July 08, 2007

Me on Aaronovitch

Silly me! I must confess to being a little hurt by David Aaronovitch's personal abuse directed at me in the Jewish Chronicle. Aaronovitch in his JC article, describes me as "a heroic correspondent to the letters page of this and many other journals" and he claims that "Mr Elf or his ubiquitous comrade, Mr Tony Greenstein, constantly and at every opportunity to stress their Jewish origins." Before I started blogging I used to be quite an avid writer to the press but I could only ever remember getting published in the JC once and that was to criticise Aaronovitch for using two conflicting arguments to condemn Jews who criticise or condemn Israel. Well whilst googling his name and mine today (sometimes that's the easiest way to find your way around your own blog!) I found some letters by me to the Observer. I found three, two of which predate my blog, which I started in March 2004. Now cop this. Here's the first:
David Aaronovitch wonders why Iraqis have not risen against their rulers (Comment, last week). Could it be that people across the Middle East have seen how first Britain then America sponsored the Zionist movement in the colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine and decided that neither Britain nor America are worthy liberators?
Mark Elf
It's dated April 6, 2003.

Here's the second:
David Aaronovitch (Comment, last week) accuses John Pilger of dishonesty in attributing hundreds of deaths per year to Saddam Hussein, rather than the millions that war-party journalists like to quote. But 'hundreds' relates to people killed in internal repression whereas 'millions' relates to wars and crushed uprisings.

Internal repression was Saddam's responsibility. Responsibility for wars and defeated uprisings has to be shared between Saddam Hussein and whoever supported him. Dishonesty comes when journalists suggest that the thousands killed in the recent war and the hundreds of thousands killed through sanctions, have been, to paraphrase Madeleine Albright, 'a price worth paying'.
Mark Elf
Dagenham, Essex

That one was dated May 4, 2003.

And here's the third:

Not Gandhi
The juxtaposition of the names Gandhi and Mandela to denounce political violence is absurd (Comment, last week). Mandela was an active member of the military wing of the African National Congress and served as long as he did in prison, specifically, because he refused to renounce the armed struggle against apartheid. For this reason Amnesty International refused to take up his case.

Also, given Aaronovitch's support for the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, who on earth is he to invoke Gandhi?
Mark Elf

Dagenham, Essex

I really had forgotten about these but see how they differ in their approach from Aaronovitch's. I'm sure I remember him writing about his parents. I don't recall ever writing about mine. And yet he can say that I am in some kind of struggle with them. I think he said his parents were communists. Clearly Aaronovitch is no communist so we are looking at a case of projection here when he suggests I don't like my parents. And I'm sure he has stressed that he is not Jewish and yet he lectures those of us who insist that we are as to how and when we can identify as such. And see how I skilfully manage to avoid any mention of my being Jewish in spite of Aaronovitch's insistence that I mention it at every turn.

I don't know, and I don't like to presume on, why Aaronovitch decided to direct such personal abuse at me but it appears that I have had four letters published that are about what he has written. I have not mentioned his religious or ethnic background, I haven't said anything about how he feels about his parents. I have simply engaged with what he has had to say. Why can't he do the same? Is he a zionist? Surely not. He says he is a "non-zionist". Who am I to argue?


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