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Monday, January 19, 2009

A British philo-semite speaks

One of my commenters, Chas Newkey-Burden, has recently written an article for the British newspaper Totally Jewish:
As a vocal, non-Jewish supporter of Israel I've heard some strange remarks in my time.

One of the most memorable came from a former work colleague - also a gentile - who, during a heated water-cooler debate we were having about the Jewish state, gave me a knowing stare and told me: "You should know better, Chas." I asked him to elaborate and he explained that he meant that as a gentile, I shouldn't be "in any way" pro-Israel.

I found this most peculiar, but he isn't alone in thinking this way. I've become only too accustomed to that look: the one that other gentiles give me when they discover I support Israel. It's a probing study of my face that says: 'But he doesn't look Jewish.' To my eternal disappointment I don't - but so what? If non-Jews should not support Israel does that mean all Jews should? If so, you want to have a word with your internal communications department because I think the ghastly Alexei Sayle might have missed out on a memo.

It's not just gentiles that are surprised by my love of Israel. I will always remember a hilarious woman I met in Jerusalem who, on discovering I was not Jewish asked me why on earth I was so in love with the Jewish state. "You don't hate us?!" she asked, exasperated. "What happened, did your Mum drop you on your head as a child or something?" She didn't, but if that's what it takes then maybe more mothers should start doing it, particularly in the light of the current situation and the challenges to come.

I'm proud to love Israel but ashamed by the hatred that spews out across this country whenever its name is mentioned. As the inevitable Operation Cast Lead proceeds, the atmosphere in Britain really does turn uglier by the day. As this newspaper has reported, anti-semitism is once again on the rise as people line up to slam not just Israel, but - increasingly - Jews in general. I hang my head in despair when I hear these bigots, but what depresses me just as much is that us British gentiles who support you have not done more to drown out the ugly voices of the anti-Israel bandwagon.

There are more British 'goys for Israel' than you might think. True, in my case I am a card-carrying philosemite, so loving the Jewish state is kind of part of my job description. But I also know numerous non-Jews who don't know their Masada from their matzoh yet will cheer Israel every step of way as it defends itself against Hamas terror. I recently started a group on Facebook called 'I'm British and I love Israel'. I am amazed by how many messages I receive via the group from gentiles saying how grateful they are to find a way to show the world that they back the Jewish state.

And why would they not back it? There countless humanitarian reasons to support the Jewish state but there is also a walloping great selfish one. It doesn't take a genius to work out that Israel is in the defensive frontline against a tyranny that wants to envelop us all. If Israel were to fall, the rest of us would not be far behind. Last week's Israel rallies in London were truly inspiring events. May our cities host many more shows of support. I just hope in the future that more and more non-Jews will attend these events and show the world that you don't need to be Jewish to support the state of Israel.
Yasher koach, Chas!