ROOTS OF JEW-HATRED HOW TO INTEGRATE
The Chief Rabbi’s gnomic utterance that “Judaism is the world’s most sustained protest against empires, because imperialism is the attempt to impose a single truth, culture or faith on a plural world” ( JC, November 16) reveals a refreshing new take on antisemitism, but also raises a difficult conundrum about the foundation of the state of Israel.
If Judaism is a protest movement, then antisemitism is not a hatred of Jews per se but a viciously hostile reaction to the things we stand against, including ignorance, brutality and dictatorship. And just like all protesters the world over — from the women of Greenham Common to the Monks of Burma and that lone individual in Tiananmen Square — the Jewish people have for centuries been subjected to ridicule, contempt, beatings and worse for their beliefs.
Which means perhaps we must face a terrible truth: that as long as there are Jews prepared to stand against the forces of tyranny and bigotry, there will always be antisemites to torment us, for they are, in a sinister and perverse way, the validation of our very existence. Yet, paradoxically, from this we can draw comfort. Because though we must always be wary of antisemitism, we must not fear the antisemites — for in reality it is they who fear us, for we challenge everything they represent.
And so to the conundrum. If the Chief Rabbi is right about the Jewish people’s eternal opposition to imperialism, what do we do now with the Balfour Declaration? Simon Platman Leabank Square, Hackney, London E9
It is difficult to infer what Jennifer Bluston has done to “portray a positive image of Judaism” in the Catholic school where she works ( Letters, November 23), or who the “bigoted” Jews are “who refuse to integrate into society”, and who once provided the only experience of Jews for her colleagues.
Like Jennifer, I also work in a Catholic school. At work I am Mr Fligg the teacher, who also keeps his head covered, brings a packed lunch and leaves early on mid-winter Friday afternoons, but who stays late many evenings to make up. It’s challenging. But at work Jews project a positive image of Judaism and of Jews by being committed to their jobs — and by being unapologetically committed to Jewish tradition. These are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, they are of the essence of true integration. Mike Fligg Moorland Grove, Leeds LS17