February 15, 2011

Julie Burchill meets Alf Garnett in Palestine

I don't know why The Independent gives space to Julie Burchill but I'm guessing it's because she is provocative and the responses to her occasionally racist outpourings in favour of the State of Israel are more worth a read than anything she could produce. You can guess what she wrote by reading the responses over the last couple of days.

Here are yesterday's:
Julie Burchill's bizarre logic
For Julie Burchill to characterise film-makers such as Peter Kosminsky as "half-witted Jew-baiters" is contemptible (10 February). So far Kosminsky's four-part film The Promise is historically well-researched and fair. Burchill, however, finds any criticism of Israel offensive. Of course Israel can be proud of its achievements and democratic freedoms; but for Palestinians the knowledge that those who continue to annexe their land and who carry out policies of brutal collective punishment, may have been democratically elected, is of little comfort.
And of course there has always been a Jewish presence in Palestine. But Burchill seems genuinely unaware that the population had been overwhelmingly Palestinian Arab for 1,400 years, and that Jews still made up less than 10 per cent when the promise of a Jewish homeland was made by Britain in 1917. She is pleased that many Jews of the diaspora "made it home", and so am I, but does not seem to mind that in the process the inhabitants of hundreds of towns and villages were forcibly evicted.
David Simmonds
Epping, Essex
The bizarre logic of Ms Burchill's naive argument of the Israelites (as she quaintly calls Jews) having built a home in Palestine long before Islam even appeared would hand the United States back to Native Americans, Canada back to the Inuits, Australia back to the Aborigines, South America back to various indigenous natives...
Let us grant Ms Burchill her argument that Jews lived in Palestine years ago and deserved to return there. Historically we Palestinians were also there. There is a solution. Let us share the land, as I and many Palestinian and Israeli friends have clamoured for all our lives. It can be done. It just takes the will to do it.
Dr Faysal Mikdadi
Dorchester, Dorset
It is a pity that, for such an admirer of the Jewish intellectual heritage, so little rabbinical wisdom appears to have rubbed off on Julie Burchill. Her slant on Middle Eastern history is more Alf Garnett than Spinoza, and as a precedent for international relations it would give the builders of the Alhambra the right to reoccupy Spain, and the Romans to repossess Britain in the name of the Emperor Claudius. Residents of Brighton (and Hove) please note.
Colum Gallivan
London SW17
Julie Burchill's knee-jerk reaction to Peter Kosminsky's The Promise is disheartening. On the strength of the first episode it offered much-needed contextualisation. It brought home the centrality of the Holocaust to the current Israel/Palestine impasse. Thousands of terribly abused people arriving in a country whose inhabitants had no say in the redistribution of their land was a recipe for disaster.
As Burchill notes, there is no shortage of highly intelligent Jews (not all of whom want to be Israelis). It is now time for the truly intelligent to speak out and break the cycle of abuse rather than repeating the old mantras as Burchill does.
Maggie Foyer
London SW15
And here are today's:
Ancient 'rights' to a homeland
Julie Burchill's claim (10 February) that Israel's expansionist policies are justified by history is probably the oldest and most spurious of all such justifications.
About the time that the Israelites were committing genocide on the previous occupants of "the promised land", the British isles were occupied by various Celtic tribes. The descendants of some of those peoples now reside in the outer fringes of these islands. The majority are part of a diaspora that forms the core of the majority population of North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Should we declare England to be the natural home for these peoples and make refugees of all subsequent inhabitants and their descendants, including Ms Burchill? Of course not; the idea is ridiculous.
The truth is that no group has an inalienable right to any piece of real estate, since all have been fought over for hundreds of years and their present inhabitants are there as a result of the extermination or assimilation of the original occupiers.
Surely it is time for people to grow up, not only in the Middle East but also in other disputed territories around the world, and accept that none of us has a God-given right to live anywhere.
Frank Parker
Portlaoise, Co. Laois, Ireland
Julie Burchill is, of course, quite right about the Israelites being in the Middle East "from the start". However, while our forefathers were in the lengthy process of emerging from Africa on the only route possible, the ancestors of practically all the rest of us were probably being born in the Middle East as well.
Malcolm Addison
Woodbridge, Suffolk
There's a comment piece in the New Statesman that's worth a bit of a look at too but in case you're wondering who Alf Garnett is/was have a look at this.

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