For the most part, London's Jewish community is a shining example of social cohesion and pastoral care. Large charitable donations are raised on a constant basis and distributed to those in need of assistance; sick or lonely individuals are clutched to the communal bosom and provided for by welfare associations and concerned neighbours; and the ethics inculcated into each new generation are built on a bedrock of values dating back to biblical times.
Yet the blind spot that persistently handicaps those from the upper echelons of power down to street level is British Jewry's relationship with Israel. The community is bewitched by a 60-year old spell which dictates that to be a "loyal" Jew, one must profess unconditional love for Israel, regardless of the many faults and failings of the Jewish state.
People who apply logic, reason, and above all compassion in every facet of their daily lives suspend their principles when it comes to Israel, preferring to don a mantle of defiance and defensiveness when dealing with one of the most thorny issues to face Judaism in modern times.
I've just spent a month in the heart of the north-west London bubble, running the gauntlet of pro-Israel zealotry almost every time the Israel/Palestine issue reared its head. Accusing dissenters of being self-haters, traitors and of washing Israel's dirty linen in public is the bread and butter of the diehard Zionist brigade – and that's just to those Jews daring to speak out against Israeli policies and crimes.
Non-Jewish critics of Israel are immediately branded antisemites, with entire media organisations and political parties derided as pathologically obsessed with Israel and the Jews, despite the hypocrisy of those pointing the finger and organising the witchhunts. When journalists or politicians are deemed "friends" of Israel, then those championing their cause can't get enough of the sympathetic press coverage or the cosying-up in diplomatic circles.
Likewise, those demanding an end to dissident voices emanating from Israel are the very same who decry the tyranny in Arab countries. The old guard rule the roost in the British Jewish community, and they've got both the money and the machers to make sure their hegemony remains unchallenged by anyone disagreeing with their stance.
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