OPINION: Israeli government policy is no business of British Jews | CPT PPP Coverage
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OPINION: Israeli government policy is no business of British Jews appeared on www.jewishnews.co.uk by JewishNewsUK.
There have been many articles in recent weeks, both in Jewish News and elsewhere, criticising the Israeli government’s proposals to amend the functions of the Supreme Court. Now there are regular calls on British Jewish communal bodies to issue a condemnation of the Netanyahu coalition over its plans.
I make no comment on the proposals themselves, other than to say that I am confident that the Knesset will examine them carefully and consider the issues in depth. I do, however, think it wholly wrong for any UK Jewish body to opine on the suggested changes to Israel’s laws.
I have four fundamental reasons for this.
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My first contention is that Israel is still without question a democracy.
No matter what changes are made regarding the role of the Supreme Court, there will still be another national election in a few years’ time (maybe sooner, if recent precedents are anything to go by) and, if the matter of the functions of the Supreme Court is of major concern to the Israeli electorate, they will vote in a government likely to reverse whatever alterations are legislated by the current coalition.
So as Israel is a democracy, what rights do we, as non-Israelis, have to tell the Israeli government how to conduct its affairs?
None, is the answer.
Second, for organisations outside Israel, especially Jewish ones, to seek to tell Israel how to govern is patronising and hypocritical. Surely, Israelis will say, those communities should be focussing all of their efforts on their own individual difficulties.
Take the UK for example. It is a country with exceptionally serious problems with antisemitism and the disease of Jew-hatred there is getting steadily worse. Hate crimes against Jewish are escalating, both in number and seriousness. Furthermore, it comes from several different sources – the far right, the far left and Islamists.
Have Muslims in the UK ever campaigned about the government policies of a Muslim country? Yet we Jewish are protesting loudly about the Israeli government’s policies.
If UK Jewish groups want to tell Israelis about how they should conduct their governance, Israelis could in return start lecturing us about our failure to properly address antisemitism in our own country.
Third, there is the moral issue. Jewish living in the diaspora do not pay taxes in Israel and do not send their children to fight, and sometimes die, for Israel. This also gives us no right to lecture the Israel government.
Nor is it related to being Jewish – the 20% plus of the population who are Arab have infinitely more rights, as Israeli citizens, to express their opinions than Jewish diaspora organisations, and they certainly do so.
Fourth, for Jewish organisations in the UK to opine loudly about Israel and how it is run, irrespective of exactly what they say, risks causing further antisemitism in this country.
Why? Because one of the antisemitic contentions is that Jewish show more loyalty to, and interest in, Israel than they do about the country in which they live. The anti-Semites will point to the British Hindu community – whatever they might think of Narendra Modi’s policies in India, have they ever expressed their views as a group? Have Muslims in the UK ever campaigned about the government policies of a Muslim country? Yet we Jewish are protesting loudly about the Israeli government’s policies.
The fact that it matters so much to us will doubtless lead to renewed claims by the Jew haters of dual loyalty.
However, I do conclude with one point of agreement with the first sentence of “Voice of the Jewish News” (12 January, page 1). Think thrice before criticising Israel. On the basis of what I have written above, don’t.
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