Article first published as How To Love Both Britain and Israel on Technorati.
It’s difficult to believe that it’s more than 20 years since UK Conservative politician Norman Tebbit devised his “cricket test” to decide upon the strength of loyalty of immigrants and their children from Asia and the Caribbean to the England cricket team.
Now ‘Lord’ Tebbit, he then suggested that immigrants who supported their native countries rather than the U.K. in sports might not be sufficiently loyal to Britain. Strangely, his remarks were not made in the U.K. but during an interview with the Los Angeles Times!
He said: "A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?"
But the noble lord was by no means the first person to air this odious notion which had long since and continues to be a question which foxes the U.K.’s Jewish community, especially since the establishment of the State of Israel.
Let me say that if anyone, including The Queen herself, were to demand of me where my loyalties lay I would reply thus:
“I was born in Britain and although I now live in Israel I do not have “dual loyalty” but a "twin love and duty” and so enjoy an equal loyalty, love and respect for both countries as I am a citizen of both. To demand to know which I love best is to ask me to make the judgment of Solomon; to demand if I prefer my right eye to my left or one hand over the other”.
The question is as daft as it is cruel. But now Britain’s first Jewish Ambassador to Israel has addressed the issue. Of course he was speaking as one who simply resides in Israel during his tour of duty but I am sure the same rule applies.
H.E. Matthew Gould made his comments – wearing a skull cap decorated with a striking union flag motif - at the annual dinner celebrating the Balfour Declaration which in 1917 offered British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people …”.
He insisted that he saw no contradiction between being a British Jew and representing the United Kingdom as Ambassador to the State of Israel. But he confessed that his appointment had been met with suspicion, both from Israel's supporters and detractors and that he had been accused of "dual loyalty".
Yet he maintained there was no conflict between his loyalty to Britain and his love for Israel and that his identity as a proud Jew did not detract from his loyalty as a British citizen.
He said: “Britain is my country. I am a loyal British subject. I love my country, I take pride in its history, I am moved by its values, and I cry with its football fans every four years … And as a British Jew, I love Israel.
“I want to see Israel live in security, and prosperity, at peace with its neighbours, and respected in the world ... And there is no contradiction between the two. How can I be so confident? Because if I am wrong, my job here as the first Jew to be British Ambassador to Israel would be impossible. As a British Jew, sent to the State of Israel to represent my country, I am a personification of this issue.”
He added that when asked how it felt to be Britain's first Jewish Ambassador, he responded that he was both a patriotic and loyal citizen of Britain and a proud Jew and “… I can hold all these together without shame and without contradiction."
Amen to that!