Sunday, January 11, 2009

Aaro Back on the Couch

Our eponymous commentator was on the Andrew Marr show this morning. (Update: Now on iPlayer.) That's twice in a not very long interval. Perhaps they like him. He is quite good on camera, as he demonstrated when the live link to Marr interviewing David Cameron went down and he briefly explained Cameron's dilemma with talking down the recession.

He did get quite a speech in about the letter in the Observer today. (It's addressed to 'To the government of Israel' but for some reason they put the wrong address on the envelope. Saved an airmail stamp, I suppose.) I think it's as confused a letter as you'd expect when signed by no fewer than four professional god-botherers. They want both "the complete and permanent lifting of the blockade of Gaza" "as well as the prevention of weapons smuggling into Gaza." One suspects that these are people who do not dirty their hands with practicalities, ever. One of the other signatories, Professor Shalom Lappin is a contributor to Decentiya and Professor David Cesarani has been cited there a few times. They still forget to mention that Hamas was democratically elected. But at least they acknowledge that "an immediate ceasefire is not only a humanitarian necessity but also a strategic priority for the future security of Israelis, Palestinians and people of the region." I suspect that our Dave will return to this on Tuesday. He talked of 'agonising' and, IIRC, the violence "being too much for some people." I would be surprised if one of those "some people" were not our favourite Times columnist. My very rough prediction: it's still all Hamas' fault, but Israel must stop this.

And the programme ended with Richard Thompson singing Britney Spears, something I suspect that Captain Cabernet would like.

Update: Norman Geras reproduces the letter without comment, though as he chooses 'Humanitarian necessity and strategic priority' as his title, I assume that he supports an 'immediate ceasefire'. He also makes one grammatical correction. Good for him.


Blogger ejh said...

Yes, it's still a question of framing the dispute as Israel relucantly responding to intolerable provocation, but then again it needs to be, doesn't it?

1/11/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Jesus Christ. "Andrew Anthony on 20 years since the Salman Rushdie fatwa". I knew this was the wrong week to both give up needle drugs and resume subscribing to the Observer.

1/11/2009 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Yes, and what is Nick on about really?

1/11/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AA's piece is just a longer version of something he wrote about a year ago when he got very upset that The Satanic Verses wasn't available from Waterstones Piccadilly. I'm still unconvinced that AA really understands much to do with literature. TSV is one of Rushdie's worst novels and AA seems to think its merits are primarily due to its mockery of Islam. I want a little more from my 'must-stock' books.

I have no idea what Nick is on about at all. Again his piece seems to be a bunch of tory talking points dressed up as iconoclasm. Oh and if you think Nick's piece is bad, look at Francesca Segal's...

1/11/2009 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like any of the Rushdie books that I've read (three), but I actually thought TSV was the best of those.

I think Anthony's narrative on the decline of the left's support for freedom of expression (foursquare behind Rushdie in '89, appeasing the Islamists in '09) needs a bit of unpicking.

You might also look at the very brief and unelaborated concession that Muslims might indeed consider themselves an 'embattled minority' in modern Britain, which gives the entire narrative a context which he otherwise doesn't acknowledge.

1/11/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know Cesarani slightly through academic circles and he's an all right bloke, very very pro-Israel but at least in the realms of rationality.

Compare and constrast Normski's diplomacy now with the stick he habitually gives Independent Jewish Voices. What a difference it makes to have a ceasefire call from respectable people whose Zionist credentials are not in question.

1/11/2009 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Fantastic stuff. But you shoulda put a disclaimer in this post. Suzanna Reid saying "Paki" in that taut manner, always makes the BBC look like "The Day Today" so I had to convulse with chuckles for an hour.

Beback Fatty Aarama, on the settee, was great, but he had to lead on the rockets/tunnels, so he could then pile in with the decency.

Let's face it he's backing down.

He also defends Prince Harry with the classic "it's just a word" defence. Even saying "no malicious intent".

As for Nick C, today, he's officially now my favourite comedian. My favourite bit is the sneaking in of "The Conservative intellectual David Willetts" towards the end.

1/11/2009 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"TSV is one of Rushdie's worst novels and AA seems to think its merits are primarily due to its mockery of Islam."

I quite like TSV, and it is actually aimed at clerics in Iran and Indo-Pak.

1/11/2009 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this has been mentioned before if not comprehensively watched.

The video of the Finkelstein/Cockburn vs Aaronovitch/Idynck Lobby debate is now on youtube in five parts.

Dave is talking rubbish most of the time. A poor show. He also tosses out a couple of accusations of anti-Semitism.

What I'd really like to see though is an Aaronovitch vs Finkelstein match-up. Both shoot from the hip and aren't afraid to get down and dirty. My money would be on Norman. He's stone cold. He reminds he of a tank.

1/11/2009 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Thanks Bubby. I've never actually seen that before. The Fink-tank is awesome in this. I'd like to see a Chomsky vs Aaronovitch bout. Just for my own sadistic lust.
To continue this boxing analogy. An undercard of Galloway vs Hitchens would go down well.

