. Foreign politicians have thrown the weight of their country’s moral outrage at either camp, for or against. What can I possibly add to an already overinflated debate?
For what it is worth, then, and in no particular order, this is what I have learned.
Rhetoric, both for and against, has been more savage and intemperate than at almost any time in my living memory.
Many people believe that holding pro-Zionist opinions is tantamount to selling your soul to Beelzebub.
Anti-Semitism, defined as unreasoning hatred of Jews just because they are Jewish is alive and well, and the demonic forces that drive it are becoming bolder. Capitals all over the world saw and continue to see well-funded and well-organised “protests” which for the most part are thinly veiled excuses for fomenting anarchy and disorder as disparate and disaffected social groups find a common cause against which they can mobilise. If the protesters actually got what they wanted, Israel would cease to exist.
It is dangerous to be openly Jewish in some places in Europe. It is quite reasonable for Muslim enclaves in European towns and cities to fly the Palestinian flag, since offending Muslims cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.
History means whatever you want it to mean and nobody is bothering to read it. Hence, words like ‘occupation’ have gained undeserved currency, since manipulation of the masses isn’t particularly difficult and the volume of opinion so fuelled lends the same distorted legitimacy that Goebbels used to such great effect in the 1930’s regardless of right or wrong. “Let me control the media and I will turn any nation into a herd of pigs”, he wrote.
Trading land for peace won’t work. It didn’t work in 2005 and the Israelis have long memories.
A belief in evil is a subjective matter. The entity known as Hamas is simply evil undiluted. As a political machine, it rides, rough-shod, over those who brought it to power. Its supporters use public money to build tunnels instead of roads, use public buildings to wage war and it deliberately places civilians in harm’s way, using them as human shields, with no apparent regard for their safety, hiding behind a flawed interpretation of their holy book. They have told the world, loud and clear, that Gazan lives are cheap.
Israelis can and will continue to protect their population. This means that she will be charged with war crimes, the adjudication for which will be in the hands of those who wish her destruction.
Militant Islam suffers no bedfellows. It murders, tortures and sweeps from its path all those who dare to hold any opinion or practice any faith other than its own.
Th events of the last month or so have caused a profound paradigm shift in me, and I understand, in others. Please don’t bother commenting – share your outrage elsewhere in places where it may be more widely read.
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, perhaps it is the end of the beginning.