TORONTO — It is time Jews and other victims of “western irrationality” stopped playing defence and went on the offensive.
“We have to stop trying to argue with bigots, and set out to defeat them instead. Diaspora Jews have to rethink. It’s time to change the narrative. Time to stop the hand-wringing.”
It was a no-punches-pulled address last week by British journalist and author Melanie Phillips to a lunchtime gathering of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Toronto.
A columnist for the Daily Mail and author of The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power, Phillips, known for her bluntness, did not disappoint at the event, billed as a “State of the Union” luncheon also featuring conservative pundit David Frum.
It’s time, said Phillips, “to stop conniving with the premise of our enemies that the Middle East impasse would be solved by establishing a state of Palestine to which the [Jewish] settlements – and thus by extension, Israel – are the obstacle. [It’s] time for us to stop agreeing that the Jews are to blame for their own predicament.”
To applause, Phillips said Jews should demand of the world “why it expects Israel to make compromises with people who have tried for nine decades to wipe out the Jewish presence in the land and are still firing rockets at it.”
They should ask “why America, Britain and the EU single Israel out for pressure which they apply to no other victims of genocidal aggression. For in any other such conflict, their cause of the aggressors would be deemed totally forfeit by their behaviour.”
Jews should also be asking left-leaning progressives – including Jewish ones – why they support the “racist ethnic cleansing of every Jew from a future state of Palestine.
“Why they are not marching against Hamas on account of its tyrannical oppression of Palestinians in Gaza?” wondered Phillips, a popular figure in right-wing circles. “Why they are not mounting a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority on account of his Holocaust denial and the PA’s continued incitement of Arab children to Jew-hatred, murder and genocide?”
She conceded that prejudice cannot be fought with reason.
“We have a duty as Jews to bear witness to the truth,” she said. “And we have a duty to fight in our defence. We can best do this by getting off our back foot and putting them on theirs. We should accuse them not of anti-Semitic motives we cannot prove, but of absurdities and contradictions and untruths they cannot deny.”
She drove the point home: “We should ridicule them, humiliate them, destroy their reputations; boycott them, not invite them to our houses, show them our disapproval and contempt. Treat them as pariahs. Turn their own weapons against them.
“In short, we must get up off our collective knees and fight. Justice, human rights and truth are on our side, not theirs. We must reclaim them as our own.”
In his remarks, Frum, right, a columnist and speechwriter for former U.S president George W. Bush, recapped the results of the recent U.S. midterm elections, which saw the Republican party surge in popularity.
Frum said relations between the two American political parties “have broken down,” and the Republicans are “now splitting” into “formal and informal” camps, the latter the populist, right-wing Tea Party movement.
“You have to wonder who’s really in charge,” he said.
Because it’s going to be “more difficult” for the Congress to act, the “action” will shift to the U.S. Federal Reserve, Frum predicted.
He said the United Nations’ sanctions against Iran have been “reasonably effective” because the country’s nuclear ambitions appear stalled.
Sounding a note of optimism, Frum said he sees a “new global movement” of support for Israel as a symbol of freedom in the Middle East.