1/12/2009 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody see Peter Beaumont's piece in todays Guardian Its not great. For a start I'm not sure anybody on the Isareli side has ever been waging a war for the '67 borders. He cites Walzer before highlighting an obvious flaw in his argument regarding when it is acceptable to use force.

I think he makes a crucial point at the end though. We often here that Hamas is a 'terrorist organisation'. The media, minus bits of the broadcsat media, is full of such statments. But the use of the 'terrorist' label here functions to effectively deligiimise and obscure the political dimensions of the conflict.

Once you define someone as a 'terrorist' it is easy to present the solution to the conflict as 'catching/killing' all the terorists but I don't anybody sensible thinks that is the real solution to the I-P conflict.

1/12/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was interesting listening to our former rep at the UN (Greenstock?) puncturing a few lazy assumptions about Gaza on Radio 4 this morning.

For example, Hamas are not wedded to Iran, as they are Sunnis, not Shia; they don't impose a theocracy; there are many different militant groups there; etc.

It was a blessed relief after Blair's blatherings.

1/12/2009 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT, but has anyone noticed Geoffrey Alderman at CIF? He's defending the notion that anyone in Gaza who supports Hamas in any way is a 'Rodef', i.e legitimate military target? (This is by the terms of scriptural Jewish Law, which he seems to deem applicable and sufficient). The category of legitimate target, thus, includes at least everyone who voted for Hamas. Not surprisingly, when Alderman discusses innocent Palestinian victims in the current conflict, he uses inverted-commas.

I always thought there was something a little spooky about Geoffrey Alderman, but this takes the biscuit.

Link here:

1/12/2009 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

The massive irony is that his logic thus legitimizes, for example, the July 7 attacks in London.
In particular, the posthumous video comments of one of the bombers: "Your democratically elected governments continually perpetrate atrocities against my people all over the world. Your support makes you directly responsible. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation."

1/12/2009 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Fuck me, I knew they had sophisticated missiles these day but I didn't know they could programme them to identify who their targets had voted for.

1/12/2009 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re. voter-hunting smart bombs ...

Well, to be fair to Alderman's logic, he specifies voting for Hamas as only one indicator of whether someone is a rodef. It's a betting certainty, I'd say, that more or less the entire adult population of Gaza would currently support Hamas gunmen in a collision with the IDF. So, it's morally safe, in Alderman world, to treat every Palestinian of age in the Strip as a legit target.

Rather bizarrely, when some commentators on the article complain that Alderman is effectively supporting the principle of war-crime on an breath-taking scale, he condescendingly tells them to 'calm down' before repeating his position. It's like he's so far in his own zone that he doesn't appreciate the enormity of his position. And this guy has real influence on the running of our universities. Ye gods!

[I'd just like to note - not for regular commentators but anyone passing by - that as far as I can tell, Alderman stands alone with this horrifying logic, and he shouldn't be taken as indicative of a 'true' Zionist, still less Jewish opinion either here or in Israel].

1/12/2009 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Why not, pin Stars of David on all those who didn't vote for Hamas and then the IDF could use google maps and surveillance to identify the ones that did - and then bomb them. That would be fair!

Or am I just taking my IDF = Nazi analogy at bit too far.

1/12/2009 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I just taking my IDF = Nazi analogy at bit too far"


Geoffrey Alderman, writing as if he's obviously being reasonable, says:

"It would be open to non-Hamas supporters to make themselves known to (for example) the media operating in Gaza [e.g. Aljazeera] or to advertise the fact to the IDF."

Seriously, he's deluded.

1/12/2009 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I remember that after the Tories won in 1979 people used to wear "Don't Blame Me, I Voted Labour" badges.

Possibly they could try the same sort of thing?

"Don't Bomb Me, I Voted For Fatah".

Fuck, yeah.

1/12/2009 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

In the light of Alderman's madness "It would be open to non-Hamas supporters to make themselves to (for example) the media operating in Gaza [e.g. Aljazeera] or to advertise the fact to the IDF." I stand by my IDF
= Nazi comparison.

Let's force everyone in Gaza to report to a desk and tell us who they voted for. Then kill the ones that did and let the ones that didn't go free.
Logic - Nazi style.

1/12/2009 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Hey, bagger me, according to his Wikipedia page we're alumni of the same Oxford college. Well, he may not be typical of Zionists but me wouldn't be too atypical in the other category.

1/12/2009 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

(This is by the terms of scriptural Jewish Law, which he seems to deem applicable and sufficient).

One thing that always strikes me when I read Israel supporters' articles or blogs is that they just play 'fantasy Israel.'

By 'eck, he gets his arse kicked, doesn't he?

1/12/2009 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile in Israel, the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi seems to be thinking along similar lines:

"All civilians living in Gaza are collectively guilty for Kassam attacks on Sderot, former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has written in a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The letter, published in Olam Katan [Small World], a weekly pamphlet to be distributed in synagogues nationwide this Friday, cited the biblical story of the Shechem massacre (Genesis 34) and Maimonides' commentary (Laws of Kings 9, 14) on the story as proof texts for his legal decision.

According to Jewish war ethics, wrote Eliyahu, an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Kassam rockets."

His son's a bit of a charmer, too.

1/12/2009 09:36:00 PM  

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