Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Article excerpt

A listener to the BBC on Tuesday might have concluded that the Palestinians were about to recognise the state of Israel.

This was because, as I heard on the PM programme, it said so. But then it was over to Jeremy Bowen in Jerusalem. He spoke excitedly of 'movement' but explained that he had not seen the document in question and that it would not make any mention of the recognition of Israel. The point was that Hamas, or rather a part of Hamas, was talking of accepting a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and therefore, by implication, of recognising Israel in its pre-1967 borders. It is like the claim that the Palestinian Covenant was rescinded by the Oslo Accords -- when you looked, you couldn't really find that it had been. One of the great skills of terrorist movements is pushing out the idea that they are about to do something 'historic' and then offering to sell yet again, for more concessions, a horse they have sold before.

Sinn Fein do this about every 18 months, reannouncing that 'the war is over'. Without organisations like the BBC, such tactics would fool nobody.

There is a school of thought among animal enthusiasts that believes so strongly in primal innocence that it refuses to attribute any ill to any creature (except, of course, man). Thus grey squirrels are not held responsible for any of the threat to red squirrels, and birds of prey are exonerated from attacking grouse. One of the beasts that can do no wrong under this doctrine is the badger. It is now so fiercely protected that it has become dangerously common. My wife, who studies these things, points out that there are far fewer bumblebees than there used to be and that the only natural predator of their nests is the badger. This will be strenuously denied, though, until there is not a bumblebee left buzzing.

Monsignor Denis Faul, who died last week, was both the classic parish priest and a very unusual one -- classic in his old-fashioned pastoral care and unusual in his individuality. He was the only person in the Green village of Carrickmore, Co.

Tyrone, known to take the Daily Telegraph.

Thence, in his sixties, he used to come to London to learn Hebrew. He did this for scholarly reasons, but these were linked in his mind with a philo-Semitism quite rare in the Irish clergy. His father had been a GP in the East End between the wars and had watched the rise of Mosley with dismay.

When a cross was erected in St Colmcille's cemetery in Carrickmore, Mgr Faul made sure that one of the reliefs on it depicted the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Wailing Wall.

In physique, Mgr Faul rather resembled the late Pope, with wide, strong-boned, Slavic features. He was very much an old Irish Catholic, but so revolted by Republican terrorism that he ended up voting for the atheistic Workers Party.

Everyone now agrees that too many bad laws have been made in a hurry, but few pay much attention until these measures have actually reached the statute book. The latest one that deserves attention is the proposed ban on 'Samurai' swords. Dr John Nandris, who is the European vice-president of NBTHK (the initials are Japanese and mean The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords), has written to the Home Office.

There are so many categories of sword, he says, 'such as "weapons", "Samurai" swords, the Japanese Art Sword, with all its types. …

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