An extraordinary interview popped onto our TV screen last night after a dvd closed down. We rarely bother with ‘talking-heads’; however, we stopped in our tracks upon hearing a question on the persecution of Christians. Joining as the first question was asked, we remained ‘glued’ to the dialogue.
Lord Weidenfeld; credit, Independent
News-makers and personalities around the world are interviewed in-depth on BBC World Services’ and News channel’s HARDtalk by presenter Stephen Sackur. Last night he interviewed British peer Lord Weidenfeld, who made London his home for the past eight decades after escaping nazi Austria and the Holocaust just before World War II. He became one of Britain’s best known publishers of high quality, prize-winning fiction and non-fiction (see Weidenfeld&Nicolson).
The programme was billed: ‘Now 96 years old, his life says much about the modern history of Britain, Europe and the Jewish people. But as he reflects, is he filled with hope or something darker?’. It reflects Sakur’s stance, quite contrary to that of his guest! And he didn’t cave in to the presenter’s polite grilling…
The opening question was about why he’d set up Operation Safe Haven, as publicised last July (eg. see Daily Mail article). His answer is that it’s in gratitude for and repayment of his debt to Christians because they’d helped him and his family to escape Austria, as well as when problems arose in pre-war Britain.
As the Operations objective is being purely to assist Iraqi and Syrian Christians, Sackur objects by referring to USA’s reservations about helping and says such help should be humanitarian only: his work shouldn’t be religiously selective but include Muslims too because they’re also suffering.
Weidenfeld recognises it’s an important point and counters by referring to his inter-faith work in improving relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The presenter then pushes for the logical consequence of such cooperation by rescuing those of any faith.
But the guest is candid and forthright in saying Christians in those lands “get a raw deal, they don’t get sufficient support” and because of his personal experience wants to repay them.
“Let me put it bluntly” retorts Sackur and posits a position of his guest refusing to help those in the migrating masses who are not Christians.
Weidenfeld is forthright about this ‘academic question’, reminds him of the Communist and Nazi persecutions and that nothing is being done by the Western world to help the ancient Christian world. He contradicts Sackur’s typically BBC pro-Palestinian and anti-Christian moronic mind-set,
“A great deal is being done for the Muslims…logistically they’re in the situation and their safe havens are pretty close by and a huge amount of money is available for them – but the Christians get the raw deal: that’s what I’m saying!”
Not content, Sackur pushes his point by referring to Europe and problems here only for his guest to be equally blunt,
“The Western world is in a bad moral shape and, I’m afraid, I blame the leader of the Western world, President, Obama for a lot of what’s happening now”
“You can’t surely blame him for Europe’s failure to lead on this (migrant) crisis…?” blurts the Beeb’s man.
“I blame him for having created situations in the Middle-East and undulating, uncertain, weak foreign policy that has done a great deal to bring about this present situation. I could go into great detail on this…”
As regards Europe and jihadist attacks they discuss the safety of Jews, the call for their return to their original, ancient homeland (now the state of Israel), anti-Semitism and the roots of terrorism. In view of the peer’s connections and experience in Germany a good discussion develops. Regarding anti-Semitism he thinks,
“There are two roots of anti-Semitism: a religious root and an economical root….the first is no longer valid for people don’t say, “You killed the Saviour” – so that root died out in the 18th Century. The economic root is also not so valid because, if you look at the phone directories of most European capitals many (Jewish) bankers, lawyers and dentists no longer exist there because of Auschwitz.
“So it is Jihadism – the hatred of Jews brought about by radical Islam. There’s no question about that! It’s anti the Jewish state, it’s anti-Zionism – that’s what it is really.”
Sackur notices his disquiet over the Obama administration and asks what’s made him so angry. Having spent time in the States, Weidenfeld responds that,
“…he is someone who has no talent or knowledge about foreign affairs. He may be a good orator, possibly quite well equipped to deal with home affairs, but he hasn’t got a feeling for foreign affairs. He is naïve. He builds up Putin into a position of where he’s a mixture of Disraeli and Bismarck as arbiter in the Middle-East; in Syria he made him the man for opening the debate with Iran to his own disadvantage – and I think he has weakened, he has alienated, some of our allies to a point of great bitterness. So I make him responsible for a lot of what’s going on today in the Middle-East.”
The presenter offers, as though speaking for that administration, their objection based upon delivery of democratic mandate, getting out of the M-East and making a deal with Iran, which earns the peer’s gentle but forthright rebuke,
“With Iran it is a very dangerous situation now because – although there may be a way of curbing the atomic ambitions – you’re dealing with a theocratic government of extreme violence – and the present president just has a better table-manner than his predecessor – but I think that by filling their coffers now you make it possible for them to support Hezbollah, to support all kinds of extremists and you’re probably going to have another intifada or full-fledged war before long because the Iranians are again going to be on the warpath.”
Watch this interesting and stimulating interview in full by clicking here.