Forward Thinking

British Zealot's Libertarian Lipstick

By Liam Hoare

  • Print
  • Share Share
wikimedia commons
Nigel Farage

It was ever-so-slightly distressing to see an august community institution like London’s Jewish Chronicle granting a platform to Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), on Wednesday evening. As someone who dedicates a good deal of his days to fostering an unwelcome climate for the most vulnerable in society — tarting up narrow-mindedness with libertarian lipstick — Farage’s politics aren’t exactly aligned with consensus Jewish values.

In particular, Farage tramples on the mitzvah to never oppress the stranger. For him, the stranger is the immigrant.

UKIP was founded as an anti-EU concern but of all its policies the one with which attracts voters, opinion polling suggests, is its pledge to put an end “to the age of mass, uncontrolled immigration”. This will be achieved by “a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement” and a complete and total end to unregulated internal European migration by leaving the European Union.

When it was put to Farage that he was in fact addressing a room full of the descendants of immigrants and refugees from one time or another, he seemed oddly unfazed. “I’m a refugee, just like you,” he said, pointing out his ancestors were Huguenots who fled to the United Kingdom from France. “They were going to burn us at the stake before we sought refuge here, so there is some commonality there.” Later, Farage conducted a crude show-of-hands which appeared to prove that, in fact, a good number of the 350 in attendance supported the notion that the present level of immigration was unsustainable.

Farage was perhaps less clear or honest about the issues surroundings shechita and brit mila. He asserted that his party held a liberal, nuanced position on these practices, that “whatever our dislikes, we are fundamentally a strong libertarian party that says you may pursue what you wish to pursue, providing that it doesn’t hurt or affect me”. Which would be fine, if polling conducted by YouGov and the Jewish Chronicle didn’t conclude that 71 percent of UKIP supporters favour an outright ban on the religious slaughter of animals for kosher meat and 51 percent a proscription on male circumcision.

Where his opinions slid from being green to simply laughable, however, was on foreign policy, something Farage never talks about because he’s never asked about it. Pushed on Iran, Farage initially said he would oppose an Israeli strike on their nuclear facilities whatever the circumstance – “I do not support acts of aggression, even from countries that feel their existence is threatened” – before flip-flopping and hedging when it was suggested that such an attack could be deemed defensive. It didn’t seem to be something he’d thought about much.

His fuller answer on Western foreign policy towards Iran was even more astonishing:

I think that the West has got Iran wrong. The sanctions approach, the cordon sanitaire, has been a mistake. People always break sanctions, whether it’s Marc Rich or the French, and sanctions also help people like Ahmadinejad foster the view that the West is all against Iran. We should have love-bombed Iran instead! That would have encouraged a more open approach.

Quite what this love-bombing might constitute was anyone’s guess, though allowing greater access to the internet was floated, whatever that means. In general, his language on foreign policy was hopelessly naïve and wishy-washy, from time to time drifting into a populist area occupied by the likes of Ron Paul and the late Gore Vidal.

“I just wonder about our whole strategy with regards to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria,” he said. “We’ve been told through Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron that by intervening we will make the world a better, safer place. We’ve made it more unstable.”

Even on Israel, Farage couldn’t avoid derision. “I’m very sympathetic towards Israel, not least because they’re surrounded by states that want to obliterate them,” he said soundly, but then added separately that he’d only been to Israel once, spending eight hours in Tel Aviv. Tweets on the night labelled that throwaway comment “embarrassing”, with The Times of Israel correspondent Miriam Shaviv remarking that it didn’t seem as though Farage had been briefed very well for a meeting with the Jewish community.

Nigel Farage was received warmly by a few, it should be said — perhaps those who already supported him anyway. Judging from the reaction during and after the event, however, it would appear Farage and UKIP have more work to do if they are to persuade British Jewish voters that he and his party are trustworthy, competent, and sincere.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: united kingdom independence party, ukip, nigel farage, libertarian, jewish, immigrant

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.