A British correspondent brought to my attention to two distressing reports from the U.K.'s Melanie Phillips. Quoting this vapid remark from the "anorexic speech " by Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett,
"No doubt there will be yet again those whose goal is to obstruct the prospect of peace. Because let's not forget in the welter of accusation and counter—accusation it was the desire to obstruct such progress that led directly to the terrible events of the summer in Palestine and the Lebanon."
Phillips asks quite reasonably,
Excuse me? 'Terrible events of the summer in Palestine and the Lebanon'? What about the terrible events of the summer in Israel, the country that was actually attacked from Lebanon and from Gaza — which is presumably what Ms Beckett means by 'Palestine'? What about the terrible 4000 rockets that rained down during August on Israel's northern towns in order to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible, the terrible deaths and injuries that did take place among the Israelis, the terrible flight of hundreds of thousands from the north of Israel, the terrible hardship of those trapped in shelters for a month? No acknowledgement of any of this issued from the lips of Britain's Foreign Secretary. No acknowledgement that Israel only attacked Lebanon and Gaza because it had been attacked. No, the only 'terrible events' were those caused by Israel in self—defence. More remarkably still, Ms Beckett made no mention of Israel at all in respect of this war. There was no indication that Israel had been defending itself at all, let alone doing so 'disproportionately', because it wasn't even mentioned in connection with these 'terrible events'. It was simply absent from the picture — except, of course, for those 'terrible events' in Lebanon and Gaza, whose unstated authorship hovered like a baleful spectre over Ms Beckett's typescript.
She questions what sort of leadership evades acknowledging the growing threat and glosses over the enemies' misdeeds. The kind that sticks it's fingers in its ears and says "la la la, can't hear you"?
But this absurd evasiveness pales when compared to a health guide Ms. Phillips brings to our attention, one paid for by the Department of Health to ensure eating healthily during Ramadan and avoiding any physical ill—effects from fasting.
The brochure includes the following Islamically Correct language: "the Holy Quran," and "the most commonly consumed foods by Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)," contains quotations from "the blessed Prophet", "provides a chart giving the Ramadan times for the month" and such Islamic religious exhortations as this:
In chapter 7 verse 31 Qur'an is categorical 'Eat and drink freely: But waste not by excess, for He does not like the wasters.' Islam thus creates a sense of responsibility in people to take a healthy living lifestyle as normal and through fasting in the month of Ramadan teaches one to learn to manage and practice spirituality and not to eat excessively. Essential part of spirituality in food is that one is grateful and thankful for the food one gets. The blessed Prophet once said: 'God has a right over you; your body has a right over you....' To strike a balance between the needs of the physical body and one's spiritual needs, one must on the one hand consume the right type and amount of food and on the other hand develop excellent inter—personal skills. The blessed Prophet Muhammad said: 'I have only been sent for the perfection of character'. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is an opportunity to make signifi cant changes in one's lifestyle and develop resolve to make healthy living choices.
Following all that it" proclaims the spiritual values to be gained from fasting."
Ms. Phillips asks why tax revenues are being used to produce what is a Moslem religious tract.
Well, why not? When traditional Western religions are regularly driven from the marketplace and ridiculed in academe and the press, and your Foreign Minister ignores acts of war by the enemy upon an ally,what better to fill the void than one which regards those as false religions?
Clarice Feldman 9 28 06