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Israel Deserves Better Defenders Than Andrew Roberts

By Matthew Yglesias on March 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm

"Israel Deserves Better Defenders Than Andrew Roberts"

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File:Flag of South Africa 1928-1994 1

I like to check in on Marty Peretz’s blog now and again, and what do I find but “The FT’s Devastating Critique Of Itself”:

Yes, I’ve been harping on the FT’s coverage of Israel. Perhaps, you haven’t agreed with my complaints. Well, read what the paper has to say about the subject this morning. The column is by the historian Andrew Roberts, and it’s a must read.

Andrew Roberts? The same Andrew Roberts who was the subject of Johann Hari’s excellent 2007 takedown in The New Republic? It seems so. Well Roberts, in addition to being an apologist for Boer War-era concentration camps and the Amritsar Massacre is really not the kind of friend Israel needs as it seeks to rebut allegations of similarity to apartheid-era South Africa:

In 2001, Roberts spoke to a dinner of the Springbok Club, a group that regards itself as a shadow white government of South Africa and calls for “the reestablishment of civilized European rulethroughout the African continent.” Founded by a former member ofthe neo-fascist National Front, the club flies the flag of apartheid South Africa at every meeting. The dinner was acelebration of the thirty-sixth anniversary of the day the white supremacist government of Rhodesia announced a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, which was pressingit to enfranchise black people. Surrounded by nostalgists for thisracist rule, Roberts, according to the club’s website, “finished his speech by proposing a toast to the Springbok Club, which hesaid he considered the heir to previous imperial achievements.”

The British High Commission in South Africa has accused the club ofspreading “hate literature.” Yet Roberts’s fondness for the Springbok Club is not an anomaly; it is perfectly logical toanybody who has read his writing, which consists of elaborate andhistorically discredited defenses for the actions of a white supremacist empire–the British–and a plea to the United States to continue its work.

I half-suspect the FT’s editors of playing some kind of elaborate prank here. Surely Israel deserves better than this.

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