THE Herefordshire farmers I met last week on business were warm, decent people who didn’t seem offended when I declined their invitation to help myself to the hog roast that was turning on the spit.
I explained that I was Jewish and we don’t eat pig, and that was fine by them.
I might be doing them a disservice but I suspect that they knew little — if anything — about Jews and Israel.
They have busy lives tending to the sheep, goats and cattle on their farm and trying to control the awful stink that they generate throughout the neighbourhood (the cows, not the farmers).
Having travelled around the UK for many years and spoken to countless people, I can state categorically that native Brits know little about Jews and care even less. Which is exactly how it should be.
I read recently about a poll conducted by the Labour Party across the UK to find out which issues were important to voters. One of the questions was: are you worried about antisemitism in the party?
It turned out that only one person among the thousands surveyed even knew what antisemitism was. The rest hadn’t a clue though they grasped that antisemitism was a bad thing and that Labour was being damaged by its failure to deal with it.
On Radio 4’s A Good Read in November, Lord Archer chose a book about two youngsters growing up in Germany in the 1930s, one of them Jewish, the other a non-Jewish German from an aristocratic family. The Somerset-raised Archer admitted that until he was 18, he didn’t even know what a Jew was.
Jews in the UK make up less than half of one per cent of the population. It would be terrible, as well as slightly odd, if people from Truro to Thurso (via Hereford) were constantly thinking and talking about Jews.
As I keep saying in this column, we are entitled to be self-obsessed about Jews and Jewish problems — but across the nation, it’s not all about us.
So I endorse Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ comments in his Limmud speech and echoed by Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl that Britain is a wonderful place for Jews.
It is precisely — and perhaps paradoxically — because people are mostly ignorant about Jews that we can flourish here.
In the 21st century, every opportunity is open to Jews in business and the professions and all other walks of life.
Of course, if you want to be king or queen (or married to them) or would like to try your hand as Archbishop of Canterbury, you might have a problem. But don’t worry — equal opportunities campaigners and equality obsessives are working tirelessly on our behalf to ensure that these last bastions of Jewish exclusion submit to the new religion of inclusiveness, diversity and non-discrimination.
So there’s hope yet.
Admittedly, a front-bench post in the new, shiny “improved” Labour Party is no longer a job for a nice Jewish boy. But if you can say a few nasty things about Israel, maybe comparing it to Nazi Germany, then the job is yours.
I wouldn’t advise readers to join the Green Party either. At least Labour still has a Friends of Israel group, which is more than can be said for this bunch of crackpot environmentalists.
Does that mean that Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom was wrong in his perception, reported in last week’s JT, that Britain is infused with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel sentiment?
He’s got a point as long as you remember that most people, like the Hereford farmers, don’t think about Israel from one year to the next.
But there is a problem with The Guardian chattering classes; people who are not shovelling sheep and goat excrement every day so have too much time on their hands which they devote to “solving Palestine” and coming up with various bonkers solutions.
I blame the BBC, as I do for most of society’s ills. Its constant drip-drip feed of bleeding heart sympathy for the Palestinians and kneejerk criticism of Israeli policies has seeped into the national consciousness so that even “liberal-minded” Jews of my acquaintance have been heard to spout complete nonsense.
The Beeb were at it again last week when on Radio 4’s Correspondents Look Ahead there was lamentation that the “obvious” solution to Israel/Palestine (an end to settlements and the creation of an independent Palestine) might remain elusive for yet another year.
And on reporting the death of Amos Oz, we were relieved to learn from Auntie Beeb that Oz was a “good” Israeli who favoured a two-state solution. One wonders if the BBC would have given the author’s death such prominence and risked upsetting listeners if Oz had been a settler and a disciple of Netanyahu.
It seems unfair for Tenenbom to blame UK Jewish leaders for failing to tackle this licence-funded propaganda.
What does he expect rabbinical and elected officials to do? When people are having their heads filled with “fake news” from TV and radio, it’s terribly hard to get them to recant and repent even when confronted with the facts and rational argument (and you a Brexit supporter, Dorfman — what a hypocrite!).
In the meantime, I still think this a great country for Jews and I’m not going anywhere.
Come on Corbyn, do your worst!
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