FactsOfIsrael.com News, Comments and Links

<- Back to Main page

May 06, 2002
 Send to Printer    Link to this page
British Israel-bashing

Just found this great article on the Jerusalem Post about bluring lines between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in England.

The articles also mentions how Britain's left hates Israel and many wish for its destruction. Their position is similar to the extreme left I encountered in the U.S.: people from Berkeley, CA and supporters of Nader, who would be extremely pleased if Israel was destroyed. I also found it interesting that those who hate Israel in the U.K. also call Palestinian terrorists "militants" or "activists", the same way that NPR/QKED does in the U.S (see the email I sent to NPR).

"There is a loose, but growing, coalition of anti-American, anti-globalization, animal rights, ecologically pure activists," says one political observer, "and in the collective mindset of that coalition, Israel - and, by extension, Jews - represent a combined hate target. This is no coincidence. Those who are attracted to such a coalition are drawn from both the Left and the Right - and anti-Semitism provides them with their common denominator."

I publish the full article below.

A taste for Israel-bashing
By Douglas Davis

In a society like Britain, which sets its moral compass by the UN, the first casualty is inevitably Israel.

Private opinion polling by at least one major London newspaper recently indicated that hatred of Israel among younger Britons is running, in the words of one senior journalist, "at frightening levels."

A poll quoted by the BBC last week showed sympathy for Israel at 17 percent among the overall population, compared with 28 percent for the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Tony Blair might be marching in lock-step with Washington - shoulder-to-shoulder in the war on terrorism, shielding Israel from the ravages of less-friendly European leaders - but beneath the fragile veneer of his pro-American enlightenment lies a British heart that beats in perfect time with the anti-American equivocators of mainland Europe.

"Britain's friendship with Israel hangs by the slender thread held by an increasingly isolated Tony Blair," one political observer told The Jerusalem Post last week. "Remove Blair from the equation, as happened in Parliament briefly last week, and British politicians will fall on Israel's throat."

Nor do much of the media bother to hide their venomous hatred. British Jews now know that the relentless antagonism toward Israel is rubbing off on them, for they have now learned, if they did not know before, that only a thin, porous membrane separates anti-Israel from anti-Semitic sentiment: the twin towers of an obsessive feeding frenzy.

While Jewish leaders acknowledge the legitimacy of criticizing Israel, they warn of the cumulative effects of unrestrained Israel-bashing by the political and the media classes. Those warnings have not been heeded, and anti-Semitism, now almost respectable again in the smartest London salons, appears to have permeated every level of British society.

Mike Whine, director of the Community Security Trust, which is responsible for the self-defense of British Jews, is in no doubt that anti-Zionism has become the way-station for anti-Semitism, and that this phenomenon is underpinned and legitimized by the daily anti-Israel media diatribes, particularly on the BBC and in the Guardian.

In a curious twist, at least in the British experience, the engine now driving anti-Semitism is not coming from the political right: "The center, the liberal-left and the hard-left on the political spectrum have pushed the boundaries of anti-Zionism toward anti-Semitism in the public discourse," says Whine.

Addressing a group of British legislators in London earlier this year, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks sounded a warning that anti-Semitism is now running at levels unprecedented over the past 50 years.

For Sacks, a half-century of intensive education campaigns across Europe - which has involved Holocaust instruction, inter-faith dialogues and conferences on racism - is in the process of unraveling.

"This suggests to me that the virus of anti-Semitism has found a way through our immune systems," said Sacks. "I have to sound a warning so that other leading figures in British life can sound a warning also."

Despite all the educational efforts, a post-Holocaust generation appears to have grown up in Britain with no historical memory of the Jewish tragedy in Europe, and little understanding of the desperate struggles for survival of Israel's make-the-desert-bloom Zionist pioneers.

British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain no longer publicly advocates Israel's violent destruction; nor does he talk, as he once did, of Zionists as "greedy oppressors."

But these are undoubtedly the sentiments of an overwhelming majority of the liberal, post-Holocaust generation. And when anger levels rise over the perception of Israel (as a wholly owned American subsidiary) using its military might to deprive the Palestinians ("militants" or "activists" in the new-speak) of their sacred patrimony, the accusing finger swiftly finds the nearest Jews.

IT WAS just such an atmosphere that induced French ambassador to London Daniel Bernard to lower his guard late last year and describe Israel as "that shitty little country" in a private dinner party.

And it was just such an atmosphere that permitted the intellectually elegant Tom Paulin, Oxford University professor of English and poet-of-note, to expose the fragility of that anti-Israel/anti-Semitic membrane when he told the Egyptian daily al-Ahram last week that Jewish settlers "should be shot dead. I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them," he declared.

For good measure he added: "I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all."

On a tactical level he counseled the Palestinians to meet force with force - "and for that they need good anti-tank weapons."

On the issue of the Palestinian "militants," he said he could "understand how suicide bombers feel," although he noted that "it is better to resort to conventional guerrilla warfare [because] attacks on civilians simply boost morale."

When freedom of speech meets incitement to homicide - incitement to kill Jews, that is - there is, apparently, no contest. While Paulin now insists he is a long-time "philo-Semite," there has been barely a murmur of protest from his university and no question of sanctions against him by the BBC, where he continues to star on its flagship weekly television arts program.

"There is a loose, but growing, coalition of anti-American, anti-globalization, animal rights, ecologically pure activists," says one political observer, "and in the collective mindset of that coalition, Israel - and, by extension, Jews - represent a combined hate target. This is no coincidence. Those who are attracted to such a coalition are drawn from both the Left and the Right - and anti-Semitism provides them with their common denominator."

BRITAIN IS not France and, for reasons of style and demography, manifestations of anti-Semitism in Britain are not comparable with those of its trans-Channel cousin. While France has some five million Muslims, mostly from North Africa, Britain's Muslim population numbers a more modest one million and is drawn mostly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, far from the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

To that, Whine would credit Britain's proactive, preemptive police force, which keeps a close, sensitive eye on its ethnic constituents while seeking, where it can, to defuse tensions before they erupt into violence.

That is not always possible. In the first 10 days of this month there were at least 15 serious anti-Semitic attacks, compared with 32 for the first three months of the year. Most of the attacks, he says, were perpetrated against "identifiable" Jews by people of "Middle Eastern or Mediterranean" appearance, and most appeared to have been spontaneous.

Whine, whose own highly professional organization operates in close cooperation with the British security authorities and has itself contributed much to limiting anti-Semitic violence, is under no illusions that the incidence of such violence is directly linked to events in the Middle East.

All things being equal, there are no serious expectations of a dramatic deterioration in the security of British Jews, but the sense of personal insecurity is palpable. Says Whine: "There is a mood of apprehension now that I have not experienced before."

The coming weeks and months will present British Jews with a most rigorous test of its collective confidence that their integration into the heart and soul of their host society is both secure and unassailable.

Posted by David Melle at May 06, 2002 08:45 AM
Post a comment 

Email Address:



Remember info?

Email this entry
Email this entry to (please enter email address):

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Referrers to this Page


This site contains some copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

(According to digits.com)