John McCarthy: Now where’s that radiator?

I forgot to turn off my Internet radio, last night. It’s a fantastic piece of gear, that can broadcast BBC Radio 5 Live to Jaffa . . . if you want to hear it, that is.

Having dozed off to debate about Roy Hodgson’s suitability as new England football manager (horrid that the media and ‘fans’ are already getting on his case), I half woke up, at 5 a.m., to a 30-minute conversation with former Lebanon hostage, John McCarthy, about his new book, You Can’t Hide the Sun: A Journey Through Israel and Palestine.

Now, McCarthy – held by Islamic Jihad for over 5 years, longer than any other Briton in Lebanon – comes across as a perfectly decent and reasonable bloke, without agenda or malice, the type of English ex-public schoolboy with whom you might strike up a pleasant conversation over tea and scones in the Kenwood House café. The journalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter is certainly not – on the face of it, at least – the type to “salute” Saddam, to make “concentration camp guard” jibes to Jewish reporters, or who “might just consider becoming [a suicide bomber].”

The pages in his Haileybury twentieth century history book referring to the 1948/49 Arab-Israeli War, however, must have been torn out by a previous student, because McCarthy, this morning, referred to it as a “civil war” – i.e., between civilians of the same country – when it was, of course, fought between a ragtag Jewish army and a military coalition of seven Arab states and foreign volunteers (of whom McCarthy made absolutely no mention), in addition to native Arabs.

Indeed, McCarthy’s ridiculously one-sided account of 1948/49 made Jewish soldiers sound more like Bosnian Serb and Croat ethnic cleansers than fighters against an alliance sworn to the destruction of their nascent state (mandated by the 1947 UN Partition Plan).

McCarthy’s interviewer, Up All Night presenter Rhod Sharp, didn’t once challenge his account. Perhaps he knows no better. But why couldn’t I imagine the same happening had his guest, instead, been Benjamin Netanyahu or even Shimon Peres?

As it turns out, the only tea I will be sharing with McCarthy is the contents of my pot, over his head . . .

Towards the end of the conversation, describing a card game that he stumbled across in the northern city of Acre (Acco) while interviewing Israeli Arabs for his book, McCarthy told of his surprise at discovering that an Iraqi-born Jew, keen to use his mother tongue, had been accepted into the group. This “common humanity,” McCarthy said, gives him some hope for the future.

“The trouble is,” the Arabs told him, “he takes our money from us every day.”

Indeed. Those clever Jews.

When his agent advises him that Michael Parkinson only interviews people who have actually done things, David Brent, referring to McCarthy, replies:

“He had that guy in Lebanon who spent years chained to a radiator. What did he do? Nothing! He was chained to a radiator!”

With all McCarthy’s shameful disinformation about Israel and Jews, we can only be sorry that he is not still there.

You can listen to the Up All Night interview with John McCarthy here (2:05.48-2:32.45).

20 responses to “John McCarthy: Now where’s that radiator?

  1. Adam Green

    I also go to bed at night to the dulcet tones of 5 Live, however it seems I was spared having to hear McCarthy by an unusual lapse in my insomnia. In fairness to Rhod Sharp, he has the interviewing style of a tribble – with everyone – absolutely everyone. To listen to him, you would think that each and every person he interviews is a long lost friend… As for McCarthy, he’s just another in the long and ‘distinguished’ line of masochistic Anglo-Arabists (sic: T. E. Lawrence/T. Waite/A. Johnson etc etc) who love and ‘understand’ the Arabs the more they are abused by them.

  2. Quite, Adam. As McCarthy related in the interview, he was asked by a Palestinian (though one who has learnt to add an “already” to the end of every sentence) . . .

    “Haven’t you suffered at the hands of Arabs enough already?”

    Anyway, I am gratified that you now consider melchett mike to be more entertaining than watching Spurs . . . as your commenting during a televised game – and one with Champions League implications, noch! – clearly proves.

