One of my favourite journalists, who works for the Church Times, alerted me to an article by Gerald Butt in this week's edition. It's entitled
One land, two claimants, no peace in sight
MY journalist friend thought I might not like Gerald's article very much, but it wasn't as bad as had been anticipated. The author did try to be fair. He was not ungracious about Israel's 60th anniversary and he even provided some context to explain the perilous situation faced by Israel at present. He writes as follows:
The strain of surviving as a tiny state (a total population of 7.2 million, of whom 25 per cent are Arabs) in a region dominated by close to 300 million inherently hostile Arabs and Muslims takes its toll.
However, he was stationed there in the late 1980s and speaks of the
barely disguised aggression - on the bus, in the super-market queue, in the push to be served at the post office.
This may well have been what life was like in some parts of Israel in the 80s. We were there for a year in the early part of that decade and certainly remember interminable bank queues, lack of customer service and, yes, some aggressive pushing.
However, present-day Haifa is not like that, and neither is Jerusalem, usually. The decorum on buses - and trains - in Israel today is almost Swiss-like in its perfection. The banks are a delight and offer both good advice and friendliness. It is very hard to encounter any sort of yobbishness or drunkenness anywhere, and in my neck of the woods, the religious and secular mix easily and practise the type of tolerance that one can only dream about in much of the rest of the world. The same goes for relations between Jews and Arabs in my own experience. I have worked with many fine Arabs of all religions and find that they appreciate the good things that Israel has to offer and some are truly inspirational.
Maybe the Church Times should be looking for writers who live in the country, or visit frequently, speak the language(s) and have a slightly more sophisticated knowledge of the ins and outs of the crisis faced by Israel and all its people, given the written statements of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, which threaten her daily.
Just a thought!
But all this was made up for by Paul Vallely's piece
Knowing where you came from
about a specific Israeli, manager of Chelsea, Avram Grant.
As is well known, Avram has been coming in for some unacceptable abuse ever since he took up the post at Chelsea. It is difficult not to assume that much of this abuse is the result of antisemitism, anti-Zionism, or both:
Paul's article does not touch on that, but on Avram Grant's background. The article is truly remarkable - thoughtful, religious and poignant. There's not much more to say really, except urge you to read it - in full.