Why British universities should resist the Johnson government’s demand that they adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism: If you’re a Palestinian student studying at a British university this is about your right to express your lived history and that of your family and people. Denying the expression of that experience would seem to go against any ambitions to be truly diverse, inclusive and welcoming institution.
The international community forgets the Palestinians: The Trump peace plan left out that there was an illegal Israeli occupation, and the UAE/Bahrain normalization agreement leaves it an Israeli domestic issue.
British progressive rabbis have written an anti-annexation letter to the Israeli embassy in London that suggests they finally confronting the collective Jewish implications of the entire Zionist project. “The moral integrity of the Jewish people is at stake.”
The only variety of Zionism still on offer is the ethno-nationalist creed of Benjamin Netanyahu and the many politicians in Israel who sit to his right in the Knesset. And with annexation, we are about to begin the final phase of the Palestinian people’s long and tortured dispossession.
Many British Jewish organizations have condemned racism at the heart of George Floyd’s murder. It’s impossible for even liberal Jewish supporters of Israel to recognise the structural and institutional racism they inhabit while they cling to the idea that only an exclusive Jewish sovereignty in Israel/Palestine can guarantee Jewish security.
Robert Cohen writes, “Looking the other way when a crime is committed is not a Jewish value I remember being taught in my Hebrew classes. The British Board of Deputies’ effort to build non-existent Jewish unity over Israel turns out to be little more than political expediency in Israel’s favour.”
Robert Cohen’s Jewish thought on COVID-19 and Zionism: In 2020, a nationalist ideology dependent for its continuance on the on-going subjugation of a neighbouring people is not only immoral but unsustainable in every respect. And it’s infected every aspect of modern Jewish experience. It’s time to let it pass over.
Robert Cohen reviews Tom Stoppard’s new play Leopoldstadt, which follows an extended Viennese family across three generations and half a century of deteriorating Jewish history. “Jewish 20th century history is so often presented as one long justification for the project of Jewish national renewal,” Cohen writes, “so it was curious to see such a major artistic telling of Jewish experience leaving Zionism offstage.”
Israel supporters are outraged that Orla Guerin of BBC mentioned Palestinians in the context of Holocaust trauma. Robert Cohen says her remarks were entirely appropriate because the Holocaust is still resonating through Jewish history and is intimately connected to Israel’s history and actions against Palestinians.
Under Boris Johnson in Britain, Jewish institutions, rabbis, and Jewish student leaders are claiming to fight antisemitism while simultaneously defending, excusing, or denying the discrimination and oppression of another people. It’s a narrative framework that’s not sustainable, Robert Cohen writes.