George Bush came to England last week for the first state visit by an American president since 1918. Unfortunately, his welcome to these shores was far from warm.

On November 19, several hundred protestors staged an alternative “state procession” to coincide with the real pageant of pomp and circumstance taking place at the same time within the gates of Buckingham Palace. A horse-drawn carriage led the mock parade through the streets of central London. When questioned by reporters, the Bush look-a-like at the front expressed the view that many British people seem to believe the president actually holds: “Your little country makes a great runway and I’m delighted it is so easy to get social security out of your Prime Minister Tony Blair.”

The following day, approximately 100,000 members of the “Stop the War” coalition marched down Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. The demonstrators were an eclectic mix – students campaigning against tuition fees (the logic being that if the government could afford to host Mr. Bush they could also do away with the cost of higher education) mingled with the ubiquitous “free Palestine” brigade. The one thing that seemed to unite them was a fiery, irrational hatred of the United States. They unceremoniously burned American flags. In a sickening imitation of the jubilant scenes we saw in Iraq earlier this year, they toppled a giant statue of President Bush – the man the left-wing mayor of London has referred to as “the greatest threat to life on this planet.” 

Even when the news broke of a double suicide bombing, targeting British interests in Turkey, the majority seemed unable to condemn Islamic violence. Instead, they again repeated the insane mantra that the blame for such acts of terrorism lies firmly at the feet of the West.

The world has gone mad. Bleeding-heart liberals shout about a war that ended six months ago, and that has left over 80 percent of Iraq with a semblance of peace and hope for the first time in decades. People seem to be utterly blind to the fact that Islamic fundamentalism is without doubt the greatest global danger facing us in the 21st century.

Sadly, the angry scenes that George Bush witnessed in London during his brief stay are nothing but the tip of the iceberg. In a climate where liberals seem intent on pursuing an  unlikely partnership with religious fanatics who will stop at nothing, salon anti-Semitism has become rife in the UK, and seems to be spiraling frighteningly out of control. Here are just a few other examples.

● Only three days after the horrifying synagogue bombings in Turkey, an editorial in a mainstream British newspaper managed somehow to pin the blame for the attacks on Israel.

● Last month, a Scottish member of the British parliament put forward a motion calling for “the government to concede that Israel has imposed apartheid over the Palestinian people” (by building its security fence). Seventy-one other MPs added their names to the bill.
● On “Remembrance Sunday,” a day set aside in the British calendar for quiet reflection on all those who have lost their lives in conflict since 1914, a group known as “Just Peace UK” chose the setting of a memorial service to call for the dismantling of Israel’s security fence. To add insult to injury, they staged this protest in Golders Green, one of the largest Jewish enclaves in London.

● A recent survey by the European Union quizzed 7,500 people across the continent about which world states they felt posed the biggest threat to international security. Of the 507 British voters who took part, 60% stated Israel, against only 43% who cited Iran, and 54% who mentioned Syria.

● In June of this year, an Oxford University professor refused even to consider an Israeli student of molecular biology for an internship at the college because he had “a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians.” His punishment? A mere two-month suspension, with full reinstatement to the admissions board at the end of that period.

● A member of local government for Preston, in the North West of England, campaigned recently to have the city twinned with Nablus. Michael Lavalette said: “I made the proposal because we see it as a fantastic act of solidarity with people in the West Bank while they suffer from the consequences of the occupation by the Israeli army.” Although the proposal was defeated, he has vowed to continue his pro-Palestinian campaign – 500 local people came forward to support his cause in the run up to the vote.

● On the evening of the bombing of the British consulate and HSBC headquarters in Istanbul, “Newsnight,” a live, televised question and answer session on the subject, was aired by the BBC. Despite the fact that many Jews were in the audience, some of them even wearing kippot, the presenters only heard out the views of the Arab sympathizers. Those who expressed support for Israel and America were generally cut off mid-sentence.

So where do we go from here? If the above list inspires anything it is likely to be a sense of hopelessness. But surely as Jews supportive of Israel we must try and prevent the situation from escalating further. One step in the right direction has been the BBC’s recent decision to appoint a watchdog committee for the fair reporting of Middle Eastern affairs. As a result, the Israeli government has lifted the embargo on its spokespeople speaking to BBC journalists, and the Israeli point of view will be represented on British television and radio.

To conclude, although it is a shame that George Bush had to leave this country with the ugly shouts of protesters ringing in his ears, in truth the demonstrations only served to highlight the kinds of freedoms that were lacking in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and that the coalition fought for. In the Western world today, we live in multicultural, multiethnic societies – no one group is considered superior to another, and everyone has the right to freedom of speech. What we Jews have to learn now is how best to make use of that right, and teach the world where the danger really lies. 


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