The Magazine

Friends Indeed

How and why the Jews have thrived in England.

Dec 12, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 13 • By DANIEL JOHNSON
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Whether the tradition evoked in this luminous little volume is now defunct, Gertrude Himmelfarb does not say. I should like to think that English philo-
semitism is alive and kicking, for it is more needed today than ever. We may lack a figure of Churchill’s stature, but we do have Michael Gove, our proudly philosemitic and pro-Zionist education secretary; Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher are still with us. All would heartily affirm Churchill’s words to Eisenhower on the eve of the Suez crisis, vainly urging the president not to abandon Israel in its hour of need:

I am, of course, a Zionist, and have been ever since the Balfour Declaration. I think it is a wonderful thing that this tiny colony of Jews should have become a refuge to their compatriots in all the lands where they were persecuted so cruelly, and at the same time established themselves as the most effective fighting force in the area.

The irony is that such sentiments, which fell on deaf ears in 1956, are now uncontroversial in America, yet find few echoes in the land of Churchill’s birth.

Daniel Johnson, editor of Standpoint in London, is the author, most recently, of White King and Red Queen: How the Cold War Was Fought on the Chessboard.