Keith Kahn-Harris in openDemocracy: Internal and external factors in intra-Jewish conflict over Israel and antisemitism, 29 September 2015
Ethnic, national and religious groups in most countries are rarely internally homogeneous. The British Jewish minority is no exception. No more than an estimated 450,000 strong at its height immediately after World War Two, figures based on the 2011 census show that there are now less than 300,000 ethnically and/or religiously self-identifying Jews in the UK.
Including Sephardim, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, they trace their ancestry from a wide variety of countries, although the majority are now British-born. They include secular, reform, conservative, modern orthodox and Haredi Jews (groups which themselves are internally diverse), and they hold a variety of political positions on Jewish issues, antisemitism, Israel and much else.
This internal diversity has only recently started to become visible outside the Jewish minority and to be recognised within it. For many years, the dominant and long-established Jewish ‘representative’ institutions such as the Chief Rabbinate and the Board of Deputies attempted to present an image of a loyal, secure and united British Jewish community – what Ben Gidley and I have called the “strategy of security”. This strategy was never uncontested, but in the post-war period it became increasingly unviable as a variety of Jewish groups sought their place at both the public and communal tables.
While this strategy initially developed in a nineteenth-century Britain that required ‘loyal’ citizens who would be publicly British and only privately Jewish, it was sustained longer than might have been expected in the post-war period. However, by the 1990s, Jewish religious diversity at least had become impossible to ignore both internally and externally.
Lots of good stuff in Souciant magazine lately, including:
Military occupations bring certain themes to mind: human rights abuses; poverty; crowded refugee camps, and so on. Geographic references are equally synonymous: Palestine, Kashmir or West Papua, to cite the most recent example. Rarely, if ever, is the miserable situation in the sparsely-populated province of Western Sahara cited. More»
The Imam was optimistic. ”This is a step forward for integration too’,” he bragged to ANSA, the Italian state news agency. The reason? The first halal mozzarella had been certified by religious authorities. Henceforth, Italian Muslims would be able to consume one of Italy’s most popular food products, in full accordance with their religious beliefs. More»
Souciant contributor Keith Kahn-Harris’s The Best Water Skier in Luxembourg is part of a “crowdfunding” model of book publishing by the U.K.-based Unbound. Through Unbound, readers decide which book projects they want to see completed by financially backing it chapter-by-chapter. More»
Germany’s capital is not synonymous with fresh produce. If Berlin has any edible signifiers, it’s prepared foods, like doner kebab, and currywurst. Try and link the city to fruit and vegetables, and residents will shake their heads and mutter something about Spain or Italy. Or, in the case of street markets in less fortunate neighborhoods, China. More»
Whenever European cities decide to renew themselves, they tend to look to American models: Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon. Even San Francisco, despite the fact that the California city has long since stopped being an alternative urban area, in the same way more affordable towns like Portland remain.More»
In the pogrom-like atmosphere gathering apace in Pakistan, the religious majority – Sunni Muslims – do not perceive that what is at stake is not an ‘altruistic’ concern for weak, insignificant minorities. The market, and its partner nationalism, make us think that ‘conscience’ is reserved for exceptional moments of humanitarianism, rather than being part of everyday life. More»
Article published in Jerusalem Post last year:
By DAVID NEWMAN LAST UPDATED: 08/02/2010 20:5
MUCH OF the renewed pro-Israel lobbying in the UK has largely been as a response to the growth of anti-Israel and, in some cases anti-Semitic, sentiments throughout the UK, of which the proposed academic boycotts (largely unsuccessful) is but one indication. This ties in with the sentiments expressed in the recently published book on contemporary Anglo-Jewry by Keith Kahn-Harris and Ben Gidley, entitled, Turbulent Times: The British Jewish Community Today. The authors argue that whereas thirty years ago, the Anglo-Jewish community acted out of a position of security, this has changed dramatically and that the present situation is reflected in growing feelings of insecurity. The authors imply that, while incidents of anti-Semitism have definitely been on the increase in recent years, it is nowhere near as bad as some of the Jewish newspapers and headlines suggest. But Peres’s remarks go a long way to expressing how British anti-Semitism is viewed in Israel and has inflamed the debate within Britain and the local Jewish community. This growing feeling of insecurity among some elements partially explain the significant growth in the numbers of young families who are leaving the UK for Israel – in the past almost all aliya has been a result of the positive desire to live in Israel and contribute to the Jewish state, while today much of the present growth in aliya is due – for the first time – to a growing sense of insecurity brought on by the increase in anti-Israel sentiment. The Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, which facilitates aliya from the Western world, has recently increased its full-time staff who deal with olim from the UK to meet the increased demand for their services.