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May 15 2012 3 15 /05 /May /2012 21:28

My attention has been drawn to an op-ed that appeared in the Independent by a Yasmin-Alibhai-Brown.  It is well critiqued by Simon Plosker of HonestReporting. (http://honestreporting.com/ardent-zionists-v-enlightened-jews-an-assault-on-british-jewry/)

One horrible point that bothers me in particular that he does not specifically address is: ‘A large number of enlightened British Jews see the double standards and object to Israel's intransigence. It must be so hard to do what they do, behave with integrity and empathise with those they are instructed to hate.’

The assertion that those who criticize Israel’s alleged intransigence are enlightened carries the implication that those who do not criticize Israel are not enlightened. It does not consider the possibility that the ultimate problem may not be the alleged intransigence, but takes it as read that the Israeli, or pro-Israeli view, is intransigent. She fails, as many Israel bashers do, to give any credence to the Israeli perspective at all, or to offer a proper reasoned critique of the Israeli or pro Israel argument to expose its flaws or demonstrate why to maintain such a view is intransigence.  But this is not my main objection to her piece.

Her second sentence in this paragraph is one that leaves me cold. Israel may be wrong or do wrong. To oppose Israel may not win a Jewish critic of Israel any popularity contests. Indeed it is always hard to oppose what is popular among one’s own people. But to state that these allegedly enlightened Jews are the ones behaving with integrity which is hard to do in a milieu in which acting with integrity must presumably be unacceptable, is with respect, obnoxious. The clear implication of this sentence is that those who support Israel’s actions are lacking in integrity and that acting with integrity is unacceptable to them. They are somehow aware that they are shouting down those telling the ugly truth they wish to suppress. Where are the fatwas and death threats against the Chomsky’s, Finkelsteins, Kaufman’s and their ilk? Are there calls for boycotts of anti-Zionist Jews? Who suggests a boycott of Woody Allen or the like? Do any of the ‘enlightened’ British Jews fear for their safety from their irreverent and non-integrity laden co-religionists? But this is not my main objection to the piece.

The most disturbing falsehood that is uttered is the assertion that there exists a group of human beings who are ‘those they are instructed to hate.’ I was brought up in a secular Jewish pro-Zionist school in South Africa. We were taught many Jewish ideas and values.  Hating any body was never on the agenda. We were taught to love our land but never to hate anyone. We were in fact encouraged to think and challenge for ourselves and to apprise ourselves of facts upon which to base our conclusions. Neither our communal lay leaders nor the rabbinate nor anyone else within the Jewish community instructed us to hate anyone, or even encouraged any antipathy towards Palestinians, Muslims or anyone else for that matter.  Just as I have seen nowhere within the Jewish sources, the Bible, the Talmud, the Shulchan Aruch among others, that calls for or instructs how to use the blood of gentile children to bake matzah on Pesach so too I have not seen anything instructing or demanding hatred of Palestinians, Arabs, gentiles or even journalists for that matter. I have not heard the Board of Deputies, the Zionist Federation, the Chief Rabbi, any Orthodox Rabbi, or leaders of other offshoots, members of Zionist movements, teachers in Jewish schools promoting or encouraging hatred of anyone. I do not know of any Jewish school in the United Kingdom, or anywhere else, where the children are taught to sing anti-Palestinian songs, or songs promoting hatred against anyone at all. I know that there is no Jewish educational institution in this country where the promotion of anti-Palestinian feeling or any anti-anybody feeling is part of the curriculum in any way at all.

 

Where one earth does such a slur originate? How can any newspaper publish such nonsense in the name of so-called integrity?

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