Because they don’t understand the first things about Jewish history. This isn’t about Cable Street. This is about the subtle legacy of Judaism, and the tradition it leaves even as a group of people are secularised. They don’t understand that long before the Jews had a relationship with the left. Jews *were* the left: the anarchists in the East End with their visions of the end times that had already come, the socialists at meetings of the SDF, talking after the speaker ended and sighing about Hyndman, and saying, We are going to have do something about him, aren’t we? And not wanting to have to act but knowing that they should.
Because they don’t understand that this history isn’t finished, you can see it in the synagogues where even now people collect for refugees. You can see it in the left, in the people, In the groups.
Because they don’t feel doubt.
Because they don’t understand Israel. They don’t grasp that even among many centre-right Jews, there is a disquiet about Israel’s crimes: the corruption, the narrowing of the country’s politics, the killings of Palestinians. When even the Union of Jewish Students is running a petition, right now, about the country’s racist treatment of Africans, you know that the discontent among British Jews is far, far higher than it is among the philo-semites for whom every atrocity has to be put in quotation marks.
Because they think that by caring really hard about anti-semitism they are entitled to feel its pain, when they don’t understand for a second how the trauma stuck around, how many even in the second generation it broke.
Because they never, ever, tell jokes.
Because at the end of their politics are silences. The Jews in France right now, who are going on demonstrations, attacking the left and applauding Marine Le Pen: they are made to vanish. Trump’s anti-Semitism, the attacks on Jewish cemeteries which he blamed on Jews: none of this happened.
Because they guard the flank to their left and they keep the flank to their right unguarded.
And because the monsters we are going to have to face will not wear the uniforms of the past. But they are coming closer.
(first published on facebook).