First time as tragedy, second time as tragedy again — Europe’s continuing estrangement from Israel:
I am standing in a queue waiting to buy a train ticket from London to Canterbury. A well-dressed lady standing behind me informs her friend that she “can’t wait till Israel disappears off the face of the earth.” What struck me was not her intense hostility to Israel but the mild-mannered, matter-of-fact tone with which she announced her wish for the annihilation of a nation. It seems that it is okay to condemn and demonize Israel. All of a sudden Israel has become an all-purpose target for a variety of disparate and confused causes. When I ask a group of Pakistani waiters sitting around a table in their restaurant why they “hate” Israel, they casually tell me that it is because Jews are their “religion’s enemy.” Those who are highly educated have their own pet prejudice. One of my young colleagues who teaches media studies in a London-based university was taken aback during a seminar discussion when some of her students insisted that since all the banks are owned by Jews, Israel was responsible for the current global financial crisis.
It’s looking like the 1930s again in more ways than one. Let’s hope it ends better this time.