Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Anatevka

Every time I visit Great Britain I am ambivalent. In this home of parliamentary democracy where I grew up I was only beaten up occasionally. I was never just "a Jew," but always "a dirty Jew." Yet, I thank the Brits for their tolerance in giving us breathing space, time to recuperate from the excesses of Ukrainian peasant pogroms and Spanish-Portuguese expulsions. A place to recover the dignity of being a human among humans, even if not an equal. Not an honored scientist, but a "Jew boy," not a revered son, but a sojourner, at least a place to recover the ability to drag ourselves from the miasma and eventually fight back.

Some may think this view is overly harsh, after all isn't Britain a very tolerant society, with many Jews in high places and very little overt racism. Wrong, Britain is still a very racist country, with the highest level of anti-Sermitic incidents in Europe. Often this is disguised as anti-Israelism, selecting Israel out of all the countries in the world for specific criticism, not the Arabs of Syria or Egypt, or the many others who deny their citizens civil and human rights. Having visited Britain for two weeks recently and not experienced any negative reactions, I understand how easy it is to still live there as a Jew, as long as you are lucky to avoid anti-Semitism and keep a low profile. But, visiting and living there are two different things.

You might say, well, why allow the haters and the anti-Semites to determine your actions. But, you should, never stay where you are unwelcome and in danger. If only more of the Jews of Europe had taken the endemic hatred of them, that still exists, more seriously as a real threat to their existence. I am glad that I live in Israel, and that my children live in the US and Israel. They are safer there than living among their enemies. Like Tevya in "Fiddler on the roof " I was sad to leave my Anatevka, but after all it was necessary.


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