Jews who have a strong attachment to another country, Israel, and who indulge in advocacy of that country are often accused of having dual or divided loyalty, as if this were some thought crime that only Jews are guilty of.
I have often asked myself this hypothetical question: if Israel were in a conflict with the UK, who would I support?
I then came up with a very Jewish answer: it depends.
Yes, it depends because I will not give any country my unquestioning support. It depends who I believe to be right. Let’s hope this unlikely scenario never occurs. If I no longer felt that the UK were my home because the government or the people made me feel like a stranger in my own country, then I would seriously consider transferring my loyalties and my residence elsewhere – but it would have to be because of threat or because I lost my love of my country.
If Israel were to become the country that many now paint it as being, I would have difficulty continuing to support it.
One reason for losing my loyalty would be because of unbearable hostility to Jews or an actual unjustified attack on Israel.
Loyalty should not be absolute, neither should it be undivided. If it is both, then that bespeaks Nazi Germany or Communist North Korea, for example.
So you think you don’t have divided loyalties? Sport is usually a good indicator of your multiple affiliations, even if you don’t realise it, you DO have divided or multiple loyalties.
Do you remember the recent cricket Test series England v Pakistan? Do you recall the crowds of Pakistan supporters waving the Pakistani flag? Did you know that many of these supporters are actually English?
In the Commonwealth Games the brother of Amir Khan, a great northern boxer, wasn’t selected for England, so he decided to box for Pakistan.
At the recent Ryder Cup, people who would usually be in the pub telling their mates how Britain is not part of Europe, were busy cheering Spaniards and Swedes and Italians; Scots who would rather anyone but England won at soccer were roaring for Englishman, Ian Poulter.
A few years ago the Israel basketball team played England. Many Jews who had never seen the inside of a basketball stadium turned up to cheer for Israel. But when Manchester United play an Israeli team, the dyed-in-the-wool Jewish Red Devil fans cannot bring themselves to support Maccabi Haifa or Hapoel Tel Aviv.
When England played Israel in a friendly a couple of years ago I really did not know who I wanted to win – that is, until England scored, then I knew that I wanted England to win.
Sport may seem to be a trivial way to work out our loyalties, but it really isn’t. At that moment when England scored, I knew I really was a loyal Englishmen and a Brit. But if I had wanted Israel to win, would that have meant I am not a loyal subject of Her Majesty?
In an increasingly globalised, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world, it is not surprising that we should have many loyalties. I can’t blame Pakistani English for having a strong attachment and love for Pakistan and its cricket team. Do they have divided loyalties or multiple loyalties?
What does loyalty really mean, anyway?
Maybe it just means you are not treasonous. Do you really have to love the country you live in?
Loyalty means that I abide by the law of the land and do not try to overturn democracy; that I accept the will of the majority and that, when called upon, defend my country. If I feel I cannot do any of these things with a clear conscience, it’s time to leave.
On This Week last night Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott admitted that when it comes to cricket she supports the West Indies! So we could have had a Prime Minister who supports a cricket team other than England! Off with her head!