British Prime Minister David Cameron raised diplomatic eyebrows the other day
when he accused Pakistan of “looking both ways on exporting
This may well be true, but a few days before, in Turkey, it
was Cameron himself who was looking both ways, condemning Israel for the way it
had dealt with the “humanitarian” flotilla to Gaza and equating the Strip to a
“prison camp” (never mind that a state of the art shopping mall had just been
opened there with great fanfare and that a number of new seaside tourist resorts
are being inaugurated).
Cameron recently found himself in an embarrassing
situation when he made an erroneous statement about Britain’s World War II
history, so perhaps one shouldn’t judge him too harshly for mis-speaking about
the complicated issues in the Middle East, including the situation in
Be this as it may, he then paid a brief visit to Washington in
order to try to extricate his country from the public relations disaster in the
Gulf of Mexico (his efforts were not helped by the revelation that BP had been
instrumental in getting the Libyan terrorist responsible for the Lockerbie
outrage, in which 270 passengers on a Pan Am flight lost their lives, out of
jail and flown back to Libya a free man).
AND FROM Washington to Ankara.
After all, Britain does have important political and economic interests in
Turkey – so, someone may have advised Cameron, why not engage in a bit of
Israel-bashing there, which seems to go down rather well with Turkey’s present
Islamic regime? Though Britain has in recent years experienced grievous
terrorist attacks on its own soil and is still very much a potential target of
jihadi violence, the British PM and his advisers apparently believe that by
condemning Israel whose civilian population is under constant threat from
terrorists (at the time of writing, a medium-range missile launched in the Gaza
strip hit Ashkelon, causing severe damage to property, but, fortunately, no
casualties) he could curry favor with Erdogan – as well as buy “protection”
against terrorism in his own country. Or was he just cynically “looking both
ways” when he stated that “the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was
completely unacceptable”? Nor will this make Britain more popular in America.
Even the Financial Times
, more often than not critical of Israel, has faulted
Cameron for making these statements, attacking third countries in public, adding
that he may be accused of “sucking up to his audience.”
blamed him for inexperience, and as the FT also remarked in its editorial,
Cameron “has failed to grasp that it is impossible to segment a message in a
But reality may be even more ominous. Britain in recent
years has become a hotbed of anti- Israel activities, often with anti-Semitic
Its outgoing prime minister, Gordon Brown, had valiantly,
though not always successfully, fought against this dangerous – dangerous to
Britain itself – trend and one hopes that David Cameron isn’t indifferent to
those blatant expressions of bigotry either.
IN AN important recently
released book, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England
Anthony Julius has described the long history of Jew-hatred in the British
Isles. Harold Bloom, America’s most prominent and formidable literary critic and
commentator, in his extraordinarily cogent review of the book has pointed out in
the New York Times Book Review
that “the English literary and academic
establishment essentially opposes the right of the state of Israel to exist,
while indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not
To be fair, there is also another, more decent, side to
Britain, and the Churchills, the Balfours, the Crossmans are bound to
the Chamberlains, the Macdonalds, the Bevins (and the Mosleys) and their
present-day imitators and followers on the Left and the Right.
It is up
to David Cameron to decide with whom he will choose to be compared by
The writer is the former Israel Ambassador to the US, and
currently heads the Prime Minister’s forum of US-Israel Relations.
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