HEADLINES

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Scraping the barrel



Melanie Phillips today adds her voice (The War in the West 3) to the ongoing exchanges regarding William Dalrymple’s blistering Sunday Times review of Michael Gove’s superb Celsius 7/7, and as usual she’s spot on.

The most outrageous criticism made by Dalrymple was that Gove was hardly in position to make his compelling arguments because he does not speak the languages, or know anything about the cultures, of Islamic countries.

This is ridiculous, and to use it in the context of a review such as this smacks of desperation. If the ability to speak another native tongue was a prerequisite to having a view on foreign affairs, there would have been no plausible anti-apartheid movement in the West, and for that matter no Live Aid. No, the fact is that Dalrymple reveals himself in his total avoidance of Gove’s central arguments – that there is a jihadist threat to the West which is being advanced through appeasement. Instead, he goes ad hominem.

7 comments:

JT said...

In a recent column, Gove said this about Dalrymple:-

"A failure of the critical faculties

William Dalrymple is a writer of bewitching skill, his travelogues have earned richly deserved praise and his history books have won a string of prizes. He follows in the distinguished desert footsteps of UK writers who have found in the Arab and Islamic world rich materials to draw on, from Richard Burton to Wilfred Thesiger.

Dalrymple is their heir. His passionate empathy with Islamic culture is powerfully displayed in his works. But there is a darker side to the contemporary Islamic world. There has been a growing antipathy towards Israel, an hostility towards the Jewish state which has found expression in straightforward anti-Semitism. Iran is led by a Holocaust denier, and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is prayed in aid by the fighters of Hamas and the ministers of the Syrian Government.

In that context, what is striking about Dalrymple is how ready he appears to be in joining the wider chorus that places Israel in the dock. As I found this week reading a review of my book on terrorism, Celsius 7/7, by Dalrymple.

In pinning blame on Israel, Dalrymple stated that the 9/11 attacks on the US were a response to “the repressive campaign waged against the second intifada by (Ariel) Sharon in autumn 2000”. Most historians will be surprised to read that Sharon was in a position to wage any campaign in autumn 2000 given that he became Israel’s leader only after February 2001. But that’s not the only howler. Anyone who had read the commission into the 9/11 attacks would know that Osama bin Laden had initiated his plans in the spring of 1999. If I ever had cause to doubt that so many, often of great talent, are happy to trample over the truth when it comes to attacking Israel then Dalrymple's review has, sadly, only reinforced that fact."

Marty said...

I have found Dalrymple to be a blowhard for many a year. The fact that he is an Israelhass does not strike me as too surprising.

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