February 11, 2005

Jews against Melanie Phillips II

These letters, published in the Jewish Chronicle, suggest that the tide is turning against some of the more extreme expressions of Zionism; Melanie Phillips's in particular:

Melanie Phillips writes as if it's some form of crime that Jews disagree with each other over the profound developments affecting the Jewish existence, yet machloket - argument - is the natural Jewish state of being. And since we live in an open society, we should not be afraid of arguing these things out in public.

The key thing is to listen to the views of your opponents, respect them and address their arguments.

Sadly, she did none of these things during the Intelligence Squared debate and, provided with a platform to have another go in the JC, she resorts to insult, character-assassination and a rather ugly attempt to question the Jewishness of those who disagree with her, accusing them of doing real damage to the Jewish people.

Their only "crime" was to remind us that the pursuit of values of justice and human rights is central to Jewishness. The narrow, aggressively nationalistic Zionism, which is dominant in Israel and bolstered by the unthinking solidarity of so many Jewish organisations world-wide, is the enemy of these values.

It's her bankrupt, lachrymose view of the Jewish past and relentless exaggeration if the dangers of the Jewish present that really do "undermine the Jews' moral role in history."

Antony Lerman

And there's more:

Melanie Phillips should look at Jews for Justice for Palestinians' list of 1,055 signatories, where she would find the names of eminent Jews in the worlds of religion, politics, law, human rights, sociology, psychology, medicine, media, theatre, cinema, literature, art and music.

It includes 90-plus professors, 79 doctors, six rabbis, three MPs, one QC, two CBEs, two MBEs, three MBEs, three OBEs and three knights. These are not self- or Israel-hating people involved in "Jew-baiting."

As for Jews of her outlook having to defend themselves, we are the ones who receive hate mail, and are occassionally physically attacked.

The main issue, however, is not Jews being against Jews, but about some Jews being in denial with regard to the fact that the Palestinians are the main victims in all of this. Maybe she could explain what land-expropriation, house-demolitions, settlement expansion and the destruction of olive trees have to do with self-defence.

Deborah Fink

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