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Prince Harry and the Jews 

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There has been rash of stories in the Jewish press since the death of Queen Elizabeth on September 8, about the other British royals, and their connection, or lack of it, to Israel and to the Jewish people. Why did Queen Elizabeth never visit Israel, though she went to 129 countries? Why was Prince William the first royal to make an official visit to Israel? Is King Charles a “Christian Zionist” who is keenly aware of “Jewish Jerusalem” from his visit to the grave of his grandmother, Queen Alice of Greece, a “righteous gentile” who is buried in the Christian cemetery abutting the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world on the Mount of Olives? And what about Prince Harry? Why have his brother, his father, and his grandfather all visited Israel, and he has yet to do so?

A discussion of Prince Harry and an attempt to explain, and at times explain away, some of his least attractive episodes concerning Jews can be found here: “Controversy and Compassion: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Relationship With the Jews,” by Rachel O’Donoghue, Algemeiner, September 14, 2022:

…Yet, in the two and a half years since Harry and Meghan waved goodbye to the gray skies of Great Britain, they have seemingly gone out of their way to cause controversy, such as their headline-grabbing interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, in which they claimed racism was a factor in their decision to quit as working royals.

In fact, there is no evidence of “racism” from any of his fellow royals. What Harry apparently deeply resented, and may have thought of as “racism,” were exactly two words that Prince William used in referring to Harry’s then-girlfriend Megan Markle: “that girl.” That is not racist at all, and certainly did not deserve 15 years, or even 15 minutes, of Harry’s resentment.

However, British historian Robert Lacey asserted that the real reason for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departure was the result of an incident that had occurred some 15 years previously — namely, the fateful evening when Prince Harry was photographed in a Nazi uniform at a costume party.

According to Lacey, Harry believes he took too much of the blame for the incident, even though his brother, Prince William, had been there when he chose the offensive outfit. This apparently resulted in a long-simmering rift between the royal siblings that paved the way for Harry to abandon his duties 15 years later.

Perhaps you have forgotten the scandal of Harry’s Nazi uniform. He had been invited to a costume party, and decided that a Nazi costume would be just the thing. Unfortunately for the offending Prince, someone at the party snapped his picture and the photograph appeared in the tabloid press. Excuses were made because of his “youth.” But Harry was not a child; he was 20 years old, and had come to man’s estate. The choice of costume was unforgivable. Of course, not only the Board of Jewish Deputies, but many non-Jews as well, denounced what was more than a matter of simple bad taste.

What Harry apparently resented, as he felt sorry for himself in this whole sorry affair of his own making, was that his brother William, who had been with him when he rented the outfit at Maud’s Cotswold Costumes, laughed with him at the party – those Nazis, if you take them in the right silly spirit, can be great fun! – and laughed again with him as they walked home after the party. So why wasn’t William also raked over the coals? This is what made Harry so angry.

To quell the storm of criticism through his publicist, the Clarence House Press office released this statement: “I am very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize.”

A “poor choice of costume”? It was a grotesque choice, and an intolerable affront, not just to Jews, but to everyone who understood what the Nazis meant.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the prince starred in a tourism advertisement with an actor who was once suspended from his job in 2010 for making antisemitic jokes.

Dave Fane, a New Zealand comic, was forced to apologize to the New Zealand Jewish Council after he “joked” during a 2010 radio show that Jews are “expendable” and “Hitler had a right.”

One can only hope that Harry was unaware that the man he would be working with in this advertisement (Harry has to make a living, after all), a certain “comic” Dave Fane, in the past had liked to make jokes about Jews being “expendable” and claiming – just a joke! don’t be so thin-skinned! – that “Hitler had a right.” Thigh-slapping. Or did Harry know about Fane’s sense of humor, and not really care?

Harry seems not to have been terribly interested in the worst crime in history – the Holocaust. While he was a student at Eton, a Holocaust survivor gave a talk about the Nazi genocide. She recalled Harry’s bored indifference to the subject:

And in January 2022, a Holocaust survivor observed that when Harry was a student at the prestigious Eton College, he failed to take seriously a talk she was giving about the Nazi genocide of Jews.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, 97, a cellist who survived the Auschwitz and Belsen death camps, said: “Of course Harry wasn’t taking it seriously — just another boring lady who comes to talk about boring things — but [Prince] William is a different character altogether.”

This unfeeling, boorish, and bored behavior – his response to a talk about the Holocaust by a survivor – strikes me as on a par with his wearing a Nazi uniform.

But he’s not always been in the wrong when it comes to Jews and Israel:

Although he is famously “woke,” the Duke refused to bow to pressure from supporters of the antisemitic (and self-proclaimed “progressive”) Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, who had criticized the Invictus Games for allowing former IDF soldiers to compete.

He didn’t succumb to demands by the BDSers that IDF veterans be barred from the Invictus Games. That is one point in his favor. But it’s a very tiny point. It would have been impossible for him to try to enforce such a ban on Israeli participants. There would have been an uproar, and reminders in the media of Harry’s Nazi costume and even of his apparent eyes-glazed-over response to the Holocaust lecture by a survivor.

As a couple, Harry and Meghan have demonstrated their support for the Jewish community in a number of ways, including a March 2022 donation to HIAS, the largest Jewish nonprofit for refugee assistance in the world.

How does a contribution to HIAS for the support of Ukrainian refugees, few of whom were Jewish, “demonstrate their support for the Jewish community”?

This followed an earlier £10,000 ($11,700) donation to a joint Muslim and Jewish kitchen in the UK that serves free meals to people in need.

As questions arise about whether Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may return to more prominent royal roles following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we can only hope the couple will continue supporting the Jewish community and giving generously to worthy causes.

“Continue supporting the Jewish community”? Two small contributions, one intended for Ukrainian refugees (though the donation was given to a Jewish organization that could be counted on to deliver the aid), and another to one of those Muslim-Jewish interfaith kitchens that can deceptively suggest a future of happy coexistence, are the sum total of what is optimistically described as Harry’s “support“ of the Jewish community.

Here’s what one would like Prince Harry to do, if he is truly intent on showing sympathetic interest in Jews and Israel. He could arrange, while in the U.K., to meet with Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, and thus a soldier likely to appeal to Prince Harry, for the Prince served in Afghanistan for ten weeks as a forward air controller, until-the press got wind of his whereabouts and he had to leave for security reasons. Colonel Kemp could set Prince Harry straight on the IDF, that Kemp correctly calls “the most moral army in the world.”

Prince Harry and Megan could also pay a visit to Israel, as his brother and late father have done, not only to visit the grave of his great-grandmother, the “Righteous Gentile” Queen Alice of Greece, on the Mount of Olives, but to experience for himself the Start-Up Nation, the little country that could, and the lively intelligent humorful people who have made it all happen. His visit to Yad Vashem should provide him with a salutary shock and a sense of belated anguish at what, as a shallow 20-year-old, he had once thought could be a source of humor.

 I’d call that a good start.

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