Like Other Countries.
Independence Day was yesterday. Israel’s Independence Day and for once I was at a loss to think of what to write. How do you sum up such a complex country? And such a difficult history in more than one way?
So I was grateful to read, belatedly, a piece by Howard Jacobson, one of my favourite columnists:
“Fanatical and uninformed anti-Zionism of the sort that peppers the letters pages of serious newspapers has much to answer for morally and intellectually, but the most serious charge against it is that while it satisfies the self-righteousness of its propounders, it does little to help those it calls victims, and still less to persuade those it calls oppressors.
Weary of the one-sidedness of international condemnation, successive Israeli administrations have turned away and pursued their own course, confident at least that America will go on winking at the obduracy into which it has been backed. With every misattribution of motive, with every lazy libel, that obduracy has grown stronger. As an observer one can feel it hardening one’s own heart. Malign misrepresentation leaves no room for subtle dialogue. Thus, many who would have been critical of the occupation in their own terms – which does not mean seeing it as Hamas or Ahmadinejad see it – are deflected from the real conversation and must expend their energies confuting the prejudices of scoundrels.
Allowing that tomorrow is a terrifying place, we can take some hope from this. An Israel treated like other countries, held accountable for its political, not its supposed aetiological or genetic failings, is a country from which much might be expected, including peace.”