Sarah Harris was my mother’s mother’s mother. She was Jewish. My sister used to pass for Jewish when she worked in the rag trade. Sophie Harrod was my wife’s grandmother. We believe that she was Jewish too. Although I am tallish, fair and blue-eyed, I could be admitted to settle in Israel, as Jewishness is carried down the female line.
Both our families are Christian. It was common for British Jews to convert – Benjamin D’Israeli is the best known example.
Many of the best haematologists in the world are Jewish. Most of them are my friends.
Leith Samuel was a famous Christian preacher. He became a friend when I had the great privilege of looking after a member of his family. His name tells you he was Jewish.
Jesus Christ was Jewish. So were St Paul, St Peter, St John, St Matthew, St Mark, St James, the virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and the rest.
Mel Gibson made a film about Jesus called The Passion. At the time it was derided as anti-Semitic. I must say it didn’t seem so to me. Almost all the characters were Jews apart from Pilate and a few Roman soldiers. True, the Jewish high priests are shown in a bad light, but it would hardly be true to life if they had been shown as misunderstood heroes. I thought that most of the film was Biblical, though there were some interpolations from Roman Catholic mythology that didn’t fit with my understanding of the gospels. The St Veronica story, for example, is extra-Biblical. The scourging of Jesus was particularly vivid and I think was overdone. As I understand it Roman law limited the strokes to 39. I guess the point was to exaggerate the physical suffering because although Christians believe that the greatest suffering came from the dereliction as son was separated from father, it is hard to portray that in a film. Gibson had Satan (was it Tilda Swinton who played the Archangel Gabriel in Constantine?) flitting around among the crowd and merging with them. I didn’t object to that. It might have been dramatic license but I took home the message that all of us are responsible; there is no-one who would not have been baying for his blood. I certainly did not see it as getting at the Jews.
Now Gibson has been arrested for drunk driving and responded by insulting Jews in a foul-mouthed and aggressive manner. It has been a signal for more accusations of anti-Semitism. In vino veritas. Perhaps. There has been a long history of the Roman Catholic Church blaming the Jews. God-slayers, they were called. It is one of the things I have against them. As if Italians would not have been in the crowd egging on the soldiers, or the Boston Irish, or Spaniards, or South Americans, or Australians. Or Church of England old ladies for that matter.
The teaching of Christianity is, “All have sinned and fallen short.”
On a more serious matter the bombing of Qana produced a brief hiatus in the bombing. I was wrong last week to think there might be an early end to this war. Israeli public opinion is right behind their government. Hezbollah are not going to stop fighting, and they are winning the propaganda battles. Eventually, the Israelis will win militarily unless the US starves them of supplies, but even that might take some time, and at present there is little evidence that they will try. Israel might well think that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. They are pretty immune to world opinion, care nothing for the Arab street, will soon be secure behind their wall, so why should they worry?
On BBC2 tonight there was a discussion between three London Jews. One concentrated on the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and of the Shiite children in Qana. One concentrated on the danger to Israelis in Haifa. The other felt that the activity of the IDF in Gaza and the West Bank was indefensible, but could understand the reason behind the Lebanese incursion. It may be tactically wrong but it is understandable. You can always rely on the BBC for ‘balance’.
Would the RAF have been stopped from bombing Germany had pictures of children dying in Hamburg been broadcast around the world?
Would the Nazis have sent V2s on London had pictures of mutilated schoolboys been published in Berlin?
Leaving aside the geopolitical ambitions of Islamofascists, it seems that there is a serious point of dispute at the bottom of this. There are some farms of about 40 square kilometres occupied by Israel, which were part of Syria before the 1967 war. Hezbollah wants them to become part of Lebanon.
Can you imagine the negotiations?
I know we said that we wanted to wipe every Jew from the face of the planet, but if you let us have our farms back we will cease hostilities.
No? How about half the farms?
OK! Final offer. A third of the farms and green stamps.