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Jan 2003 Journal

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New Year Letter from the Editor

The year 2002 has been – to quote Her Majesty the Queen – quite an annus miserabilis. This description holds good, as the Pope would say, both in orbe et urbe (in the world and the city or shtetl). During my 15 years’ editorship to date, I have rarely been subjected to as much opprobrium as during 2002.

I have had humorous pieces dubbed ‘flatfooted’ and my reminiscences declared ‘devoid of interest’. In the face of such criticism, I simply mumble: ‘There is no accounting for taste.’

What I find harder to take, however, is to be accused of ‘creeping McCarthyism’ and ‘contempt for dissenting views’. To put the record straight: over the last six months alone, AJR Journal has published 15 readers’ letters attacking my editorial line. I have also had Schopenhauer’s dictum ‘Nationalstolz is the lowest form of pride’ quoted at me for asserting – at a time of demoralising, almost worldwide, denigration of Israel – that we Jews have quite a lot to be proud of.

Another charge against me is that I castigate Muslim, but not Jewish, fundamentalists. As if bigotry, extorting lavish Israeli subsidies for unproductive yeshivot, and making Chief Rabbi Sacks rewrite his book, were as reprehensible as inciting the massive slaughter of innocent civilians from New York to Bali. Muslim fundamentalist riots over staging the Miss World contest in Nigeria cost around 200 lives – four times as many as the punitive Israeli incursion into Jenin.

Lastly, I have been accused of ‘unadulterated (anti-Arab) racism’. Wrong: I have numbered both individual Iraqis and Egyptians among my friends. I do, however, view militant Islam as bent on extirpating the Jewish state, and on reversing the beneficent advance of Western civilisation across the globe.
Richard Grunberger

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