Mr Aquinas, meet Mr Grotius

Looking at history, one has to conclude that war isn’t so much an aberration as the norm. Some people always fight some wars somewhere, killing one another with gusto.

That observation is as true today as it was in the 13th century BC, when Moses was vouchsafed God’s commandments, one of which said “Thou shalt not kill”.

The Israelites must have been perplexed, as they had every right to be. Neither history nor scripture records their ensuing question, but I’m sure it had to be asked. “Then how are we going to reclaim the Promised Land if we aren’t allowed to kill those barbaric squatters? They aren’t going to roll over, you know.”

There was only one possible, if unrecorded, answer to that, and I’m sure Moses had to give it: “Fighting a just war doesn’t violate that commandment.”

That had to be the gist of what he said, but it’s St Augustine who is credited with coining the term ‘just war’  (jus ad bello, as he put it in The City of God). War is a sin, taught Augustine, but it becomes justified if fought to prevent a greater sin. Such was a belated Christian answer to the next likely question doubtless put to Moses: “But what makes a war just?”

The doctrine was further developed by St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa. A war is just, he wrote, if it promotes the advancement of good and the avoidance of evil. He also stressed that it’s not only jus ad bello, but also jus in bello that matters: even a just war must be conducted by just means.

Such has been the general framework of thought on this subject throughout subsequent Western history. Later humanist thinkers, such as Hugo Grotius, added a pragmatic twist to the moral tale: for a war to be just, it also has to be started with a clear and achievable end in mind.

The problem with humanism is that it ignores human nature. Because it lacks the anthropological insights of St Thomas, it becomes impractical specifically when trying to be practical.

One would have expected Aquinas, ever the realist, to add that pragmatic consideration to his criteria for just war. If the moral aspect of a realistic end to a war was obvious to Grotius, it must have been as obvious to Aquinas – and yet he sagely ignored it.

He must have realised that, whatever desired outcome rulers put forth as justification for war, once the shooting starts the number of imponderable permutations becomes so vast that no man’s reason will be able to sort them out. To quote a renowned modern philosopher, Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the nose.”

No decent person would deny that Israel’s response passes the Christian test with flying colours. The oasis of Western decency in the region was attacked by savages, and its cause is just. And should a present-day Grotius insist that a moral and achievable end to the war were identified with utmost clarity, Israel could do so with one word: survival.

However, in yesterday’s article Philip Collins cited Grotius to suggest Israel’s cause isn’t necessarily just: “Yet this is where we friends of Israel need to invoke Grotius… not on the grounds that [her war] is wrong in intent but that it cannot hope to succeed. Prudence on this point is not just a problem after the fact. It is part of the moral case for the intervention itself. If an action has no feasible hope of success, the moral case for war is damaged.”

So what would be the solution, according to Messrs Grotius and Collins? “Terrorism,” writes the latter, “cannot be defeated by military means.” That may be true, although it isn’t immediately clear by what other means it can be defeated.

Negotiations, for example, are off the table when one side refuses to recognise the other side’s right to exist. “You cannot negotiate peace with somebody who has come to kill you,” as Golda Meir once put it.

What else? UN resolutions? Paying a king’s ransom in perpetuity? Surrender, the method chosen by Tony Blair when dealing with IRA terrorism? What would Grotius suggest as a way of keeping the moral case for Israel’s war undamaged? Such questions must have occurred to Mr Collins, which is why he changed tack:

“Israel can, and must, choose to maintain the supply of water and electricity to Gaza and continue to issue warnings about forthcoming bombardment.” That’s backtracking three centuries from Grotius to Aquinas’s jus in bello.

So would keeping Gaza in water and electricity somehow clarify the ways of defeating terrorism? Would that satisfy Grotius’s practical criterium of just war? I am confused.

The problem is that, though Collins calls himself a friend of Israel, he is a left-wing friend. That breed is characterised by muddled thinking in general and on the subject of Israel in particular. Israel is like a bull in the ring for them, an animal allowed to fight but usually not allowed to win.

Hence even Israel’s few allies always gang up on her whenever she tries to solve the problem of pan-Arab terrorism by unrestrained violence, which is the only way it can be solved. The current situation is no different.

Jus ad bello in this case means that jus in bello includes every means at Israel’s disposal. If that involves bombing Gaza flat, then so be it. There are no civilians there, only terrorists with blood-dripping machetes and those who dance in the streets every time Israelis are butchered – implacable enemies all.

Invoking Grotius, or else Tolstoy and Gandhi, in today’s context betokens a woeful misreading of Augustine and Aquinas. Good must stop evil, otherwise it itself becomes a sin.

There have been few wars in modern history where the moral lines were drawn with indisputable clarity. Even in the Second World War, the West had to side with red fascism to defeat the brown variety, which might have pleased Grotius but possibly not Aquinas.

We are fortunate in that the two on-going wars, with two of our allies desperately fighting for survival against evil, are an exception. In both wars, qualified good is fighting unqualified evil, which ought to preclude any moral dilemmas.

They only appear when people like Collins muddy the waters, looking for moral problems where none exists. Israel’s war is just, and neither Aquinas nor Grotius would disagree.

Muslim immigration bears fruit

Congratulations to Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair’s consigliere, who has finally made an honest man of his boyfriend after 27 years together.

It’s good to see that true romance can still express itself in such a traditional way… I’d better stop myself now before I say something funny that could be classed as a hate crime. In any case, I’m reminded of an old Russian story.

A girl visiting the Tchaikovsky museum asks the guide whether it’s true that the composer was homosexual. “It is,” replies the guide. “But that’s not the only thing we love him for.”

Similarly, I love Lord Mandelson for one rare moment of honesty he permitted himself a few years ago. The Blair government, he explained, flung the doors open for Muslim immigration as a way of combatting what his boss called “the forces of conservatism”.

The policy proved effective: Britain’s political landscape has been repainted an even brighter red. Mr Mandelson (as he then was) was a smart enough political operator to know that Muslim communities tend to vote as a bloc, and usually against the aforementioned vile forces.

This explains, inter alia, why London has since 2016 been stuck with Sadiq Khan, a manifestly inept mayor who, in addition to his minority status, boasts impeccable woke credentials and none other.

I don’t know a single Londoner who doesn’t swear each time Khan’s name comes up in conversation. But then I don’t move in his kind of circles, nor live in his kind of neighbourhood.

His kind of neighbourhood is situated either in heavily Muslim or predominantly left-wing areas, and both vote for the leftmost candidate as a matter of course. This is especially true of London’s Muslims who, courtesy of Blair, Mandelson et al., make up 15 per cent of the  city’s population.

One doesn’t have to be a political mechanic of Mandelson’s attainment to realise that a Tory candidate would have to possess armour-piercing charisma to stand any chance of overturning a guaranteed electorate bloc of 15 per cent. Boris Johnson did manage, but then he does have that sort of megaton appeal.

