Tuesday, July 26, 2005


An Open Letter To Michael Ledeen

Dear Pillock,

I had a dog's cock of a day yesterday. It was genuinely awful, and I was in a pretty foul mood yesterday evening, when I read your article insinuating that all British people are anti-semitic. To be honest, it was pretty much the shit in the sandwich. I had just found out that, owing to various accidents of timing, I'm going to be spending my birthday by myself - and you think the Jews have problems! - so I wasn't in a great mood for an article that already been described as 'hateful' and 'stupid.'

Let's have a look at what you wrote shall we, you silly palookah?

'It was widely noted, most passionately by the Iraqi blogger Hammorabi, that when Tony Blair reminded the House of Commons that many countries had been scourged by the terrorists in recent years, he omitted Iraq from the list. His speechwriters had Iraq in a different part of their database; Iraqis weren't victims of terrorism in the same way as Brits, Americans, Kenyans, and Indonesians. One's instinct is to let it go as an oversight, but there was another country missing from the list, and this case was somewhat less widely noted: Israel. And at this point, one is forced to do some thinking. What do these two countries have in common, that they should both be ignored in the British government's response to the London attacks?'

Ah, so we start with a profound misunderstanding of how MPs see themselves, and a considerable lack of knowledge of how electoral politics in Britain works. Might it conceivably be that Blair left Iraq off the list because he correctly believes that most of his countrymen hold him responsible for the terrorism in Iraq? Their belief may or may not be correct, but a belief it is, and it doesn't take too much to link the invasion of Iraq and the terrorism thereafter - again, whether correctly or otherwise. By contrast, you'd have to hate Blair rather more than most Brits do to hold him responsible for terrorism in Kenya.

As for Israel, is it just a possibility that the reason it was left off the list is that everybody knows that terrorism goes on all the time in Israel, and the public just take it as read? There's no chance that you're making mountains out of flat plains is there?

'In the growing recent literature about Great Britain's appeasement of Islamic terrorists over the past decade and more, we've come to understand that London was, in many ways, the epicenter of the terror network.'

You might have leapt to that conclusion, but I certainly haven't, and I don't believe that most other commentators have either. Britain certainly hasn't 'appeased' terrorists - 'appeasement' is what we did to Hitler. I have the horrible suspicion that what you mean by appeasement is that we haven't stopped freedom of speech for imams preaching horrible stuff, or that we haven't started deporting people convicted of terrorism offences in absentia back to lands where they were unlawfully convicted. You might call this appeasement - I call this 'the rule of law.'

'Terrorists wanted in other countries were given safe haven in the United Kingdom, and the most amazingly hateful language was spewed out, openly and proudly, by various sheikhs and imams, all left to incite the faithful to terrible acts against innocent people the world over.'

Yes, I was right. Don't you just hate that horrible freedom of speech? Wait a moment, I thought you septics had something similar, written down somewhere. On something you hold pretty dear. What was it? Ah yes. The start of your fucking constitution, that's where.

Next, let's a do a compare and contrast. In this sentence, you accuse Brits of 'disdain' for Arabs:

'Moreover, there was a traditional disdain of the Arabs, born out of long experience and expressed in open doubt that "those people" would ever constitute a serious threat, or indeed anything serious.'

Ok, I get it. One moment though - in your previous sentence you wrote:

'There was a reluctance to offend "the Arabs," the richest of whom had long used London as a home away from the sand, and as their financial and banking center of choice.'

If the phrase 'home away from the sand' doesn't say disdain, I don't know what does. Furthermore, don't get me started on the scare quotes around 'the Arabs.' Let's carry on though, shall we?

'Further, there was a long tradition of open and boisterous political speech, which reflexively protected even terrorist preachers from official rebuke or punishment.'

This is called freedom of speech. My ancestors fought fucking hard to get that freedom, so I don't need your stupid septic sniping from overseas destroying it.

'The final component of British blindness on the subject of the Middle East is one we are not supposed to talk about in good company: the Jews. Yet I don't know any country this side of the Levant in which there has been so much anti-Semitism, so many complaints that "Zionists," "Likudniks," "Jewish hawks," and — the single epithet that sums up all of the above — "neocons" had manipulated America and its poodle Blair into the ghastly blunder of Iraq.'

Fuck off. My company is amazing, and you can talk to me about the Jews if you please. Further, I have simply never heard anyone in this country ever use the words 'zionist', 'likudnik' or the phrase 'Jewish hawk.' Not once. Not ever. I don't believe I have a single friend, colleague or occasional acquaintance who believes that some sinister Jewish conspiracy forced Blair into the war in Iraq. Further, I think that's a gross and disgusting allegation, and both unfair, untrue and uncalled-for. If you had the faintest decency, you'd never have written anything again after that sentence.

