The British media is in one of its periodic fits of moralizing hysteria and convulsion over the fact that Prince Harry called a fellow officer a "Paki" -- a not-particularly-derogatory diminutive of "Pakistani" -- during Army training three years ago when aged 21, and long before his recent front-line service in Afghanistan. (Perhaps I could still sue someone over the fact that as an Australian in London I was frequently called an Aussie, but that's another story.)
It's not just the British media, of course -- with the dumbing-down of even the former "quality" papers in the last few years and the series of obnoxious scandals engulfing the BBC I doubt that the British media has much moral credibility left or that anyone takes it particularly seriously.
However, the whole affair has gone far beyond the media. While a large majority of the British public still seem backward enough to think that young officers occasionally do go large a bit, as Kipling put it, during training, it was reported that "Amid pressure from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, senior officers launched an informal investigation…" This despite the fact that the Pakistani officer himself had made no complaint.
"The Army does not tolerate inappropriate behavior in any shape of form," a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said. The Prince's former press secretary, now occupying the position of communications director at the Commission for Racial Equality, weighed in castigating her former employer. Mohammed Sharfig, director of a Muslim youth organization called Ramadhan Foundation, claimed the Prince's behavior was "sickening." The pen of that incomparable satirist the late Peter Simple is badly missed.
Conservative leader David Cameron claimed the Prince's words were "completely unacceptable," though, given that the Prince had apologized, he stopped short of endorsing a suggestion put to him by the BBC that the Army should take further action. Inevitably, Nick Clegg, the leader of the ineffable Liberal Democrats, joined in.
A minority comment was that of Rod Richards, a former Royal Marine and former Conservative Foreign Office minister, who claimed: "I am a Welshman and it was quite common for people like me to be called Taffy… the use of the word Paki doesn't surprise me but in a military context it is not derogatory." Australian commentator Gerard Henderson remarked: "Nowadays it is acceptable to depict George Bush or Tony Blair or John Howard as Hitler-loving Nazis, but not to use such words as 'Paki' or 'raghead' -- even among consenting adults in private."
MEANWHILE, GIVEN MUCH less prominence in the media, and ignored by Britain's vast government-financed race relations industry, following Israel's invasion of Gaza an estimated 100,000 people turned out in London to demonstrate, sometimes violently, against Israel. Jews were physically attacked. Germany, with a population a bit over a third as large again, including a large Islamic Turkish population, could manage a total of only about 20,000 in three major cities. So years of Draconian anti-racism legislation and official activity in Britain seems to have produced a country with many times more active Jew-haters than Germany -- a tribute to the effectiveness of the British race-relations industries' work.
I suppose using terms like Jew-haters and anti-Semites in this context will attract some denial and criticism, no doubt phrased in the Left's usual polite terms. Nonetheless I see no reason to resile from them. At the very least I believe the onus of proof they are not Jew-haters is, in this situation, on the protestors (as distinct from rational critics of Israel's policies) and their apologists. Israel alone in the world is under attack by enemies sworn to its existential annihilation, who do not even pretend otherwise, and Israel alone in the world is being singled out as having no right to defend its people -- basically, as having no right to exist.
Of course, 100,000 in a city of eight or nine million and a country of 60 million is a tiny minority, but it is worth pointing out that no atrocities or massacres of the innocent in recent times have provoked anything remotely similar: not 9/11, not the 2005 London tube bombings or the IRA bombings before them, not the Spanish train-bombings, not Darfur, Rwanda or the Congo, not the Zimbabwe terror-famine, not the penal system of Equatorial Guinea, not the Clinton-Blair-NATO bombing of Belgrade (which produced not the smallest squeak of protest from the Left), not, further back in time, the Pol Pot genocide and other Communist atrocities. Not, recently, the Russian attack on Georgia. And there is a qualitative emotional difference between, say, writing to an embassy to protest a country's policies and taking to the streets in scores of thousands to fight with police and destroy property and assault people, especially in a country like Britain. This, I think, is the crucial fact: Jews attempting to defend their people and state had aroused a special kind of hatred.
Compare the chanting hysteria and attacks on Jews in London streets with the words of Egyptian foreign Minster Ahmed Aboul Gheit to Hamas: "The Israelis have been warning you that this was coming if you continued your cross-border rocket attacks. Egypt has been imploring you to stop firing rockets into Israel, but you ignored our words. We have been urging you to renew the ceasefire with Israel, but you refused. You have brought this upon yourselves. You are responsible for what is happening to the people of Gaza."
There is another thing: Even the great anti-Nuclear and anti-Vietnam demonstrations of the Cold War, however many useful idiots they deployed, were ultimately bank-rolled and organized from Moscow through various fronts and local parties. This outbreak of mass Jew-hatred, whether the Jew-haters are local or immigrant -- something that does not seem to have been investigated -- has a kind of horrible spontaneity about it. Further, it would not have happened in Britain even a few years ago -- in fact it didn't happen in Britain a few years ago when Israel defended itself.
The fact that the escalation of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas in recent months is probably linked to power-struggles between competing factions in Iran is, in this particular context, not very relevant.
I AM NOT SUGGESTING that Israel should be immune from criticism -- it needs it, as does any country. There are at least rationally arguable propositions that the attack on Hamas is wrong or counter-productive which could be put in rational and civilized ways. But there is right now a stark, simple and obvious equation which no amount of sophistry or talk of proportionality can get around: the worse case for the inhabitants of Gaza if their fellow-Muslims continue to refuse to re-settle them is a continuation of the status quo; the worst case for the Israelis is annihilation.
This mass outbreak of Jew-hatred in the Western world, it seems to me, is somewhat more significant than Prince Harry calling someone a "Paki" three years ago. If seems, however, that the British anti-racism authorities, like the British media, do not share my view.
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