This is an illustration of how the mechanism identified by Mandelson works. Moreover, swarms of Muslims inundating Europe are exerting an ever-greater influence not only on the countries’ domestic policy but also on their foreign affairs.

Yesterday, for example, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. I’d call it a Grin-and-Bear-It resolution, which is what Israel is expected to do in response to the savage attack on her citizens.

Effectively, the resolution denies Israel the right to retaliate and secure herself against subsequent attacks. This is consonant with the view widely held all over the world by the kind of people who think London is better off with Sadiq Khan as its mayor.

The resolution makes no mention of Hamas at all, which would give a tourist from Mars the impression that the bloodthirsty, unprovoked Israelis are indulging their innate murderous hatred of Arabs. When Canada meekly put forth an amendment condemning Hamas terrorism, it was voted down.

Seven EU members voted for the resolution, which is in effect a statement of support for Hamas: France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Slovenia and Montenegro. Now something tells me that most people in those countries hate Islamic terrorism more than they dislike Jews, in or out of Israel.

Speaking from personal experience, in my 22 years of part-time French residency, I haven’t met a single person who had a kind word to say about Muslim terrorists or, truth to tell, Muslims in general. But – and here we get back to my main point – the people I know don’t matter to France’s politicians.

What matters to them is winning the next election, and to do so they have to mollify Muslims who make up 10 per cent of the population. Any sensible party would find it hard to overcome such a solid voting bloc, especially under proportionate representation.

Add to it the usual haters of our civilisation happy to elect Trotskyists, Maoists or Stalinists but ready to vote strategically for the wokest candidates, and you’ll see why French politicians have to play footsies with the Muslims in public, while bemoaning their presence in private.

To take the most striking example, it was impossible for the Montenegro ambassador to the UN to vote against the pro-Hamas resolution. Over 20 per cent of the country’s population are Muslim, and voting against their wishes would have been tantamount to political suicide.

All the EU countries that voted for the resolution, except Luxembourg, have sizeable Muslim minorities, and even Luxembourg has a not negligible two per cent. This isn’t the whole reason for their vote, but I’m sure it is a reason.

This whole situation should give the lie to the usual bien pensant leftie waffle about equality, inclusivity, multi-culturalism, diversity and all such nonsense. They oppose anti-immigration policies, especially those directed against Muslims, not out of their love of the Third World but out of their hatred of the First one.

Mr Mandelson (as he then was) made that abundantly clear, and it takes a strong man to break a lifelong habit of dissembling. Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, my wedding invitation must have been lost in the post.

Visiting evil on the world

A visit of bad will

On 7 October, 2023, Hamas launched a well-orchestrated, well-equipped and well-executed attack on Israel. I’m deliberately describing it in such unemotive terms to draw your attention to the planning involved, not the savagery displayed.

Experts in such matters agree that such an operation couldn’t have been improvised. Veteran commanders of special forces from around the world insist it had to be planned for at least a year in advance.

Keep this in mind when reading reports of Hamas and Iran officials visiting Moscow. Taking a stab in the dark, I’d venture a guess that Abu Marzook of Hamas and Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, aren’t there to admire the Italian architecture of the Kremlin. They must have some serious terrorist business to discuss.

That the three evil regimes are launching a coordinated assault on Western interests, indeed civilisation, is beyond doubt. Everyone knows that Russia has been arming Iran, with the latter now reciprocating by supplying Russia with suicide drones. As to the links between Russia and both Hamas and Hezbollah, no one, including the parties involved, denies them.

Russia has been funding, training, arming and inspiring Muslim terrorist organisations since the time she was still the Soviet Union and they were neonatal. But so much for general knowledge. What about the 7 October raid specifically? Was Russia involved and if yes, how?

There is plenty of circumstantial evidence of such involvement, starting with the old cui bono principle. The conflict unleashed by Hamas’s savagery benefits Russia by diverting the West’s resources and – more important – attention from Russia’s own brutality in the Ukraine.

The pronouncements of Russian leaders and spokesmen leave little doubt as to which side Russia supports. And the very fact that the Kremlin has seen fit to entertain Hamas and Iranian officials at this time does little to contradict that impression.

None of this, however, proves Russia’s direct complicity in the massacre. You could say that Hamas bandits wouldn’t have had their own knowhow to set up such a clockwork raid, and you’d be right. But take this evidence to court and see how far you’ll get.

It’s all conjecture for now, which doesn’t mean it can’t condemn. Provided circumstantial evidence has reached a certain critical mass, it may be sufficient to convict. In this case, we need one last piece to complete the evidential jigsaw – so here it is.

Remember that the Hamas operation would have taken a year to plan and prepare. Well, it so happens that exactly a year ago, in September, 2022, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Moscow for discussions with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Again, I doubt they spent the time discussing the relative merits of vodka and fermented mare’s milk. Some serious business was on the table, which for Hamas means nothing but terrorism.

Was it then that the 7 October raid was requested by Hamas and authorised by Russia? Was it then that the planning began? It seems likely, and the dates add up.

Meanwhile, Russia’s own banditry is proceeding apace. As wave after wave of badly trained and ill-equipped Russian soldiers are being mown down at Avdeyevka, reports say the Russians are routinely executing their own retreating soldiers and threatening to kill whole units if they display insufficient valour.

To that end, so called blocking units have been formed, with their machine guns placed behind crowds of soldiers going on what the Russians call ‘meat attacks’. It has to be said that both human-wave assaults and blocking units lack novelty appeal.

The former has always been a time-dishonoured tactic of Russian commanders. Back in the 18th century, Alexander Suvorov, worshipped in Russia as history’s greatest general, formulated the strategic doctrine that’s still doing good service: “The bullet is stupid, the bayonet is clever.”

Of course, for a bayonet charge to show its cleverness, the attackers first have to go through a murderous barrage unleashed by the entrenched defenders. Hence the inordinate casualties Russia has suffered in all her wars, far in excess of those she inflicted on even vanquished adversaries. Hence also the high numbers of soldiers who get cold feet.

To treat those frozen extremities, the Russians have always regarded their surrendering soldiers as deserters. Thus, when the 16th century Polish king Stefan Batory released 2,300 Russian prisoners of war, they were all summarily slaughtered on return.

This fine tradition survived until modern times when Stalin declared, “There are no Soviet POWs, only traitors.” He practised what he preached: most of the returning POWs during the Russo-Finnish and Russo-German wars were shot, imprisoned or exiled (my father was fortunate to have fallen into the last category).

And the practice of executing retreating soldiers started in 1941, immediately after the German attack on the Soviet Union. That noble effort was formalised in July 1942, when Stalin issued his infamous ‘Not a step back’ order. Both the blocking units and military tribunals went into high gear and started killing Soviet soldiers with alacrity.

The output of the tribunals is known: 157,593 Soviet soldiers were sentenced to death and executed during the war. As far as the number of those machinegunned by the blocking units, it’s estimated at twice as high, though such calculations are never precise in Russia.

