Neviim Tovim/TheHaftarah Circle Gillian Gould Lazarus

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Kapo. It is as offensive as Uncle Tom or Coconut, with similar imputations of treachery and servility.

Kapos were prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and they performed the work of the SS guards, under duress.  From the point of view of the SS administrators, Kapos served the purpose of relieving their workload while dividing Jewish prisoners against each other. Some were sadistically brutal to the prisoners they supervised.  All were collaborators by force of circumstance and all were victims of the system. The taint of treachery, disloyalty and collaboration with the enemy is attached to this word, kapo, which originally designated those Jewish prisoners in the camps who were promoted to a functionary role which probably helped to keep them alive.

Treason is one of the most hated crimes, odious to the group or nation betrayed by the traitor and  punished with the severest judicial penalties. Wartime collaborators often suffered extrajudicial punishments , including executions.

The anger felt towards a collaborator can be commensurate with the damage they achieve. The damage rather than the intention quantifies the response. Ethel Rosenberg was executed for typing up the notes her husband passed to Soviet contacts but it was believed that the notes assisted the Soviet nuclear programme.

Alternatively, the self-preservation instinct after the fall of an enemy may exacerbate the cruelty visited on collaborators. Consider the persecution in France in the years after WW2, meted out by those who may not have been personally blameless, of women considered guilty of collaboration horizontale.  Pointing out another’s collaboration could deflect from their own, so the women who had been intimate with the German occupiers were made to carry the blame.

In recent times in the UK, Jewish political activists whose efforts are construed as injurious to the Jewish community are sometimes reviled with the word kapo. Those who use the word are often rebuked, as it is pointed out that far from acting freely, kapos were also victims of the Nazis. Furthermore, those who have discovered their Jewish identity in an anti-Zionist cause probably believe that they are motivated by the pursuit of justice, rather than with the aim of whipping up anti-Jewish feeling. Nevertheless, with antisemitism now a force to be reckoned with in the UK Labour party, the strident denials of Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel, in defence of Jeremy Corbyn, BDS and PSC arouse resentment in Jewish communities, especially as their raison d’être seems to be to expel from the Labour  mainstream Jewish organizations of long standing in the Party which was their political home.

Today, the Jewish Chronicle carries the story that a member of the anti-Israel but Jewishly observant Jewdas group has been giving training in antisemitism to members of Dulwich CLP.

‘A left-wing activist from the controversial Jewdas group compared Zionism to Nazi ideology when she gave “antisemitism awareness” to a Labour Party branch meeting.

During her 55-minute speech to the Dulwich and West Norwood Labour branch on Thursday, self-declared “non-Zionist” … also claimed there was “room for discussion” about collaboration between the “Nazi Party and members of the Zionist movement.”

[She] said “Zionism is a racist ideology”, adding it was “not possible to have a democratic Jewish state”.’

By using her Jewish identity to suggest special knowledge, the Jewdas member promulgates the view that Jews who support Israel are racists and that Israel is a racist enterprise. She instructed Dulwich Labour members that:

‘antisemitism within Labour is being employed to attack Corbyn’s leadership and has been since day one…because of his views on Israel.’

This should be a popular view among supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and will resonate with JVL and Neturei Karta as well as with the aptly named Jewdas.

The Jew in the pew at the synagogue, or the Jew in the queue at Carmelli’s Bakery, or the Jew who is one of the few  – about 250,000 – rather than one of Corbyn’s many, is worried about the possible injury to our safety and standing in the United Kingdom. Mr Corbyn may yet become Prime Minister and, outside of Jewdas and JVL, there is a widespead fear that this would prove detrimental to Jewish life.

Meanwhile, there are Jewish people who insist that Corbynism is not harmful to Jews or that we need to come to an accommodation with the various Holocaust revisionists and conspiracy theorists now holding office in the Labour Party. They regard those of us who are aghast at developments since Corbyn became Leader of the Opposition as spinning a false narrative in defence of the State of Israel. Their arguments are approved and applauded in many of the constituency Labour parties. They may be held in opprobrium by  large numbers of Jews, but their Jewish identity has proved potent in defending Corbyn from charges of antisemitism. They are the best weapon he has.

