How Israelis affect attitudes to Israel in the UK

I live in the UK and, on my frequent visits to Israel, am struck by the many differing attitudes of its inhabitants to living here.

Most are happy and proud to live in Israel, in spite of any day-to-day problems they many encounter. But there are a few who are Sabras, or who made Aliya decades ago, who puzzle me. Their most frequent phrase seems to be ‘This country!’, uttered in exasperation or disgust. If their train is ten minutes late or if the plumber does not appear when he promised, they exclaim ‘This country!’ as if trains or plumbers are never late in any other country.

There are those who take their disgust even further. They believe Israel is not a true democracy confirming what Winston Churchill famously said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”  They speak up loudly at every statement or action of the government or the IDF which they consider to be undemocratic. It is praiseworthy that these people want to do their bit making Israel a better place, but I suspect that they do not realise the impact their words have in the Diaspora, and that their exercising their democratic right to criticise their government in Israel is often interpreted as being an argument for the destruction of Israel. This is especially true in the UK where those who do not believe Israel has a right to exist seize every statement made by an Israeli and magnify it until it becomes a lie. Their justification, when confronted by those who try to expose the lies is always: ‘I am only repeating what Israelis say’.

While it is widely know that Israel does not always get a fair hearing in the UK press, anyone who does not live in the UK can have no idea how widespread is the anti-Israel atmosphere in every aspect of life. For example, comedy programmes are often punctuated with anti-Israel jokes; lists of countries that send aid to disaster areas seldom include Israel; Israeli medical research which is resulting in saving lives around the world is rarely, if ever, reported; Israel alone is accused of persecuting its Christians.

But this is not all. There are those who, funded by foreign NGOs, actively participate in or even instigate actions aimed at preventing the enactment of Israeli government decisions, and go even so far as to lobby foreign governments to interfere in Israeli affairs.

Of course citizens must follow their consciences and endeavour to improve the country they love and in which they live, but they have to be aware of the full impact of what there are doing, and of the untold harm that is inadvertently done to their state when they give ammunition to those who want to see Israel destroyed.

About the Author
ounder and director of Middle East Education, which teaches in schools on the Middle East and in particular, the Arab-Israeli conflict. Author of the talks and of resources on the website