Daily Archives: September 30, 2011

Those cringe-making New Year wishes from our political leaders.

It’s that time of year when our political leaders, in their Rosh Hashanah messages, tell Britain’s Jewish community how wonderful they all are and what a wonderful contribution they have all made to British society.

But the test of whether a political leader is being sincere, or whether just going through the motions, is whether he has been brave enough to show any sort of concern for Israel’s well-being in his message.

All British Jews are obviously concerned for Britain, and particularly our soldiers out in Afghanistan, but they are also concerned for Israel and their relatives and friends who live there under a constant threat of attack from Palestinian terrorists.

This year has been no exception with the cowardly slaughter of five members of the Fogel family as they lay in their beds, the direct hit on a school bus by a rocket from Gaza which killed a 16 year-old boy and the recent multiple attacks near Eilat that killed eight Israelis.

Then there was a Scottish Christian evangelical woman who was killed by a bomb blast in Jerusalem and the more recent deaths of an Israeli father and his baby when stone throwing by Palestinians caused the man to crash his car.

And, of course, this was Gilad Shalit’s sixth Rosh Hashanah away from his family after being kidnapped by Hamas.

Living in the UK is relatively safe. The worst it gets is a bunch of hate-filled anti-Israel activists trying to close Ahava or interrupting the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. It hardly compares to living in Sderot in southern Israel where there is a constant barrage of deadly rockets being sent over by Hamas from Gaza.

Many Palestinians have also been killed over the last year, but none has been specifically targeted because he is Palestinian, unlike the Israelis who have been targeted because they are Jewish. The Palestinians have been killed in self-defence in IDF actions that needn’t have happened if the Palestinians had been able to control their terrorist elements.

So it wouldn’t take a lot for our political leaders to acknowledge that worry and concern of British Jews for Israel and Israelis would it?

First, let’s take Nick Clegg, our deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal Democrat leader. Does he mention Israel? Yes, but only once and only in passing. He speaks of how “For the High Holy days Jews from across the world, from countries as diverse as Israel, India, Ethiopia, and, of course Britain, are united.”

There is also the cringe-making end where Clegg tries to out-Catholic the Pope, by using Hebrew to wish British Jews an easy Yom Kippur fast.

A simple “Shana Tova and well over the fast” would have sufficed (message to Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel: Keep it simple next year please).

As for Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, all I have been able to find is a report in the Jewish Chronicle in which there is no mention of Israel, but lots of talk of a “fantastic community”.

The bravest of Britain’s political leaders, by far, was the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron who, as well as speaking of British Jews’ “tremendous contribution”, spoke of his belief in Israel being “unshakeable” and how Britain “will always stand up for Israel against those who wish her harm”.

The government has come along way since Cameron’s silly “Gaza is a prison” comment in front of Turkey’s President Erdogan. It has repealed the iniquitous law on Universal Jurisdiction and it pulled out of Durban 3, the anti-Semitic festival that was held at the UN in New York last week. Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Greece didn’t pull out.

Maybe British Jews can finally relax a bit with Cameron in charge. Now he just needs to follow through on his pledge to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir.

But when it comes to wishing Jews a Shana Tova no one does it better than Barack Obama. There is no cheesy chat, no awkward wishes in Hebrew but a few simple acknowledgments that “many of our closest allies, including the state of Israel, face the uncertainties of an unpredictable age” and that the bond between America and Israel is “unshakeable”.

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