The K word,  is indeed inappropriate and has the indecency that belongs to intense invective but it is provoked by the inimical energy of the Corbyn movement, which seems to be in the ascendant. It has the force of any profanity. For a period of time, kapos wielded power over other Jews, and power, while it lasts, may be less forgivable than treachery.

A thought: perhaps we should lose the word kapo and bring back the word herem? Why use insults when we can resort to anathema?

 

 

 

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One of the Labour forums shows a video today which purports to be Israeli soldiers cheering while a sniper shoots a Palestinian. Text accompanying the video refers to the Palestinian victim as a child. The source of the video appears to be the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

This is a report from Haaretz, 10 April 2018,

The findings of a preliminary inquiry, launched on Monday after the video surfaced, were that the sniper acted appropriately and only fired after all other actions taken by the soldiers were did not succeed in preventing the man from approaching the fence. However, the inquiry also found that the exuberant soldiers heard in the video acted improperly and will face disciplinary proceedings.

The army said that the video was made on December 22, 2017, during Friday riots along the border with the Gaza Strip.

“Many steps were taken during the riots to disperse them, including loudspeaker [announcements] and calls to stop, the use of means for dispersing demonstrations and firing in the air,” stated the inquiry’s findings. “When all these did not help, a single bullet was fired at one of the suspects in organizing and leading the incident when he was only a few meters from the fence. As a result of the fire he was hit in his leg and injured.”

The video was not shot from the sniper position and the person who filmed it was not part of the sniper team that fired the bullet, the army said.

After the full operational inquiry is completed by the entire command staff, the findings will be provided – as is customary – to the Military Advocate General for examination.

“As for the unapproved filming of an operational incident, distribution of he filmed material and the expressions heard in it, it should be noted that this is not the spirit and the level of restraint expected from IDF soldiers and it will be handled appropriately on a disciplinary level,” stated the findings.’

According to Haaretz, the video is problematic but the accompanying text about it on JCLPF is as follows:

‘Proof that Israeli soldiers target Palestinian children (and rejoice when they make a hit!) Video from Israeli newspaper.’

These are the comments from members of the group.

 

It is normal to feel rage and despair when we hear of atrocities. That is how I feel when I read about the Shoah, for example. In this case, members of the forum express outrage, but not one of them questions the accuracy of what they are told. Those who question such posts tend to be removed from the forum. I refrained from posting the report from Haaretz, to explain that the video, disturbing as it was, was not what they thought (an IDF sniper sadistically shooting a child to accompanying cheers). I assume that if I posted it I would be outing myself as what they generally call a ‘Zionist shill’ as well as less polite names. I would be ejected from the group and no longer able to report on it.

Videos and photos concerning Israel are posted every day on the forums, Al Jazeera’s The Lobby being the most popular. The result is always the same: righteous indignation combined with a sense of vindication that their Jew hatred has been right all along. There is also great anger about the so-called antisemitism smears. What do the Jews expect? After all, nobody likes an infanticide.

I continue to document the material on the one Labour forum from which I have not been ejected.

Sometimes I think of Oscar Wilde’s wallpaper in the Paris hotel bedroom and his last words in his last room before heaven.

‘This wallpaper is dreadful, one of us will have to go.’

This is how I feel about the phenomenon of Corbynist antisemitism. One of us will have to go. Let us hope that it’s them – may they go, peacefully from the UK Labour party, and may we still still be here, in ‘this other Eden’ which has been our home since 1656.

 

As we approach August Bank holiday, I think of the death of Princess Diana, twenty-one years ago at this season. I remember the passionate grief in the United Kingdom and abroad, following the shock of her untimely death. No doubt the intensity of the public response was inspired by Diana’s superstar persona, beauty, philanthropy and transparent vulnerability. If any provocative journalist, presaging Katie Hopkins in courting opprobrium, suggested that Diana was neurotic, turbulent and not more than averagely intelligent, the response tended be disgust and disbelief that anyone could fall so low.

