Guardian publishes two anti-Jewish screeds by ‘ex-Jews’, but censors ‘ex-Muslims’

Over the last month, the Guardian has published two articles by self-professed “ex-Jews” – that is, Jews whose hatred of Israel – and the putative sins of Jews and Judaism – caused them to renounce their Jewish identity.  

As Richard Millett noted on these pages, the latest work by discredited historian Shlomo Sand was featured in the print and online editions of the Guardian in October – a lengthy book excerpt which vilified Israel, and suggested that Judaism itself was compromised by immutable – theologically based – racism. 

Here are a few passages from Sand’s article in the Guardian.

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The chosen blog? Guardian gives a shout out to “pressure group” called CiF Watch

Though the Guardian has implicitly alluded to our presence on one or two occasions, they seem to have an unwritten policy of never explicitly referring to us by name. Indeed, even the most benign references to ‘CiF Watch’ in the comment section of ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’) are still routinely deleted by their moderators, and, in 2012, this writer had his commenting privileges below the line at ‘CiF’ permanently suspended for some still unknown violation of their ‘community standards’. 

So, we were a bit surprised – to put it mildly – when a column written by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in the print and online editions of the paper (The many pitfalls when covering Israel/Palestine issues, Oct. 27th) devoted some space to addressing one of our recent complaints concerning a truly reprehensible column in the Guardian by discredited anti-Zionist historian Shlomo Sand titled ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew.

Specifically, we objected to Sand’s use of the term ‘chosen people’ to suggest that Jews treat Palestinians poorly due to a belief in their own racial superiority, and noted that Elliott himself had previously acknowledged (in upholding a CiF Watch complaint in 2011 against an article by Deborah Orr) that such pejorative references to the “chosen people” – widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold high standards of moral behavior – are typically used by antisemites as code for ‘Jewish supremacism‘.

Here’s the passage from Sand:

By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.

Elliott’s reply can be found in the highlighted section of his article below (Click Image to Enlarge):

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Shlomo Sand’s sickening Guardian article slams both Israel and Judaism.

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By Richard Millett.

There are times when something is so obviously wrong that it shouldn’t even need pointing out. That the Guardian thinks there is no problem promoting someone who wants to “resign” from Judaism shows how little respect its editors have for Judaism.

Last Saturday the Guardian allowed Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv university professor, to write a lengthy piece in its pages about how he has had enough of being Jewish (see above).

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The moral necessity of Jewish power

(I first wrote this essay about Tisha B’Av in 2011 and have revised it slightly each year. This year’s version takes on special relevance for me in light of Israel’s current war with Hamas, and the characteristic response it has elicited in the Western media and among the opinion elite. – Adam Levick)

“People resent the Jews for having emerged from their immemorial weakness and fearlessly resorted to force. They thereby betrayed the mission that history had assigned to them — being a people … that did not get tangled up in the obtuse narrowness of the nation-state.” – Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt

In Israel, it is now Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout their history on the same date on the Hebrew calendar — the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, but on this day we also reflect on the many other calamities which occurred on this date, from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 to the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

On this day, I tend to reflect on our painful collective recollection of past catastrophes in the context of the Jewish community’s often ambivalent relationship with power – ruminations only heightened by my still relatively new Israeli citizenship, a nation often forced to exercise power to prevent additional tragedies from befalling our people.

Israel’s very rebirth in 1948 can be seen as a direct response to these calamitous events — an attempt, through the various mechanisms of statecraft, to turn Jewish history around and act instead of being acted upon. Whether defending itself in war or aiding and rescuing endangered Jewish communities around the world, the Jewish collective has had at its disposal — for the first time in over 2000 years — a state apparatus with the means (politically, diplomatically, and militarily) to protect its interests as other nations have throughout history.

However, with this exercise of political strength comes a price, a unique moral burden that many Jews in the diaspora seem unwilling or unable to bear — as any exertion of power, or control over your own fate, inevitably carries with it the loss of innocence often projected upon people perceived to be victims and lacking in moral agency.

