05 February 2007

Prominent British Jews challenge pro-Israel establishment

An article in today's Guardian describes the revolt of a group of prominent British Jews against the U.K.'s Jewish establishment. The group presented their position in an open letter on the Guardian's website. The signatories include Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, actor Stephen Fry, historian and author Eric Hobsbawm and a host of other luminaries, a full list of which can be found on the group's website, Independent Jewish Voices.

The group states, "We come together in the belief that the broad spectrum of opinion among the Jewish population of this country is not reflected by those institutions which claim authority to represent the Jewish community as a whole." As for the situation in Palestine, they insist "... those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people."

Antony Lerman, director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, has gone so far as to propose the merging of Israel and the Palestinian territories into a single bi-national federation and repealing the Jewish right of return.

This dissent from the views of leading Jewish organizations is appearing in the U.S. as well where historian Tony Judt told the New York times that the link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism was something new and might cause references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust to be seen as "just a political defence of Israeli policy."

Not surprisingly, dissenters like Lerman and Judt are being accused by establishment voices of dangerous, if not outright anti-semitic, views. The debate promises to be heated.

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