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Nov 2006 Journal

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Point of View - Every Jew's Duty

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust and that is why the State of Israel was born. Herzl did not create Israel; nor did Ben-Gurion. There would be no Israel but for Hitler and the other Nazi criminals. Israel was created by the United Nations in 1947. The purpose was to give a homeland to Jews from all over the world. A total of 33 countries voted in favour, 13 against, 10 abstained. Israel was born from the ashes of the Holocaust victims of Europe - our families - who went to their deaths without knowing that they were about to give birth to a new country.

The United Kingdom abstained at the crucial vote. Palestine was its mandate and this country's policy was pro-Arab. Remember the ship Exodus? The European Jews were not allowed to land in the Holy Land. Also, it was, of course, against the British that the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvi Leumi fought. I know how upset my father was when asked by a fellow doctor to justify the murder of the two British sergeants. The British at home also had a record of antisemitism at that time. Why were Jews interned in the Isle of Man? How many Jews were MPs - particularly Conservatives? Why did David Lean portray Fagin so hideously in Oliver Twist? Why was Shylock always seen as one of the biggest villains in English literature? Public schools had Jewish quotas. So did golf clubs. (In the early 70s I decided to take up golf. One nearby club did not gladly take Jews so I didn't apply. Somehow it got to hear of me and telephoned to say I could join because I had been to Oxford! After stating that I would not be patronised, I heard no more. Ironically, 20 years later, Jews are now most welcome, and the club has even had a Jewish captain!)

Why did this change of attitude towards the Jews come about? Because they started to integrate. Mrs Thatcher had five Jews in her government. Israel became a nation to admire, winning a war in six days. Do you remember the sticker 'Come to Israel and see the Pyramids!'?

Except for the Hasidim it was not too difficult for us to join in. We were white! The immigrants from the West Indies were black and poor; those from Asia suffered from the same faults as the early Jewish immigrants - isolationism and overt ambition. So the Jews were left alone and the hatred was directed towards the West Indians and, in particular, the Asians. (At that time, we did not differentiate between Muslims and Hindus.) Antisemitism went underground.

In the 80s Israel began to be attacked in the media, receiving negative coverage from left-wing newspapers like The Guardian and The Independent, and from the 'unbiased' BBC. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was questioned. Jews - even some rabbis - wrote anti-Israeli articles. Recently, 100 Jews took out an advertisement to attack Israel's conduct in its war against Hezbollah. Their attitude wasn't antisemitic, they argued, it was anti-Zionist. This is what the real antisemites were waiting for: unrest in the Jewish camp! We were now told that Judaism was not a religion, it was a race. 'If England played Israel at football, whom would we back?' Our loyalty to the UK was being questioned. Antisemitism was showing its ugly face again and becoming acceptable. Many could not differentiate between Jews and Israelis. Israel was seen as a puppet of the United States, a country not in favour in the UK since the Iraq war.

I admit that I feel more Jewish racially than religiously. I support Israel in almost everything it does (not, I admit, if it comes up against England at football!) and I think it is every Jew's duty to be loyal to Israel. If you want to criticise the Israelis, do so among yourselves. Israel is your family of people. Remember the 6 million who died for Israel's creation. Make sure they did not die in vain.
Peter Phillips

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