An Education in American Jewish power politics by the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

Last Wednesday I got a real education. I had asked Andrew Neil, presenter of the BBC’s political satire show This Week, on Twitter whether he would apologise on this week’s This Week for his insinuation on last week’s This Week that American Jews control America’s foreign policy and that America might get dragged into war with Iran because of it.

Andrew Neil had asked ex-Conservative politician Michael Portillo for his “moment of the week”. The exchange went like this (see above for the short clip):

Michael Portillo: “Mark Mardell, who’s the America editor of the BBC, produced a report, I think on Tuesday, in which he said that the White House now believes that Israel will attack Iran during the course of this year, possibly as early as the Spring, certainly before the Presidential election. The reasoning is that before long the nuclear weapons’ programme of Iran will be beyond reach. But also if you were to launch an attack before the Presidential election, both Presidential candidates, Republican and Democrat, would have to support Israel in an election situation so it’s a good time to launch an attack.”

Andrew Neil: “Because of the Jewish vote?”

Michael Portillo: “Because of the Jewish vote, of course. So, this appears to be the betting. Now if this happens, of course this may lure the United States in in one way or another. But it is a transformational occurrence if it happens. Iran could be expected to retaliate in all sorts of ways, possibly against Saudi Arabia, for example, possibly against the Sixth Fleet in Bahrain. I mean it’s going to make most of the things we are talking about at the moment seem pretty much like a Sunday picnic.”

Andrew Neil: “I’m sure Mr Obama needs that like a hole in the head as he tries to get re-election.”

Michael Portillo: “Well, on the other hand Presidential incumbents tend to do quite well in a war situation.”

Incredibly, Andrew Neil seems more concerned for Obama than Israel’s security in all this, but the above exchange also raises the tired, old slur of dual loyalty; that Jews are more loyal to Israel’s concerns than their own country’s interests.

After that my brief Twitter exchange with Andrew Neil last Wednesday went as follows:

Me: “are you going to apologise tomorrow night for talking about “the Jewish vote” in America or are you going to let it slide?Shameful”

Andrew Neil: “Bit hard since we’re not on. But no anyway. Jewish vote has been feature of US politics for over 100 years. Studied it at uni!!”

Me: “American Jews r 1.5% of American population. How can such a tiny vote affect American election?What about the Christian\Muslim vote?”

Andrew Neil: “Because Jewish turnout is huge, concentrated in key states and tends to vote in unison. Go get a book on US psephology.”

Me: “They always tend to vote Democrat whatever! You insinuated Jews control American foreign policy! Disgraceful. You should apologise.”

Andrew Neil: “I’m trying to educate you not offend you! But clearly not getting anywhere. There is no apology and no point in prolonging this”

It was disappointing that Neil didn’t wish to prolong the exchange as he may have learnt something. In last December’s article Why Republican efforts to corral Jewish vote may come up short Nathan Guttman is quoted as saying:

“Poll after poll, survey after survey, show that Jewish Americans love Israel and want their elected officials to support Israel, but don’t view this issue as decisive. Topping the Jewish voter’s priority list are economic and social issues. Israel is somewhere in the middle.”

As of a few months ago, there were 6,588,065 Jews in America out of 308,745,538; just some 2.1% of the American population. Tiny!

These Jews are mainly based in New York
which has 1,635,020 Jews representing 8.4% of New York’s population, California (1,219,740 @ 3.3%), Florida (638,635 @ 3.4%) and New Jersey (504,450 @ 5.7%). These states represent respectively 29, 55, 29 and 14 of the 270 electoral votes needed to secure a Presidential win.

New York (29) has voted Democrat in the last six Presidential elections, California (55) has voted Democrat for the last five as has New Jersey (14). Admittedly, Florida (29) is a major swing state having vote Republican in seven out of the last 10 Presidential elections; although it voted for Obama in 2008.

Jews have overwhelmingly vote Democrat historically: 78% of them voted for Obama in 2008, 76% for Kerry in 2004, 79% for Bush in 2000, 78% for Clinton in 1996, 80% for Clinton in 1992, 64% for Dukakis in 1988, 67% for Mondale in 1984, 45% for Carter in 1980 and 71% for Carter in 1976.

Meanwhile, a Pew Poll released a few days ago shows that only 5% of the American public thinks that America should not support Israel if it attacks Iran, while 39% think it should support Israel. 51% think America should remain neutral. The Poll also found:

“Fully 64% of white evangelical Protestants say that the U.S. should support Israel if it attacks Iran in an effort to stop their nuclear weapon program. That compares with 42% of white mainline Protestants and 41% of white Catholics.”

It isn’t just about religion either. The Poll suggests that “There are large demographic differences in views about what the U.S. should do if Israel attacks Iran”, for example depending on whether you are male or female, young or old.

But in all of the categories listed far more Americans think that if Israel attacks Iran then America should support Israel (see results of Pew Poll below).

So, in conclusion, it isn’t, as Michael Portillo thinks, that Presidential candidates “would have to support Israel” but that Americans generally identify with Israel. America, like Israel, is also under attack and America was created in the same way as Israel; in both cases mostly uninhabited land was colonised. In the 1880s when Jews started to return to the area that was eventually to become Israel there were only some 550,000 Arabs and Jews in an area that now holds seven million in Israel.

And Andrew Neil’s claim that “Jewish turnout is huge, concentrated in key states” is wrong. The Jewish vote is tiny and not in key states, apart from Florida. It’s the American Christian evangelical vote that is huge, there being some 50 – 80 million of them in America.

The only claim Neil gets right is that Jews tend to vote in unison. But they vote on a range of issues, only one of which is Israel, which is why they vote mainly Democrat.

Finally, an American President is going to do what is in the best interests of America and not just America’s Jews. In 1980 Reagan received 39% of the Jewish vote, which was relatively high for a Republican, but in 1981 he forced through Congress the sale of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) to Saudi Arabia despite fierce pro-Israel lobbying against the sale.

Reagan’s Jewish vote did fall back to 31% in the 1984 election, but it didn’t stop him getting re-elected.

So, it really isn’t about “the Jewish vote” at all, although the likes of Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo, in their ignorance, will continue to tell you that it really is.

