May 28, 2011
In this week's JC, Jonathan Arkush, Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies wrote a piece about his visit to AIPAC and concluded with the words, " We need an AIPAC in Britain. AIPAC has successfully created an army of Israel supporters who are mobilised and constantly lobby elected senators. We need to study their methods urgently."
Thank goodness someone on the BoD has finally woken up. I couldn't be at the BICOM meeting recently, but if it was anything like the previous one, held at JFS a few years ago, there was a lot of talking but very little effective action actually followed. How do I know? Because Jews in the UK are under more pressure now than ever before. Shechita is now under scrutiny by our legislators. Our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister make speeches that blame Israel only for the ills of the Middle East. Israeli diplomats cannot speak freely at universities and hate speakers are welcomed at institutions like Amnesty. A shop in London selling Israeli goods is being closed down by supporters of Hamas, and supermarkets are being bombarded by these same activists not to stock Israel produce. An attack on a factory on the south coast was justified in court because it had in the past made war materials that were exported to Israel - and the judge agreed with the defendants.
There is a growing awareness of what is happening, but there appears to be community wide apathy and a lack of willingness to act to try to stop the rot and try to reverse the situation. Jews should not need to apologise for being Jews, nor should we need to apologise for Israel, which warts and all, still stands head and shoulders above its neighbours in every context.
We need an organisation that will ask people like Maureen Lipman and Howard Jacobson to counter the anti Israel sentiment and propaganda of Jews like Miriam Margolis, Stephen Fry and Gerald Kaufman and others who may be uncomfortable with their Jewish identity and so use hatred of Israel to try to win points with their friends and colleagues.
If this is what AIPAC is achieving in the US, then it is long overdue here, so I hope Jonathan Arkush's piece in the JC is more than mere rhetoric and that the Board starts to motivate the community into standing up for itself. I would certainly be ready to get involved.