It is in this context that it is hard to comprehend why the Chief Rabbi and the President of the Board of Deputies did not take this opportunity to continue the new debate courageously initiated by the ambassador, rather than to let it just vaporise into thin air. It is particularly surprising as neither the Labour Government nor the Conservative opposition would disagree with the ambassador’s comments, which echoed the recent report of the cross-party Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism.
At the Jewish communal celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary in Trafalgar Square, the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, said on behalf of the Government: “To those people who would deny even the right of the Israeli state to exist, let us say to them: ‘You will not succeed’. Never again should the Jewish people have to run from tyranny.” But both parties are constantly advised that they could win more votes if they distanced themselves from Israel in favour of the Palestinians. Perhaps the Jewish leadership did not want the British public to think that they had dual loyalties. If so, they were misguided, because those who make these accusations do not need any pretext for doing so. Dual loyalty has been a constant claim of anti-Semites, as if we didn’t all have a plethora of loyalties.
A united response to the constant slurs and calumnies against Israel is essential because of the growing number of Jews who have joined in the irrational attacks on Israel. One example is the Jews who advocate the boycott of Israel’s academic institutions. Another is the Jews demonstrating against Israel when the Israeli ambassador was doing a Q&A at the Welsh Assembly. It is essential that representatives both of secular Jews and of mainstream traditions of Judaism are seen not to have lost their nerve at the constant abuse Israel is suffering.
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