Thursday, February 15, 2007


Emanuele Ottolenghi, who lectures Israel studies at Oxford University has written a compelling expose in The Guardian on the old/new debate about Jewish support for Israel generated by the British Independent Voices group and emulated by others in different parts of the world including Australia.

"Anyone who knows the Jewish world knows that such debates occur inside the Board of Deputies, synagogues and the Jewish press. Jews routinely debate Israel and other issues in any forum they wish, Jewish and non-Jewish. When Jews do not like available fora, they create new ones, as Klug & Co just did. Nobody stops them from getting their message across. Klug's argument appeared in the Guardian, not in an underground Samisdatz publication. Many of the IJV's signatories hold prominent positions, they are intellectuals who regularly ejnoy free and unfettered access to the public sphere. Their arguments about the Middle East are mainstream in European societies.

"So what's at stake here? The issue is not free speech, but representation. For better or worse, the British Board of Deputies in the UK, as well as other umbrella Jewish bodies across Europe are representative because, like PM Ehud Olmert and the government of Israel and unlike Klug & Co, they are elected."

Ottolenghi makes the point that "Anglo-Jewry is roughly 300,000 strong and Klug's troops are about 150". There is no reason to assume that the Loewenstein copy cat group would attract a higher proportion here in Australia and this probably explains why these people usually don't seek election or popular approval but rather chose to incessantly whine about their voices being stifled when that is not the case at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can understand that this small group of Jews wants to reserve a right to be critical of Israel and I can even understand that a small number of them wants to side with the Palestinians and wish to see them achieve peace and justice. I don't have a problem with that if peace and justice also means the same thing for Israel and its people.

But when someone wants to support and justify the acts of Hamas and they say it as a Jew, then heaven help them for they must be completely ignorant of what Hamas stands for.