  3. Sharon Klaff

    I can’t believe that we were all rooting for his release and following every tear of the girlfriend whom he dumped after she battled all of those 5 years to get government help to free him. His brain must be addled not to know from 1st hand experience what those wonderful kidnappers do to people, and he isn’t even Jewish!

  4. Adam Green

    If you check your timings you’ll notice that I sent my comment in at half time, so yes, melchett mike is at least more entertaining than the ads…

  5. Yitzchak Landau

    Sounds like a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome. I read a book about this once – it started off badly but by the end I really liked it!!!

  6. Adam Green

    …Just one more thing Mike, on a more serious note. Something from one of your quotes from McCarthy’s book really struck me. Hopefully I’m not revealing my ignorance here, but I’m unaware of ever hearing or reading any commentator on the “Middle East Situation” refer to the 48/49 War of Independence as a “civil war” (do please enlighten me if I’m wrong. I was curious if this is the first time that you’ve heard/read it so described?)

    It’s really quite an interesting description – inaccurate of course – but especially from the mouth/pen of one hostile to the State of Israel; because, in a sense, it does at least bestow a form of legitimacy upon the concept of a significant Jewish presence within post mandate “Palestine”. In fact, even as I write these words, the motive or “tactic” behind the use of this description becomes apparent to me; that being, to promote the concept of future non-specifically Jewish state of an Arab/Jewish Palestine. In other words, McCarthy has found a rather sneaky, almost elegant way to push the current official PLA line. Apologies if I’m merely stating the bloomin’ obvious, but I can be bit slow sometimes, especially when trying to read the minds of our enemies. In any event, the ‘civil war’ description represents a significant and potentially dangerous shift away from the hitherto preferred ‘colonial war of conquest’ definition so beloved of the Arab/Arabist commentator. I say ‘dangerous’ because this shift away from the old ‘push ’em all into the sea’ Arab default position will appear to the uninformed outside observer (or 99% of the rest of the humankind) as a sign of growing Arab maturity and pragmatism. It will seem rational, and that presents us in the pro-Israel camp with yet another image issue. Whereas we’ve always in the past been able to point to irrationality of the Arabs when rejecting their obviously extremist demands (and still do as regards Hamas), it requires far greater diplomatic skill to be seen to reject apparently rational aspirations without appearing as being extremists ourselves.

    The intellectual and ideological defence of the concept of the Jewish State has proven tough enough within the context of an enemy who simply wanted to wipe us off the map. It’s going to prove a hell of lot tougher within the context of a “people which merely wants to peacefully share that same bit of map.” The fact that the Arabs/Arabists have only shifted their rhetoric to mask their unaltered and unalterable aspiration for the future of the Jewish State will be lost on most outside observers.

    Watch this space friends…

  7. John Fisher

    Thanks to your post, a lot more people are going to hear about this conversation than were listening to it live (and do not mistake that for a backhanded compliment about the number of your blog hits).

    It reminds me of a comment I once heard on the radio at an earthly hour when Transylvanians like you are tucked up in your beds:

    “He spoke with all the confidence of a Radio 3 announcer knowing nobody was listening to him”.

  8. Sharon Klaff

    The Arabs who call themselves Palestinians maintain that the Jews are usurpers who have no history in the Middle East, having arrived from Europe as a consequence of the Nazis. Naming the 48/49 war as a civil war, implicitly confirms that there was indeed an indigenous Jewish Palestinian presence in the region as without any Jewish Palestinians there could not have been a civil war. It also confirms that the state now acceptably belongs to the Jews as in any civil war the victor reigns.

    Both Fatah in the name of Abbas and Hamas in the name of Hanniyeh have both confirmed on the record during he past year that Jews will not be allowed to live in a future Arab Palestinian state. So the idea of an Arab population simply wanting to live peacefully with the Jewish indigenous people is debunked from the outset.

    So either way, the use of the term civil war suits the Jews more than the Arabs as not only did the Jews win the civil war, but they also beat off the five Arab states that attacked at the same time.