No monarchist myself, I wept, read quantities of the Dianology then in print and watched all the television coverage. My daughters went up to Kensington Palace to lay flowers and my son, then fifteen, found a place to watch the passing of the funeral cortege. None of us was any kind of royal watcher. We supported Oliver Cromwell. Nevertheless, Diana was the archetype of the beautiful and good, dying young.

It all seems a very long time ago.

Last Friday, I watched the Channel 4 talk show The Last Leg, where Jeremy Corbyn was the butt of some quite edgy humour. He was represented by an actor as being naked in a tea cup but I need not explain the why and wherefore. Going by online responses, the fans were aghast, as they were in the face of Tracey Ullman’s comedy sketches lampooning Mr Corbyn, or David Baddiel’s remarks on the Frankie Boyle show.

My impression is that, for his most devoted supporters, Corbyn is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Gandalf and, despite the protestations of JK Rowling, Dumbledore. An old man with a beard should be wise, unless he compensates by coming down the chimney with presents – never a very wise choice. Corbyn is also seen as an older Jesus, if Jesus had not died at the age of thirty-three, even younger than Diana.

In common with Diana, Corbyn is a myth and a legend as much as a human being. Both are often perceived as martyrs and particularly as martyred by the press.

Corbyn is also loathed in a way Diana was not.  He is associated with Jew hatred, more now than at the time of the General Election last year. He is regarded as hypocritical yet powerful in the context of the Labour Party where his close associates display a sometimes feral potency. To be on the wrong side of the Corbynistas seems unsafe within the Labour movement, with all the talk of deselection and, more so, the very insulting and belittling language used of political opponents by those supporters who have high visibility on social media.

The Queen has seldom aroused such strong devotion and neither did Churchill in his life time. If the Queen and Churchill were regarded as uplifting symbols of Britsh life, they were not often more than incidental in the lives of the public.

Last year, during the Glastonbury Festival, Corbynmania was a word in all the newspapers. I have not heard it so much lately and it is possible that some of the Gandalfing of Corbyn has fallen away. In the last year, while his myth has been nurtured, he has not achieved very much, other than maintaining his support base and his leadership.

I, of course, have  a horse in this race. I am Jewish and I do believe that the Corbyn movement is injurious to Jewish well-being. My view is precisely the one most loathed and derided by a significant number of Mr Corbyn’s supporters.

This elderly gentleman, resembling Diana perhaps in his prodigious obstinacy and middling intelligence, has aroused love and hate among the public more than any British politician in my lifetime. Enoch Powell would be in the running, but I don’t believe he was ever as popular as Corbyn.

No wonder we loved Diana. She harmed no one except herself.

Since Dame Margaret Hodge hit the headlines, the Labour Party has continued to rage like a forest fire over the issue of antisemitism within the party and over Mr Corbyn’s role, for better for worse. There have been two twitterstorms that I know of, one with the hashtag ‘We are Corbyn’ and the more recent with the hashtag ‘Resign Tom Watson.’

As readers will know, Tom Watson has condemned Labour antisemitism. Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are sticking to their narrative that Tom Watson is dishonest and  acting on behalf of those who want to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of 10 Downing Street. Online Labour Forums are running stories about Mr Watson being in the pay of Zionist Jews and I believe one Labour official has been suspended for saying as much.

A journalist from Jewish News has been interviewed by the Canary and expressed disgust with the United We Stand front pages shared by three Jewish newspapers. An argument as to whether the journalist is actually Jewish is still raging as I type this, although the journalist in question seems to think he is not.

A young man parried a tweet from the intrepid journalist Dan Hodges by claiming to be a Corbyn fan and a member of the Board of Deputies, to show that you can be both. The information that has reached me so far is that he’s the first thing but not the second so the conjunct, theoretically possible, doesn’t stand in this case.

I sometimes wonder, could we see off this recent (say half a century)  burst of antisemitism at home and abroad if there were not Jewish people batting against us: Jewish Voice for Labour, Free Speech on Israel, the Max Blumenthals, the wrong type of Finkelstein (Norman) and the brocialists called Shlomo of whom there may be two or three.

