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Many people, including marginalised Jews, do not appreciate that central to Jewish life in Britain, and indeed throughout the world, is the concern for the state of Israel and its perception of threats against its existence. For Jews of my generation, the two major events of the last two millennia were the Holocaust and the creation of Jewish sovereignty in its ancient homeland. They were viewed not in a political but in a religious perspective. The Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel described in his autobiographical work Night a public execution in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. Someone asked the name of the victim dangling from the noose, and the answer was a bellowing cry from one of the inmates: “God!”

For many Jews, the Holocaust had spelt the end of the Covenant between God and His people. Hitherto, every national disaster was attributed to their own sinfulness. This time, only the absence of God could explain the irredeemable evil the Jews had experienced.

The establishment of a Third Jewish Commonwealth several years later, amid a mighty struggle against five Arab nations, was viewed not only as the rebirth of a people but the rebirth of its God. After the vote in favour of the Partition Plan by two thirds of the UN General Assembly, Jews danced outside their synagogues, just as when, 10 years later after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, they filled the synagogues in numbers that approximated those who attend on the holiest days of the Jewish year. And, of course, for more than 2,000 years, Jews have prayed every day for the ingathering of exiles in the Promised Land; and every year at the conclusion of the Passover meal, they declared: “Next year in Jerusalem”.

In Jewish life, there can be no separation between religion and the sense of identity with a people. They are inextricably intertwined. The Covenant assured the Israelites and the remnant that survived – the Jews – that God would redeem them from their oppressors if they walked in His ways. Everything that happens to the Jewish community is perceived as either an act of God or a sign of His absence. But so ingrained in the Jewish consciousness is a sense of responsibility for one’s own situation, that Jews – particularly those who have not lived under any threat – believe that it is within their power to resolve ­political conflicts with their neighbours. They resist the idea that the enemy may be implacable. They make demands of their own side that they do not make of the other. Rabbis who go against the mainstream and are highly critical of Israel’s policies are hailed as morally courageous, while rabbis, such as myself, who defend Israel are accused of being political.

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Joop Kruisselbrink
January 13th, 2009
2:01 PM
Someone who calls for a one state solution might be wrong because he/she doesn'n know enough or can't see the implementations and might even be an antisemite but to call everyone an antisemite is very wrong because you're accusing people of wanting to eleminate all jews which obviously is not the case. Calling everyone whith the slightest of critic to some of Israels deeds an antisemite is killing for the debate,maybe thats just what you want?

September 18th, 2008
8:09 AM
To Richard: No, they are all bad. Personally I think the UN should just step in, removing religion and ethnicity from the equation - and in any other situation that seems unable to be resolved.

August 26th, 2008
8:08 AM
To Ciderlout. To call for a one-state solution and attack the principle of self-determination is either ignorant or anti-semitic in the case applied to Israel. The Arabs and especially the Palestinian Arabs do not want peace with Israel, they want to destroy it. Go to MEMRI (google it) and read what is published everyday in Arab print and media and spoken in their mosques. Go to Palestinian Media Watch and do the same for the "Palestinians". If you are against states constructed purely on religious or ethnic grounds, then will you oppose Jordan, whose constitution forbids any Jew from citizenship there? Or will you condemn most Islamic countries for enshrining religious law at the heart of the state? No? If you won't for them but will for Israel, you are acting from a prejudiced position.

