There are parts of this some would wish to contend and I confess to know little of afew of the historical points, (the Greece and Turkey post war exchange for instance) but the overall conclusion is entirely correct here. Peter Hitchens is right to point to zealous anti-Zionist’s inconsistencies and moreover he is undeniably correct to assert that a civilised human compromise is the only solution, and it’s complicated arrival is pushed further back *not* aided by fanatical flag wavers in the west, (that’s middle-class student radicals to you and I): “I suppose I should have realised that any mention of the Israel problem would produce the wearisome litany of the selective anti-Israel lobby. Members of this lobby often have a strange difficulty in typing the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish’ with the normal initial capital letter. I do often wonder why. But then I also wonder why they have this selective animus towards one small country, but never seem to level parallel criticisms at other countries which behave in the same way, or very similarways, or worse.
Israel is of course a country full of faults. Its foundation, its subsequent behaviour towards its minorities, its occupation of land, all fall below the high standards required of any Utopia.
First, it seized land by conquest and drove out the indigenous inhabitants. This is also true of most countries, and in the modern era it is true particularly of the USA, whose record on the treatment of Native Americans is wholly appalling, and whose seizure of land by force from Mexico in the 1848 war is at least questionable. Something similar could be said of Australia, especially in Tasmania, and of course of China, which has seized Tibet, and has also begun to turn the native Uighurs of Chinese Turkestan into a minority in their own homeland, through targeted immigration and settlement of Han Chinese. I only mention these things because I have yet to see the anti-Zionists, who are so consumed by Israel’s equivalent wrongs, mounting any comparable protest against these countries.
Selective outrage, in my experience, is invariably fake outrage, and is about something other than the ostensible purpose of it. What is unique about Israel that gets these people so upset?
Second, there’s the matter of the refugees. Any reader of Benny Morris’s superb study of the 1948 war ‘1948’ , will know that Israel often behaved very badly during this curious war, and took the opportunity to drive Arabs from their homes. The massacre of Deir Yassin was a particularly disgraceful episode. But at roughly the same point in human history, India and Pakistan (1947) also saw disgraceful episodes of ethnic cleansing about which we hear virtually nothing today. And, closer to home, there were the savage and murderous mass expulsions of ethnic Germans, mainly wholly innocent women and children, from Eastern and Central Europe, under Allied direction and supervision, under the Potsdam, Agreement in which we pledged (dishonestly) to ensure that these events would be ‘orderly and humane’. They were not. Those words form the bitter title of R.M. Douglas’s excellent book on this wrongly forgotten episode, discussed here-http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2012/11/orderly-and-humane.html
One might add the continuing mumbling and changing the subject which follows any mention of the Turkish massacre of Armenians in 1915, the forgotten but hideous ‘population exchange’ between Greece and Turkey after World War One, and also the gradual but enormous driving of Christian Arabs out of the Middle East, by discrimination and intimidation, still going on.
Then there are the mythical versions of events. Many anti-Israel fanatics appear to believe that there was a nation state called ‘Palestine’ which existed before Israel destroyed it and seized its land. There was not. Before 1917, the area was a series of Sanjaks and Vilayets of the Otooman Empire, none of its administrative borders having any connection with those which were later drawn up by British officials.
Palestine was a scholarly ( and perhaps anti-Zionist) reference to the cynical name which the Romans had given to their colony in that area (whose borders again have little to do with modern ones) after they had utterly crushed Jewish resistance to their rule and renamed and rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman City. The Roman name ‘Palestina’, was a delibrate reference to the Philistines, historic enemies of the ancient Jewish people, who once dwelt in the area but who have vanished into history, probably carried off by one of the many invaders of the region.
There was a British colony of this name, originally granted to Britain by the League of Nations for the purpose (as stated in the Sanremo Accords) of ‘close settlement of Jews’. More than half that colony was later lopped off , by Winston Churchill, to create the then Emirate of Transjordan. This solved a complex political problem which Britain then had with France with the Arab leaders to whom we had made extravagant promises during World War One, in return for help and support.
The land now known as the ‘West Bank’ was not part of that Churchillian appeasement fo Arab wrath. It was later seized by Transjordan during the disorder of the 1948 war, and occupied by Transjordan from 1948 to 1967, illegally. Nobody protested. Britain and Pakistan, alone in all the world, recognised the seizure. Israel then seized the land, in my view mistakenly, in 1967. A lot of fuss is made about this being ‘illegal’, but it is rather hard to say who it really belongs to. Probably Turkey, since Britain, which seized it from Turkey in 1917, has long ago left.
The point about all this is that there is no simple obvious solution. But there are many millions of good, decent people living in this area who are in no way helped by the stirrings and Utopian prescriptions of outsiders who claim that one side or the other has the absolute right to rule and control all the land and all its people. (These people seem oddly reluctant to seek such absolute solutions, ‘rights of return’ etc, in the USA, Australia, Turkey, India, Pakistan or Eastern Europe. They must ask themselves why they are especially interested in this one example of human injustice, and uninterested in the others) Civilised, human compromise is hampered, not helped, by ideological, idealist nonsense of this kind.” (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/02/the-middle-east-conundrum.html)
Peter’s most recent interview is here. It is not as good as it could be due to interruptions by the interviewer, who unfortunately like so many people has not done his research on Peter and thinks he is being clever by cutting in with assumptions about what he *thinks* Peter believes, rather than actually engaging reading or listening to the reality. Peter does well to keep his cool and makes some interesting points as always even where I disgaree.