in the garden

 

Apr 2007 Journal

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Letter from Israel

Just when we thought we had enough enemies on the outside, up pop new ones from within! A respectable professor of history produces a book claiming that maybe the medieval blood libels were true and Jews did indeed kill Christian children and use their blood in baking matza. This theory is based on the incontrovertible fact that some Jews confessed under torture. Well, that proves it then …

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the laws of Kashrut, especially the strict taboo on consuming animal blood of any kind - even a speck in an egg - can only smile wryly at the idea of Jews using human blood in matzot. If blood is used anywhere in a religious ritual it is in the communion service (alias Kiddush), when believers delude themselves that they are drinking the blood of Christ.

And now the flower of Anglo-Jewry seeks to detach Israel from its politicians. True, Israel’s policies are not without blemish, but that is the case in most democratic regimes. Oddly enough, the dictatorships are no better. To condemn Israel because of its policies serves merely to assist those who seek to harm Jews.

In the millennia-long course of its history the Jewish people has managed to survive those who sought to destroy it. While there would doubtless be many more of us had it not been for the various forms of persecution we have endured, assimilation and intermarriage have probably made greater inroads into our numbers. Having our own state is the best guarantee of our survival.

George Steiner once claimed that the establishment of the State of Israel had done the Jews, and especially the ‘Jewish genius’, a disservice, because whereas dozens of Diaspora Jews had been awarded Nobel Prizes in the sciences, no Israeli ever had. Since then, several Israelis have gained Nobel Prizes in those fields.

Imperfection is part of the price one pays for democracy. But in which country is perfection to be found?
Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

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