One way or the other, the Soviets inflicted more casualties on their own troops than the US armed forces suffered altogether – and possibly even more than the overall British losses. By contrast, the Nazis executed only about 8,000 of their own soldiers.

Evil comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but today’s shapes all seem to have a Russian imprint on them. Yet evil can seldom conquer on its own. Outsiders must display at least acquiescence, ideally tacit support, to help it along.

In that spirit, Hungary and Slovakia have blocked a £43.6 billion EU aid package for the Ukraine. Hungarian PM Orban, a Putin admirer of long standing, explained the rationale: “Everybody knows but they do not dare to say it out loud, that this strategy has failed. The Ukrainians will not win on the front line.”

Quite. So let’s do what we can to make sure they lose. Actually, the Ukrainians have already won on the front line, by preventing Russia from achieving her war objectives. These were stated at the outset as “de-Nazifying and demilitarising” the Ukraine, which is to say expunging her as an independent state.

While mildly critical of the Russian prong of evil in the Ukraine, our own dear BBC still refuses to brand the Hamas raid as terrorism. Doing so, Beeb claims, would undermine its reputation for objectivity.

That admirable quality was displayed by Rami Ruhayem, BBC Middle East correspondent, who emailed Director General Tim Davie earlier this week to formulate the broadcaster’s strategy in reporting on the conflict.

“Words like ‘massacre’, ‘slaughter’ and ‘atrocities’ are being used – prominently – in reference to actions by Hamas, but hardly, if at all, in reference to actions by Israel,” he wrote.

“The power of emotive coverage and repetition is well understood. The selective application of emotive repetition is sure to have an impact on audiences, and it is exactly the kind of impact Israeli propagandists are aiming for as they dehumanise Palestinians and set the stage for the mass murder they have pledged – and begun – to carry out.”

So much for objectivity. And so much for promoting evil – by both omission and commission.

The loo seat of learning

A savant in the making

If you’ll forgive a crude colloquialism, Google’s training programme is crap, and I’m not being judgemental here. By its own proud announcement, Google has succeeded at turning every company lavatory into a classroom.

This constitutes the exact reversal of the situation familiar to anyone who has gone to a comprehensive school, but I’ll keep the dismal state of our public education for another time.

What interests me here is the lavatorial aspect of learning pioneered by Google some years ago. Since then their educational series Learning on the Loo has been a constant presence in every Google company around the world.

Lavatory stalls there come equipped not only with customary rolls but also with educational flyers enlightening Google employees on a variety of subjects. I’ll give you a clue: neither Thomistic philosophy nor quantum mechanics is among them.

The academic subjects favoured by the company are more practical, including such topics as Better Incident Management, 6 Tips for Writing a Better Email, and Avoiding Bias (also evidently hyphens) in Decision Making.

One bias that Google would like its people to avoid is the anti-Jewish one, and by the looks of it the company is facing an uphill struggle. Many employees have been posting comments ranging from anti-Israeli to virulently anti-Semitic.

Leading the way was the company’s Head of Diversity Strategy who must have misread his remit. He accused Jews of having an “insatiable appetite for war,” forgetting to mention that such a belligerent craving only ever evinces itself when Israeli babies are decapitated, and sometimes not even then.

Google has declared war on such attitudes, choosing its loo stalls as the training ground. Its Jewish Allyship flyers teach misguided employees that not all their Jewish co-workers are equally bad, and some of them aren’t to blame for the atrocities being committed by Israeli Jews in the Middle East.

I’m only paraphrasing here, not exaggerating. The verbatim lessons teach Googlers that “every Jew is different,” adding that employees should “avoid assuming a Jewish colleague represents the Israeli government”.

According to Alan Bloom, education is supposed to disabuse pupils of wrong notions and replace them with correct ones. On the evidence of these flyers, many Google employees think all Jews are the same, and each one of them is responsible for everything done by the Israeli government.

Contextually, this means the Israeli government is evil, though not necessarily every Jew in the world is. Why, some of them could even become Googlers’ best friends, especially if they disavow Israel’s right to defend itself or indeed to exist.

There goes that educational effort, right down the sewers. “Continuous learning is a big part of Google’s culture,” announces the company’s website. In this case, what Google’s employees are learning continuously is that some kinds of anti-Semitism are better than others.

Now imagine a flyer saying that not all Muslims are the same, and some not only aren’t terrorists themselves but may even disapprove of terrorism. Or that every Irishman is different, and it’s wrong to blame all of them for IRA bombing campaigns. Or that some blacks, including those working for Google, don’t peddle drugs and run prostitution rings.

Can you hear the hue and cry raised in every medium? Can you see screaming headlines on The Guardian’s front page? Can you picture an avalanche of complaints followed by another one of lawsuits and, probably, criminal indictments?

Since the monstrous HAMAS attack on Israel, anti-Semitic attacks in Britain have gone up 600 per cent. Jews no longer feel safe walking the streets in their neighbourhoods or sending their children to school (you know, it’s real schools I’m talking about, not public loos). As to anti-Israeli sentiments, even reputable media are either unable or unwilling to keep them under wraps.

It’s hard not to conclude that latent anti-Semitism always bubbles away just underneath the surface, only waiting for a pretext to burst out. And there comes Google, teaching its employees that, murderous and aggressive though Israel is, some Jews aren’t quite like that.

I don’t know what shining educational ideal the company’s managers see in their mind’s eye, but if it’s ridding their employees of anti-Jewish bias, their effort will fall far short. Like all those megalomaniac campaigns declared by various states, the likely result will be exactly the opposite of the one declared.

A war on poverty makes more people poor. A war on drugs produces more addicts. An attempt to redistribute wealth destroys it. An overhaul of education promotes ignorance. An all-out effort to end all wars leads to more, and bloodier, wars.

And Google’s attempt to indoctrinate its employees against anti-Jewish bias is guaranteed to make them more anti-Semitic, not less.

I wonder what Sergei Brin, Google’s co-founder and himself Jewish, thinks about this. Probably nothing: he is too busy bankrolling Democratic causes to worry about such incidentals.

Notes from sunny Jersey

For the outlanders among you, I’m talking about the biggest of the Channel Islands, not the state-sized suburb of Manhattan.

We’ve spent the past few days there, with Penelope regaling the local concertgoers with her music, and me acting in my customary capacity of groupie, roadie, driver, caterer, performance coach and shrink.

When not busy performing these functions, I used the local material to weave another tissue of vituperation against modernity. My targets ranged from vulgarity to something even more sinister, and it’s in that order that I’ll mention them.

First, as we drove through St Helier, the island’s capital, we saw several houses exhibiting I’M TAKEN signs. At first, I thought the women living there were thus telling potential suitors not to bother – they were happy with their current husbands and/or lovers.

But the locals kindly explained that the sign was a cute way of saying SOLD. ‘Cute’ is one word, ‘vulgar’ is another, and it’s more accurate. I’ve heard of anthropomorphism, but this is ridiculous. Endowing houses with an ability to talk is pushing the usual estate agents’ inanity too far. Obviously, that profession lacks normal defence mechanisms triggering an alarm whenever vulgarity threatens.