Israeli military power (exercised against terrorism, asymmetrical warfare and other small-scale regional threats, and in major wars against state actors) and the relative success and political power of Jewish communities in the West, seems to instill in many Jews a loss of identification with their community for fear of falling on the “wrong side” of the left-right political divide.

This chasm often finds expression in the need to identify in a way uniquely separate from such seemingly crude “ethnocentric” expressions of power which carry with them the necessity of physically defending a nation (one representing a very particular identity) in all the complexities and compromises that are invariably associated with even the most progressive national enterprises.

Before the birth of the modern Jewish state, German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig in his pre-Holocaust book The Star of Redemption expressed his belief that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should shun. He viewed Judaism as a “supra-historical entity,” whose importance lies in the fact that it is not political but presents a “spiritual ideal” only. He saw the creation of a nation-state as a blow to the Jewish ideal of an apolitical spiritual life.

Indeed, from the revival of Mussar (and other movements which aspire to further individual Jewish ethical development) to the progressive mantra of “Tikkun Olam” (a misunderstood term which alludes to repairing the world spiritually but often employed to suggest that the pursuit of universal social justice represent the greatest expressions of Jewish devotion), this recurring tendency of Jews to pay greater attention to their own moral performance than to the nitty-gritty, messy, everyday necessities of collective survival is an inclination that writer Ruth Wisse characterizes as “moral solipsism.”

While personal spiritual improvement is indeed admirable, and the desire to tend to the needs of “the other” is certainly a noble impulse, it can also represent a political pathos — a moral escapism rooted in a blindness to the harsh political lessons of Jewish history.

Wisse, in her book Jews and Power, argues that, historically, Jews — in displaying the resilience necessary to survive in exile and not burdened by the weight of a military — believed they could pursue their mission as a “light unto the nations” on a “purely moral plane.” She demonstrates how, in fact, perpetual political weakness increased Jews’ vulnerability to scapegoating and violence as it unwittingly goaded power-seeking nations to cast them as perpetual targets.

Throughout their pre-state history, Jews inhabited a potentially precarious position, ever exposed to the whims and wishes of rulers and the resentment of the populace. Their trust in G-d as the absolute arbiter of history allowed them to endure unimaginable indignities, turning inward to concentrate on their own moral excellence. Wisse concludes that “Jews who endured the powerlessness of exile were in danger of mistaking it for a requirement of Jewish life or, worse, for a Jewish ideal.”

Indeed, some diaspora Jews express their disapproval of Israel or the Jewish community at large by lamenting this newly acquired agency, often fetishizing their people’s historic weakness, and thus fail to see the role that such powerlessness played in the suffering that has befallen the community through the ages.

With national sovereignty there’s a price to be paid in terms of responsibility for the occasional infliction of human suffering (even if unintentional) that invariably occurs as the result of even the most judicious use of national power. But in the lives of individual adults, as in the lives of nations, rarely are we afforded the luxury of making choices that will allow one to live a life of innocence, nor one which offers decisions which will result in perfect justice for all concerned.

Rather, with every serious decision in front of her, Israel must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various policies and try to make the decision likely to result in the most positive outcome, while also taking into account how such actions will affect the safety and well-being of future generations of Israelis and the broader Jewish community.

Israel has a profound responsibility in carrying out the arduous, thankless, but morally necessary task of collective self-defense (a national vision Theodore Herzl referred to as “The Guardian of the Jews”). For Israel, in an era replete with concrete military threats and delegitimization campaigns by loosely connected political networks, an unapologetic and fiercely determined self-defense is an ethical imperative.

Protecting yourself, your family, your community, and your nation from harm should never be misconstrued as inconsistent with the highest Jewish ethical aspirations — an idea the broader Jewish community would be wise to take seriously while lamenting the suffering of so many throughout our history on Tisha B’Av.

