Caroline Glick: Bye-bye London

I’ve got my own comments, based on my own experiences spending extensive time in Europe from the mid-90s into the early 2000s, and the trends I’ve seen since which I will write up later this week. Suffice it to say for the moment, that, when I saw the same trends of thought starting to spread among America’s elite– among those who had strong influence in government, those charged with shaping the minds of the young, and those in position to shape public ‘reality’ — I picked myself up and made aliyah.

Glick’s post below about her experience debating essentially Israel’s right to exist there is quite an understatement. As Douglas Murray of the Gate Stone Institute, who witnessed the debate, writes “Unfortunately, and predictably, the smart London audience sided overwhelmingly with the local idiots, heckling and shouting down points made by the visiting team. The hostility – heckling, booing and more – shown towards Glick and Dayan was unique and appalling.”

Appalling, yes, but not so unique my friend. It has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time and we know from history that where the elites go, so too do the majority of the less informed masses.

In an interview with Haaretz in November 2010, British novelist Martin Amis said the following about discussions of Israel in his motherland:

I live in a mildly anti-Semitic country, and Europe is mildly anti-Semitic, and they hold Israel to a higher moral standard than its neighbors. If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack. Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances.

After participating last week in a debate in London about Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines organized by the self-consciously pretentious Intelligence Squared debating society, I can now say from personal experience that Amis is correct. The public atmosphere in England regarding Israel is ugly and violent.

The resolution we debated read: “Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy. If settlement expansion continues Israel will have no future.”

My debating partner was Danny Dayan, the outgoing head of the Yesha Council.

We debated Daniel Levy, one of the founders of J-Street and the drafter of the Geneva Initiative, and the son of Lord Michael Levy, one of Tony Blair’s biggest fundraisers; and William Sieghart, a British philanthropist who runs a non-profit that among other things, champions Hamas. Levy has publicly stated that Israel’s creation was immoral. And Sieghart has a past record of saying that Israel’s delegitimization would be a salutary proces and calling for a complete cultural boycott of Israel while lauding Hamas.

We lost overwhelmingly. I think the final vote tally was something like 500 for the resolution and 100 against it.

A couple of impressions I took away from the experience: First, I can say without hesitation that I hope never to return to Britain. I actually don’t see any point. Jews are targeted by massive anti-Semitism of both the social and physical varieties. Why would anyone Jewish want to live there?

As to visiting as an Israeli, again, I just don’t see the point. The discourse is owned by anti-Israel voices. They don’t make arguments to spur thought, but to end it, by appealing to people’s passions.

For instance, in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.

At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.

I want to note that the audience was made up of upper crust, wealthy British people, not unwashed rabble rousers. And yet they behaved in many respects like a mob when presented with pro-Israel positions.

I honestly don’t know whether there are policy implications that arise from my experience in London last week. I have for a long time been of the opinion that Israel shouldn’t bother to try to win over Europe because the Europeans have multiple reasons for always being anti-Israel and none of them have anything to do with anything that Israel does. As I discuss in my book, these reasons include anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, addiction to Arab oil, and growing Muslim populations in Europe.

I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans’ capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.

One positive note, I had a breakfast discussion last Wednesday morning with activists from the Zionist Federation of Britain. The people I met are committed, warm, hardworking Zionists. I wish them all the best, and mainly that means, that I hope that these wonderful people and their families make aliyah.

While their work is worthwhile, there is no future for Jews in England.

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10 responses to “Caroline Glick: Bye-bye London”

  1. Lynne says :

    I’ve had many opportunities to travel to the UK, but have declined them all in spite of my great respect for many of the British writers— my absolute favorites, and in spite of my general respect for people everywhere. I have long been aware of the anti-Semitism in the UK, worse there than in many other European countries. I don’t need to go there.
    Anyone with a grain of compassion would feel concern for the Palestinian people, and certainly most Israelis do, but those who hate Israel (while claiming to support the Palestinians) are warped and twisted people who justify violence and murder of the Jewish people and who distort every issue facing the people of Israel. Ignoring the real human rights violators, they focus on Israel, upholding a biased, corrupted version of reality. Terrorism of Hamas is considered justified by these people. The bodies are piling up in Syria, but the shrill condemnations that always accompany Israel’s attempts at defense from terrorism, are absent. These are truly sick—and sickening—individuals.

    • chairwoman says :

      OK. Let me put the cards face up on the table.

      What has been described by Caroline is her meeting with a group of anti Israeli Champagne Socialists.

      They are neither representative of the English man/woman in the street, although the Scots in general hate Israelis almost as much as they hate the English, nor the average Socialist.

      I am in my 60s, and until 15 or so years ago, had only heard 2 possibly antisemitic remarks in my life, and of one of these I’m not sure (back in the day, as I was getting into my car, I heard a young man of my acquaintance say to a friend “That Jewish girl’s got a sports car”).

      All overt antisemitism in this country stems from the influx of fundamentalist Muslims who started arriving in the late 80s. Not the original immigrants from the 50s, 60s, and 70s who came for a new life and for the most part integrated pretty damn well.

