Robert Festenstein

Not even hidden, just in plain sight

Towards the end of 2021 I attended an event in North London involving the Israeli ambassador, Her Excellency Tzipi Hotovely, her first in-person event since the pandemic.  She explained that a very large amount of her time then had been dealing with the issues arising out of the conduct of Iran.

Iran has been sponsoring terrorism for years; and for years Western governments and media have been ignoring it.  Since 7 October 2023, there have been substantial marches across Europe in opposition to Israel and at the same time, either covert and too often overt support of Hamas.  The world has been told repeatedly by Israel that Iran has been funding terrorism in general and Hamas in particular.  It has also been told that the attack on Israel by Hamas is not an end in itself, but the start of an attack on the West generally.

The attack on Israel was not only an attack against the Jewish state and the Jews, it was and is an attack on the West.  Hamas have made their position very clear as to their views on the West yet sadly, just as the media and the political left have ignored the threat against Israel, they have ignored the same threat against Western democracy.

Last week, following the unfortunate deaths of British aid workers in Gaza, there was a hysterical outpouring of criticism of Israel.  Headlines in many newspapers, social media on fire about it, and various politicians – including the British Foreign Secretary – calling for a halt to arms sales to Israel.  The visceral attacks on Israel were astonishing both in their intensity and their volume.  I couldn’t work it out at first, but then it dawned on me.

The irrational criticism of Israel by the British establishment and numerous politicians – of both ends of the political spectrum – was based on something far more fundamental than outrage of the loss of British lives.  It was based on anger at the Jews.  Christian anti-Semitism in the UK was responsible for the Jews being expelled in 1290.  Although they were allowed back in the middle of the 17th century, there were, and continue to be viewed with suspicion.

Despite the many achievements of the UK Jewish community, what the outrage last week showed was that we are still only tolerated and when we step out of line, that is the result. Outrage.  Essentially this is what happens when you allow the Jews to have their own state; they run out of control and they need to be brought back into line.  Prior to that, there has been tacit approval of the massive intimidatory marches through London, refusal to protect the Jewish community and constant demands to allow Hamas to keep operating under the cover of calls for a ceasefire.

Despite being told over and over again, that Hamas not only wants to destroy Israel, kill Jews and then attack the West, Israel has been perversely labelled as the bad guy whom no one can trust.

Since the Iranians started their direct attack on Israel, it has become clear that despite the massive marches against Israel in London, the huge bias from the BBC and numerous calls for a ceasefire, the military reality had in fact been grasped by both the USA and the UK.  Both countries have been involved in destroying drones and missiles fired from Iran towards Israel since their military have known for some time that Iran is a major threat to regional peace.  I suspect Iran will have been surprised to some extent by this action.  surprised because watching the television and reading online content will have encouraged Iran to believe that the British would not step in to prevent Iran escalating the conflict under way in Israel and Gaza.

The marches, demands from MPs, numerous petitions and most recently lawyers demanding action from the UK prime minister may have convinced the Iranian leadership that the UK will not get involved.  The latest comments by the British Foreign Secretary can only have reinforced the view that the UK government were not prepared to step in.  Only they have been prepared to do just that.

This is not a victory for us.  The level of Jew-hatred on the streets is still at record levels, the police will still not protect us, and the hatred against Israel continues apace.  I suspect the lack of interest in Iran will also continue.  What is slightly reassuring is that at least some amongst the military leadership in the UK and the USA have worked out how dangerous is the Iranian threat and are prepared to push back against a regime which has sworn repeatedly they will destroy Israel first, then the West.  It remains to be seen whether anyone else will recognise the risk, or just continue to march against Israel and marginalise the Jews.  Only time will tell.

About the Author
Robert Festenstein is a solicitor based in Manchester with considerable experience in Court actions. He is active in fighting the increase in anti-Semitism in the UK and is President of the Zionist Central Council, an organisation devoted to promoting and defending the democratic State of Israel.