Pew Research Center Poll

Pew Research Center Poll


123 responses to “An Education in American Jewish power politics by the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

  1. I adore it when they talk about the unfortunate Jew’s dual loyalties – zero loyalty is more like it.

    How many US Jews served in Iraq and how many Anglo-Jews were there in Afghanistan? – Unless there was some chartered accountants brigade I’ve never heard of.

    Believe me, if (G-d forbid) there was a war between the US and Israel, you’d find most of them in Canada.

    • richardmillett

      I remember reading articles about American Jewish soldiers in iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Your logic is flawed. You can no more readily judge American Jewish loyalty by how many Jews served in Iraq than you can judge Chinese Americans by that criterion. You cannot even judge loyalty by the numbers of Jews who serve in the US armed forces in general, because fighting foreign enemies is only ONE aspect of patriotism.

      Indeed whilst American soldiers have fought and died in defence of Europeans and others, the territorial integrity of the US itself has not been threatened from outside for a very long time.

      However US citizens have had to fight for their rights and liberties against DOMESTIC enemies. And the people who risked (and in some cases GAVE) their lives against those enemies were CIVILIANS with names like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Russel Means, Henry Moskowitz – as well as Freedom Riders with names like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. So as you can see, American Jews HAVE played a role in the defence of the United States against its enemies – and some have paid with their lives for doing so.

  2. What a silly comment Daniel. Jews are loyal to the US, in peacetime and war. (Hope you weren’t being sarcastic.)

    It seems undeniable that presidential candidates believe that they need to woo the country’s Jewish voters before the election, hence Obama’s campaign in 2008 to persuade people that he was ardently pro Israel. But you made the key point- Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat anyway so if Obama decided, by some miracle, to back an Israeli strike in word and deed, it would likely not be necessary to secure their vote.

    Second, again as you point out, if it’s true that presidential candidates thought they had to adopt a pro Israel stand in order to secure Jewish votes, that is not proof of why US Jews vote for particular candidates. As with all elections, bread and butter issues are very much likely to be top of the agenda for most people.

    In my view, however, neither Portillo nor Neil implied that Jews controlled US policy, even if conspiracy theorists choose to interpret their words that way.

    • Jeremy,

      There was a time when the term debate implied more than just contradiction.

      I asked how many Jews served in Iraq or Afghanistan and Richard recalls reading something about some. truthfully so do I, but these are the exceptions. How many friends or family do you have that served under the Queen’s colors, Jeremy? That’s not a rhetorical question either. Since World War Two British Jews have never volunteered in significant numbers to demonstrate their loyalty in any of the conflicts that the UK has been involved in. I was a young IDF ex-patriot soldier at the time of the war in the Falkland Islands. I can honestly tell you that not one classmate or friend that I know of was there.

      Every American Jew of the Vietnam generation who I know found a different way to avoid service. With hindsight they might say that draft-dodging was the most patriotic course. but that was hardly their motivation at the time. Some enrolled in study programs that exempted them, others flew to Canada. My cousin had a friend who gained weight until he was ineligible. There were some wonderful exceptions, but that’s just what they were.

      This is because most Diaspora Jews (and I exclude here Richard, Sharon, etc) are fundamentally loyal only to their family, friends and loved ones. They love Israel when it’s safe to fly there. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes me laugh when I hear anti-Semites suggesting they may have dual-loyalties.

  3. What both these gentleman seem not to understand is that a showdown with Iran is not confined to Israel. Unless something urgent is done to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions the entire West will look very different once they have started their chaos. Any action re Iran has zilch to do with the US elections and everything to do with the survival of the West as we know it. Of course Obama has done everything possible to make the situation less tenable and the hope is the the usually Democratic Jews together with all sane people regardless of religion or ethnicity will vote him out of the WH. In times gone by he would have been impeached.

  4. Blacklisted Dictator

    Well done for twittering this wih Andrew Neil. I think that Portillo is slimy beyond belief.
    I had also thought that Israel might attack Iran in an election year. But I had not seen the Pew pole.
    From the Pew poll, it does concern me that over 50% of US voters would stay neutral and I fear that many of them would oppose the attack once the oil price rocketed.
    As a result, I don’t believe that Israel will attack Iran without an open public prior commitment from a US President. It is much too risky, especially since Obama’s support for Israel is not solid.

  5. Blacklisted Dictator

    Interesting that Jews turned against Bush in 2004, having supported him in 2000.
    I would imagine that most US Jews will support Obama in 2012. Of course, Portillo, Mardell and Neil do not understand that American Jewry’s support for Israel is, at best, lukewarm. If it was hotter, they wouldn’t be voting for Obama.

  6. Blacklisted Dictator

    Please twitter Neil, Portillo and Mardell and tell them that you are blogging this. Who knows…they might even come to your party.
    Btw, Mardell is even slimmer than Portillo. I checked him out a few years ago. He isn’t too keen on Israel.
    I hope that someone will make a complaint to the BBC. It is par for their revolting anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, course.

  7. Blacklisted Dictator

    Slimier Not slimmer. Bloody iPad spell-check thinks it knows it all!

  8. No, that’s just a mistake. In 2000 it should have read 19% for Bush and 81% for Al Gore. Actually, support for Bush climbed to 24% in 2004. The slight decline in Democrat support in recent years is probably more to do with Jewish demographics.

    • Blacklisted Dictator

      I thought the figures sounded strange.
      As far as I can see, Richard is the only blogger covering the above story. Once again, well done Mr Millett.
      More news on today’s BBC website suggesting that Madmaniniran is fast-tracking nuclear programme. It is surely time for Obama to step in and say that if you don’t stop, the US will use military action.

  9. Daniel

    Debate indeed implies more than contradiction! In World War 2, Jews made up roughly 3.3% of the US population, half of them male. Yet Jews made up 4.23% of the US armed forces. Jews made up 5.73% of the American fighting forces in WW1, despite being only 3.27% of the population, again half of that number being women. Conscription yes, but these figures suggest that Jewish loyalty to the US was very strong indeed. Approximately 30,000 US Jews served in Vietnam and five times higher served in the Korean War.

  10. Jeremy,

    Any chance of your answering my question?

    “How many friends or family do you have that served under the Queen’s colors (in Afghanistan)?”

    • Daniel, why should anyone answer your question when you have yet to establish that it is relevant to your thesis? Where is your proof that military service is the sole test of patriotism – or even courage?