      We now have a tranche of people in this country (Government say 3 million, I say I believe we need a recount) who not only hate Jews and Israel, but also Christians, they call them Crusaders, and want the UK to become an Islamic republic living under Shariah.

      This is, to say the least, not popular with the average Englishman, but successive Governments seem unable or unwilling to do something about it.

      Their high, and successful, level of publicity and political activism, coupled with the failure of Jews both here and in Israel to generate any positive PR for Israel has brought us to this sorry state.

      • Lynne says :

        Chairwoman, I was relieved to read your comment, because due to the constant stream of anti-Israel reporting out of the BBC and other prominent media in the UK, my impression has long been that there was strong anti-Israel feeling in the media, the universities —that it was the pervasive attitude in the UK. In fact, I just watched a TV show on Netflix (from the early 1990s) a mystery (fiction) produced by the BBC where a group of Zionists were among the prime murder suspects. They were not portrayed in a favorable light (more like terrorists). Looking from the outside at the UK, one gets the definite impression that there is strong anti-Israel sentiment in the UK. The reporting from the BBC and The Guardian, often inaccurate and contrived so completely as to present a false picture of the truth anytime that Israel takes a defensive action, can give one no other conclusion.
        There are positive things happening in Israel, it is the only democracy in the Middle East, Arab citizens live and worship in safety and peace within Israel and many hold government offices and serve in the military, but you’d never know it from the BBC reporting, for example. The media in the UK simply will not report anything positive about Israel. Attempts at PR from Israel are useless when the media will omit anything positive and distort every issue to promote an anti-Israel agenda. That is becoming true in the US as well.
        So if there is not this anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feeling among the general population, that is a relief.

      • Mike says :

        From reading your response to the post chairwoman, it sounds like the problem in the UK is somewhat similar to what it is here in the states. There’s not a lot of antisemitism or even anti-Israel sentiment in the U.S. Unfortunately, a lot of people who know better are willing to look the other way or remain silent while a minority spew hate for Jews and Israel. I suspect that’s a slippery slope to more outright antisemitism in the coming years.

        • Lynne says :

          Mike, I agree. And,in the past, prominent staff at CNN was definitely overtly anti-Israel, but that has changed (or is changing). Time, Newsweek, and many of the mainstream media sources also have an anti-Israel agenda, but what counteracts that (as you point out) is that Israel does have a lot of support in the US. One of the main problems is the lack of accurate information for Americans, as what is presented in so many media sources is distorted and false.

      • Reb Mordechai says :

        Perhaps in the cities but not in the countryside. Being an Israeli whisky kashrut expert I travel a lot to Scotland to visit distilleries and talk to Scots in the trade. I also enjoy doing all the touristy stuff. I have never spent any time in any Scottish city but travel around the Western and central Highlands and Scottish Islands. I stand out quite visibly as an Orthodox Jew and am constantly, and I mean constantly being stopped by people who come up to show their love and support for Israel and the Jewish people. Many, particulary one Northern Gaelic speaking Christian denomination that puts King David’s psalms at the heart of their prayers, are fanatically pro-Israel treating me like royalty. Unlike in Manchester and London, I have never encountered an Anti-Semitic incident in Scotland. It seems the further north in Scotland you go, the more pro-Israel they are.

    • tddpirate says :

      I was in several places in London, southern England and also in Edinburgh.
      It has been my experience that people on the street in England did not express hostility toward me upon learning that I am Israeli.
      In Edinburgh, I was in one of the universities there and noticed no hostility there either.

      • Lynne says :

        Pirate, I am sure that hostility does exist just about everywhere, but there is also tolerance and good will, too, which are a blessing. Believe me, there is hatred of Israel right here in the US, as well, but hopefully (and apparently) it is not widespread or the prevalent attitude. It’s hard to tell with the media. I am glad to hear your experience, and also the comment from Chairwoman. I trust your opinions!

  2. Tim UK says :

    I think it’s true what is said by someone above, that this anti-Israel stuff is mainly the preserve of champagne socialists and some muslims in the UK.

    Even when I was at university, the pro-palestine stalls were just a niche thing alongside the vegans and the Free TIbet stalls.
    Most people are not interested in those issues and don’t take their merit for granted

    However, the mainstream media and many UK charities peddle a ridiculous, distorted narrative about Israel. Obviously it is not fair, it is wrong and harmful, but most people don’t take any notice of it.

    Apart from political activist types and media types who enjoy feeling contraversial and clever, British people have a deeply ingrained feeling that the Jews are the “goodies” and the Jews’ enemies are the “baddies”.

    Ok, on one hand there is The Guardian and the BBC, but on the other are memories of WW2, and The Bible.

    • Lynne says :

      Tim, I was so glad to read your comment and to get your perspective. Very valuable. The UK is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and from the culture some of the greatest literature ever was written (all my favorite classics).
      I think that the BBC is vile and evil and unfortunately it appears to represent the people in the UK. Something should be done to restrain the BBC’s biased and harmful influence.

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