That Glenn Beck and his cronies have been made to feel about as welcome in Israel as a bacon butty at a bar mitzvah pleases me beyond measure. It should be obvious to us all that these Christian Zionists are no more friends of the Jews than the English Defence League. They are interested in us just until we have facilitated the second coming at which point they reckon we’ll all see the light and get rapture or whatever it is these dispensationalists do at the weekend, and if we don’t the second coming will swiftly be followed by the second inquisition. All I’m saying is that none of them are on my Christmas card list.
But it’s not just the nutters that worry me. There are plenty of perfectly sane and intelligent gentiles that speak up for Jews and they make me equally uncomfortable.
Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t want gentiles to dislikes Jews any more than they already do, however, when talk about us in such glowing terms – they’re so clever, they have such good values, they give an enormous amount to charity, yada, yada – every superlative serves only to ratchet up the stress. I’m not that special!
If they’re not admiring us they’re simply obsessing about us. I have non-Jewish friends who can’t help but refer to the fact that I’m Jewish every five minutes, usually with some pathetic joke that conveys their deep understanding of our culture. Their liberal credentials are the back-stage pass into our world and they think it gives them permission to say such things. I might, for example, be in a restaurant with a non-Jewish friend and he’ll come out with something hilarious like “I hear the lobster is very good here!” Truthfully, I can’t comprehend how fascinating and exotic they find a chap who, like them, has lived his entire life in north London.
The worst of this group are those who, perhaps through marriage, have an official connection to Judaism. Somehow they feel this gives them immunity from the accusation of anti-Semitism and the right to behave as if they are fully paid up Jews. As “insiders” they imagine it’s acceptable to tell the sort of Jewish jokes we tell each other. Well, there’s nothing more excruciating than a non-Jew, no matter how long he’s been married to a Jew, telling a Jewish joke. This has nothing to do with comic timing; it has to do with the fact that Jewish jokes are of the Jews, by the Jews, for the Jews. It can be the funniest Jewish joke ever told, but from the lips of a gentile, even, dare I say, a convert, it is never, ever funny and when I hear it I feel a tiny bit more nervous about my safety in the world.
What this all comes down to is that as far as I’m concerned gentiles just don’t get us. Another example is writer David Mitchell recently telling us to “lighten up” about visitors to Madame Tussauds posing with Nazi salutes alongside Adolf Hitler’s wax effigy. His contention is that these poses are intended to ridicule rather than fête the dictator. No doubt some of his best friends are Jews and this, he reckons, gives him the right to make his pronouncement. However, Mitchell is saying this because for him the holocaust is something people study at school and university, while for European Jews, all of us, it partially defines who we are and we can’t handle anything that makes light of it. Mitchell and other well-meaning non-Jews will never know that feeling.
So here’s a message to Glenn Beck and all those other “friends” – do me a favour and stop obsessing about Jews. Instead, why not take up some harmless pursuit like compassless orienteering? You’re frightening me, OK?