Now I know that the Israeli Defence Forces are famous in song and legend. Humanitarian, courageous, self-sacrificing, restrained, willing to give their own lives for the innocents among their enemies, etc, etc.
Leon Uris’s Exodus – a racist, fictional account of the birth of Israel in which Arabs are rarely mentioned without the adjectives “dirty” and “stinking” – was one of the best pieces of Socialist-Zionist propaganda that Israel could have sought. Even Ben Gurion agreed, claiming that it was “the greatest thing ever written about Israel”, although he correctly dismissed any literary qualities this nonsense might have possessed.
But when the Israeli ambassador to the US told us (after almost 2,000 Palestinians had been slaughtered, most of them civilians) that the Israeli army should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its “unimaginable restraint” in the Gaza war, I had to glance at the calendar. Was it 1 April, perhaps? Was this some kind of gargantuan joke, so obscene, so grotesquely inappropriate, that it contained some inner meaning, some kernel of truth, which I had missed?