Caroline Glick was in the UK last week for a debate about Israel and the settlements. She did not enjoy herself:
I can now say from personal experience…
The public atmosphere in England regarding Israel is ugly and violent.
A couple of impressions I took away from the experience: First, I can say without hesitation that I hope never to return to Britain. I actually don’t see any point. Jews are targeted by massive anti-Semitism of both the social and physical varieties. Why would anyone Jewish want to live there?
As to visiting as an Israeli, again, I just don’t see the point. The discourse is owned by anti-Israel voices. They don’t make arguments to spur thought, but to end it, by appealing to people’s passions.
For instance, in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.
At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.
In summary, the audience were not prepared to listen. Not, unfortunately, a surprise.
Her concluding sections are no more optimistic:
I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans’ capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.
One positive note, I had a breakfast discussion last Wednesday morning with activists from the Zionist Federation of Britain. The people I met are committed, warm, hardworking Zionists. I wish them all the best, and mainly that means, that I hope that these wonderful people and their families make aliyah.
While their work is worthwhile, there is no future for Jews in England.
A touch melodramatic? Or insightful? My own experiences are that among the ‘chattering classes’ – the politically involved, the lovers of the Guardian, the Foreign Office, and the WASP establishment – Ms Glick’s descriptions are accurate. But there is a silent majority: those who are not politically involved and want only for a quiet, ordinary life. These people have no interest or in built bias about Israel or the Middle East. The challenge for pro Israel organizations like the ZF is to engage with this last group, or motivate people in that group, and get them to see the situation from Israel’s point of view. That’s a tough ask. Because converting the chattering classes is an impossible task. Just ask Carol.