Apologies for two pieces in one day involving Martin Bright, but here’s something worth reading in full:
I have been working for the JC for nearly two years now and in that time no one within the Jewish community has ever questioned whether my ethnicity affected my ability to report the news.
Until this week that is, when it was suggested over dinner that my reporting of the controversy over the relationship between certain synagogues and the ‘community organisers’ London Citizens might have been better if I had been more involved in the community.
This took place at a dinner to which a number of liberal-left pro-Islamist Jews and anti-Islamist Muslims were invited to break bread together. One of the other attendees told me about what had been said to Martin Bright. Martin Bright was told that he didn’t understand and wasn’t qualified to voice an opinion, because he wasn’t Jewish. My friend was shocked and pretty horrified.
First of all, the issue of London Citizens and its alliance with the Islamist far Right isn’t a exclusively a Jewish matter. It is a threat primarily to Muslims, who are the first and overwhelming targets of hate preachers and Islamist parties. It is also an issue of national concern.
Secondly, even if this was a “Jewish matter”, why should only Jews be qualified to have an opinion?
Martin admits that he doesn’t “get it”:
It is baffling to me that people who would consider themselves on the left of the Jewish community have chosen to make common cause with people on the extreme right of Islamic politics.
But it is not my non-Jewishness that makes me baffled. Even my fiercest critics can’t believe DNA has a part to play in this.
Nor is it cultural. It is not because I do not send my children to a Jewish school or mark the high holy days.
It is baffling because the well-educated, enlightened Jews of north London should know better than anyone that it is unwise to forge alliances with authoritarian political movements.
What is all the more peculiar to me is that this criticism has come from the left.
I don’t “get it” either. Neither do the Muslim liberals I know, who are right in the firing line from the Islamist far Right, both by virtue of their faith and because they defend Jews against antisemitism.
But in any event, what a nasty thing to say to Martin Bright.