Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

No Welcome in the Hillside: The War Against Zionism is both Macro and Micro

On 21 July this year the Jerusalem Post carried a humdinger of an article by Welsh-born Shimon Cohen entitled “Would We Say it in Public?”  Inter alia, he called for the pride of Jewish youth in the Jewish State and its achievements to be rekindled.

My own solution to this problem – a partial one, anyway – can be found in my very first blog post, in which I argued that, however high the financial cost, a far worse cost will ensue if Israel fails to establish what’s often been mooted and is long overdue – a satellite television station to counter the remorseless anti-Israel propaganda that is encountered on such channels as BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and Press TV. The humanitarian endeavours and the medical and scientific breakthroughs that regularly emerge from Israel, yet receive scant attention in a media that prefers to present the Jewish State as an imperialistic militaristic leviathan, would be given the publicity they deserve – and desperately need. This would help to balance the negative images of Israel by a biased media that are influencing and eroding support for Israel among sections of the public, particularly in Britain and other parts of Europe, and to the apathy if not antipathy towards Zionism that we are told engulfs many Jewish young people today.

“Growing up, Israel was at the very heart of my Jewish being”, wrote Shimon Cohen.
”Not identifying as a Zionist was out of the question. My parents and grandparents carried living memories of Jewish statelessness – discrimination, pogroms and ultimately the Holocaust.
As their generations diminish, so does our appreciation of what it was to be a Jew in a world without Israel.
As a child in 1960s Wales, I was inspired by the miracle of Jewish redemption in our ancient homeland.
My bedroom was adorned with posters of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan. Unlike most British Jewish children today, I had never set foot in Eretz Yisrael. But I knew its geographical features and landmarks as well as I knew my local neighborhood.
Its heroes were my heroes. Its achievements were my achievements.
At my Cardiff state comprehensive, I stood out among Huws and Gareths.
Yet with every feat of Israeli audacity, from the raid on Entebbe to Eurovision victories, I was the toast of the school. My pride in Israel was boosted by my non-Jewish classmates.”
Yes, that was in the era when the new kind of Jew envisaged by the Zionist Movement – a Jew deprived of the “ghetto bend”, a Jew with a country to call his own, and a “normalised” status among the nations  was generally lauded – as a heroic figure, a David versus the Arab Goliath. It was before the Keith Kyles and Michael Adamses and Robert Fisks and John Pilgers and Alan Rusbridgers and Orla Guerins and Jeremy Bowens had stamped their poisonous journalistic imprint upon public opinion, and turned Israel into “The Jew among the nations”, scapegoated, persecuted, reviled.

Cohen’s mention of Wales interested me because, as I mentioned in a previous blog, David Lloyd George, whose Cabinet promulgated the Balfour Declaration and who was a lifelong philosemite, was a Welshman (albeit one born in Manchester) and spoke of his knowledge of the Old Testament and of his sense of identity with Jews as fellow-members of a small but ancient people. Indeed, Wales is about the same size as Israel. Moreover, the translation of the Bible into Welsh during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries is what saved the Welsh language from extinction, and so closely did the Welsh chapel-goers read the Old Testament that the names of many Welsh people – the Welsh took hereditary surnames later than the English, some surnames not being fixed until the end of the nineteenth century – are identical to Jewish names (presenting a hazard for genealogists and other historians).

For example, before he was identified as a Welsh shepherd lad, Aaron Aaron was counted among the Jewish convicts who sailed to Australia with other British transportees on the First Fleet (1788), and when Welsh fashion designer David Emanuel, with his (Jewish) wife Elizabeth, was selected to design Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding dress, he was eagerly claimed as “one of us” by the Jewish press.

Given the sturdy thread of philosemitism that has existed among the Welsh, it’s unpleasant to see the hostility towards and ignorance about Israel displayed by Jill Evans MEP and certain other members of the Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru; these include politician and Baptist minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas, who in cavalier disregard of the reality on board the Mavi Marmara, states on a Plaid Cymru website for Muslims: “It is frightening to think of the horrific ordeal that humanitarian activists – delivering aid to the region – had to endure during Israel’s unprovoked attack, for which the Israeli Government must face sanctions.”

