Fig leaf objections
Imagine that a group of Jews wished to open a synagogue in Rotherham and were met with the response from local Muslim residents that they were not welcome because Rotherham was a Muslim area.
There would be outrage. But for some in our community, that is the message we should give to Muslims who have opened an Islamic Centre in Golders Green, which they regard as a ‘Jewish area’. Some of the objections are based on genuine issues such as parking and pollution, which should rightly be addressed by Barnet Council and the Islamic Centre.
But for others, ‘parking’ is a fig leaf: a respectable reason to cover up what is, simply, bigotry. There is no evidence to suggest that the group behind the Islamic Centre is in any way linked to terror or hate preaching. Neither the police, the security services or CST have any concerns about the group.
But bigotry is never related to rational evidence. Our community is rightly well atuned to hate speech and prejudice when we are the victims.
That makes it all the more deplorable that there are some who indulge in it themselves when it comes to Muslims.
The old joke about the Jew washed away on a desert island who builds two shuls so that there is one he can refuse to go to is funny because it resonates. And that is probably what lies behind the success of our Secret Shulgoer blog, which allows us to indulge just that same outlook — as well as a behind-the-net-curtains look at other synagogues. But, much to our surprise, since the blog started we have been inundated with requests for the Secret Shulgoer to visit.
Be careful what you wish for!