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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Boo-Hoo, So There Is No Jewish Plot!

(Shallow polemic on pro-Israel lobby David Cesarani Comment is free guardian.co.uk)

Hitherto I've kept very quiet about the row which (inevitably) followed Monday's Channel 4 TV Dispatches programme. Peter Oborne did everything possible to provoke viewers on both sides of the divide and even  as a "shallow polemic" his show succeeded admirably.

As my husband remarked, his hour-long empty twaddle ended with the equivalent of a legal disclaimer, so saving Channel 4's lawyers much time and possibly a huge hike in their libel insurance premium.

However, with the honourable exception of historian, Professor David Cesarani (link above), our most senior pro-Israel watchers and writers have since sunk their estimable case in a mire of over-written pomposity or silly satire. Irony should be left to the  experts on grave issues or it becomes banal - even infantile.

So, for Heaven's Sake, let write with clarity and brevity:

  • There has never been - and never will be a 'Jewish' - let alone an 'Israel lobby' in the U.K. The community is too small and its wealthy elite so small they are barely worth mentioning in this context.
  • There are, however, individuals who do wield an enormous amount of personal clout. They come from an honourable line started by the likes of Montefiore, Disraeli et al. They MOST DEFINITELY DO NOT and CANNOT formulate or even sway government foreign policy on their own.
  • Until less than 30 years ago it simply was unfashionable for British Jews to be pro-Conservative. When members of my own family started voting Tory they were laughed at.
  • But such attitudes are as much a matter of fashion as anything else. The pendulum began swing right as many British Jews became  more affluent. It was bound to happen.
  • So the late Manchester MP, Michael Fidler, took advantage of this and with the help of former Soviet Jewry campaigner, Sylvia Sheff formed the Conservative Friends of Israel. His first chairman was Sir Hugh Fraser, former husband of  Lady Antonia who later married Harold Pinter. I mention this, not for cheap gossip but to highlight the differences in (political) mindsets within  personal relationships and how, on a very grand scale, they may turn the tide of popular opinion.

As I want to be brief, I'll end here. But of course the show did Israel more harm than good: It was supposed to!

msniw

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