I almost got lynched last week. Right in the middle of a dinner party. Why? Because I did something that's most uncool now in Britain. I defended Israel. I even - brace yourselves - called myself a zionist.
The topic of the Middle East had arisen over coffee. Inevitably, someone mentioned Israel. After listening for five minutes, I had to conclude there must be TWO countries on this planet with the same name. Because I sure as hell didn't recognise the Israel being described.
For this one was now teeming with psychotic Jewish soldiers, all merrily murdering innocent Palestinians.
And this Israeli government was fiendishly plotting to gobble up the entire Middle East. No country in the region was safe!
Oh, and let's not forget the 'genocide' that was occurring at such a fast rate that my goodness, pretty soon there wouldn't be any Palestinians LEFT!
And on it went. I blinked in astonishment as I heard Israel described variously as 'huge', 'powerful', 'fascist' and assorted other nasty things.
I was bewildered. I mean, 'big'? Israel? Hardly. Look at any map of the region and trust me, you'll be hard pushed to even see the Jewish state. She takes up less than 1% of the Middle East.
I also reminded my fellow diners that as the number of Palestinians is steadily increasing, clearly there is no 'genocide'. Especially since news crews, complete with cameras, are an ever present fixture. Could anyone present verify their charge of state sanctioned 'ethnic cleansing'? Please?
I asked ever so nicely. Did they have any facts? Figures? Anything? No? Apparently not.
Oh, and out of interest, how many present had ever set foot on Israeli soil?
Let me stress: these people were not bigots. They were not anti semites. Probably not a racist bone in their pale British bodies. They didn't mean to bash Israel: they thought they were merely stating fact. Which makes it more alarming, somehow...
'But you can't deny that Israel is a racist state,' one of the guys at the table glared at me.
'How so?' I enquired.
'Well, we all know that only Jews can become citizens,' he snapped, 'If that's not racist, what is?' Nods from the others, several of whom were now sending me baleful glances.
So I explained that almost 30% of Israeli citizens are not Jewish. More: there are several Arab politicians in the knesset, the parliament. And anyone of any faith can apply for citizenship, as with any other nation. People seem to forget that Israel is the only true democracy in the whole Middle East.
At this point, one of the women arched an eyebrow and indicated my pendant, which has my name in Hebrew. 'Yeah but hang on - you're Jewish! Naturally you're biased when it comes to Israel.'
And there you have it. The argument always used when a Jew defends the Jewish state. You're biased.
Please, somebody tell me: since when does stating objective, verifiable fact, equal 'bias'???
Let's take that 'logic' a bit further, shall we? No woman can discuss abortion: for clearly she'll be 'biased'. No black person can describe the racism they suffer or refer to slavery: after all, they're hardly objective, right? And how can any Arab make any point about anything in the Middle East? They control 99.9% of it, so they're bound to be partisan!
Yet strangely, I've yet to hear this charge of 'bias' applied to any group other than Jews who defend the Jewish state.
And then of course, it happened. Someone came out with the one allegation that makes every Jew see red and which offends many non Jews too. The allegation that right now seems to be voiced every other week. It appears in letters sent to newspapers, it's voiced on radio shows. I've heard it trotted out by people whose geographical knowledge is so poor they think the 'Middle East' is the new Curry restaurant in their high street.
'Ironic, isn't it? After all you Jews have suffered, you lot are the new Nazis.'
My, but how extraordinary!
When American troops went pouring into Afghanistan and Iraq, unpopular though that was, they were never called 'Nazis'.
When Britain entered into a war with Argentina over the Falklands, a piece of rock in the middle of nowhere that nobody ever looked twice at, those British soldiers were not referred to as 'Nazis'.
And when terrorists plotted and planned for years before slaughtering thousands of innocents in New York and London, well, even THEY were not quite 'Nazis'.
Oh, but the Israelis...
How DARE they put up checkpoints to stop terrorists making it into packed restaurants, schools and hospitals!
How DARE they seek to protect citizens from those who, in the past, have dressed up as pregnant women and orthodox Jews and have managed to slip through and detonate their deadly bombs!
How terribly aggressive of those blasted Jews, for claiming the right to defend themselves from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all the Arab nations that still openly admit their desire to wipe Israel off the map!
I pointed this out to my fellow diners. One or two of them looked thoughtful. Most were dismissive. A few gave me the cold shoulder. Then someone changed the subject and for that night at least, Israel was off the hook.
Not for long, though. In the UK, Israel bashing is our new national sport. And going for gold medal is - cue drum roll please - the BBC. Closely followed in second place by the Guardian newspaper.
Thus the BBC will cover terror attacks on Israel by showing the grieving mother of the suicide bomber - and ignoring the grieving relatives of the dead Israelis. Of course, that's when they deign to cover the attacks at all.
Half the time, they don't even bother to mention them. Unless those dying are Palestinian. Then it's often the lead story. And for anyone who doesn't believe this, check out the detailed study done of the BBC's coverage of the Middle East, here: http://honestreporting.com/
As for the Guardian, well, don't even get me started. Nobody's asking them to be 'pro' Israel but a passing acquaintance with the facts would be nice.
Don't think any of this really matters? Think again. In 2007 we saw a mass rally of Brits marching through the streets of London, screaming and chanting 'Death To Israel', and brandishing banners which read, chillingly: WE ARE ALL HEZBOLLAH
That's right. Hordes of British people, publicly swearing allegiance to a known terrorist group. Watching this on T.V. I fought an urge to grab my passport and catch the next plane to Israel. I love Britain but I'll admit - that scared me.
And physical attacks on British Jews have got so bad that in Manchester, Jews walking to synagogue must now have a police escort. Jewish schools have to install bomb-proof glass in all the windows. Two NON Jewish MPs have launched a parliamentary enquiry into the level of anti semitism now occurring in the UK.
Is it coincidence that all this comes after years of Israel being demonised in the British media?
Brits are tolerant, decent, and fair. But when fed this constant diet of anti Israel junk by their own media, why wouldn't they conclude that Israel is the villain of the piece?
Now if humanly possible, I'd be there every damn time someone bashed Israel unfairly. Indeed, there are days when reading and hearing some of the garbage that passes as 'fact' about the Jewish state, it is all I can do not to scream.
Are you now thinking I view Israel through rose-coloured glasses?
I don't claim that Israel is some utopia, in which innocent blood is never spilled. Israelis and Palestinians are both dying. And from what I can see, they both bleed red.
Nor do I claim that every Israeli soldier is some little cherub, complete with wings, harp and halo. There are good soldiers and bad soldiers. As in any other army.
But tell me - have you seen the touching pictures of young Israeli soldiers playing with Palestinian children and looking after them? No? Quelle surprise. I'll be giving a link to them on another page; check them out. You won't be seeing them on the BBC any time soon.
My point: Israel is a country like any other. How would the UK react if Islamic terrorists, every day, launched rockets into towns and killed innocent British citizens? That's what's happening in the Israel town of Sderot, as I sit and type this.
Israelis live their lives on constant red alert. Some people know this, but just shake their heads and tut, thinking that hey, they 'stole' the land and are now getting their just desserts, well, newsflash: Arab leaders themselves admit this is NOT what happened.
Want proof? You betcha. I'll give you quotes from Muslim and Arab leaders who openly admit that they, not the Jews, made the Palestinians flee their homes back in 1948, so as to avoid the five Arab armies poised to attack.
I realise I can't persuade anyone to love Israel as much as I admittedly do. But if I can maybe stop even one person from hating her, just by giving them verifiable, objective FACTS, then that's a start.
After all, nobody wants to base their beliefs on errors and lies, right? That really would be biased...
4th January 2008