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Jonny Cline


By Jonny Cline, Modi'in Israel, August 9, 2010

What Should We Make of Shimon Peres's Recent Comments about The UK? 

There are approximately a quarter of a million Jews in the United Kingdom, and there are now approximately two and a half million Muslims.

The Jewish population of Britain has halved over the last fifty years. The Muslim community is projected to be approximately 15% of the UK population within 20 years.

Of the 60,000,000 residents of the island on which I was born, little more than half are the descendants of the original WASP population of the kingdom.

The Jews, by the way, came into England with William the Conqueror, who thought we would be good for business. As happened all across Europe at some time or other, we were banished from the Island in 1290 – way ahead of the infamous Spanish expulsion – and have not yet been officially welcomed back. Sure, Cromwell made a point of declaring that the banishment law would not be enforced, but that is kind of like the Israeli folklore that you will not be prosecuted for not paying your TV tax as long as they never find out you have a TV.

One of the repercussions of world domination (British modesty) was the influx of migrants from the length and breadth of the Empire. To be fair, the white Briton, at least the landed gentry, did encourage the importation of cheap labour from around the globe, but the average working class bloke had little nice to say about the new competition for his lowly paid job.

In most UK towns there is a geographic trend that can be seen. The inner city – old, run-down, heavy traffic – is populated by the poor and the new immigrant. As the first generation works hard to survive, the second generation inherits their work ethic, and is brought up hearing a mantra stating that the original immigrant came, and suffers, so that their progeny can live a better life. The second generation, generally, succeeds, and moves into better neighbourhoods in the urban periphery. Successive generations similarly succeed, and their residence of choice generally corresponds. The Jews did it that way, the Pakistanis, the Chinese, the Indians, the Liliputians, the Martians and the Vulcans.

In my class in high school we had a boy whose name was Mars Bari, poor lad, and a Chinese boy whose surname was Ng (pronounced Ing, apparently). As each entered the country, they did all that they could to retain their native culture and community, but also to become an organic member of British society. They spoke both their own language and English, they ate their own foods, and fish and chips – eventually their foods were adopted by the locals – curry, sushi, pizza, the lot.

Over the last two decades something out of the ordinary has been happening.

It is important to recognize that the Muslim world is largely made up of those from two regions: those from Arab lands, and those from the Indian subcontinent. Most of the Indian subcontinent was, at some point, part of the Empire.

The Muslim, or to be more accurate, the Islamist communities that have sprouted in urban Britain have broken the mold. Yes, there are masses that have followed the trend, but there are communities that have made it their business to make Britain more to their liking. The largest mosque in Europe is to be found quite close to the most famous football stadium in the world, the most popular Arabic newspaper in the world is printed not in the Gulf but in London, the levels of hatred and incitement – open incitement – are a phenomenon that the British Institution does not quite know how to handle.

One of the most famous characters, Abu Hamza al-Masri, calls the UK, "a paradise, where you could do anything you wanted", and has since been arrested many times for incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism.

Abu Izzadeen, originally name Trevor Brooks, was found guilty of calling on his followers to train to be terrorists and telling them to kill non-believers to get to heaven.

These are the extreme examples, but they are an extreme that is not found in other populations or ethnic groups. The influence of the Muslim population on the British decision makers [and let’s be honest, neither of them are not exactly actively Zionist or Judeophilic to begin with] is increasing. Whereas others have exercised such influence in order to improve their own experience in the UK, or to influence British policy vis-à-vis their homelands, this population is demanding policy that is not necessarily relevant to their personal or communal life, but rather promotes ideological doctrine.

Israeli President Shimon Peres was recently attacked in the headlines for calling the UK anti-Semitic. If you look closely, you will find that his actual comments are slightly more Peres-ian. 

Peres pointed out the growing influence of the Islamist communities in Britain. “There are several million Muslim voters [in the UK]. And for many members of parliament, that’s the difference between getting elected and not getting elected.” If such electoral strength were to be applied for the promotion of Israeli-Palestinian peace, the British Institution would be doing all that was in their power to make it so. If this power were applied to fight poverty in Indonesia, AIDS in Africa, or to fight for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia, it would become important to David Cameron to be heard spouting on the issue. Unfortunately it would seem that the issue of choice is Gaza. Didn’t we leave there already?

As an Israeli I find this troubling, not frightening, but unnecessary.

As a Brit, I find the whole thing very worrying.

The well-known “Dry Bones” comic pictured, a few weeks ago, a conversation between two characters about Turkey. “Do you remember when we were worried that Turkey would make Europe Islamic, and not the other way around?!” At first, I laughed – then I stopped.

I always walked around (most of) the streets of my home town, Manchester, with my head covered and no fear. This is no longer the case. On my visits to my family I have become more and more aware of the looks I have been getting from the steadily more visibly Islamist crowd on the street. I decided about eight years ago to wear a baseball cap. When I caught myself doing so, I took it off.

My parents and brother have expressed growing discomfort as Jews in England. They will probably never leave there, knowing that they will feel more and more threatened, less and less safe, as time goes on. When I was younger, I remember the calls of “$^@%ing Jew” used to come from white, working class, faces. Not anymore.

In a couple of weeks I will be visiting again – I think the baseball cap may well be going back on.

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