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   Monday, January 05, 2004
Well, I'm back from a Christmas of debauchery and drink (not a traditional Christmas at all, I'm afraid), and back reading the news once more.

Soon as I turned to NRO I promptly found something that caused one of my brows to arch in this VDH piece.

Most of it, as per usual, I agree with, so I'm only nitpicking again.

Instead, the elite Westerner talks about “occupied lands” from which Israel has been attacked four times in the last 60 years — in a manner that Germans do not talk about an occupied West they coughed up to France or an occupied East annexed by Poland. Russia lectures about Jenin, but rarely its grab of Japanese islands. Turkey is worried about the West Bank, but not its swallowing much of Cyprus. China weighs in about Palestinian sovereignty but not the entire culture of Tibet; some British aristocrats bemoan Sharon’s supposed land grab, but not Gibraltar.

Eh? Gibraltar? VDH should write about things he knows about, clearly. Him citing Gibraltar as a land grab is a bit ironic really. First, a bit of history. Gibraltar was ceded to the United Kingdom by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which means it's been British for longer than there has even been such a thing as the United States of America. Admittedly it was spoils of war, but every modern nation state in the Americas came originally from spoils of war as well if Gibraltar is said to have done - 300 years down the road I don't think such an allegation is really valid.

Now, that little historical footnote wouldn't really stir me to rebut VDH, but what does is the sheer irony of modern Gibraltarian politics when set against that comment. It so happens that the UK government has been trying to get rid of Gibraltar and give it back to Spain, for reasons of being communautaire in the EU - and besides, Spain has long wanted it back. The Gibraltarians were not even going to be consulted, as being a mere crown dependency they don't get a constitutional say in what happens to them.

However, the Gibraltarians ran their own referendum in dismay to make their views known, and 99% of them wanted to stay as a British dependency. This hasn't stopped our most honourable Tony Blair from doing his level best to get rid of the Rock in return for political kudos from Europe, mind.

In short, bad example, Victor, really bad example. That would cause any supporter of Gibraltar to fulminate.

As an aside, his charge of dislike of Israel being rooted in anti-Semitism rings a bit hollow too. "British aristocrats", eh? Well, I would presume such people would be Tories, and their being anti-Semitic seems a little odd given that the current Tory leader, who has been met with rapture from MPs and rank-and-file alike, is a Jew. Charges of anti-Semitism are, I think as far as British aristocrats are concerned, more than a little trite and actually damage his argument greatly. I figure the "British aristocrat" is probably a mythical figure that carries some resonance in revolutionary America, but here I think myth and reality are somewhat divorced...

Any dislike of Israel on the part of a British Tory is probably not so much due to anti-Semitism but due to things like the Irgun, not base anti-Semitism.