Progressively Speaking: Should we be fearful of a rise in extremism?
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Progressively Speaking: Should we be fearful of a rise in extremism?

Rabbi Sandra Kviat takes a topical issue and puts a progressive spin on it, this week looking at the rise of antisemitism especially on the far-right

National Action members Adam Thomas and his partner Claudia Patatas with their new born baby, named Adolf, posing with a Swastika flag at their home in Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire.. Photo credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire
National Action members Adam Thomas and his partner Claudia Patatas with their new born baby, named Adolf, posing with a Swastika flag at their home in Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire.. Photo credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

 We live in a time in which Jewish people are especially fearful. There  are daily verbal onslaughts from far left and far right and, as we tragically saw most recently in Pittsburgh, bursts of violence and terrorism.

In the UK, a neo-Nazi couple (pictured) who named their baby after Hitler have just been convicted for being part of the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action.

Disturbing photos recovered from their home showed them holding a swastika emblazoned flag and the husband dressed in the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan. In both, they were cradling their newborn son.

So it is no wonder that people are so fearful of antisemitism from both individuals and groups.

But it’s also important that we don’t let that fear control us. We must take care not to become fortress Judaism.

By moving away from wider society, we let those who hate us take control.

We have to be realistic about the threats we face, but equally shouldn’t see every person out there as out to get us.

It may seem counterintuitive, but in times like this we need to interact more with other communities. We need to find all the things we have in common and all the ways we can reach out to other people.

Last week’s newspaper was full of pictures of Mitzvah Day – seeing Jews working together with people of all faiths and none to build a better society. It shows our open Judaism at its very best.

Personally, I was picking litter in Cheltenham with Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community members of all ages, wearing our green T-shirts with pride.

In Crouch End, my own community collected items for the Liberal Jewish Synagogue’s drop-in for asylum seeker families, another example of the good that can be achieved when we open our doors.

Fear closes down conversation and insulates communities. We must take care and protect ourselves – and the Community Security Trust does a wonderful job in this regard – but it’s equally as important to talk to others and not expect the worst of people.

Antisemitism has to be called out when we see or experience it, but it shouldn’t be the only thing we see.

  •  Rabbi Sandra Kviat serves Crouch End Chavurah

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