The silence of our communal leaders signals that remaining silent in the face of prejudice is legitimate, as long as it isn’t happening to Jews.
By Emily Hilton
One of the first things we are taught when as children is that racism is wrong, and that when we see it, we must call it out. As Jews, especially diaspora Jews, we know the perils of racist language, laws, and deeds that go unchallenged.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which styles itself as the representative body of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, has not made a single public statement on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent declaration that “Israel is a state for Jews only.” This is the same Board of Deputies that blamed the killing of 52 Gaza protestors during the Great Return March on Hamas, praised the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and put out a formal statement congratulating Donald Trump on his election win.
Even organizations such as AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee have raised concerns about Netanyahu’s recent coalition with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. Meanwhile, the Board has justified its silence by claiming that it does not “comment on Israeli elections,” a decision that comes across not only as completely arbitrary, but also highlights a true lack of moral leadership for diaspora Jews.
It is important to recognize that when Netanyahu says Israel is for Jews alone, he is merely voicing the reality of what the Jewish state has become: a two-tiered system between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Meanwhile, the anger , which argue that Netanyahu’s comments do not reflect the equality enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, now rings hollow. The declaration’s commitment to equality lost any virtue of relevance or meaning decades ago, compounded by legislation so overtly racist, it raises questions as to whether anyone can really believe such ideals are on the agenda of Israel’s leading politicians.Read More