Anti-Americanism Is Alive and Well in the UK

Just as Israelis celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) with barbecues and fireworks, so do Americans on July 4th. Just as Israelis observe the major festivals, so do Americans enjoy the four-day weekend feast of Thanksgiving. (All one has to do is see the African-American, Jewish, Latino, and Vietnamese families passionately organizing their respective turkey banquets in the film Whats Cooking? to appreciate the universality of American Thanksgiving.)

Israel, like the American colonies, spectacularly threw off British rule with considerable force and bloodshed. In Palestine, the departure of the British triggered the war initiated by the Arab countries against a tiny, ragtag Jewish state already in existence as a sovereign nation but with pitiful resources.

Americans feel a bond with a small country that excoriated the rule of a large colonial power. It is also of significance that the legacy of the Emma Lazarus “give me your tired, your poor” poetry runs parallel to the Israeli right-of-return laws. Nearly a million Soviet refugees have become Israeli citizens, as have hundreds of thousands of Jewish asylum seekers from numerous Muslim countries. The “nation of immigrants” concept appeals to Americans, their history books now acknowledging with sorrow the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Native Americans, just as Israelis, still painfully only one generation from the Holocaust, have been forced to reflect on the issue of displacement of indigenous peoples in 1948.

From the days of Benjamin Franklin, the American tradition of a free press has been its salvation; over and over again it has rescued the United States from the grips of its own folly, from slavery to Prohibition to the McCarthy witch hunts to the Vietnam War. It was the American press that exposed the Watergate scandal, saving the nation from endless pursuit of “dean’s list” subversives. Israel’s press has always been dynamic and brutally critical of its successive governments; in the Arab regimes nearby, such freedom would result in beheadings.

Israel and the United States afford women equal rights with men; women are not vassals of their husbands, nor must they be covered lest they be stoned to death.

The United States and Israel have a grand tradition of farming and technological advances. Like the American pioneers, the early Jewish immigrants turned a desert into an orchard under unspeakably harsh conditions and under constant attack from marauding Arabs (as did the pioneers in conflict with Native Americans). This unites the two countries in a bond that European critics cannot readily comprehend.

I could go on and on. If, Lord Heseltine, the U.S. has a special relationship with Israel then I sing that to the heavens. Would you rather Americans covet a special bond with Zimbabwe, Somalia, Venezuela, or Sudan?

Finally, your lordship, I suggest you look at a tape of recent years Emmy Awards. Presenters, nominees, and winners are often British. Gushing Americans fawn. If anything, it irks because I know only too well how hostile Britons can be to Yanks and how few Americans win prizes in British film, television, and theater competitions.

If you want to be helped in your darkest hours, Lord Heseltine, don’t insult your special friends. And next time your grandchild is saved from illness by a work of Israeli scientific genius, be grateful the Jewish state is supported by its friend across the pond.