The Liar moves on

The Liar is going to be peace envoy to the middle east. Well, its somewhere the skills of a fluent and easy liar could be extremely valuable. If, that is to say, he’s credible to the parties.

So, what’s (almost) the last thing he does as British prime minister? He sticks up two fingers at Islam, by knighting Salman Rushdie[1]. This must surely be a calculated gesture: Rushdie’s claim to merit is as a novelist, and novelists don’t get knighthoods. If the intention was to set a new precedent, I’d expect to start with an author with a decent claim to britishness, not one who has rejected this country and now lives and works in another continent (not to mention being born in yet another).

If he’s going to make any progress, he’s going to have to talk seriously to the people he calls enemies. Like Hamas. That’ll enrage the powers-that-be in Israel, and many who control the purse-strings of elected politicians in the USA. But it’s unlikely that just talking will be enough: he’ll have to go right out on a limb and cause serious offence to some of his friends if he’s to win any kind of trust amongst people who see him as a leading figure in a conspiracy against them. Will he do that? Or will he just pursue the current line?

Or is there a Third Way, in which he acts as fall guy for someone conducting real negotiations behind the scenes, leading to something like the 1993 Oslo agreement? And if so, will the international community stand behind it this time, and stop another Netanyahu just tearing it up again and expanding Israel’s Lebensraum – and sending a clear signal to palestinians that peace does not pay?

Oh, and good riddance.

[1] Just to be clear: I firmly support free speech, and Rushdie’s right to publish his satanic verses. It’s the artist’s rôle to challenge, and even offend. But a national leader acting in an official capacity should be much more sensitive.

Posted on June 27, 2007, in international, politics, rants, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. On the subject of Rushdie, you might be interested in this local anecdote.

    When the Iranian president decreed the fatwa against Rushdie in 1989, the British government (of which Rushdie was, at the time, an outspoken critic) spent substantial sums of taxpayers’ money protecting him in various safe houses around the country.

    One of these safe houses was a decaying, rambling old property just a few hundred yards from my family home here in Tavistock. We knew nothing of this at the time – my mum thoroughly disapproved of the man and would no doubt have tried to get in there to remonstrate with him had she known. Anyway, Rushdie survived the fatwa, and the old house would be of no use as a safe house anymore as the thick, dank woodland surrounding it has largely been felled to make space for an estate of expensive executive homes!

    Oh, and b.t.w. the UK does knight novelists from time to time, Sir Kingsley Amis being the example who springs to mind immediately.

  2. …oh, and John Galsworthy declined a knighthood, but he did accept the Order of Merit – don’t ask me why. Anyway, no more on novelists, knighted or benighted!

  3. Nice post – totally agree with you!

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