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OpinionIsrael at War

Chilling winds towards Israel from Britain and America

Obsessional hostility has even infected counterterrorism experts.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

The chilly winds that have been blowing towards Israel from its American and British allies have grown even colder.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the U.K.’s House of Commons, whose duty is to be conspicuously impartial, caused astonishment when a diary note from his office indicated that he would meet the “Palestine Ambassador” to Britain this week. The note also said that “as part of Speaker-led diplomacy, we will be flying the … Palestine flag in honor of the Palestine Ambassador.”

However, the Speaker is not a diplomat, Britain doesn’t recognize a state of “Palestine” and there is no Palestinian ambassador, merely a head of the Palestinian mission to the United Kingdom.

Hours after the story was broken by the Policy Exchange think-tank, the Speaker’s Office declared that “a routine internal planning email” had been sent out “in error” and “no meeting with the Palestinian Ambassador is scheduled to take place.”

Meanwhile, people arriving at London’s Heathrow airport were astonished to see a printed notice from the capital’s Metropolitan Police that said: “If you have been in Israel/Palestinian Territories and have witnessed or been a victim of terrorism, war crimes or crimes against humanity, then you can report this to the U.K. police.”

The poster, written in Arabic and Hebrew as well as English, said that any such evidence may be shared with the International Criminal Court, which has been investigating alleged war crimes in “Israel and Palestine” since June 2014.

One might justifiably say that anyone who has been in an air raid in Israel caused by rockets from Gaza has been a victim of war crimes committed by Hamas. But, of course, the Met’s initiative is in explicit support of the ICC investigation, whose aim is to demonize Israel with utterly spurious claims.

Given the Met’s passivity in the face of thousands of demonstrators on London’s streets week after week chanting for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, the Met’s apparent enthusiasm for getting involved in a foreign court’s partisan targeting of Israel is grotesque. 

In both Britain and America, obsessional hostility to Israel seems to be coursing through the structures of organized society.

In America, 17 anonymous Biden campaign staffers called directly on the president to push for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza—in other words, Israel’s surrender to Hamas. This followed similar letters from 500 political appointees and staff members from 40 government agencies, White House interns and staffers on Capitol Hill.

In Britain, a former civil servant, Anna Stanley, wrote a blistering article for Fathom about a counterterrorism course she attended at King’s College, London before the Oct. 7 pogrom.

This course was designed for civil servants and professionals in counterterrorism from various government departments. They heard presentations by lecturers and research fellows, amongst whom were people who had formerly served as a defense minister and a senior official at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and as top officials at the Home Office and the GCHQ intelligence agency.

Some of these lecturers, wrote Stanley, relayed typical postmodern identity politics. They taught, with no contrasting viewpoint, that “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.” Labeling an organization “terrorist” was described as a problem because it “implies a moral judgment.”

She recounted, “In the introduction, one slide read: ‘Condemning terrorism is to endorse the power of the strong over the weak,’ a dangerous conclusion breeding anti-Israel positions. In this perspective, Israel is seen as a powerful aggressor and the Palestinians militarily disadvantaged in asymmetric warfare.”

“Thus, the Palestinians are inherently oppressed,” she noted, “an axiom that fuels the view that Israel is a terrorist state and Hamas’s atrocities are justifiably ‘contextualized.’ Another slide read, ‘Terrorism is not the problem, rather the systems they oppose are terrorist,’ reflecting postmodern identity politics wrapped up as counterterrorism education.” 

The overriding emphasis of the course, wrote Stanley, was that Islamist extremism was exaggerated while lecturers gave right-wing extremism disproportionate weight.

This directly contradicted the conclusion reached by Sir William Shawcross in his recent review of the government’s anti-radicalization program, Prevent, which Shawcross found was dangerously underestimating Islamist extremism while exaggerating right-wing threats.

One lecturer, reported Stanley, rubbished Shawcross by describing him as “the type of person who would say all current counterterrorism professionals are woke. … He is of that ilk.” The lecturer also claimed that the British writer Douglas Murray and American commentator Joe Rogan are both examples of the “far-right.”

Stanley wrote: “‘To what extent should Joe Rogan and Douglas Murray be suppressed?’ he asked. ‘They have millions of followers. To deplatform them would cause issues. … So, society needs to find other ways to suppress them.’”

To smear Murray as “far-right” is as risible as it is poisonous. He is simply one of Israel’s most passionate and articulate non-Jewish supporters and a clear-sighted analyst of Islamic extremism. The similarly robust Shawcross had to fight Whitehall’s instinctive pusillanimity to get his government-ordered review published at all.

Until recently, Stanley, who is Jewish, worked as an open-source intelligence analyst at Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A few months ago, she told me of her deep distress at the overwhelming hostility towards Israel within the FCO.

After Oct. 7, she said this week, the atmosphere there became unendurable. There was no acknowledgment that Israelis had been subjected to a horrific and specifically genocidal attack. Instead, email traffic amongst colleagues referred to “issues on both sides.”

The Hamas pogrom was constantly “contextualized” as a result of Israeli “occupation,” she revealed. The vast majority of officials subscribe to “human rights” and “social justice” dogma that presents Israel as an occupier and an “apartheid” state. 

Jewish officials were made to feel very uncomfortable. Plans were developed for a whole month of training officials about anti-Islamic attitudes, with only one day to be set aside for antisemitism. One Jewish manager even advised Jewish colleagues not to visit the crisis center that the FCO set up to assist Britons to leave the region because what was being said there about Israel was so upsetting.

On Jan. 1, Stanley resigned from the FCO. This week, she arrived in Israel on aliyah.

It is shocking but not surprising that so many in positions of authority and influence—even those involved in counterterrorism—have such ignorant, extreme and distorted views. For disdain towards Israel, along with misrepresenting and underplaying the 100-year war of extermination waged against it by the Muslim world, characterizes cultural discourse all the way up to the top of Western leadership.

Neither the British government nor the Biden administration acknowledges that the onslaught against Israel is part of a broader Iranian war against America, Britain and the West.

Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was again bizarrely insisting this week that the “only” way to peace was “a pathway to a Palestinian state” and that “Israel must stop taking steps that undercut Palestinians’ ability to govern themselves effectively.” This from an administration that continues to fund the Palestinian Authority even while the P.A. rewards terrorists and their families.

Although both Blinken and Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, have condemned the preposterous charge of genocide being brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice, Cameron proceeded to lob at the beleaguered Jewish state a defamatory missile of his own.

He was “worried,” he told a parliamentary committee, that Israel has “taken action in Gaza that might be in breach of international law” and that “on lots of occasions” its compliance was “under question.”

Since Cameron offered no evidence of any such breaches, his remarks served merely to smear Israel when it is fighting for its life and being demonized and thus undermined by a torrent of such false accusations from around the world.

With allies like these, who needs enemies?

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