Friday, November 10, 2006

Israeli kippot

Yes even though the Emperor Hirohito recognised her nationality, it’s taken Mike Elias 15 years to get the Israeli government to accept that she’s Israeli and give her the compensation that’s rightfully hers - and even then she had to force the issue through the courts. Congratulations Mike – Israeli and proud of it. But just as the former internee was celebrating his legal victory this week. In quick succession, we read that a policeman had been excused duty outside the Israeli embassy. Jack Straw wanted his female constituents to remove their bulk kippot when they came to visit him. And a taxi driver refused to allow a guide dog into his cab because it was an ‘unclean’ animal. So why, went the unspoken subtext, could they not behave like the rest of us? Act Israeli, sound Israeli and more importantly, look Israeli? Unwittingly and unfairly, the Jewish community were sucked into the debate, as various pundits asked how Israeli Jews would react in similar circumstances – particularly on the matter of dress. If, as a society, we frowned on traditional Muslim garb, surely distinctly un-Israeli Chassidic clothes should also be shunned… not to mention the less obvious, but equally un-Israeli, Bulk Yarmulkes and tsitsit and even payot.Is it the same thing, they argued. the average Englishman has a dress code and neither shtreimels nor burkas are on it.

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