The material on Labour forums is really not amusing. The flow of unreconstructed antisemitism is relentless, often prompted by posts from the group administrators if they think the topic of the Satan Katan* has been kicked into the long grass. I have taken to searching on the key word Zimbabwe, to see if the forum members have anything to say about current developments there, but there is nothing.

I’ve posted much of what I see on the Labour forums on my Twitter timeline. It is not possible to log in – which I do several times a day – without seeing extremely negative posts relating to Israel, Jews or, most prolifically in recent weeks, the so-called ‘smears’ about Labour antisemitism.  There is often a smiling or winking emoji accompanying the words ‘Am I being antisemitic?’

They prize above all an encouraging word from a Jewish person,  saying ‘No you’re not being antisemitic. It’s a lie told by…’ Zionists? Conservatives? The Deputy Labour leader? The PLP?

It does seem clear to me, in this fog of war, that being or not being Jewish is not any kind of deciding factor in fighting antisemitism or coddling it. The friends, the journalists, the politicians who stand with us and pay the price for showing solidarity are not all Jewish. Most of them are not. It would be grim with no more than  a quarter of a million of us in the UK if no one else had our backs.

So where this is leading is that I would like to thank all those who do have our backs, khasidei umot ha’olam חֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם , the righteous among the nations. Like all the peoples of the world, we can’t do it all alone. Nobody can.

  • Little Satan

6 August 2018

 

 

 

I wrote a piece about my mum which I was going to blog but in the last few days, I get the impression that some of the people kind enough to read my words are not necessarily well-disposed. Bearing this in mind, I’ll refrain from saying much about my mum’s quiet personality or her characteristic phraseology, but I’ll just say this.

She died last year, aged 98. A few months before she died, she was interviewed by Owen who was working on a  Memory-Sharing App for later life and I was present at the interview. I had expected that my mother would want to talk about family, her childhood in London’s east end, her seventy years marriage to my Dad and probably a bit about the blitz in London, because she was under the table with my sister as the bombs were falling.

Unexpectedly, she talked a lot about Oswald Mosley.

‘It was very hard when Mosley came,’ she said.’They were fascists, you know. It was frightening.’

Owen encouraged her to speak of her childhood, and she mentioned her father’s workshop where she and her siblings worked as a sewing machinists.  Her memory was stimulated, which was no doubt one of the goals of the memory sharing project. I noticed with some surprise how she kept coming back to the topic of Mosley, who must, I supposed, have been small beer compared with living through the blitz while my father was away at war, having his own very close shaves.

When I was a child in the 1950s, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles wouldn’t let us children buy Tizer, a very popular fizzy drink because, they explained, Oswald Mosley  was a shareholder.

After the war, Mosley targeted principally the recent immigrants of the Windrush generation, through his League of Empire Loyalists, which eventually morphed into the National Front. He stood for Parliament in 1966, in Shoreditch and Finsbury.  Aged sixteen, I heckled with left wing friends at his meeting and was frogmarched out by two policemen, undoubtedly for my own good. My grandfather made me recount the event more than once to his friends who came round to play cards. He was so proud.

There was also Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement in the 1960s which became the British Movement under John Tyndall.

These neonazi extremists, they have their moment for causing fear and fury and then they return to obscurity, sometimes reaching out from the shadows to make a kill, the tragic death of Jo Cox MP being a case in point.

In the mid-twentieth century, the parents taught us diligently not to drink Tizer and we grew up knowing about the crazy ideas the ‘Fascists’ harboured about us Jews (the word fascists was used then more commonly than neonazis), their belief in our uncanny power and immeasurable wealth.

Every decade, people are more enlightened than the decade before. When I was a child, capital punishment and flogging existed in English law; male homosexuality was illegal; racist and homophobic discourse were run of the mill. I must add that my parents, born before 1920, despised racism and homophobia. They were not judgmental about sexuality. They boycotted South African fruit. And they wouldn’t let us drink Tizer.

Now I tire my adult children with my worries about the return of antisemitism. They think this trouble in the Labour Party will pass. They tend to agree that there is a problem, but they don’t believe it will have the power to harm us. Fair enough.

