Article first published as The Long and Short of Friendship with Israel on Technorati
I am something of the short girl’s shortie.
My ol’ man loves to quip variously: “It’s better to have loved a short girl than never to have loved a tall”.
Or – punning on the traditional Anglo-Jewish expression of condolence - “I wish you long legs”.
One day m’ laddo will find the length of his jokes list is severely depleted!
But meanwhile, despite enjoying the fun surrounding U.K. Commons Speaker Mr John Bercow, we both feel a mite sorry for him.
A former right-winger who has turned sharply left, Bercow is not popular among Conservative MPs as, according to newspaper reports
“the Buckingham MP, once a hard-line right-winger, began his move across the political spectrum after realising he would only get the Speaker’s job with Labour support …”
So many of them, including Prime Minister David Cameron, take every opportunity to mock him and most recently have joked about his lack of inches, even comparing him to one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs.
This may or may not be funny depending on your sense of humour but it reminded me immediately of the equally juvenile and slightly offensive remarks made by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer when he addressed the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ 250th anniversary dinner.
One of my Facebook chums insists that “the speech was very well received by those in the room. I think the jokes were just fine, and the sentiments expressed seemed heartfelt and apt ... “
However, leading pro-Israel commentator, Melanie Phillips echoed my views with almost uncanny accuracy in her on-line post in the Spectator magazine.
I wrote just after the speech was published:
“Sorry, I don't like this at all. A speech beginning with snide references to Jewish materialism; a silly joke about the two immediate past Prime Ministers and a load of waffly nothingness about the contribution of Jewish people to the community mixed with memories of de rigeur visits to - I think it was Dachau - and Israel. I suggest Mr Osborne could do with a new script writer ...”
Hark at me! The morning after, Phillips called Osborne “Israel’s false friend” and wrote:
“… it was to be expected that … he would present himself as a friend of Israel. And he accordingly declared that Britain was a friend of Israel. Methinks he did protest far too much. For his speech was full of easy platitudes. It was a kind of check-list of all the buttons that he knew he had to press to curry favour with that audience. And then there was this:
“‘Like many, many people in this room we want to see the Israeli Government negotiate peace, and we urge upon them an end to settlement building, and an opening up of Gaza’. This paragraph negates Osborne’s professions of friendship and shows them to be cynical and false. The implication was that the Israelis were the ones preventing those negotiations – one of the great canards of the day. The fact is that you can’t negotiate peace unless there’s someone who wants to negotiate it with you. But the Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel. They want peace in place of Israel.”