And speaking of vulgarity, we took a long walk on a long pier jutting out in the direction of France, 11 miles away but looking closer due to an optical illusion. There were several benches along the way, each donated by the family of a deceased person. The little plaques showed the dear beloved’s name and dates, along with commemorative messages.

One of them said: “You are gone but continue living in our hearts, just a step behind.” Another found an interesting metaphor for dying, “Gone fishing”, probably alluding to the poor man’s hobby. That reminded me of American gangster films where dead Mafiosi were supposed to be “sleeping with the fishes”.

I have no opinion of the Mafia idiom, other than doubting its verisimilitude. But those we saw are vulgarity at its soppiest. Grieving for someone close is an unfailing test of taste: it’s at a moment of emotional turmoil that people show their dignity – or lack thereof.

A friend of mine who lives in Shropshire actually collects vulgar and tasteless epitaphs at the local cemeteries. I’ve seen the list, and the Jersey samples I espied are mild by comparison to some of the entries. But they are still bad enough. Today’s lot confuse sentiment with sentimentality, which is a vulgar category error.

Now for the sinister part. A local amateur pianist died last year, and his widow wanted to sell the concert grand he left behind. Having found no potential buyers on the island, she asked the Steinway office in London to do the honours.

They happily accepted the commission, but with one proviso. Since the law prohibits importing ivory into the UK, the instrument’s ivory keys had to be ripped up and replaced with plastic ones.

Now that piano was made 100 years ago, at a time when public morality still fell short of today’s dizzying ascendancy. One can safely assume that the animal that kindly provided its tusks for the keys is now dead and has no further need for its megalomaniac teeth.

In any case, one can see no immediately obvious way of returning the pieces of bone to their original owner. So what exactly is the problem?

None exists, not in the realm of reason. But modernity, adumbrated by the so-called Age of Reason, has abandoned that realm for another one, that of signalling what it considers virtue and what is in fact its cloyingly sentimental idiocy.

The official reason for the ban on ivory is that vile poachers are threatening to make elephants extinct. One would think that those swearing by Darwinism would accept such a calamity as proof of natural selection. People are fitter for survival than elephants, which is why they can make powerful rifles and shoot the animals. Moreover, some 99 per cent of the species that have ever inhabited ‘our planet’ are now extinct. So what makes elephants so special?

Instead of banning ivory we should ban poaching. Otherwise, we might as well burn every painting in every museum just because some of them are sometimes forged. Same logic.

However, rather than staging such a bonfire of pictorial vanities, authorities routinely burn piles of tusks, even though their original owners don’t need them any longer. Actually, I’m reasonably sure that not all dead elephants are killed by poachers. If biology is to be trusted, some must die a natural death.

Why not use their tusks to make the kind of piano keys that, unlike plastic ones, don’t make the pianist’s fingers slide off? No rational reason suggests itself, unless we think that ivory is a malum in se.

Also, apparently our animal worshippers have found another ingenious way to save elephants from poachers. They saw their (elephants’, that is, not poachers’) tusks off, thus making poaching commercially useless.

Now, God (or was it Darwin?) gave elephants those huge tusks not only for us to make piano keys but also for them to survive. The animals use them to gather food, strip bark from trees to eat, dig, lift objects and defend themselves from predators. The tusks also protect the trunk, without which the animals would be unable to eat, drink and indeed breathe.

In other words, sawing tusks off a live elephant is almost guaranteed to make it a dead one. But on the plus side, the animal won’t be shot. In any case, why burn the sawn-off tusks? Why not sell them to Steinway?

Sentimentality, which is annoying in the case of epitaphs, here becomes sinister. It’s a symptom of the worst kind of paganism, smoothly progressing from animal worship to human sacrifice and everything in between. Such thunderously proclaimed love of all living things disguises contempt of man, for whom all living things were created. Or, if not of man in general, certainly Western Man and his whole civilisation.

The last item is linked with Jersey only tangentially. It’s a Daily Express headline I saw on a newsstand there: “Bishop quits job and apologises after ‘all-male orgy in rectory goes wrong’.”

I can only commiserate with His Grace and offer a prayer that his next all-male orgy goes right. I don’t dare think what that might be.

Isolationists are missing the point

President Biden’s speech of unwavering support for the Ukraine and Israel has caused great enthusiasm in both countries and among their supporters.

Within America, however, the cheering was less universal. Large swathes of the population don’t think America has a dog in either fight.

Hence they don’t understand why American taxpayers have to dump billions into other people’s wars. They also justifiably fear that, should push come to nuclear shove, America’s activism may make her the principal target.

Though expressed in an up-to-date context, this current resistance to US internationalism is par for the historical course, as is its opposite. Isolationism is one of the two principal trends of American exceptionalism; proselytism is the other.

Both are rooted in the doctrine of manifest destiny cogently enunciated when the first batch of English settlers created the Massachusetts Bay colony. In 1630 their leader, John Winthrop, delivered an oration in which he alluded to Matthew 5: 14 by describing the new community as a “city upon a hill”.

He didn’t have to complete the quotation. His Puritan listeners knew the rest by heart. Hence they grasped the implication: “Ye are the light of this world.”

Both the isolationists and the proselytisers share this messianic vision of America. The difference is that, while the former believe America should shine her lantern mainly on herself, leading the world by example, the proselytisers also think she should be more hands-on in helping the outside world see the light.

Isolationism is more apparent within the ranks of the Republican Party, proselytism among the Democrats, although the overlap is significant. Thus it’s no historical accident that it was under Democratic administrations that America entered both world wars.

Here I must remark that people and governments tend to feel about wars differently. Most people don’t like them, but most governments do. This isn’t hard to understand: war is the ultimate expression of the innate statism of modern states, the sustenance on which they build up their muscle mass.

Like babies, all modern states were born covered in blood. No modern state, whenever it came to life, was delivered without the midwifery of a formative war.

In the USA, it was the Civil War – more so even than the Revolutionary War. In Russia, ditto. In Spain, ditto. In France, the post-revolutionary Napoleonic wars. In Germany, the Franco-Prussian War. In Italy, the war of liberation from Austria.

And collectively, modern statism vanquished finally and irreversibly as a result of what was perhaps the greatest, and definitely stupidest, crime in modern history: the First World War. In all instances, people died so that the modern state might be born and then grow, weaned on the congealing red liquor.

Yet the old adage says there is an opportunity in every crisis. Two democratic presidents a generation apart saw in the two world wars an opportunity for America to fulfil her messianic mission,

Woodrow Wilson knew America wouldn’t become the world’s dominant empire after the war unless she flexed her muscles during it. But he also knew that he could never get a declaration of war through Congress, however pliant, without risking a backlash from the largely isolationist electorate.

Wilson’s better bet was to provoke Germany into precipitous action, so that the people would feel they were the wronged party. That purpose was achieved by encouraging the House of Morgan to float war loans for Britain and by sending a steady flow of supplies across the Atlantic, which left the Kaiser’s Germany no choice but to launch unrestricted submarine warfare. Wilson got what he wanted.

