Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 31, 2003
WAR: THE FORGOTTEN ANGLOS
We've heard much these last few months from commentators about Jim Bennett's "Anglosphere" concept: how the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and to some extent Ireland and South Africa are bound together by a common language, common traditions of culture, government and the business climate. It seems to me that most of the formulations, though, have omitted one very important country that shares strong cultural bonds to the US in particular; that has a parliamentary democracy and similar legal system; that shares in the modern drive to an information-based economy; and where English is widely spoken (if not necessarily as a first language) and connections to English-speaking media, opinion and culture are deep and run in both directions: Israel.
Of course, the Israelis are hardly Anglo-Saxons, ethnically, but proponents of the concept have consistently stressed that it is common language and culture, not ethnicity, that unifies the Anglosphere and gives it the dynamism to incorporate immigrants of all colors. And the emotional bonds betwen Israel and Britain or Australia are, to put it mildly, not strong. But the core notions of the Anglosphere are the free flow of information -- through mass media, the internet and personal interactions -- and a common set of cultural experiences, both of which are plenty true of Israelis. In the world of opinion journalism, the ubiquity of Israeli pundits and columnists here -- and vice versa -- is an important indicator of ties between the US and Israel in a way we just don't see with, say, Germany or France. Opinion polls and other popular measures in the US reflect this: Americans increasingly recognize in Israel a mirror image of ourselves, except more beleaguered and beset by hostile neighbors. (I suspect that history will show September 11 to be a watershed here, when Americans started to feel like Israel). As a result, the alliance with Israel, like that with the other Anglosphere nations, runs much thicker than temporary self-interests.