It’s unpleasant, too, to learn of an apparent instance of anti-Israel bigotry in Gwernymynydd, a village outside Mold in Flintshire. The bigotry has targeted the 40-strong Father’s House Congregation, which meets – or rather met until 30 October – on Saturdays (its Sabbath) at the local Village Centre. This photo shows a service in full swing – note the Israeli flag, which symbolises the congregation’s warm support for the Jewish State.
The congregation’s pastor, former National Crime Squad detective Rev Mike Fryer, who used to be pastorof Mold Christian Fellowship, was in Sderot in 2006 when a Hamas missile landed 200 yards from whe school at which he was staying. He studied at Yad Vashem, is a director of Christians For Zion, and on the board of Israel-based Out Of Zion Ministries, and has written a fine essay called “Christian Anti-Semitism Today” (cfoic.net/addpages.jsp?pageID=219) that I mentioned in an earlier blogpost. Here’s a taste of the congregation’s website www.fathershouse.uk.com/resources/israel.htm

The congregation has used the hall for over a decade, but in May was told in writing of a problem the local council had regarding its activities; in August it was given notice to quit, and now, in November, has been evicted. It seems that the May letter informed the congregation that "There has also been great concern expressed about the content of your web site, and the very controversial views it contains. The Village Centre Committee does not wish to be associated with your views." The chairman of the Centre’s management committee says there had been comments from people in the village "about their extreme views but that has nothing to do with our decision to terminate our agreement with them"; he claimed: "They [Fathers House] operate on a Saturday afternoon and early evening which in effect blocks two sessions.//We have a lot of people who want parties on a Saturday.  They have been given the option of a Sunday."

Rev Fryer is quoted as saying:
"There are obviously individuals on the committee who don't like our views.
We have been there for more than 11 years. We pay more money in than any other group using the hall, and we probably do more for the community than any other group.
We normally meet on a Saturday from 2.30pm until 7pm, but we have said we're happy to meet earlier, and have even cancelled some meetings when necessary.
They wanted us to use the hall on a Sunday, knowing very well that our Sabbath is a Saturday. The committee claims it' is because of a rise in requests to use the hall on a Saturday. But I'm a trustee on the committee and I've asked to see the diary but I've been told I'm not allowed."
The congregation, which has obtained temporary premises elsewhere (outside Flintshire, for fear of similar action against it by other councils in that county), remains defiant. On the Christians for Zion website (http://www.christiansforzion.com/ ) it states:
“Fathers House stands firm in their support of Israel and belief that the land of Israel was given to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession in accordance with the scriptures. Fathers House are not willing to compromise in expounding these scriptures and in making their support for the Jewish people and the establishment of Israel widely known through many mediums including the Fathers House website and the Christians for Zion website. The management of the village centre made it very clear in their correspondence in May of this year that the views expressed in the Church Website were enough of an issue for them to evict the congregation from the Council-owned centre. This is without doubt a case of discrimination under section 45 of the Equality Act 2010.”

It is tempting to dismiss this as a parochial dispute, of no consequence outside the village concerned. To do so is a mistake. For if Rev Fryer is correct, and the congregation has indeed been evicted for its pro-Israel views, this is yet another instance of the demonization of Israel and its champions that is happening across Britain; the anti-Israel bigots within and without the Christian Church must not be allowed to win. Clearly, the war against Zionism (indeed, what some analysts have called today’s “War against the Jews”)  is being waged at both the macro and the micro level.

5 comments:

  1. Incidentally, here are some useful links to arguments that the "settlements" in the Disputed Territories are in fact legal:

    http://www.tzemachdovid.org/Facts/islegal1.shtml

    http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=782

    http://www.acpr.org.il/English-Nativ/02-issue/grief-2.htm

    http://www.macioc.com/index.php?page=jacques-gauthier

    http://theisraelisettlements.blogspot.com/p/settlements-legal-issues.html

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  2. As long as UN and other countries say they are illegal most people will not be persuaded - sadly.

    Many people believe there was a country called Palestine and the Jews stole it. Simples.

    Much follows from these misconceptions.

    This is one of your best Daph, and that's going some.

    You always seem to find new angles and connections which are fascinating.

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  3. Yes, Ray, people swallow lies, and lies emerge with the status of truths.
    Many thanks for the compliment - maybe I have a quirky mind!

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  4. Wonderful blog! It all seems so obvious, but it is obviously not! I sometimes feel that I am gazing at a lush forest while the person next to me comments on the wild waves crashing on the rocky shore. Are we looking at the same landscape? I keep wondering if all the do-gooders who support "the Palestinians" realize the implications of opposing Israel. If Israel is ever really destroyed, as Hamas and Fatah say they want to happen, will the do-gooders say, "Oops. That's not what we had in mind"?

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  5. Great imagery invoked there, Sarah! Thanks for your comment. I fear that the destruction of Israel is what some of them do have in mind - though they clearly have not thought out what the consequences may mean to their own societies, and to the future of their own children.
    Truly, as the great Melanie Phillips has written,we live in a world turned upside down!

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