For me, the highlight of last week’s Israel 70 celebration concert at the Royal Albert Hall, was when Natan Sharansky ended his speech by slamming those who love Jews but hate Israel and those who love Israel but hate “liberal Jews”.
Sharansky delivered the same message at the most recent Global Forum on anti-semitism in Jerusalem. This is because he means “liberal Jews” in the political sense, not the religious one, and the anti-Semitism conference paid close attention to those modern European right-wing nationalists who support Israel, whilst also whipping up hatred of local Jewish opponents who warn against their authoritarian, populist and bigoted agendas.
Having been packed off to the gulag for being the wrong sort of Jew (one who sought to live in Israel), Sharansky survived and saw off Soviet Communism. He understands freedom of speech, freedom of protest, and the importance of an independent legal and judicial system. He has lived the difference between dictatorship and democracy, and he knows that Jews need the rule of law, not the rule of the mob.
What, then, to make of the current controversy over the charismatic Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), who insists that his condemnations of Muslims and Islam are not racist. Robinson is now in jail, which caused hundreds of men, variously described as football thugs and English Defence League types to rush the gates of Downing Street last weekend. Apparently, 500,000 people have signed a petition demanding Robinson’s immediate release. There are Jews currently agitating on Robinson’s behalf, ranging from Facebook circles to a small physical demonstration in Tel Aviv outside the British Embassy.
Tommy Robinson is not (yet at least) a political leader in the sense of those modern European nationalists whom Sharansky warned against in both London and Jerusalem, but he poses the same questions to our Jewish morality and politics. He has visited Israel and proudly sat on an Israeli tank: but what is Israel for him? Is it the post Holocaust saviour of world Jewry? Is it the modern fulfilment of millennia of Jewish longing? Or, at heart, is it just a really good way of sticking two fingers up at Muslims?
CST, the Board of Deputies and many other Jewish groups have long argued that such nationalism is morally and politically unacceptable. We have explained how racism works, how it feeds off catch all language and how it can begin with one target group but never ends there. I want to address this latest episode from another direction, using the reason why Robinson is now in jail.
The detail of Robinson’s imprisonment is that he deliberately broke very straightforward suspended jail sentence conditions. Last year a judge told him, “turn up at another court, refer to people as “Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists” and so on and so forth while trials are ongoing…and you will find yourself inside. Do you understand? Thank you very much.” Despite this, or perhaps because of this, Robinson stood outside a trial, filming those coming in and out, broadcasting it on Facebook and risking the collapse of the trial. So, he was jailed.
Nevertheless, we now hear from his supporters, including some Jews, that Robinson was imprisoned to prevent media coverage of “Muslim” sex grooming gangs and paedophiles. Think for a moment what this means, that (despite the million times you have seen it in the papers and TV news), there is a conspiracy in Britain between our legal system, the judiciary and the mass media to cover up “Muslim” crimes. Why would this be? To somehow better enable a “Muslim” takeover of Britain? Or less sensationally, is it because the ruling elite don’t want you to know what their mass immigration policies have led to?
Either way, this is the kind of garbage that Jews should be able to smell from a mile off. It stinks of a politics that encourages stupidity, prefers hatred to unity, promotes falsehood over truth, surrenders our freedoms and legal protections to the mob; and helps pave the road to tyranny.
You don’t need to have served 13 years in a Siberian prison camp to understand it.