British Journalists March for Palestine
However, the boycott of greatest impact was tabled at the 2007 conference of the largest trade union of all in Britain, UNISON. Its proposed divestment was designed to affect Israeli pension funds. (Frankly, with the Russian oligarchs and Warren Buffett investing there, I am not too worried about Zionist cherries being spurned by irate English housewives in Suffolk.)
Long ago the Left in Britain admired Israel for its cooperative farming and embrace of socialist ideals. The same Britons who are now marching to condemn the Jewish state would have spent a year or so on kibbutz as teenagers. In the early days of Israel's existence in the 1940s and 1950s, British trade unionists encouraged investment in Israel. In the intervening decades Israel has become an "expansionist" military power and is supported by the "Great Satan" America, which the fulminating Left in Britain sees today as a murderous torture factory. Gaza 2009 was the nail in the coffin for any rational discussion of Israel's protracted fight for survival.
So, back to Groundhog Day: in retrospect I am glad I was unable to attend the May 11 meeting of the magazine branch of the NUJ. I would have had apoplexy. In 2007 the loathing of Israel and America was brought home to me at a particularly rancorous meeting of the union, which had called a special gathering to discuss the Israel boycott motion that had been passed on April 15 at their national delegates' meeting. The hatred of me, of Israel, of Zionists, and of Holocaust remembrance will last a lifetime. Am I overreacting? Here is what happened:
I went along armed with a book by Hillel Halkin, Letters to an American Jewish Friend: A Zionist's Polemic, written after the Yom Kippur War and chronicling daily life as a long-suffering reservist in Israel. I never had a chance to read from the book because the meeting degenerated into a series of furious diatribes by NUJ members.
Each member who spoke made sure to tell us that they had "been boycotting absolutely anything and everything from Israel for years and years," and the editor of the union's Journalist magazine spat out the comment I hear almost every day in London about rich American Zionists funding and driving Israel's disgraceful policies. I was refused the floor when I wanted to correct the calumnies being articulated. Later I escaped to a nearby pub but the angry members piled in to continue their assault. One said, "You need to get the Holocaust out of your system and get that chip off your shoulder because slavery was a much worse genocide," whilst yet another said, "Israel is plain thievery -- you nicked their land in '48 and Zionism is out-and-out racism." This barely contained venom was something that left me paralyzed with -- yes -- fear. What is the difference between a tattooed BNP (neo-Nazi) member screaming at a Jew and these so-called anti-war activists? In fact, the BNP is more even in its analysis of the issues than the NUJ!
As so many Israel boycotters shrilly proclaim, criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. They use as their protective shield the fact that many prominent Anglo-Jews, including rabbis, actors, academics, and scientists, deplore Israel's policies to defend her shores. The purple-faced British journalists who lambasted me could barely contain their hatred not just of Israel but of everything I am.
There will, no doubt, be a good turnout at the May 16, 2009, rally in Trafalgar Square. But as thousands die and are made homeless in Sudan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, why do non-Jews in Britain obsess, boycott, and march only about Israel? This is Groundhog Day.
Is it anti-Semitism? Your views, please.