By Daphne Anson
The rather distinguished-looking gentleman pictured left is a former editor of the British Christian magazine Third Way, founded in 1977.
As his choice of neckwear suggests, he is hardly a warm admirer of Israel.
In fact, he is a stalwart of Bath Friends of Palestine, and founder of its Facebook group.
Among the Bath Friends of Palestine’s recent events was this forum:
There was also this of late:
And among Mr Spanner’s recent activities was the following:
Mr Spanner is a freelance writer and editor.
Among his most recent articles was this, for the long-established (1863) Anglican newspaper Church Times, not to be confused with the even longer established (1828) Church of England Newspaper, which I understand is the more conservative of the two :
Inter alia, the article, based on Mr Spanner’s interview with the Israel-bashing blogger Mr Cohen (Micah’s Paradigm Shift, Pantheos) at the Viva Palastina restaurant in north London, tells us:
‘…. Although he “wanted to have a conversation with other Jews”, he has found that that is easier said than done. “Those who do read me tend to be those secular, left-wing Jews who would agree with me, and perhaps like the fact that I have a slightly more Jewish spin on things than them. I don’t think I’ve made any inroads into the mainstream, though I can’t believe that I’m not on their radar. I am very much an outsider in my own community.”
The unpopularity of his standpoint is exacerbated by his own biography. One pro-Israel activist who reads his posts “and then wades in” calls him a Jino: a “Jew In Name Only”. Cohen says: “He tells me I don’t have the right to talk about Israel because I’ve married out, my children are Christian, and my wife is a vicar.” ….’
Of course, Mr Cohen’s choice of marriage partner is his own business, and it does not invalidate his status as a Jew. Nor would he cease to be a Jew in the eyes of Halachah if he were to convert to Christianity or any other religion, which he has not.
But it does seem unconscionable when Jews who have converted to another religion, and people who, though associated in no meaningful way with Jews and Judaism (and indeed may be adherents of another faith) but happen to have a Jewish mother (the sine qua non of Jewishness as far as Halachah is concerned), or indeed happen to have any fairly recent Jewish forebear, decide to describe themselves as Jews for the sole purpose of demonising Israel.
There are, of course, a number of people like that, including high profile serial Israel-bashers.
In one case known to me, the “Jewish” Israel-basher in question happens to have had a Jewish great-grandfather and is no closer to Jews and Judaism than he is to Burmese and Buddhism or Chinese and Confucianism.
I also know of at least three non-Jewish women who have never converted to Judaism under the auspices of any Beth Din whatsoever, Orthodox, Reform or Liberal, but who, being the wives of leftwing Jewish Israel-bashers, join their husbands in signing “As-a-Jew” denunciations of Israel.
These women are feisty independent professional women. I can think of no other cause in which they would so readily attach themselves to their husbands’ bootstraps.
So very duplicitous. So very meshugge. So very sad.