‘It is antisemitic to hold Jews responsible for the actions of Israel,’ writes Gary Mond

Gary Mond

‘It is antisemitic to hold Jews responsible for the actions of Israel,’ writes Gary Mond

GB News
Gary Mond

By Gary Mond

Published: 13/04/2024

- 17:00

Gary Mond outlines the three different fundamental attitudes that Jews in the UK have towards Israel

Most people outside the Jewish community in the UK seek to link, in their minds, Jews with Israel. It is antisemitic to seek to hold Jews responsible for the actions of the state of Israel, whatever those actions may be, but nevertheless, there is, for most people, at least a residual belief that Jewish people support Israel.

To what extent is that true? This can be analysed by considering the three different fundamental attitudes that Jews in the UK have towards Israel.

The first attitude is the complete rejection of Israel as having any relevance to Jewry. Those who believe this are sometimes called “anti-Zionists” or “non-Zionists”.

Sadly, the proportion of Jews in the diaspora who hold this viewpoint is growing. The reasons for that are partly political, as the left worldwide has seen reducing levels of support for Israel over the past generation, partly assimilation and partly a by-product of the rise in antisemitism. According to a survey last year, only 63 per cent of Jews in the UK identify as Zionists, down from 73 per cent ten years earlier.

The second attitude is one that involves seeking to interfere in Israel’s policy decisions. Many large Jewish groups across the diaspora adopt this approach, including most bodies which claim, rightly or wrongly, to be representative of their Jewish communities. Jews in the UK are no exception.

This type of behaviour was at its zenith during 2023, before the war, with immense criticism of the Israeli government’s plans to pass judicial reform legislation.

This approach is mostly taken by those who support Israel’s political left. Examples range from the simple support for a “two-state solution” (which I believe is a matter for Israel to decide on, not others) to extensive criticism of Israel’s strategy in a raft of issues, of which the current war is but one.

The common expression that entities who seek to adopt this approach use to call themselves is “critical friends of Israel”.

\u200bBenjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuREUTERS

My view is that such groups are not friends at all, as they cannot appreciate the difficult challenges that Israel faces in its governance.

Their views are dictated by other considerations such as (i) cosying up to their domestic governments, even if it is at the expense of Israel (ii) putting their own political preferences ahead of Israel’s interests or (iii) trying to influence Israeli domestic opinion. Fortunately, the Israeli government of the day almost always ignores them.

My single biggest criticism of this second approach is that those who adopt it think that Israel has some kind of need for accountability towards the Jewish diaspora. It does not. Like the government of any country, its responsibility is to its citizens. In the case of Israel, that includes secular Jews, religious Jews and the minority Arab communities. It does not include Jews who live outside Israel in any way, shape or form.

The third attitude is one that my organization, the National Jewish Assembly, adopts as do many other pro-Israel British Jews, be they individuals or organisations. We believe that it is not our business to comment on any internal issues within the state of Israel and that such policies are solely matters for those who live in Israel, pay taxes in Israel and either send their children or go themselves to serve in the Israeli army.

For example, unlike those adopting the second approach, we were totally silent in public on Israel’s proposed judicial reforms before the war, notwithstanding that our 14 advisory board members all held various different private views on the issue.

Instead, we defend Israel with all our might in the diaspora – fighting antisemitism and those who wish to delegitimize the state of Israel, arguing against attempts to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel and objecting to and lobbying against anti-Israel bias in all forms of media.

As Zionists who love Israel, we support the country whether or not the current Israeli government, at any point in time, is our preferred choice. In summary, we could be described as advocates for Israel as opposed to advocates to Israel. We simply pray that G-d imbues Israel’s government with the wisdom to make the right decisions, in war and peace, for the benefit of Israel which will also, ultimately, be for the benefit of Jews worldwide.

Gary Mond is Chairman of the National Jewish Assembly and a regular contributor to GB News TV programmes.

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