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.



Why 'The New Statesman' is Misrepresenting British Youth
Last uploaded : Thursday 15th Nov 2007 at 20:36
Contributed by : The Editor



Recently a colleague sent me a report (3 September 2007 ) written by Matthew Holehouse for ‘The New Statesman’ magazine published in Britain entitled, ‘The British Children who train to fight in Israel.’ Soon after the report appeared, several spinoffs were published on anti-Zionist websites.

The article detailed the many programmes available to British teenagers for ‘gap year’ or semesters in Israel with RSY (Reform Synagogue Youth) and the Federation of Zionist Youth. Having been Administrator of B’nai B’rith Youth Organisation at Hillel House in London nine years ago, I can attest to the splendid programmes offered to Jewish youth in Israel.

What is so disturbing about the Holehouse report is that he interprets the highly beneficial youth programmes offered to Diaspora youngsters as a form of paramilitary or pre-induction boot camp for future Arab-killers. There is no doubt a handful of Anglo-Jewish youth choose to make aliyah, (emigrate to Israel and become citizens of the Jewish State under the Law of Return granted after the Nazi genocide of European Jewry) but the vast majority of youth visitors use the time for a variety of worthy activities. Holehouse’s tone ( ‘But ask yourself this question: if these were British Muslim 19-year-olds firing machine guns and running assault courses in Pakistan or Yemen, would we not have them all arrested at the airport?’) made it clear to me that sixty years after the last death camp closed, many British non-Jews fail to grasp the impact events in this century has had on post-Holocaust Jewry.

The article reminded me of George Galloway’s assertion on ‘Sky News’ earlier this year, in a debate with Daniel Finkelstein of ‘The Times’ about the Iraq War, that the Jewish journalist was ‘a partisan for Israel.’ Galloway went on to say that Finkelstein’s ilk let others fight their wars for them, this being a popular mantra amongst those, led by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, who feel the Iraq war was perpetrated by Zionist activists in Washington for the purpose of protecting Israel. Interestingly enough, Finkelstein, who is the epitome of an English gentleman and known for his mild temperament, was outraged by this comment and reminded Galloway that many of his kin had shed blood in defence of Britain.

The Holehouse report says participants ’revel in the camouflage-induced machismo’ and insinuates that the programmes provided by branches of the Jewish community of Great Britain (Reform, Liberal and Orthodox groups provide Israel semesters or camp) that the Israeli government denounces Islamic training camps but that Israel camp ‘went unreported.’ Holehouse says hundreds of Jewish teenagers from Europe, Mexico and the USA ‘pay to spend nine weeks saluting, marching, firing guns..’ in the same breath as his description of Gaza summer camps teaching Palestinian youth to become suicide bombers.

Describing the gap year or camp attendees ‘dressed in boots and olive fatigues, and obliged to carry an M16 assault rifle at all times,’ Holehouse says ‘Marva’ is an Israel Defence Forces programme to simulate basic training of Israeli conscripts. Inasmuch as the overseas visitors do push ups in the dust and perform night marches with laden stretchers it seems this programme might provide immense benefit to the thousands of football louts running riot in Italy as I write this, or to the thousands more drunken teen louts wasting police resources in British towns and cities.

The ‘New Statesman,’ not known for its love for Israel and best known for its cover showing a large Star of David impaling a British flag with the title ‘A Kosher Conspiracy?’ ( this in a country with some 300,000 decorous and unassuming Anglo Jews in a population of sixty million) devotes several pages to this report, but does include the fact that a majority of youth army campers go for the karaoke nights and heavy dating. One participant, Micah Smith, is quoted as saying ‘It definitely glorifies the army -- the supposedly exciting life of a soldier’ whilst Mark Fitch says ‘…they really do try to present both sides of the story and the overriding message is of striving for peace.’

This sort of programme is comparable to British Muslim youth going to terror training camps?

