A group of young, Jewish ad execs who are frustrated by the constant Israel-bashing in the UK are spearheading a new, in-your-face advertising campaign called StandUp4Israel.
It’s strong stuff…and that’s precisely the point. As the Jerusalem Report notes, “StandUp4Israel’s thesis is that British Jewry has utterly failed to address the anti-Zionism bordering on anti-Semitism they say has become institutionalized in both British media and society throughout five years of the intifada…While the grassroots send outraged e-mails to each other, the leaders of the community focus on polite attempts to influence opinion-makers, journalists and politicians. This is a non-strategy, insists [advertising executive] Marc Cave: ‘Politics has changed. We live in a focus-group culture where the people in power make decisions based on what the bloke in the street thinks.’”
Leaders of mainstream British Jewish organizations are less enthusiastic, saying that such tactics end up alienating the public. (“Only pariah states advertise their wares,” asserts Brian Kerner, president of the United Jewish Israel Appeal.) They argue that quiet lobbying is more cost effective and ultimately more productive, noting that the British government’s support and engagement with Israel is undeniable, in sharp contrast to the antipathy found elsewhere in the European Union.
An interesting subtext of this story is the generational clash. Cave sees it as a conflict between young, proud, angry Jews and an older leadership that has so successfully integrated into the British establishment they are terrified to take a stand that might upset anyone. “The elder generation like their peerages and knighthoods and the crusty kudos of it all and want to retain that. It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.” Likewise, Shimon Cohen, chairman of a London-based public relations firms, observes: “There is a great nervousness in the leadership of the Jewish community to shout from the rooftops and be proud of Israel. Our parents were very grateful to Britain for rescuing us and for allowing us to live here in freedom, but I think the wind is changing. Our generation feels very strong, very secure, and we can be louder and more open.”
I confess, upon reading this, I immediately thought of the now-infamous column by Guardian trainee reporter (and Hizb ut-Tahrir party member) Dilpazier Aslam who wrote: “Second- and third-generation Muslims are without the don’t-rock-the-boat attitude that restricted our forefathers. We’re much sassier with our opinions, not caring if the boat rocks or not. Which is why the young get angry with that breed of Muslim ‘community leader’ who remains silent while anger is seething on the streets.”
Memo to the editors of the Guardian and the other members of the British chattering classes who fret about the “sources of Muslim rage”: Apparently, there’s also a fair amount of “Jewish rage” to be found in the UK. The real issue is whether that outrage is channeled towards legitimate political activism–or tolerated as an excuse for political violence.