Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

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Posted on: August 29, 2021

In the ferment of left social media, there are heroes and villains, as clearly delineated as in any James Bond narrative, Indiana Jones, Lord Of the Rings, or Harry Potter. There has to be a powerful enemy. If the premise is that the evil empire is none other then Israel, then Israel’s allies also must be evil: the United Kingdom, the United States and now the Arab countries which are party to the Abraham Accords and made peace with Israel.

Being anti Israel they say is not at all the same as hating Jews, which they prove by citing Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, Miko Peled, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Greenstein, JVL and Neturei Karta. It is a fact that there have always been some Jews who want not just to separate themselves from the majority but to attack the majority.

Here in the United Kingdom many Jews had, until relatively recently, a slack, lacklustre interest in Israel, which was after all a foreign government far away and with its own problems while we, the British Jews had enough problems with our political parties, our economy, our strikes, our taxes, our NHS waiting list. There was some terrorism from the IRA and some terrorism against Jewish organizations and synagogues around the world. There was always security outside synagogues and Jewish communal buildings. As a parent, I was called on to do security duty myself, when my children were in the bar/bat mitzvah class. Back in the 1990s, a woman, five foot two, walking up and down with a walkie talkie, was considered enough to render the community secure.

After 9/11, there was a much greater sense of urgency. Here in the UK, hostility to the American and British goverments, which had been marginal, even during the Vietnam war, was now a commonplace.

The financial crisis of 2008 eroded trust in banks and businesses. Economic insecurity tends to reinforce the conservative vote. Was Ed Miliband really the Labour leader for five years? Like a flower of the field, he flourished but the wind passed over him and he was gone.

With Corbyn as Labour leader, some Jews became conscious of their Jewishness, as if for the first time. Some became aware that antisemitism could harm them, although they were not shul goers and had never thought about visiting Israel. Others concluded that Israel was the problem and their Jewishness could be put to use by denouncing it.

Those of us who recognize the current resurgence of antisemitism know that Israel cannot be treated as a separate matter. We know that anti-Jewish racism will be defended with respect to the conduct of Israel. To complicate matters, Israel’s conduct will be reported wrongly or out of context, not once or twice, but whenever anti Zionist activist puts fingertips to keyboard. It is not what the Knesset decides that puts us in the diaspora at risk, but what anti Zionists say about the Knesset, the IDF, the settlers: it is their lopsided narrative which puts us at risk.

If you select a particular nation and make it your work to denigrate it, there must always be grist for the mill. There will be injustices, bad judgments, corrupt politicians. The Left has settled not only on Israel for this exposure but also the UK & the USA. No goverments are more despised by the Left than these.

When the Skripals were poisoned in Salisbury, the supporters of Mr Corbyn shared his doubt concerning the involvement of Russia. When Bashar Al Assad was suspected of using barrel bombs and poison gas, the same people suggested that Prime Minister Theresa May had created a propaganda film at Pinewood Studios, to incriminate the Syrian President. ISIS, they agreed was bad, but they said it was an Israeli outfit run by a Jewish actor called Simon Elliott, from Greater London. Evidence was a photo of a dark-haired man with a scruffy beard and a ballpark resemblance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

When an explosion occurred at a Beirut warehouse, a meme appeared on both right and left social media, showing smoke rising from the warehouse in the likeness of a charedi Jew above a text: ‘We know it was you.’

This year, during the conflict in Israel and Gaza, there were anti Jewish attacks on the streets of the UK, as well as online. The first strike had come from Hamas, but their supporters said they had been provoked by an incursion of Israeli police into the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Israeli police said this took place as the mosque was being used to accumulate weapons and rocks, to attack Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below. On the Corbynist forums, inevitably Hamas received full support as it did also in street demonstrations and in some trade unions.

During the current crisis in Afghanistan, it is inevitable that the comrades should stick to their guns regarding the singular evil of Israel. Their response to negative press about the Taliban is to be especially emphatic about Israel being ‘worse than the Taliban’. The only comments about ISIS speak of the allegedly cordial relations between the Islamic State and the western powers. The continued hesitancy is opining about the Taliban is understandable. They are not sure if there is anything like a ‘party line’ and they would not wish to diverge from it, if there is one.

I sometimes think that if the UK was at war, whosoever was the enemy, these people would be on their side, but if the British casualties mounted up, they would say it was the work of Tony Blair and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. This is not even hypothetical. It is their take on all wars.

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