      Also, please note that people do not volunteer for individual conflicts anymore – because in many cases they are too short. They volunteer for the armed forces in general. Although Afghanistan has in practice dragged on, there was nothing obvious about that. And the Falklands conflict lasted 74 days from the Argentine invasion until their surrender – hardly enough time to get through basic training.

  11. Blacklisted Dictator

    Of course, it took the US a long time to recognize that Hitler posed a threat and if it hadn’t been for Pearl Harbour, they would have delayed even longer before entering WW 2.
    Obama seems unwilling to confront Iran.Perhaps he understands the danger but actually thinks a nuclear Iran is fine ?

  12. Blacklisted Dictator

    Jews prefer The Law to The Army. So what precisely is your point?

    • Richard made the interesting point about anti-Jewish suspicions of dual loyalties. My point is that since Diaspora Jews are not prepared to put their lives on the line for either their native country or Israel they have no potential existential dilemma of choosing between the two.

      The classic question is, if the Israel to be hypothetically at war with your adopted country, on which side would you fight? My contention is that for the Diaspora Jews who “prefer law” this dilemma does not arise. No more, no less.

  13. Blacklisted Dictator

    Can you be loyal to your country without volunteering to join the army and fight in The Falklands?

    • If loyalty means not being a traitor, then yes. If loyalty means that when your fellow citizens are sacrificing their lives for your country you share their burden, then no.

      • Can you clarify which is YOUR definition of loyalty to ones country Daniel: not being a traitor or sharing the burden (which you equate with service in the armed forces).

        Also if not sharing the burden is to fail the test of loyalty,hen does that mean that ALL individuals of appropriate age (and gender?) who fail to serve in the armed forces have failed the test of loyalty? Or is it a test that you only apply to groups, not individuals – and specifically the Jewish group?

  14. Daniel
    I have no friends or family serving in Afghanistan to answer your question. So what? Is that proof that Jews don’t show loyalty to Diaspora? You seem to enjoy citing anecdotal pieces of evidence as if they somehow proved your assertions, which in themselves represent a slur on the good name of diaspora Jews.

    I notice you ignore the statistical evidence I cited in my previous post. Interesting.

  15. ‘If loyalty means not being a traitor, then yes. If loyalty means that when your fellow citizens are sacrificing their lives for your country you share their burden, then no.’

    How many citizens of the UK actually fought in the Falklands? You will find that the vast majority of UK males did not. On that basis, that vast majority are not loyal citizens of the UK because they did not share in the burdens of their fellow men in arms, going by your argument. Yet you choose to single out UK Jews as disloyal citizens, which is both illogical and frankly malicious. An explanation would be in order.

  16. Blacklisted Dictator

    is worth remembering that Hitler made the same point about German Jewry’s reluctance to fight in the German army during WW1. The fact that he was inaccurate seemd to pass the anti-Semites by.
    Now you are fully entitled to hold your point of view. That is your right. But I think that it is an unpleasant slippery path because ultimately it affirms the ant-Semitic trope of the disloyal Jew. But then again, you might think that Hitler was right.

    • I have no idea who you are or why you chose that pen-name, but I am a Jew and I am named after my great-grandfather who was dragged into one of Adolf Hitler’s gas chambers screaming “Shema Yisrael!” By comparing me to the murderer of my people you have just closed down this discussion.

      You are a disgrace.

  17. Since I asked you the question about yourself, it’s pretty ingenious to belittle your own response as anecdotal evidence (which it is).

    However, you’re right. US Jews are far more patriotic than you guys, well up until the 70s anyway. My grandfather volunteered to serve in World War One and while my father was too young, many of my friends’ fathers served in the Second World War and my great-uncle fought Rommel. But where were they and where are you?

    Regarding the good name of diaspora Jewry….Don’t get me going.

    • It’s hard to know where to begin with your arguments. Do you actually have evidence that UK Jews are less loyal to this country than US Jews to America, or is this just another bizarre and unsupported assertion? please do enlighten us! Needless to say, even though I’m not serving in HM’s army, I am a loyal citizen of the UK, just like my
      ancestors who fought for this country.

      • Sure Jeremy – no problem. Exactly what type of evidence did you have in mind? Scientific or anecdotal?

      • Evidence that adequately supports the assertion, not anecdotes that don’t.

      • There is no universally accepted way of quantifying patriotism that I know. That’s why you have no way of proving that you’re as loyal as your “ancestors” who “fought for this country”. Furthermore, if your very “I am a loyal citizen” without any evidence or proof suffices to prove that you are, why should my opposite pronouncement with an equal amount of evidence and proof be an less relevant?

        However, I maintain that the fact that you don’t have one friend or family member who fought for the UK any time it was in danger is ample, albeit anecdotal, evidence. I wonder how many non-Jewish Englishman do not know one soldier. Now, there’s an interesting question for you to ask them.

      • richardmillett

        My dad was in the British army. He was a Lieutenant right at the end of WW2. He didn’t see action but that was only because the war ended.

    • Richard,

      I used to daven with your dad, I remember him as a very bright and successful Jew. I never knew about his military service.

      I believe that proves my argument. How many Lieutenant Milletts are there today?

  18. Yup, that’s why nobody would expect the “vast majority” of Jewish men to fight in the Falklands – just a number that approximately represents their proportion of the population.

    Now let’s be honest for a moment. Was that the case? Was that anywhere near the case?

    • richardmillett

      There are no Jewish footballers and few Asian ones. Many Black footballers but few black spectators. We could go on and on.

    • Yes Daniel, try being honest for a moment – tell us why you would expect all religions (races?) to be proportionately represented in the country’s armed forces without holding constant for other variables, such as socio-economic group, location within the country and education (all of which affect employment opportunities)?

      Also, is your actual point about patriotism or courage? Also do you think this lack of patriotism (in the case of Jews) is a Jewish trait or specifically a diaspora Jewish trait?

      Also given the small size of the British armed forces as a whole (one fifth of one percent) can one really draw any conclusions about any of the groups that ARE proportionately represented? If so, can one draw statistical conclusions about other areas of activity? Can one say for example that because there are less than 200 Jews in British prisons it implies that Jews are more la-abiding than the general population?

  19. Blacklisted Dictator

    I do not agree with your Falklands argument but taking account of demographics , class and education, how many Jews would you have expected to have fought in The Falklands?