After the war America was rewarded with the intoxication of the Roaring Twenties at home and the status of a burgeoning global power abroad. But then came the hangover of the Great Depression treated with the poisoned tonic of the New Deal.

After Roosevelt’s hasty and ill-advised statist measures had run out of steam, trouble came back in force. By 1938 unemployment was again nearing 20 percent, recession returned, and suddenly even the intellectually challenged realised that the depression had not really gone away. It had merely been camouflaged, and confirmation of this came from unexpected quarters.

Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary and one of the principal architects of the New Deal, admitted before the House Ways and Means Committee that the New Deal had failed: “We have tried spending money,” he commiserated.

“We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!”

With the precedent set by Wilson to learn from, Roosevelt knew exactly how to manage a similar situation. The country needed to enter the on-going world war. And if the people and their representatives were likely to prefer peace to war, they had to be left with no choice.

To that end Roosevelt desperately hoped that either Germany or Japan would launch a pre-emptive strike, the sooner the better. Yet Germany wouldn’t come out and play. However, Japan, being starved of essential raw materials by the American blockade, would.

In one fell swoop all America’s problems were solved. Massive production of armaments put paid to unemployment, GDP went up 72 per cent between 1940 and 1945. Perhaps most important, by default the dollar became the world’s reserve currency, which enabled the Federal Reserve to play fast and loose with money supply without suffering unduly painful consequences.

Above all, the US became the unchallenged leader of the Free World, supplanting the British Empire. So were isolationists proved wrong?

Yes and – possibly – no. The two big wars gave America a shortcut to greatness, defined in the crudest terms. She became a superpower able to extend her will to much of the world. She also emerged with the world’s largest and most robust economy, having soared Phoenix-like out of the ashes of the depression. Such was the country’s ascending road charted by two Democratic presidents.

However, that ascendancy was bought at the cost of inordinate centralism, a move towards practically unchecked growth in the power of the central government. Another word for this process is socialism, and America’s body got a large dose of that poison.

Had she stayed out of the two world wars, as so many Americans wanted, she could conceivably have emerged better – if not necessarily greater, as that dread term is understood these days. Here we are entering the valid but speculative area of the ‘What if…”  school of history, which is a journey without an obvious end.

So let’s get back to today’s situation and remark that, for better or for worse, American isolationists have lost the debate. The country can no longer concentrate on her own virtues while looking at the outside world with detached avuncular condescension.

The choices made yesterday determined the choices available today. A great power doesn’t have the luxury of deciding to swap some of its greatness for peace and quiet. Trying to do so would make America part with her superpower status, a craving for which entered the country’s DNA back in the 17th century, when she wasn’t even a country yet.

Looking on the bright side, those Americans who begrudge the Ukraine and Israel a few billion here and there should brush up on both their history and their economics. They would only have a point if aid were provided in cash. But it isn’t.

Most of it comes as war materiel produced in the US, and the more of it is produced there, the higher America’s GDP, the greater the number of new jobs created, the more voracious the ensuing consumer demand.

Economically speaking, the US has much to gain and nothing to lose by throwing her full weight behind her two allies fighting for their lives against pure evil. She could also improve her moral standing in the world, which is another aspect of global power to keep in mind.

However, the risks involved can’t be gainsaid either. One of them is the possibility of another world war, this time offering few chances for any party to emerge better off. However, even though the history teacher has been made redundant, the lessons are still with us.

The most important one is that appeasement is more likely to cause a war than thwart it. This simple observation applies at all levels, from schoolyard bully to global aggressor. Still, the argument from world war is worth discussing.

Crying over a few spilled billions isn’t. That argument is so inane that one has to wonder if perhaps it’s just shorthand for something else. But we’ll leave this for another time.

Murder or suicide?

Our civilisation is in safe hands

Everyone is talking about the current existential danger to Western civilisation. Everyone is only partly right.

Our civilisation is indeed under threat, but this doesn’t come from any axis of evil, whichever countries are supposed to make it up. Great civilisations don’t succumb to physical threats from outsiders. They only ever collapse under the weight of their own metaphysical folly, with outsiders sometimes providing the last straw.

Metaphysics doesn’t have to spring from faith in any confessional sense. It does, however, have to be correct, for a faulty metaphysical premise invariably undermines practical outcomes. In fact, it’s practical results that can as often as not either vindicate the metaphysics or disprove it.

The proof of the metaphysical pudding is in the empirical eating. Conversely, if we look deeply enough, we’ll realise that the most spectacular practical errors mankind ever makes all come from a metaphysical blunder that then triggers off a chain reaction of folly. Our present situation is no exception.

In his Essay on Metaphysics R.G. Collingwood (d. 1943) ascribes the fall of the Roman Empire to this cause. A clash between an increasingly monotheistic philosophy and an obstinately polytheistic people deprived the Romans of their spiritual backbone. They began to question the certitudes on which their society was based, and before too long they were no longer sure what those certitudes were.

The Romans no longer understood their own society. They no longer knew what role they themselves had to play in their community, or what role their community played in the general scheme of things.

Mired in confusion, they resorted to decadence. Misguided in their overall direction, they got lost in a warren of blind alleys. They tried to probe every which way, but there was no way out – they were running in place.

Fatigue set in. Step by step, the stuffing went out of their previously taut muscles, and they fell prey to barbarian attacks. Such is the aetiology of the senility and erosion of will to which historians usually, and correctly, attribute the demise of Rome.

Collingwood concludes (in The Principles of Art): “Civilisations sometimes perish because they are forcibly broken up by the armed attack of enemies without or revolutionaries within; but never from this cause alone. Such attacks never succeed unless the thing that is attacked is weakened by doubt as to whether the end which it sets before itself, the form of life which it tries to realise, is worth achieving. On the other hand, this doubt is quite capable of destroying a civilisation without any help whatever. If the people who share a civilisation are no longer on the whole convinced that the form of life which it tries to realise is worth realising, nothing can save it.”

Parallels with our own situation cry out to be made, and many writers have responded to that cry. Like Rome, we too are reaping the poisoned harvest of metaphysical folly. It is the grave error we made in having jettisoned the sound theocentric metaphysics on which Western civilisation was built in the first place.

In its stead we have put forth the anthropocentric metaphysics that began with Renaissance humanism, developed through the Reformation and Enlightenment, and culminated in the manic-depressive relativism of post-modernity. Moving man from the periphery of God’s world to the centre of his own, this hubristic elevation of self to a God-like status destroyed the precarious metaphysical balance on which the West rested – with likely consequences similar to those suffered by the Romans.

We too are no longer certain of our fundamental convictions. We too have replaced stern resolve with decadence. We too have lost the will to defend ourselves against even a theoretically weaker enemy.

