Home Page

carol gould

Join our email list for updates.




We hope that you'll feel our website is worthy enough to contribute a few pounds to the bandwidth bills.



Words Fail Us
Last uploaded : Saturday 13th Jul 2002 at 23:01
Contributed by : The Editor



It is not often that I am lost for words. My friends and colleagues know that I love to talk – be it on the ‘phone or in the flesh – but in the past few weeks it has been so painful an exercise to sit down and write about Israel and Jewish matters that I have suffered a rare bout of writer’s block. I am reminded of a front page on a national newspaper on 12 September, 2001: ‘Words Fail Us.’

Living in Britain during the breakdown of Oslo has been one of the most hurt-filled and life-shortening experiences I have endured in recent years. The problem is threefold: 1) many of my Jewish friends grew up in the Anglo-Jewish community and they either hate being Jewish, are in denial and know zilch about Judaism or Israel, or they scream at the top of their voices at me ‘ You are a racist!’ if I dare condemn Palestinian terrorism. When you have grown up in a proud-to-be-a Yank-Jew /wear- it -on -your sleeve big American metropolis, this is a bizarre situation. 2) My non-Jewish friends insist these days on referring only to ‘Palestine’ and give me cold, steely glances if I so much as mention – let alone voice support for – the sovereign nation known as Israel. 3) Hatred of America seems to be part of being a loyal subject of Her Majesty these days. That makes life even more hypertensive for me because I still have an American accent. I stopped wearing my Stars and Stripes pin months ago because of the instant Britrage it produced.

So, words failed me as I picked up ‘The Daily Mirror’ on July 4th. Having lived in the Mother Country for twenty-seven mostly happy years, I do have pangs of homesickness on the annual arrival of Thanksgiving and Independence Day. This year was particularly depressing, London having been under a chilly, wet cloud for a week and the British newspapers full of bile about Israel and the American Jewish lobby, compounded by the regular dose of BBC primetime dispatches from the West Bank.

‘The Daily Mirror’’s front page had a large colour picture of President Bush standing in front of a room full of American flags, and the caption was ‘Mourn On Independence Day,’ with a smaller caption explaining that on this July 4th the Mirror could reveal the extent of the evildoings of ‘the rogue state’ America.

Perhaps it is because every American, wherever he or she may reside, feels a sense of epiphany on this first Independence day since September 11th, but I was stopped in my tracks by this front page. One might have expected such a tableau in Havana, Damascus or Beijing, but here we were in the nation that is – supposedly – a partner in the War on Terrorism and I was rendered speechless. Inside the Mirror was a two-page spread by John Pilger about the many offences committed by the United States against humanity, from environmental damage to propping up rogue regimes around the world. The rather cruel impication was that whilst Americans would be guzzling beer and chomping hot dogs and corn on the cob, thousands of people around the world would be dying because of American gluttony.

Accompanying Pilger's article was a curious piece expressing dismay that British taxpayers’ moneys had been used to send Royal Marines to Afghanistan, these men now returning home with no real results. (Would the Mirror have preferred several hundred body bags instead?) The Mirror’s leader editorial continued the tirade, enumerating once again America’s crimes against humanity.

John Pilger is a distinguished journalist and the points he raises are cause for thoughtful discussion. Those of us who campaigned tirelessly for Al Gore in 2000 still feel stung by the right-wing , oil-baron-serving Republican ascension to the White House. But what appals me is the idea of a European newspaper using the first July 4th since September 11th to insult Americans.

Recently I have been in a polite, protracted debate with a British rabbi about American support for Israel. He cannot understand the point I keep trying to drive home to him about the kinship the two young countries feel with each other. What joy – mixed with tears and fireworks – Israelis feel every Yom ha’atzmaut, as do Americans on Independence Day post - September 11th.

Likewise it is indicative of the lack of sensitivity many in Europe feel towards their North American ally that a popular newspaper can use a day of celebration – and thanksgiving for its enduring spirit since September 11th – to condemn that ally. It is within reason, I believe, to suggest that an American paper would be seen dead writing a major, colour expose of Britain on, say, Remembrance Sunday a few months after Britain had been attacked by terrorists in a September 11th-style catastrophe.

In the United States this July 4th, relatives of mine relayed to me the amusing story of a friend – an ex beatnik and Vietnam War protestor – who insisted on playing patriotic records all day and not allowing any television in the house except American commemorative programmes. This July 4th, I corralled two British friends who are senior citizens and we went to an American barbecue in London. They spent the evening reminiscing about the terrible days of the Blitz. They loved the barbecue and they love and value Americans. Bless them – such folk as these are becoming a rarity.

This article was meant to end here.

However, I had to add this postscript: it was reported in the press this week that a major American shareholder in the Mirror Group had complained to the newspaper about its July 4th edition. If they pull their money out it will likely make little difference, but I was glad to know that other Americans felt as I did. We are still raw inside and, like the British after the Blitz, know what our Empire’s faults are but would like our critics to give us time to heal.


Postscript to postscript:

In the wake of the firing of two Israeli academics from a British Translation Institute, JewishComment wrote the following letter to The Evening Standard newspaper:


The Evening Standard’s leader editorial admirably condemns the boycott of Israeli scholars. However, the leader contains a glaring error by referring to ‘Mr Sharon’s brutal assault on the Occupied Territories.’ Jenin was one of many areas handed over to Palestinian control during the Oslo process. Mr Sharon’s ‘brutal assault’ followed the massacre by a suicide bomber of a room full of Passover worshippers – mostly elderly concentration camp survivors -- exercising their right to observe Judaism’s great annual observance. The bomber travelled freely from his Palestinian town into Netanya to do his terrible, sacrilegious deed.

In 1933, when Hitler came to power, one of the first acts of the Third Reich was to strip academics of their jobs and to begin removing Jewish professors from German universities. Whom were these Jewish professors oppressing? There was no Israel in 1933. As Amos Oz recently observed, signs in Nazi occupied Europe read, ‘Jews –go to Palestine!’ When I was in Israel during the heady days of Oslo, Hamas suicide bombs were going off every time one blinked. I suggest Dr Baker look to her own country, Egypt, to raise awareness of its own breathtaking problems before discriminating against eminent academics whose only crime is that which Hitler used as an excuse to murder six million – that they were born Jewish.

Yours faithfully,
Carol Gould


Read more Editorials    go >>



Web Design - Web Designers
© current viewpoint .com

All Rights reserved.
No copying of any text or images allowed in any form digitally or otherwise,
without the prior written consent of the copyright holders.