Well! I have certainly got a range of responses to my recent posts about Jews. There were of course plenty of antisemitic raves which I promptly deleted but the responses from my Jewish readers were generally well informed and well reasoned -- with one exception. I got a series of emails from a New York Ashkenazi man who would not for one minute concede that modern-day Jews are racially mixed. To him Jews are a single race. To quote him: "All Jews are descendents of Jacob". I found it rather hard to argue with someone who seemed to me a nutty Jewish racist but I did my best -- to no avail. He had a farrago of scientific bits and pieces in support of his view which reminded me of nothing so much as the farrago of scientific bits and pieces that you find on antisemitic sites. Predictable I suppose.
Since I am rather surprised to find ANY Jewish racists about, perhaps I should take this opportunity to say a little about his arguments. As readers of my previous writings on the subject will be aware, I did briefly look at whether Jews can be considered as a race and made the point that there are rather a lot of blue eyes among the Ashkenazim and that that betokened a genetic contribution from Northern Europe, well away from Israel.
Our racist friend answered that by saying, quite correctly, that races tend to move about over time and appeared to believe that there must once have been blue eyes in the Israel of Biblical times. He supported that view by pointing to a recent conclusion by geneticists to the effect that blue eyes are a mutation that originally arose in prehistoric times in the Black Sea area -- which is indeed somewhat closer to Israel than Northern Europe is. Where something arose and where it ends up are however two different stories and there is no doubt that blue eyes originally survived only in Northern Europe. What caused that is still a matter of some debate but it is in fact remarkable how dark eyes seem never to have made the grade in Northern Europe nor blue eyes further South. The further North you go, the more frequent blue eyes become -- until they are almost universal in native-born Scandinavians. So for as far back as we can see, blue eyes are clearly a Northern European phenomenon.
In the last 2,000 years, of course, there have been various invasions of Southern lands by Northern Europeans and that has left a small legacy of blue eyes in Mediterranean lands too. But the overwhelming rule remains blue in the North and dark in the South, with some regions being intermediate. But however you look at it, blue eyes in a predominantly dark-eyed population are a sign of racial admixture.
But the speculation that blue eyes in Jews has an ancient origin is ignoring the obvious. Many Jews strongly resemble the populations from which they emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries. All the Lithuanian Jews I have met, for instance, looked like Lithuanians: Fair skin, blue eyes and fair hair. Whereas Jews who have come from Arab lands tend to look like Arabs: darker skin, dark eyes and black hair. So it is clear that for one reason or another Jews have tended to interbreed heavily with the people among whom they found themselves. They do it in New York to this day, much to the ire of many a Yiddisher Momma. But I think I have already spent too much time on the nonsense argument to the contrary.
Tomorrow I am going to put up an email from a Jewish man who knows a lot about British history. That should put me on my mettle! I have no idea why but my racist interlocutor did forward me a rather pleasant picture in one of his emails. I reproduce it below:
Israel is Right to Defend Its People
Comment from Britain
Hamas are a bunch of murderous thugs. Over the past few years they have fired 5,000 rockets on Israel from residential parts of the Gaza strip, killing and injuring dozens of innocent Israelis. Israel has done its best not to react, but in the end their patience has snapped - and understandably so. They have acted using the only kind of force Hamas can understand.
According to Conservative Friends of Israel, over the past week more than 300 rockets, missiles and mortar rounds have been fired from Gaza by Hamas and other militants at Israeli villages and towns. More than 560 have been fired since Hamas escalated rocket firing on 4 November. This is on top of the 5,000 which have been fired from Gaza this year. The media seem to think these rockets are fairly harmless. They are not. They are weapons of terror.
BBC reports suggest that in recent days none of these rockets has resulted in any Israeli deaths or injuries. Not true. CFI report today that: "An Israeli man was killed and four others were seriously wounded when a missile hit a house in Netivot. Another man was seriously wounded when a rocket struck at the community of Mivtahim later this afternoon." Over the last four years, 92% of Sderot residents (a town of 20,000 people) have experienced a Qassam rocket falling on their or an adjacent street. Sixteen Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets and hundreds have been injured and maimed.