The major difference so far is that we haven’t yet had this point hammered home by a barbarian onslaught. But few are the optimists who maintain that such a development is improbable. Even fewer are the realists who point out that the barbarians have already attacked and won. Except that in our case the vandals came from inside, not outside, our city walls.

Our culture has lost structure and therefore order. Entropy reigns, and any teleological sense of direction has fallen by the wayside. We have lost the ability to think in straight lines, which is to say we’ve lost the ability to think. A typical Westerner may well conclude that the shortest distance between two points is a hamster wheel.

Metaphysical decline has been long in the making, but its forward motion has had an accelerator built in. Thanks to the technological advances of which modernity is so proud, what used to take centuries may now take years or even months.

Like an old man who looks back on his life and can’t pinpoint the exact time when he did become old, we try to take stock of our ertswhile certitudes, only to find they are no longer there.

We notice, for example, that our democracy is no longer democratic, our supposedly free speech is no longer free, our culture is no longer cultured, our justice is no longer just, and we start pointing a finger at all sorts of culprits.

Blaming anyone other than ourselves comes easily to us, and our accusing finger first jerks eastwards to indict any melange of barbarians clad in camouflaged animal skins and armed with nuclear spears. The few oddballs capable of thinking critically may realise that our problems are really internal. But they don’t look far enough back, nor deeply enough inside.

Their bogeymen may be deemed to be lurking on the left or the right of politics, in schools or government offices, even in sports arenas (whatever use they are put to). But they are looking at the physical symptoms of a metaphysical malaise – and the like can only ever be treated with the like.

That’s where one can easily lose hope. The tired clichés, along the lines of toothpaste that can’t be squeezed back into the tube, begin to sound tangibly germane to our situation. One can legitimately fear that, barring a global catastrophe, our tattered metaphysical fibre can never be sewn back together.

And if the parenthetical phrase about a global catastrophe indeed points to the only possible solution, then we face an awful dilemma whose horns are ready to nail us to the wall.

On the one hand, we are desperate to regain our erstwhile metaphysical strength. Yet on the other hand, we find ourselves unable to wish for what we might have identified as the only possible restorative remedy: a universal cataclysm sweeping away millions or billions of lives.

And now, by all means do let’s talk about our voting intentions at the next elections. The box we tick will make all the difference, won’t it?

Moral compass gone haywire

So that’s what a cultural figure looks like

Some 2,000 British ‘cultural figures’ have signed a letter explicitly condemning Israel’s “war crimes” and implicitly supporting Hamas’s savagery.

Now, I don’t know how many ‘cultural figures’ Britain can boast altogether. Whatever that number may be, 2,000 ‘artists’ (another word by which they are identified in the press) must be a large and representative sample.

This assumption isn’t based on any personal knowledge for I’ve never heard of 1,998 of the signatories. That establishes their bona fides because ‘someone I’ve never heard of’ is an accurate definition of a ‘cultural figure’ or a ‘celebrity’.

Then again, they’ve never heard of me either, so we are on an equal footing there. Hence it’s from a platform of parity that I try to read their emetic… sorry, I mean emphatic missive.

And what do you know, though disgusted by the overall thrust of the letter, I find myself in agreement with some of its points. For example, this one: “Gaza is already a society of refugees and the children of refugees. Now, in their hundreds of thousands…”

A minor correction if I may. Those Palestinian Arabs aren’t only children, but also grandchildren and great-grandchildren of refugees. By any norms of international law, this means they themselves aren’t refugees, but one’s heart doesn’t think in legal categories. And if that organ wishes to describe those great-grandchildren as ‘refugees’, no legal casuistry can change that.

“Dispossessed of rights, described by Israel’s minister of defence as ‘human animals’, they have become people to whom almost anything can be done” is another statement I find indisputable.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s monstrous raid, Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant indeed described those blood-soaked beheaders of babies as “human animals”. Some people, and not just Israelis, even dispensed with the modifier, suggesting that no decapitators of babies can possibly be human.

I disagree. Dehumanising one’s enemies points to a rosy-spectacled misunderstanding of human nature. Humans are perfectly capable of acting like savage beasts without forfeiting their claim to humanity. Evil comes to us as naturally as virtue, perhaps even more so.

If you don’t believe me, read Genesis. You know, the book that explained we are all brushed with the tar of original sin. Without plumbing theological depths here, let’s just say that the concept of original sin pinpointed the reality of human nature, making it intelligible and true to life.

Being human may mean being either good or evil. It also means being free and able to choose one or the other. That’s why I disagree with Mr Gallant: those Hamas cutthroats are fully human – and fully evil. They chose wrong.

As to the second part of that sentence, “they have become people to whom almost anything can be done”, here my agreement doesn’t even have to be qualified. The release form to that effect was signed with the blood dripping off Hamas machetes.

That implicit document relinquished the safeguards against “almost anything that can be done”. It authorised the Israelis to do anything deemed necessary to defend themselves against extinction – even if that entails massive civilian casualties.

Moreover, the more civilians are killed, the happier Hamas will be. This is a unique situation in the history of warfare: most belligerents, even those who don’t mind their enemy’s civilian deaths, try to minimise their own. Hamas, on the other hand, wants as many civilian deaths in Gaza as possible. They count on Israel and the rest of the West being paralysed by the ensuing protests, such as this luvvie letter.

Actually, looking at the huge crowds of Palestinian (and other) Muslims dancing in the streets every time Israelis are massacred, one wonders how civilian they really are. But leaving that quibble aside, if they do die in large numbers, it’s not Israel that will kill them. It’s Hamas.

The aggressor and only the aggressor is to blame for civilian casualties on both sides. Thus it wasn’t British and American pilots who killed the denizens of Dresden and Hamburg but Hitler. It wasn’t the US Air Force that firebombed Tokyo and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki but the Japanese warlords. And if a Ukrainian drone kills civilians in Belgorod or Kursk, it will be Putin to blame, not Zelensky.

Those 2,000 luvvies didn’t even try to feign objectivity and a sense of balance. They talked about Israel’s “war crimes” without ever even mentioning Hamas and the unspeakable atrocities it perpetrated. This raises the question of what the luvvies actually want, apart from signalling their impeccable leftie credentials.

This is their answer: “We support the global movement against the destruction of Gaza and the mass displacement of the Palestinian people. We demand that our governments end their military and political support for Israel’s actions.”

The “global movement” they are referring to is otherwise called jihad, something that Muslim leaders demanded once they had tasted Israeli blood yet again.

The global jihad they call for starts with massive demonstrations in all major Western cities, all expertly organised and coordinated. (You don’t think those millions hit the streets at the same time because of some osmotic connection, do you?) The next stage will be another wave of terror, with public transport blown up, SUVs driven through crowds, people shot or knifed at random, like those two Swedes murdered in Belgium the other day.

At the same time, our governments (note the plural: those British ‘cultural figures’ are speaking on behalf of our whole civilisation) should leave Israel to her gruesome fate without even political support, never mind the military kind.

