Monday 19 January 2015

Two speeches: May and Pickles

Two speeches over the weekend: May and Pickles. The first, bending over backwards to show that the government took seriously the danger being faced by Jews; the second, suggesting that the 'loyalty' of all British Muslims was in doubt.

So, the two key words here are 'danger' and 'loyalty'. What could possibly be wrong? Well, what if, for a moment we asked, What would happen if we questioned the loyalty of Jews and then raised the question of danger to Muslims. Would that be justified in any way?

Well, the loyalty matter raises the question of the relation between Jews and a foreign power - Israel. You could make a case for saying that many Jews have a dual loyalty - to the country they live in AND Israel. Zionists will always say that this should never be described as a disloyalty to the country that Jews find themselves in and it's anti-semitic to say that it is disloyal. And yet we had the scene of Netanyahu pleading with French Jews to emigrate to Israel. What could be more 'disloyal' than emigrating? Already, the conversation in the newspaper columns discusses similar matters here. Will those talking about emigration be described as 'disloyal'? Of course not.

Nor will the questions of loyalty to a state that by all accounts (not just leftwing, anti-zionist, pro-Palestinian ones) went into Gaza and was 'disproportionate' in its treatment of the Gaza people. That is it killed hundreds of people who were in no way involved in the attacks on Israel. So, aren't there 'dangers' here that many Jews in Britain, fail to detach themselves from these acts of violence? Or indeed that there is a vocal minority who demonstrate on the streets supporting those acts of violence?

Now, let's flip over to the Muslim community: haven't they been on the receiving end of attacks and racism directed towards them? Aren't they in danger - as indeed Jews are? Haven't marches been carried out through their areas by racist groups (or attempted marches) precisely in order to threaten them - and indeed off the backs of these, haven't there been attacks, and killings?

So, two speeches, designed, I suspect, with the deliberate intention of creating and/or cementing differences, suspicions between two minorities. I would hope that leaders of either community will be able to see through this, see the dangers and point out just how nasty this move is. Sad to say Jonathan Sacks (ex-Chief Rabbi) was on BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning and he took the opportunity to point out how superior the Jews had been in training their rabbis to be loyal. Not much unity there then.