Oct 2002 Journal

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The Diasporists

From the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD to the creation of Israel in 1948, Jews were objects - i.e. victims - of history, rather than its subjects. Zionism arose in response to immemorial exile, Russian pogroms and the Dreyfus trial.

Almost intuitively prescient of the Holocaust, Zionists strove to build a safe haven in Palestine. It proved too little, too late. After the Jewish catastrophe, the world reluctantly condoned the creation of Israel. While this was accomplished with much bloodshed exacerbated by population transfers, the new state passed its first, historic, legislative measure: the Law of Return, giving every Jew in the world the right to claim asylum in Israel.

Now a clutch of Jewish celebrities have voluntarily - and publicly - renounced this right. They did so in a letter to The Guardian, a paper which previously deemed Israel's armed incursion into Jenin 'as repellent as September 11'.

One imagines that the anti-Zionist celebs are, however remotely, related to Jews in places like Ukraine or Argentina. I wonder how securely the latter would sleep at night but for the knowledge that if their own countries imploded or turned fascist, Israel would offer a haven of refuge.

I have huge admiration for the resilience of Britain's democratic institutions. Nonetheless, I would remind Jewish beaters of the anti-Zionist drum that in 1945 some Tory MPs mooted - admittedly, in vain - the compulsory repatriation of German Jewish immigrants. More recently, none other than Enoch Powell suggested that newcomers to the UK who had arrived after 1948 be stripped of British citizenship.

I mention these blemishes on the face of British democracy not to denigrate this country, but to highlight the sanctimonious complacency of Jews who would write off Israel - a state conceived and born in bloodshed, whose very survival has consistently been put in question ever since.
Richard Grunberger

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