  20. Hardly a fitting comparison:

    1. While football requires certain skills and ability which as our Israeli squad often demonstrates are not common Jewish traits, any healthy man can join the army.

    2. We are searching for ways to quantify loyalty, so I have suggested a citizens willingness to risk his life for his country as a reasonable means of doing so. Making a lot of money to play football is hardly a recognizable way of gauging patriotism.

    • richardmillett

      Do you think that people enter the army these days out of patriotism?

      • That’s a good question that I have no real tool with which to answer. Since none of you guys seem to know any British soldiers I’m guessing that neither have you. I suppose I’d have to guess that some do and some don’t. Fair enough?

    • Daniel
      I am sure that you are being unfair to your footballers.

      To excel in a sport like that it needs just for a start a lot more opportunities to test one’s skills internationally than your players have. (I have that wisdom on the authority of the at the time uncontested German Bridge Champion, though his lack of conducive circumstances was that the standard of his local co-player-community was too low.)

  21. Blacklisted Dictator

    Do you feel comfortable making a similar argument to Hitler about the loyalty of Jews?

    • You really are a disgrace.

      • Blacklisted Dictator

        “a disgrace” ??
        IOf course, Daniel might not be aware of the sort of slurs that Jews have had to face over the centuries. But nonsense about their “lack of loyalty”, helped lead to the extermination of much of German Jewry. And of course, it does not take much for disloyal citizens to morph into Fifth Columnists.

  22. BD
    I’m sorry but this is not a game to me. I will not carry out dialogue with someone who talks in such a way.

    I passionately believe in free speech, but I don’t have to get into a discussion to prove that I’m not…..I can’t bring myself to say it.

  23. At the time of the Falklands war the British Army had recruited, among others, young people whose educational standards were not great. The Army had ways of getting them up to an acceptable standard within a short time, hence doing better work than a lot of schools.

    Post-Falklands such employment opportunities started closing down. Army numbers were reduced.

    I know of two sons of acquaintances who are Royal Marines and never wanted to be anything else, almost like a vocation. There are reservists who are called up and some lose their lives. That accounts for some older reservists

    My main memory of the Falklands war is my weekly commute home by train.
    I always felt that in those three hours WWIII might break out. It didn’t but the murder of MP and WWII hero Airey Neave by the IRA affected those hours And suddenly, when Britain finally reacted to what Argentina was doing, all my young travelling companions from the Army and Navy disappeared from my train. That really brought home to me the ages of those who fight our wars. And I missed their company.

    I hope that shows a rather more complex picture than “who is a Jew”. And incidentally one of the two young Royal Marines is Jewish.

  24. For Daniel Marks;

    “Whilst today the percentages are lower, according to the president of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 44 Jewish servicemen and women have died in the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. Of these 44 fallen soldiers, approximately one-third had not registered as Jews and their religious background only became apparent after their deaths. Thus, experts have suggested that there may be a lot more Jews in the military than previously assumed.”

    I would hazard a guess that few, if any, were accountants.

  25. Feeling a bit under the weather with the flu most likely brought on by a stubborn insistence to brave the blessed winter rains on Friday night and escort young Ariel to synagogue, I decided to have a quick kip.

    I was alarmed awake only to discover that David Kessler had launched a terrible four-pronged attack, time and time again demanding responses. I’m sure he’ll forgive a sick old man if I reply to most of his points in this one humble comment.

    The question as to whom I would fight for under such circumstances is the easiest. The situation is wholly hypothetical, not least because I have been of no use to the IDF for more than a decade and a half, but the answer is that I would fight for Israel without even a moment’s hesitation. Israel is my country and I am a Jew. It’s as simple as that.

    In no particular order I am asked to define loyalty or patriotism and I guess that to me a patriot is someone who loves his country and who is prepared to defend her. There are plenty of other definitions – no less correct – and I am quite aware of what Samuel Johnson said.

    David is right and although I do not expect every Ethiopian or Russian immigrant to Israel to volunteer for combat units, if none did, it would to my mind raise questions about the loyalty and patriotism of those communities.

    Regarding the point that David makes about black civil rights activists expressing their patriotism in other ways, to the best of my knowledge that community has always joined up to fight US wars way out of proportion to their relative numbers and I would never raise doubts about their love for a country that their ancestors were basically kidnapped and taken to as slaves.

    Returning to my original point, since UK Jews, for the most part join neither to British Army nor the IDF, I think the question of dual loyalties is a mute point. Now, that wasn’t so hard to understand, was it?

    Why is everyone taking this so personally? I do hope I haven’t hit a raw nerve.

    • richardmillett

      You’re only 50!!!
      Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

      • richard
        when it comes to age Daniel is a great flirt

        why he does it?

        maybe he wants to be reassured that it isn’t showing yet.

        maybe it is his way of pre-empting any midlife crisis threat (by just pretending that he is long long past the vulnerable age)

        or last and most likely he wants to be told that even at his age he is still a very very nice guy and since it is the truth, why not …

    • I hope it isn’t the flu but only a common albeit nasty cold – wishes for speedy and complete recovery from me in either case

      (and no one doesn’t get either one from exposure to unwholesome wheather, that’s superstition, one gets it from infection.)

      • Thanks Silke. I’m staying home rather than attending Ariel Shumacher’s bar mitzvah and contemplating finishing off some excellent chicken soup, the problem being that after eating it I can’t have milk for three hours and I do so love those muffins. A Romanian lady recommended a glass of whiskey with a teaspoon of black pepper once. I tried it once and it worked, but after she died a premature death I abandoned the idea.

        I think that I’m also on the verge of conceding this point about those unpatriotic Anglo-Jews as David Kessler has made some very good points above.

      • Chicken Soup is an excellent choice – I trust you are aware that scientists have found recently that it contains some kind of natural anti-biotic – don’t laugh I remember the times when they told us chamomilla was all superstition, it wasn’t of course, neither was peppermint.

        And therefore I believe in the chicken soup finding, only it didn’t work for me but that may have been because in all likelihood I didn’t observe a pause before consuming milk. I guess you do it for other than health reasons but maybe there is something like that in it too. So next time which hopefully is a long time off I’ll try again.

        I happen to believe that almost all such rules have some very rational reasons at their core.