Ben Ullmann
August 25th, 2008
7:08 AM
An interesting article Sidney. I found Dr Brian Robinson's comments iteresting and helpful and I think the tone of the argument between Dan Judelson et al is perhaps a case in point concerning Brian's comment that the viciousness of some accusations seems slightly baffling without suspecting a touch of anti-semitism, Dan's comments being phrased in such an inflamatory way produced almost as strong reactions in others leading to an argument rather than discussion. Perhaps this can partly be explained by passion on both sides in these types of discussion where everyone has seen/read deeply distressing things. Another possibility is the contrast between a well armed army and poverty stricken youngsters throwing stones is what makes Israel such a villified force, I guess there are few other constant conflicts which look from a certain perspective so unfair and David vs Goliath-esque. While I am relatively ignorant and have no solutions what concerns me is why does this contrast remain, why doesn't Palestine seem to improve? Surely that is not all Israel's fault? If Palestine's government and its oil-rich Arab neighbours were to spend more time and money improving Palestinian infra-structure and the quality of life of Palestinians then surely that would be of more value to Palestinians right now than sorting out Israeli/Palestinian relationships? Improved living conditions, education, infra-structure in Palestine I believe would produce happier, more moderate and less radicalised Palestinians and then from that base perhaps negotiations with Israel might proceed much more smoothly and also reduce the "big vs little" image. I think my writing is probably very confused here, please excuse this, but essentially what I am saying is - whenever I think about Israel/Palestine I'm always left wondering why people don't choose to focus on how to improve Palestine for Palestinians first with the intention of then returning to the question of Israel once this has been achieved.

Dan Wright
August 19th, 2008
4:08 PM
I wish this would recieve wide circulation in the UK: God doesn't exist. Judaism is, like Islam and Christianity, Hindusim et al a man made cult. Will the moderators allow my "non-pc" comment to be shown?

Jack Lynes.
August 18th, 2008
2:08 PM
This article should receive the widest possible circulation amongst all Jews in the UK. Pulling no punches it is a timely reminder of the 'enemy within'. It gives in very simple terms the responses to those Jews who would see Israel 'put to sleep' rather than speak up for the Marvel that is Israel. The anti-semitic Jew (for kid us not, it is they who we are fighting, has the cheek to suggest that only they seek peace) "Peace Now"- a title that infers we do not all wish for, pray for, and will work towards a Just Peace, has his /her answer in this article. Practical suggestion: Do we have any moles who can discover when they will next take space in the Press? We could afford an ad. which boldly suggests that they and readers take note of this article by inviting readers either to look it up on a designated website or sending for a Copy. It could also be reprinted and distributed widely in synagogue magazines or distributed at HHDays.

August 15th, 2008
10:08 AM
Quite interesting article from this site: "He was in no doubt, for example, that the idea of national self-determination, launched upon the world by Woodrow Wilson after 1918, was not only absurd, but also destructive and immoral." This was a Jewish Scholar. Rabbi Brichto's article was an interesting read, and certainly anti-semetism is not dissapearing as quickly as it (or any other irrational and destructive phobia) should. But I find his defence of Israel troubling - in this day and age is it really constructive to insist that a state exist based purely on religious and ethnic grounds? At the end of World War II Europe created what became the EU to help break down the borders betweeen states: to prevent the possibility of future war. Rabbi Brichto seems to think peace will instead come from a strict maintenance of divison between Jew and Arab; people A from people B. (NB: that may only be my interpretation of his ideas; he actually seems to offer no path to peace himself in the above article) And this I think is hugely troubling, and will be a disaster for future generations of both Israelis and their Arab neighbours/countrymen.

August 12th, 2008
11:08 AM
of course Judelson is anti-semitic. His demonisation of the IDF is a case in point, while at the same time he is so very deafening in his silence of the very real barbarity and fascist violence of Israel's numerous enemies from Hezbollah and Hamas to Syria and others in the Middle-East. Such blatant double standards can only be accounted for by anti-semitism.

August 8th, 2008
2:08 PM
Why is it important whether Judelson is or isn't anti-Semitic? Clearly, he is obsessed with Israel and busy smearing the country and its people at every opportunity. In the Middle Ages Jews were accused of ritual killings of children ; according to Judelson, the IDF is a bunch of child murderers. He doesn't understand the basics of the Law of Return or even the difference between Jews and Israelis. Try and read a decent text-book on Israeli history, Mr Judelson, and most of what you want 'explained' would become clear.

Dan Judelson
August 7th, 2008
7:08 PM
Szeni and now Sidney have attributed to me references I am not making. For the record, the Nazi behaviour i was referring to was when Israeli police busted an ring of self avowed Israeli Nazis in Petah Tikvah earlier this year. there was quite a fuss about it, with MKs demanding changes to the Law of Return. The story is here:,7340,L-3448276,00.html Debate is great. It happens when issues are dealt with, instead of erroneous accusations.

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