Martin Amis: 'UK is a little antisemitic'

By Jessica Elgot, November 26, 2010
Martin Amis said has said Israel is the only country Britons feel comfortable attacking

Martin Amis said has said Israel is the only country Britons feel comfortable attacking

Novelist Martin Amis has called the UK and the West “a little antisemitic” which expects “higher moral standards from Israel than its neighbours.”

In an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the London Fields author said: “If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack.

“Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances."

He also revealed the importance of his relationships with Jewish people. “"There have been very significant Jews in my life. Christopher Hitchens, who did not know he was a Jew until 1989. And Saul Bellow. And my current wife [Isabel Fonseca] is Jewish, and so my daughters are too, by Jewish law, and that matters to me. I'm pleased, I am proud. It makes me more inside history than I would be."

In August, the Israeli president Shimon Peres said he had been “misunderstood” when appearing to call England antisemitic.

Mr Peres, 87, said in an interview with Tablet magazine that the English attitude to Jews was “the next big problem”. He added: “In England there has always been something deeply pro-Arab and anti-Israeli in the establishment".

A statement from his spokesman said: “On the contrary, he has the highest regard for Britain’s resolute opposition to Nazi Germany. Without the war on Nazism, waged entirely alone at times, the Jewish people would have faced an even greater tragedy.”

Last updated: 1:11pm, November 26 2010