Sadly, you carried on:

'The BBC has devoted hours of radio and television to slanderous misrepresentations of places like the American Enterprise Institute, where I sit, and of such Jewish luminaries as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, and Paul Wolfowitz. Sometimes it seemed one was reading translations from the Saudi or Egyptian or Iranian press, so total was the hatred of the Jews.'

I'm no expert in libel law, but I should think you could have a case to answer for the accusation that the BBC have a 'total hatred of the Jews.' What's more, it simply clearly isn't true. Further, if you seriously believe that a news organisation taking an editorial slant of dislike against a think-tank seriously constitutes anti-semitism, then I think it may be time for you step out of your cocoon and into the real world.

'This fit [sic] nicely with the desire of the British establishment to carry on their special relationship with some Arab leaders, and many British elites often seemed a micro-step away from saying that the world would be a better place if only Israel weren't there. The Middle East would be so much easier, you know. And when London was bombed, you can be sure — indeed you can read it — many of these people blamed Israel and the Jews, both those in the Middle East and those in New York and Washington.'

Prove it. You offer no proof that this accusation can be read, you link to no articles, no speeches, no memos, no anecdotes about what some bloke said in a Westminster toilet. Nothing. Zip, niet, nada, niente. So, once again, I'm afraid I'm going to have to treat this allegation as a lie, and further evidence of your disconnect with reality.

'Indeed, within minutes of the attack, a story appeared according to which the Israelis had advance notice, and had instructed Finance Minister Netanyahu to stay put, instead of going to give a speech. The story was as false as the one according to which Israelis had stayed away from the World Trade Center on 9/11, but they both reflected a state of mind. An anti-Semitic mind.'

A story 'appeared', did it? I never heard any such story, but I don't live in Westminster village, so ok. However, even if such a story did appear, which I doubt, do you seriously believe that is conclusive proof that British people are anti-semitic? Get a grip.

'All too many Brits (as some Americans, albeit far fewer) would prefer to devote their national energies to the elimination or "taming" of Israel, and, as they see it, the silencing of their own Jews, rather than fighting Islamic terrorism.'

What I want to know is how can you conceivably write this crap for a supposedly respectable website and not be forced resign, or at least issue an apology? The number of Brits who believe that we should eliminate Israel is almost none at all. Maybe a few people in the BNP, and the memberships of a couple of extremist Islamist groups, but no-one else. The reason being that British people are not heartless bastards, and by and large would prefer to see Israel and Palestine live peacefully side-by-side. That is, when they express an opinion. Fortunately, unlike America, most British people couldn't give a toss about the Middle East, which is just as well since thinking about it for too long clearly turns people into monomaniacs, as evidenced by, ooh, I don't know, yourself. You make a serious mistake by confusing apathy with hatred. Unsurprisingly, you're seeing what you want to see.

'Iraqis — the New Jews?'

In a word, no.

'In the enormous hate literature directed against the neocons, Ahmed Chalabi is part and parcel of the anti-Semites' hateful vision. No matter that he is a Shiite, and no matter that he was rudely dismissed by the Israeli government before Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was in cahoots with the Jewish cabal, and was therefore "one of them."'

What the hell are you wittering about?

'When is the last time you read anything about the incredible performance of the State of Israel, similarly under siege and similarly stressed by the crisis that surrounds it?'

Well, every time I read the crap a writer such as yourself comes up with. If, however, you mean by British people, I can tell you exactly. I read a whole load of glowing tributes about Israel after the bomb in 'Mike's Place' in Tel Aviv. So there.

'It is therefore not surprising that Iraq and Israel were omitted from Blair's list; it is a symptom of the corrupt and self-destructive patterns of emotion (I will not call it "thought") that led Great Britain to house a vast terrorist infrastructure.'

Because British people don't think? We're mindless automatons? Impulsive creatures like the worm? Further, we don't house a 'vast terrorist infrastructure.' Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

'This sickness is certainly not limited to Great Britain; we find it here as well, in such personages as Pat Buchanan and Juan Cole, along with their acolytes. But in America, by and large, such venom is relegated to the margins, probably because American Jews are a lot feistier than their British co-religionaries (think timid).'

I find it pretty astonishing that you go from taking offence on behalf of British Jews at the start of this stupid column to insulting them at the end. Is it possible that British Jews are a little more politically 'timid' because they are smaller in number, as opposed to some pathetic pansiness on their behalf, which you seem to be implying?

'And so it is. The absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment — free speech extends even to license — stops us from taking proper steps to shut down the terror factories. Justice Holmes taught us that the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and that no one has the right to scream "fire" in a crowded theater. London taught us that these principles require vigorous application.'

I've got to admit, I was impressed by this conclusion. if you're going to write a very stupid column indeed, you need to end it with a spectacular bang of stupidity - and you did it! Firstly, you attack freedom of speech. Then you take one judicial judgement made many decades ago, and apply it to today's very different world. Finally, you completely misunderstand what the London bombings 'taught us.'


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