Lost In Translation – Dancing with the Devil
To my shock, I woke up on this morning to read the news that Ron Prosor, Israel’s envoy to the UN, and former Ambassador to Britain had attended a reception, spoke to and posed for a photo together with Marine LePen, the leader of the far right French National Front and presidential candidate, whilst she was in New York.
The Foreign Ministry have insisted that this was a chance meeting and they were under the impression that this was a French mission meeting. Having met Ron Prosor on several occasions, I am certain that this was probably the case and it was just a mistake.
However, this yet again raises a serious concern that I, and many Jews must share. Who should Israel and supporters of Israel get into bed with?
In London over the past two years, we have seen the emergence of the English Defense League – an anti-Islamic group of mainly white, working class men who campaign against Sharia law being forced onto our society. The EDL also boasts a Jewish Division. They have gained some popular support and march in an aggressive manner in cities and areas with large Muslim populations – arrests always follow. It is provocative behavior and there is little difference between the behavior of these thugs and that of Oswald Mosley’s Black Shirts of the 1930’s – they even wear matching outfits and badges, proudly showing which division of the EDL they come from. The main difference is that this time, we, the Jews are not the target.
As well as being known for their far right anti-Muslim views, they are also increasingly vocal about their Pro-Israel credentials. They often campaign outside the Israeli Embassy, always as a counter to an anti-Israel demonstration. Once again, this is used as a way of provoking anti-Israel campaigners, many of whom are Muslim. Creating an environment of hate.
What seriously concerns me has been a lack of strong action and leadership from the Israeli embassy, and more worryingly – some Jewish supporters of Israel seem to be willing to stand side by side with them. In fact, a Vice President of the Zionist Federation has been accused of this, something that he contests, claiming that it was coincidence.
After a year, the Union of Jewish Students finally led the charge in opposing these bigots, by starting the Not in our Name campaign, which brought together leading organizations from our community to stand together and say that these people are no friends of Israel and no friends of the Jewish people.
This problem is not confined to Britain. In Eastern Europe, many of Israel’s strongest allies are homophobes, anti-Semites and racists. In Lithuania, the Government is pursuing a policy of erasing the legacy of the Holocaust from their national history and arresting Holocaust survivors on war crimes charges because they fought for the Soviets against the Nazis. In Latvia, SS Veterans march every year to the voices of senior politicians boasting of their pride in serving Latvia in the SS during the Second World War – and other Eastern European, former communist states are re-writing history to suit their own narrative.
It is understandable, that in times like this, when Israel’s friends seem few and far between, we might be willing sacrifice our own values for a bit of friendship, but I would urge everyone to remember that these are people that Israel, Jews and supporters of Israel need to keep at an arm’s length. Embracing such organizations and ideologies is an insult to our own past.