Don’t blame Charles
The Prince of Wales has always supported our community. The email doesn’t change that
‘PUT NOT thy faith in kings and princes but trust only the Lord” is as good a biblical admonition as you can get, providing it is seen as advisory rather than prescriptive. If there is one thing our Jewish history tells us, it is never to be complacent or over-confident in our relationship with those who walk the corridors of power, be it princes or politicians. We know well that regimes come and go, attitudes soften and harden, and politicians’ attitudes are as changeable as to where their next vote is coming from. The recent Saudi royal visit to the UK is a good example of political expediency over the priorities of Western liberal democracy. But it is the way the game is played, and each country needs to serve its own best interests.
Against that background it is only too easy to see a difference of opinion as a slight or even an insult or, worse still, an attack. As the saying goes — just because I am paranoid doesn’t mean they don’t hate me. So, how do we survive our persecution complex? Let’s study the facts. The recent publicity surrounding the advice given to the Prince of Wales by a garrulous Foreign Office apparatchik regarding a suggested visit to Israel highlights a dilemma. Are the royal family closet antiZionists, anti-Israel or just antisemitic? On historical evidence, we can be reassured there are no facts to give us a sleepless night. Indeed, the only facts are reassuring.
I have observed the Queen since she came to the throne and Prince Charles since he toddled. I read about them every day. I note their activities, I watch their daily meanderings on TV, I follow their successes and family traumas. And I have come to the not-difficult conclusion that I am grateful for their sense of purpose and the stability they have brought to our society. Prince Charles can be somewhat woolly in his understanding of different faiths, but no one doubts the integrity and well-meaning nature of his ideas.
Of course, lampooning royalty is a wonderful way to sell newspapers, and our media have brought the art to a high level. And the linking of Prince Charles with an impracticable visit to Israel was fodder to the media. But that is the media for you, and I still prefer that raucous voice to a controlled press.
Frankly, I thought the advice was pretty sound. This is not the greatest moment for Prince Charles to do a royal tour of Israel, or even plan it ahead of the Annapolis talks next week, and we should all hope that there will be a better opportunity in the near future, although that outcome is highly uncertain. In any case, politicians, supposedly with their own agenda and the country’s interest at heart, make the decisions regarding overseas trips.
Prince Charles has always given of his best as heir to the throne. It is a tough job for a thinking guy, but insofar as our community is concerned, his views have been consistent, thoughtful and supportive.
On Monday night, he was the guest of honour for the second time in three years at a World Jewish Relief dinner in London. He spoke well about providing relief for those Jews who are suffering in poverty in Russia and elsewhere. Later on, and totally unscheduled, he proposed the toast to the President of the State of Israel. It was a magnificent and possibly unprecedented gesture.
Prince Charles is a seriously good person and the Jewish community knows it. The British Foreign Office has always had an ambivalent attitude to Israel. We know that as well, so we are forewarned and forearmed. Those are the facts. Lord Kalms, a former Conservative Party treasurer, is life president and former chairman of DSG International plc