Today, the Swedish Ambassador to Israel arrived at Tel Aviv University to deliver a lecture in which she expressed support for Palestinian self-determination, criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank and vis a vis the Gaza blockade, and a general desire for a negotiated peace to the conflict between Israel and the Arabs.
Extreme right wing Israeli demonstrators gathered outside TAU, holding placards denouncing the Ambassador, shouting abusive slogans at the motorcade and challenging police deployed to ensure the Ambassador's safety.
Upon completing the lecture, the Ambassador exited the building under police guard, only to be mobbed by protesters who had outmaneuvered police holding them back. As the Jewish extremists converged on the security detail, the diplomat was quickly ushered into a police car, and not a second too soon. Within moments, protesters surrounded the vehicle. While some positioned themselves in front of the vehicle to prevent escape, others climbed on the hood and massed at the doors, banging on the windows with apparent intent to break them down, while shouting obscenities.
With the situation escalating into physical violence, a contingent of officers finally arrived on the scene, pulling back the extremists and allowing the Ambassador to leave the area. No arrests were reported.
The response from Haaretz came swiftly, in English. "Today", wrote Gideon Levy, "we mark the end of freedom in Israel. The savage settler thugs who ambushed the Ambassador are no longer a fringe element, to be brushed aside by apologists for policies of the Likud, but the ruling class of this country. We in Israel are entering a period of fascist frenzy, where the goal is to silence all opposition, to bludgeon opponents into submission and fear. No longer democratic, no longer free, permeated through and through with a culture of violence and theocratic thuggery, I speak for all free-thinking people when I call on the United States, the European Union and the rest of the international community to rescind recognition for the right of the State of Israel to exist."
Mondoweiss, the voice of the anti-Zionist left, echoed those remarks, "This is the final straw. The descent into Jewish totalitarianism is complete. To be a Zionist is to be a fascist. No one can claim for even another day that Israel is a democracy, or that it deserves to survive."
Except this event did not happen in Israel; It happened, today, in Great Britain, and neither Gideon Levy nor Mondoweiss complained. Indeed, we would expect them to cheer such an event, and to consider the violence as a natural and perfectly understandable reaction to Israeli policies. At time of writing, I did not find a single mention in the BBC, Guardian or Independent of the attempted assault against Talya Lador-Fresher, Israel's Deputy Ambassador to Britain, by pro-Palestinian extremists outside Manchester University. Nor was I able to find a single condemnation of the radicals by any English official of any authority, whether within the government, police, Manchester University, etc.
In Israel, this lack of immediate condemnation would be damning proof of complicity on the part of the government, the police, the university, the population as a whole. Pages and pages of comments would flood Israeli online English news outlets condemning the state and its people.
Another day in Britain ends, and another begins.
*Quotations by Gideon Levy and Mondoweiss presented in this piece are purely fictional, and represent the author's best attempt to predict their response to fictional events.
UPDATE: A full day later, and still no British or European media has picked up on this disgraceful story. A foreign diplomat is mobbed, threatened with bodily harm, and not a peep is to be heard? I think it's an appropriate time, in the context of upcoming British elections, to receive clarification on the right to freedom of speech in Britain, and whether the country remains a society governed by a respect for the rule by law, not fear of intimidation. For background, see CifWatch and Elder of Zion.