Tag Archives: OpenDemocracy

Keith Kahn-Harris on intra-Jewish conflict over Israel and antisemitism

Keith Kahn-Harris in openDemocracy: Internal and external factors in intra-Jewish conflict over Israel and antisemitism, 29 September 2015

Extract:

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.

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James Renton in OpenDemocracy

 Why is Europe desperate to spy on its Muslims?

The Muslim, in the eyes of the west, is stuck in a perpetual condition of imminent fanaticism. This is why the west has to survey all Muslims, all of the time.

 Palestine’s UN bid: lessons from the history of Zionism

‘Historian James Renton suggests that this week’s application for UN membership by the Palestinians could provide the moral and legal backing required to achieve the reality of statehood, much as the Balfour Declaration of 1917 laid the ground for the birth of the Israeli state in 1948.

 WikiLeaks: imperial precedent

The last time this happened, the British government was hoping to combine a modern-looking commitment to nation-building with the old imperial aim of political domination. Wilkileaks shows that all too little has changed.

 Forgotten lessons: Palestine and the British empire

While the conflict that is the legacy of British involvement in Palestine daily captures world headlines, Britain’s foster-role is too often ignored. Such an omission is all the more tragic, James Renton argues, since mandate era misjudgements are being readily repeated.

The stalled lives of young migrants

Published at OpenDemocracy:

Young migrants to London are keen to start their lives in the metropolis, but find that they are blocked by the toxic migration debate that is producing policies that are ungenerous and unimaginative.

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Katrin was born in Bolivia. She came to the UK in 2006, originally on a tourist visa, but then applied successfully for a student visa. The application process has become very demanding – ‘we have to write our life’, she says. Her hearing for renewal, scheduled months after the process began, then shifted later, by which time her original visa had lapsed. Once her renewal was granted, it took her many more months to receive her new paperwork, during which time she felt as though she was in limbo.

Katrin’s story is taken from new research by sociologists Les Black and Shamser Sinha in the report A door to the Future? , part of the European project EUMargins, that documented young migrant lives in European cities. The UK sample was fairly small – thirty biographical interviews with young migrants in London – but produced a richly textured, intimate account of their experiences. The research methodology attempted to make them observers in their own lives too, and drew on photographic and diary records they themselves produced.

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