I find myself a little confused over the goings-on in my erstwhile homeland. The very name, United Kingdom, is a fine example. The country is most certainly not ‘United’; rarely have the political divisions been so great. And there is not a King in sight, nor has there been for the last 65 years. Perhaps a better name would be the Disunited Queendom, the DQ.
Indeed, ‘United Kingdom’ is a political term referring to the independent country that includes all of Great Britain. It is about time that this name was changed to reflect today’s politics.
‘Great Britain’ is a geographic term referring to England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and islands such as the Isle of Wight.
And just to make sure that you are truly confused the official name of the country is the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.
So, to sum up, United Kingdom (or U.K.) is the country, Great Britain is the island, and England is one of the U.K.’s four administrative regions.
The United Kingdom is a relatively new creation dating back to 1801. As Disraeli famously answered when attacked in the House of Commons, “Yes, I am a Jew. And when the ancestors of the right honourable gentlemen were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.”
I am not sure that Disraeli would be so quick to identify himself as a Jew in today’s Disunited Queendom. The “brutal savages” are back with anti-Semitic attacks, verbal and physical, a daily feature of life for Jews. And, while Solomon’s temple has yet to be rebuilt, we Israelis are a free people living in our own land with “priests” and “temples” in abundance.
Today, Disraeli would find no shortage of anti-Semites to attack him in the House of Commons. A particularly rabid example is already head of the Labour Party and within touching distance of the premiership. Hardly a day passes without some new revelation of Jeremy Corbin’s anti-Semitism dating back many years.
A London Jewish group has just released a 15,000-page report detailing Labour Party anti-Semitism. Yes, 15,000 pages. That’s a lot of anti-Semitism.
And yet our fellow Jews sit in silence. While many observers are making comparisons between the current atmosphere of hatred towards Jews and the 1930s the DQ’s Jews see no evil, hear no evil, and would certainly never speak any evil.
Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld: It feels like the 1930s (The Jerusalem Post – May 1, 2019)
History is repeating itself, Holocaust survivors warn (Times of Israel – 2 May 2019)
Even the BBC, never a great friend of Jews, reported Anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK up 16% in 2018.
Surprisingly, the highest proportion of anti-Semitic Google searches in the UK, including search terms such as ‘Jews evil’, ‘kill Jews’ and ‘die Jews’, come from Wales. As there are only some 2,000 Jews in Wales, the chances are that these anti-Semites have never met a Jew.
In 1951, the Jewish community of the UK was estimated to be 420,000. In the last census, 2011, this figure had sunk to around 265,000 although this might be a little low as many Jews preferred not to answer the voluntary question on faith.
We, in Israel, are puzzled. The old days of new immigrants being directed to clear fields of stones before returning to their tents at night have gone. We have a modern state with many physical, spiritual and financial advantages over the Disunited Queendom.
So, why do quarter of a million Jews prefer to sit, ostrich-like, in a land that hates them when they could come home to Israel?
It cannot be Employment. The current unemployment rates in the UK and Israel are more or less the same.
It cannot be Standard of Living. The standard of living in Israel is high and is constantly improving. Israel’s standard of living was ranked 18th in the world based on the UN Human Development Index.
It cannot be Life Expectancy. We are ahead of the UK in Life expectancy – 82.7 against 81.7.
It cannot be Prices. Consumer prices in London are 3.03% higher than in Tel Aviv-Yafo.
Consumer prices including rent in London are 24.44% higher than in Tel Aviv-Yafo.
Rent prices in London are 69.76% higher than in Tel Aviv-Yafo.
But, wait – can it be our restaurant prices? Restaurants in London average 1.08% lower than in Tel Aviv-Yafo. Is it possible that British Jews are not making Aliya just to save 1.08% on an occasional night out?
Perhaps the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration should start subsidising our restaurants as the best way to tempt British Jews to finally come home.