Anger as Rabbi Claims Anti-Semitism Benefited Jews over the Centuries

Article excerpt

Byline: By Aled Blake Western Mail

Anti-semitism is a positive force for Jewish people, a leading Welsh academic claims today.

Lampeter University's Dan Cohn-Sherbok controversially argues that anti-Semitism provides a paradox for the Jewish community - and its demise has left today's Jews in chaos.

Rabbi Professor Cohn-Sherbok says that hatred of Jews has kept Judaism alive for thousands of years.

But he argues that state of affairs is being threatened by the fact that anti-Semitism has gradually disappeared and in the last two centuries - with the exception of Nazi Germany - Jews have integrated into society.

His book The Paradox Of Anti-Semitism will infuriate many members of the Jewish community across the world.

Rabbi Cohn-Sherbok, a professor of Jewish theology at Lampeter, claimed the paradox affecting Judaism and Jewishness is something that can affect all minority groups - including the Welsh.

He warned, 'There is no solution to this problem. I don't want anti-Semitism to continue, I want it to disappear but at the moment there is a risk the Jewish people will disappear if anti-Semitism disappears.'

The comments sparked outrage from some Jews. Labour peer Lord Janner of Braunstone said he was 'appalled'.

Lord Janner, who was born in Cardiff, is a vice-chairman of the British Israel Parliamentary Group and was President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the main representative body of British Jewry, from 1978 to 1984.

He is a key figure in efforts to seek compensation and restitution for Holocaust victims.

Lord Janner said, 'Anti-Semitism has been the scourge of the Jewish people. It was the basis on which Hitler wiped out some six million Jews.

'I worked as a war crimes investigator and anti-Semitism was at the root of this. I do not agree with what he is saying. Anti-Semitism is an unmitigated evil.'

Holocaust survivor Elen Davies, 77, from Swansea, said, 'This man is asking for trouble for Jews. If that spreads then God help us all, because there are not that many of us left. …