May 23, 2008

What’s in a name?

Posted in antisemitism, reflections at 4:43 pm by greensstoptheboycott

If you look at the “About Us” section of this web site you will find my name listed. There are more of us but some have chosen not to have their name splashed on the Internet.

Let’s have a look at those names. Levy. It’s a fair bet that he is Jewish. Vogel, not so sure, but Mira, there’s a clue. Toby Green, maybe Jewish? A “stein” on the end would be more of a giveaway. Burns, shades of Scotland there. And Howe, potentially Scottish too. I do have ginger hair and there is the caricature of the “mad ginger Scotsman”. But hold on. How many Scots do you know who are ginger?

Recently, Mira asked me a question. She said “Has anybody asked you if you’re Jewish yet?” She pointed to the experience of John Mann MP in relation to the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism.

‘When I commissioned this inquiry, one MP commented with surprise: “I didn’t realise you were Jewish.” Neither did I.’

My reply was “Not only have I not been asked if I am Jewish, as far as I can recall I have never ever been asked about my religion, except on census forms and when I got married.” How about you?

Nobody, at least not overtly or to my knowledge, has made assumptions or connections between my expressed views and my religion or my background. But it has happened to John Mann, Jon Pike and other anti-boycotters. Perhaps it has happened to me because of my stance on this boycott, but without my knowledge? If it has, should I be surprised?

Alright, Jews can be sensitive, especially when it comes to the subject of the history of their people. But can we blame them when their views are so often automatically associated with their Jewishness rather than being derived from independent and reasoned thought. Are Jews not capable of the same independence of mind as anybody else?

Alan Howe