Dual Loyalty Memo
16 September 2010
The 'Dual Loyalty' charge is one of the oldest antisemitic canards: the allegation that Jews will always hold a greater loyalty towards other Jews, or towards the collectivity of Jews, than to the country in which they live and of which they are a citizen, and therefore can never truly be trusted with that country's interests. It is a charge that has a very long pedigree, predating Israel and Zionism by centuries, and it is one that many minorities, not just Jews, have to face. I would not normally quote Wikipedia, but I cannot do better than this description from their entry on Dual Loyalty:
As opposed to ethical dual loyalty, which is often a self-described situation, political dual loyalty typically appears as an attack or a pejorative accusation designed to target and discredit a particular person or group, and to call into question the loyalty of that group to the country where they reside. As such, the accusation of "dual loyalty" is often used or co-opted by racist or xenophobic groups within a country, regardless of the original intent of the accusation.
The impact of this particular accusation has diminished in recent years, due to the increasing acceptance of multiple identities in modern diverse societies such as Britain. However, it is a prejudice that is still widely held: a 2009 opinion poll by the Anti-Defamation League (pdf) found that 37% of people in the U.K. thought it was "probably true" that "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country." (This was the lowest figure of the seven European countries polled by the ADL: the highest level of agreement with the statement was 64%, in Spain).
You would expect think tanks or media organisations to avoid such an obviously prejudiced notion, especially an organisation which claims, in the words of Middle East Monitor (director: Daud Abdullah), to provide "carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence." So it would be interesting to see the "factual evidence" on which MEMO based this commentary about the appointment of Matthew Gould as Britain's next ambassador to Israel:
Can a Jewish ambassador to Israel ever be truly objective when advising his home government on relations with the Jewish state? That is going to be the big question for Britain's new ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who has just taken up residence in Tel Aviv. Under normal circumstances, the faith or ethnic background of Britain's ambassadors should be totally irrelevant to their ability to represent HM Government in capitals across the world. But Israel is not a normal state in that it ignores international laws and conventions on a routine basis, and does so with apparent impunity. David Cameron's description of Gaza under Israel's siege as "a prison camp" was welcome but it did not disguise the fact that the British Prime Minister, like his predecessors, is a declared supporter of the state established on Palestinian land in 1948. Despite Matthew Gould's claim to be "a career diplomat", his previous service as the principal private secretary to Labour's David Miliband (also a member of North London's increasingly influential Jewish community) when he was Foreign Secretary suggests that Conservative Mr. Cameron is indeed playing the Jewish card with this appointment. But for whose benefit: Britain's or Israel's?
Diplomats are supposed to act in the best interests of their own state, not those of the country in which they are based. As a Jew, however, under Israel's ethnically biased - some would say racist - 1950 Law of Return, Mr. Gould is entitled to migrate to Israel, settle there and obtain "automatic citizenship" of the Jewish state. He is, in all but name, a person with dual citizenship rights, albeit with one set of rights pending until his retirement from British government service. Nevertheless, how can he serve what are to all intents and purposes two masters at the same time?