A crisis of national and social identity is undermining Britain’s efforts to integrate its immigrant population, according to the Chief Rabbi. Sir Jonathan Sacks told The Sunday Telegraph that multiculturalism had led to segregation and a country that was no longer confident of what it stood for.
The Chief Rabbi echoed the call last week by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, for Muslims to do more to integrate. Sir Jonathan said that the Islamic community, particularly second-generation Muslims, were struggling with “a conflicted identity”.
You might have thought the Chief Rabbi had already done enough to antagonise Britain’s Muslim communities. In July he made the concluding speech at a mass rally in Kenton, north west London, called by the Board of Deputies in solidarity with Israel’s war on Lebanon in which hundreds of (predominantly Muslim) Lebanese civilians were killed. Sir Jonathan took a hardline Likudnik position, asserting that Israel had been mistaken ever to withdraw from Lebanon or Gaza in the first place. He told the rally:
“Israel is fighting today in Lebanon because six years ago it withdrew from Lebanon. Israel is fighting today in Gaza because one year ago it withdrew from Gaza. And Israel discovered the terrible truth spoken by the late Mother Theresa – that no good deed goes unpunished…. Every gesture of goodwill undertaken by Israel has been seized on by its enemies as a sign of weakness. Every Israeli effort towards peace has led without exception to an increase in violence against Israel.”
The audience were so moved by Sir Jonathan’s words that as they left the rally some of them attacked a group of women from Jews for Justice for Palestinians who had turned up with a banner urging a ceasefire and peace through negotiations. One JfJfP member reported: “They tore up our leaflets, grabbed our placards and tore them to pieces, and tried to tear down our banner.” Ralliers “spat at us, called us ‘traitors’, accused us of being like concentration camp kapos and said they hoped we would rot in hell”.
Strange, isn’t it, that when Ken Livingstone, a supporter of the Palestinian cause, compared a journalist to a concentration camp guard, the Board of Deputies were so incensed about it that they reported him to the Standards Board. But when their own supporters make the same comparison, the BoD doesn’t say a dickie bird. Obviously, “trivialising the Holocaust” is OK with the BoD as long as it’s done in the cause of denouncing opponents of the Israeli government.