Israel should have dealt with this situation long before now. Instead, it allowed itself to be persuaded to call a truce with Hamas. It may have gone down well in the international community, but all it achieved was to allow Hamas time to regroup and rearm. According to CFI:
Under cover of the truce, Hamas engaged in a major campaign to upgrade its terrorist capabilities, manufacturing and smuggling massive quantities of weapons into Gaza - including rockets, explosive charges and machine guns - and constructing a network of underground tunnels for combat purposes. Israel cannot acquiesce to the presence of a Hizbullah-like organization on its southern border.
Hamas broke the ceasefire by firing more rockets into Israel. Imagine if this had happened here. Imagine if France fired rockets onto Dover from Calais. Would the British people expect its government to stand idly by and do nothing? Of course not.
British politicians are calling on both sides to act with restraint. Fine words, which are totally hollow. It is not right to treat both sides equally. Israel is a democratic ally, while Hamas are nothing more than an Iranian backed terror group, which is subjugating the people of Gaza in order to radicalise them. Once they have done that they intend to repeat the experience on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas are well aware of this and their condemnation of the Israeli action is notable for its reticence. It's easy to understand why. They know full well what Hamas is like, and what its endgame is. This report is from the Press Association...
In a news conference today from Cairo, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas placed the blame for the violence in the Gaza Strip squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. He described how he repeatedly made contact with Hamas and implored them not to break the ceasefire. He lamented that the violence in the Gaza Strip could have been avoided had Hamas not broken the ceasefire. The following is Mahmoud Abbas's statement at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit.
"I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side... We spoke with them on the telephone and we said to them: We ask of you, don't stop the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop, in order to avoid what has happened, and if only we had avoided it."
The US ambassador to the US Zalmay Khalilzad has suggested Hamas held the key to restoring calm. "We believe the way forward from here is for rocket attacks against Israel to stop, for all violence to end," he said. CFI reports that Khalilzad was "implicitly backed up from Cairo by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who claimed the current situation could have been avoided had Hamas renewed the ceasefire before it lapsed and ceased all violence towards Israel."
If you doubt my interpretation of Hamas's motives and are deluded enough to think that they are genuine freedom fighters, just click HERE. To the horror of the Egyptians Hamas are not even allowing ambulances in to Gaza to treat the injured.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the wounded were "barred from crossing" and he blamed "those in control of Gaza" for putting the lives of the injured at risk.
And we shouldn't forget who funds Hamas - the Iranians. Without their money and weapons Hamas wouldn't be half the force it is today, either in Gaza or in the Lebanon. Hamas is classified as a terror organisation by the UN. Virtually every Middle East country won't have any dealings with Hamas, yet in this country they seem to be treated by many as a legitimate organisation with whom the Israelis should negotiate. The only country which exalts Hamas is the one to whose President Channel 4 disgracefully gave a platform on Christmas Day.
People blame Israel for the terrible state of living standards in the Gaza Strip. They are wrong. Hamas is to blame for keeping its people in abject poverty. Israel handed over the governmental administration of the Gaza Strip in 2005 to the Palestinian Authority. They had an opportunity to run it themselves. Instead, since Hamas took power, they have done everything in their power to keep their people in poverty and use it as an excuse to radicalise those who are inclined to believe their propaganda. But even despite this, Israel was providing huge amounts of humanitarian aid to Gaza - more than 4,000 truck loads a month as well as fuel and electricity (despite the ongoing rocket attacks). Conditions were by no means good, but there was no humanitarian crisis, according to Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza. He said this month that "this is not a humanitarian crisis... It's an economic crisis, a political crisis, but it's not a humanitarian crisis. People aren't starving."
It is highly regrettable that more than 250 people have been killed over the last few days. If Hamas hadn't been firing their rockets from residential areas the death toll would have been much lower. But Hamas have sited them there deliberately, so they can portray any Israeli response as heartless and disproportionate.
Gordon Brown was absolutely bang on with his response to what's happening in Gaza. He said: "I call on Gazan militants to cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately. These attacks are designed to cause random destruction and to undermine the prospects of peace talks led by president Abbas. I understand the Israeli government's sense of obligation to its population."
