The Right Coast

August 31, 2004
Israel Again and the British Intellectuals
By Maimon Schwarzschild

The two leading book review / literary journals in Britain are the Times Literary Supplement ("TLS") and the London Review of Books ("LRB"). TLS is notably the less anti-American and anti-semitic of the two.

The London Review, by contrast, is notorious for its post-9/11 symposium, which included dozens of the Review's regular contributors, and whose themes were essentially that the Americans "had it coming", and that the key lesson of 9/11 is that the State of Israel is loathsome. (The LRB symposium is not online, but here is a pro-LRB account of the affair from the left-wing Guardian, and here is a less pro-LRB mention from Andrew Stuttaford) That horrifying symposium was not an aberration: it typifies the tone of the London Review of Books article after article, week after week.

The Times Literary Supplement, as I say, is the less anti-American and anti-semitic of the two journals.

The cover article that leads TLS on August 6th, just arrived in the mail, is a piece on Islam by one Malise Ruthven. (Also not online, unfortunately.) The article is in the form of a review of various books about politics and Islam, and its theme is "optimism" that there should be common ground between Islam and the western Left -- especially "at a time when American neo-conservatives are attempting to impose their own questionable version of 'democracy' in the Middle East by the use of military force". (Islam, so we are told, is really against free markets. You see, there is hope!) So far, so routine.

But the piece opens by acknowledging that there is a terrorism problem.
    Numerous atrocities have been attributed to and claimed by extremists, both before and since September 11, causing mayhem and carnage in many of the world's cities and tourist destinations: Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Mombassa, Riyadh, Casablanca, Bali, Moscow, Tunisia, Jakarta, Mumbai, Istanbul, Madrid: the list grows longer, the casualties mount.
Let's see. Has Mr Ruthven got them all? Surely he has. There isn't any other perennial target of Arab terrorism is there?

For shame.