The Anti-Israel Monopoly in the UK
click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




The Anti-Israel Monopoly in the UK

The Anti-Israel Monopoly in the UK

In Britain, it is open season on both Israel and the Jews.

by

Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips' awakening as to what it means to be a Jew today in England during an appearance as a panelist on the BBC's current affairs program Question Time. An Israeli professor in the audience questioned the double standard according to which America can track down terrorists have way around the world while Israel is criticized for doing the same with respect to terrorists on its own backdoor.

Phillips followed up by noting that the world still evinces some sympathy when Israel children are killed, but none when Israel acts to prevent its children from being murdered. The audience hissed.

A little later in the show, fellow panelist, Will Self asked Phillips archly, "If Britain declared war on Israel, where would your sympathies lie?" With that he wanted the audience to know something not immediately obvious from Phillips' name - i.e., she is Jewish. And more importantly, that anything she says can be safely disregarded since Jews can never really be loyal citizens of any country.

To defend the state of Israel in England today is to mark oneself as not really British.

When Phillips replied to Self's question that it is inconceivable that Britain would ever attack the only viable democracy in the Middle East, the audience laughed derisively at her description of Israel as a democracy. With that the penny dropped for Phillips: To defend the state of Israel in England today is to mark oneself as not really British.

Nor was that the end of Phillips education. More than a year later, she was a panelist on a BBC radio program. Her fellow panelist was veteran left-wing rabble-rouser Tariq Ali, who delivered his standard stump speech about George W. Bush being a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein. The real rogue state with nuclear weapons that needed dealing with in the Middle East, he charged, was not Iraq, but Israel. And the audience erupted in applause and cheering, even though this particular broadcast was taking place in the heartland of Conservative Britain -- Wokingham, Berkshire.

Of these experiences, Phillips would write later, "I no longer feel comfortable in my own country because of the poison that has welled up toward Israel and the Jews… It is not an exaggeration to say that, in Britain at present, it is open season on both Israel and the Jews."

I have no trouble crediting Phillips' account of her BBC appearances, for on a recent visit to England I too happened to catch Question Time. Though I'm not British, and even though I was safely ensconced in a friend's study, not on the panel in front of a hissing and jeering audience, I too experienced a great sense of unease. The subject that night was the letter of 52 British diplomats lambasting Prime Minister Tony Blair for his support of American policy vis-à-vis Iraq and Israel.

The criticism of Israel was more on the order of cheerleading than intellectual argument.

There was not one member of the panel who could be remotely described as a defender of Israel, and there was one skilled panelist, billed as an American Moslem scholar, eager to dig in the knife at every opportunity. Not that much skill was required. The criticism of Israel was more on the order of cheerleading than intellectual argument. To get the audience going nothing more was needed than to mention Israel. (To be honest, many of the panelists did the same with Tony Blair.) It was like watching Tommy Lapid rail against charedim at a Shinui rally.

Mindless Leftism, on the level of Tariq Ali, seemed pretty much the common denominator, and I wondered at the education system that had produced this mostly young audience.

What makes the situation in Britain so much worse than that in the United States, where a similar Leftism is largely regnant on many elite university campuses, is the lack of any intellectual counterweight. Many of the most widely read and respected columnists in America are consistently strong defenders of Israel: George Will, Charles Krauthamer, Martin Peretz, Victor Davis Hanson, Jeff Jacoby. By contrast, in England only Phillips, Michael Gove in the Times, and Barbara Amiel in the Telegraph can be reliably counted on to fill that role, and Amiel has been largely discredited by the travails of her husband Conrad Black.

In the United States, the conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and the Hudson Institute, provide an intellectual ballast to the universities. As a consequence of those think tanks, and of such neo-conservative journals as Commentary and Public Interest, the intellectual ferment for the past quarter century in America has been on the Right.

The Left, on the other hand, has shown no inclination to move beyond the received verities of the New Deal. One measure of the intellectual rigor mortis on most of the Left is the total inability to rethink the world in the wake of 9/11. In the 2002 elections, the Democrats main issue was prescription drugs for seniors, just as it had been in 2000.

Neocon thought, of course, views Israel as a crucial bastion of the defense of Western values. But the neo-liberal The New Republic is hardly less supportive of Israel's war on terrorism. There is simply no equivalent in England to these influential journals, nor to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

At the popular level, as well, there are many forces in America that provide important support for Israel that simply have no parallel in England. One of those is the tens of millions of evangelical Christians, who are Israel's most fervent supporters in the United States, and who wield enormous influence within the Republican Party. A second factor is the existence of talk radio, which is dominated by conservative and mainly pro-Israel voices.

