The British government’s ban on Moshe Feiglin from entering the UK is symptomatic of a deep and institutional prejudice against Israel. Feiglin, a Jewish Press columnist, is best known for running second to Benjamin Netanyahu in the last Likud leadership primary.
The ban is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, it was preemptive. Feiglin had not applied for a visa, nor did he have any plans to enter the UK. Second, it came to light in the week that Hizbullah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi – already banned in the U.S. and Ireland – was allowed free entry to lecture students in British universities.
Mousawi’s visa had been approved despite strong media protests and within weeks of bitter parliamentary exchanges over a repeat visit by London Mayor Livingtone’s favourite Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, whom Hamas leader Khaled Mesh’al praised for his support of suicide bombers.
Compared to such rabid preachers of Jihad, Moshe Feiglin comes across more like Mother Teresa. It’s therefore remarkable that the Home Office took the opposite view and considered this man such a danger to public order that it didn’t even risk his turning up at its consulate in Tel Aviv. Instead, it located his modest address on a Samarian hilltop and mailed him that personal and preemptive ban.
The truth is that Feiglin is just the latest victim of a British boycott movement that leads the free world in the barring of Israeli personalities, academics and products.
In April 2005 the Association of British University Teachers voted to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities. In April 2006 the National Union of Journalists presumed to censure Israel’s “savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon” and called for a boycott of Israeli goods and sanctions by the British government and the UN. Then the University Lecturers Union condemned Israel’s “40-year occupation of Palestinian land and the complicity of Israeli academics.” It voted for a “comprehensive and consistent boycott” of all Israeli academic institutions.
Thanks to pressure from Jewish advocacy groups and sympathetic parliamentarians, those votes were ultimately overturned. However, in a country replete with unions and NGOs infiltrated by leftists and antiwar campaigners, it is only a question of time before the next visceral attack on Israel.
Take, as just one example, War on Want, one of Britain’s best-known relief charities. Its charter states that it was set up “to relieve poverty, distress and suffering in any part of the world.” Its website devotes an obscenely disproportionate amount of space, campaigning and film footage devoted to Israel. I searched the site for the word “Israel” and came up with 323 entries. The word “Darfur” returned not one single entry.
And it’s not just Israeli academics and products that are singled out for British discrimination. IDF soldiers are also at risk. In September 2005, retired Maj. Gen. Doron Almog came to London to support a handicapped children’s association. He was tipped off that a London magistrate had issued an arrest warrant on trumped-up war crimes charges brought by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (the best oxymoron I’ve heard this year). Almog had to sit tight in the El Al plane until it returned to Tel Aviv.
It is one of life’s ironies that Doron Almog was trapped in a plane on a Heathrow runway simply for being an Israeli soldier. If the British police had looked further than the bogus Palestinian charges, they would have found that Almog was a hero of the 1976 Entebbe rescue mission where he was the first to land and secure the airstrip and control tower.
In his formal reply to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Moshe Feiglin writes that the order for his exclusion issued by Her Majesty’s Government only confers legitimacy on the British boycott movement and virtually gives it a Royal Warrant.
Natan Sharansky defines this kind of behavior as the “new anti-Semitism.” Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, “new anti-Semitism” is aimed at the Jewish state. He diagnoses this malaise by what he calls his “3D” test to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.
The first “D” is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.