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May 2001 Journal

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Painting black on black

‘Don’t let the Jewish voice die’ was the Times heading for a recent interview with Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. The doleful tone of the heading was replicated in the body of the article. In our world Dr Sacks’ interlocutor wrote, marriage is increasingly viewed as a time-share arrangement and time, and nature itself, are resources to be continuously exploited. One cannot blame the Chief Rabbi for the note of fashionable pessimism sounded by his interviewer, but he strikes a similarly melancholy chord when he says. The future of the Jewish people is once again at risk this time without the backdrop of external persecution.

We or more accurately our children are the first generation of Jews for untold centuries to live without ‘the backdrop of external persecution.’ This is an historic transformation for which we ought to be profoundly grateful, and which ought not to be tarnished by bracketing it with spine-chilling warnings of renewed risks to the future of the Jewish people. Dr Sacks also deprecated a strain of thought in the Jewish State, post-Zionism, which sees it as necessary to dismantle Israel’s Jewishness in order to live in peace with other people. If this ideological dismantling involves abandoning biblically founded claims to the possession of the entire West Bank it is surely to be welcomed rather than deprecated as removing an obstacle to peace.

The Chief Rabbi might also usefully give some attention to the issue of chillul hashem i.e. desecration of the (holy) name. As an appalled Jonathan Freedland pointed out in the JC, in March BBC2 featured 18-year old ‘internet whiz’ Benjamin Cohen, who, financially backed by his father, set himself up as a purveyor of porn in cyberspace. According to the prodigy you can’t have money and morals. This is about money!

Such pestilent pronouncements ought surely to be condemned from the pulpit.
Richard Grunberger

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