My loyalties won't fade away

This will be my last JC column for a year or so as I feel I have said all I can say for the time being about my abiding affection and reverence for the Chosen, both here and in their beautiful homeland.

You should know that the reason I'm stepping away for a while has nothing to do with the hysterical levels of abuse that greet any Gentile who expresses support for Israel; on the contrary, I very much enjoy a bit of a verbal scrap.

But don't get me wrong, my admiration for the Jews and Israel came first; the nasty name-calling is just a side benefit.

Rather, I am seeking to concentrate all my philo-Semitism on the start-up of SABABA TEL AVIV, a boycott-busting boutique word-fest - covering fiction, journalism, comedy and song-writing over one long weekend in the spring of 2012 - which my colleague David Matthews and I are aiming to bring to the world's ultimate city by the sea.

I realised that it wasn’t a Jew that I wanted to be, so much as a Zionist

We have no funds whatsoever but we do have a great deal of enthusiasm for our project, and if ever there was a time when wealthy, arty friends of Israel could come to its aid while promoting the spread of freedom of the written and spoken word, this is it. So please donate, if you have it, a room in central London for the launch next year (ideally in March), free alcohol (Israeli wine will do fine) and all the money you can spare. Sababa!

I've had some times since I started this column. I began attending a shul, and took the first steps towards converting to Judaism, then threw in the towel on both.

Basically, I don't go to a synagogue on a Saturday morning to be preached at about how Islam is the equal of Judaism, and yet that's what I got the last time I was there - from a female, gay rabbi, already!

I'd love to see her walk into a mosque and tell the worshippers that Judaism was the equal of Islam, that women should be just as able to be preachers as men and that homosexuality is every bit as valid a personal choice as heterosexuality.

I wonder how many minutes she'd last?

Which makes my point completely: an intolerant religion is not the equal of a tolerant religion. And to say that it is, is surely pretzel logic of the most twisted kind.

I've also been back to Israel three times
since my initial visit in 2004, and each time I have marvelled at the beauty and rudeness of its people.

At home I have witnessed the self-loathing Stockholm Syndrome of what my hero Howard Jacobson fingered in his Booker Prize-winning The Finkler Question as the ASHamed Jews, and came to the conclusion that it wasn't a Jew that I wanted to be so much as a Zionist.

And I can do this by helping to buy fire engines for frontline Israeli towns like Sderot, and by donating a good whack of cash each year to send care parcels to lone IDF soldiers - and still stay in bed with my husband of a Saturday without having to schlep off to a shul and receive lectures on the wonders of Islam.

Sorted!

Toffs For Terrorism or We Are All Hizbollah Now, Yah? Back in the summer I turned on the TV the day after the flotilla was floored, and there was a man called Lort-Phillips, bewailing the plight of his sister, one Alexandra Lort-Phillips.

A few days later a piece turned up on the society page of the Daily Mail explaining that Lort-Phillips is the great-niece of Dame Frances Campbell-Preston, a woman of the bedchamber (not as fun as it sounds) and friend of the late queen mother of England, who inexplicably claimed, "I am very proud of her. She is standing up for her principles."

Wow, from royalty-flunky to Hamas-groupie in two generations - that's the spirit that made this country great! At least, though, the old broad had the excuse of being 91 years old to spout such twaddle.

What was everyone else's excuse for sailing on the Ship of Fools?

The Jews: The Greatest Story Ever Told. You pick your team and you stay with them, through good times and bad. I may not be writing this column for awhile - but I'm not going anywhere.

L'hitraot!

Last updated: 11:42am, December 22 2010