      • No, the milk thing is a Jewish law. We were commanded not to eat a calf cooked in its mother’s milk and the law became expanded to the point that after any meat (even chicken) we have to wait between 3-6 hours depending on family custom, etc.

        By the way, I’m pretty sure that mid-life crises come earlier than the age of 50. Can you believe I’m so sick that I’m watching the Israeli Big Brother for the first time. It’s really crap!

      • provided you run a temperature or close to it watching crap is really really stupid, it may very easily give you very bad dreams.

        Switch immediately to some period drama where are people seem very familiar and non-threatening to you.

        That’s an order – and never mind if it is a religious thing, I’ll try the 3-6 hrs waiting (fasting) period next time – Maybe the heightened attention and the stomach left alone during waiting will help the antibiotic to do its job.

      • Okay, I’m watching a fascinating documentary about Avraham (Yair) Stern.

      • way too exciting for a feeble old man


        I think from your last I may conclude that you’ll survive and that makes me feel really good.

    • long ago I read a piece by Mark Twain telling the world that he had been wrong about Jews being no good soldiers and that he had had to change his opinion and he very graciously (so I thought) supplied all the examples that made him change his mind.

      Then quite some time later I read an essay by Cynthia Ozick about that Twain essay and realised that I hadn’t realised lots and lots of stuff and that there was a raw nerve.

    • I will certainly forgive a sick old man but your answers are incomplete. My point about the civil rights activists is that they included Jews, they did risk their lives (notwithstanding the fact that they were civilians) and some of them lost their lives: Of the three who were murdered in that infamous 1964 incident, two (Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner) were Jewish and one(James Chaney) was black.

      There is a difference between Israel (which is continuously under siege) and Britain which is not. Britain’s involvement in recent wars has not been a matter of survival and in the case of the Falklands was a dispute that erupted over the short term. Moreover the British army is not a cross-section of the community. It’s composition is shaped by geography and socio-economic factors.

      I do not agree with the person who suggested that service in the British army is NOT due to patriotism. But I do say that it is only one of several MANIFESTATIONS of patriotism.

      Could you really have been so naive as to think that questioning the patriotism of diaspora Jews on a basis of statistical under-representation in the military would not have provoked an outcry? Jews do serve when there is a perceived major threat (as both Israel and the second world war show), they are just not so inclined to become career soldiers in peacetime and therefore not at the ready with their guns when war breaks out. That does not imply lack of patriotism.

      • Hi David,

        You have made an excellent argument that the lack of UK Jewish soldiers does not prove that they are not patriotic. I concede the point.

        In other words, while I still think Anglo Jewry to be all that I have said, and worse, I have no empirical evidence to support my claim.

  26. I can’t help but wonder, if ever a war were to break out, God forbid, between the UK and Israel (at the current rate of Islamicization of the UK, you never know, it just might happen) – would British Jews even be given the chance to enlist in the British Army, or would they automatically be suspected as being untrustworthy and possibly even interned?
    Just wondering…

  27. When you say “if ever war were to break out” I assume you mean a major war. In the early part of the WW2 German Jews over 16 were interned. When internment ended many of them served in the Jewish Brigade – and later in the Royal Fusiliers when the brigade was disbanded.

    BTW, what do you think Daniel means by a “mute point”? Pun or error?

  28. I’m not into football – I never have been. My sport as a young man was rowing, at the exclusion of all else. They used to say, once a ‘wetbob’ you remain one! But to corroborate what Silke said about Jews and football; Hakoach-Vienna was one of the most successful sports and soccer clubs in Europe in the 20’s and 30’s until the Anschluss when it was disbanded by the Nazis. According to Wikipedia, in 1923 Hakoach defeated West Ham United 5 to 1. The first Continental club to defeat an English team in England.

    There were also sucessful Jewish boxers. As a young boy in Poland I recall that the champion and strongman of Poland was a Jew named Zishe Breitbart who could pull an entire rail-car by being harnessed to it. This could be explained because Jews at that time were a lot hungrier and more determined, trying to break out of the ghetto.

    • Hi Rubin! So nice to hear from you. Hope you are well and look forward to meeting up on a street corner near a BDS protest some time soon! I have some great new flyers to hand out!

      Personally I am not interested in football although I did once win £700 on the pools when that amount was sufficient to pay for a nice holiday in SA including flights! Of course when my grandchildren play my interest grows! Yoga is my thing and there are many Jews in London who take up this activity. My teacher even asked why so many Jews did yoga. It seemed to escape her that as she lived in a Jewish area it was likely that she would have a disproportionate amount of Jews in her class, say as compared to Abey in Pune who I would say only ever had 2 Jews in his class – once only for 3-4 lessons two years ago – me and my friend. But on the other hand he had many Hindus in his class! One doesn’t have to be the brain of Britain to work that one out!

      Daniel, I wish you a speedy recovery. Chicken soup is great – made a lovely pot for Shabbat Dinner and would have warmed you a bowl if you lived close by, although I guess there is not shortage of this broth in your house. And of course Avraham Stern is more interesting than a stupid reality show! And of course 50 young,Mao do perk up and enjoy your youth.

      This blog seems to have forgotten Andrew Neil. Is that because he is boring!

      • Sorry about the typos. Mao has nothing to do with your age, except perhaps that you, like the rest of the West, are still here as he was restrained by MAD, which is now very dead.

  29. I don’t really have a sport as such, though I am currently (still) writing a book centered around boxing, so I’ve acquired some theoretical understanding of pugilism. I see many similarities between chess and boxing, there are even matches that combine the two.

    I have also forever loathed soccer and that ball has returned my hatred in any number of ways. As a lad, my foot rarely found the ball and when it did, nothing useful was ever done with it, but, as if in revenge, the ball often found my face, particularly my nose in the most painful of manners. I was relieved when at school we were eventually offered the alternative of Judo, which I was pretty decent at, and got hurt far less often.

    I thank everyone for their kind wishes and welcome my friend Rubin back to this excellent blog.

    • as you are into boxing:

      Did you know that at the time Robert Graves was at uni boxing was a sport thought fit for future classicists. Graves indulged quite a bit, he got his crooked nose from it. I don’t remember whether Lawrence /His most notable Oxford companion was T.E. Lawrence, then a Fellow of All Souls, with whom he discussed contemporary poetry and shared in the planning of elaborate pranks.) was as keen on it or whether he was more into climbing onto the roofs of all kinds of buildings.

