Saturday, June 19, 2021
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Jewish pupils face a climate of fear

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IF YOUNG Jewish actors are hiding their Star of David, what is life like for Jewish school children in the British state education system?

In an interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC’s Newsnight following the principled resignation of Dame Maureen Lipman from the actors’ union, Equity, after it urged its members to take part in a pro-Palestine march, the Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman said:

‘I have had so many young Jewish performers contact me as a sort of de facto leader on this. They are telling me that they are hiding their Star of David; they don’t want people to know that they are Jewish; they don’t want to get into the immediate conversation about Israel, having to justify where they stand on this.’

One would normally think of acting as a liberal profession. So if Jewish actors are feeling under pressure, the Lord alone knows what Jewish children must be experiencing in the politically-correct indoctrination centres otherwise known as state schools. Is the generally woke outlook of the teaching profession creating a climate of fear for Jewish pupils?

In any British school, a young person should be allowed to express open support for Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign democratic state. He or she should also be allowed to express the view that Hamas is a vicious terrorist organisation. But in many state schools, and even and perhaps especially in independent schools, one could imagine a Jewish teenager – indeed, any teenager – being afraid to express such opinions.

The cultural crisis for British Jews is exacerbated by the political establishment’s tendency to treat Israel and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip as moral equivalents (discussed here by Melanie Phillips). This neutrality, which is actually a symptom of moral relativism, serves to foment anti-Semitism by giving houseroom to a movement that is hell-bent on destroying Israel. As Karen Harradine, of this parish, has argued: ‘The ideological drive to destroy Israel and “free Palestine” is a war cry led by Islamists and propagated by their useful idiots on the Left. Should anti-Zionists get their wish, and Israel is destroyed, half the world’s Jewry would be left homeless, and diaspora Jews would become even more vulnerable to anti-Semitism.’

Andrew Neil may be right that Britain is about to undergo a post-Covid economic boom (though it is difficult to see how such a spending spree could avoid letting inflation rip, given the government’s profligacy with the money supply). But Mr Neil’s sunny scenario will pale into insignificance unless this country makes a concerted effort to fight the spiritual and moral virus of anti-Semitism. If we do not, our democracy could go the way of the Weimar Republic

Islamo-fascism is a growing force in Britain. The brazenness with which Islamist anti-Israel activists felt they could make violent threats against Jewish people on the streets of north London in recent days is evidence of that. Unfortunately, the police are too imbued with political correctness to deal properly with this threat because the Palestinian cause is a protected characteristic according to neo-Marxist ideology.

The police will of course happily arrest Christian street preachers. They arrested one recently in the Prime Minister’s Uxbridge constituency for speaking up for God’s gracious gift of heteronormality. What would they do about an Islamist preacher who had been using violent language against Israel outside a tube station?

If they did intervene, the demeanour of the police officers towards him would surely be very different from the rough handling meted out on Pastor John Sherwood for peaceably expounding a biblical text written by an Israelite – Genesis 1v27: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them’ (King James Version).

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Morecambe, Lancashire.

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