Both Melanie Phillips and Michael Gove told me that they cannot, in the current intellectual climate, find British publishers for their latest book proposals: in Gove's case an argument for a more faithful neoconservative approach to the war in Iraq and in Phillips' a plea for common sense in education, family life, defense of Western values and Israel.

The absolute monopoly of British intellectual life by the mandarins of the BBC and leftish dons should be a cause of concern not only for Israel but for every British Jew.

Published: May 22, 2004


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 18

(17) Esther, April 11, 2011 2:38 AM

Plenty of left-wing Americans support Israel too

You don't need to go all the way to the right to the Heritage Foundation, George Will and the evangelical movement to find defenders of Israel in the US! As Mr. Rosenblum says, the New Republic is pro-Israel, as is the New York Times (yes, I know it is occassionally critical, but it is broadly, and intelligently, pro-Israel). I'm a moderate Democrat, and find that my views are hardly remarkable.

(16) lisa, July 25, 2010 2:37 AM

Please don't dismiss the UK out of hand

As a Jew, I do agree with much of the analysis in this profoundly depressing article. The BBC/academic and left-wing driven antisemitism in Britain today is frightening in its ambition and intensity. However - this is the country that gave shelter and sanctuary to my family during the 1930's and enabled us to live, profit, and become part of a society which has never made us feel personally unwelcome. When talking to the aforementioned silent majority of ordinary British people, many are sympathetic if not actually supportive of the position Israel finds itself in, and most are rather more concerned about the threat of fundamentalist Islam to their own way of life then may appear obvious. Wealthy Islamic countries and benefactors have poured money into British educational establishments and lobbied leftwing institutions such as the BBC and certain newspapers in order to wield an impressive amount of influence in the demonising of Israel and subsequently, the advent of a new form of anti-semitism. The anti-Israel/Jewish proganda has been insidiously and very cleverly accomplished, but there's no doubt it has been a deftly waged and planned campaign. The only ray of hope exists in the ingrained streak of basic decency which still abides in the heart of so-called, Middle England. I see and hear it everyday in the actions and opinions of the majority of people I live and work with. There are a lot of good and fair-minded British people - and I consider myself to be one of them.

(15) Alan R. Naftalis, June 1, 2008 1:16 PM

BRITISH ANTI-SEMITISM IS NOT NEW

Mr Rosenblum''s account of the visceral anti-Israel atmosphere in Britain today should stir every Jew to examine the rather long history of anti-Semitism in Britain.Historical events like the York Massacre, the expulsion of the Jewish population and the refusal to seat a Rothchild in Parliment unless he pledged fidelity to Christ are pre-cursors of today''s attitude. The Anglican Chuch has a long history of anti-Semistism, so the anti-Israel posture of Archbishop Tutu and The Archbishop of Canterberry among other Anglican clergy are merely a continuation of that tradition. Social anti-Semitism has been a hallmark of the British upper classes for centuries. Even Benjamin Disreali, Queen Victoria''s favorite Prime Minister, was subjected to anti-Semitic slurs despite the fact he had been converted to Christianity. The Duke of Windsor was among the most notorious anti-Semites of the 20th century. Even when Jews significantly contributed to Britain''s reputation, they were still subjected to social exclusion: take the example of Harold Benjamin, an Olympic medalist who was one of the subjects of the film Charriots of Fire. The actor Daniel Day Lewis and the playright Harold Pinter have spoken of being beaten up as children because they were Jews. Britain''s literature is checkered with unfavorable depictions of Jews from Shakespeare''s Shylock to Dickens'' Fagin. In the shadow of the Holocaust, the British continued to enforce the White Paper and sent thousands of concentration camp survivors to new camps rather than grant them the dignity of resettling in a new safe homeland. Britain''s Foriegn Minister Bevin in the postwar Labor government was a notorious anti-Semite and vigorously opposed the creation of a Jewish homeland. In that regard he was not alone for the British Foriegn Ministry has been the home to countless Arabists who have consistently opposed the Jewish state.It''s also worth noting that the British armed, trained and commanded the Arab Legion, the army of TransJordan (today''s Jordan) which was responsible for the expolusion of the Jews from the old city of Jerusalem and the susequent desecration of Jewish holy sites.
In current day Britain the entire debate on the Middle East is controled by anti-Israel persons from Vanessa Redgrave (who made a propanda film in which she danced with PLO mmasked terrorists and later felt free to make anti-Semitic comments at the Oscars)to Britain''s national University Profesors Union which voted a boycott of Israeli Universities and professors which was all too similar to the Nuremberg Laws exclusion of Jews from German Universities to the almost daily barrage of anti-Israel reporting on the BBC. It is no small wonder that when 2 American Professors wanted to publish an article charging the "Jewish Lobby" with controling American foriegn policy, they chose to have it published in a British journal while claiming that Jewish interests would prevent it from being published here. The question posed to Melanie Phillips regarding her true loyalty is one of the classic canards of anti-Semites and its favorable reception by the audience tells us just how deeply that is believed in Britain. Sadly there is little we can do to change this tradition, but there are things we can do to fight it. In the USA, the BBC is broadcast nightly on public television and these broadcasts are a bastion of anti-Israel propoganda.Jewish donors to public television should announce that they are withholding contributions until the program is dropped (a portion of their contributions go to pay for that broadcast). Jewish organizations should consider dropping Britain as a location in their travel programs so long as various British groups engage in anti-Israel boycotts. And most importantly, we should be vigilent in writing letters to the Economist, the Financial Times & other British publications every time they publish an article which distorts the truth in Israel/Palestine problem. We must not remain silent as our enemies attack us, we must unmask them for what they are: bigots, for as we all know, anti-Zionism is merely a polite way to be anti-Semitic.

