Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Left-wing criticism is not right

My column from Friday's Jewish Chronicle is finally online. Responding to the recent furore in the British Jewish community over comments critical of Israel made by Mick Davis, who is effectively our most senior lay leader, I argue that it's time we stop behaving as if criticism of Israel/Israeli policies is the unique preserve of the left.

What is really behind the objections to Jewish Leadership Council chief Mick Davis's criticism of Israel? Is it what he said? To whom he said it? Or is the real issue, perhaps, who said it?
At that now notorious panel debate, Davis seemed to blame Israel for the collapse in the peace process, blasting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for "lacking courage" to take teps towards a "great advance". He implored the Israeli government to recognise that its actions "impacted" him in London - implying that diaspora Jews were equal stakeholders in the Middle East conflict. And he confessed that Anglo-Jewry's
leaders are afraid to speak openly about Israel's problems, re-enforcing the myth (proven false by his own words) that those holding dissenting opinions are suppressed.
To many, all this added up to an unjustified attack on the Jewish state. Others took no issue with the content of his talk, or respected his right to hold these views, but questioned his judgment in saying all this publicly. "He is giving ammunition to our enemies", they said - and this at a time when Israel is battling delegitimisation.
I do wonder, though, whether many of his criticisms would have been judged to be quite so contentious had they been made by someone else - someone from the opposite end of the political

Read the rest and please come back here to comment.

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