Life & Culture

Politics is ruining my friendships


Q A lot of my Facebook friends support Jeremy Corbyn and don't seem to understand the problem with antisemitism. I've voted Labour all my life but, for the first time, I feel really lost. Normally, I ignore people who rant politically on Facebook but recently it has become too much to bear. I keep falling out with people and find it quite upsetting when people I like suddenly start sharing or commenting on antisemitic things. When I confront them, they don't listen, and some of them have even ''unfriended'' me. How can I make them understand what they are doing is offensive?

A Thomas Jefferson famously said: ''I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend,'' but he might have thought differently had social media been around in his day. I know many Jews - myself included - who have been wrestling with exactly the issues you describe. When people we have always thought of as informed, fair and rational, make comments that, at best, betray a lack of understanding or, at worst, seem to be truly antisemitic, it is shocking. It's particularly hurtful when this behaviour is exhibited by those whom we consider friends.

One answer - the one that's probably best for your blood pressure - might be to walk away, or in social media terms to ''mute'' or ''block'' them but I don't think stopping dialogue is generally the best option. And, from what you've said - the fact that you are upset at being unfriended, and are keen to make them understand the error of their ways - neither do you. But before you wade back in, take a deep breath. Accept that this is a highly complex issue, and that the subject is emotive, on both sides.

Accept, too, that while a non-Jew can empathise and have your back, they may never truly understand what it feels like to be Jewish. Rather than confronting people on posts and getting angry, which will just wind people up (yourself included), why not pick one or two of the people whose opinions and friendship matter most to you and write to them privately, explaining how you feel and asking if you can have a calm conversation about the issue. Researching some well-written source material that you can link to might also be helpful.

Getting support is also essential. You are definitely not alone here. What I have found useful is being part of a private Facebook group where like-minded friends can discuss our feelings about these issues without fear of censorship or being shouted down. If you don't know of one, perhaps you could set one up.

Q I'm a 26-year-old single girl from North London. I've been using the dating app Tinder to meet guys, but my friends and my mum keep telling me to use J Swipe (Jewish dating app) instead. I don't know how to tell them I don't want to date only Jewish guys. on Tinder there is more choice - and the men are much taller! I've even met someone who I quite like but he's not Jewish and I'm scared to tell my family and friends I quite like him. What should I do?

A You see a fun dating app and the chance to meet and date lots of interesting guys. Your mum and friends see a dangerous "slippery slope". In their minds, just one swipe on Tinder and, before they know it, you'll be heading up the aisle at your local church.

You're 26, which means you still have plenty of time to meet someone. And from what you say, it doesn't sound like you're in a great hurry to settle down.

There's nothing wrong with playing the field. But it might be wise to keep one eye on the future. Is it important to you to end up with someone Jewish? If so, then perhaps you could keep your options open by using J Swipe, too. That way, as far as your family and friends are concerned, you'll be showing willing, plus you'll have access to an even wider choice of men.

If you close yourself off to the Jewish dating scene now, the decent Jewish guys might get snapped up. Especially the tall ones - and there are a few out there.

As for the non-Jewish guy you've met, you have two options. You could say nothing and wait until it gets serious before telling anyone. Or you could mention it casually now, so it doesn't come as a big shock if things do develop further. Only you know your family and friends, and can gauge which option will be less upsetting for them, or difficult for you. Ultimately, though, it is your life and you must do whatever makes you happy. Those who love you will support you.

Contact Hilary via email, anonymously or not, via Or write to her at 28 St Albans Lane, London NW11 7QE

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