I attended the Jewish Chronicle hosted meeting with Nigel Farage of UKIP last night in North London. The hall was pretty much packed out (amazing for a warm summer evening). Farage spoke for about 30 minutes and then JC editor Stephen Pollard asked him a number of questions before inviting questions from the audience.
Farage is a masterful speaker and he especially brilliantly explained his contempt for the EU, the global warming fetish, David Cameron, and even Obama. If he gets decent, unbiased exposure in the main stream media over the next two years then not only will UKIP win next year's European elections, but they will also get significant representation in Parliament the year after.
However, in total contrast to his complete mastery and understanding of European politics, he demonstrated almost complete ignorance of Israel and the Middle East. He was honest enough to say that, unlike other politicians speaking to a Jewish audience, he was not there just to speak about and tell them things they wanted to hear. Hence, in his speech (as opposed to the questions), all he wanted to say about Israel was that he 'strongly supports its right to exist' (I was hoping an Israeli in the audience might respond by saying 'I strongly support the right of Great Britain to exist' but sadly that did not happen).
Although Farage expressed some concern about Islamists in the UK he is clearly completely oblivious to the fact that Islamism is at the root of most of the problems in the Middle East. For somebody who so well understands the flaws of the leftist narrative with respect to so many things, it is bizarre that he actually accepts in its entirety the leftist narrative about the Middle East: thus he thinks that Arabs are peace-loving people who only want to kill us because we (meaning Western powers and Israel) attacked them first; he believes there is never any justification for a pre-emptive strike (such as against nuclear installations or terrorist leaders); and most incredibly he believes that the only reason the Iranians hate us is because of the sanctions against them. On this latter point he said 'we should have bombed them with love instead of sanctions as that way they would have discovered western values rather than turning to Islamic fundamentalism'. His understanding of the history of the Iranian revolution is therefore a perfect inversion of reality.
During his speech Farage spoke about how in the 1930s the entire political and media class (with the exception of Churchill and a small number of MPs) were convinced that Hitler was somebody we could work with. He used this analogy to answer the rhetorical question of how everybody could be wrong and only UKIP right on a range of core issues. Yet, ironically, he stands with all other mainstream British (and indeed EU) politicians in burying their head in the sand over the worldwide Islamist threat. I was hoping to ask him about this - and also his views on the banning and arrest of those who warn about the Islamic threat in the UK - but never got the chance because there were so many people clambering to ask questions.
The bulk of the questions - including all of those by Pollard were pretty poor. To understand why the JC has become the pathetic, leftist, non-defender of Israel that it has, you only have to know that Pollard is its editor. In his view the 'burning' question that 'everybody wanted to know' of Farage was what was he going to do about the 'racist' members of UKIP. Farage answered that pretty well - it's just a shame he is not aware that Pollard and the JC are not at all interested in the far more numerous and serious racists in the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative Party, nor even in the racists among the Islamic community in the UK. In fact Islamism was like the elephant in the room. It did not got a mention until near the end when a man (who I think may actually have been a Muslim given his name) asked the simple question 'what is your view of Islam?'. After a suitably politically correct answer the subject was not touched on again.
The most shameful 'question' came from a guy (who I assume was a member of Yachad or Jews for Justice for Palestinians because he was there to demonise Israel). He stated that many young Jews get the full benefit of the British state and then, without contributing anything back, go to live in Israel. He asked Farage what he would do about this, but not before he also got in a classic antisemitic dig that 'it is not surprising Jews are accused of dual loyalty'. Farage did not address the dual loyalty slur, but gave an excellent answer to the question by saying simply he hoped that when such people went to Israel they would forge strong commercial links between Israel and the UK.
Update: It appears that Farage's politically correct attitude to Islam (and only Islam) turns out to be a very carefully considered stance. Like the rest of the political and media class he has made a decision that nothing must be said by UKIP at all in case they might be percieved as 'racists' (as in truth is the new hate speech). See here.