In the Company of Sir Herbert Samuel

The accusation that British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, holds dual loyalties is not new to British politics.

In November 1919, on the second anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Sir Herbert Samuel, told an audience at the London Opera House that he hoped for “a self-governing commonwealth under the auspices of an established Jewish majority.”

When the news broke that Samuel had been offered the post of the first High Commissioner to Palestine, he was accused of being unable “to adjudicate impartially” by the British representative in Jordan. General Allenby was apoplectic while Lord Curzon, the Foreign Secretary, asked him to reconsider.

The Morning Post reported that the appointment of a Jew to such a position was widely regarded as a terrible mistake. Chaim Weizmann privately convinced Samuel to accept the offer and he served his time in Palestine as a loyal, even-handed servant of the British Crown – a great disappointment to Weizmann and Jabotinsky. He went on to become Home Secretary once again and acting leader of the Liberal party.

British diplomats in past have been deemed to be on safer ground when they do not reveal their Jewish identity. When a newspaper leak revealed in 1968 that Sir Horace Phillips was Jewish, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia vetoed his appointment as British ambassador. Yet he had previously served with distinction in Jeddah, Teheran and Kabul.

Paul Flynn’s inference of Jewish disloyalty belongs historically to the right rather than to the left. It is symptomatic of an ideological desensitization where Jews are concerned that has infected parts of the European left.

Ha’aretz 16 December 2011

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