Alan Hart meeting

I went to a meeting yesterday organised by the Scottish PSC as part of its launch promotion of a book called “Zionism: the Real Enemy of the Jews”. It was written by Alan Hart, who was famous as a television journalist in the sixties and seventies. The book is a history of Zionism, the first of two volumes and about 600 pages long; I won’t comment on it but rather on his short presentation of it. He is obviously extremely well-informed, and by his account – which I have no reason to question – a first-hand observer of many of the historical events he describes, and a back-channel for big diplomatic initiatives at the time.

The book will make a fascinating read, but the presentation posed some problems; its big theme was the need for “a new covenant” between Jews and gentiles in which Jews would stop supporting Zionism, and gentiles would end antisemitism so as to make Jews feel safe in renouncing Israel. I couldn’t argue with the basic link between Zionism and anti-semitism, but this was much too simplistic. I also didn’t like the emphasis he put on the need to persuade Jews away from support of Israel as the main condition of changing the situation. Obviously I’m in favour of such persuasion, but that formulation means that you are giving diaspora Jewish communities responsibility for what Israel does. Various people pointed out that Israel cares much more about US government support – and also its place in the European picture – and Alan changed his position a little under questioning to the point of saying that changing diaspora opinion was an essential condition rather than the main one.

However good the book is, it won’t do much to change ideas in the Jewish community. The title alone will make sure that it gets very little consideration. If that is a loss, then it’s up to us to put its arguments in a more acceptable way.