In the September of 2012, in a Times column very appropriately titled ‘Beta Male’, one Robert Crampton described a series of recurrent nightmares he had. All the usual stuff was there; zombies, nakedness, being on the run from the police for unspecified but heinous crimes. And at the end, this one: ‘Another scenario is that I choose to go everywhere wrapped in an enormous Israeli flag. I am aware that many people I come across are sniggering, and some others are downright hostile, and even my most ardently Zionist friends are embarrassed, and yet I insist on wearing the flag everywhere...’
This made me laugh. What a sap! As an alpha female, this is not my nightmare but rather my dream, and one I have to some extent lived. I have spent my life wrapping myself in the Jewish flag, sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally. I open my handbag and half a dozen paper ones on toothpicks, fashioned for me by my friend and Modern Hebrew Language classmate Karl, fall out. I look up from writing and see two full-sized ones staring proudly back from my bookcases, framing the Torah. I look across the room and see it on the bunting which hangs around my permanent window shrine to that modern Jewish heroine Amy Winehouse. I look into my heart, and against its calcified black background I see the blue and the white.
INTRO - A brief history of philosemitism.
Very brief, as there isn’t much of it around.
1 - FINDING OUT - the Holocaust.
2 - HIP YOUNG HEBREW GUNSLINGER - pretending to be a teenage Jew, the NME years.
3 - MEET THE PERVERTS - my volatile marriage to a Jewish man, and my experiences with his highly eccentric parents.
4. THE GOY GAZE - from Daniel Deronda through Portnoy’s Complaint to Inglorious Basterds, my experience of Jews in culture. Incorporating THAT (JEWISH) JOKE’S NOT FUNNY ANYMORE: why I’ll never get Jewish humour, and hate Woody Allen and Larry David amongst others.
5 - OFF MY FACE IN THE PROMISED LAND - drunk and delirious in Israel. At home: Israel vs the Jews - who DO I love?
6 - THEY’RE BACK! - the rise of the new anti-Semitism, where Islamism and Fascism meet. The death of Leon Klinghoffer in 1985. Not to mention how it has become the default setting for every famous freak from Gibson to Galliano.
7 WHY I’VE NEVER SEEN SCHINDLER’S LIST - taking in everything from asking to be excused reading about the Shoah which judging a Jewish book prize to my brother-in-law’s TV doc about Frida from Abba’s Nazi dad - my loathing of the Shoah as entertainment.
8. A FIRE ENGINE FOR SDEROT - I attempt to ingratiate myself with the English Jewish community by chucking money at them. Includes SABABA: ANATOMY OF A FIASCO in which my plans to stage a cultural exchange festival between Britain and Israel hit a brick wall.
9 - TOO COOL FOR SHUL - in which I am driven out of my local synagogue by the lesbian rabbi for being ‘too’ pro-Israel. My public scraps with anti-Israel hacks like India Knight and Deborah Orr. Generally a chapter about squabbling.
10. BAD JEWS: Green Jews, anti-Israel Jews. Did Zac Goldsmith REALLY prevent a pit pony from mating with a pure-bred Dartmoor pony on principle?
11 - UNCHOSEN - GETTING OVER IT. Loving even more the soiled reality of the People than the pristine teen dream. Summing up my adoration of the state of Israel, and my affection and admiration for the Jewish people, definitively, always and forever.