Melanie Phillips & her quandary over Tony Blair

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    20th February, 2010

    Melanie to Tony:  just defeat the Islamic threat to the world – that’s all (to paraphrase)

    Phillips: But Blair also said this: he totally disagreed ‘that the existence of Israel has provoked this conflict’ (with the Palestinians), but that ‘the resolution of the conflict would have an enormously beneficial impact on relations with the Muslim world’.

    Here, surely is the perennial naivety and muddle in Tony Blair’s own position — even though he is the most pro-Israel British leader in recent times. Of course, relations with the Muslim world would improve if the Israel/Palestinian conflict were resolved. But the Muslim world is the reason it has not been resolved.

    What Blair has never acknowledged is that it is not a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians but between Israel and the Muslim world, which pulls the Palestinians’ terrorist and rejectionist strings.

    Solving Israel/Palestine will not defuse the problem of the Islamic threat to the world; defeating the Islamic threat to the world will solve the problem of Israel/Palestine.’

    So – nothing BIG or important for him to sort out then, Ms Phillips? Just defeat ‘the Islamic threat to the world’ and Israel and the Palestinians will divvie up the land no problem?

    IN ONE FELL SWOOP?

    I find this an unusually simplistic and sweeping statement from her. Rather innocent, in an un-Phillips like way. She knows, as we all should, that the complexity of issues in the Middle East cannot be dealt with in one fell swoop. Defeating the Islamic threat to the world would indeed be historical.  But is it realistic? Unless those with a grievance, perceived or actual, get what they can consider a fair deal from the west and particularly from pro-Israelis, there will always be a reason/excuse, perceived or actual, for maintaining terrorism.

    Defeating the Islamic threat to the world (and there certainly is such a threat, ongoing and long in existence, see here for how long) is the end goal. But baby steps will need to be taken to get there, clearly. Certainly not one country, or even less one individual, will move the world and its brother to a safer, less threatened place. Blair’s way is the only way. Ms Phillips’ remedy is, unfortunately, an impossible dream.

    Tony Blair has been working for over two years on his task of building the infrastructure in regions which are expected to make up Palestine (no, he was not a “peace envoy”, though mooted and derided by detractors as a “failed” one.)

    His efforts have been all to the good, and have made him many friends and admirers, across the divide. And now the US Secretary of State has asked him to play a larger role. It is thought by some that he may already be lining up meetings with members of Hamas. This is as yet unconfirmed, and I would rather hear confirmation after the event for obvious reasons, than before. (See here for thoughts on Blair’s upgraded role.)

    It would be useful if Melanie Phillips registered some of Blair’s work in the region as positive progress, since, as she has alluded to herself, the general British press seldom does.

    She seems to be in some sort of quandary as to what to think of our former prime minister’s present position and his efforts in that region. Thankfully, she DOES defend his position over the Iraq invasion.

    BUT, ‘NOT A CONFLICT BETWEEN ISRAEL & THE PALESTINIANS’?

    OH YES, IT IS …

    Not to be put too fine a point on it Ms Phillips seems here to be rather naive and in some sort of muddle.

    She says –

    “…it is not a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians but between Israel and the Muslim world”. And in the next sentence – “defeating the Islamic threat to the world will solve the problem of Israel/Palestine.”

    It is clearly ALL of the above, Ms Phillips, not an either/or.  There is a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians AND between Israel and the Muslim world AND there is an Islamic threat to the world.

    The contention that it is not a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not quite how others see it, including many Israelis and many Palestinians in the region.

    WE ARE WHERE WE ARE

    We can argue forever as to whether Israel should be there at all. We can militate against Britain’s past colonial interests in the region. We can go back to the time of Moses and debate whose land it originally was. We can continue to feel aggrieved about the UN’s 1947 partition resolution. The legitimacy or otherwise of the 1967 Israel/West bank border, and even whether Gaza should ever have been handed over lock, stock and barrel to Hamas in 2007.

    Argue away, till the cows come home.  None of that debate alters where we are today. As Blair would no doubt say, “time to move on.”

