The article at the bottom of this page was published in Jerusalem Post and my father responded with the following letter, see below...
To: The Editor, Jerusalem Post. 19 June 2010.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing in reply to Julie Burchill’s article in the Jerusalem Post of 18 June and must declare an interest here since I am the father of Alexandra Lort-Phillips, she of the hyphenated surname present on the Mavi Marmara when the vessel was sailing with the Gaza aid flotilla and boarded by Israeli Special Forces.
Linking the way people behave to the names they have been given – over which of course they had no choice – displays the sort of xenophobic bigotry which can eventually lead to disasters like the Holocaust. Although Miss Burchill’s article may have been written with tongue in cheek, it will bolster many with more sinister and blinkered views of the state of the Middle East at the moment.
Millions deplore the plight of the ordinary Palestinians who live in Gaza at the moment, but unlike most our daughter was inspired to get off her backside and try to do something about it. When she became aware of the appalling deprivation that is going on in the strip, her fury was not only with Israel but also with Hammas, with the political bigots of every hue in the region and with the wider international community’s failure to do anything about it. Her eyes were open to the faults on all sides and it was only her passion to help that led her to find the organisation that appeared closest to taking practical action. On account of this she helped with the Viva Palestina aid convoy over Christmas and New Year last year during which incidentally her co-driver was a Jewish woman!
The red tape and obfuscation that this aid convoy encountered both from Egypt and Israel hardened her resolve to help more with future aid deliveries, hence her presence on the flotilla and her encounter with the Israeli Commandoes. As the London Times following this event noted, ‘Ms Lort-Phillips refused to blame the Israeli commandos for the killings. “They got on board the ship and behaved like soldiers behave. It’s not their fault that they were put in that situation by someone in charge of military strategy,” she said.’ Such a mature take on an event in which she and her friends had been assaulted, killed, injured, abused, robbed and incarcerated is remarkable testimony to a balanced mind grappling with what seems to be an intractable problem.
Treatment of the type described above has made her and millions of others around the world exceptionally cross. It has acted as a recruiting agency for Hammas and others who hope for Israel’s annihilation. She is not one of them. She wants justice, peace and quality of life for the deprived of Gaza whose hardship she has witnessed at first hand.
We her parents instinctively admire much of what Israel has achieved since its foundation and also the focus on culture, scholarship, objectivity and democracy that intelligent Judaism has given the world. The recent intemperate response to well-meaning idealists aided and abetted by articles like Burchill’s has lost Israel many friends. It will continue to do so until they open their eyes and treat those who disagree with them with the sort of humanity with which they have been generally welcomed into the community of nations and the sort of humanity our daughter displayed in the aftermath of the assault on the Mavi Marmara.
We share the pride in her shown by her great Aunt Frances Campbell-Preston, another great and much venerated humanitarian whose generation, and she personally, suffered greatly in the defeat of another ghastly dictatorship that so victimised its neighbours 70 years ago.
How the British media get their kicks
By JULIE BURCHILL
In Britain, tabloids get excited about roistering royals, fickle footballers and sex maniac MPs. But broadsheet papers only really get excited about Israel.
Over here in Britain, the tabloid newspapers get excited about roistering royals, fickle footballers, priapic pop stars and sex maniac MPs, among other things. They get excited about celebrity love-rats, three-in-a-bed romps and cocaine hells. They’re pretty excitable all round, bless ’em! But some of the broadsheet newspapers only really get excited – really excited, parasexual excited – about one thing: Israel behaving badly!
Of course, one hack’s bad is another hack’s baaad, and of course my first reaction was, “Ooo, which part of ‘don’t mess with Israel’ don’t these bed-wetters understand?”
On the phone later with my equally philo-Semitic gentile friend, she predicted that “if there’s any English on board, one of them will have a hyphen. You wait and see!”
I must point out here that unlike the situ in your gorgeous country, having a hyphenated name here doesn’t mean you’re the proud son of someone, i.e. Ben-Whoever. Rather, it means that you’re an upper-class, peasant-exploiting, in-bred half-wit.