Perhaps it was living through the war that made my parents fearful, or being born soon after the war which has made me jittery.

In the 1970s, I saw a leaflet which some obscure far right group had posted through letter boxes in Bloomsbury. I read it and saw that it was mad. They asserted that Churchill was Jewish, Harold Wilson was Jewish and that Jews, naturally, are the evil masters of all they survey.

It’s only the third of those assertions that I see, when trawling Labour forums, in this year of 2018.

One other thing I see on Labour forums – and this is a gambit that Mosley never came up with – is the assertion that antisemitism doesn’t exist, not on the left. It is believed to be a trick that Jews play, for unlawful gain. They post memes to this effect, which I can see in my mind’s eye as I type this.

Perhaps those inappropriate posts from individuals who have, to greater or lesser extent associated themselves with the Labour Party (some are members, some are not and some hold office in the  Labour Party), perhaps they too will pass. Perhaps the Key Stage 4 history resources will describe how Labour encountered a problem with antisemitism in the twenty tens and nipped it in the bud.

In my previous blog, I quoted Camus, ‘the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for  good’.

Let us be alert to the symptoms, wherever we find them.

 

27 July 2018

Proto Prologue, written last

Since 1 October, posts about Israel, Jews and antisemitism have ceased, on the two forums which I follow. One, with less than a thousand members, was milder in tone than ‘Labour Party Forum’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party Forum’. Posts on JCLPF are now mostly about domestic politics, whereas, before October, Israel was by far the most common topic for discussion. It is possible that the group administrators were finally asked to hold back the tsunami of hatred. In point of fact, the hatred has not dissipated as the comments are still full of anger and contempt, mainly directed at Conservatives or  at the Labour MPs regarded as Blairites. Israel, meanwhile, is off the agenda, as are JLM, LFOI, CAAS, Margaret Hodge and Luciana Berger. I am grateful to the person who advised forum administrators to ‘tone it down,’  to borrow a phrase from Tracey Ullman.

Pre Prologue

The 2018 Labour Conference is in full swing. For some reason, I’m getting more hostile traffic than usual on Twitter and inviting those sceptical about Labour antisemitism to look at the screen shots on this blog post. Apparently, some of the interlocutors have been kind enough to look, as i asked, but they are unimpressed. They feel that the screen shots are either:

a) justified criticism of Israel

b) the work of fifth columnists intending to bring Labour into disrepute

c) irrelevant because they may not be the work of card carrying Labour members

d) (just one person) justified as the worst murderers in the world were/are Jewish.

There is not one who says, ‘Hey, there’s some nasty stuff there. We should get the forums to tone it down.’*

Of course they suggest that I write and post in bad faith. That is, as David Hirsh defined it, the Livingstone Formulation. If someone accuses you of bad faith, what more can be said? We’re not going to hear each other, so we have nothing profitable to say to each other. In such situations, the Serenity Prayer may be worth a go.

Prologue.

My screen shots get queried on Twitter, especially by those who feel that Corbynism is essentially an honest project for the promotion of justice and fairness. I disagree as I see so much hostility to Jews on Corbynist websites. Sceptical interlocutors generally ask me how I know the offensive comments come from card carrying Labour Party members. This I cannot answer. I know only these things.

  • The posts are usually very pro-Corbyn
  • There is an almost obsessive antagonism to Israel and to Jews, making an exception for Jews who actively denounce Israel; Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and the late Hajo Meyer being much cited.
  • These views do not usually get challenged by other members.
  • They are permitted by the administrators.
  • Calling the Talmud Satanic is not reasoned criticism of Israel.
  • The administrators post articles and videos, usually from Mint Press, Russia Today, Palestinian news channels, Evolve, Mondoweiss and Skwawkbox which are universally hostile to Israel.
  • Within a short space of time, these posts attract comments denigrating Jews in general.
  • If anyone disagrees, they are abused by other members of the group.
  • On the few occasions when I have posted something questioning the totally negative coverage of Israel, my comments were deleted by administrators.
  • The Al-Jazeera film ‘the Lobby’ is posted most days as an educational resource.
  • The literacy of forum members is diverse. I find it hard to imagine that Tories and Zionists would infiltrate these forums and employ so many different levels of orthographic competence.

It is argued every day on the forums that Israel is murderous, sadistic, criminal and internationally puissant. The videos are not usually clear and one cannot see what is happening in them, so a member will insert a tagline, explaining that the video depicts some monstrous behaviour inflicted on Palestinians by Israelis. I’m not saying that this never happens but that, in the videos shown, anything could be happening. It is like looking at an abstract painting with an adjacent text explaining the significant features.

Fortunately, there are many who see that the quantity of antisemitic material on the forums is a problem which the Labour Party should be willing to address and fewer who see no such thing. As Shelley said, ‘We are many, they are few.’ I hope this is the case. When I browse the microcosm of the forums, I sometimes get the feeling that they are many and I am the last Jewish person left.

Approx 25 July

This week, there was what Jeremy Corbyn called a contretemps between himself and Dame Margaret Hodge, when the latter confronted him in the House of Commons and called him a racist antisemite. Reactions on online Labour forums have been intense. They have now heard of the IHRA definition of antisemitism which they consider unanimously to be a document designed to silence free speech on Israel. The remarkable thing is how the forum members are emboldened to the point where some are now speaking openly about Jews, something which, as I mentioned a week ago in  this blog, they had tended to avoid.

I can find no more words and propose to attach images of comments which have been posted  this week on two online Labour forums. I must say I am not happy to be uploading  disturbing images, on this blog where I usually write about scripture, but needs must when the devil drives.

I’m inserting about twenty images, all from the last few days. from 19 July until today, 24 July.* Warning: looking at them may damage your health. I uploaded forty images, so if anyone wants access to them, I can produce them. I also have hundreds stored elsewhere.

It’s the quantity as much as the quality.

Once again, I will emphasize, it is the way that Israel is criticized that is problematic. One can hardly even call it criticism. Often, the language segues seamlessly into classical antisemitism.

I thought we had left all this behind in the twentieth century.

Albert Camus said:

Il savait…que le bacille de la peste ne meurt ni ne disparaît jamais, qu’il peut rester pendant des dizaines d’années endormi dans les meubles et le linge, qu’il attend patiemment dans les chambres, les caves, les malles, les mouchoirs et les paperasses, et que, peut-être, le jour viendrait où, pour le malheur et l’enseignement des hommes, la peste réveillerait ses rats et les enverrait mourir dans une cité heureuse.*

He knew…that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.

  • I have added two more images dated 26 and 27 July. I may add more images from the forums as the days go by. It’s easier to add them singly than to upload dozens.
  • La Peste, Albert Camus, Gallimard 1947
  • I have added many more screen shots from the last few days, so this post is a way of archiving some of them. The weeks pass and today is 1 September. I add the images intermittently, when I remember that I intended to archive them here but this really is the tip of the iceberg.
  • Today being 21 Ellul, I’ll take the opportunity to say, to whom it applies, l’shanah tovah tikatevu.
  • Early in October, one Corbyn supporter did look at the screen shots and agree they were problematic.

 

24 7 straight

bad 22 july jclpf

jc 22 c

thornberry

 

 

for marlon s

22 just saying

24 jc hodge24 7 kelsalldeja 124 7 urgent24 7 marrows22 kelsall & more.

 pinmoyes otheraustin latestkathleenstill 10still 7still austin1 aug urgent.jpgfinance akelsall piss31 july lpfjed bland10th jeff longsubs 3lawyers.mh 13 twicemh 12mh 13mh17.jpg7 now14 sept impt.JPG

During the Kishinev pogrom in Easter 1903, a mob armed with kitchen and farming implements burst into the cottage of Yehezkiel the Presser. Approaching Yehezkiel with his hatchet raised, Bogdan took the time to ask him a question: ‘Who killed Jesus?’

Yehezkiel’s wife and daughters had climbed out on to roof and he hoped that they might make a getaway, so he played for time.

‘First of all,’ he said, ‘I think the answer to your question is the Romans. That Pilate, he was the one. All right, I know he wasn’t happy with the judgment. I know he went full Lady Macbeth with the washing of hands. You can blame the burden of governance if you like.’

Bogdan’s response came quickly as he swung his hatchet.

‘You killed Jesus,’ he said.

‘Here’s another thing,’ replied Yehezkiel. ‘The events you’re referring to, they’re not recent. By my calculations, they happened – what? Eighteen hundred and seventy years ago. Well, I’m fifty three, Bogdan. I wasn’t there. You know that as well as I do.’

‘Christ killer,’ answered Bogdan. ‘Child murderer.’

‘Believe me,’ Yehezkiel assured him, ‘I have every admiration for Jesus, whom you call Christ. It’s just a pity he didn’t write it all down himself because those biographers, you know, one of them says it’s Thursday and another one says it’s dinner time. Four evangelists, forty opinions. So I hear. But this was all far away, as well as long ago. Wonderful climate, they tell me, in the Holy Land. Not like Bessarabia. Brrr. The winter we had. Have you got cherries yet in your orchard? No? Well it’s early days.’

Bogsdan was now inches away. You might say that he eyeballed Yehezkiel but he was so much taller, he would have had to crouch to do any serious eyeballing.

‘Admit you killed Jesus,’ he advised Yehezkiel.

I’d be lying if I told you Yehezkiel didn’t consider saying it. Who knows? Bogdan might then spare his life. Or not. The point was, Bogdan had brought a crowd with him and Yehezkiel didn’t want to give them the wrong idea, so he said, ‘This I did not do.’

Bogdan then employed his hatchet so thoroughly that Yehezkiel had no opportunity to say ‘Shema Yisrael’.

He died. By some miracle, his wife and daughters got away.

*

You can no more say ‘This isn’t about Israel’ than Yehezkiel could say ‘It isn’t about the crucifixion’. Antisemites may be the adjudicators of what this is about.  You can say ‘The Romans did it and besides, I wasn’t there.’ You can say that Israel doesn’t bear all the guilt and besides, I’m not there.  Or you can say ‘Israel has all the power and bears all the guilt so I repudiate it.’ Historically, those who converted were allowed to live. If you are living and working in a milieu where Israel is considered the supreme evil, you might think that the right thing is to cut yourself loose from its rocky embrace.

You might think the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament and that converting is the righteous way. I’m the first to agree that the Christian scriptures are beautiful; well, second, if you count Yehezkiel; third really, because of Rabbi Lionel Blue. In the medieval disputations, there were Franciscan and Dominican friars who had started their education at the Talmud Torah but, following conversions, became fierce adversaries of Jews and Judaism.

Apostasy happens in modern times too. Israel Zolli who was the Chief Rabbi of Rome in 1945 was baptized and chose the name Eugenio in honour of Pope Pius XII, a controversial pope if ever there was one.

Renouncing and denouncing Israel is not like apostasy.  You can make a religious case against Zionism, as Neturei Karta and others have done.

This is where I get controversial. When you denounce Israel, Eugenio Zolli is watching with approval. Pablo Christiani and Nicholas Donin extend their ghostly hands to you. And maybe – but maybe not – Bogdan lets you live.

As for me, I’m a voter, like everyone else; the decisions of the Israeli government and the UK government are not my decisions  and not necessarily what I voted  for, but I want to be able to express pride in the two countries which are, in a sense, my two parents: England, the mother who bore me and Israel, the father who engendered me.

Rarely a day passes without someone – and very often it’s someone declaring their support for Mr Corbyn – without someone saying to me ‘But what about Israel. They did this and they do that and you’re complicit.’ It’s a fact that I’ve only ever been called a murderer since opening a Twitter account.

In one way, they are right. They say that this question of Labour antisemitism is all about Israel, and it is. In the way that the Kishinev pogrom was about the crucifixion, Labour antisemitism is about Israel. From their point of view, Zionism is the  πρῶτον κινοῦν ἀκίνητον or primus motor, the uncaused cause of many ills.

I don’t buy that.


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