  9. John Fisher

    Here I am in the wee small hours of the morning and, rather than listening to Radio 5 Live, I am thinking to myself “chained to a radiator” sounds par for the course – but what is an iron concertina radiator doing in Lebanon?

    Is this gentleman sure that he wasn’t kidnapped while shopping at Wood Green Sainsburys, bundled into the back of a Ford Cortina and driven up the M1 to Bradford where there would be no shortage of radiators? Did he perhaps notice if his captors were talking with a Yorkshire accent? Or Scottish perchance?

  10. At least he won’t have been cold.

  11. Extremely proud to have attracted the ire of one of Britain’s most loathsome self-hating Jews . . .

    And also of the author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide . . .

    This, incidentally, is the same Ben White who stated “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.” (source)

    I suggest the pair of them watch this . . .

  12. John Fisher

    One of the real advantages of having lived in Israel for a quarter of a century is not having to get involved with rebutting the kind of semi-intelligent nonsense spewed out by the two jokers cited by Melchett Mike above.

    However, I could not help but notice the title of a book (written by Tony “Shakespeare” Goldstein himself?) advertised on Goldstein’s blog for a princely 9 quid:

    “The Fight Against Fascism in Brighton & the South Coast”

    Tony, I am sure the fight against Fascism in Brighton is worthy of a 9 quid investment all on its own, but one cannot fight Fascism, or anything else for that matter, IN the South Coast. The title of your book should have read “The Fight Against Fascism in Brighton & on/along the South Coast”. Please excuse me for not forking out for your masterpiece but, frankly, if the precision of the title is anything to go by it must be real ……”Caller, please insert threepence in the slot and press the B button. Brrrrrrrrrr” .

  13. In the South Coast. On the South Coast.

    Goldstein. Greenstein.

  14. John Fisher

    Shows what an impression he made on me. Anyway, I did not charge 9 quid for my comment.

  15. Thank you! I spent just over an hour today at a literature festival in England unwittingly listening to John McCarthy go on a very subtle anti-Israel/anti-Jew/anti-America rant couched in poetic language and one-sided compassion. His word choices were surprisingly good as he painted his picture of the peace-loving, innocent Arabs and the genocidal, sadistic Jews. (And, yes, he spoke of a “civil war,” but never once mentioned the ’48/’49 war and how that might have changed a few things.) By the end, I was livid. What he presented as “history” was little more than half-truths and unverified anecdotal accounts. The hearty applause at the conclusion sickened me. While leaving I overheard an elderly English woman say to her companion, “The poor [Palestinian] children…murdered by the Jews!” This, in response to John McCarthy’s account of the Israeli military lining up all the children of one family and then shooting them all dead. I was honestly surprised when he didn’t say that the Jews took the children’s blood to make matzah.

    I looked online to see how his book had been received by reviewers and readers and was even more dismayed. Couldn’t people see how biased his accounts were? How cherry-picked his sources were? Nope. Your post gives me hope that I’m not alone in my incredulity. Thank you for saying what I so wanted to say.

  16. Thank you, satnav . . . and to think of the abuse I received – see my Mensches(-en?) of the Month for May – for merely suggesting that he should still be chained to a radiator!

  17. Why Palestinians want this video removed

    Nevermind the naysayers. The State of Israel is the beginning of our redemption.

  18. Doh! Take 2

  19. Dovid,

    I am sat (Mancunian, for you and Mrs. F) by the pool at my hotel in Trincomalee, overlooking the Indian Ocean (thank you, Joe Paley), from which onshore fishermen twice a day draw their flapping nets. Moreover (and while not wishing to tempt fate), there is not an Israeli in sight . . .

    So, who the f*ck (for Mr. F) wants – or needs – to be “rede[emed]”?!

  20. “there is not an Israeli in sight”

    Of course, I spoke too soon.

    Redemption . . . pleeaaase!! 😉

    (Full post perhaps to follow . . .)

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