Gilad Atzmon slams the Guardian as a ‘Lame Zionist Mouthpiece’.

Before we realized the identity of the author of the an essay published a various fringe websites on March 17th, it almost seemed to us like a Purim Spiel.  

Here’s the classic opening passage:

The once well-respected Guardian has been reduced in recent years into a lame Zionist mouthpiecea light Jewish Chronicle for Gentiles consumption.

 So, what did the Guardian do to run afoul of the sensibilities of the following prolific critic of international Jewry?

atzmon

Atzmon explains:

Last week, the paper launched an attack on Martin Heidegger, the 20th century’s most influential philosopher.

Heidegger’s ‘Black notebooks’ reveal antisemitism at core of his philosophy” the paper’s headline read.  But what does that mean? Was Heidegger really a Jew hater? Did he oppose people for being ethnically or ‘racially’ Jewish or was he, instead, critical of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and spirit?

According to the ‘progressive’ British Guardian, the newly published Black Notebooks reveals that Heidegger saw ‘world Judaism’ as the driver of “dehumanising modernity”.

Heidegger was a German patriot. As such he knew very well that it was Zionist leadership and German Jewish bankers in America that facilitated the entry of the USA into the first world war (in return in part for the 1917’s Belfour Declaration that promised a national home for Jews in Palestine). In that regard, Heidegger, like his contemporaries, had good reason to believe that Germany was betrayed by its Jewish elite.

Indeed, Philip Oltermann, the author of the Guardian review, explained that the notion of the dehumanizing influence of world Judaism was propagated in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery purporting to reveal a Jewish plan for world domination, which would explain why Atzmon – a blogger and Jazz Saxophonist who dabbles in neo-Nazi style politics – was so appalled by the attack on Heidegger.  

Though the Guardian – or the ‘Guardian of Judea’ as Atzmon risibly calls it – is no slouch when it comes to legitimizing the toxic narrative warning of the ‘injurious influence’ of Zionist power in the US, they’re clearly not at the level of Atzmon, a staunch defender of Jewish conspiracy theories who’s written the following:

Interestingly enough, the political morbid conditions in which we live was actually described by an unusual fictional text that was published in 1903 namely, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The Protocols is widely considered a forgery. It is a manual for a prospective new member of the “Elders”, describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance, replacing the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation. Though the book is considered a hoax by most experts and regarded as a vile anti-Semitic text, it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe both the century unfolding and the political reality in which we live I am referring here to: AIPAC, the Credit Crunch, Lehman Brothers, Neocon wars, interventionist ideology, a British Foreign Secretary listed as an Israeli Propaganda (Hasbara) author trying to amend Britain’s ethical stand, a Zionist by admission put on an inquiry panel to investigate why Britain launched a Zionist war and so on.

As it happens staunch Zionists such as David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, and Alan Dershowitz use a very banal spin to divert the attention from the devastating prophetic reality depicted by The Protocols. A reality in which they themselves promote interventionist wars in our midst. Again and again they stress the fact that The Protocols was a forgery. They insist that we look at its anti-Semitic origin while evading its content and meaning. However whether or not The Protocols is a fictional text or a forgery doesn’t change the fact that it explores our disastrous contemporary reality. A reality in which we are killing en masse the enemies of Israel in the ‘name of democracy’, a reality in which Dershowitz himself puts enormous effort into cleansing academia of any critical voices of Israel, Zionism, and Jewish power in America and the West.

The Guardian’s biggest sin, in Atzmon’s eyes, it seems, was talking about the ideas laid out in The Protocols as if they were a bad thing!

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Sounds Israeli: The music of Efrat Gosh

Efrat Gosh grew up in Herzliya and went to music school with a concentration in Jazz. The following song by Gosh is about what it feels like to wake up in the morning after a great night out on the town.

Have a wonderful Purim!

