What’s really going on, the story about being a Jew in the UK today

Created on 29/7/2007

To paraphrase the Peter Finch character in the film Network, I’m mad and I’m not going to take it any more. This is a controversial article, so, if you want to turn away now please do so. I make no apologies to anyone for being a Jew and a Zionist. I don’t think I am any better than anyone else for being so, but I will not accept being considered any less of a person nor will I apologize for being what I am.

The only racism accepted by polite society in the world today is being anti Jewish, even if it sometimes camouflaged as being anti Israeli.

Although I don’t agree with everything Israel does, I am very proud of Israel’s achievements. By the way I don’t agree with everything the UK does either, but that doesn’t mean I love it less, or will accept it being boycotted or vilified if that were the case. Why should I hide being Jewish, why do I have to be defensive. We are the only religion or people who have to guard our buildings, our cemeteries, our pastoral buildings and our people, why?

The only acceptable response is that the people who do this to us are wrong or evil or at least very stupid, perhaps a combination. We, the victims, shouldn’t be expected to understand or empathize with the motives or rationale of those that attack us. We did nothing to deserve being victims and I am totally fed up listening to well intentioned, but stupid folk explain to me that we should understand these aggressors. Particularly repugnant to me is when the people explaining their false justification for these attacks to me are themselves Jewish. Wake up; they want you, your Jewish family and friends dead.

Let me be clear. There can never be a justification for directly and intentionally targeting a cemetery or innocent civilians. This is not the same as collateral damage that happens when you mistakenly wound or kill whilst seeking to defend yourself from attack.

There is no escaping the fact that this is one of the most dangerous periods of modern British Jewish history. It is a commonly acknowledged fact that there are currently more anti-Semitic actions taking place in this country than at any time since 1938. As correctly stated in Richard Littlejohn’s recent TV documentary about the War on Britain’s Jews we face attacks from Nazis, the extreme left and Islamic fundamentalists. Between them they call for the end of our “power over the media” “our control over banking” and, Israel as a Jewish state!

A fundamental tool in their armory is their aim of demonizing and delegitimsiation of Israel as a Jewish state. After all, their argument goes, if you can make the world accept the big lie, the idea of ridding the world of the root of all the problems, i.e. Israel, then all will be well with the world. Do you know who invented this kind of big lie, his name was Joseph Goebels, and his job was Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany.

They all equate Zionism with racism and apartheid, again a lie and a calumny not aimed at any other country with similar aspirations or beliefs. What is Zionism, simply put it is the desire for a Jewish homeland in Israel. You live in a Christian country, in which is housed the Anglican Church. The monarch is the defender of the faith, and that faith is the faith of this state. No one accuses this country of being a racist state, or practicing apartheid for following this belief, which is the Christian equivalent of Zionism and Israel.

This last aim of those that hate Israel is a fig leaf for the rest. I state without any equivocation that no other country is measured by the same code of conduct as Israel. The same people who want Israel ostracized and embargoed and boycotted do not condemn any other country in the same way. Anything Israel does in this Alice through the Looking Glass world is wrong, evil and meets with implacable hatred. Perhaps if Israel behaved more like some paragons of freedom like North Korea or Iran or Syria it would be just fine. The truth is that those countries are police states, with no free press, have no judicial independence, and academics that have no freedom of expression, but none are boycotted by anyone.

Maybe Israel is guilty of being just too Jewish for the taste of our friends.

To understand the present, or contemplate the future, it’s vital to understand our past. My memory goes back to my first day at grown up prep school. My parents, otherwise lovely people decided to send me to St. Francis in West Acton, near to our home at the time. No problem except for the fact that is was a Catholic school for boys, run, at the time, by highly motivated Catholic clergy in the role of the teachers. I will never forget the several hundred pairs of eyes swiveling like gun barrels in my direction when, at my first assembly, the headmaster announced my arrival to the school. “I am pleased to welcome in our midst the first Jewish boy who has ever attended our school, young Master Klinger.” When you are about 5 or 6 years old your Jewish self-defense radar isn’t very finely attuned, so the fact that the assembled mass didn’t look too friendly hadn’t worried me unduly.

