“I Do Not Speak For Israel” by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

29 03 2009


Clarissa Sebag-Montfiore

Clarissa Sebag-Montfiore

A freelance writer and a fellow blogger, Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, wrote an interesting and strong Op-Ed piece for the British Guardian newspaper, titled “I do not speak for Israel.”

In this article, Clarissa explains her frustration at having to explain and justify Israel’s actions because she is a British Jew. She writes:

“British Jews are seen as representative of, and responsible for, Israel’s actions. But many of the young today like myself – second, third or fourth generation – see themselves as British and Jewish. And British and Jewish only. This does not mean we are affiliated to Israel by default.”

Although many British Jews associate themselves with Israel wholeheartedly, Clarissa’s point is that it is a choice, not a default position.

This article strikes quite an important chord. I recall several instances where Jews were asked to explain Israel’s actions because they’re Jewish. I especially remember a political lecture in my home country in the Middle East, this past January, where a columnist expressed loudly through the microphone her frustration and anger at the silence of the country’s small Jewish population over the war in Gaza. “They have not said one word,” she said, “not one word.”

They shouldn’t have to; just as Muslims shouldn’t have to say they condemn terrorism every time they speak. 

Opinions, as Clarissa points out, are a personal choice. They may follow a certain line of thinking according to religion or gender or community, but they have a life of their own most of the time.



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