(Sounds Israeli is edited by Stefan Babjak)

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Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday’s] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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Israel slouches ‘Left’? MK Aliza Lavie undermines the ‘Guardian narrative’

After the results of Israel’s national elections on Jan. 22 became clear, we published a post noting that, contrary to dire predictions by Guardian reporters and analysts that the state was poised to lurch dangerously to the extreme right, no such rightward shift actually occurred.  Contrary to the scare prediction by the paper’s Middle East editor that Netanyahu was poised to head “a more right-wing government than Israel has ever seen before”, the government which formed in March actually represented a move to the center – one which, for instance, excluded ultra-orthodox parties for only the third time since 1977

On a few important issues – such as negotiations with Palestinians, universal army conscription, and the rights of women and gays – the thirty-third Israeli government has in fact largely leaned somewhat left.  So, we thought it would be informative to hear from Aliza Lavie, an MK with Yesh Atid (part of the governing coalition), on her work on the issue of women’s rights in the Jewish state.

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MK Aliza Lavie

Lavie has a PhD from Bar Ilan and currently serves as the Chair of the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women, working on issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, equality in the military, spousal abuse, and human trafficking.  Her book, “A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book,” has sold more than 150,000 copies.  She was recently part of a delegation of Israeli experts from the fields of politics, economics, women’s rights, and law and policy-making a multi-city tour  in the U.S. called ‘Israel Up-Close 2014, led by Professor Eytan Gilboa.  We were able to speak briefly with Lavie by phone a couple of days ago during her U.S. tour, which included talks specifically on the topic of women’s issues in Israel.

CiF Watch: You (along with Natan Sharansky) were key in convincing the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, Shmuel Rabinovitch, not to arrest women for saying the Kaddish prayer at the Wall.  Relatedly, are you confident that the compromise you helped broker on prayer at the Wall – to add an alternative egalitarian prayer site in addition to the men’s and women’s sections – is a step forward for those who seek a more religiously pluralistic society?

MK Lavie: I’ve been extremely pleased to see how many groups from across the political and religious spectrum have agreed to work with my committee on the issue of prayer at the Western Wall.  Our work influenced Women of the Wall to be part of the solution, and agree to the current compromise.  There has always been a consensus that the status quo wasn’t fair to women, and wasn’t consistent with Israeli law. Our work simply galvanized this silent majority in favor of change.

CiF Watch. What are other important issues on gender and religion you’re trying to address? 

MK Lavie: We’re currently working to change the current set up at the Western Wall so that the women’s prayer section at the main prayer site is equal in size with the men’s section and has similar facilities. I’d like to add that we’re working well with the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall on this and other issues. Also, we’re extremely glad that, for first time [due to a law proposed by MK Lavie] four spots are guaranteed for women on the eleven member committee which appoints rabbinical judges to serve on the rabbinical court. This panel, as you know, is critical in attempting to alleviate some of the problems faced by women seeking to obtain a religious divorce (a “Get“) from their husbands.

CiF Watch: What, broadly, do you hope to achieve by participating in the ‘Israel Up Close’ delegation?

MK Lavie:  So many women in America who I’ve spoken to seem much more concerned with the status of women in Israeli society, for instance, than with the Palestinian issue.  Further, many of these same women may strongly identify as Jewish but without any affiliation, and are concerned that Judaism in Israel is in some people hands, but not others. I’m hoping to educate American audiences on the truth about Israel, and explain the exciting changes occurring on gender issues and other social issues of extreme importance to the future of the Jewish state. 

Guardian ‘inadvertently’ acknowledges that the Western Wall is NOT Judaism’s holiest site

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is the holiest site in Judaism.  The Western Wall, on the other hand, is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray – an uncontroversial, firmly established fact we leveraged to prompt a correction to a story at The Telegraph on Oct. 24 which falsely claimed that the Western Wall was the holiest site.  

Other news sites which have corrected their original false claims over the significance of the Western Wall include the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC (corrections which were prompted over the years by CAMERA).

