Israel’s campaign against everything continues. This time, fans of the apartheid state have piled the pressure on Britain’s ambassador to Beirut after she made a controversial blog post.
Two days ago CNN’s Middle East editor Octavia Nasr was sacked after she tweeted “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”
Around the same time, the UK’s envoy to Lebanon, Frances Guy wrote:
“People in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire most. … Until yesterday my preferred answer was to refer to Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, head of the Shia clergy in Lebanon and much admired leader of many Shia muslims throughout the world. When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person. …
Lebanon is a lesser place the day after but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon’s shores. I remember well when I was nominated ambassador to Beirut, a Muslim acquaintance sought me out to tell me how lucky I was because I would get a chance to meet Sheikh Fadlallah. Truly he was right. …
The world needs more men like him … May he rest in peace.”
If Nasr’s statement was a sackable offence, Guy’s post should’ve been a crime worthy of public execution. But, no, Frances Guy is still in her job. Why? Because while Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to anything perceived as anti-Israeli (even though Nasr and Guy’s comments were about Muslim-Muslim relations, rather than anything to do with Israel), Europeans understand the world a little better.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry complained to the UK to about Frances Guy’s post, and the Conservative British Foreign Minister duly agreed to remove her writing. Frances Guy also wrote the following apology:
“I would like to be clear. I have no truck with terrorism wherever it is committed in whoever’s name. The British Government has been clear that it condemns terrorist activity carried out by Hizballah. I share that view. …
I recognise that some of my words have upset people. This was certainly not my intention. … I regret any offence caused.”
The witch-hunt which Nasr and Guy have had to endure just mean that in future public figures (especially Brits and Americans) will be a lot more cautious in their tweets and blog posts. They will look more like formal news reports than a personal take on the events they are covering, and the internet will be a lot poorer for it.
Meanwhile, Frances Guy will probably be lying low for a while. She is one of the Foreign Office’s Arabists, having spent most of her career working in the region. She may still have a job, but if the current mood is anything to go by, her next posting will be a back office job hidden away in London.
Israel 2 – Justice 0.