The Hebrew year that’s passed has been nothing if not eventful. In the United States, the election of a right-wing nationalist proved a boon to right-wing nationalists in Israel, but a headache for American Jews, who watched in horror as neo-Nazis marched through Virginia before ramming a car into a counter-protest, killing a young woman. White supremacy, it seems, is back.
At home, far-right group National Action was proscribed, a first-of-its-kind ban, while the government adopted a new working definition of anti-Semitism that widens the scope of Jew-hatred to include criticism of Israel – a potential problem for free speech, but a victory for those who say the one masks the other.
Among those whose criticism of Israel strays dangerously close to something more sinister are the unholy trinity of Malia Bouattia, Ken Livingstone and David Ward. The year saw the careers of the student leader, ex-mayor and former Lib Dem MP take a turn for the worse: Bouattia failed in her NUS re-election bid, Livingstone was suspended (again) from the Labour Party, and Ward wasn’t even allowed to stand in the election. We happily bid ‘Zionara’ to the lot of them.
We didn’t say goodbye to Senior Sephardi Rabbi Joseph Dweck, although for a while it looked like we may have to. A charismatic preacher loved by S&P members, Dweck ran into controversy earlier this year for giving a thumbs-up to the LGBT revolution, saying: “Our sexuality is the foundation of our identity.”
That isn’t the party line as far as other Orthodox rabbis are concerned, so there were strong calls for him to go. The Chief Rabbi mediated and Dweck stayed, but the infighting left a bitter taste and led to calls for unity. At most, there is a ceasefire.
On a brighter note, Jewish schools were united in celebration this summer, as students excelled at both GCSE and A-Level, but Hasmonean bosses were left pondering their architectural plans, as Sadiq Khan put a stop to its green belt expansion project. The government stepped in and the whole thing stalled, so what any future enlarged Hasmo will look like, and where it will be, remains to be seen.
Let’s pray next Rosh Hashanah sees us experience hope rather than
bitterness. Jewish News wishes readers a happy, healthy and sweet new year.