      There, in response to persecution—due to the German element in his name, his outspokenness, his scholarly and moral seriousness, and poverty relative to the other boys—he feigned madness, began to write poetry, and took up boxing, in due course becoming school champion at both welter- and middleweight.

    • Talking about the analogies between chess and boxing, Lennox Lewis is a keen chessplayer. There’s a story that once, one of his opponents committed the faux pas of asking him “do you want to be black or white?”

      Refua shleima re the cold. BTW I have also got a cold (in the Trade Union movement we call that a “sympathy strike”). So it’s back to the chicken soup for me.

  30. I agree with Jeremy that neither neither Portillo nor Neil implied that Jews controlled US policy.

    The premise of their discussion was flawed, though.

    I agree strong with Richard when he points out: “It’s the American Christian evangelical vote that is huge, there being some 50 – 80 million of them in America.”

    Israel *is* a very hot topic in American politics but this is not really about America’s Jewish voters – it’s the bloody goyim driving it!

  31. Richard,

    Returning to the topic of this page, have we considered the possibility that the mistaken belief in Jewish power might work in our favor?

    Many years ago while on a reserves maneuver I was given the job of firing a bazooka. I was extremely near the target and it was like hitting a proverbial barn door, but much to my surprise I managed it all the same. There were some polite cheers until an officer of left-wing persuasions belittled my triumph with, “What do you want? Marks is a settler. They have half a dozen bazookas at home and he probably does this twice a week!”

    My first instinct was to explain that this was not the case and that the only weapon I possessed was my new rolling pin, but then I thought again. “Why ruin it for him? And next time he thinks about voting for a party that wants to expel Marks from his home, what harm would there be in his remembering me and all my bazookas?”

    Likewise, if political commentators think that the “Jewish vote” is so potent and that is the basis of the advice that they are giving their clients, might it not be best to leave well enough alone?

    • richardmillett

      No, because israel is supported by Americans not just Jewish Americans. People need to realise that support for israel is broad in america.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

    • According to my younger sister, a lot of “new” countries (notably former soviet republics) are very friendly to Israel because they believe all these “Jewish conspiracy” theories and think that the best way to get aid or investment from the US is to be friendly with Israel. Let’s keep it going as long as we can 🙂

  32. In the article you say Jews are 1.5% and 2.1% of the American population. Out of curiosity – as I happen to be writing an article touching on this theme – which is correct?

  33. Jeremy HAvardi

    ‘However, I maintain that the fact that you don’t have one friend or family member who fought for the UK any time it was in danger is ample, albeit anecdotal, evidence. I wonder how many non-Jewish Englishman do not know one soldier. Now, there’s an interesting question for you to ask them.’

    Several members of my family fought for this country when it was in danger thank you very much. And the fact that I do not know a Jewish soldier is hardly proof that no British Jews do, or that British Jews are less patriotic and have no allegiance to this country, all claims that are routinely made by British fascists and hard leftists who are our enemies. Unless you have proper evidence, rather than such trivial anecdotal evidence, to back up your claims, stop making such harmful slurs on your own people.

  34. Chas is right – on a separate point.

    There are many interest groups and lobbies that US politicians take account of – the Arab/oil lobby, Christian evangelicans, American Jews and no doubt others. US politicians feel they have to embrace them all to be successful – that does not mean that these groups ‘control’ US foreign policy, merely that these presidential candidates feel they have sufficient electoral weight to merit such close attention. Portillo and Neil were intellectually mistaken rather than malicious in my view.

    • Blacklisted Dictator

      But could it even be in America’s interest if Israel was able to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons? Seems a bit “intellectually mistaken” that this wasn’t discussed by Portillo and Neil.

  35. If the Jewish vote can influence leaders in the US or even in the UK that Hague and his co-partners in other states have got it wrong – MAD is dead and the western world is in dire danger of a nuclear Iran.

  36. The Jewish vote is simply ‘out there’, it goes unremarked on Sky News and every news programme on radio in which I’ve heard it mentioned. It isn’t always used maliciously but it’s a widely believed myth along with the IDF being super-powerful; the connection between the myths is, of course, the idea of Jewish influence being hugely greater than the size of the community would suggest, and over the most the world’s greatest powers. These days it is mentioned in passing as a fact rather than a problem (seeing it as a problem will have you jumped on, rightly, as it is another example of an invented Jewish question in need of a solution). I don’t know what to do about it though.

  37. Thank you Sharon and Daniel for your reference to me.
    Dear Sharon, thank you for enquiring, but you won’t be seeing me at any BDS street corner counter- demo anytime soon. Perhaps after I have fully recovered from the operation and when the weather is kinder and when I’m signed off by my consultant. To be fair to Richard, this is not the place to go into details of my health. I would however like to bring up a tale of the shtetl in which I’m well versed, that would be of far greater interest to his readers.
    There was a tradition in the ‘old country’ to change or to give an additional name to a seriously sick person or before a major operation. It would of course be a name in praise of the Almighty, like for instance: Rafael – which translates from the Hebrew as ‘God heals’. Perhaps Daniel, as a student of the Talmud, can throw some light on this. To me it sounds as if it could be of superstitious origin, intended to confuse the Angel of Death should he come knocking at the door…
    Though I still live very much in the past because of my background and experiences, I would not want my friends to think that I have resorted to superstition. But I do believe that my Guardian Angel who protected me during the six long years of war, is still watching over me.

    • Rubin, Sorry to hear you have not been well. I do wish you all the best. Perhaps Richard can put us in touch so we can chat?

  38. We control all media, which is almost universally against us. We control all governments, who want us all dead. And we control all banks, while demanding a handout from everyone in the world.

    Uh, ok. Either stop or START taking drugs, whichever you’re not doing now.

  39. attilathecricketer

    Now that is more interesting – I really liked the exchange on the BBC. It highlighted an issue that our press was ignoring. I can see Israel might think exactly like Portillo outlines particularly if they feel Romney won’t get in. Heck I would be. Largely it is down to American people and particularly evangelicals liking Israel but I disagree with you in that I think the Jewish vote and funding from Jews is disproportionately important (not in control though) because Jewish folk are generally better off (and at least in comparison with Palestinian influence closer to the decision makers). That said I hope Obama reads these stats and feels free to allow Israel to sink or swim on its own if it attacks. If Israel had not developed nuclear weapons then perhaps the incentive to develop would be less?

