Book Review: How I Stopped Being a Jew by Shlomo Sand and Unchosen: The Memoirs of a Philo-Semite by Julie Burchill

Interesting book review (not strictly related to this blog’s core topic, but interesting nonetheless)

[From the Guardian]

Review by Will Self

In 2006, as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) were undertaking their second major incursion into Lebanon, I resigned as a Jew. I did it publicly in an article for the London Evening Standard. My resignation wasn’t a protest against Israeli aggression – why would they care about such a gesture? – but aimed, I believed, against prominent leftwing English Jews, who, despite the complete contradiction between their espoused values and the undemocratic, apartheid and territorially expansionist policies of the so-called Jewish homeland, continued vociferously to support Israel. A couple of years earlier, on Question Time, I had also challenged Melanie Phillips over her campaign to force British Muslims to take a loyalty oath, saying: if British Muslims, why not British Jews? But on that occasion, when she had accused me of being an antisemite, I was still able to play my trump card: I’m Jewish.

The reaction to my resignation was pretty muted. I did receive an email the following morning from a pressure group called Jews for Justice in Palestine, urging me to reconsider on the basis that it was perfectly possible for me to retain my Jewish identity while objecting to the activities of the Zionist state. In fact, I’d been surprised by my own apostasy (if it can be called that), and it’s only now, having read Shlomo Sand’s elegant and passionately felt essay, that I’ve come to understand why it is I resiled from … what? This heritage? Or is Jewry a people, a religion, or possibly – if pejoratively – a tribe?

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