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What is Happening to Tony Blair's Britain?
Last uploaded : Monday 28th Feb 2005 at 06:28
Contributed by : The Editor


About six years ago I was attending an event at the local synagogue and was chastised by a member of the Council for ?scare mongering? about what I believed would be a catastrophic, new Intifadah in Israel and a wave of anti-Semtisim in the UK.

Keeping in mind that at that time Bill Clinton was President and that a period of relative calm had descended upon the Middle East, the critic may have been justified in thinking I was creating an atmosphere of panic and fear. What had inspired my prophecy had been the warning from a Muslim minicab driver that I would be ?killed? if I went to the Central London Mosque to film for a documentary I wanted to make about the major congregations and influential clergy of the three monotheistic faiths in the square mile around Lord?s Cricket Ground. In that same year the two major bombings of American embassies in Africa had taken place, and there were murmurings of a major terror attack on the Millennium one year on.

Now, in February 2005, thoughtful young British writers like Johann Hari are expressing deep and passionate alarm over the proliferation of anti-Semitic attacks across Great Britain. The UK is now listed in the top five of nations with a serious problem in the realm of synagogue and cemetery desecrations and personal assaults on individuals. If the readers will go to FrontPageMag.com, they can read my account of a verbal attack by a video technician with whom I had previously had cordial professional relations. When I recounted his language to a British security organisation that protects minority groups they said it fell into the category of ?warranting action.?

In the past fortnight several events have taken place in London that beggar belief: the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, is reported to have lashed out at Oliver Finegold, a reporter for the ?Jewish Chronicle? and accused him of behaving like a concentration camp guard. He is also reported to have made disparaging remarks about the Jewish newspaper itself. Despite pleas from those in high places as lofty as Prime Minister Tony Blair, Livingstone has refused to apologise to the reporter and has now launched a counter-attack against the newspaper group by whom the reporter had previously been employed. The Anglo-Jewish community is not by the wildest stretches of the imagination ?in your face? and tends to want to keep a low profile, so the fact that Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks and Lord Janner have entered the fray has made this story all the more potent. Many Holocaust survivors have complained about the mayor?s thoughtless comparison, but he remains steadfast in his belief that the Jewish reporter behaved like a concentration camp guard and that the ?Jewish Chronicle? is run by less-than-likeable fellows. As this editorial goes to press the Mayor has refused to apologise.

Last week the University of London?s School of Oriental and African Studies was the scene of ugly demonstrations against the appearance at the Israel Society by a representative of the Israeli Embassy. University administrators had to step in to stop a ban on the Israel Society, but when the event finally took place, the fire alarm went off and when the attendees -- deafened by loud demonstrations outside -- returned after the fire drill, a door had been broken. It is difficult to convey to non-British and non-European readers the animosity that now exists on campuses, at trade union gatherings and even in daily life when the word ?Israel? is mentioned. Mayor Ken Livingstone has been a harsh critic of the Jewish State, and though he vehemently protests that he is not anti-Semitic, his poisonous behaviour contributes to an already-simmering cauldron of Jew-hating and America-bashing the likes of which I have not witnessed in my adult life.

In the same week, Alistair Campbell, the ?spin doctor? on Tony Blair?s former staff team, is reported to have admitted concocting the tasteless and offensive posters depicting Jewish Tory ministers Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin as pigs in the context of the expression ?and pigs will fly.?

This leads me to a dismaying incident at the Conference this past week of Brit Tzedek l?Shalom, a peace group devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At a seminar about the American Christian Right (a mortal danger to the world, according to the facilitator), I got up and suggested that the poisoning of Islam by radical Imams and terror leaders in Europe and the UK, coupled with the appalling rise of anti-Semitism in Britain created such a potent mix as to make we want to emigrate from Europe to the USA.

This generated a response from a gentleman in the audience who said the Britain in which I lived in no way resembled the Britain he had inhabited since birth. He asserted that there was no anti-Semitism in the UK and that I had had my say in ?The Guardian? last October.

This puzzles and troubles me far more than any rant by a bin Laden operative on an al-Jazeera tape. If Anglo-Jewry, as personified by this man, feels it is not under threat and that life is normal then there is a real disconnect between their perception of life and the way things really are. That an Anglo-Jewish journalist can suggest that I imagine the incidents that are so seared into my memory, even when it is publicly acknowledged that we are in the midst of an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism, is more worrying to me than a crazed pronouncement by a newly-appointed insurgent. The expression that those are so blind who cannot see is apt; what is so ominous is the inability of anyone to deal with the reality on the ground.

Over the past few years there have been headlines in the Guardian that make one?s eyes bulge, the most notable in January 2001, ?Israel Simply Has No Right To Exist? by Faisal Bodi. AN Wilson in ?The Evening Standard? wrote of the dismantling of the Jewish State and various other prominent British writers have written with scathing venom about Israel and ?Zionists? creating some sort of world domination starting in tiny ?expansionist? Israel. (There isn?t even enough space to bury their dead anymore, so what is ?expansionist? about Israel?) It is little wonder elements of the British populace have been turned into a Jew-hating mob, inasmuch as the life of the average Israeli is never depicted on British television but the suffering of the family of a suicide bomber is covered in great detail.

Johann Hari in ?The Independent? of 23 February expresses his alarm at the level of anti-Jewish hate appearing around him. The gentleman at the conference believes this situation does not exist. Who is right? Just read what the video technician said to me in the extract that follows (from Front Page Mag October 2004) and you will likely feel I am the one on the right track. Right track or not, it is sad and deeply alarming that Britain is veering in this direction. But I am not surprised. Read this and decide for yourself:

??I went to my favourite tape duplicating shop to have copies made for the actors who had appeared in the video of my new play in London. I handed the master tape to the proprietor, whom I have known for some ten years. He seemed unusually agitated and flushed. He looked at the material and snarled, ?Is this another one of your Jewish-Holocaust things?? I was speechless. He scowled and continued, ?You know, Carol, I want to get something off my chest that I?ve been dying to say to you for years. Number one, just don?t say Israel to me. Number two, you people should look at yourselves in the mirror and wonder why every so often there is a Holocaust or massacre or pogrom. You bring it on yourselves. Just look at the way you are and then figure out why the rest of the world wants to flatten you. Number three, America throwing money at Israel has to stop, and hopefully all hell will break loose. Israel is not a country. I just hear the word and I turn peuce.? By this time his anger was so visceral that I wanted to head for the door, but I had to take a stand. ?Let me tell you,? I said, ?If the USA or Israel came under threat I know many Americans who would die for either country,? to which he replied, ? Israel is not a country. The Jews have no right to a country. What makes you people think you have a right to a country? ? Me: ?There are over a hundred Christian countries and fifty-five Muslim countries.? He:? The Jews have no right to a country.? Me:? What, a strip of land the size of Wales?!? He (grinding his teeth and close to hitting me) ? Just say Israel and I can?t be depended upon for the consequences of my actions, Carol.? His litany of offences committed by the Jews, Americans and Israel continued for another twenty minutes or so and I came away realizing that a man who had always greeted me with genteel, cheery sweet nothings was actually a rabid Jew-hater?

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