A few days after the Marmara raid by Israeli naval commandos on Memorial Day, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck dedicated an entire program to the origins of the Israel-Middle East conflict and of anti-Semitism. It was a splendid piece of journalism and moved me to tears. I recorded Glenn’s show and have already broken the tab on the videotape. This was a classic — one to keep.
Understand this: here in England we do not have anyone on television or radio who remotely resembles Glenn Beck. On the pro-Palestinian side there is George Galloway, a thundering orator who is a household name; on the pro-Israel side there are Melanie Phillips and Kelvin MacKenzie, but they do not have a daily, televised vehicle that allows them the freedom Glenn enjoys to, as it were, deliver sermons unchallenged.
His program about Israel the democracy was breathtaking because he looked at every aspect of the hatred heaped upon the tiny Jewish state and made sure the audience knew about the appalling human rights outrages perpetrated in neighboring dictatorships.
But there was one boo-boo. Glenn kept repeating over and over his contention that the left are the perpetrators of Israel-hatred and anti-Semitism. This is simply not true. Perhaps one has to live outside the United States to understand the complexities of Israel-hatred, but without a shadow of a doubt it does not confine itself to the left.
In my book Don’t Tread on Me: anti-Americanism Abroad, I relate stories of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism from people I would not characterize as leftists. To be specific, in September 2009 on the hugely popular BBC television show Question Time, Conservative Party doyen Lord Heseltine launched into a tirade about the “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain. He said there was actually no “special relationship” except for the one between the United States and Israel. His venom could barely be contained. He also went into the predictable harangue about how Americans supported the IRA (I talk about this in my book; it is deplorable that NorAid supporters in Boston sent even one penny to the terror group but I wager 99% of Americans lamented this too). Heseltine is a conservative and very rich with absolutely no left-wing DNA.
The late Senator Robert Byrd was never an Israel enthusiast and anyone who associated him with the left had to be nuts. The same goes for Republican former Senator Chuck Hagel. Shall we add Patrick Buchanan to the mix? He really loves Israel, yes?
Dear, dear Glenn, I know your heart is in the right place but please know the worldwide conspiracy to destroy Israel is not just on the left. In Great Britain the late Dowager Lady Birdwood, who had a large distribution list of reactionaries to whom she sent her newsletter, was loved by the conservative, capitalist world of the landed gentry. Have a look at the article by her friend Martin Webster about the worldwide Israeli conspiracy at this link.
Amongst my circle of colleagues and friends it is almost impossible to find anyone who supports Israel. In fact, I long ago stopped provoking otherwise generous and caring friends of decades’ standing as the word “Israel” triggers unbridled fury. Most of my circle is Tory (conservative) and wealthy. These are decent folk who would rather perish than support left-wing and socialist causes and they make no secret to me that they also revile Israel; one even said he wished the next war would result in its destruction. The socially advantaged who detest the left nevertheless rail about the criminality of Israel and the domination of the “Jewish lobby.” When I came across a group of young Jews campaigning for Israel outside Marks & Spencer in London’s Oxford Street — again, this story can be found in Don’t Tread on Me – anti-Americanism Abroad — I also encountered a typically conservative, pinstripe-suited Englishman who told me in his cultivated accent that he wished “more Jews would be killed when suicide bombers attack.”
Glenn, the heavyweight columnists, art critics, and historians Brian Sewell, A.N. Wilson, and Richard Ingrams are not by any stretch of the imagination socialists, but they rail against Israel to the point that Ingrams, a regular rural churchgoer, says he refuses to open letters with Jewish-sounding names on the outside of the envelopes.
Recently I had a business breakfast with an IFA, or independent financial advisor. He is a delightful Englishman who lives, eats, and breathes capitalism. Suddenly he launched into a rant about the evils of the Jewish lobby, the Israel lobby and the “total Zionist domination of the world’s banks.” He a leftie? Not hardly.
One of the staunchest defenders of Israel is the eloquent David Hirsh, who is a British socialist activist running the excellent Engage website. His outfit battles “anti-Semitism on the left.” Conversely an American journalist who writes for a conservative British newspaper indicated to me long ago that it would be impossible for a Zionist to have a by-line.
Glenn, I understand your point and agree that the ugly marchers with “Death to Israel” bandannas are led by the left, but everyone I meet over here is capitalist, conservative, and even reactionary — but they sure as heck hate Israel.