Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Era as British hostility Reaches Crescendo

By Robin Shepherd
20 July 09

It has been a terrible month for Israel's reputation in Great Britain. The government has announced a partial arms embargo in protest of Operation Cast Lead. The Charity War on Want has held a launch event for a new book entitled Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide. The Guardian has featured commentaries promoting the apartheid analogy as well as accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of using Nazi language to defend settlement policy. The BBC and other media outlets have given massive coverage to the recent Breaking the Silence report slamming the IDF for committing "war crimes." Barely a day goes by without a new front being opened against the Jewish state.

Those of us who follow such matters are always in danger of getting too close to our subject. But, given that the IDF is not involved in combat operations, I for one have never seen a period like it. On Friday, the Guardian ran two anti-Israel opinion pieces on one and the same day.

There's something in the air. The Israel-haters smell blood, and they're going in for the kill. It could be that we are on the threshold of a new era. But why now?

The simplest explanation is that the relentless, unremitting stream of anti-Israeli invective that has been pumped into the public mind in Britain over the last decade or so was always going to reach critical mass at some point. There is nothing particularly significant about the timing. The clock has been ticking for years. Israel's time has simply come.

ULTIMATELY, THE simple explanation may be the best explanation. But there are a number of other factors now at play which may have helped bring the situation to a head.

First, the election of Barack Obama is perceived by many British opinion formers as heralding a refreshing new approach to Israel from the United States. For linguistic and historical reasons, political change in America is keenly felt in Britain. Obama's comments calling for a freeze on the settlements have provided the pretext for a renewed assault on Israel in general using the American president's huge popularity as cover.
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