In the eyes of some, you need to be Jewish or at least an American fundamentalist televangelist to love Israel.
Yesterday, a Pakistani born Sydney lawyer and Islamic errorist Irf Yusuf was called to account by VEXNEWS as we replayed some excellent reporting from the ICJS website that detailed his slagging of Daniel Pipes.
Pipes is Jewish and is generally supportive of Israeli government policy. He’s a proud defender of Israel.
Yusuf made a mistake. We all do of course. But Yusuf’s was of a rather serious kind that put some very nasty words in Daniel Pipes’ mouth. The words suggested Pipes was calling for a ‘Holocaust’ against European Muslims.
He said no such thing.
If he did, I would be the first to condemn him.
Yusuf responded on these pages and assumed I was Jewish. And as NSW Premier Nathan Rees reminded us a week or so back, “never assume, it makes an ASS of U and ME.”
I’m not Jewish. My heritage is Welsh coal miners. Not a yarmulke among them. I don’t eat much pork but I certainly reserve the right to do so in my favourite hippy love Brunswick cafes at breakfast time.
But I have had the great privilege of visiting Israel a few times. It is an awe-inspiring place. Strategically, it’s no less than a miracle that the place has survived. A beacon of hope and freedom surrounded by swaggering, gun-toting dictatorships and terror exporters. Politically, it’s wonderful, complex, dynamic and democratic. Historically, it’s fascinating and overwhelming, especially for those of us coming from a place where a hundred year old building is ancient. A thousand years old is a new property development in Jerusalem. It’s such an important place for the world’s great religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Its union movement was once the envy of the world and was much emulated. Business wise, it’s a marvel. No natural resources but a booming economy built on innovation, sustained by the brilliance of the people already there and the steady flow of the best and brightest from around the world.
Israel is the hope of the world, in so many ways. It’s shown we can live without much water at all, by conserving every drop. It’s shown that even under the greatest strains from outside that a cosmopolitan, tolerant society can long endure and prosper. It’s shown that David can still triumph over Goliath, for Israel has endured regular and sustained attacks from full-on military invasions to the agony of terror still visited upon Israeli kids in pizza parlours, kindergartens and shopping centres.
You can love Israel and not be Jewish. And you can love Israel and pray that one day the Palestinian people can find and trust leaders who will bring them to the path of peace. For many years, the Palestinian people could work in and visit Israel freely. Until, encouraged by Iranian lunatics and Saddam Hussein, they started a wave of terrorism designed to demoralise Israel out of existence. Arafat should have – and could have – led them out of this abyss. Instead he squibbed every decision and as others remarked “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” While his people suffered, feeling powerless and pained, he and his lived it up in Paris penthouses, flying in private jets and dining in the finest restaurants in Geneva. No wonder they seem to be so angry.
But Sydney lawyers who own a nice house in that most expensive of cities have no excuse for their anger. Anger that blinds them. Anger that leads them to label decent men ‘genocidal’. Anger that presumes everyone who loves Israel must do so for tribal reasons, and not on merit.
I hope Irf Yusuf – clearly at one level an intelligent man – goes to Israel one day and soaks it all in. Even the most closed and prejudiced heart will open up at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. Even the angriest fool will be reminded how blissful life can be while sipping a fruit juice on the beach boulevard thing at Tel Aviv watching the world – and dare I say it, the girls – go by.