The mindset that would bother to compile such a report lies in the psyches of so many Britons who are otherwise good and kind people: at a recent conference on Faith and Foreign Policy, one Anglo-Muslim and an American railed at me about the Stern Gang and Irgun. I find this appalling, considering that in sixty years since the Holocaust a handful of Disapora Jews have committed acts of terror. Likewise listening to non-Jews talking with such venom about the Stern Gang and Irgun makes one wonder how the Christian world might have reacted has thousands upon thousands of angry Jews formed terror gangs across the globe as retribution for the Holocaust? Imagine if Jews had wanted to wreak vengeance on the rest of the world after the Nazi genocide: there would have been thousands of dead and maimed. As it happens, the major complaint from post-Shoah Jews -- most particularly in North America -- is that the German and European Diaspora ‘walked like sheep to the slaughter,’ and that the Passivity of Jews over two thousand years of often brutal and genocidal persecution must never be allowed to manifest itself again.

When I was in charge of an energetic group of brilliant young British teens at Hillel House in 1999, they were champing at the bit to raise money for British charities, visit old age homes, work in soup kitchens and volunteer in perilous locales around the world. Those who chose to take these skills to Israel were enthusiastic visitors to the Jewish State and did not manifest any desire to learn Arab-killing.

One reader of ‘The New Statesman’ wrote in to say that his daughter had ‘studied contemporary Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where incidentally she was pleased and surprised to find a Mosque for Muslim students to worship. Try finding a Jewish student in an Arab country and as for a synagogue…’

He added, ‘The Marva element consisted of learning of the role of the IDF in history and modern day society and understanding the difficulties involved in having to fight assymetric warfare against elements which are prepared to use their own civilians as human shields. ..She did not return indoctrinated with hate for Muslims and to date neither her or her friends have commited any act of terrorism here or anywhere else. ..The idea that the FZY Programme is in some way comparable to Muslims going to Jihadi training camps and learning how to commit acts of terror including homicide bombing is scurrilous. I very much hope that the New Statesman is forced into issuing a strong apology as it did over its notorious 'Kosher Conspiracy 'article…’

The idea that Jewish youth would trapse to Israel, do a bit of soldiering and come back to England ready to slaughter Muslims is laughable and even tragic. Alan Senitt, a product of the Reform youth movement, came back from Israel and returned to his studies, eventually going to work for Lord Janner. He then went to Washington DC to be an intern but was brutally murdered in a street robbery, his throat cut when he begged the gang not to rape his female companion. I have no doubt that Alan would have lived out his life in peace and harmony; he had been active in interfaith relations and did not become a violent man after ‘Israel army camp.’

One can look at the issue of ‘tough Jews’ in another vein. The ‘New Statesman’ cannot abide the idea of powerful Jews, as its cover implied, nor can it countenance military expertise amongst Anglo-Jewry. Aside from the fact that one assumes the Israeli intelligence services have provided worthwhile guidance to their British counterparts on many an occasion, what the hell is wrong with young Jews being fit and able to defend themselves? Inasmuch as the British Chief Rabbi . Jonathan Sacks recently said that Britain and Europe were gripped in the jaws of a ‘tsunami of anti-Semitism’ is it not useful for British Jews to be able to fight off gangs of attackers or for fit youngsters to escort elderly and vulnerable Jews to synagogue?

Conversely the charitable work done by young Jewish teens in FZY and RSY programmes is formidable; these same teens are rarely, if ever, seen at football riots and are not filling up Britain’s prisons. This week I visited Holme House in Stockton on Tees and discovered that in a prison population of just under 1,000 there was no need for a rabbi as there were no Jewish inmates.

The ‘New Statesman’ investigation of Israel camp was unnecessary and misrepresentative of a phenomenon in post-Holocaust Jewish history. As far as I am concerned it is fine for Jewish teens to get fit and confident in their gap year instead of drunk and pregnant in Rio. Perhaps Mr Holehouse would like to devote his next feature to a look at the rampaging Italian youngsters who are causing such havoc that Prime Minister Prodi has had to intervene. Or even better, perhaps Italy’s leaders might like to send these football hooligans to Israel camp.


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.