Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pox Britannica?

Howard Jacobsen: Pox Britannica

There is something in the air here, something you can smell, but also, in a number of cases, something more immediately affronting to Jews. It is important not to exaggerate. Most English Jews walk safely through their streets, express themselves freely, enjoy the friendship of non-Jews, and feel no less confidently a part of English life than they ever have. Organizations monitoring anti-Jewish incidents in England have reported a dramatic increase after Gaza: the daubing of slogans such as 'kill the jews' on walls and bus shelters in Jewish neighborhoods, abuse of Jewish children on school playgrounds, arson attacks on synagogues, physical assaults on Jews conspicuous by their yarmulkes or shtreimels. But, while these incidents ought not to be treated blithely, they are still exceptional occurrences.

And yet, in the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation--there, it seems to me, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned.

People here are sharply more critical of Israel here than in the US. I have to say that after the Gaza war, I simply want a two state solution imposed. That is not perfect. It would be better, in my book, to have one state, but no one there wants that. People here will be vocally anti-Israel, but that does not creep over among native English people. Virtually all anti-Semitic incidents seem to come from over excited, and somewhat marginalized, Muslim youths.

So, yes, at a dinner party, a pro-Israel Jewish person might find a lot of dissent. But among the dinner party going classes, no actual antisemitism.

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