General Antisemitism

Israel’s fight for survival and the comfort of Mick Davis

I was sharing a ride with a Jewish colleague during the height of the 2nd Intifada in 2002 – a terror war against the Jewish state that would claim over 1100 Israeli lives – and discussing the increase of anti-Semitic acts around the world triggered by the conflict when she exclaimed, “Ariel Sharon is causing anti-Semitism.”

Of course, what she was talking about was the upsurge in anti-Semitic violence directed towards Jews in the European diaspora while Israel was fighting Operation Defensive Shield.  My colleague eventually apologized for her remarks –  as, perhaps, it occurred to her how insensitive she sounded – but that visual is still emblazoned in my mind:  A Jew living quite comfortably in safety and affluence in the United States bemoaning the defensive actions of the world’s only Jewish state in a war against foes openly committed to her destruction.

I recalled that conversation when I first learned that Mick Davis, head of the UJIA (United Jewish Israel Appeal), the leading fund-raising organization in Britain for Israel, said the following:

“I think the government of Israel …have to recognise that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London. When they do good things it is good for me, when they do bad things, it’s bad for me.”

While it was heartening to see the support  Jonathan Hoffman’s letter in the JC (lambasting Davis) received by at least some in the British Jewish community, the broader problem of diaspora Jewry’s “discomfort” when confronted with the messy business of defending Israel goes beyond Mick Davis.  Davis represents a large number of Jews who, as Melanie Phillips, noted,

“…instead of truthfully identifying the cause of the conflict as Arab intransigence and… hatred…parrot the Israel-bashers’ false claim that the impasse is really Israel’s fault.”

The moral elitism that many well-meaning diaspora Jews feel represents a stubborn refusal to acknowledge that no amount of Israeli good will or sechel (intellect) – of which, such Jews see themselves as possessing in massive quantities – by Israel’s leaders can magically bring peace in the Middle East. For many well-off Jews outside of Israel, it has become un-PC to acknowledge [regarding Hamas, Hezbollah, and other radical Islamist groups] that we are dealing with a dramatically different culture than ours – an ideology that doesn’t share our views about tolerance, pluralism, and peace.

Beyond Davis, there is a broader point to be made about a Western Jewish world that has become (largely) so well-off – enjoys so much freedom, comfort, and safety in the nations where they reside, that they have lost the sense of what it means to have to struggle for your existence, to have to take up arms and fight for your life, your family, your community, your nation – for the right to live freely as Jews in a part of the world that is still hostile to such modest aims.

No matter how openly hostile Israel’s enemies are to her existence, no matter how serious and complex the myriad of threats that they face are, such a disconnect results in an inability to empathize with such fears – the very real concerns of Jews whose lives aren’t as easy as their own.

This dynamic – this glaring lack of empathy – was on full display when, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a press release was issued by the new left-wing Israel lobby group, J Street, scolding Israel for its behavior and claiming that:

“Only diplomacy and negotiations can end the rockets and terror.”

I was then, and remain to this day, truly baffled how any adult with even the most rudimentary understanding of the democratic world’s experience in the last century battling totalitarian and terrorist movements can seriously make such a claim.  And – as a new Israeli who now must burden the real-world consequences of such facile notions about war, peace, diplomacy, and the right to self-defense – I nervously ponder the degree to which such ideas have planted roots and taken hold within diaspora Jewish communities across the world.

A Jewish writer, Jay Michaelson, wrote an essay for The Forward last year expressing his diminishing ”love” for Israel, and his increasing reluctance to mount a defense against her critics.  Michaelson – mirroring in many ways the lament of Mick Davis – complained that defending Israel within his political circles had become an extremely risky endeavor. He said:

”In my social circles, supporting Israel is like supporting segregation, apartheid…the war in Iraq, or George Bush …It’s gotten so bad, I don’t mention Israel in certain conversations anymore, and no longer defend it when it’s lumped in with South Africa and China by my friends.”

Yet, he went on to admit that he knows it is:

”…a sign of weakness of will on my part…this is wrong of me, I know.”

He, remarkably, concluded by acknowledging:

“I still support the State of Israel, its right to exist and the rest. Most important, it is still, in part, my home…. But as an outsider, I no longer want to feel entangled by their decisions and implicated in their consequences.  B’seder: It’s your choice to make… but count me out.”

As Jonathan Hoffman said:

“If Israel ’s policies make Davis uncomfortable at the golf club, let him acquire the knowledge and pride to defend a democracy under fire. If he is unwilling, he is not fit to be a communal leader and should resign.”

Mr. Davis, some things in life are worth fighting for – even if it means losing a bit of comfort and security.

Perhaps you need reminding that if, indeed, you lose friends as a result of such a principled stance, well, you may want to consider the possibility that such folks weren’t really your friends to begin with.

