Thursday 14 July 2011

There should be more Philo-Semites in the World

I've realised that I'm a "philo-semite":
"Philo-Semitism (also spelled philosemitism) or Judeophilia is an interest in, respect for, and appreciation of the Jewish people, their historical significance and the positive impacts of Judaism in the history of the western world, in particular, generally on the part of a gentile."
I learned the term after listening to the BBC Worldservice "Witness" program, which this morning was about the Crusades, specifically the first one, in 1096.  Being the Beebs, of course the Crusades came out looking terrible: it was all the fault of the Christians, who went on murderous rampages, leaving the streets flowing in blood to the knees, only beaten back by the brave Muslim warrior Saladin.  The true story of the Crusades, and especially the first one, is rather more of a reaction to the Islamic invasions from Arabia to Europe.  Still, leave that aside for the mo....
The Beeb's guest was Simon Sebag Montefiore author of "Jerusalem, the Biography", due out in October 2011.  It's on my Wish List.
Looking up Mr Montefiore and his book led me to a review by Antony Beevor in the Guardian, which says it is "...a remarkably objective account of the holy city's turbulent history".  Given the Grauniad's bent, their saying it's "objective" is rather like expecting our little dog Nikki to be objective about a cat, but again, still.....
It's not a bad review, though rather too "he said -- she said" in its tone; especially about the pre-'49 shenanigans in the Levant.  "A cycle of mutual fear and violence", for example.  As if it was the fault of both sides... rather than the fault a Muslim hysteria, whipped up by the horrid mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Huseini, the nasty nazi-lover and murderously genocidal hater of jews. Read "Icon of Evil", for the full documentation of this.  But for Beevor, Al-Huseini is skipped by, and you'd think he was just a local nationalist.
Back to the term!  Philo-semitism.  About half-way down Beevor's review of "Jerusalem: the Biography":
"...The necessities of war in the Middle East encouraged the British to make promises to the Arabs that they had little intention of keeping, while philo-semitism in Lloyd George's cabinet led to the Balfour Declaration, raising Zionist aspirations."
Well, that's sure changed in the intervening decades hasn't it?  It would be hard to find a philo-semite in the UK government now.