Fear and Loathing (of the U.S.) in London Town

Right now it sure as heck is not sexy being Jewish. In the heady days of Schindler's List and Nobel Prizes going to Arafat, Rabin, and Peres, the world loved Israel, Jews, America, and Bill Clinton. Notwithstanding the fact that even then I was threatened with death for wanting to make a friendly neighborhood documentary about a year in the life of the Regent's Park Mosque, the Oslo era was a collective tea party compared with 2009 Britain.

To compound the issue, if one is American there is a problem, too, because many Britons equate the accent with "Zionism." That is a double whammy. If anyone thinks anti-Americanism evaporated on November 5 they are mistaken. Gaza and the many Jews with whom Obama surrounds himself have made a lot of people over here very crazy indeed.

What I have found interesting have been encounters with young people of all persuasions since November 4; they have been Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or of no faith but all have continued to wish to lash out at Americans.

I went to Langham Place in central London on January 24 to hear the latest incendiary rhetoric about the genocidal, "modern Holocaust-making" state of Israel and its apologist, the BBC. (Yes, that is correct: the latest hysteria in Britain revolves around the BBC being cowed into refusing to air a charity appeal for Gaza because it has been bullied by the Zionist lobby. The weeping Oscar-nominated actress Samantha Morton declared she would never work for the BBC again. This is a supreme irony because the Beeb is not exactly a mouthpiece for the purveyors of hasbara.)

Thousands of people from the British Isles had descended on BBC Langham Place to vent their spleen. One of the speakers lambasted the Jewish Chronicle newspaper for having printed a full-page appeal for £15 donations to buy small care packages for Israeli soldiers. The speakers, shouting with an almost crazed passion into the megaphones, accused the newspaper, its publishers, its readers, and the folks sending the wee £15 checks of aiding and abetting war crimes. They screeched that instead of "criminal Zionist newspapers" sending care packages to soldiers, the IDF should be collectively had up for war crimes. It must be stressed that speaker after speaker, as well as the waves of humanity, were white middle-class Britons, cheered on by hordes of very, very angry young Muslim boys and girls.

One of the placards read, "No to Liebensraum"; I was bemused because I thought this meant "no to all-consuming love." I asked the elderly Briton with the placard to translate and he growled, "the Israelis are recreating ‘Lebensraum' with expansionist policies across the Middle East and are behaving exactly like the Nazis." I suggested he read an article by the usually Israel-bashing Robert Fisk of the Independent, who on January 17 asked anti-Israel activists to cease and desist from lumping the Gaza conflict with the Holocaust. Fisk, usually renowned for his anti-Zionist rants, actually asked Palestinian demonstrators if they had ever stopped to think of how painful it is for Israeli Shoah survivors to be lumped with Nazis.

I decided to leave Langham Place, as the hatred and simmering aggression in the crowd scared me, and began my walk home.