Thursday, 7 April 2016


The UK's former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in Newsweek:

 "Anti-semitism is a virus that survives by mutating. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and 20th centuries they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, Israel. Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism."

 History, he says will judge us by how we deal with the renewed rise of anti-Semitism in our midst.

 One way that we will meet the challenge is by not allowing a mealy-mouthed and faux distinction to be made between anti-Semitism & anti-Zionism.

No, rather anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

For Zionism is nothing more than the legitimate aspiration of the Jewish people for a safe haven in their ancient homeland. Given the tragic history of the Diaspora to oppose this perfectly reasonable desire is inexcusable and in most cases will reflect an underlying bigotry towards Jews.

Nor must we allow anti-Semitism to hide behind the tired mantra of, "Legitimate criticism of Israel's government is OK."

 On the face of it, such an assertion is axiomatic (any government can be criticised), except that the words are too often used as a cover for what turns out to be illegitimate crticism of this particular state's government.

Of course, Israel's government can be criticised. But such criticism must be fair, balanced and - most importantly - in proportion to the wrong that this government has done when compared against other nations. When Israel is singled out by individuals and groups who are wholly silent on the truly nasty regimes in the Middle East & elsewhere in the world then we can know that we are not dealing with legitimate criticism at all.       

 But what of those that say the very notion of a Jewish state is racist?

Well, do you apply this standard to those very many Middle Eastern countries whose constitutions state that they are to be both Arab and Islamic? If not, then see above.    

History's judgement demands that we make these assertions & robustly challenge those who oppose them. In this we will be motivated not only by goodwill towards one of the world's perpetually persecuted people-groups, but will also be serving our own self-interest too.

For as Sacks observes, "The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews."

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