A few weeks ago, a Labour MP in Britain, Paul Flynn, expressed displeasure with his country’s ambassador to Israel. “I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories,” he said, “but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist.” What Britain needs in Israel, according to Flynn, is “someone with roots in the U.K.” who “can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty.”
Britain’s ambassador to Israel, as you may have surmised, is a Jew, the first to serve in that capacity. He previously served in Pakistan and Iran (not Jewish states). As for Matthew Gould’s “roots in the U.K.,” they may not be as deep as Flynn’s, but they are semi-respectable: On one side, his great-grandparents were immigrants, and on the other, his grandparents. Speaking of respectability, Gould is a graduate of St. Paul’s School and Peterhouse, Cambridge. Not bad for a Semitic upstart.
In his widely publicized remarks, Flynn worried about “neocons and warmongers,” now itching to invade Iran. “Warmongers” is a word we can easily understand. But what about two other words Flynn used, “neocons” and “Zionist”? These are very slippery terms. If you want to paralyze someone who denounces neocons, say, “What’s a neocon?” If you want to paralyze someone who denounces Zionists, or even refers to them, say, “What’s a Zionist?” People use these words cavalierly and ignorantly. And none too nicely, either.
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