What the blazes was UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis doing, making a speech to US pro-Israel (by which we mean pro-Israeli-government) lobby group AIPAC?
Critics of the organisation have described it as an agent of the Israeli government with strong links to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Republican Party in the US.
By making a speech there, Mr Mirvis was also making a clear declaration of political partisanship – as he was when he attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the general election campaign last year.
We can see the bias in the parts of his speech reported by the Jewish Chronicle – which I understand has undergone a certain amount of financial embarrassment due to false allegations of anti-Semitism it has made against innocent people.
“Prime Ministers of Israel and key Jewish leaders have been warmly and graciously welcomed at 10 Downing Street” under a Conservative government, he said, ignoring the fact that they have been welcomed under Labour governments too.
“What would happen if the next incumbent was Jeremy Corbyn? What would the consequences be for Jews and Judaism and the State of Israel?”
In making that comment, he committed a cardinal sin in the fight against anti-Semitism: deliberately presenting Judaism and the State of Israel as the same thing.
They aren’t; many Jews worldwide deplore the political decisions of the Israeli government, particularly in its treatment of Palestine.
Perhaps Mr Mirvis chose to blur the boundaries because he is a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, a friend of Boris Johnson, and a Zionist who supports hatred against Palestinians (based on his own words in the past)?
But then, what can we expect from someone whose position in this debate is based on a lie? The post of Chief Rabbi is entirely symbolic and Jewish law provides no support for it as all rabbis have equal authority in principle.
The post merely arose because secular authorities have wanted an intermediary with the Jewish community for administrative reasons.
By interfering in secular politics, it could be claimed that Mr Mirvis has betrayed his role; he reports to secular politicians but should not have an influence on them.
And you should note that little is said in the JC report about the huge backlash against Mr Mirvis’s election campaign speech. This response is particularly revealing.
Sadly, it seems some political figures are all-too-ready to buy into the role he has assumed for himself (with no authority to do so).
In the following case, I can only sympathise with the attitude of left-wing Jewish group Jewdas:
He's not gonna shag you. leave it mate pic.twitter.com/4HjOVaMMK0
— jewdⒶs // ייִדהודה (@jewdas) March 5, 2020
Source: Chief Rabbi says he felt ‘weight of historic responsibility’ to speak out against Corbyn – The Jewish Chronicle
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I honestly do not know how you can be surprised by his actions.
Worth bearing in mind that Joan Ryan spoke to AIPAC conference.
All credit to Bernie Sanders for not going:
Where in the article do I express surprise at what this man has done?
I too fail to be surprised by any of this. The bit that struck me nonetheless was:
“[What would happen if the next incumbent was Jeremy Corbyn?] What would the consequences be for Jews and Judaism and the State of Israel?”
The Chief Rabbit was always entitled to ask these questions but never cared about the answers which – without credible counterarguments – would surely be:
‘Consequences’ for Jews? None.
‘Consequences’ for Judaism? None.
If that is correct (as I believe to be the case) then the third question needs to be considered entirely separately from the first two. AIPAC is by definition a pro-Israel lobbying group. It is pro-establishment, pro-Likud and overwhelmingly, gobsmackingly, irredeemebly conservative.
I see that you noticed Mirvis’ conflation – allow me to raise you Ian Austin:
Oh look! Seems a good case to be made that, if they have returned to the UK, both Austin and Mirvis should put themselves into self-isolation: