Sunday, 17 May 2020

Dear Marie, claiming the Board is neutral on West Bank annexation should fool no one


My letter to the President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van de Zyl, in a week that's seen her organisation under fire from all parts of the UK Jewish commuity.

Here's an extract:

Saying nothing at this critical moment in Israeli/Palestinian history only helps Israel to manage the global negative reaction that will surely happen if annexation takes place (even if it leads to little in the way of meaningful sanctions). Saying nothing proves that you and the Board care little about democracy or international law if it means having to say a critical word to Jerusalem or risk a very public debate about the role of Israel in British Jewish life.
Wanting to stand above the fray so that you can continue to “hold the community together” also begs difficult questions. What exactly are you trying to hold the Jewish community together for? What are the unifying Jewish values you want to promote? Looking the other way when a crime is committed is not a Jewish value I remember being taught in my Hebrew classes. Striving for a non-existent Jewish unity in the UK turns out to be little more than political expediency in Israel’s favour.

Read te full post at Patheos 

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Edgy Jewish reflections on a Covid-19 exit strategy

My latest at Patheos

Here's the opening:

The last blog post I published was sent from a world which no longer exists. It was written in a pre-Covid, pre-lock-down’ United Kingdom, composed in a place we now call ‘normal times’. It was a review of a theatre play in London’s West End, which itself feels wildly bizarre. There I was sitting inches away from strangers for two hours. Such crazy times, in those far off days.

I’ve found it hard to write about Covid-19 for this blog. It’s an immense event that touches everything and everyone. It’s hard to get your head around it. It can generate a mental paralysis. Even the language that’s entered our everyday vocabulary already operates at the extremities of expression. “Unprecedented”, “exceptional”, “unimaginable”. But where do you go when our language has already run out of track? The human mind is forced to hunker down until the virus passes over us, or through us, or does us in.

Read the full post here 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Tom Stoppard’s first Jewish play leaves Zionism offstage

My latest at Patheos: 

There've been plenty of rave reviews for Sir Tom Stoppard's new West End play 'Leopoldstadt' but they've all left out the most interesting aspect - its lack of Zionism.

So here's my non-Zionist reviewer's take on the production which I saw this week.

EXTRACT: "Jewish 20th century history is so often presented as one long justification for the project of Jewish national renewal. It’s a narrative which today dominates mainstream Jewish community life and deeply influences political attitudes towards Israel by Western countries. So it was curious to see such a major artistic telling of Jewish experience leaving Zionism offstage. I expected to see it waiting in the wings as a potential redemptive finale or at the very least an answer to the human costs of being Jewish. Instead, Stoppard chooses his own tragic reading of the Jewish predicament keeping his characters locked within their own family tragedy." 

Read the full post at Patheos 

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Orla Guerin’s report shows what’s wrong with Holocaust remembrance

My latest blog post is published at Patheos 

As we begin what could be a highly significant week for Israel/Palestine, here are my extended thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Orla Guerin BBC report and what it says about how we remember the Holocaust. Here's an extract:

"The undeniable truth is that Palestinians are part of the post Holocaust story too. Their history and current situation cannot be separated from Auschwitz any more than the Jewish story can. In fact, they have become the same story because the Palestinians paid the price for Europe’s failures and the rest of the world’s indifference. What’s really offensive is the attempt to disconnect the relationship between these two peoples. Whether we like it or not, we are now bound together in our post Holocaust experience."