Sunday reading: Tuvia alone among the British
Tuvia Tenenbom is a daredevil person. He ventured alone among Americans, Germans, Jews and refugees and not only came out safe, but enriched with knowledge and insights. In the winter of 2018/2019 he went alone among the British. At a time when there was a lot going on in the UK because of the Brexit that had been decided and repeatedly delayed by the Leave opponents, Tenenbom traveled from Scotland to Wales to explore the islanders and made the amazing discovery that hardly anyone Brexit, the number one media topic, was of interest. In return, Tenenbom repeatedly met with great interest in the Palestinian question. Palestinian flags on town halls, as murals, on T-shirts, stickers, in Oxfam shops, on street stalls and in universities. This Palestinian obsession is the downside of widespread anti-Semitism.
I have to admit that this surprised me. I lived in England for two years in the late 1980s, traveled around the country a lot, but I didn’t notice any anti-Semitism. Was i blind But my Jewish relatives by marriage never said anything about anti-Semitism either. They liked living in London and Manchester, were socially active, and seemed extremely relaxed. Incidentally, two were Labor members.
“Is Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semite, yes or no?”
The same Labor party was the number two topic in the media when Tenenbom researched the country because of its anti-Semitism problem. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn was the country’s shadow prime minister as an obvious anti-Semite, which caused many Jews sleepless nights and played with the idea of leaving. But hardly anyone interviewed by Tenenbom wanted to say that Corbyn is an anti-Semite and that there is a problem with everyday anti-Semitism.
Even the Jewish MP, who never travels without his bag with his passport and money in over twenty currencies in order to be able to leave the country immediately at any time, wants to speak plainly. The Jewish Member of Parliament Louise Ellmann, who has just been raised to the nobility by Prince Charles and who has been loyal to Labor for decades, although she has been repeatedly addressed by Jeremy Corbyn as an “honorable Member of Parliament for Tel Aviv”, writhes:
“I would like to ask you something, I say to the Dame Commander, and please answer yes or no.
She laughs. Is Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semite, yes or no?
I’ve been with her for over an hour and she doesn’t even say what she’s thinking. This is all the more bizarre as it is completely obvious what she is thinking – her husband has spoken it out. But she doesn’t want to. No chance. I realize it would be easier to get a dog to speak Yiddish than a Jew to call things by their names. “
On the other hand, no one has any problem talking about the Palestinians, even if they have little or no knowledge of Palestinian history and current conditions. The Palestinian rockets, which are repeatedly fired at Israel, seem to have taken the opposite route in the minds of Palestine fans. The stones and Molotov cocktails fired at the Israeli border by youthful fighters are transformed into bouquets of flowers in the imagination, and not only by the artist Banksy. Tenebom could not really get to the bottom of the causes of this phenomenon.
Tenenbom’s main job is theater maker. He is the founder of the New York Jewish Theater. He used to like to fly to London just to go to the theater. He considers British theaters and their actors to be the best in the world.
Now he has to realize that theatrical art is already half ruined by political correctness. They still exist, the wonderful productions, some of which have been running for decades, such as the “Producer” in Manchester, the city that has reinvented itself as a cultural city after its end as an industrial center. But Tenenbom encounters new productions both in the Shakespeare strongholds of Stratford upon Avon and in the Globe Theater in London that make his hair stand on end or even drive him out of his mind. To gender Shakespeare means to have castrated him. Tenenbom’s hope is that after Brexit the European influences on British theater could decrease and it will find its way back to its former glory.
“Every attempt at collectivization ends in catastrophe”
What annoys Tenenbom is the attitude of the defeated Remain supporters not to recognize the Leave majority and to want to undo it. He keeps coming back to how undemocratic he finds this behavior. In his eyes, Brexit is part of the population’s rebellion against the global elite that emerged in the years after the fall of the Iron Curtain and is striving for a new variant of world domination known as global governance.
The most interesting part of the book for me is his encounter with Nigel Farage. In contrast to all the other interlocutors, Farage has a detailed say, is hardly interrupted or commented on. If you want a short but concise summary of Farage’s attitude, turn to Tenenbom.
Farage justifies his rejection of the EU with the fact that a new global power is to be built, a new state, without public approval. He considers the nation state to be a functioning, mature democracy and therefore the best guarantor of peace.
“Ultimately, humanity is made up of individuals, and any attempt to corporation or collectivize the human soul will result in catastrophe.”
Given the horrific experiences with collectivism in the last century, I cannot disagree with Farage, and neither can Tenenbom. The most disturbing thing about this attempt to recollect – this time of all humanity – is that so few think about it and are too weak or too cowardly to fight it.
“The Trotskyists hate Israel because it is a nation-state”
“I mean,” says Farage, “you have to imagine that half a billion people are ruled by people we cannot choose and cannot get rid of.”
At the end of the conversation, Tenenbom turns to anti-Semitism. How did it come to this? He asks Farage.
“I think that has to do with all of globalism. The Trotskyists are globalists. The Trotskyists in the Labor Party see the European Union as a prototype for a world government. And one of the countries that they hate the most is Israel. Not because there are Jews, but because it is a nation-state that protects itself and its borders. “
With that, Farage of all people got to the point.
Despite anti-Semitism, Tenenbom finds it difficult to leave the UK in the end. He is “hooked”. I understand that only too well, because it was difficult for me to leave there too, although the adventure of the unification of Germany was waiting for me.
What’s next for the UK? According to rumors brought into the world by Tenenbom, “The National Theater and Shakespeare Globe are going to put out a production of ‘All Or Not’, with a trans-of-color cast and exposed Montys, to the delight of all British cats. I will be there.”
“Alone among the British: A journey of discovery” by Tuvia Tenenbom, 2020, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, can be ordered here.
This post first appeared on Vera Lengsfelds Blog.