Sunday, 25 November 2018

As British Quakers divest from the Occupation, Jewish leaders seek to discredit and smear them

My latest at Patheos


Within hours of the announcement, the Board of Deputies, the body which asserts its right to represent Jewish interests in Britain, had issued a statement of rebuke from its President, Marie van der Zyl. In a few short paragraphs, van de Zyl gathered together all of the usual anti-BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) talking points and fired them in one almighty blast at the Quakers.
The Board’s statement is worth examining in detail since it reveals so much about the Jewish establishment’s mission to set the parameters of acceptable debate on Israel to the detriment of interfaith relations.

Read the full post at Patheos 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Christian-Jewish dialogue must be more than taking tea and talking antisemitism


Following the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by the Church of England, I offer some thoughts to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the British Chief Rabbi. It's a long post as there's lots to say. So pop the kettle on!

From the opening:
Dear Archbishop Justin and Chief Rabbi Mirvis
You sat down together in the rabbi’s home in north London just before the Jewish new year. You drank tea and you talked about antisemitism. A few days later, the Church of England’s Bishops’ Conference in Oxford adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the 11 illustrations attached to it.
Your meeting, and the actions that followed, told us much about the moral challenges facing interfaith dialogue between Jews and Christians when it comes to Israel/Palestine.
As a British Jew in solidarity with the Palestinian people and married to an Anglican priest, I have a particular interest in how the institutional conversation between Jews and Christians plays out. What strikes me is how limited that discussion looks to any observer familiar with the concerns of the Jewish community here and Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land.
 As matters currently stand, both of you give the appearance of being morally compromised. Watching and listening to you, it feels as if progress – institutionally and theologically on Israel/Palestine – is blocked.

Read the full post at Patheos 

Friday, 7 September 2018

If you want a fair definition of Zionism, it's best to ask a Palestinian

New blog post at Patheos

Here's an extract:

"All of this has forfeited our right to independently define our oppression without consulting the victims of our new faith in Jewish nationalism. The meaning of ‘antisemitism’ and ‘Zionism’ is no longer ours to determine alone. These words, and most importantly the experiences they bring with them, now belong to the Palestinian people too."

Read the full post here 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Sacks V. Corbyn: Why conflating anti-Zionism makes fighting antisemitism impossible

MY LATEST BLOG POST published at Patheos:

"While leaders like Jonathan Sacks continue to speak as if Zionism is, was, and forever will be, an innocent and holy endeavour, we will be stuck with a devalued and discounted understanding of antisemitism. And the muddle, confusion and politicisation of antisemitism will continue to undermine our ability to challenge it or understand the suffering of the Palestinian people."

Read the full post 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Bringing it all back home – Marc Ellis on the return of the Jewish prophetic

New blog post published at Patheos

For more than 30 years Professor Marc Ellis has been an important and highly influential Jewish voice writing on the Holocaust, Israel/Palestine and the long term consequences for Jewish ethical life of these seismic events in Jewish history. 

You can trace the emergence of Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow and Na'amod: British Jews Against Occupation, back to his writing. 

Ellis has just published a short masterpiece 'Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and other Misadventures' which reflects on the "explosion" of internal Jewish dissent on Israel and the challenge of Jewish solidarity for the Palestinian people. 

I review the new book and interview Marc Ellis about his ideas. We also touch on Labour/Corbyn and antisemitism and the role of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

The Jewish establishment's ‘War Against Corbyn’ risks bringing real antisemitism to Britain

This week the rhetoric coming from the Jewish establishment against Jeremy Corbyn reached a new high. Three Jewish newspapers agreed to share the same headline and the same editorial which described the Labour leader as posing an "existential threat to the Jewish community". Things are getting seriously out of hand.

Here's an extract from my latest blog post:

If you vote Labour will that make you antisemitic in the eyes of the Jewish community? If you stand for election as a Labour candidate will you be antisemitic?
And what if Corbyn losses by a narrow margin? How will the millions who voted for him see the Jewish community and its three-year campaign to brand him toxic?
The ‘Jewish War Against Corbyn’ is not good Jewish communal politics. It’s playing with fire.

Read the full post at Patheos  

Sunday, 24 June 2018

"Dear Ed Husain, don't let your call for moderate Islam give Israel a blank cheque

Following the publication of his new book 'House of Islam' I take Ed Husain to task on his portrayal of Israel and Zionism and his criticism of young Muslims for expressing Palestinian solidarity.