  40. Ruben raises the question as to the Jewish tradition of changing names (or adding) when sick. I believe that this is because on the one hand, like most ancient beliefs, Judaism attaches significance to the “star” under which each person was born, but on the other we believe that the regular rules of fate or luck do not apply to us. According to the Midrash when Abraham has almost given up on having a son, G-d tells him to abandon his reading of the stars as a way of determining what the future holds.

    This is because there are various ways in which a man can alter his fate; by changing the place where he lives and his name in particular. Changing the place where you live alters your relationship to your star and thus your luck changes, for better or worse. Changing your name is a kind of rebirth and you thus get a new star or luck. There are other ways as well.

    There is a story in the Talmud that our sage Shmuel had a gentile Persian friend called Avlet who could read the stars. One day while they were talking a group of workers passed them and Avlet pointed to one of the men and predicted, “That man will not return, because a snake will bite him and he’ll die.”

    Shmuel answered, “If he is a Jew, he’ll return alive, because Jews aren’t dependant on luck, but on our deeds.”

    When the men returned Avlet was surprised to see the man still alive, the man shook his bag and dead snake fell out. Shmuel asked him which special commandment he had kept that day. The man told them that it was the workers’ custom to gather all their food together and eat it collectively. However, he noticed that one man was very poor and had no food so he took from his own and pretended it was the man’s so he wouldn’t be humiliated.

    “You have observed a great commandment” declared Shmuel, “Charity saves a man from death!”

    I believe that if G-d guards the Ruben Katzes of this world it’s not because they change their names, but because they have preserved them. Ruben, your name was given to you by your parents all those years ago, back in the Shtetl, and you must never change it. Every year and every day that you survivors of Hitler carry on living as Jews, with Jewish names and Jewish children and grandchildren and a Jewish state of your own is another nail in the coffin of all those who have wished and still wish to destroy us. Your life has been living proof that old Shmuel was right, “Jews aren’t dependant on luck, but on our deeds.”

  41. Nuclear war in 3… 2… 1
    Hear Iran’s leaders talk about their nuclear plan – In their own words!
    More details at

  42. mostly harmless

    I think there might be a simple explanation for this. Whether or not Jews have influence in any particular country is not important. It is the impression that they have. Don’t get me wrong I am not one for Jewish conspiracies etc etc. But for a small community under threat for centuries, there has to be an element of punching above one’s weight. It reminds me of a story I read to my kids, it’s called the Gruffalo – look it up. I think similar tactics are being employed with the Iran and the nuclear question. Maybe just maybe Israel doesn’t have any nuclear weapons, but like the mouse in the story it has convinced others it does.

  43. richardmillett

    Yes, that could be right actually. Would be funny if Israel hasn’t got nuclear weapons.

  44. I’m almost sorry for having unsubscribed to this blog because this latest post and thread really did provide two belly laughs for the price of one.

    First Richard ‘not-a-Zionist’ Millett grovelling for an apology (via Twitter, no less!) from Andrew Neil and getting suitably fobbed off and secondly mush brain Daniel getting a good trashing, then a tad flueish (which has to be blogged about, naturellement, chicken soup and all), finally conceding the point.

    Stuff you don’t read about anywhere else!

    • I hope my polite (and somewhat off-topic) debate with Daniel over the measure of patriotism doesn’t inadvertently place me in your camp or anywhere near it. The source of your mirth is testament to your trouble-free life, but the reality is that Richard’s attempt to give Andrew Neil a chance to salvage some last vestige of his credibility should be taken as a sign of generosity, not weakness.

      If there was anything amusing about the exchange it was Andrew Neil attempting to “educate” some one far more knowledgeable than himself – thereby raising a question mark not only over his scholarship but also his motives. That Neil fell into the trap of carelessly referring to the “JEWISH vote” might be construed as an innocent error. That he persisted even after the fallacy was pointed out to him with incontrovertible evidence, calls his very integrity into question.

  45. Yup, Gert, David Kessler made a strong case and I graciously conceded the point. I had claimed that Anglo Jewry were less than patriotic and used the fact that so few of them had served in the British army as my main proof. David explained that in the UK, as opposed to Israel, not doing so is not a sign of this and that the army there is more of a career choice than an expression of patriotism. At that point I admitted that he was right and I was mistaken. Nothing wrong with that – I know you look up to me as some kind of guru, but believe me that I’m only a human being and I get it wrong too sometimes.

    I guess I should listen to my own advice more. I’m always telling you Bridlington-Brighton barmy bloggers not to write on subjects about which you are ignorant, and to limit yourselves to topics about which you understand and have some expertise, which in your case would probably be….well…hmm…Remind me Gert, what is your area of expertise? Anyway, I’m always telling you not to be opinionated about topics that you have no knowledge, and then I went and did exactly that.

    In any case, good to have you back once again Gert, and I’m glad to see that you finally took my advice and wrote about Syria, what a lovely little apologetic on Assad’s behalf. I have no doubt that the families of his latest victims will cheer when they read your wonderful daft comparison to a different war in a different country, three decades ago. You could have told them what Churchill did in Dresden or the fate of the poor Japanese in Hiroshima, that would really help them.

    Great week,

  46. Thank you Daniel for that illuminating story and your inspiring words.

    I admire you for your perseverance in trying to engage with an obnoxious sonehisruel who is beyond the pale and best ignored.

    To go back on topic; there are now far more Moslems in America than Jews, yet no one ever talks of the Arab vote. Furthermore, the Saudi lobby with all their petro-dollars is far more influential in Washington, especially since Obama, again, this is not a talking point. Would the fact that ‘Jews are news’ have something to do with it?

  47. Hi David,

    How great it is to have a writer of your caliber on this excellent blog, and if I had to lose a debate about the measure of Anglo-Jewish patriotism to anyone, I’m sure that it couldn’t have been to a nicer guy.

    Please visit me whenever you’re in the Zionist entity. Richard has all my contact details, as does pretty much everyone else.