    Melanie Philips is a hate figure of the left, the anti-Jewish/pro-Palestinian left.  She had the audacity to name parts of London ‘Londonistan’ when the liberal-minded hadn’t noticed. Or if they had, they didn’t consider it of any consequence.

    This site, Ruthfully Yours and its eye-catching headline – “MELANIE PHILLIPS: WHAT BLAIR HAS NOT ACKNOWLEDGED IS THAT THE “CONFLICT” IS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE MUSLIM WORLD” – is clearly taking the same position.

    And this is quite understandable. But as I have tried to argue here it is still only part of the story. Whether she likes it or not there are many in the western world who see Israel as the villain of the piece/peace.  She, and I, and others like us might try to remind people who exactly it dealing out the terror in this world, but many on the opposing side see this terror as justified. Even, when the logic of their peace ‘n’ love position is revealed, many ‘principled’ liberal ‘thinkers’ in this country.

    They can’t both be right. Or can they? Well, unfortunately, in their own terms they can, since we do not not ALL live by the same rules or under the same religious/secular codes or values.

    Let me put this on the record – I admire Ms Phillips’ writings and her thoughts, most of the time, on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze.  I am sure I would find a like mind with whom to converse if ever we met. Anyone who looks at the Iraq Inquiry and notices the “Iraq War Derangement” – (because, believe me, plenty don’t) – is all right in my book. Spectator, 19th January, Phillips:

    As Iraq War Derangement is ramped up daily to fresh pitches of irrationality and hysteria in the media coverage of the Chilcot inquiry, Nick Cohen’s article in the Observer is a must read. His conclusion, watching the latest attempt to nail Tony Blair for the crime of ‘taking us to war on a lie’ of which the appeasement crowd have known for a certainty that he is guilty since before Saddam’s Baghdad statue fell and that Blair, not Saddam, is the real war criminal, is spot on …

    […]

    But of course, none of this alters the fact that as we all know beyond a shadow of a doubt, Blair secretly committed Britain to an illegal war on which he lied to the British public – and unless the inquiry concludes as such, its members will be consigned along with him to the first circle of hell.

    Verdict first, evidence nowhere.

    So her analysis of Tony Blair’s approach to the region and the issues raises a moral dilemma for her. She’s not alone in that.

    As for the Iraq Inquiry, her chief concern is over the ‘blame Israel’ approach of some. In particular Ms Phillips  seems to be riled by one of the panel members Sir Roderic Lyne. I must admit that he also irritates me with his seemingly ‘mind-made-up approach’ to the Iraq invasion and to witnesses, especially those who have the audacity to defend the decision.

    The Israeli chill in Chilcot

    Phillips on Lyne:

    Jewish Chronicle, 4 February 2010

    In all the sturm und drang over the Chilcot inquiry into the war in Iraq, one feature has so far escaped attention. That is the emphasis placed on Israel’s role in the crisis, not least by the inquiry panel member Sir Roderic Lyne.

    To those of us of a nervous disposition, the way Lyne, formerly Our Man in Moscow, has been dragging Israel into the story of what happened in 2003 is more than a little grating.

    It feels gratuitous, and seems to play to the odious narrative that the real source of Islamic aggression is Israel’s foot-dragging over peace with the Palestinians, and that the war in Iraq was brought about by a conspiracy stretching from Jerusalem to the White House.

    Lyne seems to believe that one bad consequence of the Iraq war he had opposed was to divert President Bush from the real priority in 2003 — the Middle East peace process.

    He also seems to believe that Israel was the main obstacle to that process, that Bush was negligent in not putting the thumbscrews on Israel and that Blair was negligent in not pressuring Bush to do so.


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    2 Responses to “Melanie Phillips & her quandary over Tony Blair”

    1. Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam | MelClub Says:

      […] Melanie Phillips & her quandary over Tony Blair « Tony Blair […]

    2. margaret walters Says:

      see this latest to see what Blair says about negotiations between Israel & Palestine – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/20/AR2010022001426.html – they are going to resume soon

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