At the first break time I learned better. Up to me sauntered a giant, well he was about 8, and his name was Tony Bartoldi. He enquired of me, “Why did you kill Jesus?” before I could respond that I didn’t even know who Jesus was, let alone kill him, he punched me on the nose, hard. For the first time in my young life I faced the choice, run or fight. Being so young, I stood there like a statue, crying and bleeding, unable to move from the spot or exact revenge.

Returning home that afternoon my mother asked me why my nose had been bleeding and I explained matters as well I was able. My father informed me that I would now learn to box. Fortunately for me the family numbered several useful boxers in their midst, and they soon had me sorted out pugilism wise. The next time mister Bartoldi approached me I hit him without further warning, as I had been instructed. I had been taught to get my revenge in first. This was a lesson that has informed my life.

Now I realize, I was Israel and Judaism in microcosm. We cannot anticipate everyone being nice to us as Jews after several thousand years of their collectively being nasty. Even the so-called Enlightenment was not enlightened where it concerned Jews. Our time dwelling amongst the Islamic people was not so wonderful either. Their idea of being kind was when they didn’t kill us, or rape our women or allow us to pray. When you compare it with the present it was actually better. Now you cannot attend any synagogues in the majority of Arab countries, nor can you even land in these countries if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport. Most Jewish businessmen I know put down agnostic in the official papers they are obliged to file when they land in these countries. My attitude is more prosaic, if they don’t want me to visit as a Jew, then I am happy not to visit.

I am not debating right and wrong, but stating facts. Of course it would be great to be wrong. I well recall my kids, then teenagers telling me that they believe anti-Semitism was dead, and I was old fashioned for believing otherwise. They don’t believe this any more.

What are the solutions, what do I think you can do?

Don’t sit and listen when people demonize Judaism or Israel. Answer back. Arm yourself with facts. Question the source of the accusations. No one can pretend that everything is right with either us as Jews, or Israel as a country full of Jews, and some 1.25 million Arab Israelis. Then again, what country can anyone name that is always right, or religious group that always is right about anything? The answer to both questions, NONE!

We have to be pro-active, and where praise is appropriate, don’t be slow to give it. We seem to be waiting to defend ourselves as if we don’t have the right to be here. Those are the false values of the ghetto; the pogrom the Inquisition, when you kept your head down and hoped the storm would pass you by. Look what happened to those people, they were mostly murdered either by the Grand Inquisitor, the Tsar’s henchmen, Stalin or Hitler, all of whom shared a common contempt and hatred for Jews. They didn’t even have the fig leaf of hatred for the Jewish state. Your qualification for discrimination and eventual extermination was simply your Jewishness.

I don’t think there are solutions but there are some positive things we can do to paper over the cracks and perhaps help understanding and make the situation less bad. This starts by our spreading the truth rather then meekly accepting lies spread about Israel. It is not a wicked country bent on the destruction of anyone else. It is, at the least, the only democratic and free country in the region. It has many things that you can be proud of, such as taking in people from around the world, being a world leader in computer software and chip design, mobile communications, agriculture and other leading edge technologies.

What follows is my analysis of the usually unstated truth. Jews are not the worst people in the world. A fairly obvious argument to an audience of Jews, but it needs saying. We may not always be the best, but very rarely do we come bottom on any list of achievement, morality or any human listing of attainment. Usually we’re at or near the top of any list.
The reason might be less obvious. I believe the reason is mainly two fold. One is that if the Jew haters were to leave us alone for long enough we would probably have long since vanished like all the other peoples mentioned in the Old Testament. Secondly, if you follow the Darwinian theory of evolution, you could make a compelling argument that we Jews are simply the ultimate expression of accelerated evolution; since only the quickest, far-sighted, cleverest, most able of our fathers and mothers survived the many attempts there have been to wipe us out. What follows is that we have had the lower achievers eliminated from our midst. It is noticeable that we, as a people, decrease in number and are less identifiable through assimilation etc. when we are accepted by our host nations than when we are not.

Let me conclude with a 13th century quotation from Judah ben Samuel the Hasid, which is as appropriate now as it was then;
“There are three [sorts of people] for whom we should sternly close our hearts: a cruel person who commits vile things; the fool who rushes into ruin in spite of warning; and the ingrate. Ingratitude is the blackest of faults.”

We must defend our rights and ourselves because no one else will.