Saturday, January 17, 2009

The return of ORFTORFU

As Israel's Gaza operation seems to be coming to a conclusion, one final blast of Freedmanslife indignation. Orftorfu is an acronym we use down at Freedman Villas - One Rule For Them, One Rule For Us. A useful shorthand first conceived back in 2000 with the Second Intifada, and particularly handy when describing anything to do with Israel and the Jews in general, who are subjected to the orftorfu treatment by the world's media, NGOs, liberal left, almost the entire Islamic world, antisemites of various guises (including self-hating Jews of many descriptions), and in a totally different and vastly more moral and interesting way, those Jews who contemplate what the burden of being the Chosen People is really about.

Some good articles have been written and largely ignored by the mainstream which cover some of the orftorfu's of this particular conflict. For example how reporting of the Tamil Tigers being ruthlessly wiped out by Sri Lanka, in a way that raises many more issues of human rights, war crimes and proportion than Israel in Gaza, has barely featured in the press, despite happening concurrently.

Tempting as it is to get into the orftorfu of how Palestinian attacks, which intend to maim civilians, are somehow seen as morally equivalent, or in view of the "disproportion" of number, method and impact, even MORE justified than Israeli responses, this is evident to any really objective observer.

Instead, let's look at what's happening in the UK and to the Jews.

I will first waste a bit of air-time on that hoax email to the Board of Deps, for which Jewdas (google them for more, in short a collective of wannabe Anglo-Jewish anarchists who have failed to spot the oxymoron) have claimed responsibility, in a rambling, self-congratulatory email that showed nothing but the classic naivete of the bleeding heart liberal whose knowledge of current affairs is by osmosis from the gentle drone of the BBC to the ear and the stain of Independent and Guardian ink to the hands. Reducing it to one line, they believe that we the Jews of Britain should not support any of Israel's military action, regardless of the cause or how it is carried out, because "only negotiations can bring peace in our time". Okay, I may have embellished that just slightly, but you get the idea.

Funny thing is, for a fleeting moment I put Jewdas in that latter category of orftorfu, the one where we Jews hold ourselves up to a higher standard than others hold themselves. But the tone and absolute dogma of their email mean they fail to recognise what Jewish history has shown - if we are not for ourselves, no-one will be for us.

Because of this war, not in spite of it, the USA, Egypt, and even the PA itself, have finally understood Israel's predicament with Hamas and the need, after 10,000 pieces of ordnance over 8 years, to cut off the latter's supply of explosives through the porous border with Egypt. Failure to have done this, and the world's application of orftorfu with first Fatah and then Hamas, have led us here. Nowhere else would this situation have been tolerated, or EVERY attempt Israel made to resolve it (EU observers at crossings, Disengagement, limited targetted response etc) have been met with anything from lack of support to total contempt.

Jewdas seems to think that Anglo-Jewry's support of Israel is "right or wrong", and that it's inherently a contradiction to back the operation AND want or believe in peace. The fact is that peace follows quiet. To get to quiet, the other side has to accept it cannot win through force alone. Israel accepts this - that's why it left Gaza 4 years ago, why it continues to have dialogue with the PA, why it will accept other parties controlling the Philadelphi Corridor, and why it (and Jews at large) is constantly searching its soul and trying to find a compromise of its own factions that also will find acceptance from the Palestinians, Arabs and wider world.

Hamas specifically does not want peace, used the previous quiet of its ceasefire to rearm and then provoke this current operation, and has no capability of dialogue even with its own brethren in Fatah or the PA. But orftorfu - we are Jews so have to behave and think decently, whilst the world expects (in a way that's actually pretty condescending and borderline racist) much lower standards of the other party. I wonder if there is just a general pattern of supporting the perceived underdog, "right or wrong", among our chattering classes (Ken Wilber and Spiral Dynamics fans will know this as mean green meme syndrome).

Orftorfu prevents anyone discussing the absurd irony that Israel continues to wage a war to protect its civilians AS WELL AS THAT OF ITS ENEMY. Whilst it seems that 20%-40% of the (apparently) 1170 dead Palestinians have been civilians - depending on who you believe - Israel continues to try and leaflet areas it may need to target, has a daily 3-hour ceasefire for people to move out or find food (and for Hamas to rearm), goes house-to-house more often than necessary for its military objectives to avoid collateral damage, and so on. This is despite the fact that for whatever reason the Palestinians elected Hamas, and the latter chooses to hide among its population, thus intentionally creating the asymmetry of 13 dead Jews to all those dead Arabs. Also the irony that we are all saddened by their innocent casualties, even organising appeals where you can send an SMS with the word "life" as the text to 81400, costing £1.50, and donate equal amounts to hospitals in Israel and Gaza to help the real victims (where did Jewdas publicise this worthy cause?! Orftorfu even within Anglo-Jewry...), whilst I would be astounded - and of course delighted - if the Muslim community of Britain had set up anything similar, rather than affiliating more with the 'Arab street' that rejoices in our misery and pain.

Meanwhile, the domestic orftorfu continues with the media busy picking up any hint of Islamophobia, whilst ignoring recent attacks on Starbucks and Tesco, targetted because of current or prior Jewish management. This insidious move from protests about Israel's actions to violence against anything Jewish does not bode well, but the lack of decent coverage, especially that explicitly denounces this as antisemitic, is possibly even more sinister.

Let's compare and contrast coverage.

The "peace march" was un-nuanced pro-Palestinian in its leaning, failing to differentiate between Hamas and everyone else (apparently "we are all Hamas now" reared its ugly head), implicitly grieving for the 500-800 dead terrorists and supporters of terror, whilst not even paying lip service to the million Israelis within rocket range of Gaza, the dozens dead and hundreds injured, as well as thousands carrying other well-documented psychological scars. It turned violent at the end, including attempts by a large mob to attack the Israeli Embassy, vandalising several supposedly Jewish businesses, and even a serious assault on a kippah-wearing protester who was coming back from THEIR march.

The "pro-Israel" march, according to the reports I read, seemed to be much more "pro-peace", and encapsulate the general sentiment in Anglo-Jewry that this is a necessary operation where innocent victims are inevitable and to be mourned. It passed off peacefully, and was attended by 15,000 people - one heck of a slab of the community, given the timing, weather, fear of violence, hoax cancellations, and alleged disharmony of opinion.

But hey, some Jews trying to be equanimous are not newsworthy, nor are hundreds of people enacting a small slice of the kind of violent history that forced the establishment of modern Israel as our protection. Just plenty of coverage of anti-Israel rallies everywhere, keeping to the photogenic bits of hijabbed ladies pushing prams alongside dreadlocked students in kheffiyehs, carrying placards and pics of dead babies, with no mention of the marchers' implicit support of the rocket attacks and a terrorist government.

ORFTORFU.

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