Festive Season musings

It’s been an interesting lead up to the finish line of the calendar year for at least one working Jew. 

I just wrote a note to one of Perth’s top restaurant’s thanking them for accommodating kosher catering needs and meeting the diverse religious and cultural needs of small ethnic communities.  They sent me back a Christmas card.

I have also drained dry the office water cooler while I explain ad-nauseum why I don’t have Christmas, why Jewish children will not come into meet Santa, and why I am not deprived of any festive spirit.  I cannot figure why followers of a religion with only two “yom tov” occasions in the year feel sorry for me, when I combine Shabbat and dozens of festive occasions into my year. 

Summer has arrived.  The excesses of sun, alcohol and some reasonably primed egos do not make the corporate hospitality season that enjoyable for those seeking a little intellectual engagement and some inclusionist reviews of the year gone by.

However what struck me for the first time, was how the prejudice and blantant ignorance of monocultural Australian morons can quickly cross the bounds of racial vilification.  One expects jokes about Ham sandwiches from primary school children, not mature business managers.  One expects that the concept of a F*cking Jew is more of an insult than a term of endearment or friendly banter.  

Even more worrying are the comments about Israel’s “occupation and imprisonment” of Palestinians, from clueless Human Rights activitists who can not overcome their own world view to care for a dose of truth.  Yes, I got asked over a beer why Israel will not allow supplies into the Gaza strip.  If the volley of several thousand weapons is not reason enough, I also responded by asking why Egypt won’t allow supplies into Gaza, as they too share a border.  I got told the answer was because Egypt didn’t occupy Palestinian land.  Go figure!

Last Shabbat, on several occasions on the way to and from the Synagogue a number of passing vehicles chose to shout out insults and wave cowardly gestures as they drove past.  In the papers several very harsh and inaccurate items have appeared vilifying Jews.  Not to mention some of the online news sites with posted comments that are simply outrageously offensive.  Anti-Semitism is indeed in vogue.  Lashing out in response is no solution.  Letting any one anti-semitic slur go unchallenged is also not something we should permit. 

I’m not sure if it is just the time of year where people let their guard down and come out with whatever they please.  Or maybe the cultural and generational shift in the way Western Australia now lives is a contributing factor.  We don’t have a journalistic media to probe, just a bad news machine to pick up whatever they can publish.  We don’t have any workplace discipline, just a poor work ethic.  We don’t have a well educated team of University graduates, just a bunch of fee paying pawns who prepare essays to satisfy the socialistic shortcomings of their lecturers. 

It does not worry me that the age old prejudice of people against Jews is still a problem.  As much as I wish our community could do more to engage and interact with other communities to promote understanding and tolerance, this too will only have limited effect.  What does worry me is that sooner or later the verbal hatred could become physical hatred, and that more serious crimes could be perpetrated.    

Jewish people will remain true to their creed no matter what the circumstances around them.  Over 4000 years of history is proof of that.  Here in Perth we have a wonderful and harmonius place to live, but sadly some of that peaceful and safe living environment is starting to show signs of cracking.  The more people know and understand what Jews are, what we represent, and what we desire to contribute to our host environment, the better placed we will be to curtail the anti-semitic rancour that is starting to intensify.

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