  48. “graciously”, Daniel? G-d, you really are a twit… Let me know when you’ve finished your magnum octopus on boxing and chess, I’m sure it’ll be a masterpiece of empiricism. Nah, more like one stale anecdote after another, mixed in with some superstition and probably a good dollop of racism too…

    Kessler: anyone who thought they were getting an apology out of AN over the inexact (and of course somewhat proverbial) use of the term ‘Jewish vote’ must be delusional (not to mention the choice of vehicle for this demanded apology). QED.
    Still, it’s been fun…

  49. Hi Gert,

    I am forever appreciative of the interest that you always show in the progress of my unexceptional literary career, or should I say hobby? My book is about the lives of Joe Louis and Max Schmeling and their remarkable friendship and as I conclude chapter eight there has been no mention of chess.

    You are quite right about the anecdotes, though I will be the first to admit that they are not all as beautifully crafted as your hauntingly poignant description of Gert senior:

    “But let me tell you a little story. When my father was about 10, the Nazis occupied his home town of Antwerp. He told me much later that he felt immediate and visceral hatred for these soldiers…..”

    If anyone is wondering when the story bit begins….That was it. If you don’t believe me, visit the paradoxically named “Developing your Web Presence”. It’s all there!

    Returning to your questions about my book, there is some discussion of racism, especially in relation to the so-called “color line” that Louis had to overcome in order to be given a shot at the world heavyweight title. And, yes, there will be mention made of “superstition” in later chapters. So all in all, you were not wrong about everything this time.

    Best to the boys in Bridlington!


    Haven’t been called a twit since infants school. You, sir, are a cad and a bounder!

    • as always Gert’s tories of his father’s plight under Nazi-occupation in Belgium strikes me as very very different from all the stories of other co-Europeans I heard.

      But since his father was only 10 at the time I guess he would have hated any self-imported young men in uniform entering his home.

      Gert’s father being only 10 at the time raises the interesting question why he never tells us anything about his grandfathers who most likely where in something like their 30s at the time.

      I grew up under American occupation in a city that even after “occupation” ended still had a sizeable military (and civilian) American community whose members enjoyed quite some privileges.

      I owe them for lots and lots of stuff – not least AFN (American Forces Network) which enabled me to feel comfortable with Anglo without ever leaving the country which at the time would have been way beyond my means.

  50. richardmillett

    I emailed Michael Portillo with the blog and received this:
    “Dear Richard
    I disagree with you. My point was that if Israel attacks Iran pre- election both candidates will have to support Israel. I’m amazed that you think Obama would take the Jewish vote for granted. He would not. He would mightily fear abstention. I don’t mind you disagreeing but you could try be less objectionable.

    I replied and apologised but said i thought my main point still stood. He replied:

    “Ok thanks. If you reply more fully think about fundraising strikes as well as votes.

    Not sure what to make of that, but it seems to be more about the money maybe?

    • I am not sure what he means in the 2nd reply – perhaps its the lack of punctuation as the sentence doesn’t make sense. What he fails to understand is that if Iran isn’t stopped from becoming nuclear way before the US election, there will be no point in holding that election as we will all be either dead or Muslim. He also fails to understand Obama’s contribution to the destabilisation of the region and that it is not the Jewish vote that will keep him from a second term, but Middle America, where Obama’s false allegiences are well understood. Most Jews I hear from are still bound hand and foot to the worst US president in history, entrenched as they are in petty politics, unable to understand the greater picture. Portillo and most pundits, government officials, MPs and journalists are as bound up in that small circle.

  51. As a child I was addicted to Batman and would wait impatiently for each installment. There were certain questions that we all asked ourselves in our heart of hearts, but never dared give voice to, lest the application of cold logic to an adventure so thrilling might destroy the fantasy and cause the Caped Crusader and his Boy Wonder to disappear and their shadows never be seen again.

    Why did Commissioner Gordon never try to solve any crimes instead of calling the super heroes in every time? Why did none of Batman’s and Bruce Wayne’s mutual friends notice the similarity, despite that mask? Why did the criminals always intentionally leave clues? Why did they never just kill Batman with a bullet to the head, rather than using those elaborate methods that he was always able to foil? And there were so many other questions that I never vocalized fearing that to do so would be to invite an adult to tell me the one truth I never wished to hear.

    But most of all why did those baddies keep coming back? They tried to fight Batman over and over again and each time ” awkkkkkk zzzzzwap zgruppp kapow pow powie crunch boff ” appeared on the screen and each time they lost. Every week they were taken away by the police and so often in those last seconds The Joker or The Riddler or The Penguin would laugh aloud and say, “I’ll get you next time Batman, ha ha ha!” Why did they never give up and what the devil were they laughing at?

    I felt a strange déjà vu soon after meeting Gert. Forever pretending to be wildly amused by what nobody else sees as funny, forever being beaten up by pretty much everyone on the blog, and then at the end of each page either swearing never to return, or promising himself that he’ll “get us next time”.

    So what makes the Joker come back each time when he knows he can’t win? What makes Gert try and try again after so many failures? Is it naïveté? Is it the indefatigable faith that this time I have finally found a weapon or a line of reasoning that those Zionists or the caped crusaders are unprepared for?

    Or could it be that deep down the Riddler knows that whatever identity or personality that he hasת is built around the notoriety he has earned as Batman’s antagonist? It’s true that fighting means forever losing, but to stop fighting is tantamount to disappearing. Without getting beaten up by Batman the Riddler is just a little fat guy with a hat and the Joker is just a second rate actor with too much make-up. But with him they are super villains!

    Without us Gert is just an unemployed ignoramus from Bridlington, but with us he’s one of the guys.

    • Great Daniel. Made me smile! There is a huge image of Batman on a house balcony near us. The children look for him each time we drive by and one can see the image in their minds as they glare his way! Just as you have described it.

    • Daniel

      you love to feed me conundrums, don’t you?

      But strictly re Batman (which I don’t know) and the magic – I love Carmen the opera and even though I do ask the question why does Carmen with her excellent connections to the mighty of the lower rungs of society not ask that Jose be stopped, it doesn’t take away anything from the magic, maybe it even adds to it.

      (and while I am at it I read the short story by Prosper Merimée in a book with several other stories by him. He seems to be hung up in a general way on the view that it is the victim’s fault if it gets murdered. And so, even though Merimee and I disagree strongly with him of why in the special case of Carmen she might have averted her murder, we both agree she might have prevented it.)