A philanthropist's arrogance: “My Israel is dead”

Dame Vivien Duffield of the Clore Foundation castigates Israel in - where else - a Haaretz interview, and all because of the Nationality Law she does not seem to have properly understood.

Dr. Inna Rogatchi, | updated: 17:45

Inna Rogatchi
Inna Rogatchi
INN: IR

The debate on the new Nationality (aka Nation-State) Law is heated, as expected. There are some issues with it which indeed evokes questions, consideration, pondering. People are entitled to their opinions, and the ongoing debate shows that the matter of the law in the Jewish state, the one and only one in the world, is close to many people’s hearts and minds. Those people are of different  backgrounds and they see and discuss the law from opposing stands, it all being part of the democratic process.

And then, there are voices appearing which are trying to assume command. Those voices belong to the people who self-impose a game-changing position for themselves, due to a number of reasons: celebrity status, financial might, donations, arrogance or a combination of  the above. In all those cases, characteristically, there is one major factor looming in the background: Ignorance and misinformation, often a result of arrogance which does not take the time to know the real truth or of misplaced reliance on other people's opinions.. They  disseminate their arrogance intentionally, gaining private pleasure in sporting verbal debauchery in the public domain.

Recently we were privy to Mr Daniel Barenboim’s open letter claiming that he ‘is ashamed to be an Israeli citizen’ because of the Knesset’s passing of the Nationality Law. Well, people who make such statements are entitled to rescind their citizenship, to be true to their word.

And another, a grand dame of philanthropy, Dame Vivien Duffield, has castigated the people of Israel and those for whom Israel matters more than as a field for the - truly generous in this case - disbursement of their financial resources. She regards it as a ‘repulsive’ law, calls her Israel 'dead since several years ago’, terms it ‘an apartheid law’, and many other vilifications. She tells the world via the ever-suitable-for-the-purpose Haaretz tool that she not only ‘hates what is going in Israe,l’ she also ‘detests what is going on in Israel’.

“Do I like Israel at the moment? No, I hate Israel. I think it’s a strong word, but I disapprove of everything.”

There is also  a ‘charming’ comparison between Tel-Aviv and ‘other places’: “Tel Aviv is multicultural and sophisticated … it is full of nice people who never go to Jerusalem.”  She libels that “in recent years the attitude towards the Arab minority ( in Israel) is more brutal than it has ever been.”

Those ignorance-originated cliches are not any news among haters of Israel, the Corbynistas of all sorts.  

The purpose? Perhaps to shock, to get attention to what they are trying to convey, the feeling that their financial position and donations put them above criticism, presumably. The result? An insult with a capital I. Insult to the state of Israel, the Jewish people - and yes, the Jewish nation; all the millions of others who identify with the Jewish state and the Israeli cause and who see the Nationality Law for what it is: A statement of the simple truth, that Israel is first of all the state of the Jewish people, while remaining a democracy that offers equal rights and respect to minorities.

Do those arrogant people feel free to insult Israel? They love to do it - because in their understanding it is the quickest way to gain attention. Haaretz is always ready.

It is an insult to the intelligence to analyze this level of knowledge, but one would be happy to remind the person speaking this way that there are many intelligent and well informed people both in Israel and outside it who think completely the opposite is the case. Money never buys intellect - but to realise that, one has to use it.

What kind of projects have been financed and supported by the Clore Duffield Foundation Israel, chaired by this ardent advocate of Arabs?

There have been many wonderful philanthropic projects, Her family established Jerusalem’s Beit Hahayal hostel for soldiers,  libraries, parks, battered women’s shelters, and homes for such organizations as Ilan, for physically handicapped children, and Akim, for the mentally disabled. She has provided funds to establish and equip classes and clinics, and hostels for disadvantaged populations, has set up stipends for outstanding students and to encourage sports, to paraphrase Haaretz repeating well known facts..

“Our foundation donates to science, to education, to health and to Arabs. To the cores of diversity in Israel. We were the first to give anything to the Arab communities – not only to the veterans, to the actual Arabs.”

Anything to help the victims of Palestinian terror, perhaps? Anything to support the Jewish orphans and the families of the people murdered by the monstrous racist criminals?.Not on the list.  Anything to support the education discouraging hatred and violence among the Palestinian Arab youth? Perhaps something like that is done by the Clore Foundation back home in the UK? Not known.

Any philanthropist is entitled to do with his or her money as he pleases and receive sincere gratitude from the recipients, be they individuals or a nation-state.  But if he or she does not invest in teaching basic moral norms and values,  in preventing terrorism and hatred, such philanthropist simply has no moral right to patronise the rest of the world using his understanding of events.

Instead, such people could be given a lesson on basic meaning of certain terms. ‘Repulsive’ means to hurl insults in utterly vacuous self-assurance that your money has bought you the right to insult. ‘Apartheid’ means applied racism, just like in the South Africa of the past, as it was found in many parts of the British Empire in the recent enough past, but never in Israel.

Contrary to the common behaviour of the wealthy or famous who believe that they can dictate to the rest of the world, in the case of Mme Duffield, I do not think that money has much to do with it. In my understanding, the lack is somewhere else. Revealingly, but unconsciously, she says it herself: “I’m not particularly Jewish, I’m Jewish like everybody else. I do Yom Kippur and that’s about it.”

If only those people would be basically educated in Jewish moral code, they would learn that Judaism mandates the most advanced guidelines for ethical behavior. They would learn that arrogance is the one of the heaviest sins in behaviour of a Jewish person, irrelevant of his or her political affiliation.

Can anyone imagine that Elie Wiesel, who did so much for the state of Israel and the Jewish world in general, would allow himself the vocabulary and essence of the tirades which Dame Duffield engaged in so blithely in her recent interview to Haaretz?  

I know that very many people felt offended by that outpour of arrogance. But I feel rather cynical about it. Is it not self-revealing?  

After all, to buy another stadium for another Mayor never was enough to leave your imprint on history. At  least, not in a positive way.








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