In contrast to these corrections, however, the Guardian has engaged in characteristic obfuscations and stonewalling in refusing to revise Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.  Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism

So, we were quite surprised to see the following caption accompanying a Guardian photo of a member of ‘Women of the Wall’ praying at the Western Wall (10 Photo Highlights of the Day, Nov. 4).

kotel

Whilst this is of course merely a photo caption, Guardian editors have, on occasion, revised such accurate descriptive text below their photos when they believed it to be misleading.  So we’ll continue to monitor this entry and see whether this inadvertent collision with accuracy is eventually ‘rectified’. 

CiF Watch prompts Telegraph correction over false Western Wall claim

We’re not normally in the business of comparing the quality and editorial judgment of British papers, but the speed in which The Telegraph corrected a false claim regarding the Western Wall in Jerusalem is worth noting.

telegraphAn Oct. 23 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot‘ included the following passage:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

We failed to take a snapshot, but here is the original text via a Google search:

kotelLate this morning, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.  

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the Second Temple stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original claims that the Western Wall was the holiest site (many of which were prompted by CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Less than an hour ago, Telegraph editors responded to our complaint, informing us that they agreed with our concerns and had corrected the piece accordingly.  It now reads as follows:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

Here it is on Google:

kotel 2This quick revision stands in stark contrast to the stonewalling and obfuscations we encountered when filing a similar complaint to the Guardian over Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.

Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism…

Telegraph editors should be commended for their prompt revision – quick, decisive editorial judgment (based on historically undeniable facts) which should certainly be emulated by other British dailies. 

How to Survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork.

Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Zionist activist named Annika Henroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experience advocating for Israel in a country whose tiny Jewish population continues to dwindle due largely to a dangerous increase in antisemitism.  

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Annika Henroth Rothstein

Recently Ms. Rothstein published a letter which she sent to a writer named Michel Gurfinkiel in response to his extremely important essay at Mosaic (published earlier this month) about the future of European Jewry.  Here it is:

Dear Mr. Gurfinkiel,

On April 26 of this year, I was on a train with my five-year-old son Charlie. We were on our way to spend shabbat with friends in the city. You see, our town, significant in the history of Swedish Jewry, shut its synagogue in the late 90s. All that remains now is a plaque stating that there was once Jewish life here, while we are left with an hour-long train ride every weekend to attend services.

 My son was wearing his kippah as we got on the train. He loves his kippah. He is not yet old enough to know the dangers entailed in wearing it, for this is a fact from which I have tried to protect him. But April 26 would change all that.

There was a gentleman sitting in our reserved seat. An Arab, maybe fifty years old, listening to music. Apologizing for the inconvenience, I asked him politely for our seat. He got up, inspected my son, and then leaned over me, saying: You people always take what you want. You need to learn.

He then walked straight into my son, causing him to fall over, and took the seat behind us.

We sat. Hiding my trembling hands from my son’s sight, I picked up Shabbes for Kids and started to review the week’s Torah portion with him. We hadn’t progressed as far as a page before the man stood up and screamed:  Quiet! I don’t want to hear that! You take what you want and never think of others! Shut up!

He stamped his feet, grunting and glaring at my son. Fighting tears of rage, I assured Charlie that the man was just grumpy and tried to turned the episode into a game, one that required us to remain super quiet for as long as possible. I even managed to coax a conspiratorial smile out of him.

But even this failed to appease our tormentor, who spent the rest of the trip repeatedly kicking the back of my son’s seat. At one point I glanced around our compartment: there were four other people there, four adults witnessing a single mother and her five-year-old child being attacked by a grown man. They did nothing. I tried forcing them to meet my gaze; but they just turned away, put on their headphones, stared at their screens, ignored what was happening in front of them.

I did not summon the railway police. I did not scream back at the man. I know better. I know that the only way to survive as a Jew in my country is not to be seen as one. Not to be exposed but to shut up and fade into the woodwork. I’ve known this for quite some time. Unfortunately, my son knows it now, too.

Read the rest of the letter here.