(14) Gary Selikow, May 23, 2005 12:00 AM

The Left ignores Israeli/Jewish suffering

Nothing about the thousand Jews in Israel , mainly women and children , who have been massacred , by bomb, bullet and knife in the war of genocide against the Israeli people , known as the Intifada.
Nothing about the pregant Jewish mother and her four terrified small daughters , executed one by one by Arafatian goons at Gaza.
Nothing about the five-year-old girl, Danielle Shefi, who was shot to death at point blank range by an Arab killer, while cowering under her parents’ bed.
Nothing about the countless Jewish children murdered in the last four years and the last 80 years in Arab pogroms against Jews in the Land of Israel.
The meaning of Israel is clear. The Jew has experienced too much death, and a portion of the Jewish people decided that they would die quietly no more. So it is: and no argument, no clever political talk, no logic and no parading of right and wrong can change this fact. The Jews returned to Israel because it was their ancient land. From 1810 onwards Jews in the Land of Israel have been murdered by Arabs. The pious Jews of Safed, who would raise no hand in their own defence, had been robbed and murdered and burned out again and again by Arabs-as the Jews in Jerusalem and Tiberias had been robbed and slain and burned out. Bedouin Arabs passed through Israel at will-and robbed and killed Jews as a profitable thing. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Arab feudal lords in Israel organized pogroms precisely as the Czar had organized pogroms. The Land of Israel was a blighted and empty land until the Zionist Movement returned it to life.
In 1920 , Jews where masscared in Jersualem and in 1921 in Jaffa. In 1929 the entire ages old Jewish community of Hebron was massacred and from 1936 to 1939 , inspired and supported by Hitler's Nazi regime in Germany , pogroms spread across the Land of Israel , taking thousands of Jewish lives.
Considering the culture of hate , inculcated in refugee camps and in the 'Palestinian Authority' against Jews and considering the genocide by Arabs against minorities in Sudan , against the Kurd and in Lebanon , we all know that the so-called unitary state of 'Palestine' with an Arab majority , which leftwing commentators are now presenting as the solution, would lead to a second holocaust.
Arab countries take up ten percent of the earth's land area , whereas Israel is the size of the Kruger National Park.
Of the population of the Arab states , more than a quarter are probabely made up of non-Arab minorities such as the Kurds , the Nilotic Black peoples of South Sudan , the Berbers of Algeria , Tunisia and Morocco , the Druze of Syria , the Christian Copts of Egypt , and the Maronites of Lebanon.
These minorities face discrimination , and in some cases , such as the South Sudanese and the Maronites , have been subjected to horrific genocide.
Why is it so unjust that a small section of the vast Arab population - those who call themselves 'Palestinians'- should live as a minority in Israel?

SamtheSham, May 8, 2011 11:02 PM

Expecting moral logic from the Muslim mentality........????

Gary....Anti-Jew (in all its' variations), is a form of sad developmental/hysterical madness. As we all know, that throughout history, we Jews have been meeting secretly in the rear function rooms of Moshe's Deli and making our plans to control the world!!!! I, for one, don't enjoy Roumanian Pastrami on a seeded bulkie with half sour pickles and potato salad topped off with a Dr. Brown's Celery Soda which is typically served at these meetings. I suspect if we converted to Islam and carpet-to-nosed 5 times per day, we'd have it made....Correct?!?! TTFN

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!