Straws in the Wind…writes Michael Kuttner

October 30, 2013 by J-Wire
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Jack Straw, a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, has caused controversy because of his statements recently about Israel.

Michael Kuttner

Michael Kuttner

At a diplomatic forum in London attended by a former Knesset Member he expressed his thoughts in a most revealing manner which has resulted in some accusing him of being anti semitic. He has denied this and I take him at his word. Mr. Straw is not anti semitic but he instead does have a serious case of Israel phobia. It is important to listen closely to what he had to say as it indicates very clearly which way the wind is blowing these days in the UK and elsewhere in democratic countries. We also need to draw the necessary conclusions which unfortunately many Jewish leaders refuse to do as they prefer to continue dwelling in denial land.

First of all let us examine the statements made, which by the way he has not denied. Mr. Straw has in fact defended them as factual and fair and maintains that he has always been a friend of Israel and concerned for its security and welfare. What should concern us is how someone who previously held such a senior position in a UK Government can hold such misinformed views and now that he is freed from the constraints of Cabinet confidentiality can propagate them without expecting some sort of a reaction. His defense that such thinking is shared by many Israelis and Jews does not wash and is almost akin to that old excuse of having many Jewish friends which somehow absolves him from any hint of prejudice.

Jack Straw

Jack Straw

According to the former Foreign Secretary, the greatest obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as other Arab neighbours are the unlimited funds available to Jewish organisations and AIPAC in the United States. There you have it in one sentence. After 65 years the reason there is still no peace has nothing to do with the Arab refusal to acknowledge the rights of the Jews to their own country, or the continued attempts to eliminate Israel, or the rejection of an Arab Palestinian State in 1947 or indeed the continuing incitement and delegitimisation of the Jewish State which they refuse to recognise. The sole reason for the continuing mayhem is solely laid at the door of Jewish groups with unlimited funds which control and divert American policy. The fact that Arab countries, awash with unlimited oil funds lobby decision makers is seemingly irrelevant. Do you not detect a whiff of something rotten here?

His next statement is even “better”. Mr. Straw complained that Germany has an “obsession” with defending Israel. Wow, now that is really contemptible. Fancy that, those historically pure and innocent Germans have an obsession with Israel. This is of course true as we know only too well from past events but given their history what is so terrible about Germany today, recognizing how fallacious delegitimisation can cause tragedies, ensuring that those same prejudices need to be challenged?

In defending his views, Jack Straw maintains that the EU should take a tougher stand on labeling Israeli goods produced beyond the 1949 armistice lines which of course includes half of Jerusalem. He goes on to complain that Germany is preventing a united EU decision on this grave threat to world peace. Is it not ironic in the extreme that Germany whose track record of labeling Jews and Jewish products is second to none, should now be accused by a former UK Foreign Secretary of trying to prevent such labeling in the year 2013? He of all people should know where labeling Jews leads.

On a June programme with the BBC, Jack Straw declared that “Israel has no territorial ambitions apart from stealing the land of the Palestinians”. Such ignorant rubbish is of course standard fare from left wing groups and other such Israel obsessed quarters but the fact that the same tripe trips forth from a former UK Cabinet Minister is indicative of a serious malaise which we are well advised to take note of.

I have no doubt that his warped conclusions are the genuine musings of a serious politician. However two things make me wonder whether they are perhaps instead the product of other events.

Straw’s maternal grandmother’s father was Jewish. This in itself is not unique but sometimes it can have a negative rather than a positive influence on one’s views and outlook. On the one hand it can induce pride that one has a Jewish ancestor but given the demographic trend in the UK today it can also lead to a reaction in the opposite direction.

His constituency has about 25,000 Moslem residents and 23 Mosques and therein resides a possible clue. A rapidly growing Moslem voter base especially in seats which are marginal means that the sitting MP or an aspiring MP must pander to the pervading politically correct views of those voters. Even where the relationship between local Moslems and Jews is harmonious, the fact remains that radicalization of Islam and its followers is becoming a major problem. In those situations mouthing Jewish conspiracy theories and demonizing Israel is a sure way to get elected. George Galloway is a classic example of this and others using more subtle methods can only follow.

Where the UK, whose Foreign Office is endemically anti Israel, goes, so Australia and other democracies, especially in Europe are sure to tread. These are certainly straws in the wind which must not be ignored.


Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel where he is J-Wire’s correspondent.



One Response to “Straws in the Wind…writes Michael Kuttner”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    I have followed Jack Straw’s political career with interest and distaste for years. His views and bias against Israel have always been evident, even when he visited Israel as a British government representative. You could almost feel his antipathy in the air around him.
    I don’t know why you should take him at his word as not being anti-Semitic, Michael, and I’m also wondering why you are bending over backwards to examine many facets of his life to come up with possible reasons for his views. I would be surprised if his ‘warped conclusions’ are solely related to his professional life; they are most certainly informed by his bias.
    Australia also has a rapidly growing Moslem base in some constituencies, viz. Western Sydney and pockets of Melbourne, and some individual politicians in various parties have been cognizant of that, although it’s my opinion that their personal biases also contribute to their willingness to align themselves with anti-Israel sentiments, either directly and transparently as with Senator Lee Rhiannon of the Greens, or in a much less honest way as with departing Senator and previous Foreign Minister of the former federal Labor government, Bob Carr.
    The fact is there’s mounting world negativity and animosity in regard to Israel, fuelled by left-wing academics and ignorant do-gooder activists, swinging to the tune of the oppressed people of Palestine, fuelling the mythology of half-truths that are so cleverly being utilised to rewrite history and force into existence a new country called Palestine, without Israeli agreement or influence – that’s the aim. If it’s a malaise we have here, it’s a highly poisonous one. Israel and Jewish community leaders in the Diaspora need to confront this and assertively attack it with a continuity that brooks no interruption. Let us not waste time excusing the likes of Jack Straw.
    I say all this with great respect to you, as I admire your articles and your thinking for the acuity and clarity they encompass.

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