Time to invoke Shylock

Of course I am delighted that I can persuade some people that we Jews are not monsters, that — like them — we want to live in peace and we abhor war. In doing so, I’ve done my bit for Israel and can sleep well at night.

But I also feel like I’m re-enacting the most famous “defence” of being Jewish ever written — Shylock’s monologue in the Merchant of Venice.

I find myself telling student audiences in Britain in 2009 that we Jews are “fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons” as they are. And that if you prick us, we will bleed. And if you poison us, we will die. And it’s not just rhetoric – we really have bled and we really have been poisoned.

Appearing before hostile audiences in Britain today requires us not only to defend or explain certain Israeli actions, but to defend our very humanity. Just as Shylock was forced to do.

Yes, things really are that bad.

Eric Lee writing in the Jewish Chronicle.


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