April 22, 2007

It was sheerly coincidence that I ended up at the biographical talk examining in some detail the decades of Churchill's active support of the Zionist movement and eventual establishment of Israel. From his early elections as the neophyte member of parliament for Manchester West, a riding with one-third Jewish electorate (who, statistics tell us, are much more likely proportionately to vote than the other major demographic in the riding, Irish Roman-Catholic), through white papers and "black" papers, to the resource-securing twist by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the trilateral negotiations with Ibn Saud during the final sunset of Britain-as-empire (revealed in papers only just publicly released): so much more of where we are today now makes sense to me.

What at first startled me, and then quickly began to unnerve me, was how eagerly the audience seized on Churchill's instant, reliable, and utterly polarised partisanship and sought in this, not historical context, not lessons, not even understanding, but unquestioned examples for modern-day leadership. The parallels sought lay not (for example) in uncomfortable comparisons between demographic implications of immigration then and now: why perhaps the Arabic populace of the 1920s might have been as uneasy with the inevitable influence of further Jewish immigration upon an existing native culture as a good deal of the west is today with the cultural shifts resulting from non-Christian immigration (the more so then because representational government in the region was specifically suspended by Britain until such time as the demographics could shift in favour of immigrating Jews). Rather, those parallels were sought solely in demonstrating how Churchill, in all particulars, was right.

Are we so determined to be the sole island of civilisation against the forces of darkness? Is an unchanging cultural identity worth being at continual outright war with the rest of the world? until an even more cataclysmic Hiroshima?

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