What made the arthritic snail sit up and applaud?

I am sensing an understandable weariness on the part of the community as it faces yet another hurdle in the long-running saga I can only call “Us versus Them”.

Perhaps it is exemplified by Jonathan Arkush’s decision to step aside from the unenviable job he once fought so hard to achieve, that of president of the Board of Deputies. For who, these days, would want to be fire-fighting day in and day out, a seemingly relentless and unending situation?

Example one: what Arkush rightly described Labour’s willingness to deal with anti-Semitism in the party as “with the speed of an arthritic snail”.

On Sunday, distressingly, we learned that the snail was not merely arthritic but apparently paralysed, as Labour has seemingly agreed – courtesy of the new numerical make-up of the National Executive Committee – to re-admit people suspended from the party for various types of egregious anti-Semitism.

One such person was Mike Sivier, a Labour activist who rejects accusations of Holocaust denial and whose re-admission came with the proviso that he must attend a workshop on anti-Semitism – a rider he has refused and therefore not been allowed back. And who, I wonder, is going to make Sivier attend – the man who wrote it may be “entirely justifiable to say Tony Blair had been unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers”?

Example two: Jeremy Bowen’s extraordinary report on BBC News at Ten last week about the Ahed Tamimi case in Israel, a report so shot full of prejudice that even the arthritic snail might have sat up and applauded.

Ahed Tamimi, readers will be aware, is the 16-year-old Palestinian girl whose slap of a remarkably restrained IDF soldier has landed her in the Israeli courts. Bowen, wandering the front yard of the Tamimi family home, managed to present the teenager’s story in a manner almost worthy of parody, were it not so serious.

I am grateful to We Believe in Israel for pithily summing up the main points against this report. That Bowen did not mention that Tamimi, daughter of a family constantly at odds with Israel, as is their right until and unless that opposition is expressed as violence, was charged with 12 different counts for six different incidents, not just the slap; that her aunt, Ahlam Tamimi, was involved in the 2001 Sbarro restaurant bombing in which 15 civilians died and 130 others were wounded; that the Tamimi family has consistently refused to “forswear bloodshed”; that he did not say what the IDF were doing in Ahed Tamimi’s village in the first place; and that of all the Israeli voices Bowen could have chosen to speak about the teenager, he picked the maverick (to say the least) MK Oren Hazan, suspended that day from the Knesset for mocking the disability of a fellow MK, and who, grinning to the camera, said: “If I was there, she would finish in the hospital for sure. Nobody could stop me. I would kick, kick her face, believe me”.

I cannot believe that Bowen, a seasoned reporter, did not know who Hazan was when he chose him as the sole Israeli comment on the Tamimi case. There must have been cheers in the BBC Jerusalem studio when Hazan made his gruesome remarks.

So if it is a war, a war of attrition, I make the current score Them, 2, Us, nil. No wonder our leadership is weary.

About the Author
Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist.
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