Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
The Merchant of Venice, I.iii
Thus spake the malevolent Jew, Shylock, in Shakespeare's least funny 'comedy'. Well, I should know because I once played the clown character Launcelot Gobbo and I never got so much as a giggle for the entire run - and I heard that, darling! It came to mind after I read an article by a man I admire immensely, Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of Britain.
He is rightly worried by the rising levels of anti-Semitism across Europe and particularly in this country. Now before I go further let me confess that in my opinion, notwithstanding the holocaust and the preceding centuries of virulent anti-Semitism, I do not believe that Jews are somehow fault-free and unblemished by any wrong-doing. The rights and wrongs of the Jewish 'incursion' back into Palestine, both the original concept and the handling of the current situation, are problems of such complexity as to be far beyond my understanding and indeed, I suspect, beyond anyone's! We have what we have!
However, one thing is beyond argument, the politics of the State of Israel, a practicing democracy, cannot and should not be laid at the door of Jews in this country. If the thuggish elements who have, weevil-like, bored their way into the Labour party, student unions and various community groups attempt to emulate their Nazi heroes they should be dealt with severely. And I should add that my strictures apply equally to Islamic groups based in the UK. Their spurious claims that their anti-Semitism is confined just to the State of Israel do not fool me!