August 20, 2014

ANNALS OF ANTI-SEMITISM: Edinburgh a Sad Symbol of Anti-Israeli Intolerance.

Each August, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe puts on edgy cultural fare that draws capacity audiences from across the world. A play called The City, staged by the Incubator Theatre of Jerusalem, was hardly the most challenging production in the festival repertoire, a murder mystery sung in rhyme and inspired by hip-hop, hardboiled fiction, and 1940s detective films. Yet it became controversial in the wake of Israel’s forceful action in Gaza to neutralize rockets being fired into the country and destroy a labyrinth of tunnels used for terrorist attacks. The City had just one performance, and then was axed when the Fringe management became unnerved by the scale of protests provoked by the Israeli nationality of the company. The police were less surprised, and their impassive (some would say supine) response sealed the production’s fate.

I spoke to several members of the cast, liberal-minded folk who were surprised that Gaza should be such a potent issue in Scottish politics. In Scotland the Israel-Palestine dispute is currency used by two left-wing parties that are vying for supremacy: the ruling Scottish National party (SNP) and the Labour Party. They try to outdo each other in their radicalism on the issue in order to appeal to middle-class liberals and a growing number of Muslim voters, most hailing from Pakistan.

But according to Scotland’s Jewish leadership, “the disproportionate obsession with Israel in Scottish public life . . . has itself made many Jewish people very uncomfortable, whatever their views on the current conflict.” The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) issued a statement on August 10 claiming that it was adversely affecting everyday community relations. Scotland historically has frowned upon anti-Semitism, but the new situation reflects the mounting insecurity felt by European Jews from Manchester to Berlin. . . . Back in the 1930s, the Scottish media, at least, defied the agitators with scathing editorials. But this time none have appeared, news coverage has been patchy, and only several arts correspondents, such as Joyce McMillan, Tiffany Jenkins, and Brian Ferguson, have denounced the surrender to intimidation.

And yet most American Jews probably find the Tea Party scarier.

And those Pakistani voters are the fruit of Labour’s secret 1990s plan to lure immigrants to gain votes and dilute traditional British culture.

As Eugene Volokh says, in a democracy, when you let immigrants in, you are letting in your future rulers. Choose carefully. Most of the British Jews now concerned with growing antisemitism probably voted for Labour, because they thought it was progressive and caring.