ROOTS OF JEW-HA­TRED HOW TO IN­TE­GRATE

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT&ANALYSIS -

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

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