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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

... but don't take my word for it

Some of you may recall that after my trip to Limmud in the U.K., I wrote a less-than-sunny post about my impressions of Jewish life in England.

Nearly all the commenters on that post who agreed with me were either former British Jews or had never lived there.  When I pointed out that I found it odd that no Jews currently living in the U.K. had commented, several people weighed in with one or both of the following objections:

1)  That as an American / Israeli I couldn't possible know what life is like for Jews living in the U.K..  I conceded this point in my post, but it shouldn't have completely invalidated the value of my observations.

2)  That I was only in the UK for a week... not nearly enough time to make a valid assessment of the subject(s) about which I had written.  I also admitted this point, but tempered it by pointing out that the Limmud experience offered a unique opportunity to observe an unusually large representative sampling of the U.K. Jewish community... so again, some of my opinions were not entirely unworthy.

I accepted the criticisms that had been offered and went on with my life.   But deep down I was convinced that my first impressions about life for Jews in the U.K. had been largely correct... even if my observation methodology had not been exactly scientific.

Then last night a long-time treppenwitz reader (Hi Drew!) emailed me a link ot a piece entitled "The Outsiders", written by a Jewish attorney (who had represented Princess Dianna in her widely publicized divorce from Prince Charles), about his own experiences with British anti-Semitism. 

Not only did his well-written essay completely support the hypotheses I had espoused in my post, but he spoke from the depths of several generations that his family had lived as Jews in the U.K.

I strongly recommend that you take a moment and go read this excellent piece.

Posted by David Bogner on February 2, 2010 | Permalink


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Not only did his well-written essay completely support the hypotheses I had espoused in my post....

Not to mention some of the reader comments.... WOW.

Posted by: zahava | Feb 2, 2010 12:00:03 PM

I find it interesting that Mr. Julius' one contemporary example is Nick Griffin, usually (and very wrongly) seen as being a figure of the Right. Not a single word about Muslims. Hmmm.

Posted by: Nachum | Feb 2, 2010 12:41:02 PM

Ditto to Zahava's point. Those comments prove his point.

Posted by: Chana S | Feb 2, 2010 2:09:08 PM

Hmm. I don't disagree with anything Anthony Julius says.

My problem is how American and Israeli/American Jews view America.

While as a visitor to NYC I am always delighted at how mainstream it is to be Jewish in Manhattan, I wonder if it's the same in Minesota or Wyoming.

I also wonder whether your 'aristocracy', and you do have one, even though they don't have titles other than Mr and Mrs, are any more welcoming and inclusing than the one we have here.

Posted by: chairwoman | Feb 2, 2010 3:02:16 PM

I go back to my comments on my original post however.

Zahava is right. It's not the man in the street (nor even the prince in the castle)

The real problem is the elephant in the room.

Posted by: chairwoman | Feb 2, 2010 3:10:16 PM


Damn age is showing! Inclusive!

Posted by: chairwoman | Feb 2, 2010 3:27:52 PM

Wow, I feel almost famous!

As for the comments, I agree with Z that they are predictably awful. However, an article or column of this sort here in the US often bring out the same sort of commenters. The difference is that they are met with at least a few other commenters who argue against them. FWIW.

Posted by: Drew | Feb 2, 2010 7:45:00 PM

In 2007 a documentary film called 'The War on Britain's Jews' was aired on Channel 4 (U.K). The documentary was produced by Richard Littlejohn, a British journalist, broadcaster, author and Daily Mail columnist. I think you will find that it also supports the hypothesis you espoused in a previous post about the current situation of Jews in England.

Here's the link:


If the link doesn't work (sadly, I still haven't worked out hyperlinking!), just do a search on "Richard Littlejohn" and "The War on Britain's Jews".

Posted by: Simone | Feb 3, 2010 2:26:38 AM

Yet the invitations were never reciprocated ...

And eventually the invitations simply ceased.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Feb 3, 2010 4:07:21 AM

I have another very interesting link on (more or less) the same topic for you:


Posted by: Drew | Feb 3, 2010 6:29:08 PM

Well, I am a British Jew and I am utterly envious of the visibility (and proportion) of Jews in America. What I wouldn't give to be part of even a small community in one of your larger cities.

I agree that we do tend to try and out-British the British. We fade into the background and we are not vocal. The CST is in evidence outside of London too - in fact our shul is celebrating it's 75th anniversary soon and they will be there at the main event. It's sad, but true.

Why are we like this? Lack of numbers, sure. The touchy issue of Muslim-Jewish relations (Muslims are far more in evidence than Jews in this country) is certainly a factor these days. Which is also sad, because behind the scenes, there is excellent inter-faith dialogue going on. The anti-American (and therefore anti-Israeli) feeling here has run quite high in recent years too - guilt by association, unfortunately, in some people's eyes (and I can't even begin to untangle that one). I think I am right in saying that Jews in my country have been here far, far longer than they have in America. And throughout this time, there has been persecution, from banishment to being allowed to remain on sufferance. We didn't have the direct experience of the Shoah, unlike in mainland Europe, to shock non-Jewish conutrymen into 'better behaviour' if you like. So the underground anti-semitism continues in a way you won't necessarily see in the US.

I wish I had time to write more. But I don't think your original post was that awry, to be honest.

Posted by: Rachel | Feb 5, 2010 1:35:49 PM

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