Put together, those two sentences should leave one in no doubt as to what the luvvies want: Israel’s destruction, with millions of civilian deaths, and a global victory for Islamic terrorism. I wished they had said that outright, obviating my need to decipher their drivel.

The situation leaves no room for peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas. It’s either… or, to use Kierkegaard’s phrase. Either Israel or Hamas is left standing.

But I’m glad we’ve got to the bottom of it. It’s always good to know how the chips fall and which side our ‘cultural figures’ are on. They may number 2,000, but their name is legion.

P.S. Congratulations to my good friend, the Rev. Peter Mullen. In a letter to The Mail on Sunday, he took exception to their columnist Peter Hitchens’s remark that Israel is the world’s only country blamed for being attacked. Peter correctly observed that another country, the Ukraine, suffers the same fate every time Hitchens takes pen to paper. Hear, hear.  

‘Refugees’ and other misnomers

And when did you leave Israel, chaps?

Greek rhetoricians, who knew a thing or two about debates, always insisted that, before starting a verbal joust, the parties should agree on the terms.

This insistence presupposes the existence of accurate and inaccurate terms, those that elucidate an issue and those that confuse it. Alas, if I were to single out one characteristic of modernity, that would be its unopposed tendency to use words loosely or in a deliberately misleading manner.

Take the much-vaunted ‘natural selection’, a term invented by Francis Bacon, popularised by Charles Darwin and raised to a religious status by his followers, such as Richard Dawkins.

Darwin and Darwinists insist that natural selection accounts for the endless variety of flora and fauna so exhaustively that there is no need for God. Darwin explained how it works by analogy with cattle breeders and horticulturalists.

They select animals or plants that possess the characteristics that selectors see as desirable. Having identified specimens with such characteristics, they then start breeding and cross-breeding until they end up with the desired result.

The same, explained Darwin, happens in nature, which is why it’s called natural selection. His Origin was already published when Darwin realised his mistake. For domestic breeding doesn’t just happen. It’s the work of a rational agent, zoologist or horticulturalist. So who acts as the rational agent in nature?

The word ‘selection’ implies a selector. Darwin, who in the introduction to The Descent of Man stated the debunking of God as his intention, achieved exactly the opposite result by his loose use of words. Later he tried to correct that mistake, but his followers have greatly exacerbated it.

I’m using this as strictly an illustration of how our progressive modernity, partly adumbrated by Darwin, uses words imprecisely or even nefariously. This gets me to Israel’s current attempt to save herself and her people from annihilation, and, at one remove, our civilisation from extinction.

Verbal chicanery is a salient constituent of both the deliberately mendacious accounts of the current events and those that are well-meaning but loosely phrased. One ubiquitous loose phrase is ‘Palestinian refugees’.

The word ‘refugee’ is close to my heart because over 50 years ago I myself emerged out of Russia with only a scrap of badly printed paper for ID. It identified me as a refugee, a word that has a precise legal meaning.

This was defined by the UN as a status that applied only to the person seeking refuge, not his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on, ad infinitum. In other words, the refugee status isn’t a hereditary title of nobility passed on from generation to generation.

This definition is ignored by, well, everyone, from the UN itself to various governments, international organisations and certainly commentators. Some like ‘Palestinian refugees’, some don’t, but practically everyone refers to them as such.

Moreover, regardless of where or not the underlying conflict has been resolved, refugees legally retain their status for 10 years only. However, ‘Palestinian refugees’ are still described this way 75 years after their progenitors were driven from Israel in 1948-1949. That’s three, almost four, generations of refugees, who now outnumber the original ones by an order of magnitude.

Displacement of large groups of people isn’t unique in history, lamentable though it may be. But ‘Palestinian refugees’ in the fourth generation are unprecedented. What exactly affords them their special privileged status?

The answer is evident: It’s not love of those poor people, but hatred of Israel – as such and also as a proxy for the hatred of Western civilisation, represented in the region only by Israel. This hatred is multifarious, including aspects of common-or-garden anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism, totalitarian longing, religious loathing, loathing of religions – it’s not my task here to identify them all.

But hatred is typically syllogistic in that it requires an antithesis of love to be truly synthesised and focused. Hence the urgent need for ‘Palestinian refugees’ who can be used as a cudgel to bust those Israeli heads with, literally or figuratively.

Another misnomer invariably popping up in this context is ‘genocide’. It’s a dagger taken out of its scabbard every time Israel responds to murderous attacks by killing a few hundred Arabs, especially those ‘peaceful Palestinian refugees’.

It has to be said that the word ‘genocide’ is often used, or rather misused, in all sorts of contexts. In his books Lethal Politics and Murder by Government, Rudolph Rummel explains that, though all genocide is mass killing, not all mass killing is genocide.

He defines genocide as mass murder by category, mainly racial or religious. Thus six million Jews were victims of Nazi genocide, but the 500,000 German civilians killed by American and British bombs weren’t victims of Allied genocide. The Nazis were out to kill all Jews indiscriminately simply because they hated them as a group. The Allies bombed German cities not because they wanted to kill all Germans but because they wanted to win the war.

Prof. Rummel, whose books I wholeheartedly recommend, distinguishes genocide from democide, any killing of large numbers of people. As a linguist manqué, I welcome that distinction as a significant contribution both to language and political science.

The word ‘genocide’ is being bandied about by all and sundry in relation to the alleged bombing of a Gaza hospital by the IDF. I say ‘alleged’ because the evidence I’ve seen, which convinced President Biden that it was “the other team” that was responsible, shows no photographs of a bombed hospital – nor indeed of 500-600 victims.

There was a fire in the hospital courtyard and adjacent buildings, which is consistent with the Israeli videos showing a crude Hamas bomb detonating over the area. Those bombs can weigh up to 1,500 kg, of which 500 kg is the payload and the rest is the fuel.

I’m not an expert in such matters and have to defer to those who are. However, I’m happy to concede that it’s possible that indeed an Israeli missile hit the hospital and killed a few hundred people.

My point is that, most unfortunate as such an incident may be, it still doesn’t constitute genocide. Israel has demonstrated in neither word nor deed her intention to kill all or large numbers of Palestinian Arabs simply because they are Palestinian Arabs.

All instances of genocide known to history have always proceeded from a solid ideological premise. Moreover a premise explicitly stated in the founding documents of the ideology involved. All genocidal ideologies have their Mein Kampf, or at least an oral equivalent thereof.

Israel has no such thing, and neither has she ever tried to exterminate all Palestinian Arabs. When civilians die as a result of IDF’s action, it’s always collateral damage produced in response to aggression.

On the other hand, not only Hamas, but leaders of practically all Muslim countries have stated in so many words their explicit intent to “drive Israel into the sea” (Nasser’s phrase), meaning to kill all Israelis. They may even cite scriptural justification, what with the Koran containing 107 verses, conservatively counted, that call for violence towards infidels. Some verses identify Jews specifically.

People who use language loosely think badly. Such intellectual failings may result from either innate mental frailty or pernicious intent. Looking at Hamas fans, I wonder if we have to choose one or the other.

