The new London Mayor is a righteous priest!

May 10, 2016 12:46

The views of a group of French Jews who are now living in London

It occurred to me that Sadiq Khan, with a little twist with letters, could mean in Hebrew the righteous priest. Funny, isn’t it? In France, people focus on his religion: London has a Muslim mayor! Some say it is the sign of a healthy, open, diverse society. Others mourn the end of a civilization. I tried to explain that in London, the voters were not really interested in his Muslim identity, but rather in his ability to make a difference for the city. Of course, some tried to use this as a turn-off during the mayoral campaign, which I found quite absurd and a very low political argument. The fact is his victory is final.

As I said in a previous post, I exercised my right to vote in a local election, as a European citizen living in a EU country (as do thousands of Brits in France and beyond). I am not going to tell whom I voted of course; it is a private matter, but I found quite interesting the choice Londoners made.

There is something special about London: a megalopolis with hundreds of identities, a sort a laboratory for the future, but in the same time, an island in a country for which London is the capital city, but also much more. London attracts many people who come here to try their chances, and very often face a harsh reality: the housing crisis, the distances and the hours spent in public transport, employment laws that seem sometime purely indicative, and a huge gap between the poorest and the richest. And yet, London is a great place to be for the opportunities it offers. A friend of mine said once that London is a phantasy, a dream that often turns into a nightmare. He was partly right, but the potential is real.

In a sense, because of its multicultural nature, London is so far ahead the rest of the country, or the rest of Europe. It is a very progressive city in the sense that it recognizes the diversity of mankind. It is the reason why it dared to elect as Mayor someone coming from a community that is far too often under scrutiny and regarded with suspicion. London transcended confessional boundaries, precisely because London is a multicultural society.

The ways you see the world, the ways you understand the threats and the challenges depend on where you stand, where you live.

As a Jew, I did not see any threat in this election. Khan’s first official event was to attend Holocaust memorial in Barnet. I think this should send a positive message to the Jewish community: the Mayor for all Londoners acknowledges all the communities in the city, attending an event that is seen by Shoah deniers as a historical forgery.

As a French Jew living in London, I am grateful to a city that offers so many opportunities to people who work hard, abide by the same British/Western/London values, and I feel safe, even if the Mayor is Muslim!

Rabbi Rene Pfertzel, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue

May 10, 2016 12:46

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