I am half-English, half-Australian. My forebears came over with William the Conqueror from Maine and Anjou in 1066 and sank deep roots in Shropshire, the most English of English counties. My dear wife is English, and it was in England that I met her, in the lovely Cotswolds. The images of “Englishness” are deep in my whole mental makeup. I have been deeply aware of England’s contribution to what is humane and decent in civilization. When Australia had a referendum as to whether it ought to become a republic, independent of the British Crown, I did my best to work for the Royalist cause (we won).
I have been prouder than I can easily say of England’s past. I saw, close up and with horror, the corruption of many of its institutions under Tony Blair while living there in 1998-99. I arrived just in time for the surreal madness of Princess Diana’s funeral. My book, Blair’s Britain, was one of the first to try to expose a strange, dream-like malaise, of which Blair’s “cool Britannia” was near the essence. Blair’s Britain was chosen by the London Spectator as a book of the year and quickly sold out though for some reason was not reprinted.
Of course, there were still many wonderful things there, and I tried to give them credit.
I read of Clinton’s bombing of make-up ladies in Belgrade TV studios in June, 1999, with disgust and for the first time in my life with a conviction that my people were on the wrong side. Still, Britain was a very junior partner and it didn’t involve me.
The recent vote, 274-12 by British MPs to recognize the Hamas regime in Palestine (with 450 or so spineless abstentions, including that of its mega-spineless Prime Minister) is different. It is a cause not only for disgust, but for unutterable shame. The closest I can come to describing it is that it is akin to the feeling that would be aroused if a loved and admired elder relative were to be publicly found out in some appalling crime involving obscenity and treason — for this is treason to everything that is fine and noble in the spirit of England.
Make no mistake: for at least some of the movers of the resolution it was not about the rights of the Palestinians: it was about Jew-hatred. Consider the statement of Richard Ottoway, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, that despite having been “a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory,” its recent policies had “outraged me more than anything else in my political life’” Not much pretense there that the vote was prompted by hopes that it would somehow contribute (Who knows how?) to a peaceful, two-state solution. No suggestion that by its rocket-attacks on cities Hamas had forced Israel to retaliate.
And then there were the degenerates of ISIS and the televised beheadings of the innocent and the machine-gunning of helpless prisoners, forced to dig there own graves. The girls carried off in hundreds to sexual slavery. Yes, I know Hamas and ISIS are not exactly the same, but they are connected, and the beheadings and machine-gunnings are a pretty clear sign of what Israel could expect if the Islamic fanatics and perverts somehow gained the upper hand.
This is not a matter of esoteric knowledge but of obvious and well-known fact, such as it would seem unnecessary even to state. This is one of those times in history when, as Chesterton said, evil is not done furtively in dark corners or by moonlight but glorifying itself in the full light of the noonday sun. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hamas to dissociate itself from ISIS, let alone do anything to help resist it..
The British Union of University Students, incidentally, has also just passed a resolution not to condemn ISIS, lest this be taken for Islamophobia. This is the action of people not merely mistaken but somehow biologically deficient, like apologists for, or deniers of, the Holocaust.
Hamas has shown its savage ruthlessness by its general use of its own people as human shields. Its charter calls for the extermination of the Jews and it has never shown interest in a peace treaty.
This, like ISIS, is sheer evil, undisguised, like Nazism or Stalinism, the inveterate foe of what Churchill, at the time of the Battle of Britain, called “Christian civilization.“ Israel knows, to quote Kipling:
We asked no more than leave
To reap where we had sown,
Through good and ill to cleave
To our own flag and throne …
The terror, threats, and dread
In market, hearth, and field —
We know, when all is said,
We perish if we yield.
As for the rest of us, and for the gentlemen of the House of Commons in particular, there are the words of another poet, the great Australian James McAuley, written at the time of the Soviet butchery of Hungary in 1956: (I quote from memory): “Suddenly upon the horizon rears up this great staring mask of blood and lies, and the question: ‘What are you going to do about ME.’” At this moment England’s Parliamentary democracy stinks.
Perhaps the one potentially good thing to have come out of this disgusting business is that it has shown Israel and its many English friends in and outside Parliament, how deeply the anti-Semitic (or whatever you wish to call them ) tentacles have penetrated into public life, and highlighted the need for a really determined pushback.
There is, at this particular time, only one other thing to do. And it is not to pass resolutions that aid Hamas in its objective of the total destruction of Israel.
In World War II about 80 Members of the British Parliament died fighting Nazism. No other legislative body had such a brave record. Is it beyond hope that those men’s honor may be reclaimed?