BBC confirms my prediction

Whitehall, but not as you know it

It came a week ago, when I wrote:

“Once the initial shock of decapitated Israeli babies dies out, the newspapers and airwaves will be flooded with pictures of destroyed tower blocks in Gaza and dead Palestinians. These will be accompanied by long stories couched in bien pensant terms but leaving no one in doubt as to which side the media support.”

That attempt at playing Cassandra was as unsporting as predicting that the sun will go up and so will taxes. Why state the bleeding obvious and then pretend to possess prophetic powers? Everyone knows both the sun and taxes are guaranteed to rise (unless it’s a fortnight before a general election).

Similarly, when a society’s moral fibre lies in tatters and its intellectual framework has been used for emotional kindling, natural instincts take over. And the knee of most of our media invariably jerks in favour of Third World savagery and against the West.

I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. Hence we aren’t going to be surprised by any subversive drivel emanating from the major newspapers and TV channels. Or are we?

Here I must admit that, for all my professed and carefully cultivated dyed-in-the-wool cynicism, even I was shocked by what the BBC did the other day.

When 150,000 pro-Hamas demonstrators took to the streets of London, that’s exactly how the BBC described those rallies, as those of pro-Hamas supporters.

Complaints flooded in instantly, courtesy of our laudable advances in electronic communications. I’ll spare you any direct quotations, most of them being either illiterate or obscene or couched in the language of Marxist Oxbridge academics. But the general thrust of all moans was that the demonstrations were not pro-Hamas but pro-Palestinian.

One would think that this nuance wouldn’t be worth mentioning because the crowds came out immediately after Hamas’s raid, and then again when Israel had the audacity to retaliate. Since most placards and banners said ‘Free Palestine’, and since the demonstrators were inspired by Hamas, it was they themselves who established an indissoluble blend between pro-Hamas and pro-Palestinian sentiments.

That’s how I’d respond to such complaints if I ran BBC News. But I don’t, and neither does anyone else whose view of life resembles mine even remotely. Those who do run it issued a rather different reply:

“Earlier we reported on some of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations at the weekend. We spoke about ‘several demonstrations across Britain during which people voiced their backing for Hamas’. We accept this was poorly phrased and was a misleading description of the demonstrations.”

Did you get it? The blighters actually apologised to the mob whose febrile emotions are a cocktail of pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and generally anti-West sentiments. Whatever next? Will the BBC now pay reparations to terrorists?

Having got indignation out of the way, let’s consider the serious message hiding behind two words ‘not all’. As in ‘not all Palestinians support terrorism’, ‘not all pro-Palestinian demonstrators back Hamas’, ‘not all Russians love Putin’ and, backtracking a bit, ‘not all Germans were Nazis’.

The word ‘all’ has two meanings: literal and colloquial. The former means every one with no exceptions, and it’s clearly meaningless when applied to millions of people. Not all of millions of people are anything – not even human, if the evidence kindly provided by Hamas is anything to go by.

Colloquially, however, that word ‘all’ can be perfectly sound. It means ‘such an overwhelming majority that the few exceptions make no difference’. The deliberate, and usually pernicious, confusion starts when critics latch on to the word ‘all’ (uttered or implied) and choose to interpret it literally whereas in fact it was meant colloquially.

They then scream whatever invective seems suitable: racist, fascist, white supremacist or, in different contexts, misogynist, transphobe, homophobe, global warming denier, elitist, sexist – choose your own term from the thick thesaurus of leftie abuse.

This legerdemain is typical of demagogues, mostly of the left but sometimes also of the right. Thus apologists for the saintly Russian people object to an imaginary opponent by saying “not all Russians support Putin, his regime and its war on the Ukraine”.

That’s indirectly accusing their imaginary opponents of stupidity. Of course, literally speaking, not every one of 140 million Russians cheers fascism. Only about 85 per cent do, while some brave people try to save what little is left of their country’s honour by protesting openly and going to prison for it (in today’s Russia, the former automatically entails the latter).

Yet all they are saving is their own souls. Their heroism (and the tacit disapproval of some 15 per cent of the population) makes no difference whatsoever to the general assessment of their country. And that assessment says today’s Russia is a fascist cancerous cell threatening to kill its host organism, the world’s body.

Yes, that’s passing a sweeping general judgement, but generalisations are perfectly valid when applied to large swathes of humanity acting as a mob. People who wish to be treated as individuals should act as such.

In the same spirit, I’d suggest that the proportion of pro-Hamas fanatics among the ‘Palestinians’ is so close to a hundred per cent that the word ‘all’ can be safely used both literally and colloquially. And among Muslims in general, that proportion is probably lower than the percentage of Russians disliking Putin.

As to the BBC, the corporation is solidly pro-Hamas. I’m sure some of its Jewish employees aren’t, and even a few pro-Israel and pro-West conservatives can be found among its technical staff. But only an expert juggler of mendacious words will insist that its editorial policy isn’t anti-Israeli.

That’s why the BBC steadfastly refuses to describe Hamas humanoids as terrorists. And that’s why it has issued an inconceivable grovelling apology to the pro-Hamas zealots turning London into Tehran Lite.

That’s what the BBC does in English. Its Arabic division, on the other hand, eschews tacit support in favour of hysterically enthusiastic backing. Its staffers have described the wholesale murder of Israeli civilians as “exhilarating”, “exciting” and “a morning of hope”.

These are some of the statements most of which BBC Arabic News staffers issued and some they liked and retweeted:

“Israel prestige is crying in the corner”.  

“Every member of the Zionist entity served in the army at some point in his life, whether men or women, and they all had victims of explicit violations… This term ‘civilians’ applies to the animals and pets that live there and they are not seriously at fault.” [Subtle irony, that.]

“The Zionist must know that he will live as a thief and a usurper”.

“The Palestinian resistance takes an initiative and surprises the Israeli occupier with an operation of quality.”

“You cannot support freedom fighters in Ukraine as they resist Russian occupation but not in Palestine against Israeli occupation, unless you have no conscience.”

“Settlers hiding inside a tin container in fear of the Palestinian resistance warriors.”

And so on, ad nauseum. Now, having overcome emesis, let’s remind ourselves what the BBC is. That will help us suggest an appropriate course of action.

The BBC is a public service broadcaster established under a royal charter. It’s mainly funded by an annual licence fee charged to all British households and organisations that own devices capable of receiving BBC output. The fee is set by HMG and is agreed by Parliament.

Thus the BBC is obligated to comply with the terms set by its charter:

The Mission of the BBC is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.” Not a word there about cheering for the beheading of babies.

If it’s as immediately obvious to you as it is to me that the BBC is in default of its mission, the corrective measures suggest themselves. The charter must be revoked, the licence fee abolished, and the BBC should be made to fend for itself in the open commercial market.

At the same time, a charge of incitement to violence must be filed against all BBC employees who channelled their flaming conscience into the kind of messages quoted above. Let them eat porridge as they support terrorism.