19 replies »

  1. I don’t think it’s true that the majority of British Jews hold Mick’s opinions, rather that it’s a minority view held by a very vocal minority.
    In any case, there has been no comprehensive survey, but the majority of people I come across think that Israel receives grossly unfair treatment.

  2. What Mick Davies fails to understand is that nothing that Jews outside Israel say or do will appease an irrational hatred and bigotry. In fact the more conciliatory they appear, the more vulnerable they become. As any Jew who has lived in an Arab country, there is a deep-seated culture in Arab countries of venting anger and frustration against defenceless minorities. (Call it ‘collective punishment’ if you will.) This culture seems to have transferred itself into Europe as a result of the existence of radicalised Muslim immigrants. The problem lies with the radicalised aggressor, not the victim.

  3. The lexicon-expanding Mick Davis:



    court Jew

    self-hating Jew

    Thoebald Jew

    Mr Finkel-Jew



    Acchoo! Mr Davis is a sneeze in the face of common decency – I salute him!

  4. a terror war against the Jewish state that would claim over 1100 Israeli lives

    … and twice that number of Palestinian civilian lives – including 700+ children …

    And you’re quoting Melanie Phillips as some sort of beacon of morality and objectivity??

  5. “He [Davis] also predicted an “apartheid state” unless Israel is able to achieve a two-state solution.”

    A lot of Israelis predict the same. e.g. self-hating Jews like Shaul Mofaz.

  6. Pretzel

    … and twice that number of Palestinian civilian lives – including 700+ children

    Maybe the Palestinians should not have started this war…
    Or you are saying that when counting the casualties the question of who initiated the violence is irrelevant?

    And you’re quoting Melanie Phillips as some sort of beacon of morality and objectivity??

    Nobody assumed that Melanie Phillips is an objective observer. Regarding morality (and I would add reason) she is definitely a a leading light.

  7. Pretz: There is absolutely no moral equivalence between Palestinian suicide bombers who intentionally target Israeli civilians and IDF anti-terror operations which unintentionally result in Palestinian civilian casualties.

  8. “the more conciliatory they [Jews] appear, the more vulnerable they become”
    bataween, that hits the nail right on the head. Israel has suffered significantly more terrorism when it has eased restrictions and made concessions than when it’s stood up for itself.

  9. I read in the JC I think, a defence of Mick Davis by a friend, who said he may have expressed himself poorly when he said”When they do good things it is good for me, when they do bad things, it’s bad for me.”

    Apparently what he meant to convey was that Israel was very dear to him, so that when they do bad things it causes him anguish, like when your own flesh and blood does something bad, not that it makes his circumstances or reception in English society uncomfortable.

  10. “…What Mick Davies fails to understand is that nothing that Jews outside Israel say or do will appease an irrational hatred and bigotry…”

    Spot on Bataween, as we have witnessed in Sweden (where the dhimmi government has bent itself so far out of shape to “understand” Islam that it’ll probably never be able to straighten itself out again) and in the UK where, no matter what happens, somehow or other the Brits are always to blame for Muslim violence.

    Islam does not allow its adherents to become fully evolved and social human beings and they are at the mercy of their emotions much as three year olds are. Their leaders abuse this to their own ends. It is little different from child abuse, because these ARE children, emotionally and cognitively.

    Someone should sit Mick Davis in a room and keep telling him until he understands that if he buries his head in the sand about the dangers that appeasement of Islam poses to the rest of us, he leaves his backside exposed for a good kicking by the Muslims he wants to appease and from the Jews his attitude has betrayed. The latter certainly seems to be happening and I for one am not in the least bit sorry.

  11. “And you’re quoting Melanie Phillips as some sort of beacon of morality and objectivity??”

    And the mentally-ill anti-Semite Pretzel is positioning himself as some sort of beacon of morality and objectivity??

    This is the same fellow who asserted that “Jews control the media” is not necessarily anti-Semitic, here (May 26, 2010 at 10:16 am) on this CiFWatch thread:

    pretzelberg: (May 26, 2010 at 10:16 am)

    But on reflection I’d say it’s unwise to assume that this was “a blatant example of antisemitsm”. … The poster glemvalley might have a point.

  12. During all the millennia of exile Jews attempted to lessen the harm that their host countries could do to them by keeping their words sweet and their actions harmless. It took twenty years of in your face demands and threats by the religion of peace to the same governments to show that Jews had been on the wrong track all the time.

  13. Good article.

    While Davis sits in comfort in London, casually dropping references to Israel becoming an apartheid state and encouraging Israel’s enemies like the vile Gerald Kaufman, Israeli farmers are fighting for their lives and their livelihoods inside Israel, and the state is not helping them, but this new organisation is.

    In future, any money I would have donated to the UJIA, will now go to organisations like this, where it can be applied directly where it is needed.