William Hague, though, was perhaps a little less unequivocal, which I think is a shame. He said: "We deeply regret the loss of civilian life in Gaza today. We call on the Israeli government to show restraint. At the same time we call on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks which are an unacceptable threat to Israel's security, so that the ceasefire, which Hamas failed to renew, can be urgently restored."
The trouble is that any Hamas backed ceasefire isn't worth the paper it is written on. If we have learned nothing from recent history, surely we have learned that. Israel will only be able to restore open borders with Gaza and cease its military action when it is clear that no further rockets are being fired. In the meantime they should have the backing of every right thinking democrat in destroying the sites from which rockets are being fired and the tunnels through which Hamas are smuggling arms from Egypt.
As you can tell, I support Israel 100% in their actions in Gaza. But I fully recognise that there is an opposing viewpoint, which others are espousing on other blogs - mostly on the left. Whenever I write about Israel or the Middle East it provokes the loonies to come out of hiding. Let's keep the debate moderate and insult free in the comments please.
UPDATE: Courtesy of Dizzy...
Quote of the Day by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit
The Israelis have been warning you that this was coming if you continue your cross border rocket attacks. Egypt has been imploring you to stop firing rockets into Israel, but you ignored our words. We have been urging you to renew the cease-fire with Israel, but you refused. You have brought this upon yourselves. You are responsible for what is happening to the people of Gaza.
The Church of England turns the Bible on its head: "The Church of England has reached an historic agreement on the consecration of women bishops. After years of struggle to avoid schism, bishops have agreed a formula that enshrines the principle of equality for male and female bishops while appeasing opponents of women's ordination. The first women bishops could take their place in the Church of England within three years. The deal, published in a new report yesterday, provides for a class of "complementary" traditionalist bishop for parishes that refuse to accept a woman diocesan bishop. Such "flying" bishops would have to abide by the authority of the woman bishop, according to the accompanying code of practice." [Maybe they should get themselves a new holy book. "Das Kapital", perhaps]
British airport security. The expected efficiency: "Security at one of the UK's biggest airports has been branded 'a total failure' after a man flew to Pakistan using his little sister's passport. Businessman Kasim Raja went unchallenged through three security checks at Birmingham International Airport using his sister Samina Raja's ID. He then boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Islamabad, where he was finally spotted. He said the wrong passport was checked at the first desk and also at the boarding gate before he was waved through. It was only when the 26-year-old finally reached the Pakistani capital that border control staff there noticed the mistake and ordered him home. Despite pleading with them to contact the British Embassy to try to sort out the mix-up, they bundled him on to a flight back to the UK because he had no valid passport. Mr Raja said he had been staggered Birmingham International Airport had not noticed he was carrying his sister's ID, which he had picked up by mistake. The local businessman questioned how many others had slipped through the net. He said: 'It's frightening. It is a total failure in security and I could have been anyone trying to escape the country."
Black teens killing each other in U.S. soars by 34%: "The number of black teenagers killing each other has soared by 34 per cent in the United States, it was revealed yesterday. The FBI figures, hidden in an overall fall in murder and violent crimes, were analysed by criminal justice experts James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt. The number of black male murder victims aged from 14 to 17 rose by almost 40 per cent. The professors, of Northeastern University, Boston, said federal cash for schemes to help troubled youngsters dried up after the 9/11 terror attacks, when cash was prioritised elsewhere. Mr Fox added: 'We either pay for these programmes now or pray for the victims later. Crime doesn't wait until the economy improves.' The increases, covering the period from 2000 to 2007, far exceed the corresponding statistics for white males of the same age range of 17 and 3 per cent respectively. Among their findings: an increase of more than 39 per cent in the number of black males between the ages of 14 and 17 killed between 2000 and 2007, and an increase of 34 per cent in the number of blacks in that age group who committed homicide. The increases for white male teens age 14-17 during that same period were about 17 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively."
Bailouts aggravate financial crisis : "In the New York Times, economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University argues that the $700 billion financial-system bailout is impeding an economic recovery. Because of the `ad hoc,' standardless way the money is being doled out, `the market doesn't know what to expect and many financial institutions are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what regulators will do next. Regulatory uncertainty is stifling the ability of financial markets to engineer at least a partial recovery.'"
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)