Short Takes: Seeing Events From Great Britain

Short Takes: Seeing Events From Great Britain

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Covering the Middle the War in Gaza

Expecting the worse from the British media it was fascinating to observe that at least initially Israel was not smashed by the English press. It was noted by those who monitor these matters in Britain that there was more coverage from journalists reporting on alerts and alarms to rockets within Israel than to rockets being shot by Hamas from Gaza.  Even the BBC and the Guardian, for example, initially seemed to be on guard not to exaggerate or hyperbolize the Palestinian side of the story. As the war continues there is a growing attention being given to non-combatant victims in Gaza, but it has been considerably less hostile than the coverage during 2012 for example. This could all change if the fighting persists and casualties mount.


Ending the Shooting

Former Israeli Ambassador in Washington Itamar Rabinovich, as quoted in the Financial Times, as well as other observers, suggested that there is no natural mediator to separate the parties or quickly negotiate a cease-fire. It is clear in the States as well as in Britain that the U.S. Secretary of State—who historically would have been the most likely negotiating force—has lost some of his credibility as an effective broker as a result of the failed nine month negotiating initiative that John Kerry led between Israel and the Palestinians. The only likely possibility—if it were to be a U.S. mediator who would try to bring about a cease-fire—would be some outside facilitator or experienced, acceptable Middle East negotiator.


Rallying Anglo Jewry

British Jews still have a long way to go before they will have the structure, assertiveness, as well as the access that American Jews have to all portions of American society, especially in the political realm. What is noticeable, however, is that over the past several years some of the pro-Israel advocates in Britain have begun to find their voice. Part of this is attributable to the depth of hostility that many younger Jews experienced during their University years as they were confronted by pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel forces. Where in the past they might have retreated into themselves, more and more of these younger activists appear to have opted not to withdraw but to confront. This is especially true in the fact that—at least prior to the outbreak of Operation Protective Edge—generally speaking the BDS movement in Britain appeared to have peaked or at least levelled off. The emergence of a more vocal, activist pro-Israel element within the community has not been led by the old-line institutional leadership, but rather by younger elements. One of the manifestations of this more engaged tone within the community has been manifested by the public nature of the Anglo-Jewish press led most noticeably by the London Jewish Chronicle.


On Top of The Issue

It is fascinating to observe that among opinion-makers and those closest to Israeli sources, many Brits are not especially supportive of the Netanyahu Government. Unlike the preponderance of  American Jewish leaders, English leaders clearly are willing to address the Government’s exploitation of the kidnapping and tragic murder of the three teenagers presumably by Arabs as well as the stall in addressing the murder of the Arab boy, Mohammed Abu Khdeir presumably by Israeli terrorists. There is a candor and recognition of the Israeli Government’s shortcomings in the name of political expediency or longer term electoral goals.

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