EXTRACT: "And then, in a sentence that staggered me by its hypocrisy, you ask your readers: “Is there a Gandhi or Nelson Mandela who can lead Palestine to making peace with its neighbour?” when a few paragraphs before you have just excluded as illegitimate the very tactic which both men used to win the liberation of their people – boycotts."

Read the full post at Patheos.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

They prayed for the dead of Gaza, now it’s time to say Kaddish for Zionism

This post is a response to the 'scandal' and 'outrage' caused by a group of young Jews who who stood in Parliament Square in London and recited the Jewish memorial prayer (Kaddish) for the Palestinian dead of Gaza. I welcome their act of ethical provocation and ask them to consider their next steps. 

Here's an extract 
Today’s Jewish rebels could become the nucleus of a future Jewish leadership that understands that to move on we must let go of some old ideas that have not turned out as well as some had first hoped. Whether they choose to call themselves ‘post Zionist’ or ‘non Zionist’ or ‘anti Zionist’ doesn’t much matter. What’s important is to articulate a Jewish future that’s not full of moral compromise and hypocrisy created by the need to defend a Jewish State built on a colonial enterprise disguised as Jewish continuity. That means saying Kaddish for Zionism.

Read the full post at Writing from the Edge 

Monday, 14 May 2018

Why Jews in solidarity with Palestinians will win the day

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba some reflections aimed at my fellow Jews.

"Because an Israeli sniper’s bullet is a bigger problem than an antisemitic tweet."

Read the full post at Writing from the Edge 

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dear Natalie Portman, your liberal Zionism won't save your Jewish values

My latest at Patheos - a letter to the Hollywood actress Natalie Portman

Here's an extract:

If you continue to see Zionism as essentially liberal and progressive you will never understand why it creates in your own words; “violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power”. The current Israeli government is not an aberration. When Netanyahu falls, Zionism with all of its violence, corruption and inequality will stay put.
So yes, please snub the Genesis Prize and refuse to go to Israel. But don’t do it in the name of liberal Zionism and don’t defend a fictional Israel that deep down embodies your Jewish values. It doesn’t and it never did. You have to push past it if you want to protect the Jewish values that matter to you.

Read the full letter at Patheos

And you may have missed my previous post to mark Israel's 70th anniversary. You can read it here.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Dear Prince William, if you have to go, make it count

Following last week's news that HRH Prince William is to be the first senior member of the Royal Family to make an official visit to Israel, I've written to him to offer some advice.

Here's an extract:

Prince William, if you have to go to Israel don’t just be a post-Brexit salesman for UK Plc. Make it count by getting informed and bring that learning back home.
Read the full post at Patheos


Saturday, 17 February 2018

I faced my Jewish racism, can you do the same?

– A call to Jewish students for Israeli Apartheid Week 2018

my latest post is just published at Patheos

Here's an extract:

Let me offer some examples of how this Jewish racism plays out through double standards, inconsistencies and hypocrisy.

If you think we have an obligation to remember our homeland while Palestinians should be encouraged to forget theirs – that’s racism.
If you think our Jewish ‘right of return’, after two thousand years’ absence is sacred and undeniable, but the right of return for Palestinians, and their descendants, who fled their homes in 1948 is illegitimate – that’s racism.
If you memorialise atrocities carried out against the Jewish people throughout our history but downplay or dismiss the Palestinian Nakba – that’s racism.
If you think Jewish national self-determination is an incontestable right but Palestinian national self-determination must be negotiated and offered only as a ‘reward for good behaviour’– that’s racism.

Read the full post at Writing from the Edge at Patheos

Thursday, 4 January 2018

"Did you enjoy Oslo?" London's West End applauds a failed peace process

"Did you enjoy Oslo?" My latest at Patheos is just published. 

As we begin 2018 I look at the Oslo Accords 25 years on, inspired by a trip to the theatre, and consider where Palestinian and Jewish nationalism now stands. 

Here's an extract: "The same power discrepancy that existed outside of the room would continue to exist inside of the room and long after the Accords were signed. But it remains the international lens through which the situation is seen. A ‘conflict’ rather than a colonisation, a ‘dispute’ rather than a dispossession."

Read more at Writing from the Edge at Patheos.