Anti Semitism in the UK

words by Hava Rose Ha'Levi Mirviss Carvajal

Woke up to all the right wingers crowing over Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis' (my distant cousin lol) endorsement of the Conservatives, as if 'The Jews' have spoken. I am sick of all these non-Jewish people speaking on behalf of Jews, one of the most diverse groups of people that exist. Rabbi Mirvis, an orthodox Ashkenazi Zionist, only represents a small portion of Jewry - ones who are Orthodox, practicing, and Ashkenazi. To say he speaks for all Jews, especially if this is being said as a gentile, is itself antisemitic.

 

Jews don't have the one person speaks for G-d thing that Christians have. Judaism is nothing like Christianity. No gentile, in my experience, has any idea of what Judaism is or what Jewishness is or any notion of how varied and beautiful the people of the diaspora are. The way Jews are being used in this debate has been an antisemitic one, where Jews are spoken over and for and where Jewishness is being policed by those speaking in behalf of us. Who invariably paint a picture of Ashkenazi (white), conservative, upper middle class Jewry who have 'good common sense'.

 

I'm a Jew, I think Labour has an antisemitism problem, and I've been door knocking for Labour. Labour has an antisemitism problem, that's a fact. I've literally experienced it during the door knocking. But so do the Tories, and the Lib Dems, and every other party campaigning. Because the UK has an antisemitism problem, Europe has an antisemitism problem. And that is what needs to be worked on. The antisemitism controversy is an example of the UK's antisemitism but not just from Labour's side - from the entirety of our institutions.

 

Institutions who don't have room for radical socialist and communist Jewish voices and histories. Who don't have room for the long history of left-wing Jewish organising and political traditions. Who don't have room for Hasidic communities or some Haradi communities. Who don't have room for Sephardi or Mizrahi or Bukharan communities, to name just a few. Who don't have room for the converts. Who think all Jews are white. Who think all Jews are Zionist. Who don't have any understanding of the differences of practice, of faith, of culture from community to community and shul to shul and person to person. We should not be grateful. This is not enough. I refuse to be flattened.

 

To let the Conservatives use Jews as a political tool to attack Labour and their enemies, to let them use our name to stoke the flames of difference and fear which will always lead to violence, is a dangerous path to walk. I understand if you don't want to vote Labour. I'm not out here to trying to convince you. I speak only for my self. But I know, as a Jew, that I will vote for Labour because it is the greatest mitzvah to protect the most vulnerable, to feed the stranger, to help the one who needs help. That's what Labour offers. The Conservatives offer more austerity and more death. 

 

What this election, and the last few years, has proven to me is that the question of the Jews is not over. That, as much as everyone has wished it to be and as much as Ashkenazi Jews have assimilated and as much as the Zionist project was supposed to fix it, antisemitism hasn't gone away. And this is down to a total void of education and concerted effort to teach people the complex reality of Jewish faith, culture, and history. Instead the European project was to ignore the Jew until we all went away, either to Israel or into whiteness. And antisemitism festered in the ignorance. Labour is not the problem. Society is. So vote what is your conscience, but truly we must not be tricked by people who claim to care for us.

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