In some extreme cases of overcompensation for what is clearly lacking in other departments, a mere double-barrelled name is considered too, too common, and families will add yet another hyphen – hence the Cave-Browne-Cave (sounds like code for a a pervy sex act) and Vane-Tempest-Stewart (one of the daughters, Annabel, left her husband for a Jew – an exception to the half-witted rule). And imagine how tragic your sense of your own worth must be to actually bother with four surnames (Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax) or even five (Temple-Nugent-Brydges-
IF YOU read Agatha Christie’s stories from before she realized she shouldn’t call people names any more (pre-1950s, or maybe the year when her publishers decided that the next printing of Ten Little Niggers should instead be called And Then There Were None would be the watermark), you’ll find loads of dodgy stuff. There’s “men of Hebraic extraction, sallow men with hooked noses, wearing flamboyant jewelry.”
There’s “the long-nosed Mr. Lazarus,” of whom somebody says, “He’s a Jew, of course, but a frightfully decent one.” And Christie was a smart toff!
Jews are very clever and the English ruling class are very stupid, so naturally English Jews have taken from the poshos a bit of the wealth and property that once was theirs, snatched from the peasantry and bequeathed by robber barons long ago. Nowadays their thick, unemployable children can find an outlet for their inborn anti-Semitism in pro-Palestinian protest. And sure enough I turned on the TV the day after the flotilla was floored, and there was a man called Lort-Phillips, bewailing the plight of his sister, one Alexandra Lort-Phillips, late of the ship of fools, who was now hopefully getting what she deserved in Eretz Yisrael.
A few days later a piece turned up on the society page of the Daily Mail explaining that Lort-Phillips is the great-niece of Dame Frances Campbell-Preston, a woman of the bedchamber (not as fun as it sounds) and friend of the late queen mother of England, who inexplicably claimed, “I am very proud of her. She is standing up for her principles.”
Wow, from royalty-flunky to Hamas-groupie in two generations – that’s the spirit that made this country great! At least, though, the old broad has the excuse of being 91 years old to spout such twaddle. What’s everyone else’s excuse?
It was poor Mark Regev, your charming spokesman, who took most of the flak. On BBC’s Newsnight, the female presenter allowed the love boat cheerleader enough time and space to practically make the Gettsysburg Address on behalf of these savage clowns (they came off like a pair of those weird women who write offering marriage to serial killers, to be frank) before subjecting Regev to such a relentless interrogation that he had to plead to be allowed to make his point.
Over on Channel 4, Jon Snow (a respected journalist but rather strange man, who several years ago refused to wear a red paper poppy – the British symbol of respect for fallen soldiers – in the week approaching Remembrance Day on the grounds that doing so was “poppy fascism”) took up the war of words against Regev, becoming as overheated as a teenage fan of Justin Bieber on coming face-to-face with a supporter of Miley Cyrus, claiming that – ahem – the Turkish president might be about to order warships to accompany Turkish aid vessels headed for Israel.
“What are you gonna do, what are you going to do, eh? What are you going to do if Turkish warships show up?” Snow railed, basically doing a Chris Morris “it’s war!” routine which had Regev incredulous. Cut to the end of the show, when Snow had to make a grovelling apology. The Turks had obviously been on the blower; the president never ordered any warships. And Snow had used a heated exchange to provoke and promote some very dangerous propaganda.
Not once did I hear a British interviewer ask any of the so-called secular radicals participating in the flotilla why they are allied with Islamic supremacists who subjugate women, persecute gays, oppress non-Islamic minorities and seek to impose Islam globally. But Sarah Montague on Radio 4 was a breath of fresh air in her interview with a Gaza-groupie:
Sarah Montague: Are you saying that Israeli soldiers who boarded that ship opened fire and there was no provocation for it?
Sarah Colborne: That’s what I am saying, yes.
SM: You saw that. You saw them fire when there was no attack on them?
SC: I saw them, well, I saw them, what I saw was them coming down from a helicopter onto the roof, I saw them trying to board the boat via dinghies.
SM: Were they attacked by those on board?
SC: They – the people on board, as you can see, were trying to stop...
SM: Hitting them with metal bars...
A JEWISH lawyer I know, as level-headed and laid-back a man as you could find, told me that he has never seen the British Jewish community as frightened as it is now. With the honorable exception of people such as Miss Montague and the brilliant Brendan O’Neill on spiked.com (who doesn’t even support the State of Israel, but writes with sparkling contempt of the reason he despises the Gaza-groupies), the British media must take some responsibility for creating this climate of fear. When British Jewish children are beaten up on school buses, as has happened increasingly over the past few years, I hope they feel proud of themselves and their mission to inform and enlighten.
The writer has been a journalist since the age of 17 and an admirer of Israel since the age of 12. The television adaptation of her teenage novel Sugar Rush won an International Emmy in 2006.