We daren’t lose our young ones

WERE the toilets clean? Was our staff helpful? These are questions routinely asked in an email you receive after a visit to the cinema.

Surveys have become ubiquitous. Even our doctors and dentists want to know: “Would you recommend us to a friend?”

Maybe the results are collated to improve service and care. Or perhaps the providers are indifferent to a lack of response.

Whatever the motive and consequence of these surveys, they have encouraged me to compile my own, more profound questions.

Here goes: Answer “yes” or “no” to the following:

* Should Jewish MPs leave the Labour Party in view of Corbyn’s stance on antisemitism? The determination to exclude vilification of Israel in the widely accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism provoked the damning outburst from the respected Dame Margaret Hodge.

* Should those who demeaned our solemn prayer of kaddish in a public display of support for Israel’s declared enemies be denied funded trips to Israel?

* DO you approve Benjamin Netanyahu’s Nation State law, which asserts that “the expression of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”?

* WILL you boycott the boycotters? Subject your shopping to close analysis in order to avoid purchasing goods or services from any shop or manufacturer who refuses to trade with Israel?

* WILL you cease reading books or seeing plays featuring the work of pro-Palestinians, particularly of Jews like Miriam Margolyes and Mike Leigh?

Answering “yes” or “no” will place you in one of the two opposing camps which polarise us on the question of the Arab/Israel conflict. These camps could be called “Israel can do no wrong” on the one hand and “End the occupation” on the other.

There is a third answer to my hypothetical survey: “Don’t care”!

Many people are in this third category, which could be called the “I’ve had enough” camp.

They know that the situation is more complicated but stay silent because those with fixed views from either side just shout them down.

In a recent opinion piece, JT reporter Adam Cailler probed the declining shul membership of young families.

He discussed the economic reasons for the non-affiliation, but it could very well be the “don’t care” attitude to Israel that has disaffected them from Judaism itself.

A wise friend believes that more and more Jews will become “I’ve had enough-ers” and just disengage.

“But they won’t just disengage from concern and love for Israel,” he says.

“Because Judaism is, rightly, so entwined with Israel, they will lessen engagement with Judaism itself and assimilate even more rapidly than now.”

He finds that very depressing and a situation that is not being tackled by the Jewish community.

The two opposing camps appear to dominate the burgeoning online forums. So toxic is the vitriol emanating from this virtual “conflict”, there is little room left for the measured, nuanced view.

British Jews have shown that they can unite under threat. It was inspiring to read the open letter to the Labour Party from no fewer than 68 rabbis, across the denominational spectrum.

But too many Jews are victims of a fallout of the Arab/Israel conflict — the battlefield of extremism that has spread to the Diaspora.

Unless we can reclaim the support of our young people with a sensible, balanced and persuasive perspective, they will be lost to Zionism... and to Judaism.


© 2018 Jewish Telegraph