Words matter

On a recent visit to London in late October I was caught up in one of the marches about the situation in the Middle East. I was told by some of the protesters that I could not walk up Whitehall. 

I asked politely where I could and could not use the public highway, and was told that the police had given this advice for people's safety because of the risk of overcrowding. I sought out the nearest police officer and asked for his advice and he did indeed tell me to take another route, so I did as he asked.

I mention this because some of the people expressing concern on social media about these marches have been told they don't know what was going on because they were not there. I was, and I do.

I accept that most of the people on this and similar marches were calling for peace, and I do not want to suggest that everyone on them was motivated by hate.

However, I saw and heard worrying things, including a sign with the infamous Hamas slogan "From the River to the sea, Palestine shall be free."

Some elected politicians, and others who should know better, have been trying to justify this expression. But while Hamas and other terrorist groups use this phrase to call for a Palestinian state which stretches from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, and therefore the complete destruction of the state of Israel,  these words cannot credibly be presented as a call for peace.

As far back as the 19th century, in "Alice through the looking glass," Lewis Carroll wrote a parody of this king of argument. Humpty Dumpty claims that he can use words to mean whatever he says they mean. When Alice calls him out on this, he gives the game away by replying, "The question is, which is to be master?"

Whatever your view on the rights and wrongs of the tragic conflict currently going on in the Middle East, no community in Britain is responsible for it. People in the UK are responsible for their own actions, not for those of a foreign group or government. Nobody should seek to sow division here, either against Jews, Palestinians, Muslims or anyone else. And everyone, especially those in public office, should be careful of their language.


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020