Jun 2002 Journal

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Appalling Tom Paulin

By profession, he is an Oxford don, a TV critic and a poet. By conviction, he is an Israelophobe on a par with George Galloway MP, nicknamed the 'Member for Baghdad'. Paulin first received wide publicity with a poem comparing to SS killers members of the IDF who shot back at stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters. He next called Sharon a war criminal in the unlikely setting of a BBC arts programme.

Now, interviewed by an Egyptian newspaper, he has called for the murder of American settlers on occupied Palestinian land. The choice of words is significant. Not all settlers by any means come from the US - but Tom Paulin thought it expedient to tap into the existing mood of Americophobia among sections of the British - and the totality of the Arabic - public.

But even this pales into insignificance beside his comment that the State of Israel really ought not to have been established in the first place. That this epoch-making event occurred in the aftermath of the greatest tragedy any people ever suffered, seems to have passed Paulin by - despite the fact that he is currently writing an epic poem on WWII. Nor does he appreciate the fact that the Jewish state received its legitimacy from the highest court on earth, i.e. the United Nations.

The wish to see Israel delegitimised feeds into the bloodthirsty revenge fantasies of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, who will not rest until they have expunged the Jewish state from the map of the Middle East.

If A J P Taylor was dubbed the first 'telly don', it may not be too farfetched to describe Tom Paulin as the first corresponding member of Hamas to be found ensconced at High Table under the dreaming spires of Oxford.
Richard Grunberger

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