The Middle East

My views on the Middle East and the various disputes there

The latest developments in “space archaeology” are looking very promising. They are sure to promote renewed interest in Egypt and Egyptgology. Now all we need is for Zahi Hawass to be replaced by a man with a bit more humility and Egyptology will be able to progress.



On 14/04/2010 the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain issued a brazenly dishonest and mendacious ruling following a complaint about an advertisement promoting tourism in Israel.

The advertisement in question had shown the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock (a mosque that Muslim occupiers of Jerusalem built on the Temple Mount – the holiest site in the Jewish religion).  This prompted a complaint from some one of dubious probity who claimed falsely that the advertisement was misleading.

In response to this dishonest complaint, the ASA ruled that:

We understood, however, that the status of the occupied territory of the West Bank was the subject of much international dispute, and because we considered that the ad implied that the part of East Jerusalem featured in the image was part of the state of Israel, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.

Now it is certainly not in dispute that the ad implied that the eastern areas of Jerusalem were part of the State of Israel.  But the ASA seems to think that it is empowered to decide whether or not this is the case.  In fact the ASA has no such powers.  To be fair to the ASA, they did in a later ruling held that “Travel Palestine” were equally wrong to imply that Jerusalem was part of “Palestine”.  But they did so in different circumstances.  In the case of “Travel Palestine” it was the words:

From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza … Palestine lies between …

that were misleading. In the case of the Israel Government Tourist Office ad, the mendacious folk at the ASA ruled that a mere picture of the eastern areas of the Israeli city of Jerusalem was misleading.

Furthermore, in upholding the complaint against “Travel Palestine” the ASA disingenuously started off by disputing the (Israeli) complainant’s contention that Jerusalem was part of Israel (which it is) by saying:

We noted that the status of Jerusalem was in dispute but that both the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UN did not recognize it as part of Israel and that the UN characterized it as a ‘corpus separatum,’ to be governed by an international administration.

Only then did they add that

We considered, however, that the line ‘From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus, and Gaza … Palestine lies between …’ suggested that the situation and recognition of those cities as being part of Palestine was universally accepted. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

So there we have it.  In the case of the Jewish State, the ASA rejects their claim flatly, citing what the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UN do and do not recognize.  In the case of a competing claim by the Palestinians, they do not state explicitly that the UN and UK reject their claim too.  No instead, they soften the impact by saying that the view that it is “universally accepted” is “not the case.”  Double standards as between the Jewish State and the Palestinians, motivated by their obvious antipathy to the Jewish State and its people.  Would they have returned a similarly perverse and obviously erroneous ruling against any state other then the Jewish one?  I think not.


Whilst some heavy-duty Antisemites are coming out of the woodwork and explicitly accusing Jews of running the world in a big conspiracy, most Antisemites prefer to camouflage their antisemitism.

The usual way is under the guise of anti-Zionism.  This is a clever tactic because Zionism is understood to include not only the basic belief that the Jews have a right to a state where they can go as a matter of legally protected right, but also to all the policies of specific governments of that state.  Given that no country is perfect and every nation state has something deserving of criticism, this tactic works very well.  Even most Israelis have some complaints about Israel – to put it mildly.  So if one obscures the difference between the policies of a particular government and the nation state’s right to exist then the antisemites can use legitimate criticism of Israel to call the country’s very existence into question.

Of course, the critics of Israel do not stop at legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies or practices. In the past Israel has been criticized for building a security wall to reduce terrorist incursions, for the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation (thereby making it accessible to Jews and also to Israeli Muslims who had previously been denied access by their own Arab brethren), for the shooting of Arabs on the Temple Mount (after they threw large rocks onto the heads of Jews peacefully praying below) and even for the rescue of over a hundred hostages held by Arab and Neo-Nazi terrorists at Entebbe Airport with the collusion of Uganda’s syphilitic dictator Idi Amin – who spent his twilight years hiding out in Saudi Arabia.

Sometimes the critics of the Jewish state go even further afield in their nefarious efforts to demonize the Jewish State.   For example, in the nineteen seventies, Time Magazine did a cover story about then Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Beigin in which they  falsely claimed that the only thing he knew about Saudi Arabia was that they cut off the hands of thieves.  Thus a negative fact about Saudi Arabia was transformed by Time magazine’s dishonest reporting into a negative fact about Menahem Beigin – and by implication the Jewish state.  In effect the article was saying: “Don’t condemn Saudi Arabia for cutting off the hands of thieves (or beheading or stoning people for adultery).  Blame an Israeli politician for knowing that they do.”  If anyone thinks that I’m blowing Time‘s disingenuous language out of proportion, bear in mind that that same edition of Time included a cover picture of Beigin (deliberately selected to make him look bad) surrounded by a Shield of David formed out of rifles.

Not quite as dishonourably, but using a similar technique, Robert Fisk had a field day trying to drag Israel (established 1948) into the massacre of one and a half million Armenians by Turkey in 1915 because of their official silence on the matter.  To judge from Fisk’s tone, the fact that Israeli politicians have not openly condemned Turkey for the massacre is almost as bad as the massacre itself.  No matter that Israel has valid reasons for not wanting to alienate Turkey, given the hostility of so many other governments in the region towards Israel.  No matter that most ordinary Israelis know of and condemn the  massacre.  No matter that very few other countries have officially condemned the massacre.  No matter that most of Fisk’s British co-nationals do not even know of let alone condemn the massacre.  (If he has mentioned it in one of his more obscure writings, I apologize in advance!)  No matter that Israel’s Armenian population is well-treated and that almost all Israelis feel goodwill towards them.  No, this little fact of Israel’s pragmatic silence on the massacre by Turks, gives Fisk a golden opportunity to get his foot in the door with yet another reason to demonize the Jewish state.  As in the Time example, he was effectively saying: “The Turks massacred Armenians;  what wicked Israelis!”

However for some it is not enough to criticize the Israeli government or even the Israeli majority.   I recently came across a blog called “wake up from your slumber” that seems to take a delight at cataloguing every case of wrongful behaviour by individual Israelis that they can find, regardless of how newsworthy or important it is.  Upon further examination of their cesspool of a website, it became clear that they are  indeed antisemites and not just critics of Israel.  I won’t provide a link because I have no desire to direct my readers towards that pile of excrement.  I merely mention it to show where that road leads.


I am also doing a giveaway of The Moses Legacy for readers outside the UK. This includes much of Europe as well as Canada,  Australia and New Zealand, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.  It does not include the USA because the book will not yet be available there, except for a Kindle edition which I believe is coming soon.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Moses Legacy by Adam Palmer

The Moses Legacy

by Adam Palmer

Giveaway ends May 14, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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