Daniel Silva’s latest spy thriller about Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, The English Girl, involves a character named Christopher Keller, an assassin who had once tried to kill Allon but has now agreed to help him with a kidnapping case. Keller is by birth a Brit who faked his own death to begin a new life as a hired gun on the island of Corsica. While he and Allon wait for a target to appear, he tells the Israeli agent that he has “always felt a little Jewish […] in a spiritual sense.” By the novel’s end, he is considering becoming Israeli to work for Israel’s Secret Service, reminding Gabriel that he still feels “a little Jewish.”
In a world in which anti-Semitism is on a marked upswing yet again—Keller’s native Britain was declared by Caroline Glick to be unlivable for Jews, and David Hornik reports that increasing Jew hatred in many countries of Europe, particularly France, Belgium, and Hungary, has led to significant Jewish emigration—such a character’s emotional affiliation for Jewishness and the Jewish state might seem merely wishful thinking on Silva’s part. If more people felt like Keller, Allon would not need to be so vigilant in his country’s defense: a BBC global survey found that a large percentage of respondents ranked Israel in the same group as Iran and North Korea—this despite a democratic culture and admirable human rights record that should, by any reasonable measure, cause it to be widely respected on the world scene.
So why doesn’t everyone feel “a little Jewish”? Why indeed. As David Hornik points out in a recent article for PJ Media, part of his excellent “Israel, Leper or Light unto the Nations” series, Zionists of the early twentieth century believed that the lack of a homeland made Jews particularly vulnerable to pathological hatred and that the creation of the state of Israel would not only provide a safe haven but would also moderate anti-Semitism by normalizing Jewish national identity. With the creation of Israel, the Zionists reasoned, Jews would no longer be regarded as stateless pariahs but would be respected as citizens of their own country.