In the Wake of Flotilla Incident, Business as Usual for Israel Haters in Great Britain

So she gets mad at a tiny contingent of brave Jews taking on a murderously hostile crowd of Israel-haters? Bizarre. I mention this because even the most courageous of pro-Israel British non-Jewish commentators have noted in the wake of the Gaza flotilla incident that Israelis are not exactly the most gracious or diplomatic when abroad.

This leads me to the issue of the Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall,” which my parents used to call the remnant of King Solomon‘s Temple. A Daily Telegraph reader from Jordan is reported to have made a formal complaint to the British Advertising Standards Authority about a tourism advertisement placed by the Israelis encouraging Britons to visit the Holy Land. According to the aggrieved reader, the ad featured “the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, which were both in East Jerusalem, a part of the Occupied territories of the West Bank.”

The ASA upheld the petition, sparking outrage in the usually shy and retiring Anglo-Jewish community. The usually phlegmatic Chief Rabbi’s office called the decision “ludicrous, shocking and offensive.” In any event the adjudication stands until formally challenged, and in the United Kingdom Israel may no longer show the Western Wall or Dome of the Rock unless it is meticulously explained that these locations are not in Israel but in disputed territories. The Israel boycotters score another victory.

Finally, to end the suspense: on April 28, prior to the Gaza flotila incident, the deputy Israeli ambassador to the Court of St James, Talya Lador Fresher, was scheduled to give a talk at Manchester University. She duly arrived and began her presentation, but loud protests erupted. (It should be noted that an appearance by the envoy in February had to be canceled after some three-hundred Action Palestine society members scuffled with Jewish students and police.)

The atmosphere at her talk became toxic and she left the building, only to be pursued by a crowd of furious opponents who jumped onto her car, attempting to smash the windshield. She was then escorted by a university guard into his office who took her to a security van only to have the crowd run after her yet again. She took shelter in his office until an embassy vehicle arrived. Jewish students were praised for protecting her, but she said she would not wish such an ordeal on any diplomat.

Now that the Gaza flotilla incident has sparked a whirlwind of unbridled Israel-hatred, the incidents I describe will no doubt increase in ferocity. Britain was a hotbed of Israel-hatred even before the flotilla, but now at least I hope the woman at Ahava will start to appreciate the courage needed to stand up to Hamas and its followers in Covent Garden and beyond.