Monday, February 05, 2007

A Different Perspective

One of the most disturbing developments in political discourse in recent years has been the idea that criticism of Israel somehow equates to anti-semitism. With this in mind, there is a fascinating article in today's Guardian by Brian Klug. Here's an extract:

All of which suggests that British Jewry, speaking with one voice, stands solidly behind the Israeli government and its military operations.

Two things are wrong with this suggestion. First, it's false. Jews were deeply divided over Israel's campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon last year. Certainly, there were those who shared the sentiment of the chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, who, addressing the rally, said: "Israel, you make us proud." Others felt roughly the opposite emotion.

Second, the board [Board of Deputies of British Jews] has no business taking a partisan position on the Middle East. Let groups such as the Zionist Federation or perhaps the Israeli embassy organise solidarity rallies. The role of the board is to promote the welfare of British Jews in all their variety, not to defend Israel. Similarly, the chief rabbi is entitled, ex officio, to bring a religious perspective to political matters, but it is not his role to act as political spokesman for his flock.